The Glock 17has a well-earned reputation as a rugged, reliable, and battle-tested duty pistol for law enforcement and the military. But its size has convinced many people to assume the gun is a poor concealed carry companion. When comparing it to other common carry handguns, I wasn't so convinced.
To give the gun a fair shake as an EDC carry piece – my test gun was actually a used LEO G17 Gen 4 – it only seemed fair to give it some time in both cold and warmer weather. After all, you’re everyday clothing changes, and your everyday carry guns and gear should be able to answer that challenge. So, does the Glock 17 do that?
We got to skip the bone-piercing freeze delivered by 2019’s "bomb cyclone” and “polar vortex” for the most part this winter in the Great North. A few years ago, I remember my beard freezing at a 90-degree angle as I tried to start my wife’s car in the negative 50-degree winds. There’s something to be said about the icicles in your mustache.
Regardless, this winter was still cold and long. Plus, our spring has been pleasant enough to get outside and enjoy the outdoors – a suitable test for full-size seasonal carry, which is new to me. Before the Glock 17, the largest guns I’ve spent long periods of time with across seasons were the Glock 19 and the Sig P320 Compact. For comparisons, we’ll stick with the G17 versus the G19.
Glock 17 vs. Glock 19
Full-size guns get a lot of flak for being “too big” or “too much” for daily carry. I carried a Glock 19, ostensibly a compact gun, for quite some time. That was my compromise between the Glock 17 and the Glock 26. But it really is just a minor compromise in many ways.
My Glock 17 Gen 4 weighs in at just 25.1 ounces unloaded. My Glock 19 Gen 4 punches in at just slightly less with a minor decrease at 23.7 ounces. Both offer 1-inch slides – 1.18 inches at their widest point – but the Glock 17 does provide a better sight radius with a slide length that measures 7.32 inches. The G19 slide comes in at 6.85 inches long. At around a 0.5-inch difference in length, I can’t say the length is the make-or-break factor for me.
Height, on the other hand, has always proven to be a bigger issue for me when it comes to a carry gun. Here, we also see similar differences, with the Glock 17 coming in at a height 5.47 inches and the Glock 19 coming in at 5.04 inches tall. But that height can be a big deal if you’re trying to tuck the gun under a light shirt. A good holster can help, and a good belt is going to really mitigate the weight.
Still, the biggest ding I had against the Glock 17 right out of the gate was the grip length. Having an extra two rounds of 9mm on tap is nice – the G17 boasting 17 rounds against the G19’s 15 – but it is a minor advantage in my mind. Plus, as Glock fans know, you can easily carry a 17-round Glock 17 magazine in your pocket to feed your 9mm Glock 19 during a reload or to extend the grip as desired.
All that being said, when it comes to shooting, I have to hand it to the G17. I shoot it well. Its size eats the recoil, and the grip provides for great control and an easy draw from the holster. The extended sight radius – again, just a 0.5-inch advantage – still pays off on the range. The real question is how the gun carried for me.
Shoveling, driving, snow blowing, shopping, hiking, whatever – I had no issues carrying the Glock 17 through most of the winter. I kept mine in a Vedder RapidTuck hybrid holster for most of the season. I found it comfortable, concealable, and easy to access under my coat and layers of clothing. The size of the grip actually helped with that.
There are also plenty of appendix and all-Kydex holsters available, but I found the grip a bit annoying upfront when digging out my driveway after heavy snowfalls. I had similar issues over past winters with my Glock 19, so that’s not much of a complaint.
I would also note that winter carry garments and holsters need to be thought out before you head out the door. The gun must be accessible yet secure enough to endure that back-breaking shoveling you’ll have to do when the plows blockade your driveway with a slurry of ice, snow, and dirt.
Here, again, I would tip my hat toward the G17. It concealed just fine while giving me access to the firearm, and the size fits better in a gloved hand. Of note, however, is the impact of winter clothing additions that might interfere with your draw. Scarves are great. But if you tuck them under your coat, make sure they aren't going to hang past your firearm if you need to draw.
Spring & Summer Carry
When spring hits, my tank tops come out – After a long winter, tank-top weather for some of us starts at around 50 degrees in Wisconsin. It’s still early in the year, but I’ve been lucky enough to find a few occasions to roam about with the Glock 17 or hike the trails a few times. I’d still recommend a flannel on the trails.
The more layers I shed, the more I noticed the difference between the Glock 19 and 17. That nearly half-inch increase in the grip became more and more noticeable. There are holsters out there that can help, such as Kydex holsters with a claw that uses your belt pressure to further angle the grip. However, those holsters also exist for the Glock 19, which would just conceal better.
I did not find that the pistol printed noticeably during my daily activities. It did start to push out on the fabric as I bent over to work in the yard or in the garden. I'd come to love carrying the gun during the winter, but I wouldn’t exactly call the Glock 17 beachwear. Depending on your body type – and your choice to prefer tank tops – your results may vary.
At the end of the day, if you are willing to dress around your firearm, I see no reason why you cannot carry a full-sized gun all year round. That’s a commitment and choice you need to make for yourself, and the gun worked just fine for most of my daily needs. The biggest issue was just the grip length. I do know people who EDC Glock 17s and love it. Several prefer appendix for this very reason. I’ll leave it to you, but my preference goes to the Glock 19 for spring and summer carry here.
Carry guns are filled with compromises. Some people even change carry guns with the seasons – be sure to train for that. In fact, that’s one great thing about Glocks. Transitioning from your winter Glock 17 to your summer Glock 19 or Glock 26 at least keeps you on the same operational platform with sharable mags.
There’s a sweet spot for everyone, so I'm certainly not going to sit here and tell you not to carry the Glock 17, but my Glock 19 certainly beats the G17 as my preferred carry gun. Heck, I still bought the G17 I tested because I liked the gun so much.