Firearm & Gear Reviews

Review: Umarex Glock 17 Gen 4 GBB Airsoft Pistol

Kids have the coolest toys these days. Seriously. Video games in 4D (whatever that is), motorized skateboards, drones, even the action figures are cooler. I wasn’t playing with blocks when I was a kid or anything, but I may as well have been. And they have Airsoft! Now we had BB guns when we were kids but they were a far cry from what Airsoft guns offer today. Just to be clear, the Airsoft gun I’m reviewing isn’t a toy and should be treated like any firearm. The rules of firearm safety should be strictly followed. That is of course until you and your friends get decked out in your safety/tactical gear and shoot each other! Because as Ralphie’s Mom was famous for saying “You’ll shoot your eye out” if you’re not careful.Ralphie

I’m not particularly interested in shooting my friends with an Airsoft gun but what I have very pleasantly discovered is that I can practice shooting in the comfort of my own home. Even better, I can practice some particular skills that I can’t always work on at my range. Drawing from a holster, working on target transitions and combat reloads namely. What really appeals to me though is how realistic the Glock Airsoft is compared to the real thing.

I have been eyeing Airsoft guns for a while now. What ultimately sold me was the recent release of the Glock licensed replica by Umarex. It’s not the first Glock replica but it is the first licensed by Glock replica and the first from what I can tell that doesn’t require ordering from China (though it’s likely made in China) or converting currency. This pistol is nearly a dead ringer for my Glock 17. Glock 17 Umarex 2With the exception of the orange tipped barrel, which I have no problem with, it would be hard to tell the replica from the real thing. Picking it up though would likely give it away. They are both primarily polymer guns. The Umarex replica being nearly 100% polymer while the real Glock mostly polymer as well with the exception of the metal slide. The replica is considerably lighter. Due primarily to the absence of a metal slide. The difference from what I can tell from the specs is about 10oz. And the difference is obvious. When you insert a magazine though that difference becomes much less apparent. The magazines are hefty and weigh slightly more than a real magazine loaded with 17 rounds of 9mm. And unlike the real thing the Umarex Glock Airsoft gun won’t get lighter as you fire off those rounds, giving the overall feel of handling a real gun. And that is important. Important for my purposes anyway. I suppose if I was an avid Airsoft player I might prefer a lighter pistol if all other things were equal. Why so important? Because if I am truly going to use the Umarex as a training tool then the more it looks, feels and operates like the real thing the better.

Speaking of operating, the Umarex operates just like a real Glock. The slide stop, magazine release, even the trigger safety, function exactly like the real thing. The slide locks back on an empty magazine without fail and the magazines drop free of the gun perfectly. The gun is broken down in exactly the same manner and as you can see from the picture below the internals look remarkably similar. One thing that is made abundantly clear when they are compared side by side is that my Glock needs a good cleaning! Glock 17 Umarex 3

This is all conducive to creating as realistic of a training experience as possible. Let me make one thing clear from the beginning though. Training of this kind can in no way substitute for shooting and training with a real gun. Ultimately the execution of the skills I practice in my basement will only be possible during live fire if I have spent enough time learning to manage the recoil of a real gun. I am hopeful that the drills I practice with the Airsoft will help me develop greater familiarity and fine motor skills that will transfer positively to actual live fire. I am very familiar with dry fire exercises with my firearms and think their value is without question. I can’t help but feel that Airsoft adds additional value. The greatest drawback is that an Airsoft is not in fact your actual firearm. The trigger will feel different and of course the weight. The blowback action of the Airsoft though does give the shooter very tactile feedback and of course the impact of the pellet really will demonstrate whether you actually had a proper site picture.

Buying the Umarex Glock 17 is very much like buying any other firearm. Minus the background checks and the seven day wait of course. The gun itself I purchased from Amazon for $179.95. This appears to be at the top end of what a gas blow back (GBB) Airsoft pistol costs these days. I suspect you are paying a premium for the Glock name. If I get Glock reliability than I am happy to pay it. We shall see.  You also need magazines and a holster, even new oil to lubricate the pistol. Don’t use traditional gun oil on an Airsoft gun, apparently it can be caustic to the many polymer parts. Use only 100% silicone oil.  IMG_5861(1)I was fortunate to have a holster for the Glock 17 already but two extra magazines, giving me three total, was going to set me back $50 bucks each. Some of the most expensive (maybe THE most expensive) magazines I have ever purchased. If they last a reasonably long time I won’t complain. The jury is out though on how rugged and reliable they will be as I will discuss later. You also need ammunition. The Airsoft BB’s themselves are almost trivially expensive at $15 for five thousand. The true expense is the gas. This pistol is designed to use green gas. A silicone infused propane gas. And pre-mixed, it isn’t cheap at around $12 a bottle. Making a very basic estimate on how fast I’m going through each I can roughly estimate that I may use 10-12 bottles of gas to go through 5000 BB’s. Maybe at some point I’ll calculate more accurately how much this gun actually cost me to shoot. First impressions though, not as cheap as I would like.

So how’s it shoot? Well and without fail. BB’s fly straight and from the short distance I am using it, just about dead on where my sights have it lined up. No malfunctions unless the magazine gets low on gas, and those malfunctions consist solely of losing velocity and then failure to fire at all. As I mentioned before the slide locks back on an empty magazine every time. Magazines drop free with practically no friction at all and a new one is seated with a positive and secure click. The slide release or a quick overhead pinch gets the first round chambered and you are back to shooting. I did have to loosen up the retention screws on my holster quite a bit to fit the pistol, the frame does have a slightly wider profile than the real thing. The magazines fit in my magazine pouches quite securely.

I do have some concerns about the magazines. I have had some inconsistencies in terms of how long each one lasts on a single charge and have even done some experiments to see how quickly the magazines lose a charge after sitting a few days. I only load each magazine to the maximum capacity of a standard Glock magazine, so 17 BB’s. I’m not actually sure how many total BB’s they actually hold. Generally each full charge of gas allows me to shoot three full magazines. Sometimes though, I get two, or two and a half. Occasionally I shoot one full magazine and only get through a couple of BB’s on the second full magazine. There can be a variety of reasons for these inconsistencies including the magazines themselves, such as weakened seals, or it could be the temperature of the gas, or user error when filling them. I simply don’t have enough experience at this point. Nevertheless, they are working adequately for my purposes and as long as performance doesn’t dramatically deteriorate I will be satisfied.

All in all I am very happy with the Umarex Glock 17 Airsoft pistol. It has re-inspired me to spend more time training with my firearms outside of just going to the range. In an upcoming article I will discuss what inspired me to try Airsoft for home training and provide more specific information about how Airsoft can be beneficial and carry over to improve skills with real firearms.

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