The Remarkably Unremarkable Glock 19

Glock 19 Gen4 9mm

Like most people in the gun space, Mr. Gaston Glock’s passing at the tail end of 2023 made me reflect on his legacy and the legacy of his products. It’s undeniable that both he and his company have a fascinating story while also causing a paradigm shift in how guns are made, sold, designed and used. When it comes to these Austrian pistols, my favorites have always been the 9mm full-size grip models like the Glock 17 or Glock 34. But that aside, the Glock 19 is perhaps the most influential and best selling model in the Austrian company’s portfolio. I’m no stranger to the Glock 19 either; I’ve owned both a Gen3 and a Gen4 model in my lifetime and fired my fair share of rounds through them. In fact, I took my first ever open-enrollment course with my old Gen3, and that was one of the guns I first legally carried when I left California. 

An old photo commemorating the first ever open-enrollment firearms training class I took–with my old Gen3 Glock 19 by my side. The Raven Eidolon was also the first concealment holster of any type I’d ever purchased.

Pedestrian Plastic

On the one hand, the standard Glock 19 isn’t a terribly exciting pistol. Like most Glocks, it’s rather boxy and blunt looking and it doesn’t stir one’s passions the way holding a tuned double-stack racegun dripping with go-fast performance parts does. It’s also not a historical piece worthy of veneration for winning two world wars or taming the American West. The Glock 19 often gets compared to being the equivalent of the Honda Accord or Toyota Corolla–those safe, reliable and affordable every-day commuter cars. I’ve also heard this handgun get compared to common appliances, like kitchen toasters. These guns are so reliable that even that’s something boring about them. Sure, these pistols have been around for 3 decades and have seen various tweaks and improvements, but their reputation continues to be one of reliable fidelity. 

But It Is Remarkable!

But the little boring Glock 19 is an icon in its own way: the benchmark against what every other compact/duty sized double stack 9mm pistol gets compared by. Besides its reliability and ingenious striker-fired ignition system, it happens to possess a “golden ratio” of pistol proportions. With an overall length of 6.75 inches and a height of 4.75 inches, the Glock 19 is small enough to conceal and carry comfortably while also being large enough to handle like a full-size pistol. With duty-grade or carry ammunition, the four inch barrel is long enough to allow cartridge’s propellants to properly develop and deliver adequate terminal performance without being too cumbersome. Unlike smaller, more compact 9mm pistols, the Glock 19 still has a favorable recoil impulse that most shooters can handle. After all, it’s only ½ inch shorter on the slide and ½ inch shorter on the grip than its original sibling, the Glock 17. The 19’s 15+1 standard capacity is nothing to sneeze at either. In the end, what hot new carry gun hasn’t been described as “Glock 19 sized?” 

A well-worn Gen3 Glock 19 that spent its service life in a US Army Special Forces holster and saw back-to-back combat deployments. Image Credit: Jeff Gurwitch

Tough today it appears that thinner polymer framed striker fired pistols are supplanting the Glock 19 in popularity as a carry gun, the Glock 19 has been the “it” in EDC pistols for a good portion of its 3 decade long existence. Moreover, the Glock 19 (and later the Mk. 27) are also veterans of the later half of the GWOT (Global War On Terror). US Army Special Forces began using these guns to supplement their Beretta M9s as early as the late 2000s, and by the mid 2010s, the US Navy and Marines adopted it; by then this little compact pistol also became a known entity with US SOCOM. It’s large enough to handle like a full-size, but small enough to conceal and roll low-vis. On a duty or battle belt, it’s onboard without taking too much space. What’s not to like? Oh, and that’s not even taking into consideration just how international the Glock 19–sourcing parts or guns themselves around the modern world isn’t difficult. 

The Glock 19’s Legacy

It sounds like I’m being harsh on the Glock 19 by calling it unremarkable, boring, and ugly. Well, 19s have never been beauty queens but truthfully their status as a benchmark is well-deserved. It’s one thing for any gun company to try assertive or unconventional marketing efforts, but it’s a completely different thing for the product in question to hold its own the world over over three decades. Shooters like these guns because they work and they’re not going away any time soon. The “recipe” has worked so well for the company that it is seldom tweaked, other than certain generational iterations or tweaks of that nature. It’s interesting to note that since the original patents on Glock’s design are expired, it seems like that several of these new clone guns, both luxurious and affordable, take after the Glock 19 specifically. The little striker-fired compact isn’t slowing down any time soon. Though today a mere Glock 19 seems unremarkable, how it came to be considered as such isn’t.