Among the expansive offerings in the Glock lineup, the Glock 17, 19, and 26 stand out as some of the most popular models. The Glock 17 is the largest of the 3, making it easy to control for recoil & rapid fire. The Glock 19 is a compact pistol that's extremely capable and makes it a great choice for concealed carry or home defense. The smaller grip on the Glock 26 can make it difficult for new shooters or target shooting but is an excellent choice for EDC.
Here’s what makes these three handguns so popular among civilians gun owners and government agencies alike:
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The first Glock pistols were manufactured in 1982 as a new service pistol for the Austrian military. Engineer Gaston Glock designed the original polymer pistol to meet demands for a lighter, more reliable pistol with more ammo capacity. By 1992 more than 350,000 Glock pistols had been sold in 45 countries, with 250,000 sold in the United State alone.
For decades now, Glock has been one of the most popular pistols in the world for police, military, and civilian gun owners. They’re known for their utilitarian design and minimal aesthetics. Many gun owners affectionately call them, “Blocks.”
One of the great strengths of this design is that it’s easily adaptable and comes in configurations for every shooting context, and it’s extremely customizable.
No matter what sort of shooting they do, casual gun owners will find a model that works perfectly for them right out of the box, while more avid gun owners can easily build a glock that’s finely tuned for their shooting style.
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Benefits of the Glock
The trademark Glock characteristic is reliability. A Glock will function when it’s clean, dirty, wet, muddy, or just about anything else. YouTubers have been posting torture test videos for years, and what they’ve found is that it’s very hard to get a Glock to malfunction.
This is obviously something that law enforcement and military shooters appreciate, but it’s also handy for civilians. Any gun used for home or personal defense has to be absolutely dependable, and the Glock 17, 19, and 26 all meet this standard. Additionally, reliability saves people money. For training, a Glock will run just fine with cheap ammunition.
A Glock 17 Gen 5 | Photo by GlockInc
Another pillar of Glock performance is simple operation. While Glocks may not be particularly pretty guns, they’re incredibly functional and easy to use. Here are all the things these three core Glocks do NOT have:
- Manual safety.
- Palm safety.
- External Hammer.
- Double action/single action trigger.
- Adjustable sights.
This might make them seem featureless, but leaving these things out actually makes Glocks much easier to handle and manipulate, and less prone to breakage. Additionally, this “featureless” design means there’s more design resources invested in the materials and build quality of Glock pistols.
There are three primary design elements that stand out on Glock handguns
- Hexagonally rifled barrel
- Loaded chamber indicator
- Smooth slide
The hexagonally rifled barrel gives exceptional consistency and performance. Good shooters can place shot groups of an inch or so at 15 yards with the Glock 17. But there’s one caveat to consider with hexagonal rifling: Glock recommends that you don’t use unjacketed lead ammunition.
Yes, a Glock will function reliably with plain lead ammo, but unjacketed lead fouls the hexagonally rifled barrel a lot, and could cause reliability issues with prolonged use if you don’t keep your pistol exceptionally clean.
Glock 19X | Photo by GlockInc
The loaded chamber indicator seems like a minor thing, but it’s actually a thoughtful design. Glock places the loaded chamber indicator on the side of the gun, so that it can be felt with your trigger finger for a positive tactile check without needing to look at the gun. This is a good general safety device, but it’s also useful for tactical shooting.
The absence of external levers or buttons means the Glock chassis is very streamlined and won’t snag on clothing or gear. Snag free handling is convenient for any shooting context, but becomes critical in high stress defensive or tactical situations.
Although some don’t consider it much of a design element, the standard sights on a Glock feature a white “U” on the rear notch and a round dot on the front post. This creates what’s often called the “ball in cup” sight alignment. It’s not for everyone, but many regard the Glock sighting system to be one of the easiest to use.
Lastly, Glocks have solid ergonomics. On the newest models, all the necessary controls—magazine release, slide lock, trigger (obviously)—are ambidextrous. The Glock 17, 19, and 26 are incredibly simple, high-performance platforms.
This mix of simplicity and performance makes Glock pistols one of the best choices for any type of shooting, especially high stress shooting contexts like competitions and defensive incidents.
9mm Caliber Features
The Glock 17, 19, and 26 are the core 9mm Glock pistols. 9mm is regarded by many experts as the top overall pistol caliber. While 9mm is not the biggest pistol round, it has a combination of characteristics that make it the ultimate handgun caliber for self defense, home defense, and competition shooting. Here’s what makes the 9mm so flexible and ideal:
9mm handguns have exceptional magazine capacity, with some guns holding up to 19 rounds in one magazine. This is ideal for all shooting contexts, since more rounds in the magazine requires fewer reloads.
A Glock 19X comes with 2 extra 17-round magazines | Photo by GlockInc
Fewer reloads means better shooting scores in competitions, or fewer empty chambers during critical incidents or tactical situations. In general, having more chances to hit the target is better.
One of the biggest arguments for larger calibers like .40 and .45 is that they have more stopping power. However, in coroner studies, coroners cannot tell the difference between a 9mm wound and a .45 wound without measuring the entry point with calipers or recovering the bullet.
In terms of ballistic performance, the difference between 9mm and most larger calibers is negligible, and does not justify the diminished magazine capacity and additional ammunition cost.
These factors make the 9mm the ultimate complete package, when all factors in the equation are considered, both on and off the range.
Cost and Availability
9mm is also a very affordable round that is available in most places that sell ammunition. For competition and defensive shooters, this means more training for less money, and better shooting performance when it matters. For recreational shooters, it means more fun for fewer dollars.
A Flat Dark Earth Glock 19 Gen 4 | Photo by GlockInc
The last thing that makes the 17, 19, and 26 the most popular pistols in the Glock collection is versatility. These three handguns come in three sizes that cover all the shooting contexts. From home defense to competition shooting to backyard plinking, one of these three pistols will fit the bill.
Then, for shooters that need more fine tuning, there’s a huge array of Glock upgrades and accessories that really dial in performance for any shooting context.
So, the right Glock for you is out there. Keep reading to find out which of these three guns is your perfect option.
17 vs 19 vs 26 – Which One Is Right For You?
There’s an easily recognizable size difference between these three guns, and that difference is important. This is a good Glock 17 vs 19 vs 26 size comparison if you want an accurate picture of how the three guns line up in terms of profile.
The size difference presents some obvious variation in the Glock 17, 19, and 26 specs.
1. GLOCK 17
The Glock 17 is the largest of the three essential 9mm handguns. Contrary to popular belief, the larger size doesn’t make this a “man’s gun.” The 17’s larger grip actually gives more real estate for the shooter to hold onto, and thus makes it easier for the shooter to control the recoil of the gun.
Additionally, a larger platform translates to less felt recoil, since the the recoil energy is dispersed through a bigger object. Then, the longer slide means there’s more weight in front of the shooter’s hands, which results in less muzzle flip. With the larger frame and longer slide, the 17 is easy to control during rapid fire.
The longer grip also means more rounds in the magazine. The standard Glock 17 magazine holds 17 rounds, and the manufacturer sells 30 round magazines separately.
In certain states, magazine capacity is limited to 10 rounds or less. Check your local laws if you plan on purchasing a Glock 17.
Glock 17 Gen 4 | Photo by kontrolled_kaos19
The Glock 17 also has the longest barrel of these three handguns, which means it’s the most accurate. The barrel is 4.48 inches, and is adequate for shooting out to 25 yards. This is more than enough for most pistol shooting contexts. A longer barrel also generates higher muzzle velocities for better ballistic performance with defensive ammunition.
Additionally, the longer slide provides a longer sight radius. A longer sight radius gives more accurate shots when using the gun for precision sighted fire.
However, the benefits of a larger handgun do come with a few tradeoffs. To start, the Glock 17 is one of the heaviest 9mm Glock pistols. Additionally, the longer grip makes this gun very difficult to conceal, even with heavy clothing.
All this adds up to mean that the Glock 17 is perfect for men and women who intend to use their pistol for home defense, competition shooting, or recreational plinking. Shooters looking for a more versatile platform or a concealed carry gun should read on to find out about the 19 and 26.
2. GLOCK 19
The Glock 19 is considered one of the great jack-of-all-trades guns of all time. For many years, it was the only gun in this size profile available from any manufacturer. The Glock 19 is good in all shooting contexts, but not exactly great in any specific shooting context, which is what makes it so popular.
The Glock 19 is a mid-sized pistol that falls somewhere between full-size and sub-compact. They call the 19 a compact pistol, though some standards place it as a full-size pistol. The 19 is big enough that it’s quite easy to shoot, and most shooters will be able to comfortably get all four fingers on the grip..
Additionally, the mid-sized frame allows for 15 rounds in the magazine, which is excellent for defensive shooting contexts, especially concealed carry. Another thing that makes the Glock 19 a great all-around gun is that it can also use Glock 17 magazines.
If you use this gun for both concealed carry and home defense, you can purchase a Glock 17 magazine and keep it in the gun for home defense, and use a standard 15 round magazine for better concealment when carrying your Glock 19.
Glock 19 Gen 5 | Photo by thegunfreak
The standard 19 magazine also exceeds the limits set by some state laws, so be sure to check the local regulations before you buy one of these.
The Glock 19 also has a barrel that’s just half an inch shorter than the Glock 17. The barrel is 4.01 inches, and still plenty adequate for any defensive shooting context, and most competition shooting distances.
The four inch barrel also provides a fairly long slide with a good sight radius for accurate sighted fire. In terms of muzzle velocities, a four inch barrel is enough for defensive ammunition to perform properly.
The Glock 19 is only a bit lighter than the 17, but it’s light enough to carry comfortably on a belt. Additionally, the mid-length grip is short enough that most people won’t have any trouble concealing a Glock 19, though some small-framed people may find that the grip is too long to carry in certain positions.
Another consideration with the grip length is the size of your hands. Most people can get all four fingers around the grip just fine, but some shooters with very large hands find that their pinky finger doesn’t quite rest all the way on the grip. For most, this just takes some training to get used to, since the Glock 19 has just about the longest grip that’s feasible for concealed carry.
Overall, the Glock 19 is a solid choice for any defensive context, and even some competitive shooting. However, if you are looking for a gun to use only for home defense or recreation, the Glock 17 is a better choice. For people needing a one-size-fits all gun for home defense, concealed carry, and maybe a few competitions, there are very few pistols that match the performance and handling of the Glock 19.
3. GLOCK 26
The Glock 26 has the smallest frame profile, and is designed for concealed carry. When it comes to small guns, it’s a bit of a teeter-totter between performance and concealability. The smaller the gun, the easier it is to carry concealed, but the tradeoff is performance.
Given the small frame size, it makes sense that the Glock 26 has the lowest magazine capacity of these three guns. The standard flush magazine holds 10 rounds. This isn’t a ton of rounds, but in the realm of concealed carry guns, the Glock 26 is actually a bit of a standout. For a gun this size, the Glock 26 actually boasts a remarkable round count.
Something that helps the 26 make up for its lower standard magazine capacity is the interchangeability of Glock magazines.
Many concealed carriers will carry their Glock 26 with the 10 round magazine in the gun, and a Glock 17 magazine for their reload.
Although the Glock 26 is not ideal for home defense, it’ll work if you have nothing else. In this situation, using a Glock 17 magazine is a great way to get more rounds into the smaller framed gun.
In addition to the shorter grip, the 26 also has a shorter barrel and slide. The barrel is 3.42 inches and is all you need for typical defensive shooting distances, which are usually less than 7 yards. Defensive ammunition performs as intended within the common defensive shooting ranges. However, the shorter barrel makes the Glock 26 less than ideal for much more than 10 or 15 yard shots.
The short sight radius of the truncated slide also makes the Glock 26 slightly less accurate in sighted fire. For defensive shooting, this is fine. However, competition shooters and recreational shooters might find that the Glock 26 isn’t quite what they’re looking for in this area.
The Glock 26 also has a very short grip, which most shooters can only get two fingers on (not including their trigger finger). Some shooters can just barely get their pinky finger on the magazine base plate for a little bit more grip, but most will have to leave their pinky hanging. This makes the 26 the most difficult gun in this lineup to shoot,especially when firing multiple shots in rapid-fire.
The 26 is not the right option for new shooters. Beginners looking for a concealed carry gun would be happier starting with a 19, and training up to using the 26 as their EDC gun.
Even though the Glock 26 sacrifices some performance and controllability for a smaller frame, the compact size makes this model an excellent EDC gun. It’s light enough and small enough to be the ultimate Glock for concealed carry for intermediate to expert shooters, and offers impressive magazine capacity for a subcompact gun.
Which Model Should You Get?
Each of these three guns is great for certain contexts. You should pick your gun based on the type of shooting that you do most, and understand that your gun might not give top notch performance in other contexts.
The Glock 17 is excellent for home defense, competition, and recreational shooting. New shooters should look into the Glock 17, since it’s easy to control and will help them build the fundamentals they need to shoot smaller guns. Avid competition shooters should check out the finely tuned Glock 34, which is the ultimate 9mm for competition.
The 19 is perfect as a one-size-fits all gun for shooters who want to use a single handgun for home defense, concealed carry, and recreational shooting. Also, the 19 is the top handgun for CCW holders that are new to shooting or have minimal shooting experience and training.
The Glock 26 is the ultimate dedicated concealed carry gun for intermediate to expert shooters who have good shooting fundamentals, and most likely won’t need to use this gun for other shooting contexts.
If you’re still on the fence about which of these three models is right for you, you probably do several different types of shooting, and want at least decent performance in each area. In this case, the 19 will probably be your top option.
The 19 is the most versatile variant and is not only your right pick from these three handguns, but it’s also probably the top pick from all handguns on the market.
There just aren’t many guns around that have the same mix of performance and reliability. You’ll get tons of use and tons of fun from a 19 (or any variant, really), and you won’t be disappointed.
Although Glock includes some great technology in their guns, there’s an area or two where these can leave something to be desired. Most people will be satisfied with a bone-stock sidearm straight out of the box, but if you’re looking to improve the performance and experience of shooting your gun, there are tons of experts and manufacturers dedicated to providing the top accessories and upgrades.
If you’re interested in bumping up the comfort and performance of your handgun, consider upgrading these two areas first:
The standard Glock sights are plastic (!). During advanced pistol handling such as one-handed reloads or malfunction clearing, you may have to use your sights to rack the slide. The plastic factory sights will break off. It’s wise to replace them with a good set of steel sights.
AmeriGlo makes some of the top handgun sights on the market, and they come in configurations for all types of shooting.
The second part to upgrade is the trigger. The factory Glock trigger isn’t bad, but it’s definitely not the top handgun trigger you can buy. For shooters who want a smoother trigger, Apex Tactical Specialties offers several Glock trigger upgrades that will make your Glock even better to shoot.
And while you're at it, you can check this awesome glock 17 review.