June 24, 2009

Glock GL21

The 21 was Glock’s biggest gun until the arrival of the models 34 and 35, which feature a longer slide and 5.3-inch barrel. The .45 ACP 21 incorporates a 4.6-inch barrel, but at about 27 ounces unloaded, it is still the heaviest pistol in the Glock lineup. This is the result of beefing up the original design to handle the pounding of .45 ACP ammunition. For example, the current 9mm Model 17, which is similar in dimensions to the GL21 and closest in design to the original Glock pistol, weighs only about 22 ounces. Our GL21 arrived with two 13-round magazines.

Palm swells and finger grooves with helpful checkering molded into place have helped the Glock pistols become more shooter friendly, and adding a rail to the dustcover allows accessories to be added easily. The magazine release is prominent, making reloading faster. The extractor offers plenty of surface area to the case rim and serves as a loaded-chamber indicator, sticking out just enough to tell the shooter visually or by touch when the gun is charged.

Removing the top end still requires a firm claw-like grip. The routine is to move the carbon steel slide to the rear about a half-inch and pull down on the locks located just above the trigger guard on each side of the frame simultaneously. This allows the slide to move forward. We think the locks could be more pronounced and easier to grab without subtracting from the snag free profile or increasing the likelihood of being activated unintentionally.

Glock GL21

If you are looking to trade up to a larger caliber, the GL21 is a good choice in a full size pistol.

Once the top end was removed, the difference in weight between the feather-light receiver and the slide became apparent. The polymer guide rod and flat coil spring stayed together as one unit, so there were no small parts to misplace. Just a receiver, carbon-steel barrel, slide, and recoil assembly. The top end rode on four small guides that are inserted into the polymer rails of the receiver. Putting the gun back together merely required applying the top end to the frame.

The Glock design does not include a decocker, so making the gun safe after a string of fire required pressing the trigger, but only after removing the magazine and confirming that the chamber was empty. If you are used to a 1911, which can be shut off by activating the thumb safety, you may feel uneasy putting this gun down on the bench in a loaded condition. If you are in the habit of picking up a gun from the bench with the finger inside the trigger guard or think that the trigger face is part of the grip surface this gun (or any other) is not for you.

Our GL21 and GL21C pistols each arrived with a heavy trigger that provided about 10 pounds of resistance. We expected a 5.5-pound pull. At the range the large size of the gun made it easy to shoot from a sandbag rest. The weight of this trigger and the amount of take-up let us approach the trigger almost like a two-stage mechanism. But this technique was too dangerous to attempt anywhere else but from the shooting bench.

For collecting accuracy data, we fired Winchester 230-grain FMJ ammunition as well as 200-grain JHP/XTP rounds from Hornady and Winchester’s 185-grain Silvertip hollow points. The Hornady ammunition proved the most powerful, moving at an average velocity of 1007 fps. Both the Hornady ammunition and Winchester FMJ rounds produced average groups measuring about 3 inches across. The Winchester Silvertips proved to be the best choice with groups ranging from 2.1 to 2.8 inches. We had no malfunctions.

Comments (27)

Many thanks Dragonchow for the insight. My hands essentially match yours (short fingers, meaty palms) so my best guess is the Springfield may be a better fit. Unfortunately it will be unlikely I get to shoot either but hopefully will get a chance to hold both at the Gun Show this weekend. Thanks again.

Posted by: Randy M | January 13, 2011 4:36 PM    Report this comment

Randy - I've shot both and found the XDM to be a better fit ...for me. My nephew did the comparison alongside me and the 21SF was his pick.
I have big, wide, meaty palms with short fat fingers. Nephew has narrow palms and long slender fingers.
As I commented somewhere above - you just can't go wrong with either one, but if there's any way you can get a chance to run a couple of mags through both side by side the choice will be obvious...for you. If not, at least get them both in front of you on the sales counter and work 'em as much as they'll let you get away with - grab 'em up fast, rack slide, aim, dry fire, hold down trigger-rack slide and compare reset, drop and reload mags. It's all about the feel, and one of them will feel better...to you.

Posted by: Dragonchow | January 13, 2011 4:13 PM    Report this comment

I own a G30SF, G36, & G19 Glock so needless to say I am a huge Glock fan. I formerly owned the G30 but found the G30SF a much better fit for my hand so made the switch. In addition to my Glock's I also own a 1911 Ed Brown 45 and Ruger SRC9. I am considering going with a full size 45 because of the higher round count and concerns regarding round count in the future with the current political climate. I have medium to small size hands. I have not held or fired either the G21SF or the Springfield XDM as of yet and hopefully will get that opportunity when I will be attending a local gun show this weekend. I would be interested to hear from anyone who may have shot both of these models what their comments might be in comparing the two. I've never owned a Springfield but have heard and read good things about them. Of course, I know the Glock is Mr. reliability. Any insight into the two would be appreciated.

Posted by: Randy M | January 13, 2011 2:24 PM    Report this comment

I own, shoot, and carry many different handguns, including eight Glocks. I have taken gunsmithing courses and tune, repair, and modify both revolves and semi-autos, and also have built up several 1911s on Colt, Springfield, and Caspian frames and slides. My shooting experience includes training with CDOC, DEA, and various US Army weapons courses. I also have attended Gunsite and Front Sight, among others. While I love the 1911, often carry revolvers, used an XD in 9mm for a couple of years, and appreciate many other makes and models of semi-autos, especially SIGs, I will state without hesitation or reservation that if I could have only one handgun, I would choose a Glock, likely either a G19 or G26. Why? Because, they are simple, reliable, accurate enough, easy to clean, repair, and maintain, and can be can be completely disassembled with nothing more than a small punch--or nail, or whatever will push out some pins. Deliver me from now on from complicated designs and guns put together with roll pins, especially those which must be driven out to remove firing pins and extractors, which should (must) be detail cleaned now and again for reliability.

Posted by: JonSE | July 6, 2009 1:37 PM    Report this comment

Between my wife and I, we have eight Glocks -- 2 M-22s, 2 M-23s, 2 M27s, 1 M-19 and 1 M-26. I plan to add a Model 17 and maybe some .357 as the economy allows. As for the .45 ACP versions, 1911s and the Sig P220 feels better in my hand. (I am 5'-7', 180 lbs with medium sized hands. I use Hogue hand-alls on my 22s and 23s.

Posted by: Robert K | July 1, 2009 11:24 AM    Report this comment

I tried a G21SF at the local gun store. Grip still too big for my smallish hands. 1911 and XD 45 fit better. I have no trouble holding my G19, however.

Posted by: JEAN F R | June 25, 2009 10:06 PM    Report this comment

I used to carry a 1911, but now I carry G19. 15 rounds of 9MM +P, plus 33-rnd stick mag for reaload... it's good. Glock is easy... point, shoot, hit. Sights are simple and fast, grip is comfortable and sure, size is great, capacity is great, function is flawless... what else do you need?

Posted by: jamraqui | June 25, 2009 9:54 PM    Report this comment

I have carried a Glock21 as a duty weapon for years and a 19 as back up and have only praise for both. I own numerous handguns and my Dept. allowed me to carry whatever I wanted and had qualified. In 38 yrs I have carried everything from .38 spc. to .44 mag but for last 15 yrs. these two Glocks have been there when the fertilizer hit the ventilization system. In my opinion Glocks are like a hi-cap wheelgun. The only jam I've had was when I tried a wrist lock hold when qualifying first Glock, off hand thumb caused jam but bleeding stopped after a while and I have never had another jam. The skin has grown back on thumb also.

Posted by: johnlaw | June 25, 2009 6:56 PM    Report this comment

It seems that every time there is an article about a Glock one or two Springfield XD people show up and start telling us that the XD is just a little bit better. Well here's a news flash fellows it's NOT. It isn't the XD that's winning most of the pistol competitions, its Glock. The Glocks trigger reset is shorter and it sets lower in the hand for better control. I own 4 Glocks and 1 XD-40. The XD is a good pistol but it's no Glock.

Posted by: gibs505 | June 25, 2009 5:20 PM    Report this comment

I bought my Glock 21 used. I immediately put it to use in my police academy training where I put a minimum of 2500 rounds through it without a single misfire.

Halfway through my training, a Glock armorer told me that my extractor was broken and only had 1/2 the surface area that it should. He replaced it and I went back to shooting.

Even with a barely working extractor, I always had flawless functioning, and that's with some of the cheapest, copper-washed, lowest-bidder training reloads available.

I trust my G-21 with my life.

Two important points:

1)Never shoot bare lead ammo in any stock Glock barrel. It will lead the polygon rifling very quickly and soon lead to BIG problems.

2) You'll never really shoot this pistol to it's potential unless you have large hands/long fingers. Small-handed people CAN do it, but they won't have complete control or confidence in this pistol.

Posted by: RackEmPunk | June 25, 2009 4:52 PM    Report this comment

Any thoughts as to the increased trigger pull, Glock usually quotes 5.5 lbs. of pull. I have all three Gen III Glock 45s (21,30,36 with finger grooves) and both the G 21& G30 SF models. None of the triggers are more than ~ 7 #s. Dave

Posted by: dlistello | June 25, 2009 2:55 PM    Report this comment

As an afterthought - if I had gotten a Glock .45 instead of the XD I'm pretty sure I would still have no regrets.

Posted by: CHUCK S | June 25, 2009 2:24 PM    Report this comment

Glocks have a worry-free, bulletproof design and are 100% reliable. When your life is on the line, you can depend on a Glock. No, I don't work for Glock....

Posted by: jbot | June 25, 2009 2:22 PM    Report this comment

As an afterthought - if I had gotten a Glock .45 instead of the XD I'm pretty sure I would still have no regrets.

Posted by: CHUCK S | June 25, 2009 1:56 PM    Report this comment

IMO (your mileage may vary) the G17 is THE worlds finest 9MM combat tupperware. Gaston built it around the 9MM Parabellum cartridge and as such it is superb.
When marketing dictated stretching the design around larger calibers some shortcomings became evident, especially in high volume shooting.
When I decided to add a polymer .45ACP to the stable I did a fair bit of research, got past the decade long love affair with my G17, and chose the XD45 as a superior delivery system for the heavier caliber.
No regrets so far...

Posted by: CHUCK S | June 25, 2009 1:53 PM    Report this comment

Unless you have large hands or prefer a fat grip, I suggest the Glock 21 SF (short frame). I tried both side-by-side and the SF fit so much better - kind of like my XD 45.

NRaborn: You're right. Glocks are ugly. But, a lot of us like ugly guns. Remember that old Gary U.S. Bonds song, "If you want to happy for the rest of your life, ...". Heck, I own a Walther PPS. Now that's ugly! It's a great shooter, easy to carry, and I love it.

Posted by: mookien | June 25, 2009 11:28 AM    Report this comment

I haved owned a Glock Model 27 for a few years. It is a high quality, well made product that has never jammed -- I have put over 2500+ rounds through this pistol. I use it for concealed carry [IWB] does not print through my clothing -- a great firearm.

Posted by: robespierre1794 | June 25, 2009 10:49 AM    Report this comment


Posted by: GRINGO 490 | June 25, 2009 4:19 AM    Report this comment

The G21 is a great weapon, but I prefer the G30. The G30 has all of the features as the G21 but is on a smaller scale. The G30 has a soft recall and shoots very good.

Posted by: smittyj | May 26, 2009 10:31 PM    Report this comment

I'm thinking about buying a glock, not quite sure of the model yet.
G17, G21, or a G31 not real sure yet.

Posted by: Desertfox00 | March 2, 2009 3:49 PM    Report this comment

I'm thinking about buying a glock, not quite sure of the model yet.
G17, G21, or a G31 not real sure yet.

Posted by: Desertfox00 | March 2, 2009 3:48 PM    Report this comment

God, that Glock is ugly!

Posted by: NRaborn | July 3, 2008 4:05 PM    Report this comment

I recently felt that I wanted a larger Glock in .45ACP. I already own a Glock 36 in that caliber, and Glock models 17, 26, 23, 17C, 20 and 22. On the day I went to shop for the new handgun, the dealer was unpacking a shipment of Springfield XD's. He happend to place a new XD .45 tactical with the 5" barrel and external safety, in the showcase. I asked if I could see it, and low and behold, I was sold! Don't get me wrong. I love my Glock's and would stake my life on any one of the seven I own. There was just something about the feel and having the external safety that felt like I had one of my 1911's in hand. I took the Glock 21 then the XD in hand, and I had to have the XD. I'm not saying that I am a converted Glockster, and will never give up my Glocks, but Springfield has made a change with the safety that I beleive will make it a threat to the top seller Glock.

Posted by: GunGeezer | June 26, 2008 1:44 PM    Report this comment

I've owned a Generation 3 G21 for several years; I consider it to be a superb firearm (In the realm of Glocks, I also have a G17 and G19, which I also enjoy and find eminently reliable). With an appropriate holster (my preference is to either a Blade-Tech IWB, or the Glock Sport/Combat)concealability is easily achieved (and I'm not a huge guy-5'8", 195 lbs). With 14 rounds on board and a spare magazine carried, the gun can get a bit heavy throughout a long day...

Accuracy is superlative. Ipersonally use my G21 for carry, IDPA, GSSF and steel plate competitions. The only modifications I've made are replacing the original polymer sights with Glock steel sights (for the front sight, I prefer the Trijicon manufactured steel non-tritium sight, available from the Glock Parts Department-it looks exactly like the original, and in addition to being steel it also has a slightly convex white dot aiding slightly in sight pick-up), and the slide release with the Glock extended slide release for the G37.

Best, Jon

Posted by: JonInWA | June 19, 2008 4:02 PM    Report this comment

I have owned a Glock 21 before, and best feeling ever was when I added Hogue handall rubber grips to an already too big frame, for less slippage. The feel of my 22 is so much better, similiarly equipped.

Posted by: Azle gun nut | June 19, 2008 2:52 PM    Report this comment

My concealed carry is a Springfield XD 45. I tried the Glock, and although it is a well made gun, it simply does not feel good in my hands. The XD points perfectly, the Glock feels as if it is not natural, and I have to consciously point to the target.

Posted by: Michaelgb | May 1, 2008 2:16 PM    Report this comment

...I suppose you could argue that this gun's light weight frame makes it suitable for concealed carry. But it's still pretty large for concealment in my opinion

Posted by: TCole | April 9, 2008 9:52 AM    Report this comment

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