I like all sorts of pistols, but I choose to carry the GLOCK 19. I believe the road to firearms knowledge is paved with money, embarrassment in classes and competitions, and rounds sent downrange. I’ve been fortunate to walk that path in the past 15 years or so, and I’ve tried out dozens of different carry guns in that time. Here is how I learned that for me, the GLOCK tops them all.
I didn’t want to like GLOCK . Personally I think it’s an ugly little gun, chunky and square and about as attractive as a plastic trash can. And they are so…ordinary. It seems like everyone has a GLOCK, from half the competition shooters to the Highway Patrolman writing me a speeding ticket. I wanted to be the clever guy ahead of the game who was somehow different and better. I was stubborn about this, shooting revolvers, a Steyr M, SIG Sauers, 1911s, and HKs for years. And every defensive shooting class I went to, I was outshot by guys with stock GLOCKs that came in those Tupperware cases.
The light bulb finally went on for me at a grueling defensive pistol class in Kansas. Running a SIG P245 with a standard DA/SA trigger and six shot magazine, I paired up with a shooting buddy using a GLOCK 30, another .45 about the same size as my SIG. The scenario was a confrontation with three bad guys. We had to draw from the holster and shoot each bad guy three times in a common drill known as the “El Presidente.” Speed and accuracy mattered. My shooting buddy was always faster in getting the first aimed shot to the target, because his trigger pull was the same every time, smooth with a super short reset. I had to start with a long, heavy double-action trigger pull because we were drawing from the holster, just like you would in real life. My first trigger pull with the SIG was long, heavy, and slow. My first shot was always less accurate than the GLOCK ’s first shot. I also had to learn two trigger pulls depending on what mode my gun was in. I thought, “Isn’t the first shot kind of important? Don’t I want to be the guy who shoots his first shot quicker and straighter than the other guy shooting back at me?” DA/SA triggers are fine for the range but they aren’t for me when it comes to a carry gun.
I also noticed that I had to reload to finish this basic drill, and my shooting buddy with the GLOCK 30 did not. The SIG ran dry with two shots remaining every time, while the GLOCK could complete the drill and still have two rounds left. In the real world, my shooting partner would have two extra rounds left to deal with any of the three bad guys still posing a threat. This matters to me because three-on-one odds happen all the time in the real world. Real bad guys bring friends to buck up their courage, provide backup, and confirm their tall tales after a night robbing the town. I am convinced capacity matters. The GLOCK 19 holds 15+1 9mm hollowpoints in a flush-fitting magazine. Think about that—shooting 16 rounds through a J-frame revolver means reloading three times. Have you ever frantically reloaded a revolver while the students who brought GLOCKs patiently watch and wait for you to finish the drill? I am no Jerry Miculek—it’s really embarrassing.
Years of classes and competitions have shown me that GLOCK, M&P, Springfield XD and 1911 shooters make the fastest aimed shots after drawing from the holster and the fastest follow-up shots after that. These guns have the same trigger pull every time and are simple to get into the fight. The 1911 has a basic safety that turns off with thumb pressure applied where the thumb sits anyway. The others have no external safety to worry about at all. The slowest guns to get into the fight are Beretta and Smith & Wesson DA/SA guns carried with the safety on. The shooter must reach up to the slide to disengage the safety on these guns, then move their thumb back down to its normal position, then start pulling that long, heavy, double-action first shot. By this time, a good GLOCK shooter has already put two in the chest and is transitioning the muzzle to the next point of aim. After firing the first shot, 1911, M&P, and GLOCK shooters keep shooting faster than the rest because of their low bore axis. The barrels on these guns sit lower in your hand compared to other designs, making felt recoil travel more straight back instead of flipping the gun barrel upwards. This is why competition shooters place their hands as high as possible on their pistols. They want the barrel to sit as low as possible relative to their hands. It’s also why a GLOCK or M&P is more controllable than a Springfield XD in the same caliber and size–sorry XD fans.
I chose the GLOCK 19 over the GLOCK 17 because it’s easier to conceal and only gives up 2 rounds of capacity in a standard magazine. It fits my ordinary-sized hands just as well as the larger frame. The “baby” GLOCK 26 is too small. At Cheaper Than Dirt!, we sell lots of aftermarket GLOCK 26 extended floorplates so folks can wrap all four fingers around the grip. Why not have a frame that goes that far out in the first place, and a magazine inside that frame holding five more rounds of ammo? It’s like Goldilocks and the Three Bears—the GLOCK 19 isn’t too big, isn’t too small, it’s just right. I carry it in a custom “tuckable” leather inside-the-waistband holster, and I can do anywhere in jeans and a tucked-in t-shirt without anyone knowing I am armed.
More than anything else, I chose the GLOCK because it works. A target gun that is just going to be used at the range can jam sometimes and it doesn’t matter. A carry gun must be flawless. It must work 100% of the time with the ammo you put in it, without failing in the smallest way, ever. It should not require custom springs, extra polishing of feed ramps, or a healthy dose of gun oil to stay reliable. You should not have to know the best trick to bend the internal extractor to maintain its proper tension after shooting a case of ammo (sorry 1911 guys). I treat my GLOCK like a lawnmower—it’s hardly ever cleaned or maintained and yet I expect it to do its job with no drama. Its tennifer finish is the best I’ve ever seen at resisting rust, but I did clean it after my last range session, I was shooting rapid-fire drills with TulAmmo in the pouring rain and there was a lot of mud from my magazines inside the grip when I finished. Just because I can abuse the gun without consequences doesn’t mean I should.
I’m not saying the GLOCK 19 is perfect. Sooner or later, some new design will come along and be better enough to make me switch. Maybe it’s the new Caracal; I haven’t tried one of those yet. Straight out of the box, the GLOCK does have a couple of flaws you can correct with easily available aftermarket parts. But that is another story! Stand by for an article on how to optimize your GLOCK for concealed carry, coming soon.