Hype. It’s a word synonymous with 10mm Auto. Developed by Col. Jeff Cooper, carried by Sonny Crockett, known in the firearms fraternity as “the cartridge the FBI couldn’t handle,” 10mm Auto has achieved near mythological status. If everything on the interwebz is to be believed (tip: it’s not) the 10mm auto was so powerful it was putting petite FBI agents on disability. To separate fact from friction [sic], I contacted Glock to get a full-size G20, deep diving into the veiled world of 10mm auto aficionados. First things first . . .
The Glock 20 is a big gun. In its non-short frame (SF) configuration it’s a tenth of an inch wider than a G17 and three tenths of an inch longer. Believe me: you feel every tenth of those inches. At 27.68 ounces the G20 outweighs its somewhat comparable cousin by almost 6 oz. Even without considering the recoil issue, that’s some heavy firepower.
Gen3 Glocks have always felt big in my hands. The G20 is certainly no exception—and then some. That said, with a two-handed grip, the Glock 20 felt comfortable enough for a large framed gun. When I tried it with a one-handed grip I felt as uneasy as a Mormon at the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas.
At first I attributed my enervation to the Glock’s grip size. That wasn’t the whole problem. I’m an aggressive grip texture kind of guy; the Gen3’s somewhat smooth side panels made the big ass G20 feel a bit slippery in my palms. A bit of grip tape and the G20 was GTG (Good to Go).
I won’t bore you by describing the Glock’s design characteristics. By this point I think we can all agree that Gaston’s guns are black, they aren’t known for their looks and they have one of the best stock triggers found in striker fired pistols.
One nice touch to this particular G20: Glock sent it with night sights. I’ve never been a fan of the stock Glock dot-in-¾’s-of-a-box sights. These tritium filled 3-dots fit the bill perfectly; they’re easy to see in the day, easy to see at night and make target acquisition as simple as Forrest Gump.
For my first range trip with the G20 I headed-out to my local sports store and to buy whatever 10mm ammo they had hanging around. I ended up with Remington 180gr FMJ target loads. All my slow fire shots were touching, my rapid fire strings were beautiful and that Glock trigger was as crisp as an autumn morning in the Bridger Mountains.
Hang on. Where was all this battleship-level recoil I’d read about? Why did I feel like I was just shooting a huskier G22? Slightly disappointed, I dutifully shot up the remaining ammo and returned home to do a little research.
Turns out that when the FBI decided they couldn’t handle the full house 10mm loads, they dumbed them down to something called the 10mm lite or 10mm FBI load. Eventually Smith & Wesson realized that they could replicate the ballistics of that load in a smaller cartridge. Thus the .40 S&W revolution was born, effectively relegating the 10mm to historical obscurity.
With the new information in hand I set out looking for some serious 10mm rounds. Slightly more than a week later, my friendly UPS guy brought me a box full of goodies from Double Tap Ammunition. Wanting to get a full spectrum for testing, I procured some 200 gr hard cast and 135 gr JHP to test as defensive loads. I also ordered some 200 gr FMJ target load to compare to a similar offering from Blazer. The table below lists the rounds’ advertised velocity and energy.
|Type||DoubleTap 200 gr WFNGC Hardcast||DoubleTap 135 gr Nosler JHP||DoubleTap 200 gr FMJ||Blazer 200 gr FMJ|
|Velocity at Muzzle||1300 fps||1600 fps||1275 fps||1050 fps|
|Energy at Muzle||750 ft/lbs||767 ft/lbs||722 ft/lbs||490 ft/lbs|
For testing, I fired a five-shot rapid fire strings from 7 yards at a Birchwood Casey Shoot N’ C bullseye target. I went with the 200 gr hardcast and 135 gr hollow points first.
Needless to say, the G20 gun was bucking a bit more with the big boy rounds, evidenced by my throwing a round off target in my first string. The G20’s heavy slide and polymer frame soaked up enough of the recoil to make it comfortable—while retaining enough oomph to let me know I was shooting a very aggressive gun. I needed to work a little to keep the G20 on target, but that’s not what I call “work.”
Shooting the slightly less powerful target/practice ammo, I again managed to throw a round on each of the strings. A little disappointed in my shooting, I tested the viability of the G20 as a duty weapon. I ran the qualification course we use at the Sheriff’s Office utilizing the DoubleTap 200 gr FMJ.
In short, the course requires that a shooter fire 18 rounds and start from 25 yards moving towards the target, utilizing cover, performing two reloads and firing two one handed strings. The results of this test were more than satisfactory. I hit 18 out of 18 for a perfect score. Obviously this would be a very viable and powerful choice for LEOs who can handle such a large handgun.
In the end, I don’t think recoil is what turns people away from a gun like the G20. Contrary to internet lore, the recoil was pretty mild for a cartridge that’s putting up better ballistics than a .357 Magnum. The problem is size.
It takes a relatively large handgun to handle this round; that can be a serious turnoff. I’ve grown more comfortable with the gargantuan G20 as the weather has gotten cooler in the mountains and people have started donning their coats. But this is not the EDC you’re looking for.
As an open carry gun, the G20 has a loyal following among outdoorsmen as a good defensive weapon against all sorts of two and four-legged creatures. So much so that Denmark outfits their Sirius Patrols in Greenland with the G20 to defend against polar bears.
And that, my friends, is where the G20 has found its niche: as an uber-reliable gun that can take any abuse you throw at it while shooting a hard-hitting round that will incapacitate large angry targets in a hurry. The G20 in 10mm isn’t entirely suitable for urban conflict (unless it is), but it’s the perfect hiking companion.
Caliber: 10mm Auto
Barrel Length: 4.60”
Overall Length: 7.59”
Weight: 27.68 oz
Finish: Parkerized Tenifer
Price: $590 MSRP
RATINGS (out of five stars)
One star for anti-style style.
Ergonomics * * *
If you’ve got small hands you’ll think you’re in The Land of the Lost. But the G20’s comfortable to hold and fire.
Reliability * * * * *
It’s a Glock. It ate everything I fed it with unwavering reliability.
Customizable * * * * *
Like its lesser caliber brothers, accessories abound for anything and everything Glock.
Carry * * *
About as concealable at Peter North’s third leg. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a more effective handgun for bear country. So that counts.
Overall Rating * * * *
An excellent defensive handgun suited for nightstand duty and woods carry.