Letter Re: Long Slide Glocks, and Pistol Caliber Selection

Dear Jim:
I am thinking of getting two Glock 17Ls. One for me and one for the wife. I like my G19 but want the longer barrel. My gunsmith suggests a Springfield M1911 with a long barrel. I don’t mind paying more for it and like the idea of faster follow up shots. Your thoughts on reliability versus firing speed? – S.F. in Hawaii

JWR Replies: Since you already have training time and muscle memory invested in Glocks, you probably shouldn’t switch to 1911s now. (And this comes from a dyed-in-the-wool 1911 fan.) The 17L and the Glock 24 (the Glock long slide in .40 S&W) are essentially target pistols. For typical carry, you are probably better off with a standard length Glock 17 or Glock 22. As concealed carry guns, the longer barrel Model 17L and 24 tend to be pistols that get left at home, due to their bulk and weight. But they make fine as belt holster guns at a fixed site retreat.

IMHO, a more important consideration than the maker and model choice is caliber selection. I consider 9mm Parabellum to be at best a marginal stopper for two legged predators. Before you commit further to the 9mm logistics train by buying your #2 and #3 pistols in that caliber, you might consider trading in your Glock 19 (or setting it aside for barter/charity) and instead getting equivalents to what you had planned, but chambered in .40 S&W. (Namely, a Glock 23 and a couple of Glock 22s or perhaps Glock 24s.) And if you and your wife both have large hands, even better would be the more sure stopping .45 ACP (viz., a Glock Model 30 and a couple of Glock 21s.) Test shoot these models first to see if they are comfortable for you. (You might have to do some hunting on a Glock owners’ forum such as Glock Talk to find the owner of a Glock with a grip reduction on your island that you can borrow.)

Selecting a large caliber is a particularly crucial issue there in Hawaii, where you cannot legally possess pistol magazines over 10 round capacity. (A stupid law, but sadly it is unlikely to be repealed.) Since you are limited to 10 round magazines anywhere in the Islands, then you might as well have just 10 rounds of a more adequate stopper: Preferably .45 ACP, but .40 S&W will suffice if you have hands that are too small to comfortably grip the big .45 frame. If those models feel just a bit too big/fat, there is an neat option for you: Both Robar and Arizona Response Systems do very nice machined grip reductions on Glocks. In his excellent book Boston’s Gun Bible, our compadre and Glockophile extraordinaire Boston T. Party mentions that a large frame (G20/G21) Glock with a grip reduction feels a lot like holding a Browning Hi-Power. Boston highly recommends frame reductions. I have done business with both Robar and Arizona Response Systems for more than a decade. Both firms are very competent and reputable. But as I recall, Robar tends to have higher gunsmithing rates and a deeper backlog of orders. So you should probably go with T. Mark Graham at Arizona Response Systems. OBTW, if your budget allows it, have tritium sights installed at the same time as the grip reduction job. If nothing else, you will save money on ammo when shooting those pesky mongooses at night, once you have tritiums installed.

One other possible option for you is the slim-framed Glock 36, which is a compact .45 ACP model with a single column magazine. Unfortunately they are limited to 6 round magazines, which is a distinct disadvantage. Buying this model also loses the great advantage of magazine interchangeability between Glock 21s and Glock 30s. You can of course use a Glock 21 magazine in a Glock 30, but not vice versa. (Just buy Glock 21 magazines for nearly all of your spares.) Therefore, I would only consider the G36 model if you are A.) absolutely sold on the Glock design, and B.) you feel the need for the stopping power of .45 ACP, and C.) a Glock 21 or Glock 30 with a grip reduction job completed is still too big for your hands.

I’m not fond of the Glock 10mm models (Model 20 and 29) which have an uncomfortably loud muzzle blast.) Sourcing 10mm ammo is also a potential source of worry. (By comparison, 9mm, 40 S&W and .45ACP ammo is downright ubiquitous, but finding cartridges in less popular calibers like 10mm, .45 GAP, or .357 SIG anytime after TSHTF may be problematic.) For these reasons I don’t recommended Glock 10mm pistols at all.

I’m a big believer in getting plenty of spare magazines and spare parts. Used 10 round Glock magazines are often found for very reasonable prices (sometimes under $10 each) at Buddy Hinton’s Parts and Accessories Market Board. Since magazines are easily misplaced and are the most fragile part of a pistol, I recommend getting a dozen spare magazines per pistol. (You might not need that many in your lifetime, but your grandkids will thank you for looking ahead.) As previously mentioned here at SurvivalBlog, Glockmeister is a great place to purchase spare parts. Our friend and Glockophile Kitiara at the highly addictive Forever Vain Blog is quick to point out that Glock replacement parts are largely interchangeable and are currently quite inexpensive, so stock up,. She also mentions that with a copy of the PTOOMA Glock Armorer’s manual (printable from the CD-ROM) you can be your own armorer with minimal study.

As for holsters and magazine pouches, I like the kydex Blade-Tech brand. (The best buy is their belt/paddle Combo Pak special.) That is what we use here at the Rawles Ranch for nearly all of our autopistols. Since you are limited to 10 round magazines in Hawaii, you should also get a quad magazine pouch for each of your pistols. BTW, Kitiara–who knows far more than I ever will about Glocks–says that she prefers the Comp-Tac brand kydex holsters.

Lastly, I should remind you and all the other SurvivalBlog readers that no matter how nice a pistol you select, it is almost worthless without proper training. Investing in firearms training is better than investing in life insurance. Firearms training can literally save your life and the lives of your loved ones. (And winning a gunfight is much more satisfying than having your heirs collect on your life insurance policy.) I recommend that you take the Four Day Defensive Handgun course at Front Sight, or a comparable course at another qualified school (such as Gunsite, Thunder Ranch, or John Farnham’s school.) That will be money well spent!