Many years ago, when I worked for the late Col. Rex Applegate. We worked with Paladin Press, on the very first video they produced, titled “Manstoppers.” In this video a large selection of semiauto handguns were tested and fired by Tom Campbell, who at one time was Smith and Wesson’s top shooter. I acted as range officer and a consultant on the video, that was shot at the old Applegate pioneer homestead outside of Yoncolla, Oregon. For this video, Col. Applegate obtained a prototype Glock 23 handgun, and we were all impressed with it, albeit there were many malfunctions, due to the fact, that the magazine sent with the gun was a modified Glock 19 magazine, and it caused feeding malfunctions. As I recall, well-known gun writer, Wiley Clapp, who was also on board for this video, suggested that Glock come out with a sub-compact version of the Glock 23 – I don’t know if Clapp’s idea ever reached the ears of Glock or not. However, a few short years later, Glock came out with two sub-compact handguns, the Model 26 in 9mm and the Model 27 in .40 S&W.
Today, the Glock Model 27 is the top choice for a back-up or off-duty for police officers and police departments that issue the full-sized Glock 22, which is in .40 S&W caliber. I don’t have the exact stats on-hand, however nearly 80% of police departments in USA issue the Glock 22 as their duty sidearm these days. That speaks volumes of the popularity of the Glock handguns in general. However, lately some police departments have been switching back to the 9mm round – they’ve found that qualifying scores have taken a serious hit because of the recoil of the .40 S&W round. Additionally, there have been a lot of advancements in the 9mm caliber, which is easier to shoot – less recoil – and the stopping power is right up there with the .40 S&W when modern JHP rounds are use. (This is a different story, and best reserved for another article.)
The sub-compact Glock 27 is a chunky little brute of a pistol, it’s only 6.49-inches long, 4.17-inches tall, and 1.18-inche wide. The barrel is 3.42-inches long, and the gun weighs in at 19.75-ounces empty. Trigger pull is 5.5 pounds and the gun is classified as a D/A (double action) only by the BATF, however many experts call it a S/A (single action) trigger pull – to each his own. I own a third generation Glock 27, and it came with two 9-shot magazines. Current models are called Gen 4 and come with three magazines and backstraps that can be changed for a better grip feel. I honestly can’t feel much difference between the Gen 3 and Gen 4 models. However, I understand that the Gen 4 models are a bit stronger, to handle some hotter .40 S&W loads – like those produced by Buffalo Bore Ammunition. More about their loads shortly. I’ll admit that, the trigger pull on Glocks takes a little getting used to, they are a bit “mushy” compared to say, a 1911 handgun, that has a very short and crisp S/A trigger pull. However, with practice, the Glock trigger can be mastered in short order. Another plus for the Glock line-up is that, they only contain 34-parts – less things to break, and parts interchange between many models, too.
I owned a Glock 26, 9mm sub-compact before the Model 27, and I found that my pinky was always left dangling under the magazine, because of the short frame on the gun. In short order, a couple companies came out with a pinky extension. You simply replaced the magazine floorplate, for the after-market version, and there was plenty of room for your pinky to get a better grip on the gun. After that, some makers came out with a +2 floor plate – that not only give your pinky a place to go, it also added two additional rounds to the Glock 26, 9mm magazine. The same aftermarket magazine floor plates fit the Glock 27 – with the exception being, the +2 floor plate only allows one extra round in the magazine instead of two rounds. Yes, there are some no-name after-market +2 floor plates that will allow two extra rounds to fit in the Glock 27, 9-round magazine. However, I have found them lacking in reliability – yes, you can squeeze two extra rounds in that Glock 27 magazine, but at what cost? I’d rather have just one extra round that I know will feed, instead of two extra rounds that may not feed. In my humble opinion, and in my own use, I immediately replace the standard floor plate on a Glock 26 or 27, with a +2 floor plate – giving my pinky some place to go, instead of dangling under the magazine – and it gives me a very secure grip on these little powerhouse Glocks. And, the length of the +2 floor plates don’t detract much from the concealability of these little handguns.
Right up front I’ll voice my two-cents worth on the advantages and disadvantages of the Glock 26 and 27. If you are new to handgunning, and want a powerful, yet concealable handgun, it’s hard to beat the little Glock 26. The reason I recommend the 26 over the 27 to new shooters is that, the 9mm round is more controllable than the .40 S&W round in the Model 27. Recoil is noticeably less in the 26, and follow-up shots are easier and faster. The Model 27 has some pretty violent recoil, and new shooters are a bit intimidated by the recoil of the .40 S&W round in the Model 27. If you start flinching, you start missing – and I’ve run this test a good number of times – having shooters fire a Glock 26 first, then fire the Glock 27 – and the shooters scored better with the 9mm Glock 26 and found it more enjoyable to shoot – even with +P loads.
I’m voicing my opinion, and from my experience, in shooting both the Glock 26 and Glock 27, and that of other shooters. With today’s modern JHP ammo, most shooters will pick the Glock 26 over the Glock 27 – because the recoil is less, and they find it much easier to shooter compared to the Glock 27. I’ve been shooting for a lot of years, and I’m really not bothered much by recoil, so I could live with either the 26 or the 27. It is worth taking into consideration though, that all things considered, if you can hit better and faster with identical guns – other than the caliber difference – it’s worth going with the gun you can shoot better and faster. Another factor to take into consideration is that, 9mm ammo is still less expensive than .40 S&W ammo is.
Now, with all the above stated, I prefer to carry the Glock 27 over the Glock 26 – I just like bigger bullets, because I still believe in my own mind that, they are more effective in stopping a threat. I know, the stats say there is virtually little difference when using comparable modern expanding ammo…but I’m old school! That’s not to say I don’t carry my Model 26 – I do – often! And, when I do, it is stoked with +P 9mm expanding ammo!
The front sight on the Model 27 is plastic, and it has a white dot – the rear sight is also plastic, and it has a white outline. I find these sights extremely fast to pick-up for combat shooting. For precision or target shooting, I prefer a different type of sight. However, we are discussing self-defense, so the sights that come on the Model 27 work just great. I know some folks replace the plastic sights with steel sights – and that’s fine. There have been reports of the plastic front sight breaking on Glocks – I’ve yet to have that happen to any Glock handguns I’ve owned. The only two parts I’ve ever had break on a Glock, is the trigger spring – and this is a problem in my opinion, and I had an extractor break on an older Glock 27 I owned – both the spring and extractor are easy to replace – Glocks are extremely easy to work on if you know much about handguns in general. I keep a small supply of spare parts on-hand for Glocks, and the most often replaced part is the trigger spring.
On the new, Gen 4 Glocks, you can move the magazine release from one side to the other if, you’re a left-hander. That’s a quick and easy thing. On older Glocks, you can’t do this – nor will the older Gen 3 magazines work in a Gen 4 pistol, if you swapped the magazine release to the opposite side of the gun. And, the magazine releases are much larger on Gen 4 Glocks – easier to hit for a fast reload. Tim Sundles, who owns and operates Buffalo Bore Ammo, tells me that, the Gen 4 Glocks are a bit stronger, and he doesn’t see any problems shooting his +P .40 S&W ammo in the newer Glocks. And, he hasn’t heard of any problems with older Model 27s shooting his +P ammo, either. Sundles said the barrels are the Gen 4 models seem to have more of a fully supported chamber. In any event, I’ve shot a lot of his +P .40 S&W ammo in my Gen 3 Model 27 without any problems at all. The recoil spring set-up is a bit stouter on the Gen 4 line-up of Glocks, too – and they are not interchangeable between earlier Glock generation pistols.
Out to the range, with a good assortment of .40 S&W ammo, and a lot of shooting was in order. These days, I’m trying to keep my firing down to about 200 rounds because of the great ammo shortage, we are still in. However, I fired more than 300 rounds of ammo through my Glock 27 for this test because of the wide assortment of ammo I had on-hand. From Black Hills Ammunition, I had their 140-grain Barnes Tac-XP all-copper hollow point load – and I only had a partial box, also, from Black Hills, I had their 180-grain FMJ remanufactured load – again, only half a box. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition, I had quite an assortment to fire. First up was their standard pressure (non +P) 125-grain Barnes Tac-XP all-copper bullet and the same in a 140-grain load. I also had their fairly new 200-grain Hard Cast FN standard pressure load. In the +P loadings from Buffalo Bore, I had their 155-grain JHP, 180-grain JHP and their 180 grain FMJ loadings.
I enjoyed the Black Hills 180-grain FMJ remanufactured load the most – the recoil wasn’t bad at all. I have to beg Black Hills for some more of this loading. It is a great range and target load. The 140-grain Barnes Tac-XP all-copper hollow point was a pleasant load, too – and would make an outstanding street load for self-defense, I’m really sold on the Barnes all-copper hollow points – they expand nicely and penetrate deeply. The Buffalo Bore 155-grain and 180-grain JHP +P loads had about the same felt-recoil in my opinion. And, for quite some time, I carried their 155-grain JHP load in various .40 S&W chambered handguns. The Buffalo Bore 140-grain and 125-grain standard pressure loads, with the Barnes Tac-XP all-copper bullets really got my attention in the little Glock 27. They seemed hotter, and had more recoil than the +P loadings from Buffalo Bore – so I mixed these loads in the magazine, and found that, in my humble opinion, the standard pressure loads had a bit more recoil – the slide was moving pretty fast during recoil – but there were no malfunctions. The last load I tested, is the Buffalo Bore 200-grain Hard Cast flat nose (FN) round, and this is the round I’d carry in the little Glock 27, if I was out in the boonies, and worried about larger 4-legged critters – it really penetrated. I placed four one-gallon milk jugs with water in them, and fired this load – it completely penetrated all four jugs of water. And, felt recoil wasn’t bad at all. So, again this would be in my Glock 27 if I were out in the boonies.
I was really torn between the Buffalo Bore 140-grain and 125-grain standard pressure Barnes Tax-XP loads – as to which one would be the better street load for self-defense. The 125-grain load actually had a bit more recoil if my humble opinion compared to the slightly heavier 140-grain load. Nothing I couldn’t handle, but the felt-recoil seemed to be a bit more in the lighter load, compared to the heavier load. In the end, I selected the 125-grain Barnes Tac-XP all-copper load for my street self-defense load. I compared this loading, to the Buffalo Bore .357 SIG 125-grain Barnes Tac-XP all-copper load, and they are identical in ballistics (on paper) and the .357 SIG is making a real name for itself, as a man stopping load. So, in reality, if you look at the ballistics, the 125-grain .40 S&W Barnes Tac-XP all-copper load is doing the same job as the .357 SIG load – with the exception being, you are firing a .40 caliber bullet – compared to the 9mm bullet that the .357 SIG load is throwing – and once again, it comes down to, bigger is better, if you ask me.
I fired the little Glock 27 across the hood of my SUV, using a rolled-up sleeping bag as a rest. Distance was 25 yards – and the Model 27 easily hit where I aimed it. Most loads were in the 3-inch to 3 1/2-inch range – good enough for head shots if you had to take one. The winner in the accuracy department was the Buffalo Bore 200-grain Hard Cast FN load – and I was able to just slightly break that 3-inch mark with 5-shots – if I did my part. Firing so many rounds through the little Glock 27 was tiring, and it was all done over the course of several hours. I honestly believe the gun might be capable of even slightly better accuracy than what I was getting. I’ve found that some of the sub-compact Glock’s actually give me slightly better accuracy than their mid and full sized brothers do.
I carry the little Model 27 in a Glock sport holster – they are only about $12 and they hold the gun high and extremely close to the body – I like this holster a lot ! I have several leather holsters for this Glock, but the plastic Glock sport holster seems to work best for my concealed carry needs. Go figure!
If you are in the market, for what might just be, the epitome, in a concealed carry .40 S&W caliber handgun, the Glock 27 might fill the bill for you. With the +2 floor plate on the magazine, that gives you 10 rounds, and one more in the chamber, and you should always carry at least one spare magazine with you. That will give you 10 more spare rounds of ammo. If you can’t get the job done with the rounds in the gun and a spare magazine then you should have been carrying your AR-15 or AK-47. And, if the .40 S&W has too much recoil for you, then you can go with it’s little brother, the Glock 26 in 9mm, loaded with quality, JHP loads. If I had to pick the ultimate concealed carry .40 S&W handgun, it would probably be the Glock 27. – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio
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