The Glock phenomenon came to life in the early eighties. In a short time, the Glock name spread across the ocean into America. Initially unnoticed, the Glock platform created an entirely new class of handgun that many have grown to love. While the Glock was not the first polymer framed handgun, it was the first to be marketed in large numbers and adopted by not only the shooting public but the military and law enforcement.
All gun manufacturers offer different models of their products. In order to find out when your particular gun was made, you had to do a search on its serial number. While Glock does make many different models. Their products have evolved through modifications that let their handguns be recognized by generation. In knowing which generation of Glock you have you can narrow down when it was made or at least when Glock started making them. At present, generation three and four Glocks are readily available in the United States for new purchase.
Gaston Glock, who had no prior experience in gun manufacturing, was indeed an innovator. He didn't fix what wasn't broken. However, the evolution from a Gen 1 Glock 17 to a Glock 17 Gen 4 didn't come from any marketing whimsy. While the first Gen Glocks weren't broken per se, there were improvements to be made. Over the decades the Glock handgun has evolved with some changes being subtle, while others are instantly recognizable. On the surface, the striker fired Glock design has remained visually the same. However, changes are easily identified when you know what you're looking for.
Glock 19 Gen 3 and Gen 4 Dimension:
- Overall Length:
- Gen 3: 7.36-inch
- Gen 4: 7.28-inch
- Gen 3: 2.80-inch
- Gen 4: 2.76-inch
Glock Gen 3 Vs Gen 4: Similarities
- Trigger Pull Weight
- Grip: Finger Grooves
- Availability of Aftermarket Part
Trigger Pull Weight
As with all Glock 19 generations, the Glock 19 Gen 3 and the Glock 19 Gen 4 retain their industry changing striker fire design. This is one of the features that moved Glock to the head of the pack. You will feel the same 5.5-pound semi-double action trigger pull on both the Glock 19 Gen 3 and the Glock 19 Gen 4. In fact, if you have ever handled any of the Glock 19 Generations, you will quickly feel at home with either Gen 3 or 4 you pick up.
The traditional three-layer safety Glock safe fire system is still present. This gives you the luxury of quickly bringing your Glock Gen 3 or 4 into action. Without the fear of accidentally discharging the weapon by dropping it. The Glock safe fire system renders the Glock physically incapable of firing in such a situation.
Grip: Finger Grooves
When looking at the forward edge of the grip you will notice the same finger grooves on both models. In this profile, there is no difference between Glock 19 Gen 3 and Gen 4. Why is that a selling point you may ask? Well, if you already own a Glock Gen 3 and have a favorite holster for it you're in luck. The same holster works for the Glock 19 4th Generation pistol. That's a price difference that is also cost saving.
Also, you can't overlook the legendary Glock reliability. Given proper care and maintenance, either Generation of Glock will serve you well. While there were some issues when the Gen 4 first emerged, they were quickly remedied. There is absolutely no reliability difference between Glock 19 Gen 3 and Gen 4 handguns.
Availability of Aftermarket Parts
And who doesn't like to change their guns up just a bit to fit their own style? The Glock 19 Gen 4 upgrades are equally abundant as those found for the Glock 19 Gen 3. Whether it's a lighter trigger, better sights, or something more radical, you will find many aftermarket upgrades. This being said, if you happen to not be experienced at such upgrades bear this in mind. If you are going to depend on your Glock Gen 3 or Gen 4 for your life, use a professional for tricky upgrades.
What Was Upgraded in Gen4?
- Grip Texture
- Magazine Release Button
- Recoil Spring
Backstraps and Grip Texture
The Glock 19 Gen 4 upgrades are subtle, yet leap out at the same time. The first difference between Glock 19 Gen 3 and Gen 4 that many sees are the grips. The Glock 19 4th Generation handgun adds texture and dimension. One large point of contention shooters had with the Glock 19 Generation 3 was the grips being too large for smaller hands. The Glock 19 4th Generation comes with interchangeable backstraps for its grip. This allows for shooters with a variety of hand sizes to comfortably hold and fire their Glock 19 Gen 4. By changing the overall size of the grip you change the length of pull of the trigger. This ergonomically changes the weapon.
The next of the Glock 19 Gen 4 upgrades to the grip was its texture. The newer grip has a rougher texture than the Glock 19 Generation 3 model. Knowing that many shooters textured the grips on their Glock Gen 3 for a better feel, Glock made it a feature and a noticeable difference between Glock 19 Gen 3 and Gen 4. Now, don't interpret this as if you will be grabbing onto sandpaper. The new texture is more aggressive, however, not overly so. It provides a positive hold and control of the weapon in less than perfect conditions. This without the cost of being uncomfortable during long sessions at the range. It is simply one more layer of the Glock 19 Gen 3 vs Gen 4 debate.
Magazine Release Button
Moving forward from the grips you will certainly see the larger mag release button, which is now been made ambidextrous. This is a welcome upgrade to the Glock 19 Generation 3 for those southpaws out there. The new mag release button is not only larger, but it extends farther back to allow for much faster, easier mag changes.
When debating the Glock Gen 3 vs Gen 4 this is a valid point to consider even if you're not a lefty. See, the Glock 19 Gen 4 magazines are notched on both sides to allow for the ambidextrous mag release. Whereas the Glock 19 Gen 3 mags are not. So, if you have a bunch of Gen 3 mags on hand, they will work in the Glock 19 4th Generation pistol if the mag release is set up right-handed.
Slide and Recoil Spring
The next visible difference between Glock 19 Gen 3 and Gen 4 is its slide. Aside from the words stamped on its side, take a look at the business end of the muzzle. The Gen 4 is the first of the Glock 19 Generations to use a larger, dual-recoil spring guide rod. That is evident when looking straight at the muzzle, there is a bigger hole that you cannot miss. Oh, by the way, do make sure the weapon is cleared before doing this, you do not want to become a statistic.
This larger, dual-recoil spring guide rod was employed to accommodate the heavier recoil of the larger rounds available now. If you spend a lot of time at the range or are involved in a competition, you can easily see the value of this upgrade. It is possible to install a Glock 19 Generation 3 recoil spring guide rod into a Glock 19 4th Generation pistol. This change is easily accomplished with a recoil spring adapter. However, the reverse is not true. There is no way a larger recoil spring guide rod is going to fit into the smaller Glock 19 Gen 3 slide.
Parts Which Are Different and Non-Interchangeable Between Gen 3 and Gen 4 Glock
- Recoil Spring
- Trigger Housing
- Magazine Release Button
Slide and Recoil Spring
In looking at the Glock 19 Gen 3 vs Gen 4 some parts that were changed stand alone and cannot be interchanged. The first of the Glock 19 Gen 4 upgrades that will not interchange we will look at is the slide. When you see the larger hole obviously there beneath the barrel, this isn't much of a leap. Even if you somehow got the Gen 3 slide onto the frame of the newer Gen 4 gun, there's no way the recoil spring guide rod would ever fit through. Although, as previously mentioned, adapters are available if you want to go the other way. The adapter will only allow you to use Gen 3 recoil spring on a Gen 4 slide. The Gen 4 slide still will not fit the Gen 3 frame. A better option to than trying to interchange the slides between the Gen 4 and Gen 3 is to upgrade the either Gen with aftermarket Glock slides for improved performance, racking grip and look.
The next item to discuss in the Glock Gen 3 vs Gen 4 ordeal is the frame. The frame designed for the Glock 19 4th Generation handgun is smaller than that of the Glock 19 Gen 3. While longitudinally smaller, the addition of the interchangeable backstraps for the grips create a weapon that ergonomically fits a larger range of shooters hand sizes. Also, the Gen 4 frame as a larger channel in its bottom to accommodate the new, larger recoil spring assembly. There's no wiggle room here when it comes to the frame in the Glock Gen 3 vs Gen 4 they are exclusive to their own version.
The trigger housing found in the Glock 19 Gen 4 was designed just a bit smaller than in the Glock 19 Generation 3. The smaller trigger housing fits in the smaller Glock 19 4th Generation frame. So again, this is an exclusive but necessary item in the list of Glock 19 Gen 4 upgrades.
Magazine Release Button
The next non-interchangeable upgrade is the Glock 19 Gen 4 magazine release button. As in all of these exclusive Glock 19 Gen 4 upgrades, size matters. The new mag release button is larger than the ones found on the previous Glock 19 Gen 3.
Parts That Are Different But Interchangeable
- Trigger Bar
There are a few parts when it comes to Glock 19 Gen 4 upgrades that are compatible with the Glock 19 Generation 3. Most lie within the fire control mechanism. And, honestly, many shooters would never even think about changing them.
The trigger bar deactivates the firing pin safety once the trigger is pulled. The trigger bar on the Glock 19 Gen 4 features a small bump. This serves to center the trigger bar on the firing pin safety, which is one of the three parts of the Glock safe-fire action. You can change the trigger bar from the Gen 3 into the Gen 4 or the other way around. Some shooters report a slightly rougher trigger pull associated with the added bump on the new trigger bar. Some just shoot what they brought. However, if you notice a slightly rougher or heavier trigger pull on your new Gen 4 Glock this is one place to look at making an upgrade.
Next up is the connector. The dimensions of the entire trigger housing had to be modified to fit the smaller Glock 19 Gen 4 frame. The connector on the Gen 4 lies inside the trigger housing and has a modified angle in order to preserve the trigger pull weight of the Gen 3. It is possible to install the connector for a Glock 19 Gen 4 into a Gen 3. However, doing this will significantly alter the trigger pull weight for the weapon. So, this is one of these things that just because you can do it, why would you do it?
The ejector is another difference between Glock 19 Gen 3 and Gen 4. Glock did change the design of the ejector in the Glock 19 4th Generation handgun. This part is compatible with the ejector used in the Glock 19 Gen 3 pistol and could be changed. However, the ejector is only available when purchased with the entire trigger housing. Additionally, a Glock's ejector is usually not a point of failure unless you are one of those lucky people able to run huge numbers of rounds. So, due to the cost of an entire trigger housing if it ain't broke don't fix it.
The one upgrade in the Glock 19 Gen 3 vs Gen 4 whirlwind is the lowly, but vital, magazine. Due to the ambidextrous mag release found on the Glock Gen 4, its magazines are notched on both sides. If your Gen 4 mag release is still configured for a right-hand shooter, that means the mag release button is on the left side, then either magazine will work.
The Bottom Line
The line of Glock handguns appeared on the market nearly four decades ago. Since then they have steadily grown stronger, firmly establishing their reputation as a durable, reliable weapon. People generally lean either toward love or hate when it comes to a Glock. At its core, the Glock is a Spartan, all business handgun that is a pleasure to carry and shoot. The Gen 4 functions the same as the Gen 3 even when it comes to assembly and disassembly. So, why would you choose one over the other? Well, there are a variety of factors to consider for the Glock Gen 3 vs Gen 4 debate.
The first is the overall grip size and texture. The adjustable grip size would be a benefit if you had smaller hands or maybe average hands with short, stubby fingers. This isn't a jab at anyone in particular. They make clothes and shoes in different sizes for different people and there's no shame in that. Why shouldn't our handguns be offered the same way? Perhaps you occasionally operate while wearing tactical gloves. That would be another reason to have the versatility of changing the size of the handgrips.
The Gen 4 has a new texture on its grip which many find just right for either bare-hands or gloves. You can get a solid purchase on the weapon without hurting bare skin. At the same time, the texture is not going to snag on gloves. There are many Glocks of all Generations available, so handle as many as you can to find the right one for you. You may love the new texture or hate it. However, you will never know until you try it.
If you happen to be a southpaw or like to practice firing with your off hand, then the ambidextrous mag release is definitely a factor. The size of the mag release button is nice as well. Yes, you could add oversize mag release button to an older Glock, but if you buy a Gen 4 they have already done it for you.
The dual recoil spring on the Gen 4 weighs in also. This system is nothing new to Glock as they have used it in their sub-compact pistols for years. On the Glock 19 Gen 4, one upgrade comes into play when you choose to go with a .40 caliber chambering. The heavier spring is designed specifically to not only manage recoil but to minimize abuse to the frame of the gun. This means that not only with the Gen 4 not only shoot easier, but it will last longer too.
Then there's the elephant in the room, price. Of course, the Gen 3 is going to be priced less than the Gen 4. However, when you factor in the perks that may apply to your situation just how much is that difference in price really? I know, some people absolutely have to save every dollar they can, and that's okay. On the other hand, some people just have to have the latest thing on the market, and that's okay too. That's why they make chocolate and vanilla, everybody's different.
The Glock 19 is arguably the perfect combination between a concealed carry and a standard service weapon. Its size is small enough to easily conceal, but it's still a handful of gun. The magazine capacity coupled with the available calibers commands a bark that's as big as its bite.