GLOCKs are among the country’s favorite handguns for self defense because of their simple, reliable operation and uncomplicated manual of arms. Tens of thousands of GLOCKs go to work every day protecting their owners’ homes, vehicles, and selves, so the Austrian gun’s utility is not a well-kept secret.
But different GLOCKs have different characteristics, often due to their chamberings, even though the grip angle, materials, and sights might not vary much between lines. Of all the GLOCKs I’ve shot a lot, I became more fond of some of them than others, and three sidearms float to the top as being my favorites. Here they are:
GLOCK 42 Subcompact Slimline .380 ACP
Some concealed-carry observers discount the .380 ACP as being underpowered for self defense, but .380-chambered handguns and ammunition continue to be among the most popular CCW choices. Consumers like these pistols because many .380s are easy to carry and conceal, and shooters are willing to trade off slightly less power for better portability.
I bought my then-new GLOCK 42, made in Georgia (U.S., not Russia), the year it was introduced, 2014. It was not the company’s first .380 Auto semi-auto. Gaston Glock’s firm introduced the GLOCK 25 in 1995 in Germany for markets where civilian personnel are not allowed to possess handguns featuring military calibers, such as 9mm Luger (9×19 or 9mm Para). And the GLOCK 28, introduced in 1997, is a blowback version of the GLOCK 26.
Why I like it:
- My G42 measures 5.94 inches in length, 4.13 inches in height, and is pretty skinny at 0.94 inch in thickness. The carry gun weighs only 16.6 ounces loaded with one in the chamber and 6-round single-stack magazine capacity (14.0 ounces unloaded). Like a stealth helicopter in Zero Dark Thirty, it can hide.
- The GLOCK 42 has a 3.25-inch barrel length, and I fire two ball ammos and one jacketed hollowpoint through it: Prvi Partizan Ammunition 94-Grain Full Metal Jacket #PPR3.2, Winchester USA 95-grain Full Metal Jacket #USA380VP, and the Hornady Critical Defense #90080, a self-defense round with 90-grain Flex Tip eXpanding bullets. These rounds give me plenty of affordable practice choices, and the Critical Defense is a high-penetration self-defense choice. All are perfectly reliable in my gun.
- With Pearce Grip extensions (PG-42, $10) added to the GLOCK 6-round magazines, I’m able to get three fingers on the grip, even when worn IWB.
- It field-strips the same way as other larger GLOCKs. Easy peasy.
- Like on most of my other pistols, I added a laser, the Viridian Green Laser R5-G42 Reactor, rather than night sights. With Winchester 95-grain FMJs at 10 yards, I can shoot average group sizes of 1.2 inches with the laser, a half-inch better than I can do with the open sights. The margin is much bigger with the Prvi Partizan 94-grain FMJs, with the GLOCK at a laser-aided 1.2 inches compared to open sights at 3.7 inches, and with the Hornadys, it’s 1.7 inches compared to 3.3 with the supplied sights.
- Slide-retraction effort is 15 pounds, which allows my wife to operate the G42. Also, she likes the simplified external controls, with only the magazine release to fuss with. It was one of the first guns she considered for carry.
- Bottom Line: The G42 is small enough to hide well and big enough to shoot well.
GLOCK G21SF-TB .45 ACP
At one point, the GLOCK lover could get a threaded barrel in one of two ways: Replace the existing barrel in your GLOCK with an aftermarket threaded barrel, or buy a new gun with a threaded barrel. The designated “TB” models shipped with a threaded barrel for attaching a suppressor, but they seem to have been discontinued. Pity.
GLOCK makes drop-in threaded barrels (TB) for several pistols. The rifling is the same polygonal type (no lead bullets) as a standard GLOCK barrel. The barrels are made in Austria, so they come with European left-hand thread patterns: 13.5×1 for the G17, G19, and G23 barrels and M16X1LH for the G21 SF. Brownells sells the latter for $168 (100-700-173WB at Brownells.com). TB chamberings include 9mm Luger, .40 Smith & Wesson, and .45 ACP for Gen3 GLOCK 17, GLOCK 19, GLOCK 23, and GLOCK 21 SF models.
The PF2150203TB I owned had minor differences between it and a stock GLOCK 21 .45ACP: a slightly longer overall length (8.25 inches instead of 8.1 inches), an unloaded weight with empty magazine of 30.2 ounces instead of 29.1 ounces, and a longer barrel, 5.2 inches to accommodate the threads compared to the standard 4.61 inches for the factory specification. Also, the G21TB had taller Ameriglo suppressor-height sights. The G21TB is a pretty big package, but it’s smaller than an FN FNX-45 or H&K Mark 23.
Here’s why I like G21SF-TB:
- Adding a suppressor also suppresses the GLOCK’s recoil impulse. It’s a lot of fun to shoot .45 Automatic Colt Pistol rounds with a can, allowing me to control recoil better shot to shot.
- The lack of noise with the can on counts, too.
GLOCK G17 Gen4 MOS 9mm Luger
The 9mm GLOCK G17 Gen4 MOS (Modular Optic System) full-size variant PG1750203MOS comes with a mounting-plate kit consisting of four adapter plates, screws, wrench, and instructions. These adapter plates allow mounting of a reflex red-dot sight from Trijicon (RMR), Leupold (DeltaPoint), Meopta, C-More, Docter, EOTech, and Insight.
Remove a small cover plate just forward of the rear sight to install a plate adapter for your red dot. (Note, the standard sights do not co-witness with the optic.)
Why I like it:
- With Winchester Train ammo firing a 147-grain FMJs in this GLOCK 9mm, I can shoot under 2 inches at 25 yards from a rest, something I can’t do with many other 9mm pistols.
- I did need ramp-up time to acquire the dot because I am more familiar with iron sights, but once acclimated, I found I could shoot faster and more accurately with a reflex sight than iron sights. The G17 Gen4 MOS performs well for me and offers a lot of reflex-sight options that are easy to install.
- It has plenty of firepower for home defense and is easy to shoot well in low light.
That’s why it’s one of my favorite GLOCKs.
To read more about these and other GLOCK pistols, check the links below:
How about you? What do you think are the best GLOCKs? Join in the fun in the comments section below.