Glock 34 Vs Glock 17
What is the Glock 17?
The Glock 17 is the “original Glock” and one of the defining modern pistols. Introduced in 1992, the Glock 17 was designed to satisfy a bid for a new service pistol for the Austrian military. The 17th iteration of Gaston Glock’s brainchild, the Glock 17 ushered in the era of the polymer-framed pistol. The Glock 17 was also one of the first “plastic” pistols widely adopted by American law enforcement agencies.
In the 1980s law enforcement in the U.S. began to shift from revolvers and the occasional 1911 to 9mm service pistols, which offered greater capacity and less recoil. It was a keystone of the “Wondernine” years and largely sounded the death knell for metal-frame semi-autos like the S&W autos that reigned supreme with US law enforcement. The Glock 17 is a full-sized, service pistol and it entered the world at exactly the right moment. Chambered in 9x19mm (9mm Luger), it holds 17 rounds, is lightweight, and light recoiling. Glocks, beginning with the Glock 17, are known for their relentless reliability.
What is the Glock 34?
The Glock 34 is a long-slide version of the Glock 17. Introduced in 1988, the G34 was intended as a competition-ready model of the smaller, duty-sized Glock. Boasting a longer slide and extended magazine and slide releases the Glock 34 was a natural choice for people who carried a Glock on duty or were simply Glock fans. The Glock 34 also has a curious window milled out of the top of the slide intended to shift weight back to a more natural point of balance. Other than the longer, milled slide and extended controls, the G34 shares many Glock 17 parts and features.
The popularity of action-oriented shooting sports like IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association) and IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation) was the impetus for the Glock 34. A Glock 17L (Long Slide) was previously available, but its dimensions slightly exceeded the maximum allowable firearm sizes for IPSC and IDPA. The utility of the Glock 34 wasn’t strictly limited to competition, however. Serious defensive shooters and law enforcement tactical teams soon recognized the virtues of a gun with a longer sight radius and slightly better ballistics.
Main Differences between Glock 17 and Glock 34
The most obvious visible difference between these two pistols is the slide and barrel length. The Glock 34 has a slide that is longer by almost an inch. The G17’s slide is 7.32 inches while the G34’s slide is 8.15 inches long. The Glock 17 has a shorter barrel at 4.49 inches while the Glock 34 has a 5.31-inch barrel, differences that match up with the differences in slide length.
The competition-sized Glock 34 is also just a hair wider than the duty-oriented Glock 17. The Glock 17 is 1.26-inches wide at its widest point. The Glock 34 is 1.30-inches wide at its widest point. This miniscule difference (four one-hundredths of an inch) is owed to the Glock 34’s extended slide release. This would be all by unnoticeable in any realistic context, and if it were intolerable the slide release could be swapped to a non-extended version.
The weight difference between the two pistols is much smaller than the G34’s larger size would lead you to believe. The Gen3 Glock 17 weighs in, without a magazine, at a carry-comfortable 22.05 ounces (1 lb., 6.05 oz.). The larger Gen 3 Glock 34 weighs just a tiny bit over an ounce more at 23.10 ounces (1 lb. 7.10 oz.), again without a magazine. Since both the Glock 17 and 34 use the same magazine, the difference in weight between the two should remain the same with a mag in place (24.87 for the 17, 25.93 for the 34, according to Glock’s provided specifications).
The Glock 17 and Glock 34 come with slightly different triggers as well. The Glock 17 ships with an advertised trigger weight of 28 N, which is 6.29 pounds. The Glock 34 has a slightly better trigger with a lighter trigger pull of 24 N, or 5.39 pounds. To help take advantage of the longer slide and better trigger, the Glock 34 also comes with an adjustable rear sight.
We’ve discussed a lot of differences but there are also a lot of similarities between the two pistols. Both the Glock 17 and 34 utilize the same magazines. While the 17-round magazine is the most common and what both pistols ship with, optional 19, 24, 31, and 33-round magazines are available for both, as well. Both pistols also come in Generations 3, 4, and 5, both have the same sight options (plastic, steel, or Glock night sights), and both feature a loaded chamber indicator.
There are slight variations between each “Gen” with Gen3 having a frame with finger grooves, Gen4 having finger grooves and an interchangeable backstraps, and Gen5 having no finger grooves and interchangeable backstraps. The Gen5 guns also have some other upgrades no seen in previous generation Glocks like the carbon steel Glock Marksman barrel and front slide serrations.
Both the shorter length Glock 17 and Glock 34 or outstanding performers and both will serve you tremendously well. Each as a slight edge here or there, depending on how and for what the gun is intended to be used.
The main benefit of the Glock 34’s longer slide is longer sight radius. The longer the distance between the front and rear sight (the “sight radius”) the more precise the sight alignment that is possible with a given pistol. This promotes better accuracy, especially during long-distance shooting. The Glock 34 is a hands-down winner here with a nominal radius of 7.52 inches versus 6.46 for the Glock 17. This small difference may not seem like much on paper, but it makes a huge difference in practice, and is the reason the G34 is preferred in shooting competitions.
Additionally, the longer barrel of the Glock 34 squeezes slightly improved ballistics from the 9mm Luger cartridge. A longer barrel produces greater muzzle velocity, which not only offers better energy and improved terminal performance, but also flatter trajectory. This means that the bullet drops less at longer distances, again making the Glock 34 an ideal competitive shooter pistol.
The slight added weight of the Glock 34, while small, may also help tame muzzle flip. This is important to both the tactical and target shooter. Less muzzle flip and recoil equate to faster, more accurate follow-on shots.
The Glock 17 is a near-ideal duty pistol. With its shorter slide and shorter barrel, it is a bit more forgiving when holstered on the hip than the oversized Glock 34, even if the weight of the two pistols is within a couple ounces of each other. Aftermarket support for the 17 is going to be slightly better than the 34, which just isn’t quite as mainstream.
Either pistol would be ideal for home defense. Both guns accept a light via the built-in rail. Both offer plenty of capacity and are large enough to be fired very effectively. In this instance, like target shooting, the Glock 34 would offer all benefit with no drawback from the longer slide. Which model you choose to use for home defense would come largely down to personal preference.
Best Upgrades for all Glock Models
Both the Glock 17 and the 34 are outstanding performers as they come out of the box. Neither is perfect, however. A few modifications can go a long way toward squeezing some extra performance out of these platforms, or any other Glock model.
Upgraded, metal triggers are an excellent upgrade that can improve the performance of nearly any Glock. Aftermarket, drop-in trigger kits like those offered by Overwatch Precision can decrease the trigger pull length, lighten the trigger, and make it crisper. The flat-faced trigger an also aid in a straight-back pull of the trigger and consistent trigger-finger placement.
Factory Glock sights can sometimes leave a lot to be desired, as well. The Have Blue sights offered by Overwatch Precision offer a rugged, steel rear sight with a clean, crisp, fiber-optic front sight. The aggressive forward angle of the rear sight allows for easy one-handed manipulations, and all the angles are smoothed to be easy on the hands. With the proliferation of red-dot optics the need for taller sights has emerged, and the Have Blue MOS Sight set has got you covered. It’s the same, awesome steel sights (minus the fiber optic) as the standard Have Blue sights, just taller for a co-witness with your optic.
The Glock 17 and Glock 34 are both outstanding platforms. Overwatch Precision offers a host of other upgrades for your favorite Glock model, from the “Original” Glock 17 to the infinitely popular G19 Gen 3 to the beefy, Glock 34.