Umarex Glock 17 Gen4 Part 3
Total authenticity comes at a price
By Dennis Adler
Can you have performance and authenticity in the same blowback action CO2 pistol? Most would say yes, but in reality we have been exposed to the same kind of performance from blowback action CO2 models for years and our expectations are based on experience that tells us, 300 to 320 fps is the excepted norm for this type of air pistol. When guns, especially new guns like the Sig Sauer P365, fall below those expectations you look for answers in authenticity. When that fails, as in the P365 not being capable of field stripping like its centerfire counterpart, then the price point is used as a justification. In terms of guns like the P365, which is otherwise groundbreaking in its small size and use of a self-contained CO2 BB magazine, or established models with separate CO2 and stick magazines that perform well, like the Umarex Walther PPS and PPS M2, their shortcomings are overlooked because you are getting the most gun for the money.
So what exactly do we expect from a blowback action CO2 pistol based on a centerfire model that is either very popular, like the new Sig Sauer model, or iconic like the Glock 17. And I don’t throw the “iconic” classification around lightly. A Colt Model 1911 is iconic, and we will all agree on that. Is a Glock? Consider that the Glock 17 is on the list of the 10 most important guns in history, a list written by firearms historians. So what do we expect from a blowback action CO2 model based on that gun? To be fair, the Third Gen G17 model from Umarex and Glock raised the bar on both performance and accuracy well above the level we expect from a blowback action CO2 pistol, and it achieved this at a MSRP of $109.95 (which means about $100 discounted). It fits every G17 holster made, the self-contained CO2 BB magazines, which provide an accurate 17+1 capacity to equal a 9x19mm pistol, fit Glock 17 magazine pouches, and the gun’s handling equates favorably with its centerfire counterpart right up to the point when you go to fieldstrip it. Then the authenticity fails. Learning to fieldstrip a gun is basic training (and I mean that literally, they made you learn to fieldstrip your gun, 1911, Beretta 92 FS, M16 or other weapon, as part of basic training in the military), so that lost feature on the Third Gen Glock 17 CO2 model condemned it to something less perfect than a gun that fieldstrips, but that gun can only send BBs downrange at the usual 300 to 320 fps. What did the Third Gen models nearly 380 fps average give you in exchange? It gave you realistic shooting distances and comparable accuracy to the 9x19mm Glock 17 out to 10 yards. That makes it a great training gun. The onus then is on the new Umarex Glock 17 Gen4 to meet that challenge, and also fieldstrip to give air gunners a blowback action CO2 model with total authenticity to its centerfire counterpart.
Weights and balances
Getting the weight correct for a CO2 model is an important factor. The Third Gen gun weighs 25 ounces empty (on my scale) which is close to the Glock 17. The 9x19mm model weighs 24.87 ounces empty. The Gen4 CO2 model with its heavier magazine weighs 28 ounces (but feels better in the hand in terms of balance) while the 9x19mm Gen4 weighs 24.87 ounces.
Externally, both Glock 17 CO2 models have the understudy role down to near perfection except for the deliberate telltale lack of a caliber stamping on the slide. Some airgun makers use correct caliber stampings on the slide to look more authentic but compromise authenticity in other areas, Glock made it a simple gesture by omitting them and keeping everything else as exact as possible. The Gen4 actually ups the game with the silver safety in place of the serial number plate on the underside of the dustcover (the Third Gen’s is black), so unless you are staring down the barrel, it is hard to tell the Gen4 air pistol from the 9x19mm. It would have been even neater if Umarex and Glock had put the actual serial number on the plate, like Springfield Armory did with the XDM CO2 model, but from an air gunner’s point of view, if you’re a Glock fan, the Gen4 is as good as it gets. But this also brings a much more exacting demand to treat the air pistol the same as a centerfire model, because almost no one can tell them apart without a close look. This, as we know, is a double edged sword, and the Gen4 demands the strictest adherence to that rule.
We know the Gen4 has raised the bar for authentic appearance and just in time to run headlong into the Springfield Armory XDM models, which have already achieved the same level of authenticity in appearance, handling, and field stripping capability. More on that in another Airgun Experience; the point here is what, if anything, has Umarex and Glock sacrificed to make a blowback action CO2 model this good?
The internal system used for the Glock 17 Third Gen is the reason that gun achieves its higher velocity. More of the energy from the CO2 is directed into firing the BB and driving the slide back a shorter distance. Also, the resistance of the recoil spring on the Third Gen is almost nil compared to the dual recoil spring design for the Gen4 CO2 model, so you know right from the moment you rack the slide to chamber the first round and cock the action, it is going to take more CO2 to move this slide. You can’t rewrite the laws of physics; action, reaction. Authenticity comes at a price. The price of admission for the Glock 17 Gen4 is an average velocity of 317 fps (a high of 319 fps, low of 316 fps, and a standard deviation of 2 fps for 10 rounds) using .177 caliber Umarex Precision steel BBs.
The blowback action slide imparts recoil equal to the Third Gen, so, close to that of a .22 pistol, a medium-loud report (indoors), and shooting through the chronograph at 21 feet from the target, 10 rounds at 1.0 inches. As air pistol range tests go, this is a very good beginning for the Umarex Glock 17 Gen 4.
In Part 3, we will check accuracy at 21 feet against the Third Gen Glock 17.
A word about safety
Blowback action airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and this is one reason why they have become so popular. Airguns in general all look like guns, blowback action models more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.