The impossible-to-own-legally Glock 18 and the we-can’t-have-nice-things-because-of-our-stupid-import-laws Glock 25 are the two guns most Glock collectors will never have in their collections. Of the weapons that mortals can own the Glock 17R may be at the top of the list. The “R” refers to the automatic trigger Reset. This allows the shooter to practice dry firing on a gun that looks and feels like a real Glock. But the gun’s design means that it can’t actually chamber and shoot a live round. Sounds great, right? I’ve learned that the 17R isn’t quite the training pistol nirvana that it’s cracked up to be.
On paper, everything looks perfect. The gun’s polymer frame is molded in fire engine red and dimensionally identical to a normal Glock 17. The base plates for the magazines are also bright red. The non-functioning barrel is solid with a large hole drilled in the side of it near the breech. There is no firing pin, and the breech face isn’t drilled for one (further evidence that it can’t shoot). The slide is roll marked with a big WARNING explaining that the gun is a “practice sample.” And the trigger mechanism, of course, does not require that the slide be cycled for a trigger reset; the trigger mechanism has its own internal spring that resets itself after every pull.
Curiously, this non-firing gun still has to transfer as a firearm (translation: I had it shipped to my local FFL and I had to fill out a 4473 before receiving it) because the receiver (the part of the gun that legally makes it a firearm) is functionally identical to a real Glock receiver, meaning that the slide and barrel and trigger group can be swapped out to make it a fully functioning firearm. I can see the appeal of this to the Cerakote junkies; this also stresses the importance of checking and clearing every firearm, every time, even if you think it shouldn’t actually be able to shoot. It’s worth noting that I can buy a SIRT (which cannot be easily turned into a working firearm) and have it shipped to my doorstep; more on that in a bit.
To my eye, the Glock 17R magazines are identical (beyond the red floorplate) to regular Glock magazines, and on my last range visit, I confirmed that the red floorplate magazines will function correctly in a fully firing Glock.
Glock sort of succeeded in making a training product that resembles the real thing because it is, in part, a real gun. Whether that’s a problem is mostly a function of how its owner treats it (and perhaps this is why Glock doesn’t want these getting out into the consumer wilds?), but it seems like it would have made more sense to do something to the frame that couldn’t be converted into a working gun so easily.
The 17R has a different problem, though, and one that will be a bit harder to correct: the trigger. Glock doesn’t appear to list the 17R on their new website (they do list the law-enforcement-only 17 cutaway and the 17 FX/FOF pistols that shoot training ammunition), but the internet doesn’t lie, and their old website claimed a 5.5-pound trigger. On my scale, it came out to a hefty 6 pounds 8 ounces, which wades a bit closer to New York trigger territory than most people might want. And the trigger spring doesn’t look like any Glock trigger spring that I’ve ever seen; a flip through the armorer’s manual confirms that it’s unique to the 17R. It’s possible that the connector could be swapped out to lighten things a bit, but this limitation makes the 17R a bit more “take it or leave it” than many people might like.
The trigger break and reset are good enough, but they don’t mimic an actual Glock 17 nearly as well as some other competitors. And that’s a shame because the one thing Glock should do well on their own training pistol is to reproduce their trigger action.
All of this said … I have found the 17R to be an excellent platform for practicing with the MantisX, which is absolutely fantastic for dry-fire training (I love the MantisX so much that I’ll be doing another blog post on it shortly). In fact, the MantisX combined with a SIRT may become the best non-firing training platform in existence.
Interestingly, Glock no longer lists the 17R on their website. I’ll ask at the next armorer’s class whether it has been discontinued or not, and if there are any plans to offer reduced weight trigger springs. My guess is “yes” and “no.” And in terms of this 17R, this makes it more of a gun-collecting curiosity than a serious training tool.