Glock Generations – Is There A Practical Difference?

A pair of Glock 19s, in Gen3 and Gen4. Though there are some differences, both are perfectly serviceable.

A pair of Glock 19s, in Gen3 (top) and Gen4 (bottom). Though there are some differences, both are perfectly serviceable.

With the advent of the Generation 4 Glock, I sold off most of my Generation 3 stuff.  I like the Gen4 better from several standpoints.  The dual recoil system, the addition of the texture on the grips, and the larger mag release.  I like everything about it.  I’ve lost count at the amount of 9mm and .40 caliber ammunition that I have sent down range since the Gen4 came out.  I convinced myself that the Gen4 shot softer, and that everything about it was better.

But is it?

Recently I took an afternoon and went to the range with a Gen4 Glock 22 and a Gen3 Glock 22.  I also took along a case of Federal 180 grain American Eagle, a couple of boxes of 175 Grain Hornady Critical Duty, and a timer.  I shot some standard drills at 7, 15 and 25.  I even shot some steel at 50 and 100 for extended distance work.  I did not run a light on either gun.  (I know that some Gen3 guns have issues with WMLs).  The holster I used was an Ozarks Holster Company Range Holster.

What I found was there was little deviation between draw times and split times between the generations.  Some of the time there was no difference observed.

I am really starting to think that for a skilled shooter there is really no difference, only preference.  I am also starting to believe that all of the Ford versus Chevy debates we have between Glocks versus M&Ps, DA/SA versus 1911s, or wheel guns versus semi-autos is not very relevant.  I think that a skilled shooter can shoot about anything you hand them well if it has usable sights, is reliable, and the trigger is usable.  The rest is simply preference for the world we live in.

This entry was posted in Modern Service Pistols by Jerry Jones. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jerry Jones

Jerry Jones has been a Sheriff's Deputy in Kentucky since 1996. Jerry is currently assigned as a patrol deputy, firearms instructor and senior operator/training supervisor with a multi jurisdictional tactical team. Jerry is Kentucky POST certified to teach firearms, SWAT, and sniper operations and deployment at the Academy level. Jerry is also the President/CEO of Operation Specific Training and the Law Enforcement Representative for Apex Tactical Specialties.

11 thoughts on “Glock Generations – Is There A Practical Difference?

  1. Between different platforms, my timer respectfully disagrees.
    My speed (given near-identical hits) goes way down going from my usual 1911 .45 to a Sig 226 9mm. This after spending about 1500 rounds on the Sig in a short period to see if I could get as good with it as my Colt.
    But it never happened, and as the distance increased, the disparity grew.
    Similar results were obtained with an M&P 9mm service model, perhaps worse.
    I wouldn’t even go near the G34 for this one… I have a hard time hitting the barn from inside with one of those (a moderately facetious remark).
    My conclusion, at least for me: even as a 10-15K rounds-per-year USPSA and other shooter, the trigger is still key.

  2. Biggest practical difference between Gen3 and Gen4 is that the Gen 4 comes with a Beavertail backstrap. For large-mitted high-grippers like me, that keeps the bleeding to a minimum 🙂

    Yes, I know you can put a GripForce adapter on a Gen3, but then it’s no longer USPSA Production-legal 🙁

  3. One thing that I’ve noticed is the slide lock position and my thumb. Using the G27 gen 3 I would thumb the slide lock up while shooting when I’m shooting fast. With the Gen 4 G27 I don’t have this problem with no backstraps or the large backstrap, both offer just enough relief for me. A small thing but it made a big difference for me with the Gen 4 Glocks.

  4. Generally speaking it is the Indian not the arrow.

    It’s like a guy I know always buying the latest golf club and never really improving.

  5. I shoot all modern service pistols equally well. I certainly have my own preferences but realistically there is not much differenence in performance.

  6. Agree but with a caveat. There ARE differences. It’s just that they matter less and less the more and more experienced you are. It’s the same with most any tool.

  7. I transitioned to the Gen 4 because I like that slightly shorter frame (SF). It fits my hands better (especially the G-19) and I really like the texture too. As you stated, it’s all preference… stay safe

  8. MOSTLY preference, but the further from average a person is, the more important small differences become.
    I have small hands with an unusually wide palm and short, fat fingers. The small reduction in grip diameter and the increased surface area of the controls make a GEN 4 much more shootable and manipulable to me.
    I too traded all of my GEN 3s for GEN 4s when they became available so I can no longer make comparisons, but even if the shot times were similar, I can assure you, the mag changes and malfunction clearances would be much quicker with a GEN 4.

  9. The biggest thing I notice on the Gen4 vs the older Gen3 I have is the grip texture. You hold the Gen4 in your hand it is like it is stuck there. My older Gen3 not so much.

  10. I own and actively instruct in a Firearms Instruction business that focuses on Concealed Carry outside the home and in the car, and defending a base location such as a home.

    For our basic classes we supply the handguns. Glocks. So we have a bunch. They are ALL set up with a Hackathorn sight style – Trijicon HD front, serrated plain black rear. I’ve also polished the internals and only changed the striker spring to extra power and the connector to the 8 pound. This gives a very smooth manageable but safe trigger. Other than stock G34 slide release levers, Tango Down mag releases, and Gen3 G17 trigger/trigger bars these are stock Glocks. Gen 2, 3, and 4 G19’s and G17’s.

    We also supply holsters in the beginner classes.

    We encourage and structure the classes so they really have little choice but to try all the different guns. All the classes start and end with the fundamentals and manipulations. And of course myself and the other instructors need to be able to pick up any weapon at any time and do the current exercise perfectly.

    I apologize for the verbosity, but the point I want to illustrate is: that we get many different shooters of different experience levels, hand sizes, strengths, and whatnot.. and while we receive a wide range of comments concerning the Glocks, by far the most common concerns are the texture (after 300+ rounds this one starts to generate comments), grip size (mainly from women with smaller hands and some guys), and how impressed they are with the reliability.

    They ask how we clean them, we tell them the truth. We put them through the dishwasher every 3-4 classes and then re-lubricate them. One day we’re going to get an ultrasonic cleaner..

  11. I’m use the Gen4 with no back strap. My hands are small enough it makes a difference. I am able to get first joint trigger finger separation from the frame on a Gen4, not so much on the Gen3. It makes me have to be more mindful or hits tends low left the more I push accuracy/speed curve.

    The extra size of the mag release on the Gen4 means I don’t have to hand shift when mag changing. That’s one less movement when you are already trying to do two things at once. But where it’s most noticeable is in reacquisition of the sights after the mag change. Predictably it’s about .1 seconds better on average (for me).

    I could not care less about the recoil spring except it seems to have a longer service life.

    The texture of the G3 didn’t *bother* me, but I *like* the texture of the G4. If the G3 had the G4, It would bother me because I wouldn’t be able to shift my hand as easily for a mag change…

Comments are closed.