Ask virtually any handgun enthusiast to describe a Glock pistol and you’ll invariably hear words such as simple, reliable, and rugged. Since 72 percent of the nation’s law enforcement officers carry Glocks and since Glock enjoyed a 73 percent increase in sales over the past year, you might also hear terms like popular and pervasive. Glock pistols regularly appear in movies and television shows and stoke such brand loyalty that furious rivalries and humorous anecdotes abound. Here’s a good one: A 1911 is what you show your friends. A Glock is what you show your enemies.

As for the reliability of Glocks: They just work … Pull the trigger and they go bang—every time. You could describe Glocks as boring—in all the right ways.

As for Glock’s advertising slogan, “Perfection” must be something for which the company continually strives. So, Glock’s latest rendition of its revolutionary design, the Generation 4 series, must be more perfect than the previous generations. Is it?

Glock Gen 4 pistols feature replaceable backstraps for an adjustable grip.
Glock Gen 4 pistols feature replaceable backstraps for an adjustable grip.


Glock started designing pistols in 1980 and the Austrian army approved the Glock 17 (so named because it was the company’s 17th patent) for use in 1982. The Glock 17 was obviously a first-generation pistol and visually identified by its smooth, rounded “pebble grip.” Second generation Glocks changed to a “grenade-style” checkering on the grips. Third generation Glocks added finger grooves on the grips as well as an accessory rail on the front dustcover. Some Glocks are described as a “Generation 2.5”—a transition model when Glock added finger grooves but no accessory rail. Enter Glock’s Generation 4 pistols, or as they are stamped on the slides of these new guns, “Gen4.”

Gen4 versions of the Glock 17 and Glock 22 are shipping now. Gen4 versions of the Glock 19 and Glock 23 pistols will ship in June, 2010. After that, Gen 4 versions of the Glock 26 and Glock 27 will ship. Glock National Sales Manager Craig Dutton says this schedule demonstrates Glock’s commitment to law enforcement.


According to Dutton, the 2010 Gen4 guns “are a major external and internal re-design of what Glock has offered in the past” and he says the Gen4 pistols offer several major advantages: less recoil due to slower slide velocity; better fit for smaller-handed shooters thanks to the smallest circumference short-grip frame Glock has ever offered and the shortest trigger reach Glock has ever offered; better fit for larger-handed shooters thanks to the two additional “snap-on” full-length backstraps that come with every Glock pistol; easier magazine release manipulation from a new magazine catch that is both three times larger and reversible; great accuracy thanks to a tighter lock-up; and easier-to-grip Gen4 RTF4 frame with pointed “pyramids” instead of checkering.

As important as what’s new with the Gen4 is what isn’t: It’s still the rugged, reliably feeding pistol it’s always been. Field stripping is the same as with previous generations. Gen4 pistols will fit Gen3 holsters. Moreover, for law enforcement budget watchers, Dutton says Glock will keep law enforcement pricing the same as it has been since 2000.

The most significant visual differences in the Gen4 pistols and the ones most likely to garner the interest of both law enforcement and the general shooting public are the interchangeable backstraps and the magazine release.