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 staffs 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, Winchesters 230-grain FMJ Q4170 load and two hollowpoint defense rounds. The JHP rounds were Winchesters 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 (www.amshootcenters.com). 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.
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 thats 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.
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.
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 magazines 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.