Introduction: What is the Glock 17R?
Plot spoiler: the “R” in “17R” stands for “Reset.” In short, it means that the trigger on this pistol resets after every trigger pull (without your having to cycle the slide). The Glock 17R is also an “inert” gun, meaning that it doesn’t actually fire anything. It’s a training pistol.
To better understand this, let’s look at the bigger picture.
Back in 1998 Glock released its third generation pistols. The changes from the Gen 2 guns weren’t that drastic—especially when one considers the major overhaul that was the Gen 5—and with the Gen 3 Glock immediately had a winner on its hands. Glock kids will argue endlessly about whether the Gen 3 or the Gen 5 is the superior gun, but it’s a moot point since both are still produced (and will likely be in production for some time yet, thanks to the collective stupidity that are California’s gun banning laws). I own and shoot Gen 3 and Gen 5 Glocks regularly, and it’s easy (and truthful) to say that they’re both fantastic.
Glock had already made strong inroads with the law enforcement market when the Gen 3 guns came along. Glock wisely realized that there was a market for training guns, and they brought out the 17R to make it easier for police and military trainers to embrace and train on the Glock system. They also brought out the Glock 17T (Training) blue pistol for Simunition training, and that’s another blog post for another day.
The theory of the 17R was straightforward: an inert Glock 17 pistol that would simulate all of its functions and that could be used in a variety of classroom situations. Of course, it had to be utterly incapable of firing—alleviating the concerns of having any Alec Baldwin moments. There were a few things done to this gun that would prevent it from firing: the breech face does not have a hole for the firing pin and the barrel is plugged. In fact, its fake barrel can’t even chamber live (or fake) ammo. Ergo, no negligent discharges.
The Glock 17R has one other unique feature: its trigger resets after every pull (ergo, its name – the Glock 17 “Reset”). There’s no need to cycle the slide. This makes the 17R an ideal gun for dry fire exercises. It’s fantastic for training aids like the MantisX (which I’m a huge fan of). Of course, you’re more than welcome to cycle the slide as much as you wish—and since it also uses standard Glock magazines, you can practice your tap-rack-bang and tactical magazine reloading drills to your heart’s content.
The Glock 17R's Frustrating Caveat
The one thing you need to know is that you probably can’t buy the Glock 17R. Glock decided that it would only sell the Glock 17R to military and law enforcement customers. This sounds silly at first, but there is some reasonably intelligent logic behind this decision.
As you’ll see below, most of the Glock 17R’s innards (and outards) are the same as a regular Glock 17. To wit, the bright red frame of the 17R can easily be made into a fully functioning firearm with a few simple parts swaps, since it’s dimensionally and functionally identical to a regular Glock 17 frame. The 17R is technically an inert gun (and shouldn’t be subjected to the same sales restrictions as a functioning firearm, as is the case with SIRT guns), but Glock realized that selling the 17R as a non-firearm would expose it to huge liability risks since some off-the-shelf parts and about 5 minutes of time could make it into a working pistol.
The frame of the Glock 17R is serialized, and being your own gunsmith is still legal in most places. Accordingly, it would be very easy to turn the 17R into a working firearm, but doing so creates the enormous risk that someone could mistake a working firearm as an inert firearm. An accident could happen. As Alec Baldwin so amply demonstrated recently, accidents can have bad consequences.
Don’t do that, OK?
With that out of the way, here’s the somewhat good news: it’s possible to find Glock 17R’s in the wilds. Law enforcement agencies sell off old gear regularly, and as a result of this 17R’s have trickled into the private marketplace. Prices reflect the demand for these Glock oddities and a 17R could easily run you north of $700 (at least, that’s what the prices were at the time of this article’s writing), but this is a game where you have to pay to play.
The Glock 17R Technical Breakdown
The plot spoiler isn’t all that complex; here’s a list of the parts that differentiate the Glock 17R from a garden variety Glock 17:
That’s it. I can confirm after a detailed takedown that these are the only parts on the Glock 17R that aren’t identical to those on a standard Glock 17. The parts with the little skill and crossbones next to them are the parts that make this gun inert, and the parts with the double checkmark are the parts that make the trigger reset.
The Barrel and Slide and Firing Pin
The firing pin of the Glock 17R is entirely different than that of a regular Glock 17. Not only does the 17R’s firing pin lack the tip that would contact the primer, but the “foot” of the firing pin (that engages with the trigger bar) is positioned differently. It’s not just a regular firing pin with the tip removed; it’s an entirely different part altogether.
In making the 17R inert, Glock went a step further and made the slide without the firing pin hole in the breech. This makes it next to impossible to make this gun operable without replacing the entire slide andfiring pin.
The barrel is also a clever piece of work. The muzzle looks convincing enough, but there’s no rifling and it’s only bored about an inch and a half in. Beyond that, the bore is a solid piece of metal right back to the rear breech face. Since there’s no real chamber to speak of, there’s nowhere to chamber a cartridge (live or inert). The barrel also has a large hole in the side of it, so there’s no meaningful way to make this into any sort of working barrel.
Interestingly, though, the rest of the slide mechanics work fine. The 17R’s barrel’s external dimensions are identical to those of a regular Glock 17 barrel, and it locks and unlocks just as a real barrel does when the slide is cycled.
If Glock wanted to make sure that the 17R would never be made into a working pistol, they did a pretty good job on the top end.
The Resetting Trigger
There’s only two parts that appear to make the trigger automatically resetting: the trigger spring and the trigger mechanism housing. And, of course, the firing pin with its offset foot, which I talked about above.
The trigger spring looks entirely different from a regular Glock trigger—it’s easier to just see the photos than it is to try to describe it. On the Glock Armorer’s parts order form, it describes it thus: “G17R reset trigger spring (Serial Number Required) Not Sold For Stock.” The bold emphasis is mine, but the message is clear: Glock really doesn’t want people making their own 17R’s. I get it.
The 17R’s trigger mechanism housing is identical to a regular Glock 17 housing, with the exception of a small notch that is cut into the top flat of the housing. Again, it’s easier to just see this in the photos than it is to try to describe it here.
Impressions of Using the Glock 17R
The Glock 17R has been a mixed bag.
As a pistol for practicing tap, rack, bang drills, tactical reloading drills, drawing from a holster, etc., it’s excellent. Of course, one could easily do those with an unloaded gun—and either way, I’m still fastidious about checking to make sure it’s clear because I always want to be in the habit of doing that. Still, there’s peace of mind in knowing that the chances of a negligent discharge go to zero with the 17R.
But as a pistol for any sort of trigger training, it’s perhaps less than ideal. Now, a caveat: I spent years working on my precise trigger pull—trying hard to understand all of the mechanics that go into motion as the trigger is moved through its range of motion, and then moving my finger just so. But I’ve stopped doing that, because time spent focusing on the trigger is time not spent focusing on the actual shot. So if technical trigger work is your game, the 17R is going to disappoint since its trigger break doesn’t quite feel like that of a regular Glock. This makes sense, since the trigger spring, firing pin and trigger housing are different on this gun. Different parts = different trigger action.
And, of course, there’s the question of cost. Unless you’re in the law enforcement community and can purchase one of these at law enforcement prices, then you’re going to have to really want one to justify that many Benjamins—especially given that a regular garden-variety Glock can be had for a few hundred less (especially if you’re a GSSF member and have your discount coupon—which you do, right?).
As I mentioned before, I think the 17R is a great training pistol with a MantisX training system. If you’re serious about situational training (especially where you would be drawing your training weapon on actual living people), then it’s a great idea to use a pistol that everyone knows is inert.
Is it worth it to you? Let me know your thoughts below.