December 14, 2022
Basically, since its introduction in 1988, the 9mm Glock 19 has been considered the carry gun against which all others are judged. Even if you think it has now lost that title to the SIG P365, that is still a crown that it held for thirty years. And even with newer and more modern designs, the G19 holds its own, and is still a great choice for personal defense. Here's why:
1. Size—the size of the Glock 19, as much as anything, has contributed to its popularity as a carry gun. Basically, it exists in the Goldilocks zone—not too big, and not too small. It is a cut-down version of Glock's full-size, “duty” size G17. The G19 has a 4.02-inch barrel, and overall is 7.36 inches long and 5.04 inches tall. It is 1.26 inches wide at its fattest, but most of the gun is little over an inch thick, which makes it flat. With the proper holster and choice of covering garment this is a pistol that is easily concealed, and where its light weight (due to its polymer frame) is a factor. Unloaded this pistol weighs just 23.6 ounces.
But the most important aspect of its size is this—it is just big enough for almost everybody to get their entire hand on the grip. That, more than anything else, makes the gun easier to aim and shoot and control. Small guns are easy to carry, but hard to shoot. Big guns are easy to shoot, but hard to conceal. The Glock 19 is perfectly balanced, right in the middle.
2. Reliability—the most important quality of any firearm meant for personal defense is reliability. If it is not utterly reliable, it should be considered worthless. And the Glock pistol design has become synonymous with reliability. While the Glock track record isn't perfect (the 1st generation magazines without metal inserts would deform, the 4th generation 9mms originally came with recoil springs too strong), Glock pistols as a rule are as reliable as reliable gets. And they aren't just reliable with full metal jacket (FMJ) “ball” ammunition, the feeds ramps of their barrels seemingly handle just about every kind of 9mm jacketed hollow point (what you should be carrying for self-defense) on the market.
3. Capacity—even though it has great dimensions for carry, the Glock 19 would be a forgotten footnote in history if it only held six or eight or even 10 rounds. But it holds 15+1 rounds, in a package small enough to conceal under normal clothing. That is double the capacity of a 1911, and two more rounds than the original “Wonder Nine,” the Browning Hi-Power. Many people don't carry a spare magazine, so whatever is in the gun is all they have—so more is better, right? “They” also say that a gunfight only lasts as long as you've got ammo in your gun, and a capacity of 15+1 should be enough to get you through just about any defensive situation. Bring enough gun, is the saying, and the Glock 19 is enough gun. Which brings us to…
4. Terminal Performance—the Glock 19 was introduced in 1988, right about the time the FBI's famed “Ammunition Testing Protocol” became the industry standard. The Protocol grew out of the perceived failure of some handgun ammunition during the infamous FBI Miami Shootout in 1985. The Protocol used strict objective tests to measure a handgun bullet's penetration and expansion in properly calibrated 10% ballistic gel. This was done both shot straight into bare gel and through various barriers (heavy clothing, plywood, drywall, auto glass, sheet metal) placed in front of the gel blocks.
When the FBI Protocol was first developed, no .38 Special or 9mm load could pass it. The bullets of that era just didn't have the construction to perform properly. But since then, the FBI Ammunition Testing Protocol has become THE standard for evaluating handgun hollowpoint performance, and most premium 9mm JHPs on the market will now pass it. Modern bullets are just built better. What does this mean for the consumer? It means that the 9mm, once considered an inferior caliber, now performs as well on bad guys as any other defensive handgun caliber, with generally less recoil. And the Glock 19 holds 15+1 of them….
5. Shootability—officially I'm told this isn't a real word, but it should be. “Shootability” is a combination of size, weight, trigger pull, and how well the pistol naturally points. The Glock is a striker-fired handgun, with the same trigger pull each time for consistency. While not especially light or crisp, the trigger pull on the G19 is substantially lighter and shorter than that of a revolver. The pistol is flat in your hand, allowing you to point it more naturally, and that long flat slide works almost like a crude sight itself.
The G19 is big enough for just about everyone to get their whole hand on it (which helps you manage recoil). It is heavy enough, with a low bore, that recoil with the 9mm cartridge is very manageable. One thing we have to mention is the Glock grip angle—while it has more of an angle than some pistols (i.e. the 1911), and many people don't like it, just as many if not more do, and there is some argument that the Glock's grip angle is a more “natural” one, helping you to better aim and shoot the pistol.
About the Author
James Tarr is a longtime contributor to Firearms News and other firearms publications. He is also the author of several books, including CARNIVORE, which was featured on The O'Reilly Factor. His current best-selling novel, Dogsoldiers, is available through Amazon.
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