February 16, 2010

Glock GL23 .40 S&W

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.”

In this report we take a look at the .40-caliber compact model from Glock, the GL23.

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.

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.

Glock GL23 .40 S&W

Courtesy Gun Tests

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.

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.

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 1717 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.

Glock GL23 .40 S&W

Courtesy Gun Tests

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.

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.

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.

Comments (28)

I find my 2nd gen 23 with KKM barrel a splendid shooter with Lee 401 cast bullets weighing 172 gr with wheel weight alloy. No leading. Averaging 2" or less at 15 yds from rest. Heini straight 8 sights. Ghost Rocket connector. LaserMax guide rod (added last year) has withstood hundreds of rounds no problems. Shoots an inch low and right at 15 yds with the LM. KKM has fully supported chamber and shoots as well or better than OEM Glock bbl. No base bulge with KKM so brass lasts much longer and easy to resize. Ugliest pistol I own but utterly reliable with everything I've ever put through it over the years--thousands of rounds. Carry 165 gr Hydra Shocks which are just as accurate as my cast handloads in either bbl. BTW, I have shot cast bullets in the Glock bbl but always brush bore every 50-100 rounds to be safe.

Posted by: Dennis P | August 27, 2013 5:50 PM    Report this comment

I'm 64 years old ,have shot quite a few guns.If I had to pick one gun to bet my life on it would a Glock.It has aways worked when you need it most.

Posted by: 1040kid | May 1, 2010 11:36 PM    Report this comment


Posted by: GRINGO 490 | April 15, 2010 4:02 PM    Report this comment

Between my wife and I, we own nine Glocks, 2 G22, 2 G23, 2 G27, 1 G19, 1 G26 and 1 G30SF. Never had a single problem. Have added the slider-lock to the carry pistols, but other than that, guns are all out-of-the-box. There's no gun more reliable.

Posted by: Robert K | March 24, 2010 11:29 AM    Report this comment

I have an earlier G23 (no finger ribs) and have shot a great deal of lead bullets-The complaint has been lead build up and can easily be fix by cleaning the barrel after each use.I have also shot lots of lead bullets in my G19 -I clean it often and never a problem.

Posted by: GERALD LARSEN | March 11, 2010 2:50 PM    Report this comment

Ha! Ha! Seems someone spoke out of school as it were about a fine combat handgun!!!!!

Posted by: glockster17 | March 1, 2010 1:56 PM    Report this comment

I totally agree J. Gallagher. I carry a Glock 23 .40 cal and always has a round in the chamber. An attack requires a quick response. If there is no round in the chamber you will die before you can get one into it and aim and fire...PERIOD.

Posted by: TBC | March 1, 2010 11:30 AM    Report this comment

The quality, simplicity, and durability of the Glock product line never ceases to amaze me. Also, the urban myth that the Glock Safe Trigger System is less safe than many of its competitors is not supported by the facts. As the article correctly points out, the only way that a Glock will go BOOM is if the lever on the trigger is pressed ... PERIOD. I have a Glock Model 27 that I use for carry and I "ALWAYS" keep a round in the chamber -- GREAT PRODUCT!!!

J. Gallagher
Hellertown, PA

Posted by: robespierre1794 | March 1, 2010 7:25 AM    Report this comment

Sounds like a disappointed person who can't hit the target. I believe the rant is bunch of crap. I have never had a problem with a Glock and don't know anyone of the many users that I know that has had a problem.

Posted by: TBC | February 28, 2010 1:55 PM    Report this comment

Gloc Pistols Rock in every caliber!111

Posted by: glockster17 | February 28, 2010 10:29 AM    Report this comment

I would like to add that the Glock will not blow up with lead bullets any faster than regular rifled barrels will. Lead build up occurs more rapidly in many of my conventionally rifled barrels than in my glock. Failure to clean out lead will blow up any pistol no matter what style of rifling the pistol has. And by the way you do not get poorer accuracy with lead bullets in Glock rifling as opposed to using expensive after market barrels with deep rifling. Its just all sales hype to get you to spend money on an unneeded accessory which many times lack the quality of the factory installed barrel.

Posted by: wild romanian | February 27, 2010 5:44 AM    Report this comment

I would not own a .40 cal. in any handgun. Combat handgun's magazine reported several years ago that a Glock, A Ruger, and A Browning High power all blew up using factory ammo. The problem seems to be that when using the heavier bullets that if bullet set back occurs during the loading cycle the lack of air space in the cartridge causes detonation. Glocks also have a problem with firing out of battery to boot.

I would also mention that the Glock pistol is for the extreme professional only. Its lack of a manual safety has resulted in many needless deaths and injuries as well as law-suits against Glock. Many other plastic pistols have now gone over to a manual safety and some have also added a grip safety too.

Posted by: wild romanian | February 27, 2010 5:33 AM    Report this comment

I own the Glock model 23. It is a very dependable handgun. Not one failure in over 5 years. My favorite to carry.

Posted by: spacedust | February 20, 2010 9:05 PM    Report this comment

Just some observations regarding the Glock product -- while there has been a great deal of discussion regarding the Glock "Safe Action Trigger" system [both pro and con], I beleive that it really comes down to the individual user's level of confidence in this type of action. If there is the slighest concern, t you have a couple of options -- don't leave a round in the chamber, or try another product. ALong with so many others,I beleieve that this is an exceptionally well made firearm. For example, I own a Glock Model 27 in .40 caliber. It's my carry gun ... and for defensive purposes, I always keep a round in the chamber. The pistol will not go "Boom" unless the trigger is pulled ... period. Although I have fired over 3,000 rounds from this pistol, I have never experienced a single jam or misfire -- a very impressive record.

Joe Gallagher
Hellertown, PA

Posted by: robespierre1794 | February 20, 2010 9:31 AM    Report this comment


Posted by: Lloyd W | February 19, 2010 3:06 PM    Report this comment

This review is almost 8 years old. Hows about some tests of current pistols?

Posted by: Squirmydad | February 19, 2010 11:41 AM    Report this comment

I've owned a Glock 22 .40 cal. since 1992 I think. Although not my favorite gun to shoot, it has never had a failure after 1000's of rounds.

Posted by: Robert J | February 19, 2010 7:57 AM    Report this comment

I don't own a glock pistole but I am thinking about buying one. I do own a 40 SW pistole & I like it so for.

Posted by: Ernie | February 19, 2010 1:22 AM    Report this comment

I bought a 1st gen. 23 back around when Anklepants first became prez and the clowns were first talking AWB. It has worked every time I wanted it to-just like it is supposed to-no matter what! I've always treated it as cocked and ready so no problems with safety issues(I always treat all my firearms in this manner.) I did put some Trij nitesights and some mouse fur stuff on the grips over the years and I consider it to be the perfect truck/toter/nitestand/whatever gun. JMHO. Yes, I've dropped it a time or two-but like a butt-ugly Timex-it takes a lickin' n' keeps on a tickin'. I thought about updating to a newer model once but why bother? I've also used it to down 2 does and 1 hog so far-and it did the job every bit as fast as my .308 Tikka could. I could not be more satisfied with a handgun...

Posted by: GREG S | February 18, 2010 7:17 PM    Report this comment

Thanks for the report on your Lasermax, Hans. Think I’ll have to try one on my G23. How’s battery life? Anybody else out there happy or unhappy with the Lasermax guide rod for G23?

Posted by: Dennis P | February 18, 2010 6:50 PM    Report this comment

I have owned a 23 for 10 years and have carried it pretty much exclusively as my CCW. Weight is not an issue, and I have added the guide rod Lasermax. I had some issues with the earlier version of the Lasermax, turning on while holstered in my hard side holster. Since the 2010 Shot Show the factory tech basically rebuilt my guide rod and since then I have had no errant turn on's. I highly recommend this laser site! Easy install and accurate right out of the box!

Posted by: Hans | February 18, 2010 6:26 PM    Report this comment

put a crimson trace on my G23, made it feel somewhat strange at first, but I am getting use to it.

Posted by: Robert C | February 18, 2010 3:08 PM    Report this comment

rust proof light weight reliable safe what more do you want

Posted by: johnnie k | February 18, 2010 12:05 PM    Report this comment

I have owned the Glock 27, 34 and 36. I did not feel recoil in the 40 caliber model 27 with mag pinky extension was bad at all. Although not my most treasured handguns, Glocks offer the lightest weight, highest capacity, extreme reliability and modest price. What's not to like!

Posted by: Pointman | February 18, 2010 11:59 AM    Report this comment

I must disagree with two points in your review, first, the new Glocks do have a loaded chamber indicator. The extractor is such that when a round is chambered it will protrude from the side of the slide. If you look at the photo shown in the article you will clearly see the design. Second, when the trigger of a Glock pistol is in the rearward position the weapon is uncocked and it is impossible to be fired. When the shooter chambers a round the extractor pops out from the slide and the trigger is in the foreward position then the weapon is ready to fire. Extractor in, trigger to the rear, the weapon is competely safe.

Posted by: FINEREDMIST | February 18, 2010 10:59 AM    Report this comment

There is a "chamber-loaded indicator" on all newer model Glocks. The extractor has a rectangular "bump" on the corner that sticks out from the slide if a cartridge is under the extractor. It is somewhat visual, but allows tactile feel to the shooter.

Posted by: B Mac | February 18, 2010 10:37 AM    Report this comment

I own a Glock 23 and unless there has been a change the chamber load indicator is in the picture shown here. If the foward edge is protruding from the surface level it is loaded and cocked. If the surface is smooth it is not loaded.

Posted by: TBC | February 18, 2010 10:36 AM    Report this comment

I agree with your assessment of the G23. Though it is the ugliest handgun I own, it is the most reliable. While it is not the most accurate I own, it is plenty accurate. While you can’t safely feed it a steady diet of cast bullets with factory barrel, you can with a $150 conventionally rifled, Storm Lake, drop-in barrel. And if you shoot as much as you should it will quickly pay for itself. While issue sights are poor you can replace them with the sight of your choice by any sight maker. I have used Heini Straight Eights, Big Dot 24/7 Espress, and the Hex Sight with much satisfaction. I also have tried the Streamlight TLR-2, tactical LED with laser. Works great as a nightstand or car/truck gun but I’m not a believer in this for daily carry—don’t want a bunch of junk hanging on my carry piece (believe in the KISS principal). That said, I would be interested in trying a LaserGuide rod—anyone have any experience with this? Pros and Cons?

Posted by: Dennis P | February 18, 2010 10:17 AM    Report this comment

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