Firearms

GLOCK 37 .45 GAP

Taupe GLOCK 37 barrel pointed to the left on a white background

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.

Taupe GLOCK 37 barrel pointed to the left on a white background
The author finds the GLOCK Model 37 is among the best balanced and effective of GLOCK’s handguns.

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 ammo.” href=”https://www.cheaperthandirt.com/.357-magnum/ammunition/handgun-ammo/?brand=.357Magnum&utm_source=blog.cheaperthandirt&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=glock-37-45-gap” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>.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

Taupe GLOCK 37 with a GLOCK Combat light, barrel pointed to the left on a white background
The GLOCK Combat light proved a good match with the GLOCK Model 37 .45 GLOCK Auto Pistol.

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.

 Hand-Fit Measurements

M21 M37
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.

GLOCK 37 in bright tan Ted Blocker Cross-Draw holster
This is a GLOCK 37 in the Ted Blocker cross-draw, a good kit.

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.

Caliber Load Penetration Expansion
.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

Handloads for .45 GAP
Be careful when handloading. The author blew the .45 GAP load at right, probably because of a crimp that was not sufficiently tight.

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.

[bob]

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Comments (23)

  1. I’m a felon with multiple felony convictions and I’m not allowed to possess firearms, so I’ve decided to go with the .45 GAP as it is arguably not really a firearm. If caught, I will argue to my PO that it cannot rightfully be considered a firearm and is in reality nothing more than a toy – very similar to an airsoft gun.

    Dave (CI-Taft ’15-’16)

  2. I, on the other hand, currently carry the Glock 37 as an issued duty weapon and think it was one of the better decisions my agency has made in it’s selection (like the article author says “thinking outside the box”). I DO depend on it to save my life, and when I look at the agency involved shootings we’ve had with the Model 37 compared to ones we’ve had while we were issued .357s, 9mms, and. 40 calibers (the 9s & 40s were issued Berettas) the .357 was the only one that came close in terms of “final outcome” in favor of our law enforcement officers. I’m talking about real, practical experience & numbers. When we switched my agency’s qualifications scores went up so dramatically our instructors ranted about it & the confidence it gave our officers. I have been issued & shot all the calibers I’ve mentioned and here’s what I carry now: A pistol that shoots a .45 caliber bullet, with a less kick & its easier to maintain target acquisition than a .40 caliber, with the pistol frame and ease of grip of a 9mm. I’m glad I carry it.

  3. Glock 37 is the only Glock I dislike. I carried it as a duty weapon and I never doubted it’s ability to function in an emergency situation. But I have owned Glock 17, 34, 22, and 21 and they were all 100% better than the Glock 37. Ask folks that had to depend on them for their life and see how many really liked the Glock 37. POS compared to the rest of the Glock line. That’s probably why you see mainly cash strapped LE agencies buying them. Glock was just about giving them away because they knew they screwed up. For those of you that own one and like it, good. I’m glad. I am not a fan.

  4. I was looking for a post Katrina upgrade that would also be manageable for my girlfriend. The sales person let me look over the Glock 37. The fit and feel were perfect for her and as the author mentions I found that even with my large hands I could manage it well. I had some trepidations concerning longevity of the cartridge but purchased one anyway. I haven’t regretted my choice, after 3000 rounds the gun is flawless I just wish ammo prices weren’t so bad. I would recommend it for any situation where a fun with good power and the ability to fit a large and small hand are needed.

  5. Always love the .45 acp. Mine is my second gun back then in those days. A Series ’70 govt. mod. My first handgun was a, believe it or not ,a Walther pp in .32 acp from a dept. store that no longer exists. Greatest (In my opinion), as a concealment gun. Next was colt python 6″ and followed by S & W mod. 1955 targetrevolver in .45 acp. I only blundered on or into the Glock when I took my wife to buy her a Barretta mod 92f. They looked like they belonged together–all imposing in that display case in front of me. All of a sudden ; there was a credit card on the counter and twp pistols with finger prints all over them next to the card. A done deal and a lot of over time @ work.

    1. You, sir, have owned some very nice guns. My only disagreement would be the Beretta 92F. I was in the Army when we switched from the .45 to the 9mm. Some simple minded civilian siting behind a desk in DC must have made that ridiculous decision. I carried and fired the 92F over 5,000 rounds. I had the opportunity to be on a US shooting team when stationed with NATO. During the competition, I asked an Italian officer if I could dry fire his Beretta. He was not going to let me do so, since all of their weapons were sponsored by Beretta, and therefore adjusted for competition. The competition was limited to issued weapons only. Go in the arms room, grab an M16A2 and a Beretta, and shoot the issued ammo. Our issued Berettas had between a 8 and 12 pound trigger pull. Well, we ended up winning the competition, but it was because we practiced our asses off. Not because we had superior weapons. And yes, I laughed in the Italian officers faces when we whipped them. With POS Berettas. DoD is finally realizing the .45 ACP is a combat round and they are slowly but surely changing back. I doubt the 1911 will ever be the main sidearm again, but I can see Sig or Glock winning the bid. My last 6 years were spent with Spec Ops and they all carried Sigs, Glocks, Wilsons, and a number of other very good .45s.No 1911s. Your collection is very well rounded, and I would give my left nut for a 6″ Colt Python. But the Beretta I will have to pass on, sir.

  6. I a .45 acp fan always. But I prefer the Glock Mod. 20 in 10mm. Higher vels., 2 column mags. and brass is prevalent now, not like whenI I bought it long time ago. Had to buy it @ the gun show because it was not available anywhere in my area. So I bought 5000 rnds. @ the gun show where I live. I only buy new brass and I prefer Star. Never had an issue with–and reasonable price as brass goes. Hornady XTP’s, 165grn hollow points., 170grn. fn., Love Win. Silvertips when can afford fact. ammo. Mine also has a drop in stainless steel barrell from barstow extra length w/ threads and compensator.

    1. I agree your set up is the best. I’d love that gun, but not everyone is willing or knowledgeable enough to go to those lengths to have a really good Glock. If I didn’t have so much invested in .45 ACP ammo, brass and guns, I would go the 10mm route. Some of our LE agencies are using them with great results. You, sir, have a real nice Glock.

  7. Any 45 GAP handgun will end up like the dodo bird, and deservingly so.
    They won’t even sell on gunbroker for anywhere near MSRP.

    The .40 caliber Glocks would have been a better choice but NYSP got a great deal on the 45 GAP. No one else would buy them otherwise.

    As history has shown, Glock isn’t above bribes and “gifts”.

    1. That is exactly what happened here in SC. They got a good “deal” on them, not thinking about the future (Glock 21 GEN 4) and now have the worst Glock I have ever used. As a former member of the SCHP, I never question the reliability of the Glock 37, and as I stated before I owned many Glocks. But I also never shot a Glock that was just plain a pain in the rear to hit what you are aiming at. Along with ammo costs, our DPS here in SC dropped the ball when we went from the Glock 22 to the Glock 37. I am and always will be a .45 ACP man. My CCW is a .45, the XDs .45 in a Crossbreed Supertuck. With a 7 round mag on my weak side, I feel very confident when I leave the house. Of the few shootings we (SCHP) have been involved in since the change to the .45 GAP round, all have shown the round to be a man stopper. But I would still rather of had the Glock 21 GEN4.

  8. I was a SC State Trooper when we switched from the Glock 22 to the Glock 37. It was said we went that route because the Glock 37 fit most hand sizes. I can tell you I have owned five Glocks personally and carried the two mentioned on duty. The Glock 37 was the worst by far. I watched many Troopers have difficulties with the accuracy of the weapon. I know for a fact the real reason we went with the Glock 37 instead of waiting for the Glock 21 GEN 4 (which with included back straps would have eliminated the hand fit issue) was because they were able to get a good deal from Glock since the gun was not selling well. The cost of ammo for the Glock 37 (.45 GAP) was about twice that of the .45 ACP ammo, so very few Troopers ever practiced with their assigned weapons. We had to buy our own practice ammo. I own a Glock 21 GEN 4 and that is my go-to handgun of the ten I own. BLUF: the Glock 37 is not a good choice for those of you considering purchasing one for your self defense. Get the Glock 21 GEN 4 and put the right backstrap on and you will have the best gun going.

    1. Agreed. I personally would not own a 45 GAP because of the cost and lack of ammo availability. I’d recommend against it for the same reasons.

  9. So, yet another Glock to attempt to fill yet another perceived void in the pantheon of already existing solutions in the world of personal protection. Can hardly wait to find out what there model 38 or 39
    Or generation 5 will attempt to change the world. NOT!

  10. @ EdH.

    From everthing I could find. The PSP, never even considered the Glock 37 .45GAP. They just liked the Sig Sauer P227 .45ACP, BETTER!!!

  11. The lack of available ammunition would bother me with this newer caliber. I’ve got 30-30, 380, 12 gauge, 45 acp and 223/5.56 calibers in my possession. Duty and non-duty weapons. The hardest round to find at this time is the 380 and that is my wife’s gun. She can easily handle my glock 36 or 30 if needed.

    The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) recently moved away from the 45 GAP to 45 ACP. I’d have to ask around about why they decided to make the change but I’d guess it is because lack of ammo availability. PSP has also decided to move away from the 4th Generation Glock because of a recurring failure.

    My department carries the 3rd Generation Glock 21 ad 30. We are getting ready to change to the Gen 4 guns this year. The department will allow me to purchase my service pistol and more if I want. It’s a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned. Add two G30’s to the collection.

  12. I’ve been doing a fair amount of reading and research on various weapons and ammo recently since because of the way the world is now a days I’ve decided to re arm again.

    15 years ago I turned in my badge and walked away from having guns since it was no longer of interest to me.

    In my reading I’ve come across a number of references to the FBI’ s Miami gun battle which took place in April 1986.

    I was in my office that morning and listened to it as it went down on my hand held radio since it went out to all districts.

    I also attended agent Jerry Dove’s funeral.
    The FBI’ Miami office was named after Ben Grogan and Jerry Dove after that event.

    Every day going and coming to work I would pass it and it served as a reminder to do what ever it takes to make sure I would pass It going home.

    Because of that event we went to the Sig 40 cal. JHP round.

    Now as I look to re arm I’m looking to add 9/40/380/AR15 /12 gauge and if needed an Abrams M1 to make sure I’m not outgunned like they were that day by Platt and his associate with their 223 ammo.

    It’s been 28 years since that day… But still feels like yesterday.

    My feelings are whether you have a 22 or a 50 cal. It only matters that I be standing and someone else is horizontal.

    If you carry for self defense that is the only rule of that game.

    1. I’m sorry you and so many other of us find the need to arm ourselves but it’s the world we currently have to live in. Have said that …. I couldn’t agree with you more. My hope is that it will only bea precaution but that may be wishful thinking.

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