Glock 19 Gen 3 Review: The Classic Glock

— Travis PikeCADRE Dispatch

In 1998, Glock released their Generation 3 guns. While Glock was already a rising star, the Gen 3 guns truly cemented their legacy. The Gen 3 series brought about the Glock accessory rail, which was praised as a smart move. It also brought about the finger grooves, which weren’t so beloved. The Gen 3 established the Glock 19 as Glock’s flagship handgun.

Throughout the 1990s, many states began swapping from may issue to shall issue, and by 1998, concealed carry had become quite popular. The Glock 19 Gen 3 offered a compact pistol that was fairly lightweight. Compact handguns like the P228 existed, but they weighed a good bit more than the polymer frame Glock 19. The Glock 19 was often viewed as the Goldilocks option of being just right in terms of size.

The Gen 3 Glock 19 is 26 years old, give or take, and that makes it a classic.

The Glock 19: The Goldilocks Option

The Glock 19 is just the right size for most shooters. It’s the right size for concealed carry and the right size for home defense. It’s a switch hitter that can be an instant success in either category.

The firearm features a 4.02-inch barrel with an overall length of 7.36 inches. The gun weighs about 30 ounces fully loaded with 15 rounds of 9mm. The gun is 1.25 inches wide at its widest and is 5.04 inches tall.

Compared to guns like the P365, it seems fairly large, but keep in mind that 1998 was 20 years before the P365. The Glock 19 offered a gun that could accept decent capacity magazines, equip a light, and be both easy to shoot and easy to carry. The grip is just long enough to fill your hand, and the sight radius is generous enough to make accurate shots.

Glock 19 in hand
The Glock 19 Gen 3 series introduced the infamous finger grooves.

The features on the pistol seem slim compared to modern Glocks. There is a rail… and not much else. We don’t get an ambidextrous slide release or a reversible magazine release. There are no options for optics and no replaceable backstraps. It’s just simple and representative of what the average pistol looked like in the late 1990s.

Still, it paved the way for Glock to be the dominant pistol in this country. By the time the third-gen pistols hit the market, the Glock pistol was undeniable. To this day, the Gen 3s are still produced, and Polymer 80 based their 80 lower grip modules on the Gen 3 design.

Inside my Glock 19 Gen 3

The Glock 19 is a consummate performer. You can find any number of examples with thousands of rounds on them that still perform like they are brand new. There was no telling how many rounds went through mine before it made it to my hands, yet I’ve never had an issue with it working when I need it to. I’ll admit this isn’t my concealed carry firearm, but rather a beater pistol I keep packed away for a rainy day.

It goes in my Bug Out Bag and is dropped into a single 7378 ALS Concealment holster. Should any evacuation event occur, I know as long as I grab my bag, I have a means of self-defense. I’m likely to already have my typical P365 riding in a Schema in my waistband, but you never know. You might evacuate in your underwear, and if I grab my bag, it’s ready to go.

glock 19 with weapon light
The Glock 19 has the Glock rail which allows for mounting lights and lasers.

Mine is an odd example. It has rearward and forward serrations. I picked the pistol up on the used market and was told it was a contract overrun for an LE Agency. I’m not sure how true that is, but it was an affordable option.

These days, the Gen 3 guns tend to be fairly inexpensive. The lack of features that adorn the Gen 4 and Gen 5 series makes them a little less cool these days. Plenty of used Gen 3s are floating around and often represent a great deal on a very well-put-together gun.

At the Range With the Glock 19

This Glock 19 is one I often turn to for training new shooters. It has this universal appeal and simplicity that make it a solid option for shooters looking to move past rimfire guns. The simplicity of the Glock 19 makes it easy to understand, and the relatively tame recoil helps keep things nonintimidating.

For a more experienced shooter, that tame recoil makes taking fast shots easy. Shooters can manage longer strings of fire and deliver those rounds accurately on target. The 1.25-inch width of the Glock grip feels wide, but that width helps the gun dissipate recoil in a comfy and controllable manner. It never feels snappy or difficult to manage.

Glock 19 on cinderblock
The Glock 19 Gen 3 is a product of its era, which was 1998.

The partially cocked striker-fired trigger design delivers one consistently smooth and fairly light trigger pull. There are modern match-type triggers that beat it, but as far as duty and concealed carry go, it’s nice. There is a slight take-up, a spongy wall, and then the break. The reset is tactile, audible, and unmistakable.

The downside of the trigger is the overall design of the trigger shoe. It starts to irritate the finger when you get through a few magazines. It has this odd pinch and rubbing feeling. In most practical use cases, this isn’t an issue, except for those high round count training days. It’s a minor irritant.

Punching Targets

The plastic Glock sights won’t blow your mind, but they are functional. They are very simple, and honestly, one of the big downsides of the Glock series. Still, they work well enough to put shots on target.

glock rear sight
The polymer Glock rear sight works, but it isn’t fancy.

The front sight feels somewhat large, which makes it tough to hit smaller targets at longer ranges. The front sight nearly obscures an entire 10-inch gong at 25 yards. Dropping it between the rear sight and hitting targets like an FBI-Q is easy, even at 25 yards, but smaller targets are a fair bit tougher.

front sight
The front sight is somewhat large, but it works

From a defensive standpoint, the sights will certainly let you get on target and burn it down as needed. If the Glock 19 was a competition pistol, I’d swap the sights immediately. Heck, if it was my daily carry gun, I’d swap the sights quickly.

The biggest downside to the Glock 19 for me is ergonomics. I get a hefty dose of slide bite with every shot taken. I have big hands, and with a high grip, the web between my thumb and pointer finger gets a nice little strike from the Glock 19’s slide. If you give me enough trigger pulls, it begins to break the skin, which is irritating.

Additionally, the magazine release is quite small and annoying. It’s tough to reach and does require some twisting of the wrist. The slide release is also quite small but functional enough. Overall, it’s a product of its era, and it shows.

double stack magazine
The Glock 19 uses a double-stack 9mm magazine.

Far From Perfect

It’s easy to see why the Glock brand has evolved and changed over the generations. The Gen 3 wasn’t perfect, but it remains one of the classic fighting pistol options. While it’s easy to complain about now, in 1998, this was a high-tech firearm. Even to this day, it might lack refinement, but it would still be a very capable pistol.

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