By Charles W. Karwan

Ever since the Glock company fielded the tremendously popular sub-compact G26 9mm and G27 .40, there's been a call for smaller versions of the full-size Glock .45 and 10mm pistols, the G21 and G20. Well, they're here now, and they're worth the wait.

The new G29 in 10mm and G30 in .45 ACP are about the same size as the mid-sized 9mm and .40 S&W, the G19 and G23. While they are a bit thicker in the grip, they're also a bit shorter. As for function, there's the same Safe Action trigger mechanism with short trigger reset as well as the three passive safeties that are common to all Glocks. Indeed, the new Glocks are typical through and through and share many internal operating parts with their larger brothers.

It appears that Mr. Glock designed the frames of these pistols for the minimum height necessary to hold a 10-shot magazine. Because of it's larger round, the .45 ACP G30's magazine is slightly longer than that of the 10mm G29. Having spent a big hunk of my life carrying an M1911A1 .45 with a seven round magazine, I find the idea of a compact .45 that holds three more rounds very appealing. What I would given for a G30 when I was in Vietnam!

The floorplate of the G30's magazine is made in such a way that it comes up over the part of the magazine that sticks out of the frame and closes the gap between the bottom of the magazine and the bottom of the pistol's frame. As a result it gives the appearance that the G30 has a thicker floorplate than the G29.

Holding the G29 10mm is much like holding the G26 or G27 sub-compacts in that, for a normal-sized hand, there's only room for two fingers below the trigger guard. As with the G26 and G27, the best way to hold the G29 is with the third finger under the magazine's floorplate. The longer magazine of the G30 allows a three fingered hold below the trigger guard.

If you own any of the pre-ban high-capacity Glock .45 or 10mm magazines, they will fit and work in the correspondingly chambered compact and just stick out the bottom. The logical way to use such magazines is to carry the gun with a standard ten-round magazine in place, with one of the larger capacity magazines as your reload.

Unlike the G26 and G27 sub-compacts and like the G19 and G23 compacts, these pistols are not small enough for pocket carry unless you have awful big pockets. They're also too big to be comfortably carried in an ankle holster by most people. However, they are just dandy for concealed carry in a good holster like one of the better belt slide, pancake, inside the waistband or shoulder rigs. Glock makes an injection-molded polymer belt slide holster for its large-framed guns and it works perfectly for both the new G29 and G30.

How They Shoot

It didn't take much shooting to establish that these are quite accurate pistols. Since they're designed for concealed carry we did most of our shooting at seven yards. At that range, shooting groups of five rounds off hand, all or most of the rounds would be in one ragged hole. Of course, it's hard to come to any significant conclusion with such a small test sample, but these pistols appear to be every bit as accurate as their larger brothers.

My major concern with these small but powerful pistols was their controllability. I enlisted the opinion of several of my shooting friends who represent a good cross section of the shooting community. They included a deputy sheriff who carries a G17 as his duty weapon, a highly skilled civilian firearms instructor, a civilian shooting enthusiast of only moderate experience and a former Special Forces Warrant Officer of substantial recent military experience with handguns.

After shooting both the G29 with full-power loads (10mm ammunition is loaded to two levels) and the G30 with service-type ammunition, our group was all amazed at the low recoil and the easy controllability. Several of us also shot the G30 with especially hard-kicking +P .45 ACP ammunition and were surprised to find that even that hot load was reasonably comfortable to shoot and quite controllable. With hot ammo in both the G29 and G30, the shooter knows that he is shooting something pretty snappy. However, it's not punishing and recoil recovery is quick.

My personal observation was that with hot ammunition I found either gun to be much more comfortable to shoot than a Colt Lightweight Commander with standard GI .45 ACP ammunition. You may question how this is possible. It's possible because of Glock's engineering genius. There's a special telescoping recoil spring system incorporated into these pistols that keeps the slide's velocity down as it bottoms out in recoil, thus reducing the recoil shock to the shooter's hand. Together with the new Glock's low bore line, comfortably shaped grip and shock-absorbing nature of the polymer frame, the result is a relatively low recoil sensation.

The single best way I know of to demonstrate or test controllability is with the application of one of the sound-actuated electronic timers. With one of the latter I had several experienced shooters fire two or more shots with the new Glocks as fast as they could while keeping all shots on a torso-sized target at seven yards. After a little warm-up all of the shooters could fire with split times between shots of less than 0.20 of a second. That speed will deliver six shots in one second and that's more than satisfactory in my book. My pal Richard Daniel, who's fast and accomplished with the Glock short trigger reset, was able to get split times down to 0.14 second. That corresponds to a rate of fire of eight rounds a second! There's no question that these new Glock models are highly controllable.

The G20 and G21 have a reputation for having a fat grip that's too large for small hands. Not one shooter made mention of the grip size of these pistols. I have average-sized hands and these pistols feel quite comfortable, which lends to the guns' controllability.

My other concern with regard to these new compacts involved their ballistic performance. With their shorter barrels there's bound to be some velocity loss when compared to the standard pistols in the same chamberings. The question is just how much velocity is lost and how will it influence the effectiveness of the cartridges?

Cartridge Brand Bullet Velocity
.45 ACP CCI 230gr 829 fps 796 fps
.45 +P Cor-Bon 185gr 1218 fps 1088 fps
10mm Cor-Bon 135gr 1390 fps 1297 fps
10mm Cor-Bon 180gr 1170 fps 1108
The first load tested was a typical .45 ACP 230-grain hardball by CCI. As you can see in the table, the velocity difference with this load between the G21 and the G30 was only 33 feet per second (fps). This was a pleasant surprise. I have seen bigger differences between the same ammunition fired in the same gun.

One of the hottest .45 ACP loads on the market is the +P type with an 185-grain JHP as loaded by both Remington and Cor-Bon. I had some of the latter on hand, so it was chronographed out of the G21 and G30. In this case the barrel length difference between the guns was far more significant with a velocity loss of 130 fps. However, this load still produced 1088 fps in the little gun and that is a lot of wallop. I have no doubt that it would still be extremely effective.

My single favorite defensive load in the 10mm is the Cor-Bon 135-grain because of its moderate recoil and the fact that it's ballistically similar to the extremely effective 125-grain .357 Magnum load. The batch on hand was somewhat milder than I'm used to, averaging 'only' 1390 fps out of my trusty G20. I usually expect 1450 fps or better with this load. In the little G29 it still averaged a respectable 1297 fps which exceeds the performance of most .357 Magnum loads out of a short-barreled revolver.

For those who like heavier bullets, several manufacturers offer 10mm loads with a 180-grain bullet at about 1200 fps. I had Cor-Bon's version on hand and it chronographed an average of 1170 fps out of the G21. In the G29 it still offered 1108 fps. Again, in a small package, that's a great deal of wallop.

It would appear from these few findings that the heavier-bulleted loads lose less velocity than do the lighter-bullet loads. The outcome is that the new Glock compact .45 ACP and 10mm pistols produce ballistics that more than qualify them as combat pistols.

In my not so humble opinion the forte of these new Glocks will be as primary concealed armament for both cops and civilians. Detectives and other law enforcement officers operating in plain clothes will find these guns to be superb alternatives to the various compact 9mm and .40 S&W pistols on the market. They are also ideal for off-duty carry by cops, particularly those who carry the G21 as their duty weapon.

For civilians looking for a defensive weapon, the G29 and G30 also make a lot more sense than do the larger pistols. Unlike a uniformed police officer or soldier, the civilian can rarely carry his handgun exposed on his belt. if he carries a handgun at all, it will almost always have to be carried concealed. Consequently, the G29 and G30 are perfect choices for those that want powerful, big bore pistols that are readily concealed.

Since these pistols have a capacity of 11 rounds-which is higher than full-size pistols such as the Colt Government Model, the SIG/Sauer P220 and the S&W 4506-there's no reason why these pistols couldn't also be carried as the primary armament of uniformed police and military personnel. Then, the same gun could be carried both on and off duty. Many compact Glock G19 and G23 pistols are used in precisely the same manner and it makes a lot of sense.

Some uniformed police may find these pistols to be too large to serve as backup guns. I have no doubt that there will be some who will use them in that role, but smaller guns like the G26 and G27 may be better suited for concealed carry. The exception to that would be members of a tactical or counter-terrorist team that use a .45 ACP or 10mm as their primary handgun. It's not uncommon for these individuals to carry two full-sized pistols, so carrying a G29 or G30 as a second handgun makes a great deal of sense.

There's little doubt that the G30 in .45 ACP will far out-sell its 10mm brother. The. 45 ACP cartridge is far more popular and has such a strong tradition and following in this country that most buyers will prefer it. However, the 10mm cartridge still has a limited but strong following particularly by the handgun cognoscenti. The simple fact is that the 10mm cartridge is the single most powerful autoloading pistol cartridge on the market that will fit in a normal-sized handgun. Thus, the 10mm cartridge has a valid reason to exist, which does not apply to other cartridges that are fading away-like the .41 Magnum, the .41 Action Express, the 9mm Federal and others. Indeed, the 10mm cartridge has quite a strong following in some regions like Alaska, the Rocky Mountain States and the Pacific Northwest. Now, it has a home in a compact handgun, something it never had before.

I also see the G29 as a particularly good choice for an outdoorsman to carry for use as a weapon against potentially dangerous animals or for a big-game hunter to use to finish off game downed with a rifle. I use my G20 10mm in that role right now, but the G29 would be a lot handier to carry.

What the introduction of these guns has done for me is cause a headache. Right now my primary concealed carry gun is a G27 when I am dressed lightly or a G23 when I am wearing a coat. Now I am going to be tempted to replace the G23 with the G29 for its greater power or with the G30 because it shoots my old favorite, the .45 ACP. What a problem!

To be quite honest I was so happy with the performance of the Glocks that I already have that I was somewhat skeptical that these new pistols would have anything to offer. After shooting them rather extensively I am thoroughly charmed. These are great guns that offer performance unavailable from any other handguns on the market. There is little doubt in my mind that they will be a tremendous hit.

GLOCK 30 Specifications
Caliber .45 ACP
Action Safe Action (constant double action mode)
Overall length (slide) 6.77 in. (172 mm)
Height, including 10 rd magazine 4.76 in. (121 mm)
Height, including 9 rd magazine 4.45 in. (113 mm)
Width 1.27 in. (32.5 mm)
Barrel length 3.78 in. (96 mm)
Sight radius 5.95 in. (151 mm)
Rifling Octagonal profile with right-hand
twist of one turn in 15.75 in. (400 mm)
Weight, without magazine 23.99 oz. (680 g)
Weight, empty magazine 10 rd: 2.50 oz. (71 g)
9 rd: 2.40 oz. (68 g)
Weight, full magazine 10 rd: ~9.87 oz. (~280 g)
9rd: ~9.0 oz. (~255 g)
Magazine capacity 10 rounds standard;
9 round compact magazine optional
Standard trigger pull ~5.5 lbs. (~2.5 kg)
Trigger pull length 0.5 in. (12.5 mm)
Number of safeties 3

information courtesy of GLOCK