Pocket-size Protection

by Chuck Taylor

After all, though highly concealable and easy to carry, pocket pistols are usually quite small, making them difficult to hold and use, especially under stress. And it gets worse! As if this wasn't enough, these small handguns have other problems including:

  • Sights that are either too small to see at the high speeds inherent to self-defense encounters or no sights at all!
  • Poor ergonomic (human) engineering, making manipulation of the controls difficult under field conditions.
  • Chamber cartridges that, although lethal, are considered to lack the power needed for quick target incapacitation, e.g. "stopping power." These include the .22, .25 ACP (6.35mm), .32 ACP (7.65mm) and .380 ACP (9mm Kurz/Corto).
  • Lack sufficient ammunition capacity, the norm being six to seven rounds. Viewed in conjunction with the low powered cartridges for which they're chambered this is cause for serious concern.
  • Normally use blue or nickel finishes that are ill-suited for daily carry; i.e., they fail to protect the weapon against moisture and body chemicals. As well, such finishes are highly reflective, causing glare and premature weapon disclosure in tactical situations.

These weaknesses mean that pocket pistols are, at best, highly specialized weapons, suitable for limited tactical applications. Thus, the famous line from Ian Fleming's "GOLDFINGER," in which the villain himself, speaking to James Bond and brandishing a tiny Colt Pocket Model .25 ACP, exclaims, "I always shoot for the right eye... and I never miss!"

Until you analyze the limitations of the weapon, it sounds like macho pulp fiction. But the truth is that Goldfinger's statement is not so farfetched as it might at first appear. The pocket pistol's negative characteristics mean that, to be effective, it must indeed be used at very close ranges. Such a limitation also negates any hope of tactical flexibility thus making pocket pistols unsatisfactory as general-purpose weapons.

There have been attempts to rectify the pocket pistol's shortcomings, but none have met with much success. Magazine capacity has been increased for certain guns, but at the expense of concealability and without addressing the stopping power problem. And, a few of the more recent designs feature superior placement of controls that serve to enhance operator efficiency.

But these innovations are insufficient - the pocket pistol has for many decades remained a marginal compromise between tactical necessity and required sacrifice. Until now.

The Glock Solution

In July, 1995, Glock introduced the first real innovationin pocket pistols in seventy years - the 9mm Model 26 and .40 caliber M-27. Fully as compact as the majority of pocket pistols, and in some cases even smaller, the M-26/27 rectifies the pocket pistol's greatest flaw.

Though diminutive in size, they're chambered for the venerable 9mm Parabellum and potent .40 S&W cartridge, thus solving the stopping power problem. And both pistols have excellent high-visibility sights, a super-tough military matte finish, convenient controls and, with ten rounds for the M-26 9mm and nine for the .40 M-27, more than adequate magazine capacity.

Based on the highly reliable standard Glock design, these little powerhouses offer the best solution to the problems of the pocket pistol. In fact, they solve them completely! In addition, they operate and field-strip like regular Glocks, come out of a holster just as fast and shoot just as accurately.

Before carrying them into the field, I shot 2500 rounds of assorted .40 ammo through the M-27 and a full 5000 rounds through the 9mm M-26. I presented them at high speeds from a holster, Galco gun-bag, and even from my waistband - and they worked. I performed hundreds of Tactical and Speed reloads with them - and they worked. And my students and instructors alike shot them in high-speed drills of every imaginable description - and they worked.

In short, as you have probably guessed by now - they work! We shot them in the rain, the heat, and the cold without a single stoppage, even with some 9mm and .40 caliber lead-bullet reloads of highly questionable origin that I threw in just to see what would happen. And they worked.

Shooting Impressions

Thus, the verdict was unanimous - the Models 26 and 27 are winners, without a doubt. Everyone who shot them wanted to keep them and, with the .40 caliber Model 27 in particular, on multiple occasions, I thought I'd have to fight my instructors to get it back! One particular observation stands out: even in high-speed holster presentations, the M-26/27 was "user friendly," and surprisingly controllable in fast shooting sequences.

What surprised us the most was that even though the M-26/27 is "chopped and channeled" and is without question a true pocket pistol, when we shot it, it felt like the larger M-19 9mm or M-23 .40. Due to the forward cant of the grip and low slide/barrel mass, it recoils straight back into the web of the firing hand instead of rising, thus compensating for the reduced mass of the grip area. In addition, only a short transition period - like 10 or 15 minutes-is required to become accustomed to the absence of a place to put the little finger of the firing hand.

Ransom Rest and offhand Weaver shooting confirmed that both the M-26 and M-27 shoot beautifully - far more so than self-defense n-dssions would ever require. With the 9mm Model 26, Federal Hydra-Shok 147-grain JHPs proved the most accurate, while the .40 M-27 shot magnificently with Speer Gold Dot 155-grain JHPs. Even 3-second, from-the-holster, 25-meter head shots were relatively easy, not by any means the norm, even with a full-sized service pistol, and are an impossible feat with any other pocket gun!

If you've gotten the impression that I'm enthusiastic about the Glock M-26/27, you're right. At last we have a pocket pistol with general-purpose capabilities, making it a wonderful primary gun for plain-clothes or narcotics officers and a fine backup gun for uniformed personnel, especially when their primary weapon is a standard-sized Glock.

For civilian concealed carry, such as in a fanny pack or inside-the-pants holster, the M-26/27 offers excellent concealability and light weight, with no loss of presentation speed or controllability. And since both guns are chambered for decent service cartridges, the issue of stopping power is much less of a concern, especially with the .40 caliber M-27. In fact, I'm now carrying the M-27 daily in either an M-D Labs "THUNDERBOLT" holster, which I co-designed with M-D honcho Kevin McClung, or a Galco Fast-Action Gun System fanny pack.

In short, the Model 26/27 is an excellent weapon with much to offer. Whether you carry a badge or just want a nightstand gun, it represents not only an excellent value, but the best combination of accuracy, stopping power, human engineering, light weight and concealability now available. I predict great popularity for the M-26/27, so get one as fast as you can- once the word gets out it might be tough!

Glock 26 Specifications
Caliber 9x19 mm
Action Safe Action (constant double action mode)
Overall length (slide) 6.29 in. (160 mm)
Height, including magazine 4.17 in. (106 mm)
Width 1.18 in. (30 mm)
Barrel length 3.46 in. (88 mm)
Sight radius 5.43 in. (138 mm)
Rifling Hexagonal profile with right-hand twist of one turn in 9.84 in. (250 mm)
Weight, without magazine 19.75 oz. (560 g)
Weight, empty magazine 2.12 oz. (60 g)
Weight, full magazine ~7.23 oz. (~205 g)
Magazine capacity 10 rounds
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