Glock Through the Generations: Breaking Down the Differences Between Gen 3 vs. Gen 4 vs. Gen 5 Glocks

glock 19 gen 3

So, you’ve decided you want to purchase a Glock. Now, are you wondering what the difference is between a Gen 3 vs. Gen 4 Glock? Or maybe you’re looking at the iconic Glock 19 model and debating if you should purchase a Gen 3 vs. Gen 5? Whether you’re looking for a top concealed carry firearm or something to take your competitive shooting skillset to the next level, there are quite a few models for you to choose from. You definitely wouldn’t be alone in your ownership, as they say. Glocks are among the most popular firearms you can find today, especially for the emerging women’s market. Are they the sexiest firearms you can find? No. But they are highly sought after for their durability. That’s been the case more or less since the company’s inception. 

Gaston Glock, an Austrian engineer and businessman, founded the company in 1963. After focusing efforts on the production of machine gun casings and knives, the company began crafting semi-automatic pistols in the 1980s to meet the changing needs of the Austrian military. And, well, the rest is history. Today, there are over five generations of Glock firearms that have defined generations of gun enthusiasts. In this blog, we’ll break down the differences between the Glock Gen 3, 4, and 5.

Glock Gen 3

Ol’ reliable? Released in 1998, the Glock Gen 3 still holds its own vs. the Gen 4 and 5. After it hit the open market, the Gen 3 models quickly set a high standard for the modern handgun. Think of this generation as the bridge between old and new. In many ways, it foreshadowed Glock’s transition away from foundational design. So, what set it apart?

For one, the Glock Gen 3 models vs. Gen 4 feature an often polarizing grip. One of its hallmark features (or most hated) is its grip texture with pronounced finger grooves. These grooves are intended to provide shooters with a firm grip, offering both comfort and control. The universal rail on the Gen 3 accommodated a variety of accessories, granting versatility in purpose, from law enforcement to recreational shooting.

One thing we should all be able to agree upon, though, is that the addition of Glocks’s Universal Rail on the frame took their firearms to the next level, allowing gun owners to easily mount a weapon light or sight for an added element of performance. If you’re on the hunt for a new sight, make sure to check out our collection of optics and sights

Additionally, Gen 3 Glocks typically boast the Tennifer heat treatment, which is synonymous with Glock’s reputation for durability. It protected the gun from corrosion and extreme conditions, making it a reliable choice for any environment. Probably why Glock went with “Dependable” as one of their headlines shown below. 

Glock Gen 4

When Glock first released the Gen 4 models in 2010, they were marketed as a continued improvement in design. However, Gen 3 vs. Gen 4 Glocks don’t necessarily have all too many differences. Overall, the models you’ll find will be pretty similar. With this said, however, Glock did introduce a few enhancements that responded to the evolving needs of its diverse user base. Immediately noticeable is its Rough Textured Frame (RTF). This aggressive texture ensures a non-slip grip, pivotal during target shooting and also wet conditions. Coupled with the finger grooves, the Gen 4 aims to provide shooters with a tangible feeling of control.

Another standout feature of the Gen 4 is its Modular Back Strap system. Recognizing that one size doesn’t fit all, Glock allowed users to customize the grip size to their hands, ensuring both comfort and optimal trigger reach. On top of this, the Gen 4 vs. the Gen 3 Glock boasts a larger, reversible magazine catch, making it friendlier for both right-handed and left-handed shooters. Southpaws like to shoot, too, after all.

Beneath its slide, a dual recoil spring system was introduced. This not only enhanced the gun’s lifespan but also dampened felt recoil, making shooting more pleasant for a wide range of owners. 

Glock Gen 5

In 2017, the Glock Gen 5 release date came about, ushering in what some called a ‘Blast From the Past’ era. But was it really? This generation, while retaining Glock’s storied reliability, showcases significant refinements that elevate the shooting experience. One of the first things shooters will notice is the absence of finger grooves (another one of those love it or hate it kind of things). Take the Glock 19, for example. The Glock 19 Gen 3 vs. Gen 5 will certainly feel a bit different. 

Opting for a smoother front strap, the Gen 5 offers a more universal fit, accommodating a broader range of hand sizes. This, combined with the Rough Textured Frame (RTF) from Gen 4, ensures a confident grip in any condition.

The Glock Marksman Barrel also came into play with Gen 5. This enhanced barrel design boasts improved rifling and a perfected crown, delivering increased accuracy. And let’s be honest, everybody enjoys that, right? Further enhancing its user-friendly design, the Gen 5 takes inspiration from the Gen 4 models, offering an ambidextrous slide stop that caters to both left and right-hand dominant shooters. Better yet, the slide itself can be customized to give the gun an entirely new look. Our Glock slides feature a wide range of colors and designs like Cerakote that offer both a personal touch and protection.

If you’re the proud owner of any of these Glock models and want some added flair to stand out next time you’re with friends or at the shooting range, be sure to check out our shop of high-quality, precision-cut aftermarket additions like slides and barrels. You can also head over to our blog, Shooting the Sh!t, where we talk about some of the hottest topics in the firearms industry.

Is Glock Gen 5 better than 4?

For the most part, this will come entirely down to personal preference. Although Glock’s Gen 5 models boast impressive refinements vs. the Gen 4 models, certain shooters may prefer the look and/or feel of the Gen 4s.

Is Glock Gen 5 better than Gen 3?

No matter the model you look at (Glock 19 Gen 3 vs. Gen 5 and beyond), this will come down to the unique preferences of the shooter. Some may prefer Glock Gen 3 vs. Gen 5 and vice versa.

What is the difference between Glock 19 Gen 3 vs. Gen 4 slides?

The biggest difference between the Glock 19 Gen 3 vs. Gen 4 slides is the spring guide. The Gen 4 introduced a larger, dual-recoil spring guide. Additionally, you may notice Gen 4 slides marked with “Gen 4.”