Glock pistols have long been the sidearm of choice for the American police forces for a number of reasons. Glocks are easy to operate and maintain, but even more importantly, they are reliable enough to count on when lives are on the line. It doesn’t hurt that Glocks are relatively inexpensive compared to metal-framed pistols and durable, making them a popular choice for police departments with constrained budgets.
Depending on which stats you believe, about 65 percent of U.S. police officers have a Glock on their hip. During my 22-year law enforcement (LE) career, I’ve never carried any other pistol on duty. When I became a gun writer, anything that wasn’t a Glock felt foreign to me.
I like Glocks for their point-and-shoot simplicity. There’s no external safety or decocker to contend with. This may not seem like a big deal, but under duress, these seemingly mundane tasks can be surprisingly difficult. In my view, the simpler your gun is to operate, the better, especially given the limited firearms training many officers receive.
As a rookie in 1997, I was issued a 9mm Glock 17. Since then, I’ve carried a Glock 22 in .40 S&W and a Glock 21, a .45 ACP version of Gaston Glock’s oft-imitated design. My latest-issue sidearm is again a 9mm, but this time it’s not the Glock 17.
A New Partner
After about 15 years of service, my department’s Gen3 Glocks were deserving of a retirement. Of course, when a cop retires, their spot is filled with a new recruit. In this case, the recruit was to be a Gen5 Glock.
First, we conducted testing and evaluation of the Glock 17 and 19. The G17 is a full-sized pistol with a 4.5-inch barrel and a magazine capacity of 17 rounds. The G19 is a compact pistol with a 4-inch barrel and a 15-round magazine. Just as my agency was about to purchase these pistols for our officers, Glock introduced the G45, which is essentially a hybrid of the G17 and G19.
The Glock 45 incorporates the G17’s full-length grip, making it an 18-round pistol with the chamber loaded and takes the G19-length barrel, making it a hair faster out of the holster. The combination of longer grip and shorter barrel/slide assembly makes for a well-balanced pistol.
Ultimately, after shooting the G45 side by side with the G17 and G19, about 95 percent of our officers chose the newcomer. Although many couldn’t articulate why, I thought it just felt better than the other two 9mm Glocks and the larger Glock 21 that we were transitioning from. But, the G45 isn’t a perfect fit for all LE applications.
The Glock 45’s full-size grip makes concealment more of a challenge than with the compact G19 grip. For plain-clothes detectives, officers working in an undercover capacity or for off-duty carry, the G19 is the more sensible choice. Small-handed officers also preferred the G19’s shorter grip.
The few officers on my department who chose the G19 over the G45 did so based on these criteria. One officer with rather large hands went with the G17 because he preferred the longer barrel.
GEN5’s Modus Operandi
The Glock 45 has all the features of Gen5 Glock pistols, including a Glock Marksman barrel, which is based on the polygonal barrel design for enhanced accuracy. The pistol’s slide sports front slide serrations for better purchase during loading and unloading, malfunction clearing or press checking to ensure there is a round in the chamber.
The G45 features a loaded-chamber indicator, allowing the operator to confirm whether a round is chambered by observing and feeling the extractor protrude from the slide. This tactile confirmation that the pistol is loaded may come in handy in a darkened environment. The barrel and slide assembly are finished with Glock’s proprietary nDLC finish for better durability, reliability and corrosion resistance.
The polymer frame is equipped with an ambidextrous slide-stop lever, which is a welcomed feature for left-handed shooters or perhaps even more so, shooters relegated to shooting one-handed due to injury. The magazine catch is reversable. The flared magwell facilitates smooth and efficient reloads without adding bulk, which could hinder concealment. It comes with standard backstraps in two sizes, as well as two beavertail backstraps, allowing for a highly customizable grip. A mounting rail allows for the addition of a light, which is critically important for duty pistol.
Of course, like all Glock pistols, the Glock 45 features the Safe Action System (SAS) that’s comprised of a trigger safety, firing pin safety and drop safety. The SAS provides a measure of safety without requiring the operator to deactivate a thumb or grip safety. All three safeties disengage as the trigger is pulled and re-engage when the trigger is reset.
Our officers are thrilled with their new G45 pistols. Both qualification scores and officer confidence have skyrocketed. Our agency purchased the model with Ameriglo Bold night sights, which were a hit.
On a duty pistol, nights sights are a must, and the Ameriglo sights are easy to see in daylight thanks to the bright orange front-sight dot. In low light, tritium inserts in the front and rear glow for fast sight acquisition and accurate aiming.
Admittedly, there were a few officers who were skeptical of the G45’s 9mm chambering, especially given that we had been issuing the .45 ACP G21. However, they were soon won over by the ergonomics, magazine capacity and most of all, the controllability of the 9mm. Even the firearms instructor cadre were impressed, and that’s really saying something.
The overwhelming sentiment was that the Glock 45 was the most well-balanced gun the officers had ever shot, and I couldn’t agree more. Having the full sized, customizable grip allows officers to get a solid, comfortable purchase on the pistol. Not surprisingly, our female officers and even our male officers with smaller hands commented that the G45 fit their hands much better than the G21.
These days, many police agencies realize the importance of setting their officers up for success by equipping them with a pistol that fits their hand. This is a great first step toward ensuring shooting proficiency. Even from a liability mitigation standpoint, a perspective all too familiar with police administrators, it makes sense to issue guns with grip options rather than default to the one-size-fits-all approach.
I’m no engineer, but I suspect the fact that the G45 is so often referred to as “well balanced” has a lot to do with the compact slide having less reciprocating mass as compared to the full-length G17 slide. Coupled with the full-length grip, less felt recoil is encountered. That’s the impression we were left with.
I ran my department-issued G45 at a recent five-day firearms instructor course and came away rather impressed. Not only were there no malfunctions, despite adverse weather conditions including heat, 100-percent humidity and a driving rain, but the standard-sized grip also felt just right in my hands and the texturing helped lock the pistol in place, despite the moisture.
It was easy to keep the pistol on target when firing multiple rounds, and it was intuitive to shoot when transitioning from one target to another. In fact, I feel this is the biggest advantage the G45 has over the G17 and G19.
To test the accuracy of the Glock 45, I sat at a metal bench and rested my arms atop a range bag, while bracing the pistol on a cardboard ammo box.
During the customary 25-yard testing, I obtained impressive albeit not surprising results with ammo ranging from the department-issued Hornady Critical Duty 135-grain load to economically priced training ammo. Testing consisted of five five-shot groups. Of the ammo available, the Critical Duty produced the best results with a best group of 1.36 inches and averaging 2.56 inches.
It’s no coincidence that my agency and many others switched to Critical Duty after it was adopted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The load is accurate, reliable and performs well in terminal ballistic testing in both bare gelatin, meant to replicate human tissue, and through intermediate barriers like sheet metal, plywood, wallboard and vehicle glass.
Hornady’s 147-grain Custom XTP also proved plenty accurate, turning in a 2.56-inch best group and a 2.9-inch average. Fiocchi’s 115-grain FMJ printed its best group at 3.07 inches, with a total group average of 3.49 inches. Winchester’s white-box FMJ, which my department uses for training, produced a 3.69-inch best group and an average group size of 4.4 inches.
It’s important to test a duty gun and ammo for compatibility. Since I’ve never heard of an officer-involved shooting taking place from a bench at 25 yards, a more realistic barometer is probably how fast, accurate and reliably an officer can hit the target inside of 10 yards. According to Law Enforcement Officer Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) stats, half of the officers killed by gunfire are within this distance from the suspect when shot. This is where the G45 really shines. The recoil impulse is very manageable, allowing for the delivery of rapid and accurate fire.
As a veteran police firearms instructor and gun writer, I’m not often wowed by a new pistol. Most are “different” more than they are “better.” However, I couldn’t help but be impressed with the Glock 45. Not only was I able to shoot it better than any other Glock, so were our officers. As the saying goes, “The proof is in the pudding.”
In this case, the “pudding” was improved qualification scores and increased officer confidence. Officers who tended to struggle with the G21 shot surprisingly well with the G45. This was not a result of additional training but rather a better designed, user-friendly pistol chambered in a more manageable caliber. As a LE duty pistol, I can’t recommend the Glock 45 highly enough.
- TYPE: Striker-fired, semiautomatic
- CARTRIDGE: 9mm
- CAPACITY: 17+1 rds.
- BARREL: 4.02 in.
- OVERALL LENGTH: 7.44 in.
- WEIGHT: 21.73 oz.
- GRIP: Stippled polymer, three backstrap options
- FINISH: Glock nDLC
- TRIGGER: 4 lbs., 5 oz.
- SIGHTS: Polymer
- MSRP: $647 (Gallery of Guns)
- MANUFACTURER: Glock, us.glock.com
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