Who says a backup gun has to be a .380 or .25ACP semi-auto or a snub nose .38 Special revolver? It would be far more advantageous if your backup were the same caliber as your primary sidearm and better still if it were of the same design, just smaller. This is what the Glock 36 brings to the table, a compact .45ACP that perfectly complements the Glock 21 or 21SF. My G21SF has given me a rather unique perspective on the G36, which is a much smaller gun, yet packing 6 + 1 rounds of .45ACP. I have also carried a Smith & Wesson Model 25-2 and a Model 325PD .45ACP revolver. While my general preference for a carry gun is a revolver, my overriding inclination is for the stopping power of a CorBon JHP .45ACP or similar cartridge. The Glock 21SF was the first .45ACP to make me a convert. It is, however, a hefty piece to carry, even in the abridged “short frame” version.
Most people licensed to carry concealed lean toward smaller, more easily handled semi-autos and revolvers such as the ever popular Walther PPK/S .380ACP, the new Ruger LCP .380ACP, and the old standard .38 Special S&W M36, or my personal favorite, the M640 “Carry Comp” that was built by the S&W Custom Shop in 1993. Still, the advantages of both greater capacity and a more powerful cartridge have an irresistible allure and the G36 handily fills this niche.
The G36 is in a unique Glock category, the only model listed under “Sub-compact Slimline.” The Glock Slimline semi-autos cover the entire range of calibers from 9mm to .357 SIG. However, the G36 is noticeably different from the sub-compact G30 chambered in .45ACP. The G30 has a standard 10 + 1 capacity and measures 4.76 inches in height, 6.77 inches in length, 1.27 inches in width and weighs 23.99 ounces empty, with a 3.78-inch barrel length, and a sight radius of 5.95 inches. In comparison, the G36 “Slimline” uses a single stack magazine limited to 6 rounds, and employs Glock’s narrower secure-grip design reducing width to only 1.13 inches. The G36 tips the scale at just 20.11 ounces empty making it not only a narrower but lighter gun to carry. And let’s face it, lighter is better. Interestingly, the line of sight on the G36 is nearly 0.25 of an inch longer, yet height and length are identical to the G30. The difference in width is taken up by the G30’s staggered stack magazine. Thus, to get the smaller grip size and more easily concealed profile you sacrifice 4 rounds. That’s why you always carry a second magazine, which Glock supplies with the G36.
Like all Glocks, the G36 is a striker-fired DAO utilizing the Glock “Safe Action” design. When the slide is cycled, the firing pin is set in a half-cocked “safe” position, and is activated only by the trigger safety release toggle, which disengages the firing pin safety allowing the gun to fire. The safety being built integral with the trigger is especially good if you are in a situation where you are on the move or engaging multiple targets. As soon as your finger is off the trigger the gun is in a safe condition and a third safety interlock prevents the gun from discharging if it is dropped. While some have criticized the Glock’s trigger safety, as opposed to a manually set safety, it is a very deliberate design. The gun only fires if you pull the trigger. No other operation is required to take it from a safe to fire mode. It is also immediately obvious if the gun is cocked. The trigger remains in the rearmost position when not cocked and moves forward when the slide is cycled. It is also easy to see and feel if a round is chambered because the extractor projects out slightly from the slide when a cartridge is loaded. This is an important visual check, as the gun could be cocked and a round not chambered.
The Glock uses a composite frame combined with a metal slide and barrel, both with a durable Tenifer finish. The composite frame on our test model is the OD green version sold only in the US market. This was a standard equipped gun with polymer front and rear sights, the front with a wide post and dot-shaped white contrast insert, the rear with a fixed dovetail sight and clear contrast white inserts. This proved to be a superb combination under all but the lowest lighting conditions. Glock also offers optional steel sights, adjustable rear sights, and luminous night sights.
The optional OD green frame adds a military look to the G36 and a sharp contrast to the durable black Tenifer finished slide. Overall, for a very utilitarian sidearm, it’s a pretty sharp-looking gun.