Glock pistols have been around since 1982, and there probably isn’t a handgun shooter on the planet who hasn’t heard of them.
You’ve probably fired one yourself, and either liked (or absolutely hated) the way that the gun felt in your hand. Glocks tend to have a polarizing effect on shooters—you either love them, or you can’t stand them.
Lately, however, Glock has been carving inroads towards making more handgun shooters appreciate their pistols.
Enter the Model 34
First introduced in 1998, Glock’s Model 34 is essentially a competition version of the Model 17, mainly intended for use in USPSA, IPSC, and IDPA shooting events. It features a longer barrel and slide, but uses exactly the same magazines as the Glock 17.
Glock decided to join the league of handgun manufacturers offering better-fitting grips with its Gen 4 series, and it’s definitely a step in the right direction. The Glock 34 comes with two grip expanders, designated Medium (M) and Large (L).
If you decide not to use either of these, you effectively have a short-framed (SF) Glock, which fits small hands splendidly. Deciding to attach the ‘M’ expander moves the trigger 2mm further away from the back strap of the gun; attach the ‘L’ expander and you need 4mm more reach to get to the trigger.
Right now I’m trying the pistol in SF configuration (no attachment) to see how it works. So far, I’ve discovered that it’s also easier to access the magazine release, without having to shift my grip on the gun in any way.
Loaded Chamber Indicator
The gun’s extractor serves as a loaded chamber indicator to let you know whether you have a round in the chamber or not. The extractor protrudes slightly but noticeably when the chamber is loaded, and you can tell by just looking at it that you have a cartridge in the chamber.
At night, you may not be able to see it, but you can determine if the extractor is protruding by running your finger over the right side of the slide. If there is a bump where the extractor should be, then the chamber is loaded and the gun is ready to fire.
Dimensions Versus the 1911 Pistol
In case you’re a 1911 fan and you’re wondering how big this gun is, the Glock 34 is actually a third of an inch longer than a Colt Government Model. The good news is that its barrel is also .31 of an inch longer, which may or may not provide a marginal advantage.
It’s not as tall as a 1911, however, and is actually a tenth of an inch narrower.
The sight radius is just over 7.5 inches, over half an inch better than the 1911’s. I like it because it helps me acquire targets more precisely when shooting offhand, especially at ranges between 25 and 50 meters.
The big difference is in weight: a 1911 outweighs the Glock 34 by a full 11.5 ounces.
The Glock Model 34 differs from ordinary Glocks because of the purpose for which it was built. It has several upgrades that make it easier to handle, and which facilitate fast, accurate shooting.
To start with, it comes with the vaunted 3.5-pound trigger connector, which most Glock owners purchase as an aftermarket accessory. This little part is supposed to lighten the gun’s trigger pull.
Contrary to its monicker, however, it doesn’t bring the trigger pull down to a clean 3.5 pounds. The trigger on my example of the Model 34 breaks at around 4.5 pounds. It’s not a quantum leap, but it’s still a full pound less than regular Glock triggers.
Dual Recoil Springs
Next, the 34 uses dual recoil springs encased in a full-metal frame. They did away with the plastic recoil spring guide (which most Glock owners tend to replace with aftermarket metal units).
The dual recoil spring system makes it easier to rack the slide, and the metal housing it comes with may be expected to outlive any polymer guide rod.
Another distinguishing feature is the rounded front end of the pistol’s slide. This makes the gun look less blocky, and also assists in re-holstering the pistol.
Improved Slide Release
Most Glock owners are familiar with the pistol’s tiny slide release lever, which isn’t always that easy to manipulate, especially with wet hands or sweaty fingers.
On the 34, the slide release features a miniature shelf, which actually takes the drama out of releasing the slide. Compared to the slide release on any normal Glock, this is a joy to use!
The trigger face on the Model 34 is smooth. It lacks the serrations that the triggers on normal Glocks have.
Most competitive shooters prefer this because it provides smoother finger movement across the trigger, resulting in faster, more accurate repeat shots.
The ejector/extractor combination on my example also appears to be nicely tuned. The gun will throw empty shells about 1.5 meters to my 4 o’clock, and all the empties land within inches of each other.
Fully-Adjustable Rear Sight
As an added bonus, the Glock 34 comes from the factory with a fully-adjustable rear sight. Mine were nicely zeroed out of the box, and I haven’t found the need to make adjustments just yet.
I have been shooting at 25 meters, and at that distance the sights appear to be dead-on.
Improved Magazine Release
Finally, the square magazine release button on the Model 34 is also bigger than the release button on normal Glocks. This makes it easier to reach and to manipulate, without having to shift your grip on the gun. The magazine release is designed to be ambidextrous—you can shift the button to the right side of the gun if you’re left-handed.
The Model 34 is top-heavy, as every Glock inevitably is. It’s a trait that it shares with most other polymer-framed pistols.
The slide, barrel, and recoil spring assembly are heavy-duty steel, while the frame is made of polymer, and the frame houses very few metal parts.
The 34’s designers attempted to mitigate the issue of top-heaviness by lightening the slide. You’ll find a cutout on the pistol’s slide, just above the barrel, which can double as an exit vent if you should opt to multi-port the gun’s barrel to reduce recoil.
The feeling of top-heaviness disappears once you insert a full magazine into the gun, however. Once the gun is fully loaded, the feeling of top-heaviness is replaced by a comforting sense of solidness, and the pistol is suddenly perfectly balanced in your hand.
Now that I’ve tried it, I can say that the Glock 34 is one of the most accurate polymer-framed pistols available today. In my hands, it is actually more accurate than Smith and Wesson’s M&P9.
I intend to use it for club competitions that require a ‘production class’ handgun, and I intend to find out how it stacks up against metal-framed pistols in various shooting events!