The Gen4 Glocks are similar to all the other generations of Glock pistol. The Gen4 versions have the same time-tested “Safe Action” system, durable exterior finish, cold-hammer forged barrel, and the durability, reliability, light weight that has made Glock firearms famous.
However, the new fourth generation Gen4 has several new features designed to satisfy the most demanding consumers. The pistol is based on a full-size G17/G22 MBS (Multiple Back Strap) frame with a reduced short-frame trigger mechanism housing. The multiple back strap system allows users to change the circumference of the grip to fit their individual hand size.
The grip has three options: short frame, medium frame, and large frame versions that are easily changed and secured with a single pin. The grip angle of the Glock “Safe Action” Pistol has not been changed by the back strap modifications. This ensures the shooter does not shoot high or low when modifying the back strap or when shooting with a different Glock pistol.
The magazine release catch of the Gen4 is now reversible and enlarged. This reversible magazine allows users to switch the catch to the left or right side of the pistol with no additional parts.
Additionally, the Gen4 has a new Rough Textured Frame (Gen4 RTF) surface designed to enhance grip traction and is present on the frame as well as the interchangeable back straps. Internally, the original recoil spring has been replaced with a dual recoil spring assembly. The dual spring assembly noticeably reduces the recoil while simultaneously increasing the life cycle of the assembly.
Exactly what are all of the Gen4 upgrades? Answer: The recoil assembly has been changed to a dual coil design in order to reduce felt recoil, improve slide speed management, and increase spring life. The nose ring of the slide and Gen4’s barrel lug were modified to accommodate the new recoil assembly, and the nose of the frame was modified to accommodate the larger dimensions of the forward end of the new recoil assembly.
The redesigned magazine catch can now be reversed, and the Gen4 frame was modified to accommodate this new magazine catch. The magazine was modified by adding an additional retention notch to work with the reversed magazine catch.
The curvature of the receiver back strap has been reduced to accommodate shooters with smaller hands, and the trigger housing and longer trigger housing pin were changed to work with the redesigned back straps. Detachable back straps of varying sizes were introduced to further increase the range of available grip sizes.
Why did Glock produce some early Gen4 guns with scalloped slide serrations, then returned back to straight? Answer: The scalloped slide serrations were introduced along with the Rough Textured Frames (RTF) and were retired along with the RTFs when Gen4 was released. They may or may not be reintroduced at some point in the future. No Gen4 pistols were produced with the scalloped serrations.
What is the story on the recall of the Gen4 double-spring recoil spring? Answer: The enhanced (dual column) recoil assembly for compact and standard sized pistols was first introduced in 40 S&W pistols with the goal of maintaining the same parts commonality with the Gen3 recoil assemblies. Ongoing testing showed that a reduction in spring strength for the 9mm versions would better serve a wider range of both ammunition and shooter experience. Enhancements were also made to improve stability and wear life.
Glock initiated a voluntary exchange program whereby Gen4 owners who experienced or anticipated problems related to their recoil assemblies could exchange them for the most current versions at no charge.
One Field Evaluation
Our first field evaluator was Police Sergeant John Connor, a trainer from Emerald Shield Tactical Concepts. During his field evaluation, Connor shot hundreds of Winchester 40 S&W rounds through both the Glock 35 Gen3 and Glock 35 Gen4 pistols, with no malfunctions from either gun. There was not a single pistol-fault malfunction from either weapon. Law enforcement personnel deserve only the best.
Glock introduced the “Gen4” version of its pistols in 2010. Gen4 brought changes such as new grip texturing, removable back straps to fit different hand sizes, a new recoil spring, and an enlarged magazine release that is also reversible for left handed shooters.
The Gen4 boasts the new texture to replace the RTF-2 texture that people were complaining about shredding clothes for concealed carry, and vehicle seats for LEO duty carry. The new texture is made up of pyramid-type shapes that provide better grip without being abrasive.
The next improvement was the interchangeable back straps. This is Glock’s answer to accommodate shooters with smaller hands. He liked the feature on his other guns and felt it was a no brainer.
Glock used the same recoil spring for 9mm, 40 S&W, and the 357 SIG (Gen1 to Gen3) guns. In the 40 S&W caliber, however, it made for pronounced recoil. The Gen4 has a different recoil system depending on the caliber. In the Model 35, there is a slight difference between the Gen3 and Gen4. Because of the larger frame, both provided quick follow-up shots. He would expect a greater difference in the more compact 40 S&W models.
The Gen4’s larger magazine release sticks out farther. It is also reversible for left-handed shooters, but only if one uses the Gen4 magazines. If a lefty grabs a Gen4 for their first weapon, however, it would prove beneficial. As far as actually shooting the weapons, both models were accurate as expected. He did notice that the Gen3 had the trigger break farther back, while the Gen4 was more centered.
Another Field Evaluation
Sgt. Kevin Insco of the Clearwater, Fla. Police is an instructor and a member of the agency’s Anti-Crime Team and SWAT. Being very familiar with the previous generations of Glocks, he immediately noticed the RTF (Rough Textured Finish) on the Gen4. The texture was a bit more aggressive than the Gen3 guns, not too rough but gave more “bite” than usual.
There was also an extended / enlarged magazine pad / button on the Gen4. The previous extended magazine release was simply longer so it would protrude farther, but the button was the same. This version had an extended and enlarged pad. The button’s rectangular shape and the manner in which it extended farther back toward the shooter’s hand made it easier to reach.
This could mean the difference between having to shift the gun in one’s hand during reloads (which many shooters do, especially females or males with smaller hands) and not having to shift the gun, thereby allowing the shooter to keep the same grip on the pistol. Insco thought it should definitely make it easier to activate the pad with gloves on.
Changing the magazine’s release for left handers could be accomplished by a Glock armorer with a flat head screwdriver in less than a minute. The gun is shipped with the smallest grip available. This makes the trigger reach 2mm less than that of a Glock 17.
Another noticeable difference was the interchangeable back strap system (two additional back straps in medium and large and a small push pin were supplied in a small baggie). The medium back strap returns the grip to that of a standard Glock 17, 22, 31, while the large back strap makes the trigger reach 2mm longer.
The back straps simply fit over the back strap area of the gun, but did not increase or change the side panels of the grip in any way. The trigger housing pin simply slid out, the back strap with the desired size was added, and the trigger housing pin replaced. Directions for how to change the back straps were included in the pistol box.
The gun came with Glock’s adjustable rear sight and standard plastic front sight. The reviewer then took the slide off a Glock 35’s Gen3 and a Gen4 to see the most obvious difference internally. The Gen3 had Glock’s standard captured spring guide rod, while the Gen4 came with a captured dual-recoil spring assembly. Glock’s subcompact models (26, 27, 33) also have a dual-recoil spring assembly to assist with recoil management. Everything else on the Gen4 appeared to be the same, so Insco thought it should fit the same holsters as the previous Gen3 model.
After going over the visible differences between the Gen3 and Gen4 guns, the Gen4 gun was tested to see if there was a performance difference. Winchester White Box ammunition was used for this evaluation, and the gun was shot from 7, 15, 20 and 25 yards.
From 7 yards shooting freestyle, Insco found it very easy to keep all of the rounds in the head of a silhouette target with a shot grouping of less than an inch. When shooting freestyle from 15 yards, all hits landed easily in the head box. From 25 yards, all rounds hit the torso, with a grouping of approximately 4-5 inches in diameter. From a rest at 25 yards, five-shot groups averaged 3-4 inches, more than sufficient for combat accuracy.
Next the Gen4 was shot strong hand and weak hand from approximately 10 yards. During this, the gun was turned on its side and then somewhat farther, but not quite completely upside down. There were zero malfunctions from either side. Insco even purposely held a loose grip weak handed while it was turned sideways. Again, no malfunctions. Finally, it was shot rapid fire at 7 yards, basically all point shooting. The results were the same, no malfunctions and good hits on center mass.
All in all, Sgt. Insco thought the Gen4 Glock 35 would make an excellent duty weapon.
“For Glock aficionados, the Gen4 gives you a few options you have not had available before. For those who are not current Glock fans, these options may correct / solve some of the concerns you may have had with Glocks. I would feel completely safe and secure carrying the Gen4 Glock 35 with me on duty, Patrol or SWAT.”
Jim Weiss is a retired lieutenant from the Brook Park, Ohio, Police Department and a frequent contributor to LAW and ORDER. Mickey Davis is a California-based writer and author.