In the beginning, Ghaston Glock only had in mind producing one pistol; the model 17. The enormous success of the gun in the late 80’s, powered by it’s wide acceptance in American police circles, led to tremendous growth of the company on an unprecedented scale.
One of the interesting twists in the road came from the competition circuits of the day. At that time, the “wonder nines” were the dominant gun of choice for many competition shooters and Glock was just the new kid on the block. But it earned it’s place with competitive shooters who were soon calling for an improved “competition” model. The result came to be the Glock 17L–for 17 Longslide.
You can tell that the company did not foresee the tremendous growth yet to come by the nomenclature adopted for this second model. Still stuck in the mindset of only producing one firearm, they settled on calling this version a 17 with a long slide, rather than a new model number altogether. Curiously, the model 18 (a full auto version of the 17) actually preceded the 17L by a couple of years and had been given a new model number. But nothing was consistent in the early days.
What makes this first gen rare is the very short production window between the release of the 17L and the transition to the gen 2 frames. There are only three serial number prefixes known to have been used with first gen Ls; DA, DB, & ED. To make this even more rare, the transition to Gen 2 happened during production of the ED prefix. Gen one frames were affixed to guns up to number 240 (approximately) and the new Gen 2 frames were assigned to numbers thereafter.
A further subset exists even within this model, differing only in the experimental porting of the barrel. It is speculated that about 500-1000 of the first 2500 guns made were given three diagonal cuts in the portion of the barrel beneath the slide port. The cuts allowed gas to exit and force the bore back onto target faster (again, the gun was destined for competition shooting). These ported models were not marked specially on the gun itself so can only be verified authentic by the original labels on the box reading “17LP” rather than just “17L.”
Other improvements for competition included an extended slide release lever, extended mag release button, and a lower weight connector which significantly improves the trigger pull. The long sight radius and full 6″ barrel made this one a killer on the competition circuit–eventually resulting in a rules change to disqualify the gun. Lucky for us, it created a rare collector piece that is often described as the “Holy Grail” of the Glock collection.