Glock Gen 3 vs Gen 4

By on July 2, 2013

Glock 19 Gen 3 vs Gen 4

Glock 19 Gen 3 Top Gen 4 Bottom

I have a Glock 19 Gen 3 and a Gen 4.  I’ve broken both of them.  I’m a Marine, I can break anything.  Give me a brick and some time, I’ll break that, too.  So that I broke both of them wasn’t that big of a surprise to anyone.  First of all, the Gen 3 broke around 20,000 rounds or so and more dry fire then I can count (probably at least 10:1 dry to live).   I broke the trigger (story here), more wore it out, I think.  The trigger pull got harder and harder until I almost needed 2 fingers to make the gun go off.  My Gen 4 broke after exactly 500 rounds.  I fired 100 rounds to break it in, and then 400 at a class.  It never failed to go bang, but lost the slide stop so the top of the Glock went further forward than it should.  I wasn’t sure if it was safe or not, so I took it off the line.  I got a new part and spring free from Glock.  Now I have about 1500 rounds through it.  No more problems since.

Differences:

The differences are few.  The grip is a little different.  The texturing is different and gives a little different feel.  But mainly the grip is different because it is a little shorter and then you can add back straps to make it bigger.  The medium back strap makes the grip the same size as the Gen 3.  Glock has also started adding a set of beaver tail equipped back straps.  A medium and large one are now in each box.

Glock started including 3 magazines instead of the 2 that came with the previous generations.  It’s a nice touch since most companies are now including only 1 or 2.

One of the subtle changes is the magazine release.  A lot of people that customize the Gen 3 put an extended magazine release on their guns, so Glock just did it for them.  The release doesn’t stick out further or just bigger around, it extends towards the back so it makes the push a shorter reach for your thumb.

Glock Gen 3 vs. Gen 4

Notice the different size Magazine Releases

Internally they changed a couple things.  The pins that hold the ejector, return spring and disconnect got changed a little so that the back straps can be accepted.  It also feels like they changed the trigger somewhere in there.  It feels smoother and lighter to me.  Glock also re-engineered the recoil spring and put a dual spring in the new gun.  Therein lies some of the problems that the Gen 4 9mms had.  Glock tried to use the same spring in the 9mm and .40.  It didn’t work as well as they wanted it to and Glock sent “upgrades” to fix the problem.  Now the guns are running well.

The one really odd thing I found was the thinner frame.  The Gen 4 is 0.17 oz lighter than the Gen 3 (according to Glock’s web site).  I figured out the frame was thinner when I was working on Massad Ayoob’s crush grip.  I’m not the strongest person, but not a wimp either, but I can actually squeeze hard enough to make the grip flex on the Gen 4.  I went back to my Gen 3 to make sure it wasn’t something I missed.  Nope.  The Gen 3 will flex if I push in the thinnest part but not by just gripping the gun.  The Gen 4 I can just squeeze the entire grip with a shooting grip and feel it flex.

Different Grip Texture

Why You Should Care:

The extra magazine is the obvious nice touch by Glock.  I think everyone should be putting 3 mags with a new gun, it’s just a courteous thing to do.  The different back straps should only matter if the Gen 3 doesn’t fit you hand.  If the grip is too small you must have the biggest hands in the world.  The Gen 3 fits my hand (mostly) and I have huge paws. I do get slide bite from any Glock without a beaver tail (I use a Grip Force adaptor on mine).  It is nice to have choices.

The magazine release is one of the things that may matter to you.  Because the release is bigger and further back makes it a shorter reach.  So with a shorter thumb you would no longer have to move the gun in your hand to reach the release.

The rear pins don’t matter a whole lot to us as shooters.  It’s just a different way to put the gun together.  If you are going to strip the gun all the way to the frame it’s going to be a little different than the Gen 3.

The recoil spring doesn’t really feel any different when shooting and I’m not sure it will help at all.  In fact, with the problems the guns had in the past, I’d even say the new spring is one of the weak points in the gun.  I actually changed the one in my carry gun out for an EFK Dragon spring.

To me the trigger feels better.  It’s a little lighter and a little smoother. To me the new trigger feels like a trigger on a well worn Gen 3.  So I expect the Gen 4 to get even better with use.

The frame that gives a little really reinforces the “plastic gun” thing.  It’s a little unnerving, but time will tell if that is a problem or not.

Gen 4 Markings

My Personal Choice:

I carry my Gen 4 daily.  The number one reason is the better trigger.  I’ve never liked, or gotten used to, a Glock trigger.  I was spoiled for too many years with great 1911 triggers.  So I set up my Gen 4 for use by changing the sights, recoil spring, and adding the Grip Force adaptor.  I bought my Gen 4 before Glock offered the beaver tail.  The other reason is that I am sure there is a wear out point for a Glock and my Gen 3 has to be pushing it.  I just didn’t want to rebuild the entire thing, but will sooner or later.  Now it’s my back up gun.

Does it Really Matter?

Should you buy a Gen 3 or a Gen 4? The answer, like most gun questions, is that it depends.  It depends on what you want.  If you have very small hands you’ll definitely like the Gen 4 better.  It will be easier to operate and hold.  Most people say the Gen 4 feels better in the hand.  If you get a Gen 3, you can generally find them for cheaper (make sure it’s more then the price of the extra magazine).

For accessories right now there is more stuff for the Gen 3.  While all the magazines and holsters will fit either gun, some of the internal parts are different so slides, barrels, and trigger parts aren’t all interchangeable.  As all the companies gear up that will change.  But there will always be parts for the Gen 3 and I think the guns will be made for a long time.  The Gen 4s are not legal in all 50 states.  I know that California is not currently allowing the “import” of Gen 4s but will allow the Gen 3s in.  So until laws change, I think Glock will continue to produce them.  Right now they are still on Glock’s web site.

I broke my Gen 4 faster than I broke my Gen 3.  So whichever one you buy, make sure you test it first.  It’s either going to break right away or last for a very long time.  But with my experience I have more confidence in the Gen 3s straight out of the box.

In the end, it’s a personal choice.  If you want a Glock, just buy one.  Either one will work the same.  It’s going to come down to personal choice and what you can find. I’ve sold both in the past and sometimes the price wins out and sometimes people just want the newer improved version.  That’s why I bought the Gen 4 as my second Glock.  So buy the one you want and enjoy it.

Stay Safe,

Ben

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Comments

  1. William T.Farrow
    September 10, 2017

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    Good stuff been using my Glocks for years and good to see a site for people to feel comfortable to get info they need without ot coming from a know it all attitude.

    • Ben Branam
      September 11, 2017

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      Thanks William,

      Looking forward to get one of the new Gen 5s and adding to the post and learning more.

  2. Kristina Mendoza
    July 22, 2017

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    Very thorough information! Thanks for sharing your insights Ben! I can see that you really have great knowledge in terms of guns. I’m not use guns but my partner surely does! I would gladly let him know about this. Cheers!

  3. Glock 19 IWB
    July 13, 2016

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    I think I would prefer the G23 over the G19. Which Glock would you suggest for a first time Glock user?

  4. Andrey
    January 27, 2016

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    I like a grip of gen 4 more – feel like it’s more stable in my hand. Probably due to the difference in for of the upper part of the grip and new texturing pattern.

  5. Ted Hood
    December 7, 2015

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    Myself being a first time buyer, which gen 3 would be good to defend your family as well as protect yourself?
    I’m new to buying guns but with the times being the way they are, I fear for my family.
    But have been told flock is a great weapon, so what size please, suggestions.

    • Ben Branam
      December 9, 2015

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      My favorite is the Glock 19. It’s the mid sized gun and a great place to start. Find a local shop that can help you fit a gun to your lifestyle and body size. What you want to do with the gun and what size your hands are are very important to the process. A 19 is a shot in the dark and an easy place to start.

  6. d reid
    November 20, 2015

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    Thank you Ben for a very informative article. I have been shooting regularly for just a few years. No glocks in the safe–but now considering one. I found that a snubbie is a real challenge for me–even at just 7 yards. That and ruger pistols and revolvers are what I have in the stable. I am thinking a glock 17 long slide, concealed in a long coat might be the ticket for winter carry. Much better accuracy and a little more punch. Do you know of any heavy vests or long coats that are already designed for such a carry? I am sure my wife could create such an article installed in a coat if I promise to limit my purchase for forever to “just one more vital gun”.
    Thanks again.

  7. FontsDownloadFree
    July 30, 2015

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    If I were to bite the bullet , and buy a Glock for carry purposes; I would probably cold carry it. Just in the event that the worst were to happen an the internal safeties failed, the firing pin would hit nothing but air.

    • Ben Branam
      July 31, 2015

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      That’s really not necessary. I haven’t found a case or anyone that can make a Glock fire without pulling the trigger. It’s really as safe as anything on the market if not safer then some older designs.

    • Mark
      November 28, 2015

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      Cominolli safety for glocks is a alternative, it puts a external safety on.

  8. Mike
    January 8, 2015

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    Thanks for the info Ben..and the rest of you guys! I just bought a 19 Gen 3 and was looking for this kind of info.

    • Ben Branam
      January 8, 2015

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      Cool Mike! Enjoy it. Let me know how it works for you. I still carry my Gen 3, but the 4 has become a safe queen. I had more problems with it when I took it out a couple months ago, now it seems to be working again but I don’t trust it as much.

      • Glock 23
        December 31, 2015

        Leave a Reply

        Ben, Nice Article! You mentioned your Gen 4 had issues this year resulting in carrying your Gen 3. What problems, could it be the EFK Recoil Spring system? My Glock 23 is a Gen3 and I had issues with the slide not going all the way forward. Cleaned it, tried different ammo, had Armorer look at it and it still malfunctioned. I called Glock and they sent a new recoil spring. So far so good, but I’m still skeptic/lack confidence to make it my carry. EFK Spring with the buffered/dual action recoil relief per the EFK website shows 40% reduction of recoil which sounds good, especially with the snappy .40 S&W. It sounds like the EFK spring system could also fix my malfunction and give the recoil reduction, BUT might not be strong enough when coupled with the piston/dual action function. Have you noticed reduced recoil, faster follow up shots, etc with your 19?

  9. Ricardo
    December 21, 2014

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    Where can I find all the parts that are needed to build or put together a glock from scratch?

    • Ben Branam
      December 27, 2014

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      My favorite site is Londwolfdist.com. They have everything but actual Glock frames. The frames are easy to get on gun broker.

  10. Jeff schepers
    December 12, 2014

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    Any thoughts on smith and Wesson sheild 9 mm?

    • Bret
      December 12, 2014

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      I bought a Smith and Wesson M&P Shield 9mm a couple of months ago. My first time shooting it I went to an indoor range and put my first 8 shots within a 4″ diameter at 50′.

      Feels good in the hand and fun to shoot. I’ve shot almost 500 rounds through it so far without a single problem.

      I love this gun and would highly recommend it to anyone. Good Luck!

    • Ben Branam
      December 15, 2014

      Leave a Reply

      Yes, I have switched to an M&P 9 over the last year and love it. I’ll be buying more of them. It starts life out of the box with all the mods I make to my Glock to make it shoot and feel like I want. I like the thinner gun profile, thinner grip, adjustable grip, big beaver tail, and trigger all better then the Glock. After doing all the work to add a beaver tail and trigger parts to my Glock I just can’t make the slide any thinner. Just like the gun better.

      Do you have one Jeff? or thinking about buying one?

  11. Dave
    December 10, 2014

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    Thinking of getting a gen 4 17 or 22. Own a gen 3 19 and 23. I really don’t care for the way the grip feels to me on the 19 & 23. I feel like the top finger groove is too close to the bottom of the trigger guard. My middle finger under the guard gets rubbed almost raw if I do any significant amount of shooting with my glocks. Only handguns I own that get uncomfortable to shoot. I think that indentation on the bottom back of the trigger guard doesn’t help either. You’d have to have kid hands for your finger to fit in there. My other gripe is my pinky get pinched between the bottom of the grip and the mag. I’m thinking the larger model glocks would help out.

    • Ben Branam
      December 15, 2014

      Leave a Reply

      The pinky getting pinched is the easiest issue, that will be solved with the bigger gun. The 17 or 22 would be great for that. Your middle finger getting rubbed raw is another story. Welcome to Glock Knuckle. It’s so common it has it’s own name. Most of us get it. The Gen 4 isn’t any better. I get Glock Knuckle from both of them. The one way I know to get rid of it is to alter the frame on your Glocks. You can take a dermal tool or a sanding block to the frame, it’s only plastic. I haven’t done this myself (because I’m afraid of messing it up). But there are a bunch of small gun smiths that can easily take care of it for you. One of the ones I’ve admired is Dale Honeycutt near Houston. I’ve handled and shot one of his pistols and it feels great. The owner never got Glock Knuckle for him. You can contact him at gripreductions.com. He does custom stuff so if you just tell him no more Glock Knuckle he’ll hook you up.

      The advantages the Gen 4 has over the 3 is the thinner grip to start and then you can add size, bigger and changeable mag release, and more texture on the grip. Everything else is just not worth talking about.

      Good luck, have fun shooting, and stay safe.

      Ben

  12. Daric Sapp
    November 18, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    Hi, 1st I’d like to thank each of you servicemen active or retired for defending our country! I just bought my 1st Glock 26 Gen 3. I’m trying to find out if the Gen 3’s have the same outer protective coating as the Gen 4’s?

    Also, is there a trigger upgrade, spring upgrade available?

    • Ben Branam
      November 18, 2014

      Leave a Reply

      Thanks Daric! The finish is the same on the Gen 3 and 4. If you see some that look a little different it’s because the guns being made in America and the ones being made in Austria have a finish that looks a little different.

      There a lot of spring kits and trigger kits on the market. Ghost makes one of the best, but Apex makes one, and a couple others. But you probably shouldn’t put a kit in a carry gun. Check out my podcast on the subject Handgun Triggers

  13. Earl
    November 16, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    Thanks for the info Ben. I bought my Glock 19 gen 3 last week , I am a gun owner for the first time. Thanks again.

  14. Jeff Kerschner
    August 19, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    Excellent article. Thanks for your opinions and commentary. Semper Fi!

    • Ben Branam
      August 19, 2014

      Leave a Reply

      You’re welcome Jeff. Is there anything else you’d like to hear about?

      • Jeff Kerschner
        August 20, 2014

        Leave a Reply

        Quite honestly, I would like to hear about some training opportunities near this area (central VA). I have a lot of Corps Brothers who would love to have a weekend training session with another Brother. Never a bad idea to sharpen the skills with good training. Staying safe, same to you.

  15. OP Dumbo Drop
    June 15, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    EDIT

    EDIT. Reducing the trigger pull and installing different connectors and springs etc. are for competition/fun guns, not for carrying and tactical use… EDIT, IMPLIED NOT GOOD.

    • Ben Branam
      June 15, 2014

      Leave a Reply

      We don’t belittle people and their thoughts here. Discussions on any and all topics are welcome even with different opinions. I’ve deleted the disrespectful part of your comment. Please keep it civil.

  16. Sid Chesnin
    June 12, 2014

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    My Glock 19 Gen 3 is my everyday carry gun. I took the trigger down to 2.5 lbs. I have run nearly 100,000 rds through this gun. I don’t like the texture on the grip of the Gen 4, as it impinges on my undershirt under my shirt where I carry my holster. I have no idea how you can carry the pistol to get slide bite. Just hold it as high as you can on the grip.

    • Ben Branam
      June 13, 2014

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      Nice ammo count! What did you have to do to get your trigger weight that far down?

      • Sid Chesnin
        June 14, 2014

        Leave a Reply

        Install a 3.5 lb. connector. Buy a wolf gunsprings Glock competition trigger pack ($10) and install 2 of the 3 springs. Do not install the reduced weight striker spring. I shoot a whole lot, obviously.

  17. Wayne
    April 3, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    i have been shooting with Glocks since 1992 and have had more than my fair share of models. for me the G19 Gen3 is the best i have ever owned or shot. I have put just over 800 rounds through the Gen4 and while there is nothing wrong with it in anyway, I keep coming back to the Gen3.

  18. R. B. Privett
    March 23, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    Need advice!

    1. I am looking at a Glock for in car protection and periodic concealed carry. My local Glock dealer is the local Glock store for the “Blue label/tag” program that provides GLOCK products at a lower price for retired military, police officers, foremen, etc. Is this a “come-on” or a good service by Glock.
    2. If this is on the up-and-up, any advice prior to buying? I am looking at a model 23, 40.

    Thanks…

    • Ben Branam
      March 28, 2014

      Leave a Reply

      The Blue label program is a great service from Glock. You can get a gun for about $100 cheaper. There could be a wait if the dealer has to order you one. The dealer gets it for a special price and the guns are marked and can only be sold as Blue Label guns. It’s a little bit of pain but worth the $100 if they have the one you want.
      I love the size of the 23! It’s a good choice.

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