The GLOCK pistol has many good features and is a popular service pistol. It features a relatively low bore axis and trigger compression that is controllable with practice. All GLOCK models are examples of reliability.
And even this 1911 fan is surprised by the speed with which GLOCK reacts to the needs of the buying public. Among the best examples of the rapid movement of GLOCK to meet a real need is the GLOCK Model 37.
The GLOCK 37 has been around for a few years, and its adoption by the New York State Police a number of years ago deserves attention. When a handgun fails in the line of duty, we try to isolate the reason. Human failure must be eliminated because, after all, if the bullet does not strike its mark, that is a human issue. Malfunctions, unfortunately, also are a human issue in many cases. But when an officer delivers his shots and the pistol does not take effect, we blame the caliber.
We shed the .38-caliber revolver for many reasons, including a lack of wound potential, sometimes called “stopping power.” Another reason was the need for an increased reserve of ammunition, sometimes referred to as “firepower.” Some handguns, such as the .357 Magnum, had proven capable of stopping a felon with a minimum of well-placed shots; others have not been as capable.
Tragedy Necessitates Change
Unfortunately, many remain complacent until tragic events cause police and military to take a hard look at their firearms.
- The failure of the .38-caliber revolver in combat caused the U.S. military to reissue .45-caliber revolvers and eventually develop and issue a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol.
- When the FBI met with ammunition failure from small-bore pistols after the tragic Miami gun battle, they replaced those with more capable sidearms.
- When the Ohio State Police suffered malfunctions during critical incidents, they conducted an extensive test program with some 228,000 rounds of ammunition to isolate the problem.
About six years ago, the New York State Police (NYSP) had a bad situation that lead to changing the service sidearm. On March 1, 2006, armed felons (Anthony Horton, 33, and Brian Adams, 45) robbed the Chemung Canal Trust Company in Big Flats, NY. The robbers fled with $1,900. Approximately an hour later, Trooper Andrew Sperr stopped their vehicle for what appeared to be a minor traffic violation.
The felons engaged Sperr in a gun battle and Sperr was killed. However, he hit each of the robbers, wounding one four times. Citizens found Sperr on the side of the road, while the robbers eventually were arrested, one after making his way to a hospital. Each recovered from his wounds. The shooting came days after the death of a New Hartford officer while pursuing a robbery suspect.
The GLOCK 17 and 21
The GLOCK 17 9mm pistol Sperr used has a reputation of being reliable. It is simple to use and maintain and has proven reliable in service, although the caliber has been controversial. The 9mm is often referred to as enough “given good shot placement,” yet the reality is the 9mm gives mixed results, and some are very poor. It relies on an expanding bullet for effect. When the felon is wearing clothing, such as heavy down, that impedes expansion of a hollow-point bullet, poor results are predictable. The NYSP adopted a more powerful handgun, and were willing to do so only for a pistol of equal accuracy.
NYSP spokesman Sgt. Kern Swoboda said they chose the new pistol, in part, to increase “immediate incapacitation” and “maximize safety.” Swoboda noted the agency did not want to compromise accuracy. They wanted to maintain that advantage with a larger caliber. Some agencies adopted the .45-caliber GLOCK Model 21, although those agencies usually authorize a smaller handgun, such as the Model 22 .40 caliber for those whose hand size is not compatible with the GLOCK 21. The Model 21 is reliable and among the most accurate GLOCK pistols, and it recoils less than most .45-caliber pistols. And it is quite large and challenges many hand sizes.
The GLOCK .45 GAP
For several years, GLOCK listened to police agencies say they wanted to adopt a .45-caliber pistol since the GLOCK 21 did not offer the best hand fit. As a result, GLOCK and Speer Ammunition developed the .45 GLOCK Automatic Pistol (.45 GAP) cartridge.
The .45 GAP is similar to the .45 ACP although uses a shorter case, which allows the cartridge to be chambered in compact handguns of basically 9mm size. While the slide is heavier, the GLOCK Model 37 .45 GAP is barely larger than the GLOCK 17 pistol in 9mm. That is possible due to the special short case and low pressure of the .45 GAP cartridge.
Like the .45 ACP, the .45 GAP works at modest pressure: The .45 ACP operates at about 21,000 psi, while the .40 and 9mm can operate at well more than 30,000 psi. The .45 GAP is rated at 23,000 psi, or about the same pounds-per-square inch pressure as a .45 ACP +P loading. The .45 GAP uses a special extractor groove considerably different from the .45 ACP and a small pistol primer rather than the large primer of the .45 ACP. The .45 GAP is similar to the .45 ACP, but the cartridge is unique.
NYSP Superintendent Wayne E. Bennett announced Nov. 9, 2006, that the agency would purchase 5,400 GLOCK Model 37 pistols in .45 GAP caliber. I have fired and examined the pistol and agree with the agency’s findings.
- The Model 37 full size and Model 38 compact pistols fit most hand sizes well.
- The pistol does not overly challenge a novice nor limit an expert.
- The effective ballistics of the .45 GAP involve a 185-grain or 200-grain bullet at about 1,000 feet per second (fps).
- My personal test pistol exhibited a velocity of 1,050 fps with the 185-grain Gold Dot load and 1,010 fps with the 200-grain load.
I mentioned hand fit compared to the Model 21 .45, so the measurements are listed here.
|Magazine Thickness||1.15 inches||0.904 inches|
|Grip Circumference||7.75 inches||7.375 inches|
|Grip Thickness||1.292 inches||1.182 inches|
|Grip (Front to Back)||2.155 inches||2.08 inches|
|Trigger Reach||2.938 inches||2.793 inches|
|Barrel Length||4.6 inches||4.59 inches|
The Model 37’s slide is the same thickness as the Model 21 at 1.13 inches, versus 1.01 inches for the GLOCK Model 22 .40. The difference in the feel is very noticeable, with the Model 37 presenting a better balance than the Model 21. Let me make this point. If you have large hands and can handle the Model 21, the Model 37 offers no advantage. The .45 ACP is available in more diverse loadings and offers more power than the .45 GAP in the +P loadings. The .45 ACP is more efficient with bullet weights of more than 200 grains, including the standard 230-grain loadings. But someone with large hands probably will control the Model 37 even better, and those with smaller hands simply cannot stretch their digits to accommodate the girth of the GLOCK 21. The low-pressure .45-caliber cartridges solve the problem of wound potential and weapons wear. You will still have to shoot straight, but the wound potential of the .45 GAP, with its wider frontal diameter, is obvious.
The NYSP responded to a real failure with an intelligent choice. The Model 37 is the result of thinking outside of the box. While it is based on the proven GLOCK design, the Model 37 incorporates changes that make it suitable for a special short-case .45-caliber cartridge. Modern powder and brass technology made the cartridge possible. The Model 37 may prove to be a serious contender. While .40- and .45-caliber pistols will remain popular, the .45 GAP is an option that cannot be ignored.
Ammunition companies have raised the bar on ammunition by producing loads that have excellent potential. Winchester introduced a 230-grain SXT loading. There are some who believed that the 230-grain bullet weight would not be successful in the .45 GAP. Winchester proved them wrong with the SXT bullet at 850 fps. That is squarely in .45 ACP standard-pressure territory. Winchester also produces a very good practice loading, the USA white box 230-grain loading. I have made extensive use of that load with good results.
I also tested Cor®Bon’s entry. Civilians like high velocity and probably do not need the same level of penetration as peace officers. The Cor®Bon load I like best is the DPX, a 160-grain, all-brass hollow point at a solid 1,070 fps. It is a good personal defense load that exhibits a good balance of expansion and penetration. Another choice is Cor®Bon’s 230-grain ball loading. The Performance Match line proved very accurate in every pistol I tested in 9mm and .45 caliber, and the new .45 GAP loading is no exception. It is a good choice for pistol matches and informal targets.
|.45 GAP||185-Grain Gold Dot||10.7 inches||.79|
|.45 GAP||200-Grain Gold Dot||12.0 inches||.75|
|.45 GAP||230-Grain SXT||13.2 inches||.72|
|.45 ACP||230-Grain Gold Dot||14.0 inches||.70|
|.45 ACP||Winchester 230-Grain SXT||13.0 inches||.80|
|.45 ACP||200-Grain Gold Dot +P||12.4 inches||.78|
|.45 ACP||185-Grain Gold Dot||10.9 inches||.78|
Notes of Interest
I have handloaded the .45 GAP with success and one noted “blow” of a case head. That was during the first few weeks of production when I received one of the first GLOCK 37 handguns. Never attempt to hot rod this number and be certain that there is sufficient case-mouth tension. Economy is good with handloading.
Also, despite comments by another writer, you cannot trim .45 ACP brass and load the .45 GAP. The extractor groove is cut at a different angle in the .45 GAP. So it is not an understudy for the .45 ACP. Also, the .45 GAP uses a small pistol primer. The shortened .45 ACP case would use a large pistol primer. The small pistol primer is used because the GLOCK ejector, basically a 9mm size frame, comes close to the primer, dangerously close, with a large primer cartridge case. Small primer in a properly loaded .45 GAP solves that problem.
In the end the, the GLOCK.45 GAP is not for everyone, yet it is clearly an excellent choice for many.
Have you fired the GLOCK 37 .45 GAP? Share your experiences and results in the comment section.