Glock 26 Gen 5: The Next Generation of Refinement

The Glock 26 Gen 5 is out-of-the-box ready, offering some upgrades over previous generations.

Glock 26 Gen 5: The Next Generation of Refinement

We often compare almost every new gun to Glocks; however, sometimes we forget to actually focus on reviewing the Glock benchmark brand itself. The Glock brand still remains the No. 1-selling handgun globally, and the mainstay of the line are the 9mm G19, G17 and G26 models. With the dust well settled now after the Glock Gen 5 release, it seemed the perfect time to touch on the refinement of the Glock G26 since its 1994 introduction and almost thirty year history.


Glock “Gen” History

Though “Glock Perfect” leads the brand as slogan, no one can argue that Glock has also delivered a legacy of continuous refinement as well that started with the Gen 1 through the current Gen 5 models. Through each generation step, Glock has responded to market demands and industry feedbac,k which range from ergonomic changes, internal component updates, coatings, ambi controls, red-dot compatibility, and barrel and trigger changes.

Upon release in 1982, the Gen 1 Glock G17 was well noted as the ugliest pistol in modern production. Then the reliability tests occurred and the Glock design proved itself over and over during brutal testing. Function triumphed over form, and the Glock brand quickly grew a reputation as a pistol you could count on in any condition. The 1988 introduction of Gen 2 brought many updates: increased safety, ATF steel plate serialization, and front and rear checkering, plus more magazine spring tension. Also with the Gen 2 we saw the first release of the G26 in 1994, which allegedly first introduced ergonomic finger grooves to the Glock grip profile to improve the grip of the Baby Glock. Gen 3 added the finger grooves to the rest of the models in the Glock line, a thumb rest, the new “three-pin” construction, universal Glock Rail on larger models, and many new model and caliber options.

With the Gen 4 models, there were some limitations on backward parts compatibility; however, the new Gen 4 models offered a smaller overall grip profile more friendly to smaller hands, ambi reversible magazine release, configurable modular backstrap supporting larger hand sizes, box checkering for improved grip, and a nested dual recoil spring for reduced felt recoil. The latest Gen 5 iteration included a significant amount of updates with ergonomics going back to the flat Gen 1-2 style grip, but carrying forward the slimmer and configurable modular backstraps and checkering of the Gen 4 models.

For the first time, Glock also added an ambi slide lock control, and paired with an ambi-configurable magazine release carried forward from Gen 4, the Glocks now fully support left- or right-handed shooters. There were also many typical aftermarket performance and ergonomic upgrades that Glock now included in the Gen 5 updates. Ergonomic updates include the full ambi-control capabilities, an enlarged magazine plate update providing easier extraction if the magazine does not fall free, a heavily flared magwell to further improve reload speeds, front serrations to improve chamber check and slide manipulation, slide nose chamfer improving carry comfort, and a relief cut under trigger guard allowing for a higher grip position. Performance updates include Diamond Like Coating for improved corrosion resistance and increased lubricity, Glock Marksman Barrel with more aggressive hexagonal rifling enhancing accuracy, and the trigger geometry was reworked slightly to improve trigger feel. Glock also began offering some GMOS slide cut models that are ready for red-dot sight mounting, which are compatible with Glock’s GMOS red-dot plate adapter kits.


Glock G26 History

The G26 was originally nicknamed the “Baby Glock” since it really was just a subcompact version of the popular G19, with overall length and height shortened by ¾-inch. The model led the market with a small-format double-stack 9mm with 10+1 capacity. It was groundbreaking back in 1994 as a double-stack, higher-capacity subcompact, but today, it has become a format that is widely imitated. Over the years, the G26 has been refined and continued as one of Glock’s most popular pistols. The origins of the pistol continue to drive its popularity, which is centered around being a subcompact-format backup pistol with magazine cross-compatibility with compact and larger primary Glock 9mm pistols. The G26 was designed specifically to share magazines with any of the larger-format pistols, so that as a backup gun, it would not require extra or different magazines. It became both a primary and backup gun of choice for civilians, LEO and government agencies.


G26 Today

Today that flexibility, magazine compatibility, ergonomics and small form factor remain the reasons for the G26 popularity in the civilian market and continued adoption in LEO and military markets. It can be a small-format deep-concealment gun, or with +2-round grip extensions, it can have the grip size of a Glock 19 for more controllable and comfortable training or added capacity. Of course, if customers need more capacity, it remains compatible with all Glock double-stack 9mm magazines ranging from 10 to 33 rounds. For most G26 owners, a common backup magazine option is a single G19/G17 magazine or even aftermarket Magpul 22-round magazine. For the G26 owner, it can be that tiny compact carry gun, a more-comfortable-to-shoot range gun with a grip extension, or a very high-capacity home defense option.

The Gen 4-5 spring system, larger grip and frame, and somewhat beefy weight make it more controllable and fun to shoot than many other micro-compact pistols. The recoil is easily manageable even with hot +P defensive rounds. The updated trigger and Glock Marksman barrel increase accuracy further to an impressive level. On top of being a great stand-alone gun, it has again become a great accessory to sell to the new and existing G17 or G19 owners as a compact option that will share higher-capacity magazines and ammo they already own. Likely gun recommendations from friends and family will include a Glock 9mm, and it makes sense to demonstrate to new customers the cross-compatibility the Glock 9mm models offer. Several customer-favorite G26 accessories are the Pierce +3-round PG-39 Grip extensions affording 13+1 total capacity and similar Magpul GL9 G26-specific magazine offering a 12+1 capacity grip extension option. Both these options provide customers a higher-capacity concealment option that is still a smaller overall footprint than the G19 model.


Comparing the Old to the New

One of my favorite Glocks has been an old Gen 3 G26 I purchased used that I have upgraded through the years. In its current configuration, it features the original Glock night sights that still glow, an Apex trigger, a KKM barrel, and Magpul 12-round GL9 magazine for a perfectly sized 12+1 capacity. In a nice IWB custom holster, my old Gen 3 conceals perfectly even with the most difficult wardrobe, runs great and shoots fantastically well. With that noted, the new Gen 5 G26 is a fantastic out-of-the-box option without the need for upgrades. Though the Apex triggers are fantastic for a wonderful trigger feel with OEM reliability and the KKM barrel delivers an impressive accuracy jump, both these upgrades together totaled $300 — which is nearly what I paid for the used G26 originally.

With the G26 Gen 5, customers get many of the upgrades they want right out of the box. The trigger is noticeably improved over previous generations. The Glock trigger feel is still there, but it is smoother. Glock also looked at what has happened in the aftermarket barrel market and introduced the Gen 5 Marksman barrels, which feature a more aggressive polygonal rifling with a target-style crown and tighter chamber specs to deliver improved accuracy. Even comparing the Gen 5 with a highly upgraded Gen 3, the newest G26 release was extremely impressive with match/defensive ammo and actually shot better with lesser-quality practice FMJ ammo. Having now tested the G17, G19 and G26 Gen 5 models, I found a noticeable accuracy increase from the Marksman barrels and improved trigger without jumping into upgrades. For those who will shoot less expensive range ammo, they will likely see better groups from Glock’s newest Marksman barrels with more aggressive hexagonal rifling, which was specifically designed to overcome bullet deformities.


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