A question that gets asked in the shop quite often is, “I’ve got a Gen 4 Glock, is it worth the price of admission to upgrade to the Gen 5 Glock?” Well before we dive into if you should or shouldn’t. Let’s review the changes.
- nDLC Finish on the Barrel & Slide – The original tough Tenifer finish hasn’t been used on Glocks for a good while now, since then Glock has gone with potentially varying nitrocarburizing processes but hasn’t really received the same distinctiveness as the original formula. Personally speaking, my Gen 4 Glocks generated much faster holster wear than my early Gen 3s in the same holster. Gen 5 Glocks have been treated with an “nDLC” (diamond like carbon) finish. Glock is touting this as an increase of durability and resistance to wear or corrosion. You can instantly pick out a nDLC treated Glock in the case as the finish has a slicker, more uniform finish to it. It doesn’t splotch up when oils and solvents evaporate off of it. Aesthetically, it’s an improvement – as for durability, the gun is too new to really tell. Time will show one way or the other. While on the topic of the slide, the 19 & 17 size frame now have bevels cut on the front of the slide like the Glock 26/27 sides have had. Should help holstering but also breaks up the block lines of the Glock.
Ambidextrous Slide Stop Lever – Left handed shooters rejoice! For those who are wrong handed, Glock has already given you a reversible mag catch, but working that slide stop lever for you has always involved an awkward index finger bend to work. The new Gen 5 Glocks now feature a single piece fully ambi slide stop giving the gun the ability to go full left hand. Outside of lefties, there are some users who like to have an ambi gun in the event their strong hand is disabled but for majority of us, it’s just more stuff to snag on or make our existing holsters not fit.
Flared Mag-Well – Not much to say here, is it a full blown competition mag will that magically aligns a mag inserted at 90 degrees? – No. Does it allow you to insert a mag slightly off center? – Yeah it does a decent job. Basically it doesn’t increase the size of the gun in a noticeable way at all so it’s a welcome addition that I wouldn’t be too heartbroken if it wasn’t there either.
- Removal of Finger Grooves – This was a change that made me really like the Gen 5 Glocks and probably the first thing you will notice when you pick one up for the first time. While the finger grooves of the Gen 3 & 4 never really negatively impacted my shooting, the grooves never really fit my hands right. My hands are on the smaller size but even shooters with larger hands could say the same thing. Smaller fingers would jumble in between the grooves and larger fingers could sit on top of the grooves, of course we all adjust our finger spacing to accommodate the grooves but the removal of the grooves allows you to place your fingers where you want them. Does it reduce the grip of the gun? Sure it may reduce some leverage but the aggressive texture of the Gen 4 and 5 Glocks are more than plenty to keep the gun in your hand. Something you may also notice on the grip is that the notch is back on the front bottom of the grip. This is to facilitate a pretty horrible malfunction where additional leverage is required to rip the mag out. Personally, even with smaller hands I notice on a Gen 5 Glock 19 my pinky digs into the notch and would prefer it not to be there.
- Glock Marksman Barrel (GMB Barrel) – Glock introduced a new barrel for the Gen 5, however it’s more of a revision than a brand new barrel. It’s still a polygonal barrel but changes have been made to supposedly increase accuracy. I’m sure in a pistol vice on a bench it would probably group better than a previous generation Glock but lets be honest, most pistols are more accurate than their shooters, shooting free hand probably won’t net a noticeable increase in accuracy for most shooters. One welcome addition though is that Glock has slightly crowned the barrel so the rifling is a little more protected.
- Magazine Enhancements – The familiar black followers have been replaced with a bright orange follower…hmm just like the Magpul Glock PMAGS. Either way, it’s a visual enhancement when clear checking a Glock and fast indicator that you’ve run dry. The floor plate has been “enlarged” but in reality it just curves forward to take advantage of the notch now present on the Gen 5 grip for removing mags that are jammed in the gun or don’t drop free.
- Other Changes – So everything listed above is what is advertised by Glock as the Gen 5 changes. As an armorer, there are other design changes I noticed. Internally, the Gen 5 has gone to Glock 43 style components, leaf style springs have been changed to coil springs, slide stops are obviously not backwards compatible as the new one piece ambi lever is designed differently. Rear sights are now identified with numerical values vs the hash marks from previous Glock sights.
So we’ve reviewed the changes, back to the question – Is the Gen 5 Glock worth it to make the jump? It depends, in the end Glock has been building fantastic dependable pistols for decades with only 5 major revisions. That says something about their design and the only reason to change a design that works is to make it better. I forgot who originally gave this analogy but it’s been commonly associated with the next Gen iPhone. Does your current gen iPhone do the job? Probably. Is the new iPhone better? Yeah sure, but really just revisions versus a full blown design change. Do you want the new iPhone anyway? Yeah you do…unless of course you’ve made the right choice to begin with and went Android :).
Ultimately you’ll have to review the changes and decide for yourself. If you currently sitting on a Gen 3 Glock, then you’re missing the grip circumference, back strap configurations, larger/reversible mag catch, and improved grip texture of the Gen 4. Going with the Gen 5 gives you these upgrades plus the ones unique to the Gen 5 so it would be a worth while upgrade. As from going from a Gen 4 to Gen 5 the upgrades become incremental. If you are left handed, the new ambi catch may be a sole reason to upgrade as well as if you felt that the finger grooves never really fit you right, then maybe the Gen 5 is for you. The Gen 5 is a welcome upgrade, but don’t think your Gen 4 is anywhere from outdated either.
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Below is the official video from Glock featuring the changes to the Gen 5 Glock