September 18, 2012

Glock GL23 .40 S&W

While older designs, such as the double-action revolver and the 1911 semi-automatic pistol, continue to prosper through new materials and manufacturing techniques, the polymer-framed pistol may be at the forefront of pistol development. The .40 S&W is the leading round chosen by today’s 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.”

Gun Tests Magazine took a look at the GL23, a .40-caliber compact model from Glock. Here's what they said:

Glock GL23, $641

The 4-inch-barreled GL23 is still the mid-sized .40 S&W in the Glock lineup. It’s 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.

Gun Tests October 2002

While some shooters still cry out for a mechanical safety, others rejoice in the Glock's simple design and short, consistent trigger. We think each year's Glock is better than the last.

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 couldn’t 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. Winchester’s 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 Winchester’s 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 Federal’s 165-grain Hydra-Shok JHP. That ammo is shaped much like Winchester’s.

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.

Gun Tests October 2002

Average accuracy of the MagSafe load in the Glock was 3.6 inches at 25 yards. We’d 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 MagSafe’s 84-grain Defender load matched up with our Glock much better. This load gave 1,717 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 perception—however 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 Glock’s 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.

Gun Tests October 2002

The Glock extractor and ejector functioned flawlessly; we had no failures during our test. 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 Glock's desired level of simplicity.

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 Glock’s 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.

Gun Tests Recommends: Glock GL23, $641. Buy It. The Glock has been successful long enough not only to attract specifically designed cartridges (as per FBI requirements), but also a long list of aftermarket hop-up parts as well. While some shooters still cry out for a mechanical safety, others rejoice in the Glock’s simple design and short, consistent trigger. We think each year’s Glock is better than the last.

Comments (26)

I own 15 Glock pistols. Considering that I would not even touch a Glock at a shop or gun show for their first 10 years makes that fact more impressive. I called them "Blocks" and laughed at them. Then on day I was at the range and fired a police officers. Granted, I was only shooting at 10 yards, but I put the entire mag into one ragged hole. Reading about the torture tests and seeing the accuracy for myself sold me. In thousands of rounds fired, I've never had a failure and have won competitions with a completely stock Glock. I love my 'masterpiece' Sig 226, German made, but like with all Sigs, I shoot low and have to get a shorter front site. I am obviously sold on Glocks. I like H&K's just as well, but they cost more and I've become more used to Glocks. My 1911 collection of pistols are just safe queens now.

Posted by: Dargo | October 6, 2012 11:09 AM    Report this comment

I hadn't heard that, bear1, but it doesn't surprise me. I know that my two Texas senators are on board to defeat this when it comes around for ratification. It would be a good idea for all of us to remind our senators to do the same.

Posted by: canovack | September 25, 2012 2:51 PM    Report this comment

canovack, according to the reports the UN voted and passed the Small Arms Treaty. But It didn't say anything about if the US voted for it or not, but from reading between the lines, and from hereing about how obeyme put in the wife of one of his bigest dooners and supporters, it sounds like she voted for it and now it is up to our senate members to vote on and of corse obeyme and his crap. It is enough to worry this old fart for sure.
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 25, 2012 2:02 PM    Report this comment

I got a couple of up dates on UN gun grab under small arms treaty to day after I commented on the reports I got yesterday about the UN passing it the other day and made comment on another gun reports thread on here yesterday but no place for comments on it so wandering why gun reports?

Posted by: bear1 | September 21, 2012 2:31 PM    Report this comment

I have owned a G17 since the early 90's. After the first 100 rounds, it has never jammed or failed to fire. I have probably fired >5000 rounds through it. The trigger safety is no joke. Neither is trigger discipline which should be second nature to anyone who picks up a firearm. Over the years I have cultivated my trigger discipline by handling a blue gun while watching TV. It makes the feel of the weapon second nature to you and if every time you grab it you are exhibiting trigger discipline you will not have NDs.

Posted by: Anishinabi | September 21, 2012 10:28 AM    Report this comment

In my opinion, the claim so often made that a Glock can get off two shots before a weapon that has a safety can get off a single shot is pure nonsense. For example, with my 1911 carried locked and cocked, I will have the safety off as I raise the gun. It's not as if I have to aim it and then turn off the safety. The same is true with my decockers. Heck, even cocking a single action revolver doesn't require any more time than firing a single action revolver for the first shot than a double action revolver. If you don't believe that, just watch competition cowboy action shooters draw and shoot - often so fast that it is amazing. With semi-auto pistols that have safeties or decockers, my weapon is ready to fire by the time I aim it. And contrary to what some Glock fanatics would have you believe, learning to turn off the safety does not take a lot of practice. It becomes second nature very quickly. I would challenge any Glock owner to demonstrate to me that they could get off a first shot faster than I can with a semi-auto with a safety or decocker. Don't take me wrong! I am not knocking Glocks! They are fine weapons. I am simply pointing out that the idea that you can get off a shot with a Glock more quickly or, especially, the ridiculous claim that you can get off two shots before you can with a weapon with a safety - is pure nonsense. It's an example of how a false claim gets repeated over and over again when someone doesn't know what they are talking about or take the time to just apply a little common sense to the issue.

Posted by: ZoneIII | September 21, 2012 10:07 AM    Report this comment

I own numerous S&W's , Ruger's, & some high end American made weapons, but my favorite is my M20, 10mm Glock that I purchased new in 1993. In all these year's, believe it or not, I've never had one FTF or FTE. The only drawback is it's size, but I conceal it well in every day carry with two spare mag's, and I've yet to have anyone spot it. This is a gem of a weapon, & I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Posted by: Tackleberry | September 21, 2012 2:45 AM    Report this comment

The Glock is a durable and reliable weapon. Aside from that I don't care for them and would not own one. I have a Colt 1911 Combat Elite 45 acp Sig P228 9mm and H&K USP compact .45acp. Both the Sig and H&K have a decocker and the H&K also has a safety.All three are safe to carry. Especially the Sig and H&K. No chance of accidental discharge unless the operator does something stupid.The Sig while not having a traditional safety has a decocker which requires a long pull double action first shot, while the H&K has a safety and decocker, long pull double action first shot with hammer down. My H&K is my favorite, extremely safe and reliable. I have handled and fired many Glocks and I don't care for the single action trigger. Just my 2 cents.

Posted by: BRUCE R | September 21, 2012 12:29 AM    Report this comment

Gaston Glock originally designed this revolutionary handgun for military use. Not for sporting or police work. Because of that, it had features foreign to contemporary handgun 'experts'. When it was introduced into the American law enforcement market in the mid-1980's, most of the so-called 'experts' didn't like it: It was made of 'plastic'. It was ugly. It did not have a drop-free magazine. It did not have a 'safety'. It had no hammer to cock. The barrel had no 'rifling grooves'. It was 'fragile'. History has proven Glock's design genius: Simplicity of design and ease of operation. It has a durable, one-piece flexible rust-free frame. The metal finish is almost impervious to corrosion. It does not have any extra buttons or levers to complicate the operation of the weapon for novice or transition shooters (from revolvers). If you want it to fire, pull the trigger. If you don't want it to fire, don't pull the trigger. Generation 1 Glocks did have some problems that were not acknowledged by the stateside factory reps. That has changed. That's why they are on Generation 4 guns now. The Glock is a very well designed and dependable tool. If you want a piece of art, go buy a painting.

Posted by: bumper morgan | September 20, 2012 11:10 PM    Report this comment

My Glock is the next size up, the G22. No problems at all. BTW, Wild Romanian, I seem to remember you singing the praises of your G19. Your past doctrine was that only the 9x19 should be chambered in the Glock. Now all Glocks are unsafe?

Posted by: OregonGreg | September 20, 2012 9:56 PM    Report this comment

Glocks flat work thats all there is to it. I've had either a G17 or G19 since the early 90's, fired thousands of rounds with no malfunctions and never had a negligent misfire. It will not fire if you don't pull the trigger, if you don't want to fire keep your damn finger off the trigger, its that simple.

Posted by: Rob A | September 20, 2012 9:23 PM    Report this comment

sorry guys but I am still not sold on Glocks, and like Wild romanian I do like the Taurus with its manual safty.
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 20, 2012 9:07 PM    Report this comment

Many people do not bother to understand how the Glock works. It has no manual safety of any kind. The trigger safety is a joke. Touch the trigger accidentally and it fires. Newspaper accounts abound with accidental shootings, many by police officers. What worries me is that now many other gun companies are bringing out copy cat guns that also have no manual safety, coupled with a light single action trigger often spells "accident" sooner than later. If I liked this kind of pistol I would use the Taurus as it has a manual safety.

Posted by: wild romanian | September 20, 2012 8:49 PM    Report this comment

As you said, TBC, "to each his own", but I don't quite understand your criticism of the SIG Sauers, since the usual DA/SA, DAO, and DAK models have no thumb safeties. They have decockers, and the DAK models, of which I am particularly fond, have a DAO trigger so smooth, that it is a real surprise when the hammer falls. The SIG 1911s and P238s have thumb safeties, as does the old P210, but beyond that I don't recall any models with thumb safeties.

Posted by: canovack | September 20, 2012 7:19 PM    Report this comment

I have a Glock 23 and would have no other except possibly a S&W M&P but I still WILL NOT get of my Glock.

There is a loaded indicator on the bolt. A protruding pin that is easily felt with the finger. I check it everytime I put it in the holster.

I hate the mechanical safeties on pistols. Especially the 1911's. The Sigs and Springfields are all 2nd rate in my opinion. The Glock fits my hand. Everyone's hand is different and will have different feel. To each his own but I will get off at least 2 rounds while you are messing with your mechanical safety.

Posted by: TBC | September 20, 2012 6:43 PM    Report this comment

Kipper, I use an indoor range where cops come to practice for their qualifications. Believe me, a cop without proper practice is a big hazard as well. I know one Mesa AZ cop that shot his own TV sets twice practicing his dry fires. I also know instances where LE's with 9mm Glocks took 30 shots to bring down a meth head armed with a knife. Anyone carrying a handgun that is not trained or practices is dangerous, including LE.

Posted by: Anishinabi | September 20, 2012 4:42 PM    Report this comment

If one has to stop and look at his gun to see how many rounds are in it and to see if there is a round in the chamber, that's just long enough to get shot. Or you could just yell, "my gun is prettier than yours", I'm sure that will make any bad guy surrender.

Posted by: Kipper | September 20, 2012 2:32 PM    Report this comment

I am a retired parole officer. I have been in many almost deadly situations. More than once while the bad guy was taking the safety off his weapon my Glock was aimed and ready. A micro second made the difference. The double action Glock saved my life. Of course I shot a double action Smith for 10 years before transitioning to a Glock. That's 350 rounds a month on the range for 20 years and if ever a tactical mistake was made a retired drill sergeant ,now a range master, was down my throat. A civilian without proper training with a handgun is a dangerous thing.

Posted by: Kipper | September 20, 2012 2:02 PM    Report this comment

Love my 23! I carry it nearly 24-7. I had a few FTEs in the first few hundred rounds but no problems since. And as Larry M stated it does have the chambered round indicator but personally I wished it didn't.

Posted by: OngoingFreedom | September 20, 2012 1:38 PM    Report this comment

Buy American.

Posted by: SeaSerpent1 | September 20, 2012 11:55 AM    Report this comment

You can not trust Glock. Glock will do a safety recall and will not notify the general user.
Why have equipment that you may have to depend you life on; that may kill or hurt the operator.

Posted by: Silver Dollar | September 20, 2012 11:39 AM    Report this comment

As you have stated, "there is no chamber loaded indicator",on the extractor there is a raised portion when a round is in the chamber, it's there for your trigger finger to feel.

Posted by: Larry M | September 20, 2012 11:36 AM    Report this comment

Storm FTW !

Posted by: usfnman | September 20, 2012 11:09 AM    Report this comment

Only problem with Glock I ever had was with aftermarket recoil spring system. The gun failed to eject empties. Once original spring was inserted problem solved.

Posted by: va m | September 20, 2012 10:59 AM    Report this comment

Glocks are fine instruments that are well known for their durability, reliability, and accuracy. Personally, having owned a handful of them, I am not a big fan of Glock pistols. Aesthetically, they leave much to be desired, and I have never handled a Glock that felt like it belonged in my hand. SIG Sauers and S&W Sigmas feel much better in my hand, and they are considerably nicer to look at. We also hear a lot of complaints concerning safety characteristics of the Glocks, since there apparently have been a number of negligent discharges blamed on the so-called "safe action trigger". My belief, however, is that safety is something that all handlers of firearms must keep at the forefront at all times, so the safety considerations may be moot points. That we continue to see Glocks serving in a lot of law enforcement agencies and also in military establishments around the world, is a tribute to the basic characteristics of the Glocks, but I doubt seriously if I will every own another one.

Posted by: canovack | September 19, 2012 11:22 AM    Report this comment

We hate spam as much as you do, and we're on a constant lookout for spammy comments. If you see spam on a GunReports post before we do, just enter 'SPAM' as a comment, and we'll be alerted to look at the file asap. Thanks for helping us patrol the AO. --Yr. Obt. Svts @

Posted by: ttwoodard | September 18, 2012 7:43 PM    Report this comment

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