Gen 4 Glock Review: Evolution, not Revolution

Ever since I first posted about the Gen 4 Glock pistols in June 2009, I have been eagerly awaiting the new guns.  A lot of rumors, information and photos have floated around the Internet in the recent weeks.  The time for speculation is done; the Gen 4 Glock pistols are now here.

The Gen 4 Glock pistols were alternately called the “Next Generation of Perfection” or “too little, too late” depending on who you talked to.  After handling and shooting a Gen 4 Glock 22, I feel comfortable in stating the new guns are an evolutionary step in the Glock platform: nothing more, nothing less.

glock_gen4_01aGen 4 Glock Features

The Gen 4 Glock pistols have a variety of new features that I have discussed before.  They include:

  • interchangeable backstraps (three sizes);
  • reversible, enlarged magazine release;
  • dual recoil spring assembly; and a
  • rough textured frame (RTF)

Interchangeable Backstraps

The Gen 4 Glock pistols have a “multiple backstrap system,” which allows the shooter to adjust the grip size of the frame between a small, medium and large.  The small size feels slightly smaller than the current third generation pistols. The medium and large increase by 2mm and 4mm respectively.

Gen4 Glock 21

For my hand, I really liked the smallest size best.  The large (for me) was just too big.  If you like the size of the standard Glock 20 and 21 pistols, the large backstrap will most likely make you happy.

The medium seemed too large, yet it is supposed to be the same size as the third generation guns.  Funny, I thought I liked the grip size of the Glock handguns.  Maybe I just found something better.

glock_gen4_02aReversible and Enlarged Magazine Release

This is a pretty straightforward change to the Glock pistols.  The magazine release can be set up on the left or right side of the gun.  The magazine release has also been significantly enlarged.  I found the enlarged mag release was easy to manipulate, but it did not get in the way of shooting.  Also, I did not experience any unintended magazine drops that would have happened if the release was too large.

Dual Recoil Spring Assembly

The dual recoil spring assembly looks like an elongated Glock 26 or 27 assembly.  According to the Glock staff I spoke with, the new spring assembly cannot be retrofitted into prior generation pistols.

The new spring assembly is supposed to absorb more of the recoil when the handgun is fired.  However, I did not notice any difference between the Gen 4 Glock 22 and a third generation Glock 22.  The recoil in both felt about the same to me.

I suspect the real reason that Glock went to a dual recoil spring assembly was for enhanced reliability.  The Glock 22 sometimes had reliability problems when shooting certain types of ammunition with a light mounted on the pistol.  It is possible that the dual recoil spring alters slide velocity during recoil to enhance the gun’s functioning with all ammo.

Rough Textured Frame (RTF)

Oddly, Glock pistols with the RTF2 texture were introduced before the pistols with the RTF texture.  Regardless of the timeline and naming conventions, I liked the RTF texture…a lot.

The new RTF texture is fairly aggressive, providing a very positive grip on the handgun.  When I shot the Gen 4 Glock 22, it was raining and cold.  Although miserable, this was a great environment to test the new texture.  Even though it was wet, the pistol did not shift in my hand.  It just stayed put.

The RTF finish was not as sharp as the RTF2.  It enhanced reliability without creating discomfort.  Also, I think the RTF will be much easier on clothes than the RTF2.  I believe the RTF texture will be very popular.


The Gen 4 model 22 Glock shot just like any other Glock.  It was reasonably accurate, easy to shoot and was 100% reliable.  Unlike the pistols of other manufacturers, the Glocks were covered in dirt from impromptu torture testing by various gunwriters.  Even so, the Gen 4 Glock performed like a champ.

Final Thoughts

The Gen 4 pistols from Glock offer some nice improvements.  Several of the enhancements may be worth enough to you to warrant the outlay of your money.  Personally, I did not find anything with the Gen 4 that will cause me to trade my second generation Glock 19 for the new model.

As I have talked about before, Smith & Wesson has seen a lot of recent success in capturing the law enforcement market.  This is largely due to the interchangeable backstraps that are available on the M&P line of handguns.   With the Gen 4 pistols, Glock has leveled the playing field, matching S&W on several important features and making the decisions more about cost and reputation than specs.

I think the Gen 4 Glock handguns are an evolutionary step forward for the company.  I did not find them to be revolutionary, but I think the feature enhancements were well thought-out and will be warmly received by the Glock community.  For someone who does not currently own a Glock, the Gen 4 is an excellent choice.  If you already own a Glock, you will have to determine if the additional features are worth the investment.

If you pick up a Glock 19 pistol, make sure you check out my huge list of G19 holsters here. I give you my thoughts and opinions on them.

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