Glock handguns have been all about innovation from day one. Gaston Glock was the first gun manufacturer to introduce plastic into the design of a handgun. He had zero experience with gun production, but had plenty of experience with polymers as he produced curtain rods for most of his career. However, some of these so called innovations led to Glock 19 Gen 4 problems.
The innovations start with the composition of the design, but continue with the variety of sizes Glock has released. You can purchase anything from a hand cannon all the way down to a pocket pistol when selecting your Glock. The Glock 19 is one of the most sought after options because it is both small enough for conceal and carry and large enough for a full handed grip. This provides for less strain on the hand at the range, and more accuracy for multiple shots. Many people consider the Glock 19 to be the finest conceal and carry handgun ever produced.
However, Glock just had to go and fix a gun that was never broken. In an effort to stay competitive with other manufacturers, Glock decided to rerelease the Glock 19 with some new “improvements”. Glocks are basic and simple by design, but they felt they needed to adjust that design to stay relevant. Some of these changes included a dual recoil spring, interchangeable backstraps, and a new texture on the grip. They called these rereleases the Gen 3 and Gen 4 Glocks. In the end, the problems with the Glock 19 Gen 4 outweigh the benefits.
For the first time in their history, Glock has managed to produce a product that is problematic. Many people have sworn by the Glock brand for all of their handgun purchases. This particular firearm has left many owners wondering what happened to the brand. Initially Glock renounced the issues with the firearm which surely lost them some lifetime customers. Finally they issued a recall which partially fixed the issues. While I am glad to see that Glock took responsibility for the problems, it does not excuse the poor design.
The sights are not just a Glock 19 Gen 4 problem. The sights are consistently the most criticized aspect of every Glock model. This is for two primary reasons. One is that the shape of the rear sight is not ideal. The rear sight has a large rectangular opening and the front sight is too small. When you raise the gun to fire, the front sight seems to float in that huge gap in the rear sight making it hard center for an accurate shot. Especially when firing in a hurry, this sight design makes target acquisition difficult. The sight confuses the eye much more than other sights available on other firearms. The sights can be replaced with aftermarket sights, but I feel the need to judge the firearm based on how it comes straight from the factory.
The other issue with the sights is that they are made of plastic. Anybody who owns a handgun knows that the rear sight in particular takes a huge amount of abuse. No other point on the gun is more likely to break or become deformed. If you drop your gun, there is a good chance your sights will be rendered worthless. In addition, these plastic sights can be worn down to a nub simply from the daily wear and tear of pulling it in and out of a holster. This is one of the biggest Glock 19 Gen 4 problem.
The next problem with the Glock 19 Gen 4 is the trigger pull weight. It is advertised at 5.5 pounds and has 5.5 pound connectors. However, these connectors actually create a six to eight pound pull. That is pretty hefty for a handgun. It has been proven over and over that heavy trigger pulls like this will ruin your accuracy and speed when it counts. This is true for both the novice and the expert marksmen. If my life or the lives of my family members is on the line, this is simply unacceptable.
The Glock 19 was initially fitted with a thick, 17 pound single recoil spring. This is sturdy enough to last as long as you would ever need it to. In fact, many people replaced the single recoil spring with a lighter recoil spring for competition shooting, and still never had issues with reliability. However, Glock decided to replace this single recoil spring with the double recoil spring in the Gen 4. Their intention was to reduce the recoil felt when firing the Glock 19.
The primary issue is that the dual recoil spring was so powerful that it was causing jams. As stated above, Glock initially denied the issue saying that owners were using poor quality ammunition that caused the jams. However, roughly two years after the release of the Gen 4 Glock admitted that there was a problem and issued a recall on the recoil spring. This issue has been the primary complaint specific to the Glock 19 Gen 4.
The real issue I have with this change is the lack of logic behind the decision. If you look at the overall design of first generation Glocks, there is a reason for everything. Glocks have a plain appearance and a simple assembly, but are made for modification. They are lightweight, reliable, and accurate. You can customize most Glocks to be one of a kind if you like. This is what troubles me. Is this move a one-time mistake or a sign of more problems to come?
The fact is that there was nothing wrong with the previous recoil spring assembly. Glocks have never been known to have a recoil issue. The recoil spring has never had issues with wearing down over time. There was no logical reason to make this change. The only explanation I can even fathom is that Glock is deviating from their roots. They are trying to add new and better features to their simple design to keep up with the competition. If this is the case, it is a huge mistake. Simplicity is the whole reason Glock became successful.
Another common complaint about the Glock 19 Gen 4 is erratic shell ejection. This may not seem like a big deal, but it can be. Many users reported that the shells consistently kicked straight back at them. Getting a shell to the neck or down your shirt is annoying, but getting one in your face could kill you. If you are in the middle of defending yourself and get some hot brass in your eyes, it is going to distract you from your next shot. As far as I can tell there is no fix for this problem.
Not everything about the Gen 4 is bad. Many people like the texture that was chosen for the grip. The Gen 3 was very abrasive, while the Gen 4 scaled it back a bit. Also, the interchangeable backstraps are nice for shooters with big hands. They give you just a bit more distance between the heel of your hand and the trigger, which can make for a more comfortable and stable grip.
Do not misunderstand me. I have not given up on Glock at this point. Sure they made some bad decisions on this particular design. They have done what they can to fix it. At this moment, I can still say that I would buy a Glock before any other handgun. If you look at their entire line, it is still the most reliable line on the market.
However, I will be watching closely. I think we will know in the next few years if this was a one-time issue or if this is a trend with Glock. Whether they are deviating from their general philosophy or cutting corners to reduce costs of production, these moves were not smart. The vast majority of the Glock 19 Gen 4s produced have had no issues. That being said, enough of them have had issues that the gun has really generated some backlash from upset buyers.
My personal feeling is that if I was going to buy a Glock 19 today, it would not be a Gen 4. I still believe that the Glock 19 is one of the best firearms ever produced. There have been enough complaints about the Gen 4 that I would not be willing to risk the hassle. If I could find a first generation Glock 19, I would snatch it up in a second. Between the ineffective sights, the problematic recoil spring, the erratic shell ejection, and the hefty trigger action, I cannot bring myself to buy a Gen 4. There are simply too many problems with the Glock 19 Gen 4.