Tanner's Gun Reviews

   By Mike Coviello (Tanner)

Glock 19 Gen3 and Gen4 Differences

When you go out to buy a Glock 19 pistol you may be faced with the decision whether to buy a Gen3 or Gen4 model (Gen stands for generation). Which one should you buy?


Field stripped Gen 3 on left
Gen 4 on right

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When you look for information on the internet, in the forums, you will find varying opinions on which is best. Some like one model and hate the other, and vice versa. These are just opinions and everybody has one (even if they may be wrong). The best place to get accurate information about the Gen 4 is the Glock website. Here is an abstraction about what they say about it.

"The GLOCK 19 Gen4, in 9x19, introduces revolutionary design changes to the pistol that has found worldwide acclaim with security services both private and public. The Modular Back Strap design lets you instantly customize its grip to adapt to an individual shooter's hand size. The surface of the frame employs the new scientifically designed, real-world-tested, Gen4 rough textured technology. Internally, the new GLOCK dual recoil spring assembly substantially increases the life of the system. A reversible enlarged magazine catch, changeable in seconds, accommodates left or right-handed operators. The G19 Gen4 retains the GLOCK accessory rail for your attachments." From: The Glock Website

How They Are Different

Difference Gen3 Gen4 Comments
1 Modular Back Strap No Yes Good feature. Lets you adjust the grip to accommodate various hand sizes.
2 Gen4 Rough Textured Technology No Yes Some people like the new texture of the grip and some don't. Mostly it's just a matter of getting used to it. It does provide better traction for gripping.
3 Dual Recoil Spring Assembly No Yes The new recoil spring assembly is said to reduce the felt recoil of the pistol and increase the life span of the assembly.
4 Reversible Enlarged Magazine Catch No Yes The magazine catch is larger and easier to push in. Makes it more user friendly.

Here is the page on the Glock website that provides details and pictures of each change. http://us.glock.com/technology/gen4

Side-By-Side Comparison

My friends son-in-law just bought a new Glock 19 gen4. I have a Glock 19 gen 3. Since we were going to be at the range at the same time we decided to field strip them and look for any difference that we could find.

His gen 4 was brand new and just out of the box. Mine is about four year old and has had over 20,000 rounds through it. At the end of our shooting session, we field stripped the guns and took pictures. The obvious differences that we found were:

  1. The slide of the gen 4 has a larger hole in the front to accommodate the larger double coil recoil spring.

  2. The recoil springs are different. The gen 4 has a larger diameter double coil recoil spring while the gen 3 has single coil.

  3. The grips of the receiver are different. The gen 4 has the rough texture feature while the gen 3 does not.

  4. The magazine release was larger, and I believe interchangeable (can be installed on the left side or right side) on the gen 4.



The following pictures show the obvious differences between a Glock 19 gen 4 gen 3 pistol. In each picture the left hand is the gen 3 and the right hand is the gen 4. 


Gen 3/Gen 4 parts comparisionField stripped components of the Glock 19 gen 3 (left side) and the gen 4 (right side).

Gen 3/Gen 4 barrel comparisionThe barrels appeared identical. You can see that the gen 3 barrel on the left shows some stress marks and has some wear and tear from being fired so much.


Gen 3/Gen 4 recoil spring comparisionThere is a big and obvious difference in the recoil springs.


Gen 3/Gen 4 receiver comparision (Glock 19)The hole on the front of the slide for the recoil spring is bigger for the gen 4.


Gen 3/Gen 4 receiver comparisionThe inside of the receivers look pretty much the same. I should have turned them upside down and taken a picture of the magazine well to note any differences there.


Gen 4 Glock 19Gen 4 Glock 19.


Gen 3 Glock 19Gen 3 Glock 19.


Gen 4 receiverGen 4 receiver. Note the rough texture feature of the grip. Also the magazine release is larger.


Gen 3 receiverGen 3 receiver. This one has a mag well installed on it otherwise it would look the same (except for the grip) as the gen 4.


Should You Get A G19 Gen3 Or Gen4?

The bottom line is that whichever model of G19 you choose, you will be getting a great gun. There is no difference in the accuracy or reliability of both guns, but if I were to get another G19 and the difference in cost was not a problem, then I would probably go for the Glock 19 Gen4. My reasons for choosing the Gen4 are as follows:

  1. The modular back strap would allow me to customize it to fit my hand better (although the grip of the Gen 3 is no problem)

  2. The new rough textured grip of the Gen 4 should make it easier to hold when wet or with slippery or sweaty hands.

  3. The larger magazine release catch makes it easier to release the magazine.

  4. Since Gen 4 is the latest model of the G19, why not go for the latest rather than an older model.

  5. In the future, parts availability may be easier with the Gen4.

Note - If you plan to add modify your Glock or add accessories to it, you might want to make sure the part or accessory is available for your particular model.

Note - My friend has a Glock 17 Gen4. I would estimate that he has shot over 10,000 rounds through it without a problem. He did have to return his recoil spring assembly to Glock in exchange for a replacement one because of the factory recall but he never had any problems with either.


Please see our .. Glock Page and Gen4 Recoil Spring Recall.


Feedback & Comments


Identifying The Gen Of A Glock

February 02, 2013
Message: How do you tell the gen # of the Glock 19. Is it on the gun somewhere? Bill

Response - Bill,

The Gen # is not marked on the Glock 19.

To tell if it's a Gen 3 or Gen 4 you can:

1. Field strip it and look at the recoil spring assembly. It it has a dual recoil spring assembly then it's Gen 4.

2. Look at the grip. If it is rough and has a replaceable back strap then it's Gen 4.

3. Look at the magazine catch. If it's the "large type" then it's Gen 4.

Ref the following page: http://www.tannersgun.com/difference-between-glock-19-gen3-and-glock-19-gen4.aspx

You might be able to call Glock customer service and provide them with the serial number of the Glock in question. They should be able to tell you what it is.

Best regards,



Should I Buy A Glock Gen3 Or Gen4?

January 05, 2013
Re: Glock 19 Gen 3: Good morning -Please share your knowledge of Glock 19 Gen 4 and let me know if you were to purchase a new Glock 19 would you purchase a Gen 3? I visited your website searching for information before I purchase a Glock 19. I have decide to buy the Glock 19 but I have decided to make an effort to buy a Gen 3. It is hard not to purchase the newer Gen 4 but from what I have read on internet sites there are Gen 4 issues that are not found with the Gen 3. Regards, Warren, New Orleans

Response - Warren,
I have no first hand knowledge of problems with the Glock 19 gen 4. I know a few people who own them and have heard nothing negative about them. If the consideration of price was not an issue I would probably buy a gen 4 only because it’s the latest model. Either way, I would think you can't go wrong. Best regards, Tanner

Reply - Thank you for your reply. Glock 19 gen 3 was difficult to find. I was surprised to locate one at a local Academy sports store and it was the last one in stock. I bought it because of plentiful parts etc to be found for gen 3. Thanks again and wish you a happy 2013. Regards Warren


Double Recoil Spring For Glock 19 Gen 3

December 21, 2012
Message: Just purchased a Glock 19. It isn't marked " Gen " anything - so am assuming it's a 3. Question - Will the new double coil spring fit in it and does it improve recoil that much to warrant switching - seeing that it is a brand new weapon? Thanks, JT

Jim, I don't know about the new double coil spring or recoil improvement for the Gen 3. I have a G19 (Gen 3) that I shoot weekly. About four years ago I bought a spare (standard) recoil spring to have on hand, just in case I needed to replace it. I never had to use it and I have had no problems what-so-ever. I have no plans to change mine. Why not try yours out just the way it is for a few months. You can always change it later if you have problems. Best regards, Tanner



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MIKE COVIELLO is a former aerospace engineer, now Web Designer/SEO Consultant. Hobbies include shooting zombies & reloading ammunition.