October 2010

40 S&W Polymer Pistols: H&K, Glock, S&W Shoot It Out

Updates to the $1005 Heckler & Koch P30S V3, Glock’s $649 G22 Gen 4, and Smith & Wesson’s $530 SD40 makes each gun better. But at the range, the HK shot faster and more accurately.

In this test we evaluate three 40 S&W polymer handguns that offer significant changes to their original designs. In the case of the $530 Smith & Wesson SD40, the SD40 and its new trigger provide an upgraded version of the Sigma pistol. Glock’s $649 G22 Gen 4 is an optional version of the G22 series pistol, with an aggressive grip texture and a choice of three different backstraps. Heckler & Koch’s $1005 P30 V3 adds an ambidextrous thumb safety to the latest edition of that company’s newest polymer platform.

According to Smith & Wesson representatives, the primary difference between the Sigma and SD pistols was the latter’s lighter trigger-pull weight. We can recall testing several of the original striker-fired pistols that simply wore out the shooter who had to pull a long, heavy trigger. Many years later, improved springs and improved mechanisms have made all the difference. We measured our SD40’s trigger to present about 7.5 pounds of resistance. It seemed somewhat lighter because after a takeup of about 0.3 inches, true compression was smooth and relatively short.

One of the most popular handguns for law-enforcement personnel is the Glock Model G22. The G22 is a full-size handgun that fires from a 4.49-inch barrel. Since the introduction of the Glock pistol, there have been only subtle changes, and most people still think of the Glock as being available without options or variation. But we’ve been able to purchase different models with upgrades to the trigger, sights, slide release, magazine release, and other operational components. Also, at www.teamglock.com, we found another lineup of RTF pistols that offer streamlined grips with a radical surface texture—but the Gen 4 Glock pistols go even further. They offer an aggressive grip texture and a choice of three different backstrap profiles. The Gen 4 pistols include the 9mm G17 and G19, the .357 SIG G31, and the 45 GAP G37.

Most polymer handguns are simple in design. Rather than call the HK P30 more complex, we’ll use the word sophisticated. There are six variants of the P30 series pistol— seven if you count the suffix "S" for ambidextrous safety. In our December 2007 evaluation of the 9mm Heckler & Koch P30 V3, we began our Gun Tests Report Card by saying: "Based on the fine accuracy we achieved firing single-action only, maybe this is a gun that should have a thumb safety rather than a decocker." The P30S V3 pistol in this test adds an ambidextrous thumb safety.

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