Fierce Competitors: The Glock Long-Slides

by Charles W. Karwan

While the Glock service, compact, and sub-compact pistols are extremely well-known and have built a substantial following, the company's two long-slide models are known to a smaller, more select group - mostly competitive shooters. Because of their many performance advantages over other pistols, however, these superb handguns deserve a lot more attention.

The long-slide pistols I am referring to are the Glock models G17L in 9mm and G24 in .40 S&W. The G24 comes in two variations, the standard G24 and the G24C with compensator ports in the top of the barrel and slide. At one time, the 17L was also available with a compensated barrel, but it has since been discontinued, probably because the muzzle jump of the unported G17L is insignificant.

Compared to Standard Models

These pistols are virtually identical to the standard Glock 9mm G17 and .40 S&W G22 service pistols, except their barrels are 6.02 as opposed to 4.49 inches, and their slides have been lengthened to match. The slides also have windows cut into their top, probably more to reduce weight than for any other reason. However, the window in the G24C's slide allows the compensator cuts to vent gas upward. In the 9mm model, the window is predictably larger than in the .40 since the smaller caliber would require a lighter slide for proper functioning. As a result, when both are empty, the G24 is about three ounces heavier than the G17L and, because of its heavier ammunition, still another two or three ounces heavier when loaded.

There are some other differences between standard and long-slide Glocks. As standard equipment, the long-slides come with an extended magazine release and adjustable rear sight. The former facilitates changing the magazine, which is of critical importance during competition. The long-slide sight has the elevation and windage adjusted by two small screws (a tiny screwdriver is supplied). The elevation mechanism has only four different settings, but they cover most of the typical bullet weights and loads.

The G17L and G24 also differ from other Glocks in that they come equipped with a 3.5 pound connector. The connector and trigger spring control the weight of a Glock pistol's trigger pull.

Glocks For Competition

Long-slide Glocks were designed for action-type competition, a growing American shooting sport that includes International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC), bowling pin, Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF), falling plate, three gun, NRA Action as well as others. For competition where there's no power rating, the 9mm G17L has won many times over, thanks to its low recoil and extremely high magazine capacity. When a match involves a power factor, which favors more powerful cartridges, the G24's .40 S&W chambering makes 'major' quite easily Thus, the shooter will get the maximum points for hits. The versatility edge goes to the G24. In matches without a power factor the shooter can use light-recoiling loads and heavier loads otherwise.

The compensated barrel of the G24C definitely cuts down muzzle flip to a significant degree. The heavier and harder kicking the load, the more difference it makes. However, there is no free lunch. The penalty is an increase in muzzle blast and flash, as well as some velocity loss. Also, it's important to consider the disadvantage inherent with using the compensated barrel in certain competitions. In IPSC and most bowling-pin-type competitions, the uncompensated G24 qualifies as a 'stock gun" or limited class gun, a class that all Glocks do well in. However, the compensated G24 must compete in the "unlimited' or open class with the multithousand-dollar optically-sighted raceguns of the type used by the professional and semi-professional competitors.

Other Advantages

These long-barreled Glocks have a number of other charms, not the least of which is a more-muzzle-heavy balance. As the G17L is only about 1.5 ounces heavier than the standard G17, this is not as pronounced as with the G24, which is 3.5 ounces heavier than the G22. This extra weight and more-forward balance help steady the gun when it's shot from the offhand position.

The 1.5-inch-longer sight radius of the long-slides contributes to accuracy in two ways. First, the extra long sight radius exaggerates any sight misalignment, which then allows the shooter to make corrections. Second, because the front sight is farther away from the shooter's eyes, it appears somewhat narrower. This in turn results in more daylight visible on each side of the front sight blade. The net effect is to make it easier to center the front sight in the rear sight notch. This leads to faster and better shooting.

With my personal specimens and favorite ammunition it's easy to get groups under 2 inches at 25 yards from a supported position. Indeed, groups under 1.5 inches are fairly common with some loads. Since a 3-inch group at 25 yards is more than adequate for limited class competition, the inherently better accuracy of the long-slide Glocks is delightful.

Higher Velocities

All of the above stated advantages for the long-slide Glocks are more than enough to justify their existence. However, there's another advantage that comes with these guns. Their longer-than-normal barrels give higher-than-normal velocities with practically every load. You wouldn't think that a mere 1.5-inch longer barrel would make much of a difference, but it does.

My favorite conventional 9mm combat load is the Cor-Bon 115-grain JHP that's loaded to a nominal muzzle velocity of 1350 feet per second (fps). In my Glock G17L it delivered a screaming 1502 fps average muzzle velocity. Folks, that leaves the 110-grain .357 Magnum load in the dust and nips closely at the heels of the hot 125-grain magnum load.

My favorite conventional load in .40 S&W is the Cor-Bon 135-grain JHP load, with a velocity of 1300 fps. When this load was fired in my 6-inch-barreled unported G24, it averaged a blistering 1446 fps. This is well over the performance of the hot +P .45 ACP load and matches the velocity of the hot 125-grain .357 load. It's also ballistically well into full-power 10mm territory.

The longer barrels of the G17L and G24 ballistically turn the 9mm +P into a .357 Magnum and the .40 S&W into a full-power 10mm load. Of course, I fully realize that a higher velocity and energy do not automatically make a bullet more effective. With the .40 S&W 135-grain JHP, however, the very same bullet is used by Cor-Bon in their full-power 10mm ammunition.

With the 9mm cartridge, the G17L's higher velocities also enable the shooter to get better ballistics out of standard velocity loads. Thus, the shooter can use low-recoiling standard velocity ammunition and still get high-performance +P ballistics. Yet another advantage of the longer barrels is lower muzzle flash and blast - the hotter the load, the more noticeable the difference.

Beyond Competition

While some people would dismiss the Glock G17L and G24 as just competition guns, I do not. Not only do these pistols qualify for personal defense, and law enforcement, they also rank at the top for overall handgun performance, with their only disadvantage being concealed carry. However, for those situations where concealment is not a factor, their performance advantages are many - low muzzle flash, low muzzle blast, long sight radius, superb pointability, forward balance, fast shot recovery, high capacity and higher-than-normal velocity. These qualities place the Glock long-slides in a class by themselves.

Glock 17L Specifications

Caliber 9x19 mm
Action Safe Action (constant double action mode)
Overall length (slide) 8.85 in. (225 mm)
Height, including magazine 5.43 in. (138 mm)
Width 1.18 in. (30 mm)
Barrel length 6.02 in. (153 mm)
Sight radius 8.07 in. (205 mm)
Rifling Hexagonal profile with right-hand twist
of one turn in 9.84 in. (250 mm)
Weight, without magazine 23.63 oz. (670 g)
Weight, empty magazine 2.75 oz. (78 g)
Weight, full magazine ~9.87 oz. (~280 g)
Magazine capacity 17 rounds
Standard trigger pull ~4.5 lbs. (~2.0 kg)
Trigger pull length 0.5 in. (12.5 mm)
Number of safeties 3

information courtesy of GLOCK