How accurate, is it reliable, and what accessories should I add to it make it better?
Is the Glock 19 a good concealed carry gun? The short answer is, Yes!
At this point in time, there is literally no other handgun that has the reliability, ability, and features for the price point. There are others that will work and work well, just not to this level with the support, ease of smithing when things go wrong and overall benefits offered.
Even with the recent winning of the Army contract to replace the M9 by the SIG P320 the Glock 19 and its variants remains, numerically, the most popular handgun in the United States and likely the world. So what makes the Glock 19 a good concealed carry gun?
To answer this it is important to understand what the Glock 19 is. Dimensionally it is 187mm or 7.36 inches long, 32mm or 1.26 inches wide, 128mm or 5.04 inches tall and weighs 855 g or 30.16 ounces fully loaded with 15 rounds of your current choice of modern defensive ammunition.
The barrel is 102 mm or 4.02” long and has a polygonal rifling which provides solid accuracy. (“G19”, 2018) Depending on location you can purchase magazines allowing it to carry, 10 through 33 rounds, with 17 rounds being about the maximum in a relatively easily concealed package.
Glock 19 Magazine Capacity
The Glock 19 comes standard with 15 round magazines, however, again based on your location you can easily upgrade this to 17 or drop it too 10 rounds. With a spare magazine or two, you will have more than enough to deal with any immediate threat in most cases.
There have been several well-documented tests showing the indestructibility of its design, personally, I have put well over 300,000 rounds through a couple variations of the Glock platform with over 120,000 rounds currently through my primary carry Glock 19.
It is striker fired and has a “safe” action trigger versus external safeties. I have never seen a Glock 19 gen 2, 3 or 4 go off on its own or from being dropped. I have, however, seen multiple instances of outright neglect by individuals causing it to go off “unknowingly” with one notable recent event being the ridiculous FBI agent doing backflips and then discharging it while fumbling to get it re-holstered.
In the end when it comes to firearms, in every case if you simply follow the safety rules and always remember, “all guns are always loaded”, you will have no safety issues with the Glock 19.
Even some individuals who have been revolver and 1911 fans have adopted the venerable Glock 19 simply because, it does not fail as often and needs less work when and if it does. (Ayoob, 2015) It is also lighter and easier to carry than all but the smallest revolvers and easier to manipulate under stress than 1911 style firearms the caveat to this being training. I have seen individuals run old J frames better than some professionals with a polymer gun, however, this is an exception, not the rule.
Glock 19 Price
For myself and many like me, the Glock 19 is an affordable means of self-protection. Prices in the United States depending on model and whether you are buying a new one or used range from $300 through $650 for the new Glock 19X. Because the Glock 19 has less moving parts than almost every other defensive handgun out there it has an inherent reliability factor that accompanies it. More moving parts when all other things are equal meaning more chances of failure.
Glock 19 Alternatives
This being said there are several solid handguns that are reliable, accurate and in some cases more affordable than the Glock 19 even used. It should be noted that none of these other handguns have the sheer numbers of properly functioning firearms in the field today, which if you care about such things means that if facts are what drive you, the firearms with the best performance record and the most data supporting that are what one should use for defense of family and self.
A quick list with my second favorite striker fired handguns follows, though it is important to understand, all of these copy Glock approaches in many areas and the only real differences are in overall quality, fit and form.
- Smith and Wesson M&P series (the second most popular firearm for modern law enforcement in the United States today per some informal studies.)
- Steyr M9 series (underrated, reliable, accurate and relatively inexpensive its only real drawbacks are lack of support and available parts if you choose to change sights or barrels)
- CZ P10 series (comes with the well known CZ quality in handguns and is a solid contender)
- FN 509 (relatively new on the scene it offers a solid package in a good price point and it comes with several solid FN polymer handguns behind it)
- HK VP9 (I will admit I am not a fan of HK or SIG, however, having used one of these I can see it being a good choice, my lack of desire to own one has to do with the high price point of both brands)
- SIG P320 (the new Army pistol will have many jumping to get on board, because, ARMY! The reality is this gun has been plagued with issues and is rather expensive for civilians compared to the far more reliable Glock 19 or a Smith and Wesson M&P)
Now obviously, I cannot list every single manufacture available, there are dozens of approaches and many boutique brands as well. The above list encompasses what I would suggest to new shooters and in the order which I would suggest them.
However, this article is on the Glock 19 and why I believe it is the best current choice for primary self-defensive carry by individuals who may be unable to buy several different models or firearms and even for those who have a few different firearms as well.
When asked if I am a Glock fan my answer is always two parts, yes and no. Yes, because as of right now for the price the Glock 19 offers the best overall tool for security for myself and my loved ones. No, it is neither the most accurate nor the highest capacity in a compact package available, it is, however, the most reliable (when clean and unaltered) and more accurate than most shooters can be under pressure.
Concealment of the firearm is a matter of carry not always a matter of size. Within reason you can carry firearms that are quite a bit larger than the Glock 19, however, you will lose comfort which when carrying for 4-8 hours a day or in my case 12 hours plus daily having comfort, is essential!
Why not use a Smith and Wesson Shield 2.0 in 9×19 or a Glock 26 or even the Glock 43 instead if comfort is what you want? This part takes a bit more to explain, while I personally would prefer to carry the lightest easiest to conceal handgun possible, this would mean losing 5 rounds in capacity and in the case of the Glock 43 you would lose 8 rounds in capacity. The savings in weight for myself are not worth it in day to day carry.
Do I need 15 rounds to get the job done in a defensive situation? This also takes a bit of explaining, according to the data as presented in “Why you should be trained and armed,” I showed evidence supporting carrying more rounds versus less. In an increasing number of violent encounters, it is mobs or groups of individuals working together doing the attacking. Additionally, in-home invasions it has long been multiples working together to best approach the problems encountered while robbing someone else’s house!
Given that between 70 and 80% of all persons shot with a handgun do not die, it would seem beneficial to have more ammunition than less. In fact, in 2008 one study found that police officers hit their targets approximately 34% of the time when facing other humans. (Baker, 2008) This statistic while not all-inclusive does show that more ammunition is not a bad thing to have.
Glock 19 25 Yard Accuracy
Is the Glock 19 accurate? Again the answer is two-fold and based entirely on what you are looking to do with it. Yes, it is accurate. In fact, the generation 5 Glock 19 is said to be the most accurate model yet. Generation 1 through 3 all came from the factory with the standard Glock sights, two dots or a U painted notch on back sight and standard white dot in front. These sights are not the best for some applications but like everything else with the Glock, handgun line will in fact function quite well until you can afford to replace them.
With my gen 3 models (of which I have a few) I can easily put 15 rounds inside of 3” offhand at 25 yards. This is a faster cadence of two shots per second or so, meaning a group of 3” at 25 yards in approximately 7-8 seconds with 15 rounds. Benched with factory barrels I average 2” and with aftermarket barrels well under 1.5,” this is using slow fire for accuracy alone.
By benched I do mean with the firearm secured in a shooting vise or sandbagged for stability. Offhand simply means without support outside of my hands and arms. Combat accuracy is commonly accepted as being a 5 round 4” group at 25 yards either one-handed or off-handed with a relatively slower cadence of one round per second or so. The Glock 19 in all its factory iterations will shoot this from the factory consistently, this means that assuming all things are equal, your gun should shoot 4” or less from the factory at 25 yards.
While this handgun will not be as accurate as a space gun or $3000 1911 custom gun I know that it will out-shoot most people holding it. Remember, with handguns all of your little issues shooting are magnified tenfold, jerking the trigger, limp wristing and more will all directly affect your accuracy.
Practice and practice more your trigger and grip can be practiced into submission with nothing but dry fire practice on a regular basis. So far we have established that the Glock 19 is reliable, accurate and well sized for concealed carry. Now what if I decide to go from a basic carry for self-defense to something that is suited for more tactical training, racking the slide using one hand and my pants pockets and similar? What if instead of 3” or 4” at 25 yards I want to stack the rounds?
Glock 19 Accessories and Upgrades
Additions to the gun, should you add anything and if so, what? This list varies greatly for many people with newer minted shooters enjoying a red dot instead of “iron sights” and some going so far as to add a compensator.
What I will say on this before going into some of the more popular additions, every time you change anything from the factory designs you run a higher risk of failure than using a firearm directly from the factory (and cleaned of course). The following list are things I change with reasons for doing so.
- Sights, I use Dawson Precision, Meprolight, TruGlo or Trijicon sights. I prefer Dawson Precision sights for cost and overall effectiveness of the product. I replace the sights because I need all steel sights that can withstand the abuse of training for just in case scenarios. Sights from the above-mentioned manufacturers do not affect the reliability of the firearm.
- Barrel, the vast majority of shooters do not, in fact, reload their ammunition. So the idea that somehow the factory Glock barrel will explode in their face is wrong. This is a myth that persists to this day regarding Glock barrels. The polygonal rifling used is different than the standard rifling used in firearms, it is more apt to clog up and smooth out as lead collects from cast lead reloads. I have used standard barrels and non-standard barrels with reloads and have never had an issue, though I do thoroughly clean my barrels and scrub them shiny after every use! The reason I choose to replace my barrels is simply because I like having just that little bit extra accuracy that I can get with my aftermarket barrels. I can recommend only what I have used, Lone Wolf or Alpha Wolf and KKM Precision. I am consistently able to squeeze one ragged hole out of these barrels with good ammunition. Some barrels can affect the reliability of the firearm, I recommend testing your barrel thoroughly prior to relying on it.
- 3.5lb Connector, this is the piece that connects the trigger and the sear and can be adjusted to allow for better trigger function as needed. In addition to swapping this out, I will swap the trigger spring for a NY1 trigger insert. These were designed for use in New York City police department issue firearms when they needed a stronger trigger than the standard 5.5lbs from Glock. By combining a 3.5lb connector and the NY1 trigger spring replacement I end up with a much crisper trigger allowing for smoother resets and better control while shooting. This does not affect the reliability of the firearm.
Glock 19 Accessories… That You Don’t Need!
It is my firm opinion based in decades of shooting that you should learn to walk before you run, this means that until you have learned to shoot to combat standards with a stock Glock the next add-ons are unnecessary and will only serve to enforce bad habits. With this said, here are some other things you can add to your Glock.
- Grip Plug, some people believe these are needed for everything from added weight for balance to preventing debris from entering the firearm. (I do not use grip plugs and do not recommend them, as the design of the Glock handgun is made to ensure debris easily falls out of the firearm and adding plugs will only prevent this safety measure.)
- Steel recoil/guide rod and spring, again the people that believe plugging the holes helps have become infatuated with the idea that somehow 100,000+ rounds is not enough and so they replace the guide rod with a steel or titanium one. This is not necessary for longevity, though if you want to compete with the Glock 19 you may want to look at different spring weights to vary how it operates. Again, I do not recommend doing this simply because there is a vast difference in competition and defense.
- Red dot, these additions were popularized by a fellow Arizonan, and for the reasons, he uses them I agree. However, I do not believe that the added $300-500 is necessary for general defensive use. After learning to use iron sights and the gun well, then look at adding this if necessary.
- Compensator, these are added to supposedly make the gun flatter to shoot, less recoil and all that. The reality is, if you cannot shoot a Glock 19 and shoot it accurately without a compensator the extra inch or more isn’t going to make enough of a difference to make up for the loss of conceal-ability. I know I am not alone in seeing this modern trend for the horse crap it is.
- Stylized slide cover plate, the butt plate of the gun is easy to replace with custom ones that have the punisher logo or something similar on them. I would not recommend using anything inflammatory, and the Punisher logo is a lawsuit waiting to happen!
- Engraved muzzle, many people get their guns engraved, I have mine engraved and others I know also do. However, the orchid on my wife’s gun or the younger futhark short stave on mine is not the same as having, “Smile wait for flash” on the end of your muzzle. I firmly recommend again, considering the legal implications of said act before engaging in it.
- Stippling or grip modification, I have modified my grips to better fit my hand and that of my wife, this being said, understand by modifying the grip you run the risk of causing irreparable damage to the firearm. Be careful and have a professional do your work. My single issue with the best generation Glock 19 ever made, the gen 3 is the finger grooves. I simply sanded mine away and did a bit of work to make it easier to grip.
- Slide modifications, this includes but is not limited to slide cuts and ports cut in the barrel and slide to make it “easier to shoot” again, this falls under the, spend more money practicing and less playing with your gun. The actual difference is negligible and the potential for everything from spoiled low light or night vision to irreparable slide damage are too high! Unless you are building a competition gun, avoid doing this.
Choosing a Glock 19 Tactical Light
So now we are in the next part of why a Glock 19 gen 3 or later makes such an amazing concealed carry defensive tool. The ability to mount a light to it. This is something that is essential in a modern defensive handgun. A mounted light from experience will make it much easier to ensure your target and avoid bad shoots, otherwise known as harming an innocent because you are too proud to get a light and make sure of your target.
First, a light does not make you a target, firing your weapon does! A weapon mounted light is an essential part of a modern defensive kit. Here are a few I have tested and used and can recommend! For purposes of concealed carry a light will not always be appropriate, however, there are several solid holsters manufactures that build holsters for a Glock 19 with lights attached. Streamlight TLR-3 or TLR- 7 are my number one choices, InForce APLc and lastly the Glock OEM light.
All of these lights have a proven track record and are easy to use. All are plenty bright enough, I do not suggest anyone using a light that is too bright, having practiced in 360 shoot houses in low light or no light conditions too bright a light can actually be quite detrimental to you personally. Your level of brightness should be between 90 and 300 lumens for a handgun mounted light. I prefer 100-200 personally which is why the TLR-3 or the TLR-7 is my first choice.
Concealed Carry Holsters For A Glock 19
There are a few solid holster manufactures that offer an amazing product. I can recommend Clinger Holsters, 77 Solutions, IronXHolsters and Galco all of these manufacturers build solid rigs that can be customized for your setup. Regardless your personal carry style, one of these manufacturers can set you up well for between $40 and $100 for a full rig, and that is well worth the money.
The Best Defensive Ammo For The Glock 19
Lastly, ammunition! Honestly, there are only a few solid defensive rounds I can honestly recommend. Speer Gold Dot 115-124 grain, Federal HST 124 grain, and Remington UMC 115 grain JHP are the only rounds I can recommend for self-defense based on performance and ability.
I have personally tested these and 5 other rounds over the span of a few years. Each selection was shot between 200-500 times and calibrated gelatin/ water packs and hogs were used as test beds for expansion and “stopping” power.
With proper shot placement, only 4 rounds worked every time, Speer Gold Dot, Federal HST, Remington UMC JHP, Hornady Critical Defense/Duty. The only reason Hornady Critical Defense is not on the list is that I had 5+ squib loads in 3 different calibers from 4 different case lots over the course of 3 years of testing.
This means that for a defensive ammunition that costs close to a dollar a round I had over 5% failure to even go off properly! This is bad, absolutely bad and regardless how good the bullet itself performed, if I cannot trust the round to go off 99% of the time, I cannot trust it with my life and that of my families.
Is the Glock 19 a good concealed carry gun: how accurate, is it reliable and what should I add to it? I hope that this article answered this question or questions for you. I believe that it is, and within reason, I believe that for personal protection, law enforcement and even combat roles it is uniquely suited to provide a reliable, consistent, accurate and relatively comfortable firearm that will complete the job you give it as was intended.
I highly suggest testing one out at your local indoor range, they likely rent firearms and probably have a couple of people willing to teach you a solid grip. If not, ask in the comments and I will gladly put together an article on basic handgun use. I did teach this and a few other items for over a decade and still do today when able, though these days I do it for the pleasure and definitely not the pay.
If you have any comments or questions ask! I am more than willing to support, add and or even change as needed anything that may be factually incorrect. I would ask before commenting on potential changes that you take the time to read the article completely. I try my best to ensure full information and solid data.
Free the mind and the body will follow
- Ayoob, M. (2015). Massad Ayoob: Why the Glock 19 Is Great For Beginners, Pros. Retrieved from https://www.tactical-life.com/firearms/massad-ayoob-glock-19-gen-4/
- Baker, A. (2008). 11 Years of Police Gunfire, in Painstaking Detail. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/08/nyregion/08nypd.html
- G19. (2018). Retrieved from https://us.glock.com/products/G19