The annual SHOT Show (Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade Show) is held in Las Vegas each January and Glock hosts one of the bigger booths. There were a couple of new products this year, and since I have almost enough G17s to be considered a collector, I was eager to get my hands on the new Gen 5.
The G17 has long been Glock's best-selling model, so a new generation is a Pretty Big Deal in Austria (and in Smyrna, Georgia, where your G17 will be born.) Playing it safe, Glock made several small changes that improve the gun, without alienating any of it's millions of ardent fans. Though most parts have changed, your stock of existing magazines will fit the new version.
There are a couple of obvious changes when you first handle the new gun; the finger grooves on the front of the grip have been removed, and the slide stop is now ambidextrous. The old finger grooves have been a common gripe among Glock-haters, with some shooters having them ground down when having the grip stippled. I have Gen 4s with and without the finger grooves, and don't really have a preference. As a right-hander, I've never worried about needing an ambi slide stop, either.
I was pretty excited when I heard that the Gen 5 has an integrated flared magazine well. A flared magwell, and matching basepads on the magazines, are the easiest and most effective upgrade you can bolt on. If you're not prepared to practice for thousands and thousands of rounds, you can buy shooting speed in the form of a magwell / basepad combo. That said, Glock's magwell is more 'chamfered' than flared; the edges of the well don't extend beyond the normal profile of the grip. Surely this will give a small improvement, but not on the order of adding a proper magwell from Zev or Taran. Since Glock sells about a billion guns each year to the Americans, and since 'muricans hide their Glocks under their Tommy Bahamas shirts, they can't sell a gun with an obvious flare. One useful improvement in the bottom of the grip is a cutout on the front that makes it easier to tug a sticky mag. A small thing, and a useful one.
Glock has a new steel treatment for the slide, called nDLC. The company claims it's the new finish is super-hard and wear resistant, though I know that even hardcore users don't cause much wear on their slides.
The new model features an 'upgraded' barrel called the Marksman. A different groove profile is apparently more accurate, though my experience with pistols is that the barrel is never the limiting factor in accuracy. The grip, the sights, and the trigger pull are so much more important, but, hey, if Glock wants to make a claim nobody will ever demonstrate, then....
If I sound a little underwhelmed by the G17 Gen 5, you're right. But I don't love Glocks for fancy new tricks, or flashy cutting edge features. I love Glocks for the same reason I love Stanley hammers. Cuz they work when you need it.
I can't tell you how it shoots, because we Canucks don't get the shiny new toys until after a mandatory six-month waiting period. I have mine on order from Black Box Customs, and when it arrives I'll confirm what I already think; it shoots exactly like a Glock.