Why the Glock 23 Should be Your New Carry Gun

By Bob Campbell published on in Firearms

I have been surprised at the popularity of the Glock 19 9mm versus that of the Glock 23 .40S&W among civilian shooters.

I do not know anyone that carries the Glock 23 on their own time and their own dime. Practically everyone in my circle of friends and associates owns at least one Glock 19. The handguns are identical in size and shape and fit the same holsters. My yardstick, tape measure and calipers show that each is 7.35 inches long, about 5.0 inches high and 1.18 inch thick. They weigh but 23.6 ounces unloaded and pump up to about 32 ounces loaded. Neither Glock features a manual safety. The firing pin block and safety lever in the trigger are the whole show. True safety is between the ears.

Glock 23 left angled

The Glock 23 is a great all-around handgun that represents a good balance of power and weight.

The real difference is in magazine capacity. The Glock 19 9mm features a 15-round magazine while the Glock 23 .40 caliber pistol carries 13 rounds in the magazine. Clearly, either holds enough cartridges on tap for any foreseeable difficulty.

The Glock 23 features the typical Glock double-action-only trigger. There is only one trigger action to learn. In my example, the action is fast and light enough at 6 pounds. Trigger reset is rapid. The Glock 23 is snag free, fast into action, and simply feels good in the hands. The sights are adequate for the task at hand—especially with the night sight option. The Glock is easily field stripped and maintained. Overall, the Glock 23 is not only a good concealed carry handgun, but an acceptable service pistol as well.

15-yard accuracy, Glock 23, from a solid benchrest
Hornady 155-grain XTP 1.8 inches
Winchester 155-grain Silvertip 2. 0 inches
Remington 180-grain Golden Saber 2.25 inches

This brings us to the obvious comparison. The Glock Model 23 is chambered for the .40 Smith & Wesson cartridge. The .40 is a result of many studies into problems that have dogged police side arms for over 100 years. The Smith & Wesson .38 Special handled well and was mild to fire. The problem was that it did not do the job it was intended to do. The original 158-grain RNL .38 load was often called a ‘widowmaker’ because it failed the officers carrying it.

Glock 23 and Glock 19

The author’s personal Glock 23 compared to the Glock 19. These are similar handguns, but firing characteristics differ due to greater recoil of the .40 caliber cartridge.

Eventually, the powerful .357 Magnum cartridge was chambered in a relatively compact revolver. The Smith & Wesson Model 19, and the later Model 13, were great service revolvers. Problem was, they were difficult to control without extensive training. The magnum cartridge was also hard on the gun. They did not crack or blow, but magnum recoil was hard on small parts. The .40 was shoehorned into the 9mm frame in much the same manner and much the same problems surfaced.

The .40 S&W is more difficult to control than the 9mm and weapon wear is regarded as greater, although this differs from brand to brand. Will we ever learn? Yet, a study by the Feds some years ago confirmed what many harness cops already knew. A handgun over 35 ounces becomes a burden by the end of the day. The 9mm size handgun is ideal for carry and for hand fit. A .45 caliber pistol such as the excellent Glock 21 is a stretch for most hand sizes. A general consensus was reached—supported by well-documented cases and by research—that the 9mm wasn’t enough for police work.

Water test results Velocity Penetration Expansion
Hornady Critical Defense 115-grain FTX 1140 fps 14.0 .56
Cor Bon 115-grain DPX +P 1235 fps 11.0 .63
Winchester Ranger 147-grain SXT 940 fps 15.0 .54
Hornady 155-grain XTP 1090 fps 17.5 .72
Cor Bon 135-grain JHP 1290 fps 12.0 .70
Remington 180-grain Golden Saber 980 fps 14.5 .65

We could debate the 9mm from here to Ragnorak, but the fact remains the 9mm’s wound potential isn’t up to the .45 ACP—but the .45 is too heavy to carry. I am certain a .45 can be made as light as a 9mm, but the .900-inch long cartridge case demands a long grip frame. The same goes for the 10mm. The .40 had been kicking around for a while in the form of the centimeter round—.41 Action Express and others. The .40 S&W was a success story. There were a few cracks in the canvas, however. One Federal agency rushed to adopt the Glock 32 and went back to the 9mm because the officers were not qualifying to the previous high standard with the Glock 23.

The 9mm Luger and .40 caliber Smith & Wesson cartridges compared. The .40 kicks and hits harder.

The 9mm Luger and .40 caliber Smith & Wesson cartridges compared. The .40 kicks and hits harder.

This is understandable. Recoil is greater. The first runs of .40 caliber ammunition did not display a high degree of accuracy. Some were loaded perhaps too hot. Various loads demonstrate excellent wound potential. I have added a few results garnered from experimentation with water from 21st Century Stopping Power, Paladin Press. The author is a military intelligence officer and the results are verifiable and repeatable. As you can see the results with the .40 caliber across the spectrum of light and heavy bullets and various velocity gives better wound potential than the 9mm. But this isn’t the whole story.

Power Factor

9mm Power .40 S&W Power .45 ACP Power
115 grains 1140 fps 13 155 grains 1090 fps 17 230 grains 868 fps 19.9
115 grains 1235 fps 14 135 grains 1290 fps 17 185 grains 920 fps 17
147 grains 940 fps 14 180 grains 980 fps 17.5

Shot placement means a great deal. The Glock 19 9mm is easier to shoot well than the .40 caliber pistol. While recoil energy may be calculated, the easiest way is to calculate power factor. This is bullet weight times velocity divided by 1,000. It is generally regarded that a power factor of 20 or above is too much for control by most shooters in a personal defense gun.

Glock 23 in Blackhawk IWB holster

The author often carries his Glock 23 in this Blackhawk! inside the waistband holster.

9mm defense loads rate 13 to 14, the .40 runs to 17 and over. The 230-grain .45 is at 20; the .45 ACP 185-grain standard load is at about 17. (The PF isn’t the whole picture—the full size Glock 21 .45 is among the easiest kicking handguns in the Glock line due to size and weight.) So we have a pistol that hits harder, but kicks harder. Gee, Einstein was right! Many shooters find themselves choosing the 9mm if they want a lot of shots and the .45 if they want knockdown power. Nothing wrong with that, but they ignore the .40.

As for myself, I like the Glock 23. I have been impressed by results I have carefully researched and cataloged. For those willing to practice and accept lower times between shots, greater recoil, and perhaps slightly less absolute accuracy, the Model 23 offers excellent real world ballistics. The Glock 23 is as accurate to a fast first shot as the Glock 19. For those considering a compact pistol and moving from the .45, the Glock 23 offers the best of both worlds. The Glock 23 isn’t for everyone, but which handgun is? It is a well-balanced and reliable handgun, and it is all Glock.

 
Glock 23
Action Type Semi-automatic/Safe Action
Barrel Length 4.02 inches
Caliber .40 S&W
Overall Height 4.99inches
Overall Length 7.36 inches
Overall Width 1.18 inches
Weight Unloaded 21.16 ounces
Sights Fixed
Capacity 13
Magazines 2
Frame Polymer

9mm or .40 S&W? Do you carry the Glock 23 or Glock 19? Share you experiences with the Glock 23, 19 or your preferred Glock in the comment section.

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SLRule

Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooter’s Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.

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Comments (146)

  • BobT

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    Good for you! And don’t forgrt you can always convert down to 9mm for plinking and the .357 Sig for long range fun if you reload.

    Reply

  • Spacegunner

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    Hmmm: Not on my loved-one’s lives or my life!! To those willing to “accept lower times between shots, greater recoil, and perhaps slightly less absolute accuracy, the Model 23 offers excellent real world ballistics.” may be have to accept being shot, an innocent person being shot – by the defender and/or perpetrator.

    Also, it was Newton who “was right”. Glocks or any other brand have nothing to do with nuclear physics.

    Reply

  • Mitch

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    I traded in a Taurus PT145 plus $120 for a new Glock 23 Gen4, and I definitely wouldn’t go back… I do miss the manual safety, as I have been used to that, but this is my first Glock, and I will stick to the brand based on my range experience…

    I have always wanted a Kimber carry, but am shy on the price

    Reply

  • brian

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    i feel sorry for anybody that is standing on the recieving end of any glock pistol , because it’s going to be about the last thing they will see on this earth

    Reply

    • Rick

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      You can say that about most any firearm. Duh.

      Reply

    • Anthony

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      I use and like Glocks. But statistically, 3 out of 4 persons that are shot with a handgun survive. With a Glock, it is true that you can more or less be sure that it will go bang when you need it to, but handguns in general aren’t that effective compared to long guns.

      Reply

    • B1GDAVE

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      Please state your source(s) of that 3 out of 4 survive statement…

      Reply

    • faultroy

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      Well, Big Dave, if you go by the number of police shootings and their poor shot placement, it’s more like 9 out of 10–LOL!!

      Reply

  • Bob-Florida

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    I shoot 4 Glocks: G35/3 in .40, G30/4 in .45, G19/4 in 9mm., G42/4 in .380.
    The .45 cal G30 Gen 4 is my favorite concealed carry gun (IWB), It has minimal recoil for a .45, and is very accurate-I use it in Action Pistol Shooting Competition. It easily conceals IWB with shirt tails out and sits very close to the body, draws fast, and is spot on accurate. Glock did this one especially right with the double recoil spring helping followup shot to be very fast. A few customizations help too.

    Reply

    • bob campbell

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      Sir,
      Shooting in Action Pistol Shooting is challenging! Firing the pistol you carry in this competition clearly gives you an edge in any situation. Sounds like you do something very few shooters actually do- accept the challenge to be all you can be.
      Good shooting
      Bob Campbell

      Reply

  • Adam

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    I can think of several reasons to choose 9mm over .40.

    1) It’s easier on the budget, which encourages regular practice.
    2) It’s easier on the shooter, which both encourages regular practice and makes followup shots faster and easier.
    3) It’s easier on the gun, though this probably won’t matter for occasional or moderate shooters.

    Also, the early .40 cal Glocks (along with other maker’s pistols) had occasional problems with blown cases (and sometimes guns) due to insufficient chamber support. That’s long since been fixed, but that doesn’t mean it’s been forgotten about.

    Reply

  • Louis

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    I agree 100%, but I went to the next. I carry the Gen 4 G 22. I get a better purchase on the grip with it over the G 23. Shoots great. I have weak hands and wrists and I don’t find the recoil difficult at all. Accuracy is pretty good also.

    Reply

  • ss1

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    I prefer my Glock 20 Gen 4 and Glock 29 Gen 3. Both are 10mm. Both are more powerful than a 40sw if you buy the proper ammo, and I do.

    The 29 is concealable, and the 20 could be with the proper clothes and holster.

    NO THANKS to the model 23.

    Reply

    • bob campbell

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      SS1,
      Thanks for reading.
      Your choice of the 10mm reflects experience I am certain.
      The 10mm is a great cartridge. To each his own, and I agree
      on concealed carry.
      I believe the 10mm moves into deer killing capability inside of 50 yards, which makes the 10mm a go anywhere do anything handgun.

      Best,
      Bob

      Reply

    • Gunclub

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      I have loved the 10-mm since I started shooting it back in the mid 80’s. I am not recoil sensitive so in my G-20 I get 15 rnds of 650 FPS hitting my target especially when I use my 6″ barrel option.

      Reply

    • ss1

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      @Bob Campbell: Thanks for your reply. Of all people, I didn’t know that the author word answer positively to my 10mm comment :)

      @Gunclub: Finally another 10mm fan has posted!! Your 6″ barrel comment has me interested. I have thought about buying one for my G20 to increase accuracy, but I felt that since the front sight is not extended, then accuracy improvements would be limited. What is your opinion?

      Reply

  • Rick

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    “…and it is all Glock.”

    Hardly a ringing endorsement. Does Glock pay CTD for these infomercials?

    Reply

    • Pete in Alaska

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      @Rick
      It does get a bit tiresome, Rick, I agree. It would seem at times that the “writers” for CTD/TSL are biased toward Glock. It would be a shame if this is true as it then taints the Blog as a whole for everyone. I understand that there have been changes in the editorial management recently at CTD/TSL so I don’t expect this kind of biased reporting to improve. Like to old saying goes “follow the money”.
      Pete sends…

      Reply

    • bob campbell

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      The Glock is always reliable, you cannot take that away. You comment on follow the money is not well take. But following the trend and buying public cannot be ignored.
      We take hits no matter what the article, no matter what the gun, but for most shooters, the Glock works.
      As for myself and always on my own time and my own dime- and often in uniform when I could- it is the cocked and locked Colt 1911 .45, Government Model. That is my choice.

      Reply

    • bob campbell

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      I meant your comment is not well taken

      Where is the editor? LOL

      Reply

    • Dave Dolbee

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      All Glock fans? Not so much. If you read through the articles, particularly mine, you will see I am a fan of SIGs above all else. However, there are many other fine makes and I own a bunch of them. As a well as a bunch of low-dollar guns, which I am also a fan of and often write about.

      In the end, we have to look at the market. Glock currently represents over 60 percent of all handgun sales and Glock has enjoyed the lion’s share of sales for many years. With those kinds of numbers, it would be irresponsible if we did not dedicate a lot of coverage to Glock. Likewise, Glock does not own the hearts of so many enthusiasts and law enforcement professionals simply by chance. The platform has proven to be reliable and Glock’s pros are winning more than their share of competitions. ~Dave Dolbee

      Reply

    • Rick

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      Thanks for your answer, Dave. It can also be looked at as preaching to the choir. Comparing Glock-Glock-to-Glock as in this piece is nothing but sycophantic, and has no perspective at all. Yes, I know this is a blog, not real journalism, but there should be some pretense towards objectivity. Otherwise, like I said originally, it’s an infomercial.

      As far as I know, Glock has 60% of the LEO sales market, not of all sales, but I also couldn’t find stats for 2014 to be 100% sure. Got a reference?

      Reply

    • bob campbell

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      Rick,

      Thanks for reading. And this is more than a blog, these are professional writers with great experience in the field, not simply fans testing real guns. Without being combative what is journalism? Most of the gun books are for entertainment, the same reason I read Motor Tend, but there is also good information. I had the idea for this story and presented it to the editor because of the current move in law enforcement – by all reports- of a move away from the .40 to the 9mm. I took a look for myself. Evidently they have forgotten how badly they campaigned for the .40. Best,
      Bob

      Reply

  • BobT

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    I’ve been shooting a 3rd gen. 23 since its conception. It took time to get to like it since I’ve been a 1911 shooter since early ’50’s. With its capability to be converted to 9mm and.357 Sig in less than a minute, it has become my number 1 all around handgun. It has functioned flawlessly with all 3 calibers!

    Reply

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