June 2006

.40 S&W Polymer Pistols: The Glock M23 Is A Proven Winner

Though the Glock 23 is Our Pick, we liked the USP 40 Variant 9, too. Wed buy the Sigarms SP2022 if it were single action, but in the double-action version tested here, we have to pass.

Most shooters don’t get too worked up about new polymer-framed auto pistols; they don’t have the charm of a well-built 1911 .45 ACP or the character of an old Chiefs Special .38. Instead, what plastic guns do well is protect their owners, and in this defensive role, they excel. If you doubt this statement, simply check out what gun is riding on the hip of today’s law-enforcement personnel. More often than not, it will be a polymer-framed high-cap 9mm or .40 S&W, and quite often, it will be a Glock.

Glock introduced the first successful plastic-framed pistol more than twenty years ago, and it is still the most popular polymer by a large margin. But several other manufacturers make comparable polymer pistols, and we recently tested two of such guns against the mainstay .40 S&W Glock Model 23.

Our first test product was the Heckler & Koch USP 40 Variant 9 .40 S&W USPLEM, $769. This design adds a manual thumb safety to the hinged-trigger USP pistol. Sigarms’s latest polymer pistol, the SP2022 .40 S&W (No. E2022-40-BSS, $715), offers a decocker. Our Glock 23 .40 S&W No. HXL616 cost $670. All three guns came with night sights, and barrel length was approximately 4 inches.

In these guns we shot Winchester’s 155-grain JHP Ranger loads, 180-grain hollowpoints from Black Hills Ammunition, and 165-grain FMJ rounds loaded to USPSA major caliber specifications by Georgia Arms (770-459-5117). This meant these rounds were expected to travel at an average velocity of at least 1000 fps from a 5-inch barrel.

For the testing, our shooters visited the comfortable confines of Top Gun of Texas (www.topgunrange.com), where we took advantage of the opportunity to adjust lighting conditions to test the effectiveness of each gun’s night sights. Using the Black Hills rounds exclusively in this portion of our tests, we fired standing unsupported from a distance of 7 yards. We adjusted backlighting to provide just enough illumination to allow us to see a 3-inch circle on a Hoffners ABC16 target (www.hoffners.com). We recorded the first 10-round group we shot. Accuracy data from the bench was recorded at 15 yards, and we fired single action only from the Sigarms and HK pistols.

Our first question was whether or not the Glock SafeAction trigger, a full-time double-action system, would put the Model 23 gun at a disadvantage. Second, we asked if the addition of an active safety on the Heckler & Koch pistol or, the decocker on the Sigarms SP2022, added safety, or did these mechanisms hinder operation. Though we formed definite likes and dislikes about each gun, we found that they all ran trouble free with a variety of ammunition. Otherwise, let’s get a detailed look at how well they shot in the text below:

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