The Connoisseur’s Pistol: The Glock 34   

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My relationship with Glock pistols is complicated: I called the Glock 19 unremarkable. (There’s actually nothing wrong with them, and let’s face it, the 5th-gens are pretty damn good). Still, on the face of it, they’re not terribly exciting. But take that same gun, add half an inch to the grip and 1 ½ inches to the slide and barrel, and the end result is arguably one of the coolest Glock pistols of all time: The Glock 34. The experience instantly gets amplified from zero to hero.

In spite of the 34’s downsides, like its blocky Glock 17-style ergonomics and “mid” triggers, Glock 34s shoot like damn laser beams. Because of this, they inspire confidence in the shooter’s hand, too. It’s no different than the feeling you get from holding a tuned 2011 or 1911. Psychology, after all, is an important facet of higher-level shooting. How one feels while shooting critically can and will affect performance.

Technically, I’m not sure if it’s the Glock 34’s sight-radius, longer barrel, or what. But there’s something about them. Like they say in France, “je-ne-sais-quoi.” From a catalog of soulless plastic, this one has soul and is actually cool. 

Enough about emotions, dear reader. It’s also my job to look over and write about different handguns. If you follow my work, you’ll notice that I have a type–full-size performance-oriented handguns. I’m truly blessed to shoot and try out many wonderful pistols, and I think the ol’ Glock 34 still holds its own today, too.   

Origins Of The Glock 34 

Originally developed for action-pistol sports, the Glock 34 takes the standard full-size frame found in the Glock 17 and marries it to a 5.5-inch barrel (and longer slide). Other than some of their more unique physical and technical aspects, Glock 34s have an identical layout to Glock 17s (and these days, the rest of the line-up of 9mm pistols with full-size grips like the Glock 47 and 45). The original Glock 34, which belonged to the third-generation style of Glock pistols, first saw the light of day at the tail end of the 1990s. 

Gen 5

Like the rest of the flagship 9mm lineup, the Glock 34 jumped into the “fourth generation.” Years later, in 2017, when the fifth-generation models made their initial debut with the Glock 17 and 19, the 5th-gen Glock 34 followed suit a few months later during SHOT Show 2018.

Not only was it one of the first catalog items to get the 5th-gen treatment besides the 17/19, but the fifth-generation Glock 34 was also one of the earliest optics-ready modern product 9mm pistols on the market. All fifth-gen Glock 34s include a slide with the Austrian company’s MOS cut.

The Glock 34’s additional overall length gives the gun a longer sight radius. In the case of sporting ammunition, the longer barrel allows certain loads to develop enough muzzle velocity to make power-factor as well. Think of the well-loved 147-grain bullet loaded with 3.3 grains of Titegroup, for example.

Not only will it make minor power-factor with the 34’s barrel length, but it has that gentle recoil impulse sport-shooters love. In the tactical and training realms, these guns will handle damn near anything that’s cycled through them. I used to load mine with 147-grain HSTs.

Jumping From Practical To Tactical

Although the Glock 34 was conceived with sport-shooters in mind, it didn’t take long before serious ‘tactically-minded’ shooters got ahold of them and began fielding them. Their full-size shootability and long-sight radius lend themselves well to more than mere IPSC paper targets and steel poppers. Its overall profile also matched that of the full-size government-framed 1911 pistol, which, at the time the Glock 34 was launched, was still the pistol.

Amongst the tactical crowd, the Glock 34 arguably peaked during the 2010s–prior to slide-mounted red dots becoming commonplace and rendering the additional sight radius less important. But during its golden age, these longslide pistols became a status symbol in their own way. In this sense, 34s weren’t much different than the single-stack .45-caliber 1911 before them or the double-stack 9mm 1911 with dots after them.

In fairness, the Glock 34 hasn’t completely disappeared from this realm either, especially the current generation models mounted with reflex sights. It’s not unusual to see them at high-end training events and action-pistol weekend matches alike. They’re still very much viable 9mm pistols in 2024.

Further reinforcing its “serious-professional” undertones, the Glock 34 is cast alongside memorable and enigmatic characters like Denzel Washinston’s John Creasy in Man On Fire. In this 2004 film, his signature sidearm is a third-generation Glock 34. And Creasy’s character isn’t a light one, either. The plot alludes to his background as a highly-trained man with specialized skills.

Similarly, in John Wick 2, the main character, played by Keanu Reeves, also fields a Glock 34, albeit one worked over by Taran Tactical Innovations. And we all know John Wick’s background. 

Outside of the silver screen, we can observe Ben Stoeger working with Glock 34s in present-day in between training periods that don’t include his beloved CZ Shadow 2s or other handguns. The same goes for several other GM/high-level shooters. Gabe White, one of the foremost handgun instructors on the West Coast, also made a name for himself with an older 34 back in the day.     

The Glock 34 In Present Day 

My experiences with Glock 34s date to a few years back, and both of mine used to be fourth-generation models. This is why I’ll cop to being somewhat biased in their favor. I had many early milestones in shooting and training back when I started carrying and using those 4th-gen Glock 34s.

Ironically, when the fifth-generation Glock 45 launched, I ditched those old Glock 34s. Not only was the 45 fully ambidextrous and smoother for me to run, but the shorter slide actually reciprocates faster because it’s smaller and lighter. In spite of those wonderful memories with those older 34s, I had no compunction selling and moving on to a gun I could handle more smoothly. Being left-handed and switching to fifth-generation models is a no-brainer. 

However, the 34 found its way back into my life after coming across two different like-new fifth-generation MOS models. One of them wears a Forward Controls Design Glock MOS to RMR plate and a Trijicon SRO. The other now has XS Sights’ new fiber-optic iron sights and a Glock Performance Trigger. This Glock 34 is going to be the test-bed for my reviews of those two accessories.

Last year, shooting the other 34 (with the SRO) in between testing and evaluating the Canik Rival-S and CZ Shadow 2 made me realize that the Glock 34’s magic is still alive and well. It never left, and in fact, with all of the fifth-generation upgrades, it shoots better than ever before. Even amongst a crowded field full of worthy contenders.

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