Glock: The Ultimate in Combat Handguns?


I have often stated that my most useful handguns are go-anywhere, do-anything types. They will defend the home, save my life when carried on the hip, and are useful as field guns. While steel-frame Government Model .45s and four-inch barrel .357 Magnum revolvers are still useful, the Glock has found a place in the battery.

A Glock is good to have. When I first got into handgunning, a 1911 man might have a Browning Hi-Power as a second favorite pistol. Later, having a CZ 75 was also common. Today, that second gun is likely to be a Glock.

Glock 19 and Glock 17 9mm pistol back-to-back for length comparison
A Glock 19-sized pistol compared to the Glock 17. The Glock 19 is among the best balanced handguns for concealed carry.

Positive Track Record

No matter the skepticism expressed regarding Glock a few decades ago, the Glock’s reputation for reliability isn’t debatable today. The pistols are reliable in every model and rendition. That is a neat trick. Most major makers have had a dud, or two or three.

A few early .40 S&W pistols were less than ‘up to par’ and perhaps submitted for testing too soon. The rimfire Model 44 isn’t as reliable as a centerfire handgun — no surprise. However, the average Glock model is exceptionally reliable.

A couple of Glock’s have been put on the front line in personal defense. I cannot give a higher recommendation. I test a lot of guns, but trust very few. There is a young peace officer who, at times, helps in my testing. He was surprised that all handguns submitted for police testing are not completely reliable.

Tied-up triggers and failures to reset (in one line) dogged Glock’s reputation. Interviewing those who work at indoor shooting ranges, where rental guns are subjected to prodigious amounts of firing, confirm the reliability of the Glock over practically any other handgun. This includes revolvers. There isn’t the one handgun that will fill every role, but a full-size Glock comes close. I have adopted a couple of these models for frequent use.

I don’t want to be arrogant, but I don’t like to give recommendations to non-interested personnel. If they are serious concerning training, that is one thing. Those who don’t understand quality in firearms or spend too much time talking to hobbyist, rather than professionals, will never get it.

Field Stripped Glock 45 9mm semi-auto handgun
All Glock pistols are simple to maintain.

Recommendations

For a beginning shooter who wishes to master a concealed carry/home defense pistol, among the best balanced reliable and useful combinations is the Glock 19 9mm. This handgun is the ideal size for most shooters. Recoil is modest. The Glock design offers less recoil than many. The frame seems to give a little and soak up recoil.

A well-designed recoil spring is another factor. With 16 rounds at the ready, the Glock 19 has a good reserve of ammunition. In common with all Glocks, the pistol is reliable. If you pay more than a Glock 19 (for a polymer-frame striker-fired pistol) be certain the pistol has features worth paying for.

If you pay less, corners have been cut to sell cheaper than the Glock. After all, the Glock is the low-bid police pistol. It is among the most affordable pistols with completely reliability.

TruGlo sights atop a Glock pistol
TruGlo sights are a good addition to the Glock.

Modern Glock pistols feature improved ergonomics and an improved grip texture, as well as grip inserts to allow tailoring the pistol to fit your hand. (Young shooters may not realize grip inserts are a recent innovation in handguns. So is the accessory rail for combat lights.)

Glock sights are well-designed combat sights and may be useful to 25 yards. I prefer night sights, but good work may be done with the factory units. The trigger action doesn’t limit a trained shooter, but it is ideal for most personal defense shooters.

The slide is racked, and the striker is partially prepped. A press of the trigger — 5.5 to 6.0 pounds on most Glock pistols — moves the striker to the rear and breaks the striker against the sear. After firing, the trigger resets with a click.

Glock 17 with a Beretta 92 9mm semi-automatic pistol
Compared to handguns with a double-action first-shot trigger or manual safety, the Glock is much simpler to use well.

The Glock is a true double action. Quite a few striker-fired pistols are, in reality, single-action pistols. I prefer the safety and durability of a double-action-only handgun for personal defense. True safety is between the ears. Keeping your finger off the trigger — until you are ready to fire — solves a surprising number of problems. This is true of every negligent discharge, save the few involving shoving a trigger against a holster strap as you holster the handgun.

We had negligent discharges when the police used revolvers, plenty of them. This was the reason many agencies converted to double-action-only revolvers. We also had combat heeling (when the shooter grasped the revolver too high, and the result was a high shot). By the same token, quite a few shooters, in the beginning of the Glock’s issue in America, ‘limp wristed’ the Glock.

Without a proper, locked wrist hold every self-loader will short cycle. At times, ammunition quality — especially remanufactured loads — was a concern. While we got by with these loads using revolvers, self-loaders demand greater consistency. Another advantage of the Glock is its resistance to the elements. When have you seen corrosion on a Glock handgun?

Modern Glock pistols feature improved magazine release buttons and an improved slide lock. There are more models available. Among the standout Glock 9mm handguns is the Glock 43X. While the Glock 43 is a fine hideout, the 43X is a great shooter.

At 10 yards and a little beyond, I fire the 43X as well as the Glock 19. At longer distances, the larger pistol is more useful. I am glad to have both. I haven’t used Glock’s large-frame handguns as often as the 9mm variants, because the original pistols were too large for my hands.

Glock’s polygonal barrel rifling
Glock’s polygonal-rifled barrels last a long time and provide good accuracy.

The Glock 20 and Glock 21 handguns are simply too much for many hand sizes. Firing the pistol well at the range isn’t always the same as truly controlling the handgun. Glock addressed this issue with the Small Frame-type (SF) handgun.

The grip has been somewhat, but subtly, reimagined. I was late obtaining a SF Glock, and I missed out on a really good pistol. Today, among my favorite carry guns is a Glock 30SF .45. This compact .45 is a hard-hitting pistol that is more accurate than it should be (for the size). Recoil is manageable and the pistol never short cycles — the bane of lightweight 1911 handguns.

I fitted a set of TruGlo sights to the pistol. I did it myself with the aid of a simple sight pusher. Another pistol, and my most recent Glock, is a Glock 41. This is a long slide Glock. It is lighter than a steel-frame .45, but docile in recoil. This pistol features a 12-round magazine.

Loaded Glock magazine resting on a box of Gold Dot 9mm ammunition
Glock magazines are metal covered polymer. They have an impressive reputation for durability.

Of all the .45s in the safe, including several that cost over $2,000, this pistol is as reliable as any and more capable than many in combat firing. Absolute, slow-fire accuracy isn’t in the league with a custom 1911. Then again, it isn’t shabby either.

Final Thoughts

If I were in the position of many administrators in American institutions, I would simply purchase the Glock for general issue. Time and training is precious. The Glock is a simple pistol to train with, allowing concentration on firing rather than manipulating a safety or decock lever. If some personnel wished to carry and qualify with other types, that would be more than acceptable — after they demonstrated an advantage on the firing range.

Most of us have that choice as civilians limited only by budget and training. While the Glock has become the default choice of many shooters, we have a choice to adopt the CZ 75, Beretta 92, or Colt 1911. But don’t knock the Glock, until you’ve tried it. A Glock is good to have.

There’s no shortage of quality handguns for self-defense today, and Glock has its share fans and haters. But where do you place Glock on the list of your favorite ‘combat’ handguns? Which model and caliber do you prefer and why? Share your answers in the Comment section.


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