Glock 34 Perfection?

Jan 26, 2006

The Bottom Line For serious tactical/duty, home defense or competition, an ace weapon. For concealed carry or casual shooters, you may want to look elsewhere.

:: Glock 34 Overview ::
The Glock 34 is a magazine-fed, semi-auto pistol chambered for the 9mm Parabellum [9x19, 9mm NATO, etc.] cartridge. It is derivative of every Glock pistol before it, utilizing the familiar recoil-operated, Browning-style, tilting-barrel action. It also utilizes the patented Glock “Safe-Action” system. For a complete description, please see

Dimensions are as follows:
Length: 8.15”
Width: 1.18”
Height: 5.43”
Weight, empty w/ magazine: 25.67 oz.
Weight, loaded: 35.54 oz.

Glock introduced this particular model as a “practical/tactical” pistol, gearing it for the law enforcement and competition market segments. I bought mine with the main intention of keeping it as a primary home defense weapon. With night sights and a rail-mounted light, this weapon is good to go.

:: Shooting Impressions ::
Being the owner of three other Glocks [G30, G21 + G19], I am admittedly a big fan of the “combat Tupperware” pistol. I also own a wide range of handguns, from 1911s to a Class III submachine gun. While the G34 is not “perfect” [which I will soon cover], I would have to give props to Gaston Glock’s ingenious design. One could argue that the Glock is the most recent revolution in small arms design since the advent of Eugene Stoner’s first AR design in the mid-1950’s.

Salutations aside, how does this thing shoot? Well, if you are familiar with Glocks, then it should come to no surprise that the ergonomics are sound, the accuracy is above average and the trigger is acceptable. If you are not, I would have to say that the G34 is definitely an excellent addition to the semi-auto pistol market. Its ease of use, reliability, generous magazine capacity and relatively mild recoil makes it attractive to many different types of shooters.

The ergonomics of the pistol are well-executed; the grip angle and textured/grooved polymer grip is comfortable and adaptable to a wide range of hand types [the exception being those with very small hands]. The controls are above average. This pistol comes with the now standard [I think] “extended” slide release; a vast improvement over the usable, but substandard original slide release. Releasing the slide from full lock is now a one-handed affair for someone with smaller hands like mine. Also, the magazine release has been extended somewhat, making reaching the button easier without being obtrusive or prone to accidental release while holstered. Both features are useful for rapid magazine changes in tactical or competitive situations.

Trigger action is fairly smooth and progressive, breaking at around 4-5 lbs. Make no mistake, this is not the crisp, tuned action of a custom 1911 target pistol or even the heavier [but excellent] trigger of a well-made Smith + Wesson revolver. It is somewhat of an acquired taste, but more than suitable for self-defense or military/ law-enforcement purposes.

I have no problems with the Glock Safe Action system; frankly, not having an external safety is one less thing to worry about in a high-stress situation like a self-defense encounter, a high-risk warrant delivery or felony stop. I cannot overemphasize, however, that proper training is required when carrying ANY firearm concealed or otherwise. Lack thereof is completely irresponsible and borders on gross negligence. That being said, I think the Safe Action system is excellent, particularly if one is transitioning from revolver to semi-auto, for duty or defense. Likewise, if the thought carrying a weapon in Condition 2 [really maybe 1.5 on the Glock] with a 4.5 lb. trigger pull, consider installing a “New York” trigger to increase pull weight.

Accuracy is more than acceptable for the weapon’s intended purpose. This is not a match-grade, slow-fire target pistol; it is a personal defense weapon designed for putting bullets into another [human] body rapidly and repetitively. I have no doubt that it can do just that with very little problem. We’re not talking about dime-sized groups at 50 meters. We’re talking about scoring vital area hits from close to moderate quarters [less than 50 meters]. Tight groups are inherently possible; this pistol shoots better than I do. But I am not a bullseye shooter; I practice defensive shooting. The Glock’s ability to consistently put bullets where you want to put them is uncanny. It also helps that a fully loaded G34 can carry 17 rounds in the magazine. With one up the pipe, you’ve got 18 chances to miss before you need to fill ‘er up. Not bad.

Recoil is relatively mild, compared to pistols of similar size. With a longer overall length [slide + barrel] than the duty-sized Glock 17, it’s a lot of pistol. Also, being a 9mm, felt recoil is substantially less than its more compact brethren of the same caliber. It is positively tame compared to any of my .45s, so spending a long day at the range is more comfortable [and less expensive] than the larger defensive calibers. The full-sized shooting package of the G34 is one of its strong points. For competition [IPSC, IDPA, etc.], the G34 is great out of the box. Few modifications are necessary to compete in a stock class and the Glock can hold its own with other defensive pistols for less money and better performance.

As far as reliability goes: it works, period. I’m still in what I feel is the break-in period of the weapon [less than 500 rounds fired] and I have yet to have a stoppage. My G30 has had thousands of rounds through it [JHPs, FMJs, etc] with absolutely zero FTFs or malfunctions [due to the weapon]. I’ve had some bum primers, but that is the fault of the ammunition [early Wolf brand], not the gun itself. The same goes for my other Glocks. I should also mention that I only use factory-loaded ammunition; I do not handload. I should also mention that if you wish to shoot soft lead bullets, you must use an aftermarket barrel on any Glock.

:: Glock Perfection? ::
However, all is not perfect in Glocktopia. As good as the G34 is, it is by no means perfect. The most glaring shortfall is the absolutely horrific factory sights. This goes for all Glocks: they are all terrible. Admittedly, I like the format; the white outlined notch in the rear and the big white dot on the front seem natural for getting a decent sight picture, even in the heat of competition or low-light situations. But the fact that they are polymer leaves a lot to be desired. I carried a G30 in an IWB holster for years and it was a wonder that the rear sight never popped off on a sloppy presentation or the snagging of a shirt. But the G34 sights go one worse: they are of the “adjustable” variety [and I use that term very loosely]. They seemed impossibly fragile and they were immediately changed with some excellent ghost ring night sights from Ameriglo.

Size is another factor. While it is one of the G34’s strong points, it is also detracts from the entire package. While a firearm of this size is fine for open carry in a duty holster or in a tactical thigh rig for a SWAT operator, an 8” long monolith of metal and polymer ain’t that concealable– for the average CCW permit holder, it is a poor choice. So a civilian could kiss the “practical” side of the G34 goodbye. If you’re intent on a high-capacity 9mm carry gun, look elsewhere [the G19, G26, or even the Browning Hi-Power come to mind]. Also, since the G34 magazine is of the staggered box variety, the grip itself is pretty chunky. That’s the price you pay for 17 rounds per magazine. I consider my hands on the smaller side of average, but I can still manipulate all the controls well [although it does take some grip shifting]. Those with smaller hands will have a harder time [but can improve with practice].

Also, the Safe Action system is not for everyone. Although good training is the key with the use and carry of any firearm, it is specifically true of any of the Glock family of pistols. Folks that decide to carry a Glock need to come to grips with this system and seek proper training in its use.
More importantly, one should practice good carry technique, specifically in choosing a carry rig. A suitable, quality holster is just as important as the firearm it holds. A substandard rig [read: CHEAP] is a recipe for disaster. Why spend 600 beans on a pistol, then stick it in a $10 holster that doesn’t retain the weapon well or is poorly designed?

In the end, I give the Glock 34 highest marks for accuracy, reliability, moderate recoil and overall “shootability”. It also deserves high marks for its high magazine capacity. As a tactical / duty firearm or for home defense, it is hard to beat for the money. There are many more expensive 9mm semi-autos out there, but few are better.

However, it is not without its faults. The extra-large size makes it impractical for concealed carry. While it has a large magazine capacity, the grip size is more than a handful for those of smaller hand size. It is also one of the priciest Glocks out there, averaging $600 [compared to $475 to $500 for “regular” Glocks]. And with that extra cash, you get extra-crappy adjustable polymer sights. Yikes. Additionally, though the Safe Action system is very good, it requires the proper training in its employment.

Overall, if you’re looking to add a high-capacity 9mm to your arsenal and you want reliability and good accuracy for duty, home defense or competition, the G34 is ace. If you want a concealable carry weapon or are new to firearms, there are alternatives out there that have similar features and cost less.

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