The Glock Model G17, G22 and G31 Pistols

By Chuck Hawks

G 17
Illustration courtesy of Glock, Inc.

Gaston Glock ushered in the modern era of polymer framed pistols with his storied Model 17 semi-automatic pistol. The same basic design has been morphed into an entire line of pistols built on various size frames. The Models G17 (9x19), G22 (.40 S&W) and G31 (.357 SIG) are the standard size service pistols.

All Glock pistols have polymer receivers with molded-in steel slide rails. The slide is machined (not stamped) from solid steel, and most of the internal parts are also steel.

The slide, barrel (inside and out), and most other major steel parts are Tenifer coated, a process which gives them an incredibly hard surface and is more rust resistant than stainless steel. Some of the small steel parts are Parkerized, and the slide rails are chrome steel. Glocks are reputed to be the most corrosion resistant pistols on the market.

The essence of the basic Glock pistol design is simplicity and ease of operation. Glocks are hammerless, striker-fired, short recoil operated, autoloading pistols with a unique "Safe Action" mechanism.

On a Glock, the slide must first be racked to partially compress the striker (or firing pin) spring and set the trigger before the pistol can be fired. After the slide has been racked and the trigger set, the standard Glock trigger pull feels somewhat like a two-stage, single action military trigger. The Glock Safe Action incorporates three separate safety mechanisms, all of which are automatically activated when the slide is at battery.

The Glock Model 17, 21 and 31 pistols are among the safest ever designed, and no user action is required to render them safe. All that is required is that most basic of proper gun handling procedures: keep your finger off the trigger until you intend to shoot the gun.

Glock pistols are available with five different trigger pull weights. It is the angle of the ramp on the trigger connector that primarily determines the trigger pull weight. The standard Glock trigger is supposed to have a "5 pound" trigger connector. This connector has a ramp set at a 90 degree angle. These actually result in about a 7 pound trigger pull in the pistols I have measured, and are the connector usually (but not always) found in civilian G17, G22 and G31 pistols.

Glock 17, 22 and 31 pistols have only two controls, besides the trigger, and those are conventionally located. There is a magazine release and a slide release. That is it, Glock pistols have no other controls that must be manipulated. And, by design, nothing sticks out of a Glock to catch on clothing.

The extractor, located on the right side of the slide immediately behind the ejection port, also serves as a loaded chamber indicator. When the chamber is loaded, the extractor is slightly raised and can be felt.

Standard G17, G22 and G31 sights are of the patridge type. The large, square faced front blade has a big white dot on its face. A white line outlines the square notch rear sight. Night sights are available, and there are rails in the frame below the barrel for mounting a laser sight or night light.

These Glock service pistols have several fundamental design advantages over most other semi-autos. For one, the grip angle is ergonomic, similar to that of the classic Luger pistol that was famous for its good pointing qualities. The Glock Safe Action trigger mechanism makes it possible to take full advantage of the inherent low recoil and muzzle flip of the Glock pistols. Once a Glock shooter has learned proper trigger control, double taps can be achieved faster than with almost any other pistol.

The result of these design subtleties is that the full size Glock pistols have very good practical accuracy. Good practical accuracy simply means that they are easy to shoot accurately.

Glocks incorporate other innovations too numerous to explore here. Suffice to say that the competition has copied the polymer frame and many other design concepts of the Glock pistols. Some pistols, such the S&W Sigma series, are blatant clones of inferior quality and Glock has been forced to defend their patent rights in court.

The subjects of this article are the Glock Models 17, 22 and 31. These three models are nearly identical. The Glock 17 is chambered for the seminal 9x19 (9mm Luger) cartridge, the Glock 22 is chambered for the .40 S&W cartridge, and the Glock 31 is chambered for the .357 SIG cartridge. The double stack magazine capacity is 17 cartridges for the G17 and 15 cartridges for the G22 and G31.

The Glock 17 has a barrel 4.49 inches long and weighs 22.04 ounces without a magazine. According to Peter Alan Kasler's authoritative book Glock - The New Wave in Combat Handguns, which every Glock owner should have, a G17 with a fully loaded magazine and a round in the chamber weighs 31.41 ounces.

The specifications of the G22 and G31 are identical to those of the G17 except for a slight difference in weight. All three models have been widely adopted for police use, and the G17 is one of the world's standard military pistols.

Jim Fleck, a Guns and Shooting Online staff member and an experienced handgunner, and I test fired a Glock 17 as representative of the full size Glock service pistols. This pistol was purchased new "off the shelf." It had the standard (military) fixed rear sight and tended to shoot about 4" over the point of aim at 25 yards with Winchester/USA ammunition, at least in my hands. (Military pistols are typically set-up for much longer range than most civilian shooter need.) Altogether, three kinds of factory loaded ammunition (Winchester 115 grain, Fiocchi 123 grain, and Cor-Bon 115 grain +P) were fired, with the Winchester ammo producing the best groups and Fiocchi the worst. All of these loads functioned correctly, and group sizes were typical of a high quality, unmodified, service pistol.

Since Jim and I are both Glock owners, we were not surprised that there were no malfunctions during our testing. Malfunctions with Glock pistols are rare.

The full size Glock 17, 22 and 31 are fine service pistols. I know of no better autoloading pistols for military, police, or personal protection purposes.

Note: A complete review of the Glock 17 pistol can be found on the Product Reviews page.

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Copyright 2003, 2016 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.