"So what's the big deal? They changed the grip or something?" The question was posed by a cop friend and the subject was the new GLOCK 23 Generation 4 model. Recently I had the opportunity to closely examine the new GLOCK Model 23 in the current configuration and now feel better qualified to tackle that question.
Veteran police officers today are intimately familiar with the GLOCK series of pistols. Many of them can remember the big deal it was when GLOCK added the accessory rail and finger grooves to the frame. The differences between the original GLOCK 17 and Generation 2 versions were slight and primarily aimed at staying in the good graces of the United States BATFE.
Regarding the Generation 3 models, in addition to the aforementioned frame changes, GLOCK modified the extractor to function as a loaded chamber indicator. They also made slight internal improvements such as a beefed up locking block.
The Generation 4 models include all of the previously mentioned upgrades and one of the most radical changes to date. The most obvious change is the new MBS (Multiple Back Strap) frame. Out of the box the new G23 is configured for the small or standard back strap. Medium and Large back straps are included. To install the M or L back straps you simple removed the small pin in the frame with the included punch tool and replace it with a longer polymer pin. The entire process takes a minute or two.
The Gen 4 frame is further enhanced by the addition of what GLOCK calls their RTF (Rough Textures Frame). The jury is still out on this. Some shooters rave about it and others could take it or leave it. In the end it is truly cosmetic. I've never had trouble holding on to my Gen2 or Gen3 GLOCK pistols.
Another upgrade found on the frame will go unnoticed by most people as it is rather subtle. GLOCK has reconfigured the magazine release button to make it a bit larger and reversible. Not a huge deal, that is unless you are left handed and prefer your pistol set up that way. The switch from left to right is a relatively simply process for a GLOCK Armorer.
Lastly, the biggest change for both the standard and compact framed pistols is the reconfiguration of the recoil spring. A dual-captivated recoil spring, akin to the ones found in the sub-compact GLOCKS 26 and 27, is now used on the larger models.
Accepting the fact that the .40S&W is a high-pressure cartridge and has sharp, snappy recoil, particularly from the G23 frame, the new recoil spring is a welcome addition. Mechanically, the dual-recoil spring/guide rod assembly is supposed to tame or manage the sharp recoil.
The GLOCK 22 and 23 are at the moment the most widely issued and carried handguns for today's law enforcement officers. From a personal standpoint I've been carrying one form of GLOCK on duty and off for nearly two decades.
For my money they could spend some time rounding and reconfiguring the trigger guard where it meets the grip frame. Forty caliber GLOCKs in factory configuration tend to punish the middle finger of my right hand. I'm not even going to address the silly hook on the front of the trigger guard because I know all about import point. Until GLOCK pistols are being built completely in Smyrna, Georgia that's not going to change.
Overall, I would have to say that the G23 Gen4 model is a step in the right direction. For the end user that desires an adjustable back strap they now have it. Whether the new recoil spring set up will reduce wear and tear on the pistol over the years, only time will tell. From the buyer's perspective, the Gen4 improvements have not caused a significant increase in the price tag and that's always something to consider.