Shooting the Glock 19

Over the last four decades I have been fortunate enough to have owned many handguns and a large percentage of these were chambered in 9x19mm.  My very first was a 1918 DWM Luger which had been given to me by a friend of the family.  It sported a 3 5/8” barrel and remnants of nickel-plating. That was the first firearm I began reloading for. With the help of my uncle, I obtained my first set of RCBS loading dies (still have them) and cranked out my very first box of 9mm ammunition.  This would be circa 1965 or ’66; I flat don’t remember.  (I do remember that the load used Speer’s 125-gr. JSP over whatever the maximum charge of Red Dot was.)  Years passed as I dallied about with 9mm’s from the STAR Model B to the SIG P210 but also developed an abiding passion for the FN/Browning Hi Power that endures to this day and will probably last until I “cross the river”…and perhaps beyond?

Being blessed with responsible parents, I was disciplined enough to avoid the penitentiary and eventually wound up in police service and remained there for 25 continuous years, the last 11 being a certified police firearm instructor and privileged to have been taught by some true handgun masters, especially with the double-action revolver. It was while in police service that I saw and shot my first Glock pistol, a Glock 17 owned by another officer.  I do not recall the exact year, but I know that the then-new Glock pistol couldn’t have been around over a year at the most.  I didn’t shoot right it off the bat, though.  I watched until I’d seen its owner shoot a couple of hundred rounds before I dared shoot that “goofy-lookin’ plastic pistol”.  Function was flawless and accuracy satisfactory but it was well...just sooo damned ugly!  I just kept on keeping on with my P35’s and 1911’s and besides, I didn’t see how that Glock thing could be popular at all or last over a year or two.  Too numerous to mention are the times I’ve been sorely mistaken and this was surely one!

Fast forward a few years and I found myself the owner of two 9mm Glock pistols, a G26 and G17.  I had tried hard to make the Glock 26 work as a pocket gun but that just wasn’t to be in my case.  The Glock 17’s primary purpose was to be a “loaner” for Texas Concealed Handgun licensees to use in range qualifications both in their initial course, CHL renewal or if they wanted to “modify” their existing CHL from “Non-Semiautomatic” to “Semiautomatic”.  Now and again, I would tote the thing while prowling about the boonies or on a friend’s ranch as well as lawfully concealed for self-protection but it was never anything special to me.  It just had no “soul” like a well-used Colt automatic, S&W revolver or especially the Hi Power!

Things have changed.  Though a perennial charter member of the Hi Power Fan Club, I freely admit owning a Glock or two and have even shot them in front of other people!  I used my Glock 17 on the semiauto portion of my CHL Instructor renewal this year instead of an STI Trojan, HK P7, Browning or Colt as in past bi-annual recertification courses.

Of the service-sized Glocks, I preferred the Glock 17 but it was not lost upon me that practically every shooter I knew who bought a Glock (and openly admitted it) opted for the “compact” model, the Glock 19.  (I reckon it is compact compared to a G17 in the same manner that a Colt Commander is compact compared to the Government Model.  Well, actually a little more because the G19’s butt is shorter.) I didn’t lose any sleep over it but I really paid attention when a close friend of mine who happens to be a superb pistol shot (and has proved it for “real” on more than one occasion) mentioned that his choice in Glock’s was the Model 19.  I had shot his and another shooting buddy’s now and again but kept resisting the slowly-growing urge to buy one.  After all, I already had a G17 and 26; why would I “need” the middle-sized one?  In the meantime, for reasons unknown I was back in “revolver mode” and had been shooting double-action wheelguns very regularly for about a year.  Oh, I’d keep my “hand in” by occasionally working with a pet 1911-pattern pistol in .45 ACP or a 9mm Hi Power, but most of the time I was banging away with one of my DAO S&W Model 10 Heavy Barrel’s or working on pure bullseye with an S&W Model 14.  Secretly though, I’d shoot my revolvers a while and if no one was around, I’d pull out my old Glock 17 and get serious with it.  I had never devoted any serious range time to the Glock and for whatever reasons; doing so now was appealing.

…but the Glock 19 bug kept gnawing and gnawing and gnawing.  Eventually, “need” be damned; I coughed up the dollars for a NIB Glock 19.  It happens to be one of those recently imported with the Austrian proof marks.

I had worked pretty regularly with my old Glock 17 for the better part of a year before I bought the Glock 19.

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Here is my Glock 19 as it came from the box.  In this version, the front sight was steel and staked in the usual oblong opening in the slide.  The adjustable rear sight was plastic. It was exactly “on” out of the box.

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Here is my Glock 19 after “customizing”.  I simply prefer the Arotek fixed sights to those that came on the pistol from the factory. The rear sight is plain black and though a plain black front sight has been my long-term preference in years past, I opted for a white dot on this one.  The reason is simple; my vision is not quite what it was and it is just easier to find the front sight in a hurry with this setup. It also has the Jentra snap-in plastic plug to fill the hollow behind the magazine well. Everything else is as it left the Glock factory.

The first range-session with the Arotek sights was better than expected because the sights were dead-bang “on” out to about 25 yards or so. No surprises on reliability which was 100% flawless.  The G19 digested the following with neither a burp nor stutter:

50 rounds Corbon 115-gr. JHP +P

50 rounds Remington 115-gr. JHP +P

20 rounds Winchester 127-gr. Ranger +P+

50 rounds Speer 124-gr. Gold Dot Hollow Point +P

20 rounds Remington 124-gr. Golden Saber +P

50 rounds Speer 147-gr. Gold Dot Hollow Point

50 rounds Winchester 147-gr. Silvertip Hollow Points

100 rounds handloaded 124-gr. XTP’s @ approx. 1250 ft/sec

100 rounds handloaded 124-gr. Rainier plated round nose @ approx. 1150 ft/sec

Ammunition: In today’s session, four different loads were used with three different bullet profiles. Two were JHP’s, both discontinued factory 124- gr. +P loads from Corbon.  One used Speer’s excellent Gold Dot and the other, the Hornady XTP.  I believe that these loads were about 1993-94 vintage.

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 Here you can see the cartridge styles fired in today’s shooting.  The loads were standard pressure 124-gr. FMJ from MFS and Privi Partizan. The JHP’s are discontinued +P loads from Corbon.  In the picture the Gold Dot is seen flanked by MFS’ FMJ on the left and Corbon’s 124-gr. XTP on the right.

Shooting: Shooting would be two-handed both unsupported as well as sandbagging my wrists when trying to squeeze all of the accuracy out of the pistol/ammunition combination that I could.  Pictures of targets will note whether or not they were shot from a rest. There was no effort at speed on a single exercise except the “practical” one which was the “Higginbotham Standard Handgun Controllability Drill”, and it is the one used to start the ball rolling. It mandates no “warm up” shots.

5 yards: The object is to fire 5 shots @ 5 yards in no more than 2 seconds starting from a low ready position.  The target is a piece of 8 ½ x 11” typing paper folded lengthwise so that it winds up an 8 ½ x 5 ½” unmarked rectangle. It is a “pass/fail” exercise.  To pass, all five shots must be somewhere on the paper in no more than 2 seconds. Using a timer, my average for three runs of this exercise was about 1.7 seconds using 124-gr. Privi Partizan ball ammo.

10 yards: From a standing and unsupported position using a two-hand hold, I fired both of the hot Corbon loads.

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Either of these loads proved plenty accurate enough for self-protection in my opinion.  I only fired 5-shot groups with these loads.  I was not surprised at the Hornady version giving the best group.  When working up warmish handloads in either 9mm or .38 Super, I have consistently found this bullet capable of very fine accuracy.  Corbon lists these loads’ velocities at 1250 ft/sec.  Both exceed 1300 ft/sec from my Glock 17 but I have not yet chronographed them from this G19; I suspect the muzzle velocities will be close to those of the G17.

15 yards: I fired ten shots using MFS 124-gr. FMJ from a seated position with my wrists braced.  This was done in slow-fire with absolutely no emphasis at speed.

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Point-of-aim was exactly the center of the bullseye.  I am very satisfied with this group and admit that it is better than what I usually get at 15 yards. (The specked discoloration under the pistol is due to intermittent sprinkling.)

25-yards: At this distance I fired two groups, both with MFS 124-gr. FMJ ammunition.  One target was fired from seated position with braced wrists while the other was fired using a two-hand hold and standing.  Both were done in slow-fire.

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The group on the left was fired from a seated position.  My wrists were braced with sandbags.  The darker area measures 2” in diameter. The group in the right was fired using a two-hand hold and from a standing position.  The dark bullseye measures 4” in diameter. While I am pleased with both groups, I was a little bit surprised that the two were somewhat similar in group size.  Just a “good day”, I guess!

50 yards: When I arrived at the range, the 50-yard range was occupied but luckily, those shooters left just as I was finishing up at 25 yards.  Moving to the longer range, I fired one group from the Glock.

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A magazine-full of Privi Partizan’s 124-gr. ball was fired at fifty yards from a seated position and both wrists were braced. The darkest bullseye measures 4” in diameter.  The shaded area in which it is centered has a diameter of 8”. I believe that the pistol is capable of considerably tighter groups.  This group has roughly a 7” diameter.  That spread has got to be primarily due to human error, mine!

Conclusion: I admit being a slow-learner but now see why the Glock 19 has been a top-seller since but shortly after it hit the ground circa 1988.  It truly does seem to be small enough to carry concealed but large enough to allow accurate shooting and due to its polymer frame, it is very light and easy to carry for extended hours.

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I have carried both my Glock 17 and now the 19 in this inexpensive Fobus paddle holster. I have found it both convenient and comfortable and either pistol can be concealed fairly easily but between the two, the G19 gets the edge due to its slightly shorter butt. According to Glock, the pistol measures 6.85” in length and is 5.0” tall. Width is 1.18”.  Loaded weight would certainly depend upon what ammunition was in the gun but empty, it weighs a hair under 21 ounces.  The trigger-pull is listed at 5.5-lbs.  Mine measured 6-lbs.

During both the previous session as well as today’s, function has been slick as the proverbial gut and flawless but it seems that at least in some discussions, the fact that one can  “limp wrist” the gun and cause malfunctions is causing major concerns for some and consternation for others.  The “concern” is reported to be over the possibility of being hit in the gun arm and weakened to the point of limp wristing the pistol in return fire and experiencing a malfunction, not a good thing to be sure.  The opposition seems to consider this but fodder from a troll or something so remote as not to be a concern.  My position is that it is possible to make the pistol malfunction by limp wristing but with the vast numbers of Glocks being used worldwide by military, police and private “operators” and “contractors” going in harm’s way, were it a real life problem, it would be widely publicized.  Complaints both legitimate and otherwise, are definitely found in some firearm forums but considering the vast numbers of Glocks in service at any time and all over the globe, I just am not that worried about it.  While I do believe that autoloaders with lightweight frames appear more vulnerable to limp wristing than those with heavier ones, this is really not news.  I have personally seen steel-framed 1911’s and P-35’s purposely limp wristed and fail to function properly.  If interested, here is a more detailed look at the matter:

Folks sincerely concerned over possible limp-wrist-Glock-malfunctions might be better served with another make autoloader.  Confidence in one’s chosen protection arm is a necessity in my opinion. Automatics in general and any specific make such as the Glock will bring both good and bad characteristics with them.  I favor the gun’s usual reliability, durability and very corrosion-resistant finish combined with satisfactory service-gun accuracy and light weight.

Nevertheless, I felt obliged to try and limp wrist this little dumpling.

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Here are the two “holds” used to limp wrist my Glock 19.  On the left is a traditional type one-hand hold but it is very, very, very light. I am barely holding the gun firmly enough to keep from dropping it. It is parallel to my arm. On the right, I am holding the pistol between my thumb and fingers.  I cannot imagine trying to use the pistol this way, but fired 5 shots of MFS 124-gr. ball from each position.  I got 1 failure to eject with the hold on the left and 4 using the one on the right. (I do not recommend trying this. It is very possible to drop the pistol. I did it with a cushion on the ground beneath the gun should I drop it, which I nearly did once with the hold shown on the right.)

Glock users sometimes carry spare reloads for the Glock 19 via 17-shot Glock 17 magazines.  The slightly longer magazine works fine in the G19, though its shorter 15-round magazine cannot be used for the Glock 17. 

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I removed the slide/bbl assembly from my Glock 19 and inserted a Glock 17 magazine.  If you look carefully, you can see that the magazine does not strike the ejector despite my pushing firmly upward on the magazine floor plate as this picture was being taken.  On some 1911’s, some magazines can strike the bottom of the ejector and depending upon how forceful the reload and how often, damage can occur over time. Though easily corrected on the older design, it is nice to see that it doesn’t appear to be a problem on the Glock.

Overall, I am quite pleased with the Glock 19 and intend to keep it as a stable mate to my other 9mm pistols and not just as a “beater” or whatever terms some choose to use for handguns to which they have little financial or emotional attachment.  I respect the design and its capability.  Though I don’t buy into the “perfection” thing, I believe that it is a suitable pistol for self-protection or “serious business” as I call it.

Some people prefer them to all other designs while others wouldn’t have one on a bet.  Given a choice, we will make our decisions on what type handgun best serves our needs based on our individual situations and concerns.

My biggest “concern” with it at the moment is trying to decide if it or the Glock 17 is my favorite of this tribe.


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