The Glock 17 Gen 5: A Subjective, Yet Systematic Review (0-2000 Rounds)

  1. Joel Nadler
    I tend to rotate what I am carrying based on where I will be, my dress, and personal preference that day. I do not take these changes lightly and train with each carry gun that I use. The Glock 17 has been part of this rotation through multiple models (Gen 3, RTF2, Gen 4) and with the release of the Gen 5 I decided to systematically evaluate if it would replace my current G17 carry, the RTF2. I purchased a Blue Label G17 Gen 5 with the AmeriGlo Bold sights using a GSSF coupon.


    As the Gen 5’s had already been out long enough for issues with barrel wear to be a topic, I decided to systematically track the first 2000 rounds through my G17 Gen 5, asking three main questions through the process:


    1) With the tighter tolerances of the ‘match grade’ Marksman barrel will the Gen 5 ‘eat’ any ammunition similar to the previous gens? In other words, will the Gen 5 reliably function regardless of the ammunition used?

    2) When does coating wear occur on the new Glock Marksman barrel? When does it start to appear and is it truly just a cosmetic issue, as Glock has stated?

    3) And finally, will the Gen 5 replace my RTF2 as my range and tactical practice/ OWB carry gun?

    The Tests

    The G17 Gen 5 differs from the Gen 4 in over 20 ways according to Glock, but the primary differences include the Glock Marksmanship Barrel, the nDLC finish, ambi-slide stop and changeable magazine release, new trigger, no finger groves, and front grip cut out.

    To put the G17 Gen 5 to the test I shot 20 different 9mm ammo brands/types in blocks of 100 and photographed the barrel (looking at the wear progression) after each 100 rounds as I completed weeks of regular training using the new gun.

    Ammo tested included: Freedom Munitions 124gr & 147gr FMJ, PMC 115gr FMJ, Blazer Brass 115gr FMJ, MagTech 115gr FMJ, 115gr, Sig Saur, 115gr FMJ, IWI, 115gr FMJ, Remington UMC 115gr FMJ, LAX, 115gr & 124gr FMJ, Armscor 115gr & subsonic 147gr FMJ, Aguila 124gr FMJ, American Eagle 115gr FMJ, Herter’s 115gr FMJ, Winchester 115gr FMJ, Estate 115gr FMJ, Silver Bear (zinc case) 115 FMJ, TulAmmo (steel case) 115gr FMJ, PPU 158gr subsonic FMJ.

    After the 2000 rounds I also ran three different defensive rounds through the G17 Gen 5; 50 rounds each of Hornady 115gr FTX, Hornady 115gr XTP, and Federal 124gr HST.

    During these 2150 total rounds I conducted defensive drills, GSSF Indoor Course A practice sessions, working from holster, one handed, off handed, and accuracy drills. I would also occasionally purposefully ‘limp wrist’ a shot trying to induce a malfunction.

    Question 1’s Answer:

    With over 2000+ rounds, no cleanings, and with my even attempting to generate a stoppage, the G17 Gen 5 ‘ate’ all the ammo I fed it, including rounds I would typically not use. Throughout this process there was not one failure to fire or malfunction.

    The Marksman Barrel

    Barrel wear. The new Marksman Barrel does pick up cosmetic distinctive rings as it is used. Below is presented a systematic progression of the wear from 0 (new) to 2000 rounds in pictures:

    Barrel 1.jpg

    Barrel 2.jpg

    Barrel 3.jpg

    Barrel 4.jpg

    Using a Hornady digital caliper after 2000 rounds, the non-worn parts of the barrel measured 14.42mm and the pronounced ring was 14.38mm. The first .03mm of wear was measured after the first 1000 rounds. An additional .01mm was measured with the second 1000 rounds. I have since added at least another 2000 rounds and the most current measurement is still 14.28mm. The rings are faintly visible even after 100 rounds and are quite visible after 1000 rounds. Though measurable, there seemed to be no function issues and the wear seems to stop somewhere after 2000 rounds.

    Barrel Quality and Velocity Data

    My subjective experience is that I was shooting better with the G17 Gen 5 after getting use to the trigger during the first 300-500 rounds. Objectively, I measured velocity differences between the Gen 4 and Gen 5.

    To test velocity I ran 51 rounds through the G17 Gen 5 and 51 rounds through a G17 Gen 4 measuring velocity with a LabRadar Chronograph at approximately 1500 rounds (the Gen 4 borrowed from a friend was also reported to be at a similar round count). Both guns shot a mixed group of 51 rounds (3 magazines) drawn randomly from a case of 1000 (rounds taken at random from the case) of Sig Sauer 115gr FMJ.

    G17 Gen 5

    Mean Velocity 1206.1 fps (range: 1186.1-1233.6) PF: 138.6

    G17 Gen 4

    Mean Velocity 1184.2 fps (range: 1150.1-1221.4) PF: 136.0

    The Gen 5 did result in higher velocities ~22 fps faster and for any math/stats people out there it was significant (t = 7.03, p value is < .001).

    Question 2’s Answer:

    Though the barrel wear was noticeable and measurable, there was no sign of any functional issues and does seem to be cosmetic. Subjectively, my accuracy did seem to improve with the new Marksman barrel and the barrel does result in higher velocity compared to the Gen 4 barrel.

    G17 GEN 5 Overall Review: From 0-2000 rounds

    Ammunition and Reliability

    One of my concerns was that with the Marksman barrel having slightly tighter tolerances (resulting in a small increase in velocity) the Gen 5 might be a little more finicky in what ammunition it would shoot. I shot everything from expensive match grade and defensive rounds as well as steel and Russian made ammo ranging from 115gr to 158gr, and the Gen 5 chewed through everything I gave it. I even purposely limp wristed some shots to try and get a malfunction to no avail. The G17 Gen 5 shot over 2000 rounds of over 20 brands and types of ammo without one malfunction or failure to fire with no cleanings.

    Note: The Gen 5 when aggressively reloading a magazine will automatically go back into battery without racking the slide or releasing the slide stop. I found that this could be done consistently with a solid (~50% strength) hit when loading the magazine. I was able to generate this effect 10 times in a row, but the gun was still locking open reliably whenever the magazine was empty. I got my Gen 4 to do this once, but it required more force when hitting the magazine home and I could not duplicate it reliably.

    Barrel Wear

    There is definitely cosmetic wear to the new barrels (two rings quickly appear with use). The non-worn parts of the barrel measured 14.42mm and the second more pronounced ring at 2000 rounds was 14.38mm (another .01 mm ‘deeper’ since 1000 rounds measurements). The Marksman barrel did result in about 30 feet per second higher velocities in the Gen 5 compared to the Gen 4.

    Mini-‘Torture’ Test

    I did not clean the Gen 5 once during these 2000+ rounds, and though very dirty (especially considering some of the ammunition I used) the G17 Gen 5 just kept on shooting. Here is the final look (before a much needed cleaning of what the Frame and magazines looked like after 2000 rounds:

    2000 round dirty.jpg

    Accuracy and Trigger

    There is no way around it; I was shooting the Gen 5 better than my beloved RTF2 across multiple drills*. Also, the stock trigger has a cleaner pull in my opinion and though I had a couple of early failure to reset the trigger as I adjusting to the new trigger (user error) this problem was gone after the first 300 rounds.

    Final Thoughts

    As I am right handed the ambi-controls options are not needed by me and the front cut out on the grip and the lack of finger grooves (turns out I like finger grooves) are minuses for me. The half moon cut out on the front and bottom of the grip was catching the bottom of my grip and became a comfort issue when shooting more than ~150 rounds. However, it was very reliable and I like the new trigger and barrel.

    Would I go out and replace a Gen 4 with a Gen 5? Probably not. Though I do feel the Gen 5 is an improvement (and it you are left handed an ‘about time’ improvement) I personally do not think it is enough of one to justify replacing the same model Gen 4. However, if you are thinking about a Gen 5 or a Gen 4, I would go with the Gen 5.

    Answer to Question 3

    Finally as I already have one, am replacing my RTF2 with the Gen 5 for carry, stock competition, and training? Yes I am and have.

    * Since completing this systematic review I have continued to use the G17 Gen 5 in training and competition, and have seen marked increases in my scores as well as winning a impromptu steel competition at Front Sight training academy in Nevada pitting my Stock G17 Gen 5 against heavily modified non-stock guns.

    Final Note: The Author wishes to thank Indy Arms Company in Indianapolis, IN for their help in conducting these tests.

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  1. Seattle
    This is helpful! I like your objective approach.
  2. Dirk Pitt
    Great document, I appreciate all the work you put into this.
      Joel Nadler likes this.
    1. Joel Nadler
  3. snowbird.40
    Thank you Joel. I purchased a Gen 5-17 this summer with the veterans discount and will pick it up in about a week. Not having shot a G17 in a couple years, this will be like starting over and I really look forward to shooting my gun in IDPA matches in the SSP division.

    For the last few years I've been competing with my CC guns (as they have changed) in the BUG or CCP division. Even with my little EDC G43 I've learned that I can place shots on target rather quickly, which has given me the assurance I need about the gun in a violent encounter.

    On the other hand, I fully realize that I'm not competing with the other shooters when it comes to USPSA matches … witness my placing 20th out of 20 shooters in a USPSA match this summer. I was making the hits, even a some 50 yard shots on steel poppers, but I was pulling spare magazines out different body orifices and would some times go through 5-6 mag changes compared to one or two for the race gunners.

    With the purchase of the G17, I've decided to 'get into the game' for my own ego boost (hopefully) and to better represent my sponsor, a home-based FFL in Arizona. I will keep up my proficiency with the G43 every other month or so in BUG matches or shooting in CCP division with Vickers +2 Tango Down mag extensions. Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see if I can land in the top 25% of the field (which includes some world class shooters) with the G17.

    Your article has provided the basic research results I was looking for to remove the gun as an impediment to better results in action pistol shooting. Now I'll know it's the Indian, not the arrow, if I shoot well...or not.

    Thanks again for your work. It was enlightening for me.
      Joel Nadler likes this.
  4. Scouse
    The left-handed slide release? A buddy, Canadian Police, issue pistol, .40 cal S&W stainless pistol. His gun at his previous job was a Glock .40. He had the armourer put a left-handed slide release in his Smith. After playing with it for a couple of weeks, went back to his right-handed release! He had become proficient the using his trigger finger to change mags! And liked it.
    My match/ carry, and bedside pistol Gen4Glock 19, TruGlow night sights, butt plug, smooth trigger, extended slide release, a Glock one.
    I have a bunch of Glock 9mm pistols, they live in the safe.
    Your incredibly thorough review! Just cements my love of Glock pistols! Thank you.
      Joel Nadler likes this.
  5. nugnuts
    thanks for your review very informative. I have a g17L gen 4. could not find a gen 5 at the time I bought the gen 4 always wondered. I shoot my 17 in gssf comp. I added some new parts my score went up so I think I will keep it. Not enough to change for me.
      Joel Nadler likes this.
  6. EternalKnight1
    Great article. I have a G26 Gen 5 and a G19 Gen 4. I can shoot my 26 as well as the Gen 4 19 and love the Gen 5 trigger. The only change I plan to make to the new 26 is the sights and I added Pearce extensions to the magazines. Thanks for all of your information.
      Joel Nadler likes this.
  7. Defender77
    I carry my Glock 17 5th generation when I am off duty in a Glock Sport Combat Holster. The top of the slide closest to the rear sight started to rust. My large hands also can cause the gun to not go out of battery when I have an empty magazine.

    Other than that, the gun has been FANTASTIC. In my estimation, I have fired 600 - 800 rounds through it with no failure to feeds, no stovepipes, nothing. The trigger is incredible and the acccuracy is such that I can hit a paper target from 25 to 30 yards consistently.
      Joel Nadler likes this.
    This thread is exactly why I joined this forum, I sincerely appreciate the professional review. Like I said I am very optimistic about the Gen 5, having the 19 and 17 in the arsenal I will probably include the 34 sooner rather than later. Yes I’m a Glock addict
      Msppiguy and Joel Nadler like this.
    I just picked up the 19 and the 17, I’m optimistic I’m going to be very happy with both!
      Joel Nadler likes this.
    1. Joel Nadler
      I have since picked up the 26 and 34 MOS in 5th Gen and have been pleased with both.
      SHOCKNAWE likes this.
  10. pizza_pablo
    Well done! Thank you!
    I wonder if the tighter tolerences would affect performance when dropped in dirt or mud.
    Are these tolerance changes related to the barrel only?

    I have a 23 Gen 3 that will consistanly go into battery, with a firm magazine loading.
    1. Joel Nadler
      To my understanding the only tolerance changes are in the marksman barrel, thus the obstructions would need to make their way into the barrel. As it is a slightly snugger fit, one can reasonable assume that in extreme situations (torture tests) the Gen 5s may be a little less reliable than the Gen 4s, but I would also imagine this difference would be very minor (if detectable). Thank you for your comments.