WE G-17

This is a review of the WE-Tech G-17. Now, I don’t know about you, but although the G-17 has no markings or trades, it looks to me an awful lot like a certain type of handgun that also has a “G” and the number 17 in its name. Clearly this isn’t a licensed replica and we all know that the company that make that handgun beginning with “G” are very unhappy about unlicensed replicas of their guns. So, just to be clear, this isn’t sold as a replica of the Generation 3 Glock 17. Even though that’s what it appears to be, OK?

I have been playing around with airsoft pistols for a number of years now, and I recall WE replicas that came out a few years back which had various problems. The WE Luger, for example, was a great looking replica, but mine had a tendency to unexpectedly enter full-auto mode. My WE Browning High-Power was also great to look at, but not so great as a shooter. But back then, WE was a budget manufacturer and I was willing to accept less than stellar quality in exchange for a cheap purchase price. Now, WE seem to have repositioned themselves at the upper end of the market, with prices of some models close to those of TM, but are their new replicas actually any good?  Whatever the G-17 happens to look like, is it fun to shoot? Let’s take a look.

Real steel background

As noted, WE don’t claim that this is a replica of a Glock. But, possibly by an odd coincidence, it looks very similar to the Gen 3 Glock 17. So that’s what I’m going to talk about here. Now, I have already written an article about the development of the Glock (you’ll find a link at the end of this article) so I won’t go into massive detail here.

Original Glock 17 (1982 – 1988)

The Glock 17 was the first handgun designed by Gaston Glock. It was given that name because it was apparently the seventeenth thing that Glock (who had never designed a handgun before) invented and not, as some people supposed, because the original version held seventeen 9mm rounds in its magazine. When it first appeared in 1982, the Glock 17 was a revelation. A handgun that held 17+1 rounds was pretty startling back then, as was the fact that the Glock’s frame and grip were made of reinforced polymer. However, when it was tested by the Austrian army the same year, it also turned out to be as reliable as if it were carved from a block of granite. They purchased 20,000 and suddenly, the whole world seemed to go Glock mad.

Glock 17 Gen 3 (1995 – 2010)

Nearly forty years later, the Glock 17 is still being manufactured and it still looks a lot like the original. Sure, the stippling on the grip has changed over the years, later versions have an accessory rail under the barrel and there are finger grooves on the front of the grip, but the current version is recognizably the same gun. Now, there are so many Glocks in different sizes and calibres that it’s difficult to keep track, but this is where it all started.

The WE G-17

The G-17 is part of the WE G series of airsoft pistols which includes the G-18, G-19, G-26 and so on (there are currently nine different models in this series) which all look a lot like Glocks of the same number. The version reviewed is the G-17 Gen 3, which by an odd coincidence, looks very like the Glock 17 Gen 3. WE also offer the G-17 in Gen 4 and Gen 5 versions. This is a 6mm, blowback airsoft pistol powered by green gas. It has a metal slide, magazine and internal parts and a polymer grip and frame. It has adjustable hop-up and a working trigger safety and, unlike the original, a manual safety which is disguised as a serial number plate under the frame.

Spec:

Calibre: 6mm

Magazine capacity: 24 BBs

Propellant: Green Gas

Barrel length: 110mm (4.33″)

Weight: 770g (1.70lbs)

Overall length: 186mm (7.32″)

Sights: Notch and post, non-adjustable.

Packaging and presentation (2.5/5)

The WE G-17 comes in a card box with an eggbox-style interior. All you get here is the pistol, a single magazine and a brief and not terribly helpful user manual.

Visual accuracy 7/10

This is a very good visual replica of the Gen 3 Glock 17, other than for the absence of appropriate markings. Overall size and shape is correct, all controls are in the appropriate places and the complex shape and stippling on the grip is precisely as it is on the original. Every pin on the original is replicated here and the only noticeable visual difference is that the moulding seam on the centre of the grip and frame is more prominent here and especially noticeable on the front and underside of the trigger guard.

Markings here are very simple and follow the layout of markings on the original. So, on the left side of the slide, for example, this has “17,” “Tactical” and “9×19” where on the original you would see “Glock 17,” “Austria” and “9×19.” On the lower side of the grip this replica has a small WE logo where the original has the Glock logo in the same position. In every place that the original has a marking, you’ll find a marking here but the markings on the G-17 use different text.

Functional accuracy 14/15

The slide and magazine releases and the trigger safety work here as they do on the original and the slide locks back when the last BB is fired.

Disassembly is done as on the original – drop the magazine, pull down the two takedown latches on the front of the frame, move the slide back slightly and then release it forward and it can be removed from the frame.

Once the slide is off, the  captive guide-rod/spring assembly can be compressed to remove it after which the inner/outer barrel assembly can be removed from the slide. The spring guide-rod and the outer barrel are black-painted metal.

Even the trigger action is very close to the original. When the pistol is uncocked, the trigger sits close to the rear of the guard and the trigger safety is almost flush with the trigger. When cocked, the trigger moves forward and the trigger safety projects to the front. The pull has a short, very light initial take-up until it reaches the release point where it takes less than two and a half pounds of pull to fire. The only thing which doesn’t work on this replica is the extractor, which projects slightly when a round is in the chamber on the original.

Shooting 35/45

You can squeeze up to 24 BBs into the fat magazine in the G-17, though I generally go for a couple less to minimise the chances of jamming. You have to hold the follower down as you load the BBs through the wider part of the opening at the bottom of the magazine. Filling with gas happens without drama and virtually without leaks.

Sights are good and accurate to the original, with a thick white “U” shape on the rear sight and a large white dot on the front. The first part of the trigger pull is virtually without resistance until you reach the break point. Then there is virtually no take-up until the striker releases. This is a very light trigger with a pull-weight of less than 2.5lbs to release. The trigger safety works – you cannot pull the trigger until the blade in the centre has been depressed until it’s flush with the main part of the trigger. Should you wish, there is also a manual safety on this replica – it’s the serial number plate under the front of the frame. It’s a little fiddly to use being recessed into the frame and sliding this to the rear applies the safety, but this can only be done when the replica is cocked and it completely locks the trigger.

Power is average with most shots at around 280 – 290 fps using 0.2g BBs. Recoil effect from the metal slide is strong and this is a fairly quiet replica – it shoots with a “crack” rather than a bang. Gas usage is average and I was able to shoot two magazines worth of BBs (around 50 shots) on a single fill before power started to drop. The slide (usually) locks back when the last BB is fired and it releases with a satisfying “clack.”  I did have a few instances where the slide failed to lock back after the last BB, but this was fairly rare.

Accuracy is OK though nothing spectacular. For me, the sights were perfectly aligned for windage at 6m though it does do one thing that I really hate – at 6m, it shoots about 1½” low. That’s with 0.2g BBs and with the hop adjusted as far as possible. It’s not a disaster, and it is consistent, but it is kind of irritating. Groups were generally of the order of 1½” lateral spread and up to 2” vertical spread.

Ten shots, 6m, freestanding with 0.2g BBs.

Overall, this is a perfectly pleasant replica to shoot, though it’s neither spectacularly good nor bad. It does seem to work consistently and reliably even after being left unused for long periods, and that’s something I do appreciate. When I fancy half an hour of airsoft therapy, pointlessly punching holes through card, I don’t want to have to spend time fiddling with the replica first.

Quality and reliability 13/15

I have now shot around 500 BBs through my G-17, and so far it is showing few signs of wear. There is a small loss on paint on the front edge of the upper part of the outer barrel where it engages with the slide, but it’s barely noticeable. Internally, I can’t see any signs of wear even on the slide where it rubs against the frame.

In terms of function, it hasn’t given me any problems at all and the magazine retains gas for weeks at a time. Occasionally, I have noticed that the slide does not lock back after the last BB is fired, but generally it does. This is one of those replicas that you just don’t seem to have to worry about in terms of function – just fill it with gas, stick in a load of BBs and it is good to go, even when it hasn’t been used for (literally) months.

Overall Impression 9/10

This replica has good weight; at 770g, it actually weighs more than an (unloaded) Glock 17. I like that – a replica that is too light is just never going to be convincing, but this one feels weighty and solid. The polymer grip is very robust with no flex or give at all and the slide fits the frame tightly with no rattle if you shake it. The feeling you get when you first pick up a replica is important, and this one just feels good.

It looks good too; the finish is showing virtually no signs of wear or distress and there is a good match between the painted finish on the slide and the polymer frame.

Conclusion

For me, this makes an interesting contrast with some of the earlier WE products I first owned almost twenty years ago. Some of those were decent visual and functional replicas, but they were also rather fragile and not always reliable. In 2008, WE Tactical Training International launched the Advanced Weaponry Simulator System (A.W.S.S.), basically a range of airsoft weapons sufficiently like firearms that they can be used as training tools by military and law enforcement personnel. Given that Glocks are currently the most widely used law enforcement firearms in the world, it’s no surprise that the G series replicas are part of that range and the intention to make something suitable for firearms training really shows.

This looks and feels like a firearm and it functions in precisely the same way as the original even down to the trigger action and pull. Although I have only owned this for just over a year and I haven’t put a vast number of BBs through it, it has always worked flawlessly and I’d guess that this is also due to the AWSS approach. After all, there would be no point in selling something as a training tool if it wasn’t reliable. Most airsofters and collectors won’t be using this for training, but we all benefit from an approach that gives us something that replicates the firearm experience reliably. Overall, I was impressed by this replica. On the basis of my experience with the G-17, it does seem that WE have made the transition from cheap and cheerful towards the quality end of the market.

Of course, I’d like to have seen this as a licensed replica with full markings and you can debate the ethos of using an unlicensed replica. That’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself but I can otherwise heartily recommend this in terms of quality and reliability and as a fun shooter.

Total score: 80.5/100

Pros and cons

Pros

Seems well-made and finished

Good weight and feels solid

Good visual and functional replica

Reliable

Cons

Unlicensed replica lacking trades

Fairly expensive

Just an average shooter

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Classic Handguns: The Glock 17

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