The Glock 21 .45 ACP pistol is under review in this article. I was most fortunate to have been able to test one of these pistols before they even came on the market, when I worked for the late Col. Rex Applegate.
Handguns for SHTF
Many people believe that they can get by, when the SHTF, with just a handgun. Maybe they can and maybe not. I’m inclined to think that a handgun is an up-close and personal defensive weapon, not one that was designed for offensive use. However, a good handgun can perform both duties, given the limitations of the round that the gun is chambered for.
Many readers will, no doubt, have a favorite handgun that they consider their “end of the world” handgun, and I have no problem with that so long as it is a well-built firearm, chambered in a man-stopping caliber: 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, or one of other similar handgun calibers. Like most, I have my own ideas about which handgun and caliber are the best to have around when the SHTF. My thinking on this doesn’t come lightly. As a gun writer with more than 25 years experience, I’ve had the chance to fire thousands of firearms over the years and have formed my own thoughts on this subject. I’m not saying I’m “right” and you’re “wrong”, not in the least. I’m just saying I have a lot of experience in this matter and have formed my opinion based on a lot of things.
Looking at New Guns With Col. Rex Applegate
When I worked for the late Col. Rex Applegate, for close to three years, I was privy to a lot of new guns. We were sent prototypes of some new firearms on a regular basis, before anyone else had a chance to see or test them. Applegate would often give me some of these new firearms to take home, test at my leisure, and to form my own opinions. After that, Applegate would quiz me on my findings, along with his own, and do an article on the gun.
It was quite an honor to work so closely with a world-famous authority on firearms and police and military tactics, and I learned a lot. Applegate received both the Glock 20 in 10mm and the Glock 21 in .45 ACP for testing and review. I liked the idea of 15 rounds of potent 10mm ammo on hand. However, the 10mm Glock 20 didn’t balance as well in my hand as did the Glock 21 in 45 ACP. The 10mm Glock 21 was a bit muzzle heavy to my way of thinking, compared to the Glock 21.
The Glock 21
I recently had the opportunity to test the Glock 21, with a dark earth colored polymer frame and a Cerakote slide in the same color. One thing you will no doubt feel when picking up the Glock 21 over say the smaller Models 19, 22, (et cetera) is that the Glock 21 is chunkier in the hand. It is bigger in all dimensions; it has to be to hold 13 rounds of fat .45 ACP ammo in ta double column magazine. The overall length of the Glock 21 is 8.22 inches and width is 1.27 inches, but it looks thicker than that. Its height is 5.47 inches, and once again, it looks taller than that. Barrel length is 4.60 inches and looks longer than that, but it’s not.
Unloaded weight is a hair under 30 oz, which is not too bad for such a large pistol. Trigger pull is 5.5 lbs and mushy, like all Glock triggers are, but they smooth out over time. There is the passive safety lever in the middle of the trigger, and you have to have your finger on that in order to pull the trigger so the gun will fire. There are a few passive safeties inside of the gun that you don’t have to worry about. They are passive; it doesn’t require any thought.
We have the white outline rear sight, and the front sight is a big white dot. Just put that white dot in the white rear sight and pull the trigger. It’s easy enough to do. My sample Glock 21 was a Gen 4 model, with the larger magazine release button. And, it came with two additional backstraps, which only make the gun feel a lot chunkier in the hand. If you have super large hands, you might enjoy the chunkier feel. I have large hands, and the gun is good to go without one of the backstraps.
Chunky Glock 21 Best For Large Hands
Now, speaking of the chunky feel to the Glock 21, it’s something that you can easily get used to. It just takes a lot of gun handling, with an empty gun of course. I’ve found that it takes me about two weeks to get used to the feel of some handguns in my hand. Such was the case with the Glock 21. Many people, especially with medium to small hands, will just not like how chunky the Glock 21 feels, and they won’t shoot it well either. Even with the reduced dimensions of the now standard Small Frame (“SF”) generation, they still feel fairly large. So, this large handgun isn’t for everyone.
Jim Rawles Carries On Rural Homestead
I know Jim Rawles, who is the founder and senior editor of SurvivalBlog.com, carries a Glock 21 on his rural homestead in the American Redoubt. It’s a great choice, if you ask me, where he might run into some large bears without warning. The Glock 21 isn’t the easiest handgun to carry concealed, but then again it wasn’t designed as a concealed carry handgun. However, with the right holster and clothing, you can conceal it, most of the time. It is more of a tactical handgun and is best carried and deployed from an open-carry type of holster. Jim tells me that he often uses a Fobus brand Glock 21/30 holster.
My Testing Process
During my testing, I fired about 400 rounds of various .45 ACP ammo through the Glock 21, without any failures to feed, fire, or eject the empty rounds. I would have been surprised if the Glock gave me any problems. All accuracy shooting was done while resting the model 21 on a sleeping bag over the hood of my Chevy Avalanche, and the target was out at 25 yards.
Ammo For Testings
From the nice folks at Buffalo Bore Ammunition, I had their 185-gr FMJ FN low recoil standard pressure load, 160-gr Barnes TAC XP all copper hollow point, low recoil, standard pressure load, 255-gr Hard Cast FN +P Outdoorsman +P load, 230-gr FMJ FN +P, 200-gr JHP +P, and their 185-gr JHP +P. From my friends at Black Hills Ammunition, I had their 230-gr FMJ load, 200-gr Match Semi Wad Cutter, 230-gr JHP, 230-gr JHP +P, 185-gr Barnes TAC-XP all copper hollow point +P, and their all-new 135-gr HoneyBadger load. You have to see it to believe it.
If I was on my game, all the time (and I wish I were), I could keep all five-shot groups around three inches. That’s not bad at all, as many experts consider anything four inches or smaller as “combat acceptable.” There were some stand outs in the accuracy department, though. The Buffalo Bore185-gr JHP +P load would give me groups right at 2.25 inches, if I did my part. The Black Hills 200-gr Match Semi Wad Cutter load would just about tie the Buffalo Bore load, again if I did my part.
You have to understand that, when I shoot groups for accuracy, I don’t just shoot one group and call it that way, I sometimes shoot half a dozen groups– some are larger, some are smaller than the others, but I think it’s a fair test. Best accuracy was the 185-gr FMJ FN low recoil standard pressure round from Buffalo Bore. It gave me one group, just ever so slightly larger than an inch, and recoil was nothing to speak of. It was a very pleasant recoil. The Black Hills HoneyBadger 135-gr round, well it is an attention getter in the noise department, but the recoil is very light. After all, it is only shooting a 135-gr bullet.
No Concealed Carry Holster During Testing
I didn’t carry the Glock 21 concealed as part of my testing, because I didn’t have a suitable concealed carry holster. I did have a couple other folks helping me with my shooting, and it was the usual complaint– “the gun is too fat…”, but it didn’t affect their shooting at all. Everyone loved the way the Glock 21 handled recoil. Even the super-stiff Buffalo Bore 255-gr Hard Cast FN Outdoorsman load wasn’t bad at all to shoot. Note to self: ask Buffalo Bore for some more of this one; it is “the” load you’ll want to stoke your Glock 21 with in big game country and dangerous big bear country.
I’m not sure if the Glock 21 would be my go-to, end of the world handgun, but if that was all I had, with half a dozen spare 13-rd magazines, I’d feel well-armed, for sure. I have another Glock model in mind for this purpose, and I’ll be covering it soon in an article.
Check out the Glock 21, or if you are inclined, the Glock 20 in 10mm at your local gun shop. And don’t let the chunky feel turn you off. It takes a little bit of time to get used to how the gun feels in your hand, about two weeks of handling it. And, there sure isn’t anything wrong with having 13 rounds of potent .45 ACP on tap, with one more in the chamber. Or are you stuck in a state that only allows 10 rounds? You could do much worse than the Glock 21 or Glock 30. (The Glock 30 is the smaller 10-round variant of the Glock 21.)
I only had the Glock 21 on loan for a short period of time, but I’m thinking real hard about getting one for my own use, once funds permit the purchase of one. That is an endorsement, if ever I gave one.