Replica Review: Tokyo Marui Glock 17 Gen 4

I’m not convinced that I actually am in any way, shape or form, a fan of Glocks.

They lack the Italian curves of a Beretta and the aesthetic refinement of John Moses Browning’s Colt M1911 design.

Hell, it doesn’t even have the flair of a Heckler & Koch or Sig Sauer!

But… It is an easy to shoot and ultimately, reliable pistol and that’s likely the key reason as to it’s success.

Putting how boring Glocks are aside, the Glock 17 Gen 4 is an unusual choice to make into an airsoft replica. Especially when you consider that Glock has already moved on to a 5th generation model, it feels a little… Outdated.

However there are valid reasons for choosing the Gen 4, it is the model currently in use with a number of organisations that make it rather interesting for us airsofters, notably the British Armed Forces (With the designation L131A1). In 2013 the MOD placed an order for 25’000 Austrian made Gen 4 Glock 17 pistols, originally procured to replace the ageing Browning Hi-Power (L9A1) and meet the needs of today’s armed forces.

The L131A1 in the hands of a rifleman, picture courtesy of Evos Media.

Something I’d like to point out before moving onto the actual review… When it comes to Airsoft Glocks, it’s been my personal opinion that until the release of their Glock 19 nearly two years ago (reviewed here), Tokyo Marui have always made a range of Glocks that were only average performers at best. Even their new(ish) Glock 21 and 34 models used much the same internals as their original Glock 17 and Glock 26 models, a system that works, but it’s far from outstanding. Considering the other pistols they were churning out, the Glock series always felt a little dated.

The box: stylish and umderstated. Tokyo Marui’s recent box designs have been decidedly smart in appearance.

When they took the big step to improve their Glock lineup starting with the Gen 3 Glock 19, one of the biggest changes they made to the design was to increase the systems cylinder volume. Some saw it only as a negative, with the lack of compatible upgrades and parts being a frustration to many custom builders. However, the performance gains offered by this revised design, soon made it apparent that this was the right way to move forward with their Glock range. A couple of year on, those desirable custom parts are plentiful for those that want them.

Tokyo Marui Glock 17 Gen 4

The first thing you’ll notice upon opening the box is that you have the ability to add and swap out the back strap on the frame of the pistol, enabling most users to find the perfect size and shape grip. Four back straps are included, two with a beaver tail and two standard. This gives you five grip options, allowing the end user to better configure their pistol for a good, tailored fit to their hand.

Also sat within the box are the usual Tokyo Marui sundries;

  • A small bag of ammo (Tokyo Marui ammo being the exception to the rule of “never use the ammo provided with an airsoft gun”)
  • A red muzzle safety plug (Never used but they’d make safezones a lot safer!)
  • A pair of magazine “dry fire” adaptors (actually rather useful for dry fire drills)
  • A barrel unjamming/cleaning rod (worth keeping one in the tool box)
  • A longer frame pin for the included back straps
  • A punch pin for removing the back strap frame pin

There’s also a manual, a few paper targets and some promotional/warranty leaflets tucked inside the lid. The majority of this being zero use to anyone living outside of Japan, although it’s worth noting that the manual itself is fantastic. Although it’s in Japanese, the pictograms show you how to use all of your Airsoft gun’s features and an additional mini booklet provides a part list with a blown up diagram of where each component sits within the replica.

One thing I’ve always respected about Tokyo Marui is the safety advice at the start of the manual, it covers all the common sense bits, but also some of the more obscure ones such as: “don’t shoot yourself in the face” or “don’t operate this pistol within 2cm of your nose”.

Moving onto the pistol itself, let’s see what you get. The Glock 17 Gen 4 isn’t what anyone could call a work of art, it’s arguably even less aesthetically appealing than other, older generations of Glocks. But no one has ever accused Glock of wanting to make a good looking pistol, it’s simple and it works… Enough said.

The slide is marked with the usual Glock trademarks and caliber, with the country of manufacture moulded into the left hand of the slide. The “Gen 4” marking which on the real one is roll marked is well defined, but moulded on this replica for ease of manufacturing.

Straight serrations on the rear of the slide make cocking the pistol straightforward, although they’re rather boring in their design, they replicate the real one rather well. You can’t blame Tokyo Marui for this though, that’s all Gaston Glock’s doing.

Note the matching serials on the slide and barrel, also worthy of mention is the separate, metal “extractor”.

The iron sights are incredibly similar to the real thing (they’re plastic, feature Glock’s signature ball and cup sight arrangement and should be swapped out as soon as possible), unfortunately Tokyo Marui didn’t include their older glow in the dark “night sights” as per the Gen 3 model, but most Tokyo Marui Glock spec irons will fit if you’re looking to swap out the stock parts.

The ball and cup arrangement, works well enough but I’m partial to Tritium sights myself.

The front frame has the same universal rail as used on the Gen 3 series, the single anti recoil slot allowing practically all pistol lights (and lasers) to be accommodated. Under the universal rail, sits a faux serial number plate (the serial on this plate matches the slide and barrel which is a nice touch, but unfortunately it isn’t unique. This plate also acts as a “travel safety” when clicked rearwards, which is a feature not present on the real thing but hilarious when used on an unsuspecting friends Glock.

The same serial as on the barrel and slide is reproduced on the bottom plate.

The trigger guard is virtually identical to that found on the older Gen 3, rather chunky due to its polymer design and it’s often ground down by discerning Glock owners at the rear to enable a slightly higher grip.

As for the controls; Starting with the slide lock, which allows the slide to be removed completely from the pistol without tools. Simply cock the pistol, pull the bar down on both sides and push the slide forwards to release it from the frame. Re-attaching the slide is as simple as lining up the slide rails with the frame and pulling the slide all the way to the rear.

The slide stop lever (commonly known as a slide release) is of a low profile design and allows the slide to be held to the rear when the pistol is empty. When you wish to move the working parts forward, simply push down on the lever and the slide will move forward under power from the recoil spring system.

The magazine release is a little different to that found on other Tokyo Marui Glock models, on the Gen 4 model it’s of a significantly larger design and is also able to be swapped over (along with its spring) for left-hand friendly use. Many people prefer the Gen 3 magazine release for fear of inadvertently ejecting a magazine under stress, but I’ve personally not encountered this issue in either this model or my previous WE Gen 4 Glock 17 over several years of use.

The trigger is virtually identical to that found on Tokyo Marui’s other Glocks. The design and action isn’t really a step forward from their earlier models, in fact, it’s the same design they’ve always used. I guess it’s a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and to be fair… There’s no reason you’d need to.

The pull is smooth and easy to learn, a long mushy take up followed by a short, sharp release. The “wall” is easily felt and the reset is comfortably short, with an audible and dexterous click when engaged.

The grip is textured with a dot matrix pattern, which in my opinion is superior to that found on the older 3 Glocks, it provides a little more grip in wet and other difficult conditions. Then we come to those pesky finger grooves that appear to divide the Glock owner community, with some loving them… Others (such as myself) preferring to sand them down where possible. The grip angle follows that of older Glock models, although noticeably shorter from front to back than older Glock generations. This new design is to accommodate smaller hands, whilst giving those with larger hands the ability to use one of the several back straps included with the pistol.

There are four back straps to choose from: a medium and large grip option, both with or without a beaver tail. Personally, even with large hands, I get on without a back strap, my gloves effectively “sizing up” my grip. The back strap attaches via a clip at the bottom of the grip and a longer (included) frame pin at the top. I’ve been reliably informed that the MOD bought the Gen 4 in part due to it’s adaptable grip and then promptly decided that squaddies and bootnecks couldn’t be trusted not to lose or break bits, and so promptly hid all the back straps in a box located in a storage unit somewhere near Winchester. A bit shit really… As a U.K. taxpayer, I’m curious as to where these back straps are and how much I paid for them!

The magazine is another addition to the Tokyo Marui Glock range, it uses the same ambidextrous design as the Glock 22 and is compatible with previous generations of TM Glock magazine (as long as you use the magazine release in it’s right hand configuration). The only difference between this and the Glock 22 magazine is it’s faux calibre markings, the 17 being marked as 9mm and the 22 being .40 (S&W). The magazines use the same long bolt design of the original Glock 17, this has an added benefit of making them slightly less prone to leaks. Like most Airsoft replicas, it holds more shots than it’s real world counterpart, a respectable 25 as opposed to the 17 rounds in a standard Glock 17 magazine.

Another key point to consider with this pistol (along with many other Tokyo Marui pistols), is that you might struggle to load a completely full magazine into the pistol with the slide forward. Always leave at least one shot out of the magazine to prevent undue stress on the loading catch on the nozzle.

That about does it for the outside, but it’s far from the most interesting part of this new revised design. The internals of Tokyo Marui’s Glock 17 Gen 4 are closely modelled on their previous model, the Glock 19 Gen 3. It shares the same basic design of the Glock 19’s hop unit, although they are slightly different in shape and therefore not cross compatible.

The hop can be adjusted from an open ejection port without taking apart the pistol, but I find it easier to part field-strip the slide and perform most adjustments by looking through the barrel whilst visually inspecting the hop. Once adjusted, I’ve found this new design to be incredibly effective, not only does it appear to hold firm (my Glock 19 hasn’t slipped at all and neither has this Glock 17) but it’s also able to lift far heavier weights than legacy Glocks, which tend to max out at .28 ammo from stock.

Another few elements carried across are the blowback and cylinder parts within the slide, I’ve not stripped these right down but I’d take an educated guess that these will be “the new standard” for Tokyo Marui Glocks.

Everything forward of the nozzle is different, mostly due to the different size between the 17 and 19.

The recoil rod and spring mimics that of the real Gen 4, a dual spring system sits around the enlarged guide rod, with the bushing on the front being noticeably larger than that on the older Gen 3 models, something that is noticeably lacking on the WE version.

The slide stop lever aligns with a metal tab on the slide itself, this design being Tokyo Marui’s new standard when it comes to their GBB Pistols. It prevents undue wear and tear on the slide, something that’s traditionally plagued older Tokyo Marui designs.

The hammer unit within the lower is of a similar design to the Glock 19, but there will be certain parts that may not be cross compatible. The trigger bar is certainly different, and the trigger spring also appears to be of a slightly different design.

How does it perform though? Marui have released a number of incredibly good pistols over the last 5/6 years, with their FNX 45 regarded as best in class when it comes to sheer performance… Well, that’s obviously MY opinion but I challenge you to find a better performing stock, scale pistol.

Does the Glock 17 Gen 4 perform as well as its stablemates? In a word… Yes.

I’ve managed to put this one though it’s paces, both at the home range and also in game. The results are exactly what you’d expect from a modern Tokyo Marui pistol, very good indeed. Inside 15m it’s an absolute nail driver, you can repeatedly put shots through the same hole. I’d go as far as saying that within this range, it’s far more accurate than most people using it. Beyond 25m, it’ll push out to AEG ranges of around 40/50m using .25 or .28 ammo. I tried to push it up to FNX levels of insanity by using .40 ammo, but despite achieving a consistent level of accuracy at up to around 20m, I couldn’t quite get enough hop adjustment to get outdoor ranges. Indoor though, this will shoot .4 weight ammo without a noticeable drop.

The burning question is, Can I recommend it to a friend? Well… I’d probably say no, mostly because It’s boring as shit. I’d steer a friend towards something with a little character, the FNX 45 or the M&P 9 offer similar performance, as does the USP 9 Full Size. There’s also the Glock 19 to consider, which is almost identical in build, has far more options to build a custom model and as mentioned, comes in a smaller package.

However, there are always those who want a Glock 17. The 19 can feel a little awkward to hold in bigger hands and the other pistols are not everyone’s cup of tea, so if you’re only looking for a Glock 17… This in my opinion, is the one to buy.

What about the other Glocks like Umarex or WE? Well, it’d be unfair for me to say that this is without a doubt the best Glock 17 available at the moment as I’ve held the Umarex version and it felt great, but… I’ve not had the chance to shoot it.

I’d suggest that it would suffer where most metal slide Glocks suffer, cold weather reliability. The one thing that drives many people away from Tokyo Marui is it’s biggest asset, they build polymer pistols that generally work all year round.

I will say this about Tokyo Marui, and I know I‘ve said it before… Buy 100 Tokyo Marui pistols and you’d struggle to tell them apart in build quality or performance, buy 100 pistols from any other Airsoft manufacturer, you’ll likely get a few lemons and a few phenomenal performers. Tokyo Marui live and breathe consistency, and that’s a fundamental part of why they’ve outlasted many other manufacturers that dare to call themselves competition.

As for the older “legacy” Tokyo Marui Glock 17s? Much alike the older Beretta models, they should be discarded in favour of the newer models. If you’ve got one, consider replacing it. If you’re on the fence between options for a new pistol, buy the newer variant… It’s simply miles ahead of the older model. Certainly when you look at the price difference, there’s usually less than a tenner between them.

The pistol reviewed was purchased from Eagle 6, who generally keep spares and magazines in stock whenever possible. They also offer fantastic advice and arguably the best after-sales support of any U.K. retailer, however there are a number of Tokyo Marui stockists in the U.K. and generally it makes sense to shop around (unless you have a specific loyalty to one retailer) as there’s sometimes a deal to be had and money to be saved.

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