Glock G22 Gen4 40 S&W, $649
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 weve 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 texturebut 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.
When we began putting these guns through their paces, we first wondered how bullet weight might affect accuracy. The most popular and readily available 40 S&W rounds are topped with 155-, 165-, and 180-grain bullets. The 155-grain JHP bullet is rapidly gaining popularity with law enforcement. This round was represented by Black Hills Ammunition. Next, we chose two Winchester USA rounds, one topped with 165-grain FMJ bullets and the other driving 180-grain JHP slugs.
Baseline accuracy was recorded from the 25-yard line firing from a sandbag rest. We also fired an action test standing offhand from the 7-yard line. This was a timed exercise designed to tell us more about trigger response and consistency, grip fit, and sight acquisition. We chose the Black Hills 155-grain JHP ammunition for our action test because we wanted to test each guns rapid-fire capability firing a hard-hitting defensive round. Our drill began with the shooter facing the target with the pistol held in both hands, arms retracted towards the chest. The front sight was at the bottom of the shooters peripheral vision. An electronic timer emitted an electronic start signal and registered elapsed time for each shot fired. We recorded the total elapsed time for all three shots as well as the time that had elapsed from the start signal to the first shot. After ten separate strings of fire were completed, we looked for 30 shots on the IPSC-P target from www.letargets.com. Vaguely humanoid in shape the lower A-zone is a 5- by 9-inch vertical rectangle. The upper A-zone measures 4 inches wide by 2 inches tall and could be considered the space between the cheekbones and the brow. We considered two hits inside the lower A-zone and one hit inside the upper A-zone a perfect run. Our overall objective was to find out what was required of the shooter to perform perfect runs on a consistent basis.
In all of our tests, reliability was a top priority. Ease of maintenance, cost, and shooter enjoyment were also high on the teams grading list.
Upon first look, we thought our G22 Gen 4 arrived with three alternate backstraps. After looking for a way to release the backstrap in place, we realized that this was not the concept. At no time does this system ask you to disengage a segment of the frame. Instead, the two supplied alternate backstraps were designed to slide over the frame. We were fooled in part because the base grip frame showed a ridge outlining the rear border of the side panel. Not just a cosmetic feature, the purpose of this ridge was to grasp the edge of the alternate panels. Furthermore, there was a solid pin inserted at the top of the backstrap. But that was just a place keeper. A pushpin tool was supplied along with an extra retaining pin of greater length to accommodate the larger panels. We think this was a very clever design.
There are two additional features that make the Gen 4 special. Most noticeably would be the grip texture, consisting of rows of flat-tipped spikes molded into the surface of the grip. We found these spikes to be helpful, but not necessarily a perfect solution for sweaty hands. They actually work much better should you wear gloves, as many patrolmen do. We thought the downside to this texture might be unbearable abrasion to bare skin or garment when carried concealed, such as in an inside-the-waistband holster. But we tried wearing the G22 Gen 4 (unloaded), tucked into our belts beneath our shirt for an entire day. We were pleasantly surprised not to suffer a rash or other abrasion.
The last feature that makes a Gen 4 different was the fully captured plunger-style recoil assembly. Weve seen several of these units, but we think this one appeared to be stronger. We certainly had to work harder to compress and reinstall it. The Gen 4 recoil unit utilized three separate springs. The plunger that worked in from the rear or barrel lug side was wrapped with one close-coil spring. The rod fed into a steel guide that encapsulated another larger diameter spring. The pipe-shaped guide was fit with a polymer bushing for contact within the slide yoke. The third spring, fashioned from noticeably heavier wire, surrounded the second spring and the guide. Alternate design recoil systems generally are designed to slow down and spread recoil over a longer period of time. We werent able to record any actual data regarding recoil reduction, but we do think our G22 Gen 4 suffered less muzzle flip than standard G22 pistols we have shot in the past.
Common features of the G22 pistol consisted of a front end with an effective taper to ease concealment and smooth holstering. The accessory rail on the dustcover measured a full 2 inches in length, but it offered only one cross hatch. Our pistol arrived with standard sights, meaning a single-dot blade up front and a white outlined notch in the rear. Features like those on the aforementioned Smith & Wesson SD40 included barrel movement via barrel lugs contacting the locking block, takedown procedure, and frame wear was protected by steel guides mounted in the frame rails. Three 15-round magazines were supplied. The trigger-pull weight measured 6.5 pounds. The trigger movement was defined by about 0.2 inches of takeup followed by a sense of compression.
From the bench we focused on steering the front sight through the surprise break of the trigger. Frankly, we didnt feel as though we were shooting as accurately as the paper targets indicated. The G22 Gen 4 produced an average group radius measuring 1.58 inches when firing the 180-grain rounds, but liked our other ammunition better. Rounds topped with the 165-grain and 155-grain bullets landed an average group radius of 1.21 and 1.20 inches, respectively.
In terms of producing muzzle energy, the G22 Gen 4s longer barrel didnt seem to make a significant difference. Velocity being the key component to figuring muzzle velocity, the Glocks half-inch-longer barrel accounted for less than 7 fps on average, compared to the Smith & Wesson and HK pistols. All three guns offered adequate sight radius, but some eyes may immediately prefer the front sight dot placed that half-inch further downrange.
Elapsed times in our action test were the slowest of all three guns. Only two runs broke the 2-second mark. But we did land seven of ten runs with perfect results, and we learned something very important about shooting the G22 Gen 4. Fired from the bench with full support, it didnt seem to make much difference which backstrap we applied. But when we stood up and dry fired in preparation for our first run, our test shooter realized that he needed some help getting the gun higher in front of his eyes and leveling the sights. The fact is that some shooters take to the classic Glock grip angle right away and others have to work at it. We found applying the medium grip panel made shooting the G22 Gen 4 much easier from the standing position. Elapsed times were slow (2.06 seconds on average with a 0.85-second average first shot), but the result was very good accuracy, especially inside the upper A-zone. Two shots were noticeably high, but the A-zone was filled with a 2.5-inch eight-shot group. Our range notes read, "Held high, the gun felt more instinctive." We think this proves that the Gen 4 grip system is a valuable component. The lower A-zone showed a dense group that was pushed a little bit left by the shooter, but with minimal practice we think speed and accuracy would improve.
Our Team Said: Not everyone takes to a Glock pistol the first time they handle it. But we think the alternate grip system means shooters who passed on the G22 or any of the Glock pistols should give a Gen 4 model a try. The attractive new grip pattern looked aggressive was surprisingly benign to bare skin. Those who wear gloves while shooting will notice the greatest functional improvement. Crediting reduced recoil to the new guide rod may be difficult to prove, but wed give it the benefit of the doubt.