August 29, 2011

Glock G21 SF 45 ACP

Gun Tests took a look at polymer handguns that offer higher round capacity but take up less space than full-size models. One such gun was the $637 Glock G21 SF 45 ACP, a remodeling of the Glock 21. The staff’s initial impression was that the SF21 did not seem to be much smaller. The magazine wanted to find out if any of its subtle streamlining added up to a better pistol than the original.

They established basic accuracy for the pistol by measuring five-shot groups fired from a rest at 15 yards. The test ammunition consisted of a typical practice round, Winchester’s 230-grain FMJ Q4170 load and two hollowpoint defense rounds. The JHP rounds were Winchester’s USA45JHP ammunition and the Hornady Custom 185-grain JHP/XTP No. 9090 load. In terms of accuracy the gun exceeded their expectations.

They also put the guns through an action-shooting test in which the operator pressed the trigger as fast as he could after confirming an acceptable sight picture. For this test, the Gun Tests team visited American Shooting Centers in Houston ( There, they posted a Hoffners ABC16 target at the 7-yard line. This target measured a full 35 inches tall by 23 inches wide with six 3-inch aiming circles on each side of a humanoid silhouette. They fired 10 three-shot strings at the silhouette for a total of 30 rounds. The first two shots were aimed at the 5.5-by-8.0-inch A-zone chest area. The third shot was aimed at the B-zone, represented by a 5-inch-diameter half circle in the head. Firing from the bench at a 1.5-inch bull and unsupported at the Hoffners target were simple but revealing tests. Here is what they learned about the Glock.

Gun Tests June 2007

This is an improvement on the Model 21, but it is still a big gun with little potential for concealed carry.

As soon as they opened the case, they wondered what was different or special about the G21 SF. The barrel length was the same as the standard G21. So was the height. It had a great rail with no less than four cross hatches. But that’s not unique to the SF either. They called Glock to find out how the two guns differed, and here is what the gunmaker said:

The trigger housing was changed and an ambidextrous magazine release was installed. Magazines were held in place by a notch on the front face of the magazine. (The steel inner liner of the magazines could be seen through the inlet. Original G21 magazines cannot be retrofit to the SF, but SF magazines will fit older Model 21 pistols). Above all, the backstrap was shortened by about 0.10 inch to make it easier for smaller hands to reach the trigger. Sure enough, in the August 2005 issue of Gun Tests the trigger span was measured to be 3.0 inches. The new model SF registered a 2.9-inch span, which brought it closer to our other test guns that measured about 2.8 from the bow of the trigger straight back.

Gun Tests June 2007

Unlocking the slide from the frame required that the latches be pulled down while the slide was shifted slightly to the rear. There were no locking pins to get lost, and reassembly was as easy as sliding the top end into place.

The testers said that the G21 SF still had a flat, boxy feeling across the weak side grip, but the SF was nevertheless more pleasant to handle. In fact, they thought the SF did the best job of handling recoil, especially when firing the 230-grain FMJ rounds that produced the most felt recoil.

The Glock test gun was a striker-fired pistols with polymer frames. The Glock pistol had a smooth progressive feel. They said they never got to the point in their press where they felt it was taking too long to break.

The sights consisted of a white outlined notch in the rear unit, which was dovetailed into place. The front sight was pinned into the slide and displayed a large white dot.

In terms of field stripping, the latch was a pull-down design that needed to be gripped from both sides. With the Glock, clearing the weapon was critical. They recommended visually checking the chamber at least twice on any semiauto because when a magazine is removed, the top round in the magazine can be dislodged. Seeing a round fall away from the gun can fool the shooter into leaving the chamber loaded.

Once cleared, the slide of the Glock is released into battery position, and the trigger is pressed. The slide is then shifted to the rear just far enough to allow the latch to drop. No more than a tenth of an inch is necessary. The beauty of the Glock design, they said, is that no extra parts fall away, and replacing the slide is as simple as reapplying it to the frame.

Gun Tests June 2007

The addition of a right-side magazine release required that a groove be cut into the front of the magazine body. Magazines supplied with the Glock 21 SF will fit standard Glock 21 pistols, but the old magazine will not work in the new model.

At the bench they were careful to never put the G21 SF down without unloading it first. One of the staffers said they prefer to carry a gun with a safety or, at least a decocker.

The Glock 21 SF was just a hair behind other pistols in the magazine’s accuracy tests. Overall average for five shots was about 1.1 inches across. But when firing the Hornady 185-grain JHP rounds, the SF was a close second with all but one group breaking the 1-inch barrier. In the action test, the Glock scored the highest. The GT shooters put 19/20 hits inside the A-zone, and 7/10 in the smaller B-zone.

The Gun Tests report card said: “No question this is an improvement on the G21. Better handling, but still a big gun with little potential for concealed carry." The test team thought the best market for the new gun would be police, who would trade in their G21s for the improved SF model.

Comments (28)

I was in the market for a .45 so I went to look at the Glock 21 SF. It was still large for my hand, and I went away with a Springfield XD in .45, because it just felt better in my hand. I have a 17,22,23, and 27 so it's not as though I don't care for Glocks, just the .45 was too large for my hand. Think I'll try one in .45 GAP for comparison.

Posted by: Captain Kevlar | December 22, 2011 6:43 PM    Report this comment

I heard of an instance where a protrusion on a certain makers holster caught the trigger caused a discharge of Glock. The holsters were recalled for that. I was witness to discharge of a woman who put her finger in the trigger guard as she was drawing the weapon, and started to move pistol toward the target before she actually cleared leather "Bang". She ventilated her thigh. It was a Glock, but again not the guns fault.

Posted by: Swede62 | September 8, 2011 4:40 AM    Report this comment

frankgon4, I know about revolvers, both single action and double action, I carried one on and off duty for years, I have also carried simi autos. I have also had malfuction in both, because they are a tool. I don't know your back ground, but if you have ever picked up a circurale saw or drill and when you let off the trigger and it just kept on running, because of a malfuction in the trigger mecanisim you would understand that things happen, even when you follow every safty rule there is, and glock, smith and wessen, ruger and all the rest can malfuction at any time or any place. That is why I have total respect for them. As a matter of fact I know it happened because I know the officer it happened to, and they even had a news artical on tv about a officer that is an instructor have a glock go off when he holstered it an shot him in the foot in front of a class of school kids, and in the close ups his finger was not near the trigger. I have even had rifles malfuction and go off when you closed the bolt. So common sence is the best safty I know Also bad ammo can cause problems also.
God Bless America and Our Troops Past Present and Future.
Keeping to My Oath Locked Loaded and Keeping My Powder Dry.
Get the US Out of the UN and the UN Out of the US

Posted by: bear1 | September 6, 2011 8:48 PM    Report this comment

Bear 1, You know revolvers were in use for over 60 years by police and revolvers don't have a safety or built in safety. Something sounds fishy with the story being told that the Glock just went off on it's own. You have to pull the trigger for a Glock to go off.

Posted by: frankgon4 | September 6, 2011 7:23 PM    Report this comment

I have thought long and hard about the Glock. But after trying quite a few in my hand, they just didn't feel right and seemed just to lite for me, and after my brother telling me that one of the police officers that had an issued glock and issued holster from the department, got into his cruser and just sat down and it went off and put a hole where it wasn't supost to be, and right after that the department went with somthing else for duty weapons, by the way the officer was following all the safty rules. Don't get me wrong I just haven't found a glock that I like, but who knows maybe some day, until then, I stick to my Llamas, or High standard 1911, even though they don't have large capasity mags, 7 rounds and extra mags seem to do what I need to do.
Good Bless America and Our Troops Past, Present, and Future.
Keeping to My Oath Locked Loaded and Keeping My Powder Dry.
Get the US Out of the UN and the UN Out of the US.

Posted by: bear1 | September 6, 2011 7:02 PM    Report this comment

I recently bought a G21SF I have found it to be great,shoots as accurate as any firearm I have shot, wouldn't trade it for any gun on the market. Wouldn,t buy anything but Glocks.

September 3, 2011

Posted by: bigbilly | September 3, 2011 2:57 PM    Report this comment

I must be getting somewhat stodgy as I negotiate the first year of my 8th decade, but I just don't understand all of the rub concerning the so-called lack of safety devices on the Glocks. I have always been under the impression that the best safety device for any firearm is found in the gray matter between our ears. That gray matter, in concert with the trigger finger, that is supposed to stay off of the trigger, until we have a target at which we intend to fire, constitute the best safety features of any firearm. Glock's so-called Safe Action Trigger requires a conscious rearward pull to complete the cocking action of the striker, much as the so-called double action trigger of revolvers and many pistols is required to cock the hammer or striker. If one is so damned concerned with their own inability to safely handle and use firearms, it may be that they should not own or use them.

Posted by: canovack | September 3, 2011 12:07 PM    Report this comment

I think it's pretty much all been said above but I'll add my 2 cents. Never thought I liked Glocks until I was issued a G22 for duty carry. The love affair began. Bought a G27 for everyday carry and won a G21 in an IDPA match. I bought the 22 when we converted to the 21SF and I still have all of the above. The 21SF in my humble opinion is the cream of the crop. Would go so far as to say the best shooting gun Glock has every made. Never fails me, is accurate and a pleasure to handle and shoot. As for an external safety, my finger acts as the safety. I keep it off the trigger until I'm ready and willing to stop a challenge.

Posted by: rexg | September 3, 2011 9:25 AM    Report this comment

I think it's pretty much all been said above but I'll add my 2 cents. Never thought I liked Glocks until I was issued a G22 for duty carry. The love affair began. Bought a G27 for everyday carry and won a G21 in an IDPA match. I bought the 22 when we converted to the 21SF and I still have all of the above. The 21SF in my humble opinion is the cream of the crop. Would go so far as to say the best shooting gun Glock has every made. Never fails me, is accurate and a pleasure to handle and shoot. As for an external safety, my finger acts as the safety. I keep it off the trigger until I'm ready and willing to stop a challenge.

Posted by: rexg | September 3, 2011 9:24 AM    Report this comment

Well, Setters4life, those of us who regularly post in this forum are all pretty well aware of the extravagance in purchasing more firearms. If you don't know why you'd need another, you are obviously fighting some infection of the disease called practical frugality. The cure for that is to go out and buy the gun for which you may lust.

Posted by: canovack | September 2, 2011 1:59 PM    Report this comment

I still don't understand why everyone laments the Glock for its "lack of safety features?" It's a combat pistol. It's no more dangerous than any other handgun. I was hesitant to buy a Glock years ago. I thought they were silly and ugly looking. I came to like them over time. I still like my 1911's, but the G21 has a place in my safe. I had a first generation USP45 years ago, purchased after my G21. I still have the G21 after 17 years, but sold the USP45 some years ago. The USP was a well engineered pistol, but I liked the Glock better. Go figure. The SF looks nice. Don't know why I'd need another though.

Posted by: Setters4life | September 2, 2011 12:24 PM    Report this comment

I wanted a .45 that was a little smaller so I purchased Glock 30SF and it worked out great for concealment.Pull the trigger and it always works....Glocks are great.

Posted by: mariano | September 2, 2011 9:28 AM    Report this comment

I have had a 21SF for about 2 years now, and love it. To test Glocks reliability I ran some corroded brass case, aluminum case, and steel case ammo in six mags. I did this as fast as I could fire and reload. NOT "1" malfunction!!! Gotta LOVE that. It isn't my first Glock though. I been sold on them for many years.

Posted by: Swede62 | September 2, 2011 3:06 AM    Report this comment

The 21SF is on my short list of Glocks to own. I carry a full size Glock 31 with extra mags and have never had any trouble carrying it concealed. I've never had an issue with my Glock, so I'll buy the 21SF with confidence.

Posted by: Mr.357Sig | September 1, 2011 11:43 PM    Report this comment

Teh only two pistols on the market currently that are definitely a straighter grip angle are the XD and the M&P, but even they are not that much less than the rest..

Posted by: dmcdonnell | September 1, 2011 8:20 PM    Report this comment

Teh only two pistols on the market currently that are definitely a straighter grip angle are the XD and the M&P, but even they are not that much less than the rest..

Posted by: dmcdonnell | September 1, 2011 8:04 PM    Report this comment

OK dmcdonnell, I'll concede that terminology may be the problem in discussing this issue. Like you I have owned a plethora of handguns, rifles, and shotguns.....and even some pieces that don't fit those three categories. I have been carrying concealed since I was 21, some 50 years ago, and if something doesn't feel right, I'm not likely to try to adapt my hand to its' odd feeling. One of the things that we have been hearing for decades is how wonderful the grip of the P-08 feels in the hand, and how natural a pointer the old Luger is because of it. For me, it just doesn't wash. While I have a few Lugers in my collection, I enjoy shooting them because of their weird toggle action, but I don't care for the "wonderful grip" at all. Like you, I have laid pistols side by side and came away from that comparison with the question: "Why does one feel so good in the hand, while the other doesn't"? Despite our efforts to quantify our evaluations there are just some things that remain subjective qualifiers.

Posted by: canovack | September 1, 2011 7:31 PM    Report this comment

@canovack, My point is though, you always hear guys talk about the WONDERFUL grip angle of the 1911... Its the greatest thing ever.. and you hear the same guys saying how the Glock grip angle sucks, yada yada... etc. I am not saying this about you, your post just caught my eye because I am tired of hearing it.. I have 1911s and glocks, and rugers, and smiths, etc., and when it comes to grip angle, there is virtually NO difference between the angler of the glock and the angle of the 1911, yet thats all you her from people.. and i am talking everyone from my next door neighbor, to guys who are giants in the shooting, tactical, and LE training world.. It gets tiresome hearing it, when all you have to do is lay them on top of each other and its obvious they are the same. You are right, that its a personal thing, and if the grip does not work for someone, then so be it, but the argument about grip ANGLE is arguably incorrect.. I would more easily buy the argument of feel, thickness, blocky, all of which are defensible arguments.

Posted by: dmcdonnell | September 1, 2011 6:32 PM    Report this comment

I am new to Glocks. Purchased 2 of them this year. I am more of a revolver fan, but do realize that pistols today are much better. I do have a SIG and 1911. Glocks work like revolvers - keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot and don't point it at anything you are not willing to shoot. The feeding system on my Glocks is far superior to my Sig P239 or my 1911.

Posted by: frankgon4 | September 1, 2011 5:48 PM    Report this comment

I bought the 21 SF when it became available. I owned the old 21 years ago and it fit my hand fine. The SF fits like a glove. I put night sights on it and a Streamlight TL3 laser/light module on the Picatinny rail. It sits next to my bed. I have shot the SF enough to know it is capable of excellent accuracy and the only firearm more reliable is the infamous AKM. I would gladly take my SF to hell and back because it won't stop until I run our of ammo.

Posted by: sivispace | September 1, 2011 1:03 PM    Report this comment

Until one has actually found that the so-called "myth" of the problem with the Glock grip angle applies to them, it isn't likely that this problem will be accepted as fact. Not all hands are shaped the same, so until one personally experiences the problem, in their opinion, it will likely not exist.

Posted by: canovack | September 1, 2011 12:51 PM    Report this comment

One of the thigs I tire of very quickly is the myth of the Glock grip angle. I have a Kimber Raptor Pro, and if you lay the guns on top of each other, the GRIP ANGLE is the SAME... but I have heard BIG names in the industry say this and its simply NOT true..e

Posted by: dmcdonnell | September 1, 2011 12:28 PM    Report this comment

I'm a cattle rancher in Oklahoma, and I've carried a Gen 1 Glock 21 in my ranch truck for many years. No, it's not pretty. Yes, it's big and boxy. But it's indestructible, ALWAYS works, and .45 ACP will stop anything I'm going to run into (including cougars) in its tracks. I carry a magazine of hollow points for things that need killin', and another of rat shot for breaking up bull fights along fences. From 50' away the shotshells don't break the skin, but they sure know they've been spanked on the rear end, and the fight comes to an abrupt end. People complain about the lack of safeties, but the gun is panic proof, and the safeties are to not point the gun at anything you don't intend to shoot, and keep your finger off the freakin' trigger until you're ready to fire. I've never had an accidental discharge, and don't know anyone who has. Everyone I know who actually USES a handgun on a regular basis carries a Glock. They're all business.

Posted by: J P T | September 1, 2011 12:17 PM    Report this comment

As most are aware, I have little love for the Glocks, in general. I have owned several, including the Glock 21 in .45 ACP. The problems I experienced with the grip angle were even more exacerbated with the large Glock 21, so I traded it off in a deal and came home with a SIG Sauer P-228, and thus began a long and continuing love affair with many SIG Sauer pistols and rifles.

Posted by: canovack | September 1, 2011 11:30 AM    Report this comment

When I was a lawman, I carried a Glock 21 as my duty weapon. When I transitioned to plainclothes, I continued to carry the big Glock. I found that it carried and concealed well in a variation of the classic pancake-style holster. Even with a loaded mag, it wasn't too heavy and, under a sport coat it was well concealed. I'm a big guy and maybe it wouldn't work as well for someone of smaller stature -- or maybe it would work even better -- but concealable it certainly is. I found the gun shot well and handled well. I never felt the need for an affirmative safety because I practiced with the gun regularly. Were I to require a large-caliber handgun, I would certainly consider the new generation 21, but since .40 caliber is available in a gun with a smaller form-factor and nearly identical practical ballistics, I might go with a Glock in that caliber.

Posted by: SFBearCop | September 1, 2011 11:22 AM    Report this comment

I shy from Glocks because they lack visible safety features. In this category I have an FNP-45 which has more capacity, a thumb safety, and a plate pre-drilled on top of the slide for quickly attaching a red-dot sight. For home defense and range use I find it better than anything from Glock. I forgot to mention I have the competition model of this firearm. I do have a G-26, but I use a Saf-T-Block on the trigger.It affords some peace of mind and is removed in the instant the trigger is approached for use.

Posted by: BIMMER | September 1, 2011 10:51 AM    Report this comment

I have one of these and yes it is a big gun. I have the SF, and it is my home defense pistol complete with a Glock tac Light Laser combo. Excellet weapon, just not a carry piece.

Posted by: dmcdonnell | September 1, 2011 10:30 AM    Report this comment

The only problem with the Glocks is the boxy grip

Posted by: TOM M | September 1, 2011 9:52 AM    Report this comment

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