Glock GL23 .40 S&W
The .40 S&W is the leading round chosen by todays local and federal law-enforcement professionals. Compact .40s (3.5- to 4.25-inch barrels) bridge the gap between plainclothes duty and civilian concealed carry, and of these, the lightweight plastic pistols lead the way. And the Glock line of pistols is perhaps synonymous with the word polymer.
In this report we take a look at the .40-caliber compact model from Glock, the GL23.
The 4-inch-barreled GL23 is still the mid-sized .40 S&W in the Glock lineup. Its the choice of many law enforcement agencies as well as legions of civilians licensed for concealed carry. Recent changes include finger grooves on the front strap with sections of checkering molded in. The texture of the side panels has not changed much, but there is an indentation for the thumb on each side. The rear of the grip is contoured with a mild palm swell.
The magazine release is more pronounced than it was on the original design, and a utility rail with Weaver style cut is molded into the dust cover. Perhaps the biggest news is the pleasing case the pistol arrived in instead of the old Tupperware design. It is unique, not a Doskocil or an aluminum attaché, but a simple, functional case that displays the Glock logo in a modern-art motif.
Our fixed-sight model had a wide, stubby front blade with a big white dot. The rear notch was lined in white. The only manufacturing flaw we found on our GL23 was a burr on the left stanchion of the rear sight. We chose not to cut or file it away, preferring to send it back after our tests for warranty repair. We find it hard to say whether or not this imperfection affected our ability to shoot accurately.
The major reasons Glock pistols have been so successful are their affordable price, durability and simplicity of operation. Early demonstrations featuring the original 9mm GL17 included burying the gun in mud, freezing it, and even dropping it hundreds of feet from a helicopter, after which (of course) the gun functioned perfectly.
Because our Blackhawk helicopter was in the shop and we couldnt repeat the aerial drop tests, we chose instead to plink with our Glock and also shoot it for groups at 25 yards. That type of shooting taught us plenty about this latest model. There were no malfunctions, but our choice of ammunition taught us a few things about this weapon. The lightest of our trio at 26 ounces, the GL23 produced the most felt recoil. We enjoyed shooting the Winchester USA 165-grain FMJ rounds the best, and the Glock agreed, giving its best performance with that ammo. Groups averaged 2.6 inches. Winchesters new 180-grain Q-load ammunition was second best, averaging just under 3 inches. (The new 180-grain Q load now has the same truncated-cone profile as Winchesters 165-grain version.)
Actually, we were not surprised at the performance of this pistol with the 165-grain bullet because we know some federal agencies specify this bullet weight and profile for their official ammunition, in the form of Federals 165-grain Hydra-Shok JHP. That ammo is shaped much like Winchesters.
We also tried a frangible SWAT round from MagSafe. This was a high-velocity (2,224 fps), low-payload (46-grain), epoxy-sealed, jacketed round that proved surprisingly docile to shoot. We did not try gelatin expansion tests, but our paper targets, mounted on corrugated cardboard backers, were noticeably more disrupted by the MagSafe rounds than by any of the other jacketed rounds.
Average accuracy of the MagSafe load in the Glock was 3.6 inches at 25 yards. Wed have preferred more accuracy, but what we got was acceptable with ammunition designed for close-quarters indoor shooting, where it is preferred that rounds not penetrate sheetrock walls.
There are some caveats in terms of bullet choice for the Glock. Due to the rifling style of the Glock, the use of any sort of unplated lead or cast lead bullets is particularly not recommended. There have been documented cases where the continued use of lead bullets, even hard ones, have caused progressive pressure increases in Glock pistols, and in some cases, caused pistol failures. With that qualifier in mind we decided to try a different MagSafe round. We found MagSafes 84-grain Defender load matched up with our Glock much better. This load gave 1717 fps, and we got 2.2- to 2.7-inch groups at 25 yards with complete reliability. Recoil was not as mild as with the 46-grain SWAT load, but was perceptibly less than that of the Winchester 180-grain Q-load.
What is it about the Glock that leaves the door open for competitors? The perceived safety issue , for one. The perceptionhowever faulty that merely touching the trigger, with no intermediate step, will cause the gun to fire has been a commonly heard complaint about the Glock. (Why we never hear this very same complaint lodged against the double-action revolver is a mystery.) Yet this is not quite a true picture of the Glocks so-called SafeAction system. The Glock has a lever in the middle of its trigger face that has to be depressed before the gun can fire.
But there is no chamber-loaded indicator and no visual cue to let someone know the gun is cocked and ready for fire. Those characteristics are part and parcel of Glocks desired level of simplicity. However, the Glock system is disliked by those who commonly fail to follow safe gun-handling practices, and who fail to treat all guns as if they are loaded, or who touch the trigger when they are not ready to shoot. One way the Glock pistols have been made more safe is by the addition of a heavier trigger. Our GL23 did not include this extra-heavy New York trigger that supposedly lowers the possibility of an accidental discharge. In our view, the Glock GL23 offered fast, consistent firepower that should be treated with all the respect due any working firearm.