Review: Glock G19X
Over the last couple years, I’ve been lucky enough to spend a bunch of hands-on time with the commercial variants of serious finalists for the U.S. Army’s Modular Handgun System (MHS) program. In the pages of this magazine, I’ve reviewed the SIG Sauer P320 (in its X-Carry flavor), Smith & Wesson’s M&P9 M2.0 and the FN 509. Therefore, it borders on karma that my inbox should land an assignment to do a feature-length review of the Glock G19X, the commercial-market offering that is, in essence, Glock’s MHS contender sans thumb safeties. I’ve become a one-person ex-post facto MHS-evaluation committee.
Of all the likely MHS finalists, the Glock G19X was the only one whose very design stirred controversy in the gun-hobbyist community. The FN and Smith & Wesson guns were pretty conventional refreshes of existing designs. The SIG P320 didn’t really generate any controversy with its basic design, either. Everyone suspected SIG was going to enter the polymer, striker-fired, cop-gun market, and the model essentially supplanted a gun that the market had stayed away from in droves. The only controversy around the P320 happened with the “voluntary upgrade” announcement, and that was after it had landed the big contract.
The Glock MHS entrant, the one that became the Glock G19X, drew howls from many of the commenters in the corners of the internet where I lurk as soon as pictures of the gun became available. (My howls may have been part of the chorus.)
See, for a while now, a popular cool-guy Glock modification in these circles has been to take a full-size G17 and chop the grip down to take 15-round G19 magazines, usually removing the finger grooves and texturing the frame while you were at it. The reason was to make the gun easier to conceal when carrying IWB, since the grip is the part that determines concealability. The finished product was (unofficially) referred to as a “19L,” riffing off Glock’s “17L” designation for its original longslide.
Now here comes Glock with a new factory gun with the finger grooves gone and a decently textured frame…and the proportions are 180 degrees out from the cool-guy 19L. Instead, the new Glock G19X has the compact slide of a G19 mated to the full-length grip of a G17. In fact, the grip is slightly longer than that on a G17, due to a downward-protruding lip at the front of the mag well. (More on that later.)
As of this writing, the Glock G19X comes in any color you want, as long as the color you want is Coyote Tan with black accents, although a slightly different, all-black version designated the G45 has just been introduced. The slide is finished using a proprietary nPVD process that results in a color reminiscent of the “Burnt Bronze” that is so popular in this current year. (A side effect of the process is that the underside of the slide has a purple sheen reminiscent of machinist’s marking die. This unusual side effect is invisible unless the pistol is field-stripped.)
The frame is molded from a matching Coyote Tan polymer, as are the magazines. Up to now, the only people with Tactical Dirt Colored factory Glock mags were JSOC door-kickers, but with the launch of the G19X, they’re available to the general public. Like all Gen4/5 Glocks, the Glock G19X ships with three magazines. One of them is a regular, flush-fit 17-round magazine, the other two are 19-rounders thanks to color-coordinated, factory two-round extensions. Aft of the magazine well, the normal Glock backstrap channel is filled with a removable Coyote Tan plug featuring a molded-in lanyard loop.
Speaking of Gen5 guns, as can probably be guessed from the presence of ambidextrous slide stops and the absence of finger grooves, the Glock G19X is built on Glock’s updated “Gen5” architecture, which is the most ambitious refresh of the basic lockwork since the original “pebble-grip” Glocks hit our shores in the 1980s.
While the Gen5 architecture features ambidextrous slide stops, the magazine release is merely reversible, à la the Gen4 unit. Glock had earlier toyed with true ambidextrous magazine releases on the original Glock 21SF, itself an offshoot of the Joint Combat Pistol program for SOCOM, but those required special magazines and have since faded into collectability. Unlike the earlier gun, the Glock G19X can use any regular 17-round or greater-capacity Glock magazine.
Well, almost any. Here’s where that protrusion on the bottom of the front strap comes into play. While it does ensure that even someone with paws like Andre the Giant won’t pinch their pinkie between the grip and the magazine during a speed reload, and it also ensures that even gloved hands won’t jostle the protruding plus-two magazine extensions, it nonetheless causes a problem.
The G19X weighed in at 25 ounces (with an empty magazine) on my postal scale. For comparison’s sake, I checked it against my carry gun, a Gen4 G19, and found that the longer grip and magazine only added a single ounce. When topped up with a full tank of ammunition—19+1 rounds of Speer Gold Dot 124-grain +P—the gun weighed a tenth of an ounce less than 34 ounces. That’s still a quarter-pound lighter than my Springfield Armory Professional 1911 with an empty magazine.
With no interchangeable backstraps on the gun, it’s 7 inches from the tip of the muzzle to the tip of the frame tang, although that’s not the rearmost part of the gun, as the arch of the grip backstrap protrudes another half inch past that. From the top of the rear sight to the bottom of the plus-two floorplate is 6.25 inches.
You see, the G19 grip is not only shorter than the G17 grip, but it’s also contoured differently. For a shooter who wears medium or large gloves, the arch of the 19’s grip can hit right in the heel of the hand, which is why there’s a cottage industry of people doing grip reductions and straightening that area out.
On the Glock G19X, with its G17 grip contour, the most-swollen part of the arch is below the hand for all but the hugest of paws. This alters pointing and grip characteristics in almost the same way as the flat mainspring housing versus arched mainspring housing do on the 1911. At the risk of spoiling the ending of the review here, I use a flat mainspring housing on 1911s and noticed an improvement in pointability going from my G19 carry gun to the G19X.
At the range, shooting the G19X without any backstraps, the gun proved quite easy to control. Despite still recovering from a broken collarbone and therefore not having anywhere near full strength in my support hand, the gun tracked surprisingly flat compared to the Gen4 G19. The difference would probably not be as pronounced for the small-of-hand.
Another advantage to the longer grip is that it eliminated my chances of getting a pinkie finger between the floorplate and the magazine well opening during a speed reload. If you have never had this happen, it’s an experience I don’t recommend. I had thought myself to be immune to the phenomenon as my fingers are slim enough to not hang off the frontstrap of a G19, but I managed to finally give myself a pretty good blood blister in a recent class with the side of the magazine floorplate. On the Glock G19X, this looks to be a physical impossibility for me.
So, in the course of about half a case of ammo, I’ve had pretty much a total change of heart on this gun, and it’s not just because I think the color is cool. There’s every chance that by the time you read this article, the Glock G19X will have replaced the Gen4 G19 that is in my holster now.