Gun Review: GLOCK 36 Single Stack .45
Josh Wayner for TTAG
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Gun Review: GLOCK 36 Single Stack .45
Josh Wayner for TTAG

Hot on the heels of the announcement of the new single-stack slimline G43X and G48, both of which are skinny little 9mm’s, I am going to take the time to do a rewind and look at GLOCK’s first attempt at the single-stack slimline game: the .45 ACP GLOCK 36.

The early generations of GLOCK pistols could never be called attractive. They were introduced when polymer was still a relatively new material in the gun world and as a result they came out looking strange by comparison to what was standard at the time.

The age of wood and steel is far from over, but the age of plastic has certainly been in full swing for some time now and lots of gun owners have grown to like (or at least appreciate) polymer pistols

GLOCK’s first guns were high capacity for the time and established what is now the standard, be it 15 or 17 round magazines. An interesting note is that they were introduced in a Euro-centric world where small bore pistols were the most common in the hands of police and military, 9mm chief among them.

I suspect that Europeans failed to grasp the .45 bore because they are still largely essentially serfs living under the will of their governments and as a result gravitated towards smaller, weaker rounds designed for deterrence and not self-defense. Feudalism has never fully left the spirit of many European states and the most common guns there are developed for use by governments, not individuals. This was the same for GLOCK in the early years.

The .45 round, be it .45 Colt, .45-70, or .45 ACP, has always been synonymous with American exceptionalism and the spirit of adventure. As a result, GLOCK eventually released the G21 with the American market in mind.

They ended up with a what I can only describe as a bulky, thick chunk of steel and polymer that had all the ergonomic properties of a brick. Some people took a liking to it, as 13+1 rounds of .45 ACP is enough to overlook some minor issues.

The later release of the G36 was something new for GLOCK. The gun was a departure from the high-capacities of their prior models and featured a new type of magazine. The single-stack magazines of the GLOCK 36 holds six rounds plus one in the chamber. Two are included in the box with a G36.

Gun Review: GLOCK 36 Single Stack .45
Josh Wayner for TTAG

The significance of the G36 can’t be understated. This was the first in a line of GLOCK pistols that attempted innovation within the constraints of the original GLOCK design. It was thinner than the double stack G21, but as flat as a GLOCK 19, allowing .45 power in a (relatively) small package.

To look at the GLOCK 36 today is to look at a stepping stone design. The gun wastes a large amount of space. It’s far bulkier than it needs to be and isn’t kind on the eyes. The first and most noticeable issue is the grip which, while narrow(er), is exceedingly thick from front to back. That makes it prone to moving in the hand under recoil and the lack of grippy grip texture on the sides makes it somewhat hard to control. And the G36 has the characteristic GLOCK trigger pull that’s frequently described as mushy.

The limited capacity is another issue with the pistol. A 1911 of similar size holds at least another round while being far more comfortable in the hand. Guns like the Smith & Wesson M&P45 Shield (which was introduced have superior ergonomics, grip texture, and magazine capacity for equal size.

A big complaint I have is that the magazine has a large basepad that is necessary for a firm grip on the gun. With the mag removed, you only have a two-finger grip on it and your hand becomes the magwell in the event of a reload. Even a compact 1911 with equal capacity has flush-fitting magazines.

Gun Review: GLOCK 36 Single Stack .45
Josh Wayner for TTAG

The attempt at making a concealed carry .45 ACP pistol was honorable on GLOCK’s part. They took to a market that was already biased and threw down. I can respect that, but the gun we are left with is left wanting in today’s concealed carry market.

My advice to GLOCK — not that they’ve asked — is to issue an updated variant of this concept in the way of the G43 or the new G43X. I’d be surprised if they aren’t already hard at work on just that. The .45 has a large following in the US and an updated gun with the improved Gen5 trigger would sell extremely well.

I fired the G36 over my Oehler 35P chronograph at a distance of five feet from the muzzle. Velocity is the average of ten shots and accuracy is the average of three, five-shot groups at 15 yards.

Buffalo Bore 185gr JHP +P———————1008fps, 2.5”
Buffalo Bore 230gr JHP +P———————-903fps, 3.0”
Buffalo Bore 255gr +P Outdoorsman————875fps, 3.5”
SIG SAUER 230gr V-Crown JHP——————-850fps, 2.75”
SIG SAUER 185gr V-Crown JHP——————–925fps, 2.25”
Hornady American Gunner 185gr JHP———-848fps, 3.0”
Hornady Critical Duty 220gr +P——————950fps, 1.5”
Hornady Custom 200gr XTP +P——————925fps, 3.25”

Overall I found that the G36 was not especially accurate given its intended role. It’s mechanically sound as I had not a single issue with it as far as reliability is concerned, but it just wasn’t an enjoyable gun to shoot.

Like virtually all GLOCK pistols, it’s dependable and will go bang when needed. For a gun that’s meant to be carried a lot and shot a little, that’s okay.

Gun Review: GLOCK 36 Single Stack .45
Josh Wayner for TTAG

The best load tested was the Hornady Critical Duty 220gr +P. It shot to point of aim all the way out to 25 yards, where it again performed well. The high recoil of most of the ammo coupled with the snappy slide movement made rapid shots, even at close range, difficult at best.

For a gun that is almost the same overall size and weight as a GLOCK 19, it offers few of the benefits of its 9mm brother and the features of the gun fall short of what is otherwise available on the market today.

Gun Review: GLOCK 36 Single Stack .45
Josh Wayner for TTAG

Again, if GLOCK were to come out and combine the engineering of the G43 and adapt it to the .45 ACP, including addressing the grip length on the G36, they would have a winner. But so far, there are only 9mm’s so far in the Gen5 line.

Specifications: GLOCK G36

Caliber: .45 ACP
Capacity: 6+1 Rounds
Barrel Length: 3.75”
Overall Length: 7”
Sights: Polymer U-notch
Weight: 22.5oz with empty mag
Street Price: $550

Ratings (out of five stars):

Accuracy * *
I was expecting a bit more from the G36, but I wasn’t to be rewarded the way I had hoped. The only load I got to fire with a reasonable degree of precision was the Hornady Critical Defense, but even that wasn’t exceptional.

Reliability * * * * *
The big redeeming factor of this pistol was that I never had a problem with it as far as reliability. The gun fired everything I put in it.

Ergonomics *
I have never given a gun a one star rating in ergonomics before, but this one takes it. Despite a single stack magazines, the flat, wide grip and narrow profile make the gun feel akin to a 2×4 in the hand and it torques under recoil as a result. The recoil spring is quite stiff by comparison to similar guns, which makes it difficult to operate with cold or slippery hands.

Customize This * * * * *
Another blessing of this pistol is that it has a plethora of aftermarket accessories available for it (think aftermarket trigger and night sights).

Aesthetics * * *
More modern GLOCK pistols border on being aesthetically attractive, much in the same way that some actors and actresses become somehow better looking with time. But this is not that. The flattened pancake look of the gun and the off-putting differences in surface texture won’t turn any heads.

Overall * * *
While it’s not necessarily the most compact .45 out there, the GLOCK 36 is a reliable and sturdy gun for daily CCW use. The general idea behind it is still sound, but is at this point the G36 is significantly outclassed by other .45 ACP pistols in the same genre. You won’t be sorry if you go with a G36, but you may be slightly disappointed upon seeing what else is out there.


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  1. I bought a G36 early on, thinking it would be a lighter replacement for my Colt Officer’s .45. Gave it to my brother when I found I got a blood blister on my pinkie every time I fired it without a Band-Aid on my finger. The first thing I thought getting it out of the box was, WHAT is this dumb mag basepad for ? Why isn’t it like my G19, a longer, full, grip with a normal basepad ? I don’t know what Gaston was thinking.
    It was far thicker than it needed to be as a single-stack. Dumb design.

    • They measure the height of the pistol sans magazine. On paper the pistol sounds more compact than it is in practice. Mine gave me blood blisters every time I speed mag changes. I spoke to a Glock rep about this at SHOT. He said if I couldn’t get it done with 7 rds I probably couldn’t do it at all. I replied, “I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been to a gunfight where I felt like I bought too much ammo.” and walked away. Got rid of the 36 in some long forgotten gun deal.

    • They measure the height of the pistol sans magazine. On paper the pistol sounds more compact than it is in practice. Mine gave me blood blisters every time I did speed mag changes. I spoke to a Glock rep about this at SHOT. He said if I couldn’t get it done with 7 rds I probably couldn’t do it at all. I replied, “I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been to a gunfight where I felt like I brought too much ammo.” and walked away. Got rid of the 36 in some long forgotten gun deal.

  2. The weirdest thing to me is that Glock actually makes the shorter mags for the 30 – they hold 9 rounds instead of 10, but they make it short enough to feel like you’re carrying a thicker G26 with a slightly longer barrel. A G36 with a flush 5 round mag would be really useful to me, but without that I’d rather have a Shield.

  3. Apparently my G36 is a different gun cleverly disguised as a G36. I shoot it frequently and carry it often. It is accurate, dependable, easily conceals and the recoil is quite manageable.

    • Same here. I must have got a bad one.

      It works great. Yes it’s ugly…it’s a Glock

    • Aftermarket items are the key. New Grips, new night sights and a +1 replacement to the mags. You can hold it, sight it and be safe from the Glock pinch. I carried it on duty for two years… no complaints. I don’t have a ton of dollars to buy what I really want so I buy what I need. Makes for an effective CCW that you can trust. If you are looking for beauty… this ain’t it. I use to carry a Dan Wesson .357 Magnum in service for a PD. Now THAT was a boat anchor. After that the Glock 36 is just fine. 🙂

  4. The G36 is the wrong answer. The XD-S is a much better .45 single-stack, and the G30 is a much, much better Glock subcompact .45 pistol. I love my G30, it’s basically all the goodness of a G21 but shrunk down to G19 size.

  5. I don’t like plastic, although if I were going to buy a Glock I would get one of the hi capacity 9mm’s, I don’t like 9mm’s either but a pistol that holds almost a box of shells would be comforting.

  6. I’ve had a G36 since 2012. I’ve added +1 magazine baseplates to the mags, which also gave me a better grip.

    As a carry piece, I prefer it to my G19.

    • I added the mag extension which drastically improved the grip for me. The G36 was my first gun. Not ready to part after 12 years

      • The extensions defeat the purpose of the gun by making the grip longer and far harder to conceal. Do yourself a favor and learn how to ignore your little finger when gripping even with full size pistols. I learned that from Hickok45 way back and it made me a FAR better shooter and I could care less about a longer grip nowadays.

  7. I remember shooting a 36 and being amazed at how much worse it felt than a G19.

    Someone else mentioned the Colt Officers ACP. The officers ACP was similar in size and shot rings around the 36 for me. It just wasnt new, sexy plastic.

    They may build a new version of the 36, or may not. Now that they have the G43X and G48, they may be able to adapt it to 40, which I would prefer to a 36.

    Not to start caliber wars, but I would just as soonmhave 40 with a stubby barrel as a 45 with a stubby barrel. .easier to wrap my hand around the smaller diameter grip.

    I just prefer a 5 inch barrel for 45 acp to get max performance.

  8. Glad to see a review of the G36. It was my winter carry gun in NC, but I’m now a FL resident and it’s just too big a lump to conceal OWB under just a polo or t-shirt. So it’s now a range toy, but one I still like to shoot. I liked it enough to pick up a G30SF frame and make my own FrankenGlock G30s, which also did brief carry duty. Both versions were and still are typically reliable, with the G36 being my favorite due mostly to the narrower shape of the grip.

    Downsides? With a healthy load, it’s LOUD. And yeah, I’ve had my pinky bitten on quick mag changes but not shooting. Since it’s somewhat unique in the Glock world, aftermarket support is more limited than other models. For example, I’d love to fit it with a Tango Down slide stop, but no hope there. And since Glock stopped at Gen3, the future is limited, too, but I’ll still have a place for it in the safe.

  9. I’m a Glock guy but rather than the 36 I ended up going with the 30S -terrific pistol – and for slimmer times the Shield 2.0. S&W did a great job on that platform for the 45

  10. Had a G30S. liked it. Now have a Shield 2.0 45, like it better. It’s thinner, lighter and holds 7+1 the 36 can’t compete.

  11. No, the Shield 2.0 45 is not lighter – it just has a shorter Bbl.

    The G36 is a very accurate and reliable pistol, and a Great CCW weapon.

    With +P ammo, it gives std. pressure/Service Pistol performance – the Shield 2.0 45 does not.

    It is also thinner in the grip than the G19/23 and slab sided, so it carries very comfortably in a thin suede IWB holster, and the beveled muzzle also makes holstering easy.

    Capacity? That’s why they make the thin and easy to carry extra mags.

    Shootability? Less time with a mouse and more time in the world seems to make a big difference.

    in that suede

      • Not to mention, if the Glock 36 does jam, in the 99.9 percent of them that dont, and you have one of the 00.1 percent that does, it clears a jam faster than any gun that I’ve shot. And I’ve shot a LOT of them

  12. Havent shot the G36 but own a XDS and shot a buds Shield. I have one on the way. Both are surprisingly shootable and accurate. I had a G21 and it sucked. I’ve owned numerous G 9mm’s over the years and they are all gone. I just never found the grips comfortable in my hand in the different iterations. I kept regriping and shifting my grip. Not good when milliseconds count. Glocks too proud of their tupperware anyway. I initially drank the koolaide and was a fan boy but not anymore. Too many better options in 45 and 9.

  13. The comment about weighting without the magazine is spot on: the magazines for Glock 36 are unusually heavy. With a magazine inserted, Glock 36 and Shield 45 clock in within 5 grams of each other. But Shield is still heavier by those 5 grams.

    BTW, everyone in this thread seem to forget about Kahr CM45.

  14. I suspect that Europeans failed to grasp the .45 bore because they are still largely essentially serfs living under the will of their governments and as a result gravitated towards smaller, weaker rounds designed for deterrence and not self-defense.

    Or could it be the 9mm Luger round was developed in Europe where .45 ACP is a homegrown American round? Your armchair sociology may have merit, but I suspect more prosaic motives are at work.

  15. The .45 ACP in this pistol just had way too much ass on it. It was accurate, for one shot – but followups were slow and sometimes required readjusting my grip.

    Also the god damned magazine pinched my pinky all the time. Not fun.

  16. Just Bidded on one, might win might not I hope I win really looking forward to getting a G36. Just got the G29 10mm and was wanting a nother carry with a little less recoil

  17. Have a G36. It is not perfect but is a good reliable gun. I don’t seem to have any of the problems the author mentioned, but I know some other folks do, so I count myself lucky. Also have a Shield 45 which is a terrific pistol IMO. I find the G36 easier to manage and am able to shoot it better so it is my carry gun. But if I was stuck with only the Shield I would be just as happy.

    • The problems are from limp-dicking it. Sounds like the dudes that bitch so much about it need to hit the weight room to improve their pathetic forearms

    • Agree. It is mine also. I completely disagree with bad ergonomic ratings. I find it to be very comfortable in my hand, more so than a 1911 or M&P Shield. Have not experienced any recoil or issues getting back on target with the second round. I do have extended grips on my Glock 36 magazines but have not had the skin pinching problem others have had, don’t know why.

  18. I’m just a civilian so I hope and pray that I will never be in a self defense situation where I need more than 1 mag.Most self defense situations I’ve seen or heard about were pretty close quarters, not clear across the room(although I see a lot of that in the movies).
    the 36 is ideal for self defence not as an assault weapon.
    Also, I have never heard anyone complain about being shot with a tupperware gun.This gun is realible and accurate in close quarters and I have never pulled the trigger with a chambered round and the gun not fire because of mechanical failure.The 36 is my cc gun and I find it perfect for that.Real people and most creatures on this planet do not get up and save the world after being shot with a .45 except in the movies of course.

  19. I 100% disagree with this article. I find the grip to be comfortable while I have large hands the grips fits me fine. The accuracy is typical of glock (Its good) As accurate as any of my other Glock pistols. Magazine capacity is not a big issue for me, as the gun is very very accurate and I can reload a gun rather quickly. Out classed by other compact 45’s??? I don’t think so, I have the shield 45 and I do like it, But the Glock 36 fits my hand better. Glock set the standard and most other striker fired guns are following glock example. No Im not a glock fan boy my EDC is a Sig 365 XL,
    The Glock 36 is an excellent CCW weapon

    • I have to agree with you. First of all I like guns not brands (same for cars). I just bought and shot the Glock 36 and I was really impressed with how accurate it is given size and caliber. I made a video from the side view and there is hardly any recoil shooting magtech hard baller range ammo. At 5 yards I was able to hit target very well. I bought 2 different holsters to try and I am comfortable carrying this gun although I have many choices.

  20. I am really enjoying my Glock 48 (currently sporting a 43 threaded slide). The 20/21s are ergonomic nightmares (but still own them), but I just completed a polymer 45 that feels much better (and 50 out the box 100% reliable).
    But what I really want is a 48 style in 45acp. Full grip, single stack and a 3.5 to 5 in slide/barrel. (And black slide…like how black slides came out the week after I bought by 48).
    The 30 just didn’t feel good to me.

  21. Surprisingly accurate and manageable my first time at the range. Have yet to fire stout ammo but gun seems very good for overall weight and size.

  22. Have either worn or carried one (in a Camelback) hiking in Colorado for 20 years. For a .45 it’s light and utterly reliable- added the plus one mag extension and better springs along with a big dot front sight. Stuffed it full of Barnes 230 gr copper hollowpoints.
    Would be in a world of hurt against a brown bear [a friend from Alaska said I should just shoot myself and get it over with] but other than that scenario, could handle pretty much anything else the Rockies could throw at me…

  23. the grip is too big, front to back? .45 GAP get a G39 which is exactly the size of a G26/27

    not enough mag capacity? .40 S&W get a G27 which has 1 round less than a G26 yet hits harder than any full size 5″ 9mm

    remain ignorant of the .45GAP and .40SW and you remain having problems!

  24. WhattheFuss? The Glock 36 is a beautiful gun. I carry it daily. Fits nicely IWB with just a t-shirt. Fits in some jacket pockets. It is small. Sometimes I forget I have it on me. And it is a beauty to shoot. I can drive nails with it at the range. Honestly. All in the black 4-5 inch circle. Basically no recoil. At least not unmanageable. Sure my Smith M&P 45 is more comfortable to shoot as it is a very nice gun but it is much bigger [more of a hassle] than the Glock 36 to carry. So I carry the Glock. Would I rather have a 9mm with a zillion round magazine to spray and pray the neighborhood? Heck no. One well placed .45 round ought end the problem. The guy who wrote this article really did a dis-service to a fine handgun. I love my Glock 36 and am pleased with it in every aspect. Easy to carry. Easy to shoot. Never misfires (shot thousands of rounds through it.)

    • …Let me follow up on my last post regarding the Glock 36 being small… the wife called me up and wanted me to join her and her girl friends out and about. So I go to where they are and find that the joint has security at the door. I raised my arms and they patted me down. They didn’t find anything and passed me through. I walked in the place with two knives and a .45. Ha ha. Yes, the Glock 36 is small. That has happened more than once.

  25. I have a G36 and like pretty much everything about it, and I’m not a Glock fan boy by any means. To me, it feels reminiscent of all Glocks I have shot. They all feel square to me and they all resemble each other in their “boxy”, unattractive appearance. And I’ve never met a Glock trigger that I’ve liked. But that’s just me. And stop comparing it to a damned 9mm, it is not! Fairly accurate, has never jammed on me and is easy to conceal. If you’re whining about recoil, perhaps a .45 of any brand is not for you. Reading opinions and “reviews” online can be more frustrating than actually finding a decent gun, and this article is no different.

  26. It’s been over 10 years since I bought my 1st gen Glock G36 Slimline because at the time it was the smallest .45ACP I could find.

    As far as it’s size I can put the gun & holster in the jacket pocket of my dickies jacket without it hanging out. I find thicker glocks print more than the slimline glocks do.

    I also have the pearce +1 mag extensions so I can have a full 5 fingered grip on it. It does not make a difference in my ability to conceal it. I would not keep it without the +1 extensions it makes that much of a difference.

    I don’t have trouble hanging onto it, probably because it fits & feels great in my hands, with +1 exension. I wear XL Gloves to give an idea of my hand size.

    I found in high humidity, it was a little slippery in my hands, the cure for that was a pachmayr grip sleeve, problem solved.

    I shoot it regulary and have qualified with it the last two times my ccw was up for renewal.

    Accuracy is not a problem with this firearm although it may take some getting used to for some. I like it, it’s my bug to my full size real steel double stack 1911 that I also have no trouble concealing except when it’s damm hot and I switch to a .380 Acp for short wearing weather.

    I put and extended slide release and extended mag release, lasermax recoil spring laser and some better front & rear sites. And no I did not use the laser to qualify.

    It’s the only plastic fantastic firearm I own, I prefer real steel firearms. But This one does what I bought it for.

  27. I have a Glock 36 that was worked for grip size and texture. It made the pinky pinch and shot-to-shot grip slip disappear.

    I carry three mags with the 36 full up and one mag is an extended +1 version with Pearce extension. I plan to get another extension making my carry total of 21 rounds with two mag changes.

    The 36 is reliable and accurate enough for self defense…. not for the Camp Perry matches.
    I carry IWB or OWB with the holster between the belt and trouser band. The gun hides well for me under winter clothing and a Hawaiian shirt ans shorts for summer.
    The choice made for the 36 was that it was a .45acp and a single stack for carry.

    I do carry a full size 1911 during the cooler months but the G36 and the G26 are better for me during the warmer months.

  28. I bought my Glock 36 in 2001(DTH 194). I am casual shooter with small hands. I agree with your evaluation but I like my gun. It has never jammed on me and the mag is the easiest of my Glocks to reload. It is comfortable to shoot and it’s ugly. I also like my Glock 26 which I bought in 1996. It to is homely but it can cook.

  29. Stumbled across this old G36 review just a day after pulling out one of my two old G36’s from the safe and heading to the range with it. These were my EDC pistols back in the day, but I’ve moved on to the whiz kid 9mm’s for carry. The first couple emptied mags reminded me why I liked this gun so much years ago, and it really comes down to one unique feature, the grip shape. The G36’s long, relatively narrow grip fits my hands perfectly and gives me feedback as to the gun’s orientation even before bringing it up into site height.

    As a result, I can bring the gun onto target faster than those with more rounded (I.E., double stack) grips. The backstrap to trigger distance puts my finger in perfect position for a straight-back squeeze. And a bonus – it’s easier to keep my thumb off the side stop, so the slide always locks back after the last round. I’ve found that I’m just as accurate and nearly as fast compared to the G19. The bangs just stop a lot sooner.

    Yes, mag changes are a PITA. I trained to rotate the gun slightly in my hand when hitting the mag release, and imagining I’m holding a tea cup with pinky out when bringing the new mag up and in. The gun doesn’t feel very secure during this process and forgetting where your pinky is can result in a painful pinch. BTW, I don’t get the dreaded mag pinch while shooting – just lucky, I guess.

    As for ugly, who cares? Glocks are shooting tools, not BBQ guns. Function dictates form here.

    So that’s why the G36, essentially the orphan of the Glock world, can still put a smile on my face. It might also have to do with that non-snappy, push-punch of the .45. The technically superior G19 just can’t produce the tactile satisfaction of the G36 delivering a round.

    • Have carried my G36 for 10+ years with no issues…… Fits my hand well, recoil quite manageable for a subcompact, accurate, and have never had a reliability issue after 1,000 rounds of FMJ or JHP from the major brand ammos…… I did get a trigger job done and added night sights. And it’s a.45. No complaints overall….

    • Spam much? Have you got nothing better to do than spam a gun blog? You really should do some life evaluations…if THIS is what your life has amounted to today, perhaps it is time to change course and begin practicing the things that will produce a better tomorrow.

  30. I’ve carried a G36 since its first issue.
    It has always been accurate and reliable through thousands of rounds on the range.
    And … the 45 ACP is superior to the 9x19mm.
    I am puzzeled why the gun world drank the 9mm Kool-Aid and settled for it.
    Maybe one day the world will wake up.

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