Those marvels of Austrian ingenuity, GLOCK pistols, have a well-deserved reputation for arriving ready for concealed carry. No sharp edges abound to be rough on the hands or snag clothing during the draw. GLOCKs slide from the holster, point well, and are ready for immediate action. The GLOCK Safe Action design leaves worries regarding a complicated manual of arms in the dust. Cap that off with sizes and calibers to satisfy every taste, and GLOCK seems destined to maintain their edge.
Few things are dearer to the American heart than .45-caliber handguns. Despite the presence of .36- and .44-caliber handguns during the settling of the West, the .45 Colt is viewed as the decisive caliber from that era. Just in time to take the place of this noble cartridge, the .45 Auto became a force to be reckoned with in the next century. There is something comforting about this large caliber, imbuing a sense of power.
In fact, many a breath was held after GLOCK entered the U. S. market, until the Austrian company announced the introduction of their Model 21 in .45 Auto. Exhaling a sigh of relief, the .45 culture had a polymer wonder to satisfy its desires.
For duty carry by officers, the GLOCK 21 proved a perfect choice, hearty and robust, with the renowned GLOCK reliability. Following Law Enforcement (LE) trends that pushed the GLOCK to the top of the LE realm, as concealed carry rights blossomed, those exercising their rights adopted GLOCKs in droves. However, it was obvious the GLOCK 21 would have a small concealed carry following. The very traits making it so popular for duty carry—hearty and robust—worked against discreet carry.
Never one to be left out in the cold, GLOCK introduced the more compact Models 30 and 36 in .45 Auto with double- and single-stack magazines, respectively. The Model 30 still bore grip dimensions similar to that of the Model 21, frequently difficult for those with average hands. The 36, though thinner due to a single-column magazine, still bore a longer front-to-back grip because of the .45 Auto chambering, which can still be a problem for some.
Both models have fared well with the American concealed carrier, but their frames, sized as they were for the .45 Auto, still leave some carriers and shooters with average and smaller-sized hands wanting. Likewise, many in the LE community hankered for a pistol dimensionally like the immensely popular GLOCK 17/19/26 and 22/23/26, but in the .45 Auto. Of course, the .45 Auto just won’t fit in these more comfortable frames.
MAKE WAY FOR THE .45
Never one to shy away from a challenge, the folks at GLOCK tackled the project with the help of the ballistic wizards at Speer. The resulting cartridge, equaling the ballistic performance of the .45 Auto, was christened the .45 GLOCK Automatic Pistol (G.A.P.). Squeezed into a 9×19/.40 frame, the GLOCK 37 and the .45 G.A.P. answered the LE and civilian concealed carriers’ request for a more-compact .45 pistol.
The full-sized GLOCK 37 was followed by the compact GLOCK 38, and sub-compact GLOCK 39, each chambering a fair number of the new stubby .45s. Initially it was hoped the Models 37, 38, and 39 might be exactly the same size as the corresponding 9×19/.40 models, and regarding the frames that proved true. However, to ensure perfect performance, marginally larger slides became the norm. (17/22 slides are 1.01 inches wide by 0.85-inch high, weighing 18 ounces. GLOCK 37 slides are 1.13 inches wide by 0.88-inch high and weigh 21 ounces.) The .45 G.A.P. pistols incorporate a longer steel locking-block.
One step in building a cartridge to fit in the smaller and handier frame was designing the .45 G.A.P. cartridge to be 0.13-inch shorter than the .45 Auto. This produces a case similar in length to the 9×19 (0.78-inches), but once loaded the G. A. P has an overall length of 1.08 inches, actually shorter than the 9×19. (This last design parameter allows the wide .45 G.A.P. bullet to fit in a shorter grip area.)
AN ALL-NEW CARTRIDGE
Additional changes include a slightly rebated rim on the G.A.P., and modified extractor groove. Inside the case, one finds a wall profile that differs noticeably from the .45 Auto, thus allowing for seating .45 bullets without case wall bulging, and outside the primer pocket is filled with a small pistol primer. (A large pistol primer reportedly caused over-ignition and excessive pressure.) All of this goes to the point that the G.A.P. is an entirely new cartridge case that cannot be safely built from a .45 Auto case! Using the most modern propellants, Speer succeeded in charging this smaller .45 cartridge to equal the .45 Auto ballistically, while keeping pressures near the .45 Auto range.
There is no paucity of loadings available for the .45 G.A.P. GLOCKs. Speer’s initial .45 G.A.P. commercial loadings were 185- and 200-grain Gold Dot premium hollowpoints and the same weights of TMJ bullets in the Speer Lawman line for economical shooting. Under the ATK banner with Speer, Federal Cartridge has introduced 185-grain and 230-grain Hydra-Shok loadings in the Premium Personal Defense line and an economical 185-grain TMJ loading in the American Eagle line.
Winchester and Remington are now loading the .45 G.A.P. cartridge in configurations similar to Speer and Federal. COR-BON stepped in with their 160-grain DPX load, the 165-grain Pow’R Ball, a jacketed soft point, and a 200-grain JHP. This means bullet weights of 160 grains, 165 grains, 185 grains, 200 grains and 230 grains are all available.
.45 GAP PERFORMANCE
The .45 G.A.P. is quite a boon for those of us adhering to the notion that bigger is better! Concealed carriers and Law Enforcement personnel, in and out of uniform, have their wish for new handguns.
From the concealed carriers’ and non-uniformed LE perspective, I found four .45 GLOCKs most appropriate for their needs. The Model 21 has already been excluded, and the Model 37 will probably be as well by those seeking compactness for carry. This leaves us with the Models 30, 36, 38, and 39 for consideration.
This was my first experience with the .45 G.A.P., so I began my examination of the concealed carry candidates with range testing. Trigger-time revealed just what I had heard: the .45 G.A.P. pistols were just as easily handled during all the drills as similar GLOCK models accommodating the .45 Auto. The GLOCK 38 weighs virtually the same as the Model 30, while the same is true of the Models 36 and 39, and the velocities of similar weight bullets are close enough to produce the similar felt recoil in pistols all weighing the same. (Depending on the cartridge, the .45 G.A.P. recoil can feel similar to a .40 pistol.)
Wearing average-sized hands, I found all four offerings fit me well, with the GLOCK 30 on the upper end of comfort for me. That, of course, explains why there is more than one flavor of ice cream—and size of GLOCK—to provide needed variety!
With pistols to fit my hands and those of most others, in my favorite caliber and that of GLOCK’s new offering—which seems destined to offer the .45 Auto a run for its money—I went forth to gather the opinions of other shooters and concealed carriers.
SHOOTING & CARRYING GLOCK .45s
I placed the four GLOCK .45 offerings in the hands of a variety of shooters, and received the expected plethora of preferences. Given a choice of .45 GLOCKs, each one selected their favorite based on how it fit their hands and rode on their waist. Recoil did not seem a factor.
Those finding the .45 Auto pistols a tad largish found the pistols chambered for the .45 G.A.P. just right. Testers that found the .45 Auto pistols fitting them well expressed their appreciation of the trimmer G.A.P pistols. It seems that not only has GLOCK spawned a new caliber in which to chamber their pistols, they have found one that can satisfy the needs of big-bore concealed carriers (and no doubt uniformed officers) while doing so.
Will this be the .45 of the 21st century? Only time will tell, but it seems the .45 G.A.P is making a good run at that distinction!
HOLSTERING GLOCK .45s
As excellent as the size and calibers of the GLOCK .45s make them for concealment, they still miss one thing for concealed carry—a holster! Luckily holster makers, just like users, have flocked to all GLOCK pistols. Finding leather, or non-leather, to tote one’s choice of .45 should be relatively easy.
Toting a handgun—any handgun, including a GLOCK—should be accomplished using a quality holster. Holsters protect handguns from loss, or shifting during carry, ensuring it will be there when one reaches for it. Not only will the handgun be there when needed, but also a well-designed holster will snug a GLOCK .45 against the body, while not impeding a smooth, speedy draw. Regardless of the GLOCK .45 of choice, there should be a holster to allow carrying it comfortably, securely, and inconspicuously.
A quick search of the Internet turned up offerings to carry some of GLOCK’s .45s from Aker, Alessi, Bianchi, Blackhawk Bulman, Blade-Tech, Comp-Tac, DeSantis, Del Fatti, Don Hume, FIST, Fobus, Galco, Gould & Goodrich, Milt Sparks, Safariland, Sidearmor, and Uncle Mikes. There are more, but I stopped searching when it became obvious there was no end to holsters and suppliers.
It seems every commercial holster maker, and those in the custom world, offer one or more styles, to fit one or more of the .45 GLOCK pistols. Their wares are made from horse or cowhide, Kydex or other polymer, or some version of ballistic nylon. Styles include belt models, inside-the-waistband versions, shoulder holsters, and pocket models for the smaller pistols.
I also did a scan of my holster collection, and found a number already on hand, including those wearing the GLOCK brand. (GLOCK has always offered holsters for their pistols.) Not surprisingly, I discovered many holsters specified for 9×19/.40 pistols also fit quite nicely around a GLOCK 36 pistol, with a scant few fitting the marginally enlarged G.A.P. models. (This is, of course, not something most holster makers will announce, nor something one can count on, but if an ample selection of holsters is available, the fit is easily checked.) In addition, holsters for the GLOCK 30 will usually fit the G.A.P. offerings.
Pick a .45 GLOCK, a holster to meet your needs, and ammo from a high-performance source. Outfitted with this, today’s big-bore carrier will be ready to go!