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What Gen Is My Glock & How To Tell [Easily]

Antonio Salituro | Updated December 1, 2023 | Why You Should Trust Us | How We Earn Money
Cover photo of What Gen Is My Glock showing different Glocks   

Since the first Glock was manufactured in 1982, this weapon has undergone several changes, evolving through various generations. As such, you’ll find that ‘What Gen is my Glock?’ is a common question often asked by curious Glock owners.

If you’re one of them, here are the different generations of Glocks and how to tell where your Glock belongs in the list.

For more reading on Glocks, see our guide to the top upgrades for Glocks that money can buy.

Gen 1 (1982-1988)

Gen 1 Glock on top of a wooden table and hands on the side

These are the first Glocks from Gaston Glock to hit the US market. They completely took the commercial and law enforcement markets by storm. The Glock 17, which was a 17-rounder, was well-received at the time.

Models: 17, P80, 17L and 19.

Calibers: 9mm Luger and 9x21mm

Identifiable Characteristics

First-generation Glocks didn’t have as many impressive features as future generations, but it was certainly handy. Some of its main features include:

  • Pebble stone texture, giving the Glock a unique grip
  • No accessory rail
  • Single address line
  • Mag well relief

The Gen 1 Glocks featured a polymer frame and polygonal rifling, which were very unusual then. There were no plans for further models, but the demands of the market were what facilitated further developments. 

These were bare-bones pistols meant to be light, durable, and accurate. They were simple, reliable, and easy to maintain.

Compared to other Gens, these Glocks weren’t in the market for a long time and were also produced in few models. Because of this, it’s rare to find a Gen 1 Glock today. Those that are there are owned by collectors, and most are no longer functional.

Gen 2 (1988-1997)

Gen 2 Glock on a gray surface  

Next came the second generation of Glocks, which featured several improvements. The Glock 19 was also added to this generation. To ensure this gun complies with ATD regulations, the manufacturers added a steel insert to the frame displaying the serial number.

Models: 17 – 33

Calibers: 9mm Luger, 9x21mm, .380 ACP, 357 Sig, .40 S&W, 10mm Auto, and .45 ACP.

Identifiable Characteristics

  • Flat front strap (Lacks finger grooves)
  • No thumb rests
  • Pebble grip texture on the side panels
  • Smooth dust cover

They also redesigned the magazine, giving it extra spring tension, changed the recoil system to a captive recoil spring, and changed the frame texture to checkering. By the time Gen 2 models were being manufactured, Glocks were already popular in the markets and quite affordable. 

Since these models were produced for almost ten years, you may find a few in the market today.

Note that the Glock 25 in .380 ACP didn’t reach the US market because of import regulations.

Gen 3 (1995-Present)

Hand holding a Gen 3 Glock

By the time Glocks moved to the third generation, this weapon was dominating the American gun market. Other manufacturers were trying to produce similar handguns to get a share of the cake. As such, Glock had to be creative with its design if it wanted to stay ahead in the game. 

Models: 17, 17L, 19, 19C, 20, 20SF, 21, 21C, 21SF, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 36, and 39.

Calibers: .380 ACP, 9mm Luger, 9x21mm, .357 Sig, .40 S&W, 10mm Auto, .45 GAP, and .45 ACP.

Identifiable Characteristics

  • Finger grooves on the front strap
  • Thumb rests
  • Addition of RTF (Rough Textured Finish) in Gen 3.5
  • Rail molded into the frame
  • Ambidextrous magazine release on certain models

Major improvements included finger grooves (not everyone was a fan of this), raised texturing, and a rail molded into the frame. The company also added a cross pin to the locking block for extra rigidity.

Nearly three decades later, 3rd Gen Glocks are still in production. These models are very common, and they form a bigger percentage of pistols in the US. In fact, if you have a Glock and aren’t sure which generation it is, it’s likely from this generation

Gen 3 Glocks are available in every caliber and almost every model Glock makes, aside from Slimline pistols. (Reference: Glock generations)

Gen 4 (2010-Present)

Gen 4 Glock on a green surface  

Glocks from this generation featured the word ‘Gen’ on the side for the first time. Because of this, some people argue that this is the first generation. That said, Gen 4 Glocks didn’t have any major changes from Gen 3.

Models: 17, 17L, 19, 19C, 20, 20SF, 21, 21C, 21SF, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 30S, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 39, 41, 42, and 43.

Calibers: .380 ACP, 9mm Luger, 9x21mm, .357 Sig, .40 S&W, 10mm Auto, .45 GAP, and .45 ACP

Identifiable Characteristics

As mentioned, there weren’t many changes between Gen 3 and 4. That said, the notable features include the following:

  • Grip has interchangeable straps
  • Finger grooves on front strap
  • Thumb rests

One of the new features that caught people’s attention was the GMBS (Glock Modular Backstrap System). These swappable back straps accommodated the grip of different hand sizes. At first, the company conducted a trial with narrower grips on Gen 3 SF models before incorporating it in Gen 4 Glocks.

In addition, they changed the grip texture on the side panels to a more aggressive pattern. Again, this is something they had experimented on a select Gen 3 before rolling it out to all Gen 4 Glocks.

Even though Gen 4 guns were supposed to replace Gen 3 guns, the company later changed direction. Today, Gen 4 models are mostly available to law enforcement, but certain models, like the .357 Sig. are still sold to public users.

Gen 5 (2017-Present)

Gen 5 Glock on a wooden table   

Lastly, we have Gen 5, which some people argue has the best models the company has ever made. There were major updates in this generation. The first one was the Glock Marksman Barrel (GMB), which is button-rifled, enhancing accuracy at long distances.

Models: 17, 19, 19X, 22, 23, 26, 27, 34, 35, 42, 43X, 44, 45, 48, and MOS versions as well.

Calibers: .22 LR, .380 ACP, 9×19, .40 S&W 

Identifiable Characteristics

  • No finger grooves
  • Flared magwell
  • Thumb rests
  • Ambidextrous slide stop and magazine release
  • Additional backstraps on all models except the 43X and 48

The company improved the frame and slide by increasing their width by 0.1 inches. Another change was on the trigger system components, giving the pistol a harder wall, leading to a better trigger pull. Other major improvements include adding front cocking serration to the side, revising the frame texturing, and removing the finger grooves.

Glock also introduced model 45, which is basically a 19X containing all Gen 5 features. The Glock 47 model initially was designed for the US Border Patrol, but after a while, it was offered to the public as well. However, unlike Gen 4, Gen 5 models aren’t available in all calibers.

Check out this video that highlights the key differences among the five generations:

Glock Serial Number Check

To check the serial number of your Glock, you can contact either Glock Customer Service or a licensed firearms dealer. You will need to provide them with your pistol’s model name, caliber, and purchase date.

You can also access online databases that allow you to enter your pistol’s serial number to retrieve more comprehensive information. However, it’s always best to double-check with the manufacturer directly to ensure accuracy.

Glock 19 Serial Number Lookup

To find out details about your Glock 19, write down the serial number of your gun and contact Glock customer service to get information about your weapon. The other option is to use a book called the Glock Master Journal, which posts Glock serial numbers as well as their date of manufacture.

Glock 17 Serial Number Lookup

Glock 17 and its serial number 

The serial number of a Glock 17 is printed into the gun frame, just in front of the trigger guard. It’s also engraved on the slide, next to the ejection port, and on the barrel.

Glock Serial Number List

Here is a list to help you identify your Glock’s serial number.

The first letter indicates the month:

  • E…Jan
  • L…Feb
  • N…Mar
  • B…Apr
  • S…May
  • Z…Jun
  • G…Jul
  • P…Aug
  • I…Sep
  • C…Oct
  • V…Nov
  • A…Dec

The last two letters signify the year:

  • O…0
  • W…1
  • K…2
  • R…3
  • F…4
  • M…5
  • H…6
  • Y…7
  • T…8
  • D…9

Example: PTM = P(Aug)T(8)Y(5)

Rare Glock Serial Numbers

Glock has been known to make guns for special occasions that have unique serial numbers. For example, In 1991, Glock produced 15 Desert Storm Presentation Glocks with serial numbers beginning with “UD.” In 1996, Glock produced 200 special handguns with serial numbers beginning with “AGM” to commemorate their 10th anniversary.

For similar reading see our post on how do you remove Glock sights.

Frequently Asked Questions

What year is my Glock?

To find the year your Glock was made, check the serial number, which is imprinted into the frame of the gun, just in front of the trigger guard.

Is my Glock a Gen 2 or 3?

To know if your Glock is a Gen 2 or 3, look at the features. For example, Gen 2 has no thumb rest, while Gen 3 does.

How do I know if my Glock is Gen 3 or 4?

You can know if your Glock is Gen 3 or 4 by checking if your gun has a Glock Modular Backstrap System. If it lacks that, it’s a Gen 3.

Is my Glock a Gen 4 or 5?

To tell if your Glock is a Gen 4 or 5, look at the slide coating to see if it has a dark color. If it does, it’s a Gen 5. Gen 4 slide coating is much lighter.

References

  1. David Workman, What are the Differences Among the Glock Generations. Retrieved from https://www.shootingillustrated.com/content/what-are-the-differences-among-the-glock-generations/


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