Caliber - 9x19mm
Capacity - 17+1
Action - Glock's proprietary "Safe Action" system
Barrel - 5.32 inches
Weight - 27.27 oz. with empty magazine
The Glock 34 and 35 (in 9mm and .40, respectively) were introduced in 1998 to replace the G17L and 24 "longslide" competition models. The new models feature a shortened 5.32" barrel (as opposed to the G17L/24's 6" tube), which allows them to fit in the dimensional box used to determine suitability for use in IPSC and IDPA competition. Additionally, the G34 and G35 were the first Glocks to use the 3rd-Generation "FG&R" frame, with integral finger grooves and dustcover accessory rail. Although originally intended for competition, the G34 & G35 quickly became popular with law enforcement SWAT teams, and have even been adopted as standard-issue by some forward-thinking departments. Popularity among both citizens and law enforcment led to the G34/35 being labeled as "practical-tactical" or "tactical longslide" models. The longer sight radius, better balance and increased muzzle velocity afforded by the longer barrel are certainly appealing in applications where concealment is not an issue. The frame is identical to the full-sized Glock in the same caliber (ie G17/22), and accepts the same magazines.
For the longest time, I maintained that I could not justify purchasing a G34, since I'd played with them in the past and I seemed to shoot my G17 just as well. For some reason, the 9mm cartridge just didn't seem to show the same accuracy gains with the longer barrel and sight radius as did the .40S&W. Then a used G34 came into the gunshop where I work part time. It was kinda homely, as the previous owner had attempted to give it a two-tone look by buffing the slide. The result was that most (but not all) of the black oxide finish was gone, revealing the dull grey of the Tenifer-treated steel beneath. The nooks and crannies (such as between the slide serrations) were left black, and the barrel was polished to a semi-gloss "black chrome" type of appearance. It sat on the shelf for a few weeks, unbought and neglected, before I decided to make a place for it in "Shooter's Home for Wayward Glocks." :)
Fit and finish
Despite the external condition, this gun hadn't been shot much and was mechanically excellent inside. My G34 came just like my G35 had - with the extended slide stop, extended magazine release and 3.5# connector as standard, and Meprolight night sights and a Jentra frame plug added after the fact - in other words, everything I normally do to my carry Glocks anyway! I didn't have to change a thing, which just reinforced my notion that I was "destined" to buy this gun! And although my original intention was to refinish the slide in matte black Alumahyde II, the longer I had the gun the more the quasi two-tone look started to grow on me. And because there wasn't any finish to speak of left on the slide, I certainly didn't have to worry about wearing or scratching it in the course of normal use. A sudden feeling of liberation came over me, and I decided to make the G34 my "class gun" from here on out. Assuming, of course, that it shot well for me... which I would discover was just about the understatement of the century!
Initial range sessions put the lie to my earlier experiences with G34s; I'm not sure if it was something about this particular gun or if it was a side effect of the experience gathered shooting my Glock 35 in recent years, but I found I could shoot this G34 *much* faster and more accurately than my G17! From blazing fast "one ragged hole" groups in close, to rapid hits offhand at 50 yards, the G34 is a stellar performer. Reliability has been 100%, as I have come to expect from Glock pistols.
The Bottom Line
As good as my G35 is, my G34 is, in most respects, even better! It has the same muzzle-heavy balance point, which serves to increase controllability by reducing muzzle flip, while also boosting muzzle velocity (effectively turning standard ammo into +P, and +P into +P+) and accuracy potential (due to a longer sight radius). The 9mm cartridge is more inherently accurate than the .40S&W and generates much less recoil impulse, making the G34 genuinely pleasant to shoot and easier to shoot quickly and accurately. Add to that a 2-round increase in magazine capacity and the proven reliability record of Glock's 9mm platforms, and you've got the makings of what is arguably the finest pistol in Glock's entire lineup, from a pure shooting perspective. While it wouldn't be my choice for concealed carry due to its size (I'm just not built to conceal a full-size Glock frame), it just the ticket for OWB carry, pistol classes and Steel Challenge matches, where the lower "power factor" of the 9mm is not a disadvantage. It is also ideal for use with a tactical light, as the light bezel is behind the muzzle and is therefore kept free from carbon deposits and protected from impacts. The G34 has become my "go to" pistol, and as such it sees a lot of range time and class use - it's just as well that I never refinished the slide, as it would be back to ratty-looking in no time...