I won’t use the old line of “if you can only have one handgun” about the Glock 19, because it’s not the only one I own. While a good case could be made for it as the best all-around defensive pistol, many detractors would yell that it’s a 9mm, and not a .45ACP or even a .40S&W, both of which have more stopping power. The Glock 23 is the same weapon chambered in .40, and I would likely own the 23 instead, but for three reasons.
- 9mm ammo is available in more configurations and is more readily available than any other centerfire pistol ammo that’s powerful enough for defense of self and family. Every ammo manufacturer makes it; from slow moving full-metal-jacet (FMJ) plinkers for target practice, to 9mm+P+ firebreathing jacketed hollowpoints (JHP). Plus, it’s currently standard issue to the U.S. military and a great majority of police departments, so if that zombie crap happens that I mentioned in the last post, you’ll be able to find fresh 9mm lying around everywhere. Also, more than one of my shooting buddies have 9mm pistols, so ammo sharing and community reloading is another plus.
- It’s cheaper to shoot. While .40S&W is similarly priced, 9mm is still cheaper. And it’s way cheaper than .45ACP. You can buy a box of plinker 9mm such as – my favorite – PMC’s Blazer Brass for a reasonable $13-15 for a box of 50, and bulk quantities are even cheaper per shot. I can afford to have target practice with my actual defensive weapon, without converting it to a neutered .22LR like so many .45 shooters do with their 1911’s.
- Remember that I used to work outdoor retail and sell guns? Yeah, well I got an incredible deal on this used piece that looked new but was already barely broke-in. I won’t say how cheap…because you’d hate me…but trust me. It was cheap.
Those are some of the reasons I own this pistol. Other reasons? It’s tough. As. Hell. Yes, it’s polymer (plastic) framed, but this is no recycled soda bottle stuff. It’s virtually indestructible. That durability has been well proved since Glock debuted in 1982, and the model 19 in 1988. These are the weapons of choice for many police departments, “agencies” and security forces around the world for a reason.
Aside from durability, there’s reliability. Durability means it doesn’t break easily. Reliability means it works and usually keeps working. I’ve never spoken with anyone who’s personally had an issue of any sort with a Glock. In fact, I’ve never even had a jam or feed issue. No “stove pipes,” no mis-fires; nothing has ever gone wrong. Well, except one thing, and it’s not really it’s fault…
The sights took some getting used to, for me anyway. First, I don’t like them because they’re plastic, but not of the same variety as the frame. They scratch and dent. Second, my first 50 shots seemed to all hit just off the pie plate. I’m fairly certain this was due to my trigger technique, as I can now hit reliably well, but I’ll blame it on the sights because I can, and they bug me. I plan to change the factory plastic goal-post for steel night sites, but haven’t yet decided on which particular set to get.
So we have durability and reliability. Pretty good so far. We also have shootability. It’s simple. It’s safe. It hits its mark – if you don’t have trigger technique problems. I’ve nailed a few 10 yard bullseyes with it – not bad for a fixed sight combat pistol. But let’s back up; simple and safe.
Simple to Use
The greatest thing about Glocks is they have no manual safeties to fiddle with – Glock invented the automatic safety. They have internal mechanisms, and I suppose you could call the trigger safety a “manual” safety since it is something you press with your finger, but it remains that if you need to fire this gun all you do is pull the trigger. If you don’t want it to fire, don’t pull the trigger. It will not fire if you don’t actively pull the trigger to completion, releasing the striker to cycle into the chambered round. It just won’t, and let’s leave it at that before this gets way too long.
True, that is a preference. I’m used to the double action trigger pull and no manual safety lever because … wait for it … my first handgun was a revolver! I got used to that Smith and Wesson Model 60 (Favorite Firearms, Part 1). This Glock operates almost the same way, except for the obvious differences between how you load and cock a pistol versus a revolver. So the learning curve and autopilot training on that front was minimal, and will be for almost anyone. I’ve always recommended revolvers to people new to guns who want a defensive piece, because they don’t have to think much to defend themselves, and competency training (not considering accuracy) is minimal. Same here. If you can rack the slide you can operate this gun.
Need to reload? No problem. When the slide locks back (shown: right) simply press the mag release button by the lower edge of the trigger guard to drop the spent mag, slam a full mag into the grip well, and pull down on the little lever located above your thumb. Smack! Live round chambered and ready to rock. My slide release is so well broken in (not worn out, mind you) that it barely requires any pressure to drop the slide. It’s wonderful.
Simple to Own
Maintaining a gun can be a chore, depending on what it is. However, like an all stainless steel revolver, a Glock is basically maintenance free. Just clean it after you shoot it and you’re done. You can thank it’s rugged durability, mostly, but also another aspect that you can’t see without taking it apart: it’s easy to take apart.
Lots of pistols make use of convoluted levers and pins and make you spin things around and pull things out … what a pain. And for someone new to firearms, it can be challenging remembering how to do it. Not so with Glocks. They have one of the easiest take-down mechanisms out there.
How-To-Tip: Field Stipping the Glock 19 for Cleaning
Step 1 – Be sure the gun is empty, the chamber is clear and there is no magazine inserted, empty or not. Safety First, always!
Step 2 – Decompress the striker spring. Translated: squeeze the trigger. The gun will not come apart if it is cocked. Dry firing won’t hurt it any worse than dropping it from a cliff then running over it with a Mack truck, which is to say, it won’t hurt it a bit.
Step 3 – Place the palm of your hand on the muzzle and hook your thumb on the inside of the trigger guard. Squeeze. Barely. Your purpose here is to move the slide back about a 1/4 of an inch. Much more and the gun will cock the striker again and you’ll have to go back to Step 2. The result of moving the slide the proper amount will look like this (shown: left). You should be holding the gun in one hand, with your other hand free.
Step 4 – With your free hand (surprise!) use your thumb and index finger to simultaneously grasp the little slider bars that are located just above the trigger guard, and on both sides of the gun. Pull them down toward the trigger simultaneously. Here’s the closest thing to a hard part: hold them there while you perform …
Step 5 – Release the slide and pull it off of the gun, forward! It will come off smoothly and easily. You will not have to “pull” it but just tilt the gun down and it will basically fall off. Keep your hand in front of it so it doesn’t hit the floor. If you have to pull because the slide stops about an inch into travel … stop, you’ve cocked the striker, return to step 2.
Step 6 – Turn the slide upside down and carefully apply slight pressure to the spring on the breech (chamber) end of the barrel. You only need press it enough to lift it away from the notch it’s resting in on the underside of the barrel. Now lift it away.
Step 7 – Take hold of the breech end of the barrel and lift it out of the slide. Alternately, turn the slide back right-side-up and the barrel will fall out, smashing your toe if you’re barefoot and standing. Now your Glock should look like this (shown below):
Step 8 – Clean and inspect the frame internals. You don’t need to do much here other than use a brush and wipe to clear the powder residue from the top edges. A tiny spritz of cleaner can help if you’ve gone through a lot of ammo since the last cleaning. Try to clean your guns after every trip to the range. If you can’t for some reason, try to clean them at least after every 150 rounds or so.
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That’s three boxes of plinker ammo. I can rarely afford more than that at a time, and it’s usually just two boxes. If you shoot 300 rounds every time you go to the range, by damn clean your gun when you get home!
Finish up with a very light application of lubricant/protectant on the metal parts, including into the striker spring housing at the rear of the frame. Don’t leave it dripping!
People prefer different cleaners, lubes, and protectants. I use Birchwood Casey Barricade. It basically does it all, if you’re just maintaining. If you have more hard-core problems you should pick up some of their other products in addition, like Gun Scrubber.
Step 9 – Clean the barrel. Either use a bore-snake for this step, or find the 9mm wire brush in your gun cleaning kit. (These will often be labelled “38” since 9mm and .38 caliber are the same thing.) Affix it to your pushrod and swab the inside of the barrel 5-6 times. Spay cleaner inside barrel judiciously (read: dripping). Change wire brush to a patch-cloth tip and insert a fresh cleaning cloth. Swab the barrel all the way through, forward and back (as you should have been doing with the wire brush) at least 8-10 times.
Safety Tip: Visually inspect the barrel against the light to insure it looks shiny clear of rust and debris. This is important to safety as well, as it’s possible part of your patch or rod could be lodged inside. A good gunsmith friend of mine forgot to look one day and blew his fingertip off when test firing a rifle he didn’t check after cleaning quickly. It can happen to anyone. Don’t let it be you.
Step 10 – Wipe down the outside of the barrel and the inside of the slide with a cleaner-dampened cloth. Not runny or drippy. Wipe away any fingerprints you probably just left, and instead leave a very very light coat of cleaner/lube … just enough to leave it looking shiny. Do NOT do this to the outside of the slide. Instead just wipe it down with a cloth that once thought about having cleaner on it, but changed its mind just as you were about to spray it.
Step 11 – Tada! You’re done cleaning, now put it back together in reverse order. Turn the slide upside down and drop in the barrel. It should slide in easily. Use the angle shown in the picture (right) to get it started, but be sure it rests flat in the slide, with the barrel lug in the ejector port of the slide when you’re done.
Step 12 – Reinstall the guide rod/slide spring assembly (oh by the way, don’t try to take that apart). It will rest in the second notch on the barrel lug, not the first. You’ll think it’s in, but it’s not quite. Press a little more and snap it on down to the next groove. Upon inspection from the side, the spring and the slide should be parallel.
Step 13 – Reinstall the slide/barrel assembly onto the frame. Line it up as in the picture for step 5, above. It’s a simple tongue and groove system. Put it on front to back, like pressing “rewind” on the way it came off. Only this time you don’t have to pull the release sliders. Continue moving the slide along the rails until you will find a moment of pressure, where it stops. This will be when the rear of the slide is about 1/2 inch from the rear of the frame (shown: right). This is not a problem, it’s normal. Grasp the slide firmly and in one motion rack it as though chambering a round.
Boom, you’re done reassembling!
Step 14 – Because I can’t leave it with 13, haha… Put the mag back in and ready the weapon for storage or carry! Mine lives (in either situation) in this Fobus kydex paddle holster. It’s cheap. It works. It serves as a trigger guard because neither of my children can yet pull the pistol from this holster thanks to its firm retention. Don’t worry, I keep it locked up anyway when at home, as should you.
Gun Safety Tip:
Don’t belly ache the “what if someone comes in and I can’t get to it” thing. Instead, do like I did and get a quick access pistol safe that lives near where you sleep, in easy reach. It should be an electronic, push button combination lock, not a key. The only way to quickly get into a keyed box is if you leave the key in the lock. What’s the point?
Don’t like the idea of your pistol being locked up while you’re at home? Don’t have kids? Don’t worry about it. Have kids or otherwise mentally challenged or depressed people in your house regularly? Wear the gun on your person if you don’t want it locked up! That’s why you have a holster, right? To feel cool wearing your gun? Never leave a firearm unlocked and unattended when there’s someone around who could hurt themselves or others with it, either accidentally or on purpose.
Clearly, the Glock 19 is one of my favorite firearms. I like the fact that it’s 9mm. I like that it can take a magazine from the Glock 17 for 2 additional rounds, or the Glock 18, which is a non-USA selectable-fire model that comes with a 30 round magazine! Yes, you can get the 30 round magazines in the states (check your local laws). KCI brand knock-offs are readily available from places like cheaperthandirt.com. With that and a good weaponlight (read my Weaponlight Primer here), your 19 becomes a home defense demon! Then remove the huge stick of a 30rd mag, remove the weaponlight, stick the 19 in a comfy holster, and it becomes a perfect concealed carry piece!
I honestly recommend the Glock 19 to almost anyone who finds it vaguely comfortable to hold. It’s easily concealable as long as you’re not in beachwear or lingerie; it doesn’t weigh too much; it doesn’t kick too bad if you’re sensitive to recoil; it doesn’t take a lot of practice to master its usage; it’s not hard to take care of; it’s not horribly expensive; it’s not horribly expensive to shoot.
Simple to use. Simple to own. Simple decision. Get yourself a Glock 19.
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