Glock 17 — Good Gun or All Hype?

The Glock 17 is frequently touted as the best gun ever made. It has a huge fan base and you see it everywhere—or you at least see Glocks in general—but what makes it so great? Is the Glock 17, or G17 as it’s often written, a good idea for gun owners to have in their collections, or is it seriously over-hyped? We’re here to answer those questions for you.

Glock 17 Gen 5 left profile
Now in its fifth generation, the Glock 17 has been around for 40 years. (Photo credit: Glock)

What is the Glock 17?

The Glock 17 is a polymer-frame handgun made by Glock, Inc. It’s the first of its line, although it’s currently in its fifth generation of design. The first Glock ever created was the original G17 back in 1982. It didn’t take long for more guns to be added to the line and also for changes to be made to that first pistol’s design, so the early G17 makes up the entirety of that first generation of Glocks.

What features does the Glock 17 have?

There are a lot of features to recommend the G17 to gun owners. For one thing, it’s a lighter-weight yet incredibly durable pistol thanks to its polymer frame, steel slide, and years of proven performance. The G17 is chambered in 9x19mm Parabellum and has a standard capacity of 17 +1 rounds. It’s possible to get aftermarket magazines with larger capacities.

Glock 17 in FDE with extended capacity magazine
Glock-17-5: The Glock 17 has a standard capacity of 17 +1 but there are larger magazines available for it as well. (Photo credit: Natchez Shooting Supplies)

The overall length of the Gen 5 G17 is 7.95 inches and its height, with a magazine inserted, is 5.47 inches. It has an overall empty weight of 22.22 ounces. As mentioned before, the gun has a polymer frame and steel slide. Now, specific features depend on the generation of the gun in question, because Glock has made improvements to the design of their guns with each generation. That means the following features might be present in multiple generations, but many are specific to the Gen 5 G17:

  • Front and rear slide serrations
  • nDLC finish on barrel and slide
  • Ambidextrous slide stop lever
  • Glock Marksman match-grade barrel
  • Flared magwell to speed magazine changes
  • No finger grooves (earlier generations have finger grooves molded into the grip)
  • SAFE Action System
  • Enlarged magazine floor plate
  • Orange follower in the magazine
  • Interchangeable backstraps for size customization
  • Gen 4 RTF (Rough Textured Frame, which started with Gen 4 Glocks)
  • Reversible magazine release
  • Mounting accessory rail
  • Polymer frame
  • Loaded chamber indicator
Gen 4 Glock 17 with finger grooves
The Gen 4 Glock 17 has finger grooves while the Gen 5 Glock 17 does not. (Photo credit: Glock)

Is the Glock 17 an Accurate Gun?

Generally speaking, the G17 is an accurate gun. Exactly how accurate it is depends on who is shooting it, of course, but if the shooter is up to the task the results will be good. With each generation of the G17, Glock has worked to make improvements that do everything from enhancing durability to making it more accurate.

The Gen 5 G17, which is the current generation at the time of this writing, has the Glock Marksman match-grade barrel in it. That barrel does lend the gun a greater degree of accuracy over prior generations. This is not to say prior generations of the G17 aren’t accurate, because they are, only that the Gen 5 does have an edge.

Glock 17 barrel from Midway USA
Barrels are widely available as aftermarket upgrades for the Glock 17. (Photo credit: Midway USA)

Can You Conceal Carry a Glock 17?

The G17 is a full-sized handgun, so it’s typically better suited to open carry and home defense than concealed carry. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to conceal. With the right holster and gun belt setup, you can conceal all manner of firearms including a full-sized Glock.

Is the Glock 17 Good for Home Defense?

If you’re considering the G17 for home defense and wondering if it’s a good gun for the job, stop and consider what it means for a gun to be good for defensive use. For any gun to be used to defend your life it should meet the following requirements:

  • Reliable cycling
  • Accurate
  • Proper fit to the shooter’s hand
  • Durable

Does the Glock 17 Have a Safety?

One thing some gun owners point out as a negative side of Glocks is what they see as a lack of a safety. In reality, Glocks have a number of safety mechanisms, just no external thumb safety.

Glock SAFE Action System diagram, including trigger safety, firing pin safety, and drop safety.
Glocks have the Glock SAFE Action System of safety mechanisms. (Photo credit: Glock

According to Glock, their SAFE Action System does the following:

Trigger Safety

The trigger safety is the first safety in the firing sequence. It’s incorporated into the trigger in the form of a lever. When engaged, it blocks the trigger from moving rearward. To fire the pistol, the trigger safety and the trigger itself must be deliberately depressed at the same time. If the trigger safety is not depressed, the trigger will not move rearwards and allow the pistol to fire.

The trigger safety is designed to prevent the pistol from firing if it’s dropped or if the trigger is subjected to any pressure that isn’t a direct firing pull.

Warning: If the trigger is in the forward position the pistol may be loaded.

Firing Pin Safety

The second safety, the firing pin safety, mechanically blocks the firing pin from moving forward in the ready-to-fire condition. As the trigger is pulled rearward, the trigger bar pushes the firing pin safety up and frees the firing pin channel. If you decide not to fire and release the trigger the firing pin safety automatically reengages.

Drop Safety

The final safety involves the trigger bar, which rests on the safety ramp within the trigger mechanism housing. The trigger bar engages the rear portion of the firing pin and prevents the firing pin from moving forward. As the trigger is pulled rearward the trigger bar lowers down the safety ramp and allows the release of the firing pin. After firing, the trigger bar moves upward and re-engages the firing pin. As the trigger is released, all safeties automatically reengage.

The moral of the SAFE Action System story is yes, the Glock 17 does have numerous safety mechanisms. In fact, an over-reliance on external thumb safeties can be a bad thing because it will encourage some gun owners to get sloppy and fail to follow the four rules of gun safety. It’s extremely important to always adhere to the four rules of gun safety, no matter what.

What Glock 17 Accessories are There?

There are a lot of aftermarket accessories available for the Glock 17. It’s possible there are even more accessories for this gun than any other gun currently in existence (it really is that popular). A few accessory options include:

  • Weapon Mounted Light (WML)
  • Laser
  • Trigger
  • Extended controls (magazine release, slide stop lever)
  • Drum magazines
  • Night sights
  • Red dot sights
Glock 17 with red dot sight mounted on slide
If you don’t like iron sights you can mount a red dot sight to your Glock 17. (Photo credit: Lynx Firearms)

One of the great things about the Glock 17 is that it’s highly customizable. With the Gen 5 G17 the backstrap can be swapped out to better fit the shooter’s hand and from there. Users who want to suppress their Glock 17 can install a threaded barrel. Really, the sky’s the limit.

Glock 17 with custom camo cerakoke and Streamlight TLR-1 HL weapon-mounted light
One way gun owners customize their Glocks is by having them Cerakoted. (Photo credit: Cerakote)

The standard Glock factory trigger isn’t usually very well-liked, so aftermarket triggers are often the first thing added to a G17. There are entire companies dedicated to producing aftermarket Glock parts so you’ll have no issues finding whatever you want.

Timney trigger installed on Glock 17
Want an aftermarket trigger for your Glock 17? Check out this one from Timney Triggers. (Photo credit: Timney Triggers)

Should I Get a Glock 17?

Only you can answer the question of whether or not you should add a Glock 17 to your gun collection. Keep in mind that decades of testing from logical to seemingly crazy means have proven these guns to be incredibly reliable, and that’s a key feature for defensive use.

The G17 is simply the most popular model but it is by no means the only Glock option. There are myriad options for caliber and size of Glock. If you choose the G17, you’re selecting the model that’s commonly used as a duty gun for members of law enforcement, the gun that founded the Glock empire, and the gun with the highest-selling track record over time. It’s a solid, dependable pistol capable of fantastic accuracy, making it a good choice for a lot of gun owners.


  • Manufacturer: Glock, Inc.
  • Model: Generation 5 Glock 17
  • Caliber: 9x19mm Parabellum/Luger
  • Capacity: 17 +1, standard
  • Barrel length: 4.49 inches
  • Overall length: 7.95 inches
  • Slide length: 7.32 inches
  • Overall width: 1.34 inches
  • Slide width: 1.0 inch
  • Height: 5.47 inches, with magazine inserted
  • Line of sight: 6.50 inches, polymer
  • Trigger distance: 2.83 inches
  • Weight: 22.22 ounces, without magazine, 24.97 ounces, with an empty magazine, and 33.33 ounces, with a loaded magazine
  • MSRP: Varies by generation

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