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If you’re looking to buy a new pistol, and you’ve narrowed things down to Glock 17 vs 19, the good news is that you almost can’t go wrong with either. These are two of Glocks most popular model and both are excellent pistols. But which one should you get?

As good similar as the Glock 17 and 19 are, there are some important differences between the two that deserve consideration if you’re trying to choose between them. Deciding which one is exactly right for you mostly depends on how you plan to use your new Glock. Below, we’ll break down the Glock 17 vs 19 question to help you get the pistol that perfectly matches your needs.

Glock 17 vs 19 at a Glance

Before we dive deeper into Glock pistols generally and then break down all the differences between the 17 and 19, here’s a quick comparison chart that highlights the key points.

Field & Stream

The Story of the Glock 17 and 19

In the early 1980s, a man who had no experience with firearm design engineered a new pistol. Though the term “game-changer” is criminally overused, Gaston Glock’s debut handgun was exactly that. The Glock 17 (G17) set the stage for an entirely new generation of polymer-framed pistols, and through savvy marketing to police departments, Glock became the most used pistol of law enforcement by the turn of the last century. Today, Glocks, as well as pistols from other manufactures that emulate Gaston’s design, are the most popular pistols in the world.

The impetus behind the Glock 17 was the Austrian Army’s request for a new 9mm NATO pistol that would meet multiple criteria. Gaston Glock assembled a team of experts and within three months had a working prototype that made extensive use of polymer materials. Ultimately, the Glock P80—the Austrian military’s name for the G17—was adopted into service, beating out contenders from Steyr, Browning, Beretta, Sig Sauer, and H&K. The Glock 17 became commercially available in the U.S. in 1988, and that same year Glock introduced the more compact G19 to further appeal to law enforcement and civilian gun owners.

During my time as a cop, most of us who worked the street carried duty-size Glocks such as the G17 or G22 in 40 S&W. Plain clothes detectives were generally armed with the smaller G19 or G23, because it’s reduced size made it a bit easier to comfortably conceal. None of that has changed, the G19 is still the smaller of the two Glocks, but now there’s more than one G17 or G19 to choose from, as well as a bunch of other Glocks in 9mm and various other chamberings.

Glock 17 Specs and Features

With its slightly longer sight radius the G17 is a bit easier to shoot more accurately than the G19. Richard Mann

The Glock 17 is a duty-sized pistol with a 4.49-inch barrel and a standard capacity of 17+1 rounds. However, with optional magazines, a G17 can hold as many as 33 rounds. Unloaded, the pistol weighs 24.87 ounces, and a fully loaded 17-round magazine adds half a pound. Currently, Glock offers six different G17 pistols, including include two optics ready versions, and the G17L long-slide version with a 6.02-inch barrel.

I own a Glock 17 and shoot it frequently when testing ammo, working on handgun comparisons, or when developing training/evaluation drills. It shoots great, is very reliable, and I trust it. But because of its size, I never carry it. However, if I were still working the street or if I were to use either of these two Glocks for hunting or backcountry protection, I’d choose it over the G19 due to its added capacity, longer sight radius, and better shootability.

Glock 19 Specs and Features

Glock’s G19 Gen5 MOS is probably the most versatile of the dozen G17 and G19 pistols currently offered. Richard Mann

The Glock 19, with its 4.02-inch barrel and shorter grip frame, has a standard capacity of 15+1. The overall length of the G19 is slightly more than a half-inch less than the G17; it’s also about a half-inch shorter from top to bottom, and weighs about 5% less than the G17. That does not sound like a lot of difference, but the G19 feels and carries like the different pistol it is. Also, the G19 will work splendidly with G17 magazines, so capacity is not a real issue.

Just as with the G17, there are six G19s to choose from. However, the variance in G19s is a bit more complicated. In addition to the optics-ready versions there’s the tan colored G19X. This is what Glock calls a “Crossover” pistol, because it’s part G19 and part G17. The G19X has a G19 slide and barrel but is fitted with the larger G17 grip frame. You might think a pistol that’s part G17 and part G19, should be called the G18, but the G18 Glock is really a G17 that has a selector switch permitting fully-automatic fire.

I don’t own a Glock 19, but my son, who’s also a Gunsite Academy graduate, has a G19 as his primary carry gun. And concealed carry, much like how the Colt Commander was more popular for carry than the 5-inch 1911, is the true forte of the G19. Most who shoot the G19 see it as a sort-of Goldilocks carry gun—that is, just right.

Glock 17 vs 19: Which Is Best for You?

Currently Glock offers more than 60 models, with chamberings in eight different cartridges, but if you’re an outdoorsman trying to decide between a G17 and a G19, there are a dozen to choose from. For personal protection, one of the G19s will be easier to comfortably carry and conceal, whether you’re on the street or trail. If you’re interested in a gun just for home defense, the G17 will fit in a gun safe just as easy as a G19. For hunting or target shooting, the G17—especially the G17L—has the advantage of the longer sight radius, which will help getting hits. But both the G17 and the G19 are available in optics-compatible versions, and the addition of a red dot also increases accuracy at distance. This probably makes the most versatile of the bunch the G19 Gen5MOS, but if you just can’t make up your mind, get the G19X; it’s half of one and half the other.