Editor's Note: Please view our Gen4 Glock photo gallery.
To say that Glock handguns are popular would be to damn these pistols with faint praise. Glocks are on the hips of more American law enforcement officers than any other make of gun. They're also popular with military forces worldwide. And a lot of civilian gun owners have a Glock or two in their collections. By any yardstick, the Glock line of handguns is hugely successful.
So why would Glock go and tinker with the ergonomics and interior works of its extremely popular firearms? That's the question that I asked myself when I first heard about the Gen 4 Glock G-17s and G-22s. So I had Glock send me some test and evaluation models so that I could compare them to the Gen 3 models in my collection.
There are three major improvements in the Gen 4 Glocks: switchable backstraps, more aggressive grip and slide texturing, and a double recoil spring. Let's give each of them a detailed analysis.
It's no secret that there are some shooters who just don't like Glocks. Maybe they are turned off by polymer-framed pistols. Maybe they prefer a hammer to a striker system. Maybe they just don't like the ergonomics of Glock pistols.
One reason I've found that some people don't like the ergonomics of Glocks is because they don't like the grip angle, and they feel it affects their point of aim. People who had problems using older model Glock pistols should give new Gen 4 Glocks a try.
The Gen 4s feature interchangeable backstraps that can be used to customize the dimensions of the grip and alter the reach to the trigger to fit the needs of individual operators. This is a very welcome improvement to the basic Glock and one that users have requested for some time, especially since just about every other major duty gun maker now offers firearms with this feature.
Each new Gen 4 Glock ships with three different backstraps. The small backstrap is factory installed, but shooters can easily replace it with a medium or large backstrap. The bottom line is that you get to choose which one of three grip sizes fits your shooting hand the best.
A Better Grip
The interchangeable backstraps are just one of two major ergonomic improvements on the Gen 4 Glocks. Another new feature on the Gen 4s is more aggressive texturing on the grip and improved serrations on the slide.
The Gen 4 Glocks basically have an improved version of the recently introduced Glock Rough Textured Finish (RTF-2) models. This means the new Gen 4s have a very comfortable rubbery texture imbedded into the surface of the new grip that dramatically improves the feel. Gen 4 Glock pistols also have excellent north-south slide serrations that I believe are an improvement over the crescent shaped slide serrations that are used on the Rough Textured Finish (RTF2) Model Glock pistols.
Personally, I believe the new grip and slide serrations are the most important ergonomic improvements on these new models. I say this because I don't believe the interchangeable backstrap will be a big selling point for officers who already own Glocks. But the combination of the new grips and the slide with the interchangeable backstraps makes the Gen 4 a compelling revision of an already excellent firearm.
And as they say on those TV infomercials: Wait, there's more. Not only have the ergonomics of the Gen 4 Glocks been vastly improved. So have some of the interior components.
Some shooters have complained over the years that Glock's polymer frame pistols are so light that they have too much recoil, especially when firing snappy duty and self-defense ammunition. The Gen 4 Glocks use an ingenious new recoil spring design to make them shoot very softly.
The captive recoil spring system in the Gen 4 Glocks significantly dampens felt recoil. It also ensures that you have one less part to worry about when you disassemble your pistol in the field for cleaning and lubrication.
By the way, if you are thinking of cutting corners by installing a Gen 4 captive recoil spring assembly into an older model Glock pistol, put that thought out of your head because the Gen 4 captive recoil spring assembly is not interchangeable with previous model Glocks.