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Five of the Best Glocks (Picked by an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor)

We had an NRA-approved gun expert rate Glock’s top five handguns. We expect this to be controversial, but this is what he came up with anyhow.

Glock 19. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

“Five of the Best Glocks”

Given that I’ve written three pieces in the past few weeks about specific Glock semiautomatic pistols—the Glock 17 9mm, the Glock 26 9mm, and the Glock 21SF.45 ACP—ranking the five best Glock pistols seemed like a natural next step for my editor; writing about it was a lot of fun.

In the G17, things first got going. (And I can “begin to know” in a different way than Neil Diamond.) The pistol was Austrian inventor Gaston Glock’s first firearm, even though Polymer 2 was the subject of his seventeenth invention (thus the designation 17; the typical magazine capacity of 17 rounds is only a pleasant coincidence). Since the G17 has withstood (1) infamously brutal physical torture tests by the Austrian Army and the Miami PD and (2) vicious verbal smear campaigns by political mouthpieces like Chuck Schumer, it has earned an unrivalled reputation for reliability and long-term durability among law enforcement, the military, and private citizen gun enthusiasts. Among other things, the late great Chuck Taylor shot almost ten thousand rounds through his G17 without ever cleaning it, and it never jammed… The handgun continued to fire reliably and accurately even after being used for 250,000 rounds.

Therefore, if the Ruger GP-100.357 Magnum is the Timex of double-action revolvers, then the Glock 17 could be considered the Timex of auto pistols. The old saying goes, “keeps on ticking no matter what life throws at it.”

Neither the organisation nor the people I just described have put nearly as many rounds through their Glock 17s as through the surplus Gen2 I acquired in 2003 for $400. After 19 years and perhaps around 20,000 rounds, I am pleased with her precision, dependability, and ease of use. I released this short frame (not a slim frame, as some have erroneously interpreted the abbreviation)  in 2007 after many shooters praised it. The 45-calibre big-bore offering of the original Glock 21 in 1990 complained about the massive bulk of the original. It is a prime example of Glock’s willingness and ability to listen to its customers’ feedback, needs, and concerns.

Despite its size, the Gen3 G21SF is a blast to fire; I’d go so far as to call it the most accurate handgun in my entire “Orr-arsenal of Democracy,” and it helped me win (1) multiple gold and silver medals at the Nevada Police & Fire Games (NPAF) between 2008 and 2010, and (2) First Prize at the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) Indoor Pistol Match at LAX Firing Range in Inglewood, California, in 2009. My friend Lou Chiodo, a former USMC officer and retired CHP officer now the President of Gunfighters Ltd. in Chula Vista, California, put it this way: “The 21 is a great driver if we do our part.”

I’ve fired roughly 20,000 rounds through my Glock 17 and Glock 21SF.

The G26 was the first subcompact Glock, even smaller than the 9mm G19 and the.40 S&W G23. In 1995, when this firearm first appeared, it caused quite a stir.

Whilst I want to purchase a G19 in the future, I must admit that the G26’s increased stealthiness has nudged it into my top five handguns. As a backup to the SIG P229 DAK.40 S&W, I was issued as an ICE Special Agent, and I purchased my own Gen3 model in August 2010. Despite its small size, the gun is surprisingly accurate, enjoyable to shoot, reliable, and quite stealthy for concealed carry purposes, which would normally be a disadvantage in practical accuracy and shooting comfort. Over 10,000 rounds have been put into this baby.

Instead of resting on their laurels after the success of the Glock 26, Glock decided to apply the “baby Glock” concept to the—45 ACP chambering of the Glock 36. Despite the pistol’s low capacity of 6+1 rounds, it is superior to a J-frame Smith & Wesson snub-nose revolver, which only stores 5. The Glock 36’s flatter profile means the pistol won’t press into your hip bone like the cylinders on small wheel guns, making it easier to shoot correctly and more pleasant to use than a stuffy revolver for extended periods. It allows for quicker reloads as well. From 2002 until 2005, I carried a Gen3 G36 before upgrading to a different handgun. This compact (model 45) was always accurate and reliable in my hands. Over four thousand shots were fired before I parted ways with her.

Come on. I had to pick the proverbial “black sheep” of the family, the unconventional member. The Glock 38 is neither a.38 Super nor a.38 Special, the second pistol to be released.45 GAP (Glock Automatic Pistol) calibre is sized somewhere between the full-size G37 and the subcompact “baby” G39; in this regard, it is similar to the G19, which bridges the gap between the G17 and the G26 in the 9mm lineup.

The.45 GAP was designed to combine the advantages of the.45 ACP’s large bore with the 9 mm compact dimensions using a shorter cartridge case. “The biggest difference between the.45 GAP and the.45 ACP is the size of the casing,” states the website. The Glock’s casing is tougher to withstand the extra weight, but it is also shorter than the Auto’s by more than an eighth of an inch. The smaller cartridge can match or outperform the 45 ACP since it can load at higher pressure.

Although five different state law enforcement agencies adopted the cartridge after its 2003 debut and ammunition in the calibre is still being produced, it never took off with the private civilian market to the extent that it could be deemed “mainstream,” hence the ammo is pretty darn pricey. It’s a damn shame because I enjoy carrying and shooting my G38, which has a regular capacity of 8 rounds. Despite the additional oomph from the higher operating pressures, my Gen3 Glock 38 served me admirably for home defence, concealed carry, and even a few IDPA-style matches over two years after I bought it in 2005. It was comfortable, discreet, reliable, and accurate enough for all three purposes.

Why did I not include other single-stack Glock models like the Glock 42? 380 ACP or the Glock 43 in 9mm. It’s because I haven’t had a chance to shoot them yet and, thus, can’t give you a fair and accurate review. Sooner or later, I’ll have to take them to a shooting range and give them a whirl, right?

Although Glocks like the G22 and G23 in.40 S&W calibre are perfectly fine firearms, I have heard too many stories about how these models are more prone to the dreaded “Kabooms” than Glocks in other calibres. And this is in sharp contrast to the G-17’s famous longevity and endurance. Despite the.40 S&W round’s greater recoil, muzzle flip, and muzzle blast, as well as its higher operating pressures, there is no discernible improvement in terminal ballistic performance in actual combat compared to the 9mm and.45 ACP, both of which have greater intrinsic accuracy than the so-called.40 Short & Weak.

So, fellow Glock enthusiasts, do you agree with my picks or have your own? Tell us why in the feedback section. The Glock haters among you are welcome to share their thoughts, but as the saying goes, “Haters are going to hate.”

Glock 19X and Glock 44 side by side. Image Credit: 19FortyFive Original Image.

Image of a Glock 17 gun. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Image of a Glock 17 gun. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Glock 44. Image Credit: 19FortyFive Original Image.

Glock 45. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

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