Umarex Glock G17 Blowback Action Model
By Dennis Adler
The Glock 17 was intended to be the most advanced military handgun design of the 20th century but I think Gaston Glock’s intent in designing the G17 was not solely to win the Austrian Military trials in 1982 (becoming the country’s standard issue military handgun the following year) but for the Austrian-made semiautomatic pistol to eventually replace every military handgun in the world. Over the past 36 years Glock has almost achieved that goal, intended or not. Glock models are carried by U.S. military units, foreign military and government agencies, U.S. state and local police, international law enforcement, and by civilians in greater numbers than almost any other handgun currently in production.
Making it measure up
The 9x19mm G17 has an overall length of 8.03 inches, slide length of 7.32 inches, barrel length of 4.49 inches, height of 5.47 inches and width of 1.26 inches. Standard capacity for the G17 is 17 rounds (though that is the not the reason for the name, it was the 17th design developed by Gaston Glock). The new Umarex Glock G17 CO2 model is a training gun that incorporates all of the basic 9x19mm model’s features so it can be a suitable stand-in for the centerfire pistol when learning fundamental holstering, drawing, aiming, reloading, and shooting techniques. Unfortunately (depending upon one’s point of view), the long awaited G17 blowback action model is not a full feature, field strippable pistol, so that element of training (learning to field strip the gun, which is quite simple with a Glock) is lost on this otherwise superbly designed CO2 model.
Umarex and Glock Perfection
Much as I hate the word “compromise” there is almost always some compromise when building a CO2 version of a centerfire pistol for use as a training gun, in fact, you can name all of the models with little or no compromises on one hand starting off with the Umarex S&W M&P40. You won’t be able to put the new Glock 17 CO2 model on that list for several reasons, the aforementioned inability for the pistol be field stripped, and two more minor issues, one being the use of an internally contained frame-mounted firing system (as in when you lock the slide back and remove the magazine you are still looking at the firing system and not out the bottom of the grip), and lastly, not having a functioning Safe Action trigger and employing a manual safety instead, though it is very cleverly hidden on the underside of the frame in the recess where the serial number plate goes on centerfire Glock models. Among the key plusses over the earlier Umarex Glock G19 model, which was a non-blowback pistol with a stick magazine, the G17 delivers on the promise of a self-contained CO2 BB magazine and accurate Third Model Glock 17 design.
Why a Third Model design?
The original Glock 17 was introduced to the public for sale as a 1983 model. It was virtually identical to the guns being made for the Austrian military and police, chambered in 9x19mm and with a capacity of 17+1. Being designed as a military sidearm, it was essentially simplistic in its execution and had very few of the features we find today on Glock semi-autos. The initial success of the G17 also brought forth a wealth of consumer requests for change, something which manufactures are often loathe to do. Glock was slow to warm to the idea of altering what was essentially a brand new design but the company was also market driven and the original changes consumers wanted were neither unreasonable nor difficult with injection molding, thus beginning in 1991 (just eight years after being introduced) texturing was added to the grip panels, along with internal improvements. A second alteration came in the 1990s with the addition of checkering on the front strap and serrations to the backstrap. This all constitutes the Second Model, though it is a relatively arbitrary designation.
The most notable revisions to the gun came in the late 1990s with a third variation incorporating an integral-with-the-frame accessory (Picatinny) rail to allow the mounting of laser sights, tactical flashlights, or combinations of both, as well as their availability from Glock with the GTL Series. Thumb rests on both sides of the frame and finger grooves on the front strap were also introduced to provide a short term fix for the greater issue many consumers had with the Glock design; grip size. One size didn’t fit all. A still later production modification resulted in an improved extractor that served as a loaded chamber indicator with a tactile squared metal edge protruding slightly outward from back of the ejector port. This could both be seen and, more importantly, felt in situations which demanded immediate knowledge of the gun’s condition. The Gen4, first introduced with the G22 and then G17, were the first models to offer interchangeable backstrap panels. The standard grip, slightly smaller than the previous models, could be covered over by one of two different panels, medium and large. There were also internal changes to the recoil system (a new dual recoil spring system), and thus Gen4 models provided better-handling, better-engineering and more versatility; the differences, although subtle, are distinctive in appearance and in function. That said, Glock still manufacturers the Third Model G17, even as the Gen5 models are being introduced. The simple explanation is that some people want a less expensive Glock that still serves the general needs of a self defense pistol with a proven history. The Third Model G17 certainly owns that.
The aesthetics of Glock pistols are not in looking attractive but in being durable (as in surviving just about every torture test a handgun can be subjected to, and I have seen it done), in being uncomplicated in operation and handling, and ensuring familiarity between models. Other than size, if you know how to handle one Glock model, you know how to handle every Glock model. It is that consistency throughout the company’s history that led Glock to establish a licensing agreement with Umarex to produce two models suitable for both recreational shooting and training. The first gun, covered in Airgun Experience No. 291, No. 292 and No. 293 (First Look: Umarex Glock G19) was an entry-level Compact and is greatly surpassed by the new G17 model which checks more boxes than it misses as a suitable understudy for the 9x19mm model.
The G17 brings to airgun enthusiasts a blowback action model with very few visual compromises including a fit and finish unimpaired by warnings and manufacturers marks which, like the G19, are also placed on the underside of the dustcover and triggerguard to be as unobtrusive as possible. The new G17 passes the visual inspection with flying colors or better put, lack of colors, with its black Tenifer-style Third Model finish on the slide and perfectly reproduced polymer frame and grips.
In Part 2 we will begin to deconstruct the CO2 model and compare it to handing the 9x19mm model.