FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!
Doug  Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

Lou Salseda

Lou Salseda

Lou Salseda is a retired LAPD sergeant with 34 years of law enforcement experience. He is the chief instructor of TAC-1 Defensive Firearms Training in Santa Clarita, Calif., and is a consultant for law enforcement training and litigation.

Nick Jacobellis

Nick Jacobellis

Nick Jacobellis is a medically retired U.S. Customs Agent and former New York police officer who was physically disabled in the line of duty while working undercover as a federal agent.

Glock's 21SF: The Perfect Duty Weapon

The Glock 21SF gives officers a lightweight duty pistol with enough stopping power.

August 07, 2012  |  by Leonard M. Breure

Photo via Glock.
Photo via Glock.

My top criteria for a law enforcement duty gun include reliability, stopping power, ergonomics, and ease of maintenance. Glock has packaged all of these and more into what I consider to be the perfect law enforcement duty weapon, the Glock 21SF (Short Frame).

Like other Glocks, the Glock 21SF is as close to completely reliable as any other gun. Several of us put close to 1,000 rounds through my sample G21SF, and it never missed a beat. I carried a .45 ACP almost every day for 30 years. When it comes to stopping power in a pistol cartridge, few question the .45's ability.

The big difference between the G21SF and the original G21 comes in the ergonomics category. The frame is just enough smaller that it fits everyone a lot better. Lots of small-handed shooters have passed on the G21 because they couldn't get a proper firing grip on the large gun. The newer G21SF fits smaller hands much better. What about us big guys? I'm 6-foot-4-inches and weigh close to 300 pounds, and the G21SF fits me a lot better.

Several of us did a side by side comparison on the range of the G21 and the G21SF. Drawing and engaging multiple targets with multiple shots gave us a pretty good idea of the difference. At speed, I couldn't get the G21 lined up properly in my firing hand. Instead of having the center axis of the bore in line with the bones in my forearm as it should be, the G21 consistently ended up slightly off center and to the right. This was not a problem with the G21SF. It indexed properly, making for faster times, better control of recoil, and increased practical accuracy. While it seems like a minor detail, it makes a huge difference on target.

The G21SF's polymer frame makes it easy to carry due to its lighter weight (28 ounces). Add to that the ease of maintenance of the polymer frame and the Tenifer finish on the slide and you've got the complete package.

There was just something about how the slim-frame Glock handled the big .45 ACP cartridge. Even when firing Federal 230-grain +P Hydra-Shoks, the recoil was more than manageable. Fast, accurate shots were no problem. Double Taps, Hammers, Zipper Drills, any non-standard responses were completely controllable.

Let's take a closer look at the Glock 21SF. Similar to a standard G21, the G21SF has an overall length of 7.59 inches and a height if 5.47 inches. The width (1.27 inches) and the barrel length (4.60 inches) are also the same. They both carry 13 rounds in the magazine, but the magazines are not interchangeable. The G21SF uses a different magazine to accommodate its ambidextrous magazine release. Aside from the shorter frame on the G21SF, the magazine release on both sides of the frame is the most notable feature.

The G21SF is available with a standard Glock rail. A Picatinny rail and ambidextrous magazine release were available on an earlier version.

Not many law enforcement agencies issue the 21SF, but the Sandy Springs (Ga.) Police Department counts itself among the group.

The Sandy Springs (Ga.) Police Department traded in their previous pistols for the Glock 21SF in August of 2007. Gun handling issues that were a problem before became nearly nonexistent. In addition, their department-wide average on their qualification course jumped by 19 points since switching to the Glock 21SF. With their new G21SFs, the Sandy Springs P.D. averages a 95% pass rate on the range.

Having spent some trigger time with the Glock 21SF I found it to be the perfect Glock as far as I was concerned. It has all the great features Glocks are famous for and fires the preferred .45 auto cartridge in extremely manageable package. High speed drills, from concealment, incorporating movement and multiple targets really put the G21SF to the test. It was a test that the G21SF pasted with flying colors.


Glock G21SF Semi-Automatic Pistol

Comments (16)

Displaying 1 - 16 of 16

Lynn F @ 8/13/2012 6:07 PM

Glock has discontinued the Picatinny style rail and the Ambi mag release on the G21SF.

Univpd @ 8/15/2012 9:51 AM

Kind of an older model to be calling the perfect duty weapon; I'd say the Gen4 definitely replaced the 21sf as a perfect duty weapon.

WebEdPaul @ 8/22/2012 2:47 PM

@Lynn F Thanks for noting that. We've corrected the post.

azcop2 @ 8/22/2012 3:31 PM

Been at this for 30 years, am a firearms instructor, and every 3-4 years "the perfect weapon" is presented by an expert. The expert usually wax poetically about the magical stopping power. There is no such thing, as Evan Marshall from Detroit PD, if he is still alive, will tell you. He spent a career studying cop shootings and sidearm performance. Cops are human and every new cop spends his/her first few years listening to the experts and searching for the magical bullet caliber. Their time is better spent at the range, on their own time, becoming the best tactical marksman s/he can become. A .22 that hits its mark is better than a .45 that misses. Most cops can't handle follow up shots with the .45 and if they can, their are better of with a 9mm or a .40 . The only purpose of a sidearm is to use it to fight your way to your rifle!'

But hey I am just another "expert" and that is just my opinion. :-)

Pete @ 8/22/2012 3:31 PM

I appreciate the .45 as much as anyone but stopping power is overdone. Glocks are outstanding duty guns in almost any configuration and any caliber.

Dennis Daniel @ 8/22/2012 5:16 PM

The 21SF tries to be the 45 GAP. The GAP is more than a short 45 it is a complete design of the old work horse. As a firearms instructor for 26+ years myself the 45 GAP is the pistol I've wanted my entire carrer. It is corrision resistent, large caliber, light weight, striker fired, with a grip everyone can enjoy, with 10 round magazines, easy to clean or repair and accurate.

I'm not telling you throw away your ACP, I'm keeping mine.

However if you are in a positiion to make the choice for your agency you must consider what will work best for everyone and just pick your pet pistol.

If a 40 makes sence the 45 GAP is the same idea taken to the next level.

Stay safe my fellow LEOs

Ron Berry @ 8/23/2012 4:02 AM

Sorry guys,but I am still partial to the old 45 1911 A1. Sure, it only holds seven or eight rounds. But with enough practice, You can reload very quickly. And if You do it right the first time, You won't have to reload. I have, and have had numerous other .45s . I even bought a Llama, .45 mini max. Looking for a back up gun. When I first got it, it was a terrible gun. 3 dot white sights. Rough action. I honed down the slide, replaced the sights with green dot sights. Put a set of pachmyrs on it. Now it is a very serviceable weapon. For the money, and I have one of these also, I like the Taurus Millenium Pro. .45 ACP, 10 round mag. Single action. I live near The Great Smokey Mountains, and love to trout fish. Rangers actually warn You that if You are permitted to carry, do so. I take the mellinum Pro, or My Taurus 'Judge'. I have never had a problem, but My fishing buddy is a 20 pound dachshund that thinks He can whip anything up to 500 lbs ! People ask Me why I carry a .45. The answer is simple, because they don't make a .46 !

R. G. Montgomery @ 8/23/2012 4:38 AM

I'm not a Glock fan. I carried a Glock 17 for several years as an issue gun. I could qualify with it handily and it ran properly.

The downside was the grip. I can hold and fire a Government Model one handed, even weak handed at need, but the Glock grip is slightly too big in circumference for me to control one handed. I can sort of do it, but it feels clumsy and insecure. Feels sort of like holding a firring strip.

This 21SF has a short frame. Does that mean it was simply bobbed at the bottom? Or has the magazine and frame been redesigned to condense the circumference of the grip? If so, that could be very good news indeed.

If not, this is simply trying another shade of lipstick on the pig.

Capt David-Ret LA County @ 8/23/2012 6:41 AM

Personally, my favorite is a SW in 44 mag with a 6" barrel. For my big hands it was a dream weapon. Want stopping power--wow! Never a jam..

Mark Tarte @ 8/23/2012 10:03 AM

Perfect duty weapon? Which ever sidearm you are most comfortable with and with which you can hit your target. For me, the Smith and Wesson Model 19 in 4 inch barrel. For you? What ever you choose and become proficient in.

Chuck Haggard @ 8/23/2012 6:34 PM

In 2012 with all of the available wound ballistics research available one would think that the idea that a .45acp is some big step up from the other available service calibers would have been put to rest.

"Stopping power" in handguns does not exist. Period, end of discussion. It is sad that the author or editors think differently.

Police magazine had a stroy recently of an officer involved shooting where the bad guy took 17 .45acp JHP hits, it wasn't until the THIRD headshot landed that the suspect went down.

That officer switched to a Glock 17 after his shooting.

Nic Kehe @ 1/13/2013 4:11 PM


The glock 21 sf will accept glock gen 3 21 mags as long as the ambi mag release is set up in the right hand configuration..... No one ever says it right.. Ugh.

Mike @ 2/19/2014 3:15 PM

Over many years of service, I have carried and fired many pistols and revolvers, among them a Glock 21SF. This happens to be my current choice when the chips are down. That having been said, while there is no "perfect" weapon, the closest that one will come to it is a well trained, thoroughly practiced shooter with a cool head, preferably obtained through the experience of actual combat. If PDs could figure out how to mass produce that animal, the world would be a happier and safer place.

Pak Sar Zameen @ 8/8/2014 2:55 AM

nice info about glock pistols. Personally i prefer glock pistols over other handguns because it is much lighter and reliable than others. I have written a post in which i have explained the mechanism of glock 17 and its use by pakistan army <a href="">GLOCK 17 Of Pakista Army</a>..

J B Raley @ 8/11/2014 6:35 PM

I am an old school 1911 kind of guy. I love the 45 ACP. I've used it in combat, and have taken whitetails with it. That being said, IF I found myself on the plane headed over there again my side arm choice would be a Glock 21. WHY ?? I've been shooting Glocks since I bought the first 17 I ever saw, and can shoot one nearly as well as I can my 1911's. All those years, dozens of Glocks of various models, tens of thousands of rounds without a single malfunction. Perfect duty pistol? I must agree with completely agree with Mike.

Fred @ 12/12/2014 10:33 AM

Bullets stop people through CNS hits or bleedout. Any bullet will stop someone assuming a CNS hit. Hence, the common appeal to shot placement. The thing that they leave out is that CNS hits can't be relied upon. Bleedout speed is dependent on the size of the hole. That speed might make the difference. The .45 ACP makes the largest hole of any common LEO round, and the Glock platform is arguably the most reliable, softest shooting, and amongst the highest capacity for .45 ACP. Additionally, the energy of the round, especially in +P, is only bested by .357 sig or better. .40 s&w matches the average .45 ACP energy, but leaves a smaller hole and is higher pressure - most will find it snappier and it is harder on weapons.

Join the Discussion

POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.

Other Recent Blog Posts

Foot and Hoof Patrol: Meaningfully Connecting Cops and Citizens
Foot patrol is the essence of community policing—officers on foot create opportunities for...
Arrive Alive: Police Must Reduce Single-Vehicle Crashes on Patrol
Too many officers are driving themselves into their graves—turning their cars into their...

Police Magazine