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GLOCK officially introduced the 30S in 2013, but it has existed much longer. The original versions of this pistol were cobbled together by GLOCK enthusiasts who would put the slide from a GLOCK 36 (a single-stack .45) onto the frame of a GLOCK 30 (a double stack .45). The result retained the 10+1 capacity of the GLOCK 30 while shedding weight and slide width. GLOCK eventually recognizing a good thing when it saw it, began producing this mix-and-match pistol as the 30S and had an immediate hit. The 30S provides an outstanding option for those who want to carry a .45, and it does so with more capacity and a lower price than a 1911 . . .
Comparing the 30S to other variants of the model 30, it might seem that the thinner slide is just a gimmick: losing about 3.5 ounces and 1/8 inch off the slide may not seem significant on paper. However, when compared side-by-side with other versions of the GLOCK 30 (which I was able to do when buying) the difference is significant. Sleeker and lighter is the way to go in a gun that will be tucked inside your waistband or hanging off your belt all day.
I’ve had my 30S for the better part of a year now and have carried it frequently. It is is a year-round gun as it is small enough to be a valid option for summer carry, especially with the 9-round magazine. I can carry the pistol and a spare mag all day in reasonable comfort, and it has become my go-to gun for road trips. The holster options are extensive, but I tend to stick to a simple Blackhawk! IWB nylon holster. It just works for me.
Functionally, the 30S is like every other GLOCK: it has the same good, but not great 5.5 pound trigger, same lack of an external safety, same easy takedown, same stock sights (usually the first part to be replaced), and so on as all GLOCKs. If you love GLOCKs, you’ll love it; if you hate them, you’ll hate it. If you’re somewhere in the middle and are looking for a good carry gun in a heavy-hitting caliber, give the 30S a shot.
Out of the box (which is GLOCK’s usual foam-lined, hard-plastic offering) the 30S comes with two 10-round magazines that extend past the bottom of the grip and have a built-in grip extension. The grip itself is that of a Gen3 30SF (short frame), which makes holding a double-stack .45 more manageable for shooters with smaller hands. The 30S also has an accessory rail, so you can stick a light and/or a laser on if you like, though it might stick out past the muzzle. One complaint is that GLOCK’s .45 magazines tend to be stiff and your thumbs may get a workout filling them to capacity, especially at first.
However, GLOCK uniformity has its benefits. In addition to the 10-round magazines that come standard with the various GLOCK 30 models, GLOCK also makes 9-round magazines that sit flush with the bottom of the grip and provide an even smaller profile (these were scarce for a while, but now seem to be readily available). Furthermore, the 13-round magazines made for the full size GLOCK .45 models will fit in the GLOCK 30 models, and aftermarket grip sleeves can be used to provide a full, comfortable grip (13-round magazines not available in states where the Constitution is seen as expendable).
With these magazines you have the capacity of a full-size GLOCK .45 available for your 30S. Compared to their less-capacious brethren, the 13-round magazines significantly increase the profile of the pistol; however, they are only slightly harder to conceal as backup magazines. Also, with a light/laser combo and a 13-round magazine the 30S becomes a very potent home defense pistol.
Like every GLOCK, the 30S is highly customizable. I recommend putting night sights on if you’re going to use it as a carry gun—if you have to face bad guys in the proverbial dark alley a quick and bright sight picture may save your life. Other than that, you can modify it as much or as little as you like, with a cornucopia of aftermarket parts to choose from. One knock on the 30S is that, unlike other GLOCK 30 models, the slide design has prevented easy conversions to other calibers. Instead of simply buying an aftermarket barrel, you’ll need to buy a whole new slide as well.
My first-ever shot with this pistol was dead center, and while I haven’t always shot that well, that isn’t the gun’s fault. For this review I took it to the range with a box of Herter’s 230 grain brass-cased ammo, slapped an 8-inch target on a cardboard box, and took my first three shots from a bench at about 10 yards. They clustered close to each other (see below).
After those, I stood up and took my shots in a variety of ways from 10-12 yards: slow single shots, rapid strings of 4 or 5 shots, double-taps after bringing the gun up from a low ready, and even a few from the bench again. Most of my shots were on the target, and of those that missed, a majority were within an inch or two of its edge. This was not great shooting, but hopefully it will be good enough if it ever matters, and it is consistent with my skill level. The flyers came in two distinct ways: 1. A few high shots while firing rapidly; and 2. Shots that missed down and left while using the 9-round magazine.
In the latter case, I noted that the magazine wasn’t perfectly flush, and that my little finger, as it tried to hang onto the baseplate, was getting pinched, causing me to pull shots in anticipation. I didn’t have this problem with the stock 10-round magazines nor with the 13-round magazines with the grip sleeve, even though they too leave a small gap between the bottom of the grip and the magazine grip extension. Such problems are dependent on hand size and grip, so I can’t make any predictions as to what, if any, difficulties others may have with fingers getting pinched in the gap, except to note that it’s a possibility. However, the problem is not severe enough that I’ll stop using the 9-round magazine when I need the pistol to have a slightly smaller profile.
The recoil is quite manageable for a compact .45. While heavy, it seems to mostly push back up the arm toward the shoulder, thereby reducing muzzle flip. Although a .45 will always be too much for some shooters, the 30S mitigates the recoil very well for a pistol of this size. The recoil spring assembly has been upgraded to a Gen 4 style, which also helps alleviate the kick of shooting .45 from a light pistol. While I prefer the GLOCK Gen4 grip, I find the Gen3 grip of the 30S to be adequate, and for those who wish to modify it, there is no shortage of aftermarket options.
As for reliability, this gun goes bang every time I pull the trigger. I can’t recall a single failure out of the hundreds of rounds I’ve put through it. Whether it’s Herter’s aluminum-cased nylon-jacketed rounds or Blazer brass or Federal Hydrashocks or Hornady critical defense, it eats them all. There might be something out there that won’t cycle in this gun, but I haven’t found it yet.
Overall, this is an excellent pistol that I highly recommend to anyone who wants a compact .45 as their carry piece. With all due respect to the venerable, beautiful, and often very expensive 1911 design, guns like the GLOCK 30S are guns for the people. The 30S provides reliable firepower in a compact, accurate and affordable package that conceals easily and shoots well.
Model: GLOCK 30S
Caliber: .45 Auto
Magazine capacity: 10 (stock), 9 and 13 available
Materials: Stainless steel slide and barrel, polymer frame
Weight empty: 22.95 ounces
Barrel Length: 3.77″
Overall length: 6.96″
Sights: Plastic, Dot in a U
Action: Striker Fired
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Style * * *
It’s a GLOCK. Its style is found in looking exactly like what it is: a good, reliable pistol.
Accuracy * * * * 1/2
It shoots better than I do. It may not have the mechanical accuracy of a custom 1911, but it’s all you’ll need in a $600 carry pistol.
Carry * * * * *
This is about as comfortable as it gets to carry 10+1 in .45, and there are a lot of holster options available.
Ergonomics * * * *
The grip is comfortable (even if I prefer a Gen4 grip) and the recoil is very manageable for such a lightweight .45. Shooters may find that some magazine configurations suit them better than others. It would have been nice had GLOCK included the Gen4 mag release, and the magazine springs are annoyingly stiff as well.
Reliability * * * * *
I don’t think I’ve had a failure yet from this gun. There is no break in period; it works right out of the box.
Customize This * * * * ½
There is a thriving market for GLOCK aftermarket parts and modifications. I’m deducting a half star for the lack of caliber conversion barrels.
OVERALL * * * * 1/2
This is an outstanding self-defense pistol. It’s powerful, accurate, reliable, customizable and affordable. Only a few quibbles keep it from a full 5 stars.