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Glock’s most popular handgun model, the Model 19, is now in its fifth iteration, available as part of the Austrian firm’s Gen 5 lineup.
However, as of April 2021, Glock continues to list Gen 3 and Gen 4 models in its catalog, which may cause you some confusion. After all, why continue selling the previous-generation models? Aren’t the newer ones better?
Read on to learn all about the differences between Gen 3, Gen 4, and Gen 5 Glock 19 pistols, how much each model costs, and which one is the best investment for you.
The Old Staple: Glock 19 Gen 3
Officially introduced in 1998, the third generation of Glock pistols is the one that solidified the company’s reputation. This model achieved success with law enforcement and civilians alike, from the NYPD and the FBI to leagues of casual and competitive civilian shooters.
The Glock 19 Gen 3 became America’s most popular handgun, praised for offering the capacity of a full-size in the dimensions of a relatively compact pistol. It may well be the general-purpose handgun, suitable for home defense, concealed carrying, plinking, competition, law enforcement, military, and special forces.
The Glock 19 is large enough to let most shooters get a full grip for accurate shooting and recoil management, yet small enough for concealed carrying, disappearing under a civilian’s attire with a good gun belt and a sensible IWB holster.
Features introduced with the third generation included the now-familiar finger grooves and side thumb-rests, improving ergonomics over Gen 1 and Gen 2 guns. Other features included a redesigned extractor, allowing it to function as a loaded chamber indicator.
Although rumors in 2017 and 2018 surfaced about Glock slating the Gen 3 pistols for discontinuation, the entirety of the Gen 3 lineup, including the Glock 19, is still in production, continuing to be listed in Glock’s online catalog.
When first introduced in 1998, the Glock 19 Gen 3’s MSRP was $649.99. Today, you can expect a NIB Glock 19 to retail for $599 on average, whereas typical used Gen 3 Glock 19s cost between $400 and $450.
Improving on Perfection: Glock 19 Gen 4
New for 2010, Generation 4 Glock pistols seemed very similar at first; identical external dimensions, same finger grooves, same sights, same trigger.
One of the most notable changes was the new RTF2 grip texture, trading the traditional pebble texture for an aggressive, square-stippled grip texture extending into the finger grooves and the backstrap.
The Gen 4 magazine release button is enlarged compared to previous-generation models, and both the button and the magazines became ambidextrous. Although Gen 4 pistols are fully compatible with Gen 3 and earlier magazines, they will only work if you set the G19 for right-handed use.
One of the most acclaimed changes introduced with the fourth-generation models was interchangeable backstraps, with three different sizes included in the box. This system allowed Glock 19 Gen 4 owners to customize their grip to their liking, making it more comfortable to shoot.
At the time of its introduction, the MSRP of a Glock 19 Gen 4 was $599.99.
As of 2020, Glock has discontinued sales and production of all Gen 4 models for the civilian market, prioritizing its latest Gen 5 lineup.
The Austrian firm confirmed that they would continue making parts and offering support for existing Gen 4 pistols still in service with law enforcement agencies, as evidenced by the “Law Enforcement Only” banner over all Gen 4 models on their US catalog.
If you’re looking to buy a G19 Gen 4 today, you will have to turn towards the used market. A used Gen 4 Glock 19 costs between $425 and $499.
As this handgun is neither old nor rare, some retailers may still have old stock of NIB Gen 4 pistols, typically retailing for $499 to $529. Although they are older pistols, they will still be in new or like-new condition.
The Latest and Greatest: Glock 19 Gen 5
First announced at SHOT Show 2016 and formally released to the market in 2017, the Generation 5 line introduced the most extensive changes to modern-day Glocks to this day.
Gen 5 features include the new Glock Marksman Barrel, featuring redesigned polygonal rifling, tighter tolerances, and a match-grade target crown, improving accuracy.
Other features include fully-ambidextrous controls (Gen 4 frames only featured ambidextrous magazine release buttons), a flared magazine well for easier reloading, and a new nDLC finish, offering higher corrosion resistance.
However, the most notable change was the deletion of the finger grooves first introduced in Gen 3, answering customer concerns regarding grip ergonomics and allowing a wider range of hand sizes to hold the pistol comfortably.
Gen 5 Glock pistols are the latest and the most advanced models available today. Glock 19 Gen 5 pistols officially retail for $699. However, NIB Gen 5 Glock 19s cost from $559 to $649 at most gun retailers.
You may be able to find cheaper deals on the second-hand market, but keep in mind that Gen 5 pistols are still relatively new; the used prices have not yet significantly dropped.
Which Model Should I Buy?
If you can’t decide which generation is the best for you, these details and recommendations should guide you in the right direction.
Gen 3 pistols have been around the longest, with millions of units in circulation and possessing the most comprehensive third-party market, with countless parts available.
If you want a Glock 19 for modding and customizing, the Glock 19 Gen 3 may be your best bet.
Despite their discontinuation, Glock 19 Gen 4 pistols have been on the market for 10 years, long enough for millions of units to be in circulation.
Although the third-party market for Gen 4 pistols remains extensive compared with other handgun models, the differences between Generations mean that some Gen 3 modifications may not work with Gen 4 models.
However, it is critical to note that used prices for Gen 4 pistols are continually dropping, as their previous owners are either upgrading to Gen 5 or switching to a different model.
Look for police trade-in pistols, often sold at advantageous prices due to their holster and manipulation wear; such guns are likely to have been rarely fired, leaving them mechanically lightly-used or almost new.
If you want to get the best value for your money, look out for a Gen 4.
The latest generation of Glock pistols is also the most advanced yet, featuring the most significant changes. Ergonomic improvements, fully ambidextrous controls, high accuracy: Glock designed the G19 Gen 5 to be perfect out of the box.
Gen 5 pistols are so different from previous generations that most Gen 3 and Gen 4 parts are not compatible. Although third-party parts manufacturers are constantly releasing new products, the range of available products remains limited.
If you want the best stock Glock 19 on the market and don’t plan on extensively modifying your handgun, look no further than the Gen 5.
The Bottom Line
No matter which generation you purchase, the Glock 19 is a very reliable, highly popular handgun that you can count on when you need it. Don’t forget to practice often and train your fundamentals until they become second nature.