I began buying GLOCK 22s and 23s in 1991 and have steadily shot these .40 S&W-chambered handguns ever since, including, most recently, the G22 Gen 4 and the G23 Gen 4. Looking back at the performances of the GLOCK .40s over the years, I was taken by how consistently they’ve shot, handled and carried, and the steady pricing.
My first GLOCK 22 was in the shop alongside a Smith & Wesson 4006 in 1991. List price at the time was $598. The 1991 G22 was the first to show me the company’s focus on performance and its seeming lack of interest in aesthetics. The GLOCK was full-sized but still lightweight at 22.5 ounces. A full magazine (15+1) brought the weight up to 33 ounces. The pistol had a 4.5-inch barrel and an overall length of 7.5 inches. My notes show fit and finish were generally above average—no tool marks anywhere, and it locked up well despite gaps between the slide and the frame. The pebble-grip panels and grooves on the frontstrap and backstrap helped control the pistol, but they left an uncomfortable imprint on the hand after a lengthy shooting session. The front of the grooved trigger guard accommodated a two-hand hold. All told, the GLOCK’s handling qualities were excellent. GLOCK shaped the grip in a way that ensured a solid and repeatable hold by most shooters. The pistol was well-balanced, with most of the weight directly over the hand. The gun sat fairly low in the hand and pointed naturally. I noticed quite a bit of muzzle flip on recoil, but was able to recover quickly and bring the gun back on target with relative ease.
Later in 1991 I bought a G23, a compact version of the GLOCK 22. Suggested retail price was $554. Basically, the only difference between the two models were that the Model 23 was a half-inch shorter, three ounces lighter, and held two fewer rounds. To be exact, the overall length of the Model 23 was 6.97 inches, with a barrel measuring 4.02 inches long. Empty weight was 20.67 ounces. That climbed to just over 30 ounces when the gun was fully loaded. Capacity of the standard magazine was 13 rounds, though an optional 15-round magazine was available. Handling was where the GLOCK 23 shined. The pistol was muzzle heavy and pointed just a bit high, however with these factors added to the low bore axis, sight acquisition and quick follow-up shots were very easy. Grip length was more than adequate to maintain a solid hold, fitting most shooters’ hands comfortably. Muzzle flip on this lightweight handgun was noticeable, but did not hamper recovery. The accuracy of this gun was very good. From a sandbag rest at 25 yards, both Winchester and Federal 180-grain JHPs shot 2.0-inch groups, and Hornady Custom 180-grain JHPs managed 2.5-inch groups. Winchester 155-grain FMJ loads measured 1.5 inches.
In 1993, I got another GLOCK 22. In that pistol, GLOCK made some minor changes to the Safe Action firing mechanism, which in my view had no adverse effects on the trigger. In fact, the change made it much more like a double-action revolver feel, which a lot of shooters are already accustomed to. The pull had about a quarter-inch of relatively light take up, and broke crisply at six pounds. Also, on this gun were optional night sights made by Trijicon, with a front blade which housed one tritium capsule and a rear blade with two capsules. Both steel-made sight housings—an upgrade over polymer sights, in my view—produced a clear-sighted reference all light conditions. The luminous sights glowed brightly in the dark, and the white circles surrounding them stood out well in the light. The level of accuracy it was able to achieve surprised me. Its tightest five-shot-group averages, 1.5 inches at 25 yards, were produced with USA-brand 180-grain full-metal-jacket ammunition. Remington 180-grain jacketed hollowpoints routinely managed 2-inch groups at the same distance, as did Winchester’s 180-grain Black Talon and 155-grain truncated nose match loads.
Another G22 of the same vintage didn’t shoot quite as well in early 1994. Both USA- and UMC-brand 180-grain metal case ammunition provided the tightest five-shot average groups, measuring 3.3 inches at 25 yards. Winchester 155-grain Silvertip hollowpoints and Remington 180-grain jacketed hollowpoints routinely managed 4-inch groups at the same yardage. I sold it, and a second G22 in that year was much better. PMC Starfire 180-grain jacketed hollowpoints produced the smallest five-shot groups, which averaged 2.4 inches at 25 yards. Both Remington 180-grain jacketed hollowpoints and American Eagle brand 165-grain full metal-jacketed flatpoints were good for 2.9-inch groups.
In 1998, I got a GLOCK 22, $616 list, with an accessory mounting slot built into the front of the frame. The integral grip had three finger grooves on the front, serrations on the front and back, and shallow texturing on the sides. Both of the double-column magazines provided with this pistol had black polymer bodies with steel reinforcement inserts and removable floorplates. After a lot of takeup, the trigger released cleanly at 6.5 pounds with no noticeable overtravel. The smallest five-shot average groups, 2.6 inches at 25 yards, were obtained using Winchester 155-grain Silvertips. Remington 180-grain JHPs came in a close second with 2.75-inch groups. Speer Lawman 180-grain TMJs managed 3.4-inch groups.
I took a break from GLOCKs until 2000, when I picked up a 22 and a 22C, the compensated version, which listed at $616 and $646, respectively. Those models included the improved grip frame that featured a deeper undercut at the top of the backstrap. Three checkered but mild finger grooves covered the front strap, with an undercut where the trigger guard met the grip. Of course, the 22C’s barrel sported the addition of two 0.40-inch-long ports at about 1 o’clock and 11 o’clock about 1.2 inches back from the muzzle. A corresponding set of vents were cut into the slide and angled to the outside. Many factory .40 S&Ws are packed with fast-burning powders that don’t take full advantage of porting’s characteristics, so carefully selecting ammunition for the 22C made this gun pleasant to shoot. With lighter bullets, I was able to shoot the 22C much more accurately than the unported 22. Shooting Winchester 180-grain FMJs in both, I got 2.7-inch groups at 25 yards. Federal American Eagle 155-grain FMJs were somewhat more accurate in the 22C, 1.6 to 2.2 inches for the plain barrel. With Speer 165-grain GDHP ammo, the margin was even larger, 2.0 to 3.2 inches.
A G23, list $641, arrived at the shop in 2002, and it too had finger grooves on the front strap with sections of checkering molded in. The texture of the side panels had not changed much, but there was an indentation for the thumb on each side. The rear of the grip was contoured with a mild palm swell. The magazine release was more pronounced than it was on the original design. Unlike the GLOCK s before it, this pistol arrived in a simple, functional case that displayed the modern GLOCK logo in a modern-art motif. At 26 ounces, the G23 produced noticeable felt recoil. I enjoyed shooting Winchester USA 165-grain FMJ rounds in it the best, and groups averaged 2.6 inches. Winchester’s 180-grain Q-load ammunition came in a just under 3 inches at 25 yards.
In 2006, I had the loan of a GLOCK Model 23 with an O.D.-green frame, and it came with a nice package of three 13-round magazines and Trijicon night sights. The grip showed a mild palm swell to the rear and three finger grooves on the front. The trigger guard, which was squared and checkered at the front, was also undercut where it met the front strap. With Black Hills 180-grain JHPs and Georgia Arms 165-grain FMC rounds at 15 yards, it shot 2.3-inch groups on average. It did slightly better with Winchester Ranger 155-grain JHPs, coming in at 2.1 inches.
In 2009, I had a chance to shoot the GLOCK G22 RTF2, $646 list. The Rough Textured Frame Version #2 (RTF2) had small raised pyramids covering the front, rear, sides, and thumbrests of the frame. They provided additional traction and an enhanced shooting grip. I thought the texture might wear on my hands, but it didn’t. In fact, the texture helped manage the gun with sweaty hands. The G22 RTF2’s slide serrations were also changed to new curved shapes that replaced the straight grooves of previous versions. Winchester 180-grain FMJs fell into 1.2-inch groups from a standing rest at 10 yards, bettering both Remington 180-grain MC rounds and Blazer 180-grain FMJs at 1.5 inches. After having shot several versions of the sights, I can readily recommend upgrading to the low-profile Trijicon night sights. Their three-dot configuration presented a good sight picture, and were smooth enough not to snag when unholstering and re-holstering. The tritium inserts gave excellent low-light capabilities as well.
In 2010, I got a GLOCK 22 Gen 4, $649 list, which arrived with three backstraps to customize the grip shape. This gun also had the RTF frame, which I still wondered about. I wore it in an inside-the-waistband holster for a time and was pleasantly surprised not to suffer a rash. Also, the Gen 4 has a new recoil-spring assembly. Internally, a dual recoil spring replaced the original recoil spring. The dual recoil spring assembly was designed to reduce felt recoil while increasing the life span of the assembly. Having shot many other versions of the G22 over the years, I believe the Gen 4 generates less muzzle flip. Three 15-round magazines were supplied. The trigger-pull weight measured 6.5 pounds. At 25 yards, the G22 Gen 4 produced five-shot groups measuring 1.8 inches when firing Winchester USA 180-grain JHP rounds, but liked other ammunition better. New Black Hills Ammunition 155-gr. JHP and Winchester USA 165-gr. FMJs shot 1.6-inch groups in the gun.
In 2013, I picked up a GLOCK 23 Gen 4, $650 list. Out of the box, the GLOCK felt good, and I saw no need to try the other grips. I noticed the contour of the trigger on this pistol, and liked it better than what I recalled about the G22 Gen 4. This model had the wide, square, U around the rear notch and a white dot on the front, and I immediately missed the tritium sights. On all these GLOCKs, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how easy they were to field strip. With the gun empty and the magazine out, drop the striker, pull the slide back slightly and pull down on the takedown levers on both sides, and ease the slide forward off the frame. The captive spring comes easily out, and then you can get to the insides. Reassembly is even simpler. With the barrel and spring in place in the slide, simply slip it back onto the frame and tug on the slide. The takedown levers will click up into place, and you’re ready to go.
I’ve been buying and shooting GLOCK 22s and 23s coming up on 15 years, and amazingly, I couldn’t find any record of a stoppage over the thousands of rounds I’ve fired in these pistols. At 25 yards, the pistol shooter can expect a G22 to print 2.5-inch groups with many ammunition choices, and it’s fair to expect the G23 to do the same at 15 yards. The triggers will almost always run 6 to 7 pounds and have any movement that’s learnable, and eventually shootable, if the shooter will do his part. Over the years, the sights have been pretty well-regulated for impacts in the target center. They’re easy to clean, durable, and wear like iron. Really, what else can you ask for in a self-defense pistol?
Which GLOCK is your favorite for self-defense? Tell us in the comment section.