Glock’s Short & Sweet .45s

GLOCKs are service pistols. Their primary purpose being battle, their…

GLOCKs are service pistols. Their primary purpose being battle, their most important attributes are reliability and durability.

My near-daily carry pistol is the GLOCK 19. It’s had that role since 2001. It’s no tack driver, seldom issuing groups less than three inches from 25 yards. That said it has worked without exception since its purchase.

glock-sf30_detail_1GLOCK 30—The Champ
Noted firearms journalist and trainer Massad Ayoob reported years ago that the GLOCK 30 was the most accurate GLOCK model he’d encountered. In a pair of separate gun tests, I found the same thing.

In the mid-1990s, I had a GLOCK 30 in for testing. After breaking it in, we saw five-shot groups spanning a mere 1 1/4 to 2 inches, depending on the load. What would cause one model of a maker’s handgun much more accuracy than all the rest of the line?

It could be a number of things. This includes a range of variables, like the short format of the GLOCK 30, which makes it more rigid and repeatable.  Add to that the inherent accuracy of the .45 auto cartridge and we may have some clarification on the artistry of the GLOCK 30.

When the GLOCK 36—a short .45 Auto pistol with a single stack magazine—came out, we received one as well as a GLOCK 30 for comparison.  The main difference was that the GLOCK 30 was far more accurate than the GLOCK 36.
You might think the GLOCK 30 fits my hand better but the reach is too long. It’s not a good fit for me. Doing timed trials of first hit from the holster, the GLOCK 36 was more capable than the GLOCK 30.

Here was another GLOCK 30 on target with precision from a compact .45 Auto.

glock37The New .45 G.A.P
A few years back, I received a GLOCK 37 in the then-new .45 G.A.P. caliber for use in several projects.  The gun was used in a GLOCK Transition Instructor Workshop as well as during agency instructor training. For those not familiar with the GLOCK 37, it is a full-size service pistol.

The accuracy was every bit the equal to the G30!  This knocked out my theory about the GLOCK 30’s precision coming from a combination of (1) the short, rigid nature of the compact GLOCK pistol and (2) the inherent accuracy of the .45 Auto cartridge. Here was a gun sharing neither variable with the other gun.

The GLOCK 37 handled like the GLOCK 17, a wonderful service pistol and hit like the GLOCK 21, a .45 Auto. It also had the accuracy of the GLOCK 30. What’s not to like?

In the Instructor Workshop, the GLOCK 37 helped me shoot “possible” (100%) on the Evaluation Course. I took the gun home and did an instructor update with it. During the instructor update, the agency trainer had his carbine instructors shoot the NRA Patrol Rifle Instructor’s qualification course. I used the GLOCK 37 and shot the course, easily making all the time limits and shooting another 100% score. Later, I shot a 90+% score on the FBI Firearms Instructor Bull’s-eye course with the GLOCK 37.

This gun was all the GLOCK 30 had been, plus felt like a GLOCK 17 in my hand.

g21sf-174GLOCK 21SF
I had a GLOCK 21SF in hand shortly after it was announced; I had one shipped out for testing. It had the Picatinny accessory rail and the ambidextrous magazine release button. It was stunning.

It felt good. My near daily carry 9×19 GLOCK 19 measures 6 1/2 inches around the grip circumference. I carried it on and off duty during the last four years of my law-enforcement career. The GLOCK 21SF is exactly 6 1/2 inches around, just like my GLOCK 19.

In the shooting test, the GLOCK 21SF shot like the GLOCK 37, yet held more ammunition. The accuracy was on par with both the GLOCK 30 and GLOCK 37. Firing from 25 yards, using the Outers Pistol Perch, five-shot groups were fired with several different loads.

Hornady 200-grain XTP/JHP produced a 1 3/4 inch group that was nicely rounded and very consistent. The best three gave a 1 1/8 inch cluster, showing little dispersion from the best three to all five. Cor-Bon DPX 185 grain +P was also quite accurate in the earlier gun. The best group was 2 1/2 inches, with three going into 1 3/4 inches.

Black Hills 230 grain JHP +P produced a group of 3 1/4 inches, with three going into 1 3/8 inches. Fiocchi “FMJ JHP” 200 grain ammo gave a 3 1/2-inch performance, with the majority crowding into 2 1/2 inches.

I was quite happy with this performance. A pair of questions remained: (1) Would another GLOCK 21SF shoot as well and (2) would a “Short Frame” GLOCK 30SF shoot as well?

glock4Shooting Tests
A test blending accuracy and ease of shooting accurately was needed. My typical service-pistol handling-test is okay—but when we’re talking accuracy, silhouette targets tend to lead a shooter to shoot at the whole target. This would never do. Shooting classic bull’s-eye courses could tell us little—those games are conducted with expensive, hand-fitted and tuned-for-the-game guns, not working pistols.

FBI’s Firearms Instructor Course has a 30-shot bull’s-eye entry standard shot with issued handguns and ammo. A 90% score has to be fired on the FBI-1P target. The distances are 25 yards.  This for the slow-fire component, and 15 yards, for timed and rapid fire. Two-hands may be used on the gun when shooting as befits the nature of the hardware.

Taking the smaller GLOCK SF first, I fired the slow-fire, 10 rounds in four minutes, 25-yard stage with the GLOCK 30SF. The first round out of a cold barrel went high, still inside the “7” ring. Moving up, I shot two strings of five rounds in 15 seconds—the timed fire stage. Finally, two strings of five rounds in 10 seconds were fired into the FBI bull’s eye target.

FBI personnel usually shoot this course with their issued GLOCK 22 handguns in .40 Auto. I was shooting it with a compact .45 Auto, the GLOCK 30SF. I scored 277 out of 300, a 92.3% score.

The test with the GLOCK 21SF didn’t go so well. The wind picked up and blew my target off part-way through the stage. A later range outing fired cold as with the GLOCK 30SF, yielded a 279. 93% would win no gold medals, but I’d be allowed to stay in the instructor school.

I fired my usual handling test on the FBI-QIT target. A partial FBI “Q” with the bottom third of the “bottle” delineated by a faint line of dashes can be a more demanding target if you restrict yourself to the top 2/3 of the silhouette. I managed to pull a hit out of the head box with the GLOCK 21SF. Having to go a little slower with the GLOCK 30SF—it’s still a very “round” feeling frame for my hands—all the hits were where they needed to be.

Groups fired from a seated rest at 25 yards yielded no real surprises with either gun. Loads that are liked best were used (i.e., Hornady 200 grain XTP, Black Hills 230 and 185 grain JHP and Cor-Bon 185 grain JHP +P and DPX); the tighter groups were in the 1¼-inch to 1 7/8 inch range with the GLOCK 21 SF. With the compact G30 SF, the best groups fired ranged between 1 1/2 inches and 2 inches.

The GLOCK 21 SF fired a solitary group that went over three inches—3 1/2” with Winchester “White Box” FMJ. The G30SF still hasn’t fired that large a group with any load I’ve tried.

Super .45s
The GLOCK 21SF and GLOCK 30SF are clearly outstanding shooters. I’ve carried the GLOCK 21SF concealed but not yet the GLOCK 30SF. I have to say that the GLOCK 21SF conceals just fine and I imagine the GLOCK 30SF will be even better.

While I’m partial to my GLOCK 19, these .45s are pulling at me. I may have to continue to check the accuracy into the future with this pair.

Load Comments
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  • big tex scrawginns

    Im kinda partial to my ol glock 19, and my black powder muskett.

  • Carmen

    Thank you for the extensive information! My son has insisted that I get a handgun for personal protection because I live in a very bad area of town. Not by choice really, my father can’t be alone anymore and refuses to leave the home he shared with my mother for so many years. I have been undecided about which Glock to get. Thanks to this article my mind is made up, I am getting the 30SF.

  • David McCance

    This article really helped me make up my mind about what carry pistol i am going to purchase.

  • Matt

    In the very top picture. Is that G30SF on the left?