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 (147)

  • Michael

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    I had a glock 22 for quite awhile and decided to step down in size for concealed carry. I went to two different gun shops in town and asked each shop owner what he recommended. each one said they carried the glock 23. that was good enough for me…

    Reply

  • RcLonghair

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    1st gun I purchased when I was old enough, was a .357 Colt Trooper owned by a retired C.H.P. hate to say that was over 40 yrs ago. I’ve always had a .357 revolver & shot highest grain I could fined. Forty plus yrs later I purchased Glock-27 & S&W Shield .40. Yeah, I know small & hard to hang on to, but that’s just how most of the women in my life have been. I’ll never learn, just want to have a little fun trying. No point to this, just FYI.

    Reply

  • Steven

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    Years ago, I started my collection with a Ruger P89, which for me was quite unreliable. It jammed up 1 or 2 times every mag! So I switched to a Beretta 92, which I liked, but I eventually decided that I wanted more power. Enter the 96. That was everything and a bag of chips, until a friend handed me a G23 to try. Never looked back! I now own 3 G23’s (a Gen 2 and 2 Gen 3’s). I use one of the gen 3’s w/night sights as my IWB EDC, wouldn’t have it any other way! I’ve looked for the new “G23″, but nothing else stands out, they’re either not aesthetically pleasing, or I don’t like how they feel in my hand.

    Reply

  • Casey

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    So I realize there are some very experience people leaving comments. I had a Smith & Wesson 357 mag for years and loved it. Went to get a concealed weapon and did a lot of research. Almost went with the 19 gen4 but after reading and talking to people I went with the Glock23 gen 4. What a nice weapon! I can’t say enough good things about it! And if I want a 9MM It can be changed over easily and cheaply!! I see a lot of comments about the price of ammunition. My take on that is I will spend a couple more dollars to make them drop on the first shot than worry if they get a shot off at me!! Love my Glock 23 Gen 4 buy one and you will also

    Reply

  • Daniel Ducey

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    I wish to purchase a fire arm for home protection. I have been reading about Glocks and such…

    Have never purchased a fire arm . My knowledge of one can be put on a tip of a needle..

    Reply

  • Chris

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    Could you just swap barrels and have a 40 AND a 9mm AND a .357? All in one gun; the g23?

    Reply

    • Dave Dolbee

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      Chris,
      Yes. It would be exactly the same, just shorter barrels. ~Dave Dolbee

      Reply

    • Joe

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      That’s not completely true…you may swap 40 cal and 357 sig barrels, but for the 9mm the ejector must be changed. The 9mm round has a smaller diameter and may not eject spent casings reliably.

      Reply

    • Dave Dolbee

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      I have been shooting 9mm out of my G22 and G23 for about a year now without a hitch and never changed anything but the barrel and magazine without a hitch or a failure to eject (FTE). However, it is a good tip for other to consider in case they are having an issue. ~Dave Dolbee

      Reply

    • BobM

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      Joe, I did not realize that you should swap the ejector as well. LWDist. never mentioned the need to swap the ejector. I have used my gen 2 G22 frame for well over 8 years with a 9mm conversion barrel and mags and it has never failed to eject a 9mm casing. After years of shooting this way I finally broke down and bought a G17 and noticed that the ejector was shaped differently. Dumb luck I guess.

      Reply

    • Ron

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      No Ejector change needed! I have owned 4 G23’s (Needless to say, I Love the G23) One of which my Bro. now owns. 3 of these have 9mm conversions for them. 2 of them are Gen3 and one is a Gen4 The first one I converted had some ejection trouble, so I talked to the local Glock Guru. He told me to put a Stainless Recoil Spring in it, which I did. No more trouble!, and it shoots smoother and with less recoil with the 9 or 40’s running through it. I now install Stainless Recoil Springs in all my pistols. I own 7 different S&W 40 pistols and have no problem with accuracy or follow up shots with any of them. Even my Carry weapon which is an S&W Shield 40

      Reply

    • Joe

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      I understand that you can shoot the firearm without changing your ejector, but I’m just putting it out there that you are not supposed to. As a LE Officer, Range Instructor and Certified Glock Armorer, I’m just saying that just because you have been doing it doesn’t mean that is the way it is supposed to be that way. Glock has made it clear that the Glock 19 and the Glock 23 have different ejectors for a reason. Hence the different part numbers (Glock 19-30274 and Glock 23-28926). I guess if you are going to use the firearm to plink around with at the range…Knock yourself out, but life or death situation I would strongly advise the you have the proper internal parts for the caliber being used. Just because you always 10 over the speed limit, doesn’t mean you can’t get a ticket someday. BTW If I was a betting man (I am in this case). I’d bet that if you were to have issues in the future with your firearm and you told Glock that or Glock found out that you weren’t properly switching out the parts for the appropriate caliber they will say you voided your warranty. I am just trying to help. The ejector is not an expensive part, so it just doesn’t make sense to not do things the right way. I’m sure the local Glock Guru can get his/her hands on the parts needed/required to swap out calibers. I also have a large collection of Glocks myself, almost in every caliber and actively carry Glocks on and off duty. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Good luck and be safe.

      Reply

  • Deadarmadillo

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    Make mine 9. I could quote some physics but the 45 ACP boys long ago changed the argument to one that favors their cartridge and I see that is continued in this article. When the 9m m vs. 45 argument comes up and how the heavier bullet blah, blah, blah, I simply ask would you rather be shot by a 45 ACP or a .270 Winchester?

    Reply

  • James

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    I have never been a fan of the 9mm. I don’t hate it, but just not impressed. It seems you have to step up to a +p round and be very selective to get a round that performs as good as a 40 S&W. I love my Glock 23. I have thought about going to a 19. The 40 really is the best of both worlds though.

    Reply

  • Brian

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    I love my Gen 4 Glock 23 too. And I believe this is what this article is about a glock 23 i don’t think a Kel-Tech 2000 is in the same category as a glock 23 handgun so how can u compare the two

    Reply

  • DrRJP

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    Easy answer.

    .40S&W’s suck, People hate them in all brands of guns. New Gen 2 Kel-Tec SUB-2000 tell the tale better than any.

    A 9mm Gen 2 Subby sells for at least $100 to $150 more than the .40S&W on GunBroker. Normally, a price differential this huge is due to the rarity or greater desire for the higher-priced gun OR just the opposite. In the case of the ,40SW SUB-2000, buyers hate them and are unloading them like a polyester 3-piece suit from the ’70’s.

    After testing the same brands of gun in 9mm and .40SW, the extra flip and recoil from the .40SW that kept me from getting back on target for follow-up shots vis-a-vis the 9mm also meant that there were more flyers in the batches of .40SW.

    The extra initial power output of the 40’s also increased the depth of penetration though dry walls increasing the risk to civilians.

    Is a three or four round reduction in carry capacity worth the relatively useful but unpredictable increase in muzzle energy?

    Were the would cavities from .40’s that much better than 9’s?

    Then answer to all of the above is “NO.”

    The .40S&W was a necked down 10mm because it was putting more hurt on the good guys than the bad guys. The 10mm was supposed to be the answer to the underpowered duty rounds that the Miami PD carried. BUT, more is not necessarily better. Seven 00 buckshot pellets vs a bucket full of birdshot will attest to that.

    So, the G22’s and G23’s are being swapped out for 4th Gen G19’s. More ammo in a lighter gun and lighter dual-mag pouch.

    When faced with multiple perps, there is strength in numbers – especially when those numbers are bad ass 9mm bullets.

    Reply

    • ss1

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      @DrRJP:

      Thanks for explaining the price differences on Gun Broker, and all the other logic you wrote. I went over there and I see what you mean.

      I agree with you that if you’re going to buy a Kel-Tec Sub-2000, it’s best to buy a 9mm to stay on target and have more rounds.

      Reply

    • C

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      I think you have gone a bit off topic. If I were to purchase a Gen 2 Kel-Tec SUB-2000, I would also go with 9 mm because the ammo is cheaper and the capacity is larger with 9 mm. Also the 9 mm round is more lethal in a carbine than a handgun, due to the longer barrel. But, back on topic the Glock 23 is hard to beat for the versatility of being able to use three different types of ammo (including the 9 mm), and can be used for concealed carry. For home defense I have a 22 round magazines in 40 cal, and a 12 gauge shotgun. I love my Gen 4 Glock 23!

      Reply

    • Bryce

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      Sorry I have to respond.

      “So, the G22’s and G23’s are being swapped out for 4th Gen G19’s. More ammo in a lighter gun and lighter dual-mag pouch.”

      Are you able to talk to LEO/Gov employees who actually have to qualify with their pistol? Out of four people whom I spoke to about this redundant issue that work in the force, two of them use .40’s while another who is retired daily carries a 1911 .45ACP.

      Your quote above is not accurate.

      Reading the article is the same today as it was yesterday, I do agree .40’s are harder to target practice with but from what I know, self defense isn’t about bulls-eyes and showing off. You need to place accurate and deadly force upon the target, regardless of repeated, exact shot placement and these Gov. employees can do that very, very well with what they practice with.

      Anyway, those are my opinions.

      Reply

    • Mike

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      I’ve owned a lot of handguns in my life. The Glock 23 is my all time favorite followed by the Bersa Thunder 380 tack driver.

      When I got my concealed carry license a few years ago I cycled through all of my handguns but couldn’t find anything that provided the right combination of caliber, capacity, reliability, accuracy and carry-ability.

      Tried a Glock 23 GEN four and instantly fell in love. Perfect fit in the hand, decent accuracy, unparalleled reliability, easy to carry.

      I carry concealed with a 15 round mag when I’m out with my family. The larger mag sticks out the grip by an inch but doesn’t affect handling.

      Bought the Kel Tec sub 2000 in the same caliber with 33 round mags which also fit the hand gun (which is a hoot at the range). Decked out the Kel Tec. The wife loves it and it’s her go to gun for home defense. Accurate and fun to shoot. Plus it looks cool as hell.

      Reply

    • John

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      I own a sub2k in .40 with a buffer and it is a smooth shooting extremely accurate road and I can use the rounds in my g22. So I call BS to your smack on the keltec

      Reply

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