July 2013

Three More Midsize Forties: SIG, FNH-USA, and Walther

This trio had a tough hill to climb: The Gen4 Glock 23 is a recent Grade A gun, so why would we recommend any others?

To expand the coverage of 40 S&W semi-automatics we have tested recently, our test team recently looked at three midsize pistols we thought would be worthy challengers to the Glock 23 Gen4 40 S&W, $650, evaluated in the May 2013 issue. In that test, our team gave the G23G4 an A grade, effectively setting a standard for other pistols in this category to try to reach. So we threw an array of other pistols at it, going from a budget discontinued model (the FNH-USA FNP-40 No. 47832, $450), to a longtime competitor (SIG Sauer’s SP2022 No. E2022-40-B, $570), to a model introduced in 2011, about a year after the Gen4 was released (Walther PPQ No. 2776481, $680.)

The latest three polymer test pistols have similar stats for size and weight, but fit, feel, function, and design varied greatly, with the last consideration playing more of a role than we initially expected. To recap why we graded the Glock so highly two months ago, we noted that the different back-strap contours allow the owner to easily find the best fit for his or her hands. The grips allowed good control. The Glock had a minimum of controls, rivaled in this test only by the PPQ, which had a trigger safety like the Glock and just ambi slide releases beyond that. The Glock’s magazine release was reversible, a feature duplicated on the FN and SIG guns, and possibly topped by the two trigger guard mag-release levers on the PPQ. The Glock sights had a wide, square, U around the rear notch and a white dot on the front, while the newest guns all had three-white-dot sight arrays.

Dimensionally, the guns were close in size. In overall length, the numbers were 7.2 inches for the Glock, 7.4 inches for the SIG, 7.25 inches for the PPQ, and 7.4 inches for the FN. Overall heights (measured from the top of the sights to the bottom of the magazine or magazine extension) were Glock 5.0 inches, FN and PPQ (5.4 inches), and SP 5.5 inches. The barrels were all right at 4.0 inches (Glock, Walther, FN), or nearly so, 3.9 inches for the SIG. Loaded weights were 32.1 ounces for the 13+1 Glock, 33.6 ounces for the 12+1 Walther, 37.0 ounces for the 12+1 SIG, and 37.2 ounces for the FN, which partially reflects its larger capacity of 14+1. Functionally, during our shooting, we had perfect reliability from all the pistols.

Elsewhere, the Glock had a tactile loaded-chamber indicator in the form of a slight step on the extractor that could be easily felt with the (right-hand) trigger finger, with a similar feature duplicated on the PPQ and FN. On top of the G23, the slide was smooth enough not to cut the hands during clearance drills, and the new guns were likewise dehorned, except for their sharp sights. Takedown was simple, and likewise easy on the FN and SIG, but much more complicated on the PPQ. Workmanship inside all three guns was excellent, just as it was on the outside. Thus, these midsize guns were more than a match physically for the Glock, but would they bring positive individual differences to the fray and overcome the Austrian? We find out below.

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