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 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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.