Shooting the Glock 17L

It’s no secret that unless there’s a particular reason otherwise, my handgun preference is usually for longer rather than shorter barrel lengths. When I began dabbling a bit with Glocks, I tried a G17, 22 and 26.  At that time, I just wasn’t that interested in the full-size “Combat Tupperware” as some call them, but did appreciate the extreme reliability displayed in each of these pistols. I was trying to find a reliable small autoloader for concealed carry that could be shot lots.  The first Glock that I kept for any length of time was a Glock 26, and I still have it.  If interested, here’s an article on that from several years ago:

Years went by and in my neck of the woods, gun shops and gunsmiths became fewer with longer “wait times” being a natural by-product of this sad state of affairs.  More than ever, I have come to appreciate the ability to easily change out or replace parts in autoloaders having relatively few parts while usually not needing any fitting at all, and being simple enough to completely disassemble.  This sort of self-sufficiency is a major part of the Glock’s lure to me.

Over the years I’ve watched a couple of 9mm Glock shooters I know just shoot the fire out of their Glock pistols long-term and have come to believe that Glocks are one of the very toughest 9mm automatics in existence.  It’s true enough that a spring or small part might break but considering what has to be huge numbers being used, catastrophic failures do seem rare. I’ve seen one in which the breech face of a brand spankin’ new G19 cracked after but a few standard pressure factory rounds.  Though I strongly respect the Glock line of handguns, I do not subscribe to the company motto proclaiming “Glock Perfection”.

I spent roughly a year actually “learning” the Glock trigger and becoming what I consider satisfactorily familiar with the design.  This was not a full-time endeavor and I frequently shot other handguns such as Browning Hi Powers, CZ-75’s, 1911’s, SIG-Sauer pistols, and more than a few revolvers, but often times, I worked with a Glock 17 as well. 

Time went by and I “somehow” wound up with a Glock 19 and began shooting it, too!  Of course, this then resulted in trying to determine which is best; the Glock 17 or 19? If you find this dilemma of interest, here’s a link to the topic, which seems to be a common theme:

I have added a Glock 17L to the pile and have been shooting it at ranges from about 10 to 25 yards on most occasions, but have shot it on out to 50 and 100 yards a few times.  I like the pistol and prefer it to the slightly shorter (but IDPA-legal) Glock 34.  Some shooters will almost certainly feel just the opposite.

Glock17Lrange 006.JPG

Here is the G17L (top) shown with the “regular” G17. Both have had their factory sights replaced with Arotek fixed sights.  Both have Jentra plugs but remain stock beyond those two changes. These are both Generation 3 pistols. I believe that the G17L was introduced in 1988.  I have read that it was discontinued ten years later when it was replaced with the Glock 34, but I tend to believe that Glock continues to manufacture the 17L on an intermittent and irregular basis.  This one was bought NIB…a current style box.

G17L Specifications:

Slide Length: 8.85”

Height w/Magazine: 5.43”

Width: 1.18”

Sight Radius: 8.07”

Barrel Length: 6.02” (versus 4.49” for the G17 and 5.32” for the G34)

Weight (empty, but with magazine in place): 26.38”

Trigger-pull: 4.5-lbs.

Barrel Twist: 1: 9.84”

Standard Magazine Capacity: 17 cartridges

Trigger-face: smooth

Sights: factory adjustable (polymer)

As can be readily seen, the pistol is essentially just a Glock 17 frame with a longer slide assembly and lighter trigger-pull, along with an extended slide release lever and a longer magazine release button.

Glock17Lrange 010.JPG

The top of the slide is cut away to reduce weight.  The Glock 17L uses the same recoil spring assembly as the standard Glock 17.

Glock17Lrange 012.JPGGlock17Lrange 025.JPG

On the left is the (slightly) larger slide release lever. On the right, the extended magazine release button.


A not unexpected benefit to this model’s longer barrel is increased velocity.  Let’s take a look at some loads’ measured average velocities when fired from both the Glock 17 and 17L.  Average speeds were based on the average of 10 shots fired 10’ from the chronograph screens.

Glock 17 vs. 17L Chronograph Results:


G17 w/4.49” bbl (ft/sec):

G17L w/6.02” bbl (ft/sec):

Federal 115-gr. JHP



Corbon 115-gr. JHP +P



Corbon 124-gr. XTP +P*



Speer 147-gr. Gold Dot HP



*Discontinued load. (Replaced with Sierra 125-gr. PJHP)

Shooting: This gun presented no surprises.  It was monotonously reliable with either FMJ or JHP’s be they factory or handloaded.  Let’s take a look at some groups fired in slow-fire.  Some were fired with both wrists braced and supported on sandbags and some were fired while standing and using a two-hand hold.  Shooting results for this report were not done on a single day but over a period of weeks. I purposely did not clean the pistol until firing roughly 600 rounds.

Glock17Lrange 003.JPG

The group at the left was fired at 15 yards with both wrists resting on sandbags and with no effort at speed.  On the right is a group fired while standing and using a two-hand hold.  It was done in slow-fire and from only 10 yards using the same DAG ammunition.

Glock17Lrange 020.JPG

This 25-yard slow-fire group was fired with DAG (Dynamit Nobel) 124-gr. ball.  I have not yet chronographed this ammunition, but if “feels” like it is probably in the 1150 ft/sec range.

Glock17Lrange 019.JPG

This long-discontinued Corbon load using the Hornady 124-gr. XTP grouped very well for me.  The two shots out of the group were my fault and were called.

Glock17Lrange 023.JPG

This group was fired without support and using a two-hand hold at 25 yards. Each square in the grid measures one-inch.

I didn’t shoot the G17L at paper at longer distances.  At a friend’s private range, we shot some steel silhouettes at 100 yards.  Using the DAG ammunition and firing off-hand, I’d hear the bullet striking steel perhaps 7 out of 10 times.  Firing at bowling pins at 50 and 60 yards resulted in hits more often than not for me.

Observations:  Despite higher velocities, I noted no differences between the G17L, G34 or plain G17 pistols.  Reliability remained 100% with no hesitation noted in smoothly feeding any JHP load, regardless of how blunt its ogive might be!

I am not convinced that the G17L possesses any extra “built-in” mechanical accuracy compared to the G17 or 19, but personally find it easier to shoot accurately due to its increased sight radius and lighter trigger-pull.  At my age, I am just more able to finely focus on the slightly more distant front sight on the 17L than I can on the shorter Glock models so this might not be as big a factor for other shooters.

It probably is not as mechanically accurate as an accurized and tuned 1911-pattern pistol, but it meets (and exceeds) the real accuracy requirements that 99.99% of shooters will demand or are capable of realizing. I will not own a firearm that I can outshoot.  In other words if my grouping capability is beyond the gun’s, it’s gone.  I have no plans to get rid of my Glock 17L (or my other Glocks as well)! I expect that this pistol will last for decades of heavy shooting.

The question to me is how many decades I have left!

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