Umarex Glock 17 Gen4 Part 3

Umarex Glock 17 Gen4 Part 3

Total authenticity comes at a price

By Dennis Adler

This is an interesting face off that is just about equivalent to the 9x19mm Glocks; the Third Gen Glock 17 vs. the Gen4 model in CO2. Both guns are equals in exterior design, but the Gen4 has the same design improvements as the 9x19mm model. It is real equivalence between guns based on the centerfire models.

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.

As realistic as any two blowback action CO2 models can be compared to their centerfire counterparts, the Gen4 gains a slight edge over the Third Gen by having the improved sights and a slightly longer sight radius. The barrel lug interface with the slide also looks more like the 9x19mm models. These are small points, but all adding up to the Gen4’s advantage.

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.

At the end of my Third Gen Glock 17 test, I had set up a large Birchwood Casey silhouette target and fired a series of combat drills combining drawing from the Blackhawk Serpa holster and firing double taps at 15 feet to 21 feet, single weak hand shooting at 21 feet, dropping and kneeling shots, rolling sideways and firing from floor level shots, 10 meter shots two-handed, drawing and rapid firing while moving toward the target from 21 feet to 15 feet, and two barricade shots single handed right and left hands. Everything hit inside the 9, 10 and X rings with multiple overlapping hits. This proved that the Umarex Glock could work for basic training drills with immediate feedback from the Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C target to gauge accuracy from different shooting positions. I will repeat this test with the Gen4.

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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.

Loading the CO2 went smoothly with the Glock 17 Gen4’s self-contained CO2 BB magazine. The base pad has a locking button you have to depress with a stylus to release and slide it off (similar to other magazines of this style), but the seating screw threads on easier than others.

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.

The locking follower and large loading port make short work of feeding 18 steel BBs into the channel, so overall this is a very easy magazine to use.
The Gen4 magazine has an 18 round capacity to equal a centerfire model’s 17+1 capacity in 9x19mm. The Gen4 CO2 fits in holsters made for the newer Glock model which has a more squared off slide and frame contour.

Velocity rules

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 Gen4 feels more realistic when you rack the slide because the air pistol actually has a dual recoil spring design based on the Gen4’s design. In terms of actual handling this comes closer to a centerfire Glock than the Third Gen.

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 Gen4 is shown in a Galco Combat Master Belt holster which fits the CO2 model exactly like the 9x19mm gun. The same can be said for the Third Gen which fits a Blackhawk (Third Gen) Serpa level II locking holster. There is also a Gen4 version of this holster, so you can train with a Blackhawk rig for either gun.

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.

After delivering a respectable 317 fps average velocity, the gun had also grouped its 10 velocity test rounds shot though the chronograph into a 1-inch cluster. I had used an old target that was sitting out and put pasters over the old holes since there were no hits in the bullseye. Little did I know the Gen4 would put all 10 rounds into the 10 and bullseye.

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.

3 thoughts on “Umarex Glock 17 Gen4 Part 3”

  1. You said, “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.”

    On the Pyramid site the ad for this gun clearly shows “9×19” on the side of the slide. Did they picture the real gun?

    • No, that was an image from Umarex and the European models have 9×19 on the slide, but not those sold in the U.S. They also have other Glock models in Europe not offered for the U.S. market including the 19X which was Glock’s centerfire entry into the last U.S. military trials won by Sig Sauer with the M17. We may (hopefully) see more Umarex Glock models in the U.S. by next year. The tooling is obviously done, it is just a matter of importing them for the American market. That they already exist bodes well for some additions to the Umarex Glock line in the U.S.

  2. I think it’s a photo of the version sold in Europe. Here in the Old World the 9×19 stamping is not forbidden. By the way it seems that a Gen5 is available here. Dennis I wish there could be some clarification on the models worldwide.

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