Glock 17 Review: Where it all started

by Travis Pike

January 30, 2024

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The Glock 17 hardly needs an introduction. It’s one of the most mainstream firearms on the planet. The Glock 17 is one of the most popular choices for law enforcement, self-defense, and competition shooting out there. 

Glock 17 Specs

  • Caliber 9mm
  • Action Semi-Auto
  • Operating System Striker fired
  • Capacity 17
  • Barrel Length 4.49 in
  • Overall Length 7.95 in
  • Height 5.47 in
  • Weight 22 oz

Glock 17 Background – A Living Legend 

Beneath the spartan look and design of the Glock 17 sits a firearm with a very interesting story. Gaston Glock had a long history with polymer materials, but he had never built a gun before. He smelled an opportunity when the Austrian Armed Forces announced they wanted to replace the Walther P38 with a modern handgun. 

Since Gaston Glock lacked experience with firearms, he gathered experts. This included sports shooters, police officers, and military experts. It took three months for Glock to develop a working prototype of the Glock 17. The Glock 17 gained its name because it’s the 17th patent secured by Glock. 

Glock met his goal of becoming Austria’s next service pistol and beat out established companies like HK, SIG Sauer, Beretta, and even Browning. From there, the Glock 17 exploded into the mainstream. It became an instant success, but was met with some dismay and now dispelled myths. The use of polymer for the frame caused the dismay. 

Glock didn’t invent the polymer frame pistol, but they popularized it through the success of the Glock 17. Repeatedly, Glock proved that the polymer frame was the future. Now nearly every firearm company that produces handguns uses polymer frames. The Glock 17 evolved into an entire family of firearms and is currently in its fifth generation. 

Glock 17 Features

Glock 17 Features
1 Replaceable Backstraps

Newer generations of the Glock 17 have replaceable backstraps to customize the grip for each user.

2 Optic’s Ready Models Available

The optics version (MOS) is a great way to get a handgun that is optics ready from the factory.

3 Reversible Magazine Release

The reversable mag release makes this left hander friendly.

4 Accessory Rail

Accessory rails are important for duty handguns so you can mount a weapon light.

Models and Variations of the Glock 17

The Glock 17 has spawned many variations. You can get larger versions (Glock 34) for competition or smaller versions (Glock 19 and Glock 29) for concealed carry, allin 9mm. They make versions of these guns in 22LR, 380 Auto, .357, 40 S&W, 45 ACP and 10mm. In addition, you can get different generations in each, from Gen 3 to 5 along with optics ready MOS versions. Newer slim line models have come out for smaller hand or better concealability. Glock has a handgun for every need.

Review – Gaston’s Glock 17

Glock 17 In Hand

Let’s start with the worst features and get those out of the way. One of the features that both Glock haters and fanboys agree on is that Glock stock sights suck. They’re plastic, easy to break, and generally just not great. Sure, they aren’t bad enough to affect accuracy, but it’s likely the first thing you’ll upgrade, and rightfully so. That’s the worst problem you’ll get with Glocks. More on Glock sights here.

Another issue, at least for me, is slide bite. If I don’t use one of the snap-on backstraps, the Gen4 and Gen3 guns beat my hand up. The Gen 5s fixed this problem with a more aggressive overhang. It’s also got a few uncomfortable points of contact for me. When I try to get a nice, high grip on the gun, I often find my fingers getting irritated by the trigger guard lacking a discernible undercut. 

The trigger can also get tiresome on high round count days. It starts to rub and pinch and generally irritates. It’s a minor complaint, but I think it’s one worth making. Outside of these specific ergonomic complaints, the Glock 17 delivers a simple and easy-to-shoot firearm. The stippling is plenty aggressive. The trigger is easy to reach. On the Gen4 guns and beyond, the magazine release is quick and easy to press . 

Blasting Away 

As a full-sized 9mm handgun, the recoil is pretty minimal. The gun won’t get away from you and won’t fight its way out of your hand. Minimal recoil makes it easy to keep the gun on target between shots. The Glock design displaces recoil well through its wide grip, which results in a comfortable recoil impulse. It’s easy to see why the Glock 17 is such a capable competition and duty handgun. 

The Glock 17 delivers a very shootable experience. Driving quick double taps and successive shots on multiple targets isn’t going to feel too tough. With practice, the Glock 17 is quick and easy on target. 

Glock 17 Patch

Shooting Straight

When it comes to hitting targets, there isn’t much to complain about. The sights might suck in terms of durability, but they work for aiming the thing. A problem I experienced was that when I purchased my Glock 17, the sights were run all the way to the right. I had to use a sight block to center them. It must have missed Glock’s QC process. 

After a quick fix and some range time, I was able to put shots where I wanted them. Shooting accuracy-based drills like the 10-10-10 drill proved to be plenty easy. I put all 10 in the black and did it in under 8 seconds. Not the fastest time, but that wasn’t the Glock’s fault. Out to 25 yards, you won’t have any problems ringing steel and landing shots on target. 

I have a 10-inch gong and at 25 yards I could consistently ring it as long as I waited for it to stop swinging between shots. Out to 50 yards, I was a little less successful. The sights cover up most targets, even a full-sized IPSC target at this range. With a red dot, I could push the range a bit further, but with irons, it’s tough to hit those shots. 

Worth the Squeeze 

One of the things Glock did that improved firearms as a whole was to push reliability standards to new levels. Glocks are legendary in the reliability department. Everyone else had to catch up. These days, they are still known as some of the most reliable firearms on the planet. My example of the Glock 17 was just that, reliable, and always has been. 

I’ve not had a single issue with the weapon in the reliability department. After owning it for years, I have no complaints. This handgun feeds whatever I put through it. It also works fine with any aftermarket magazines I’ve used. It’s tough to argue that simplicity doesn’t encourage reliability when the Glock is both simple and reliable. 

In terms of pricing, Glock and the use of polymer frames have kept the costs of firearms way lower than most other goods. Look at a Gunvalue Bluebook from the 1980s. Guns are cheaper now than ever when adjusted for inflation. That’s the polymer effect. Glock firearms are fairly valued and priced for a duty-grade firearm. 

Glock 17 Patch top down

Pros and Cons of the Glock 17 

  • Extremely reliable
  • Easy to shoot
  • Low recoil
  • Simple design
  • Easily customizable
  • Iffy ergonomics
  • Crappy stock sights
  • Proprietary accessory rail is annoying

Report Card

Shootability

With limited recoil and and easy-handling nature, the Glock 17 poses no challenge to new and old shooters.

A
Reliability

The Glock series redefined what reliable meant, and the Glock 17 lives up to that reputation.

A+
Ergonomics

It’s mostly fine, but there are a few nitpicks to be had. The gun could certainly improve with a little framework.

B+
Accuracy

It’s not a bull’s eye gun, but even with the stock iron sights, the Glock 17 will ring steel and make tight groups.

A
Value

Glock are a great value. They function well and will last a long time at a reasonable price.

A
Glock 17 Final Grade

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by Travis Pike

Reader’s Grade

B+

Based on 11 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Handgun? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

Glock 17 Range Pack

Here are some items we think you will want when you take your Glock to the range:

  • Eye Protection: A nice set of shooting glasses are great for protection and may help improve target acquisition.
  • Hearing Protection: All range trips need a good set of hearing protection.
  • Gun Cleaning Kit: Keeping a good cleaning kit in your range bag will make maintenance quick and easy.
  • First Aid Kit – Keep a good first aid kit, and know how to use it, with you at the range.

Upgrades and Accessories for the Glock 17

We have many full articles about upgrading your Glock:

Upgrades and Accessories for the Glock 17

Night Fision Tritium Night Sights
  • Bright and Clear
  • Made of Metal
  • High Vis Day and Night Sight
Buy on Amazon
Raven Concealment Eidolon
  • AIWB rig
  • Modular design
  • Red dot compatible
Buy on Amazon
Safariland 6360RDS Level Three Retention Duty Holster
  • Red dot compatible
  • Light bearing holster
  • High retention for duty usage
Buy on Amazon
Apex Action Enhancement Kit for Glock Gen 5
  • Reduces trigger pull weight, pre-travel, overall travel and reset distance.
  • Crisp trigger break.
  • Drop in replacement, no fitting
Check Price
Weapon Light

Surefire X300

Surefire X300
  • 600 Lumens
  • Mounts to handguns or long guns
  • Dependable
Buy on Amazon

Ammo for the Glock 17

There are tons of great 9mm ammo out there for both training and home defense use. Here are two of our favorites.

Range Rounds

Federal Champion Training Brass 9mm 115 Gr

Federal Premium Champion 115 Gr FMJ

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
Gun Deals $0.22

Self Defense Rounds

Federal HST 9mm Ammo

Federal Personal Defense 147 Gr HST

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
Gun Deals $1.22
Firearms Depot $1.34
Guns.com $1.44
Gritr Sports $1.60

Other handguns to Check Out

We have many Glock reviews, including our Best Glock article. However, if you are not into Glocks, here are some good alternatives to the Glock.

1 Springfield Echelon

Springfield Echelon Review

Springfield Echelon

Springfield’s new polymer striker fired 9mm pistol with internal chassis

Check Latest Price

  • Shootability A+
  • Reliability A+
  • Ergonomics A+
  • Accuracy A+
  • Value A+

Our Grade

A+

Reader’s Grade

A-

Based on 24 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Handgun? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

2 Walther PDP

Walther PDP Feature Image

Walther PDP

The Walther PDP series of handguns is a polymer framed 9mm available in several different grip and barrel sizes.

Check Latest Price

  • Shootability A
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics A+
  • Accuracy A
  • Value A+

Our Grade

A

Reader’s Grade

A+

Based on 14 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Gun? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

3 S&W M&P9 M2.0

sw-mp-9-m2-featured

Check Latest Price

  • Reliability A+
  • Accuracy B
  • Shootability A-
  • Ergonomics A+
  • Value A

Our Grade

A

Reader’s Grade

A

Based on 51 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Gun? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

How to Care for Your Glock 17

This video will show you how to clean any Glock handgun.

Here are some links to the manufacturers website and user manual.

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About Travis Pike

Travis is a former United States Marine Corps Infantryman and currently a firearms writer, instructor, and works in Emergency Management.

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