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Reviews : Arsenal

Glock 21

This .45 ACP auto pistol fights like a rabid rottweiler but recoils like a tame puppy.

June 01, 2002  |  by Roy Huntington - Also by this author

Safe-Action


These steel stampings embedded in the polymer frame act as rails for the slide to run on, just like a steam locomotive runs on the rails.

The action of the Model 21 is distinctly Glock. Gaston Glock's "safe-action" trigger is basically a pre-loaded striker. What that means is when the slide is cycled, it partially cocks the striker (basically an extra-long firing pin). When the trigger is pulled, the initial trigger lever safety cams out of the way, allowing the trigger to be fully pulled to the rear. During the trigger travel, a firing pin safety and sear plate is pulled away from the striker; the striker is cocked further to the rear, and then the sear trips, allowing the striker to snap forward, firing the round. There's lots going on but it works. At any time during the trigger pull, releasing the trigger returns the devices into position, rendering the pistol safe.

Much has been said about the unique Glock action. The lack of an external thumb safety and the "safety" on the trigger gives some gun enthusiasts the creeps. Whether you feel this way or not, extra caution is called for when transitioning to the Glock from other sidearms.

Having said all that, most Glock users are quite comfortable with the fact that if you don't deliberately pull the trigger, a Glock won't go off. Also, the addition of a New York-style trigger (of some 12 pounds let-off) may make good sense in a uniform duty pistol. Transition training to any semi-auto is important so if a move to a Glock, like the 21, is in the future, sufficient training is vital so that there are no unforeseen embarrassing moments.


As pretty as they are, Glock sights are notorious for wearing, and the front sight is prone to breaking off. It’s always a good idea to replace them with tritium.

Shooting the 21

Range day dictated a shorter test than anticipated. Rain, which kept us under the cover of the firing line awning and discouraged us from spending much time changing targets, seemed to be the order of the day. The shooters involved, having a great deal of experience with Glock models, were mostly looking to get the particulars about the Model 21.

Federal match ball (a 230-gr. FMJ load) was shot for accuracy since it's a known entity in most .45 autos and usually performs up to snuff. A mixed lot of various hollow point loads was also fed through the 21, just to test functioning.

Right out of the box (with a bit of lubricant added for good measure) the test gun went bang when we first pulled the trigger. But it promptly delivered a stovepipe jam. Being a brand-new semiauto, such things can be anticipated. Additionally, many Glocks like to have a firm grip and a stiff wrist when shot.

From then on the Model 21 ran like the proverbial Rolex. After a bit of breaking in, we tried deliberate limp-wristing, but couldn't induce another jam. The unanimous decision was the 21 had suffered from ASBS or "acute semi-auto break-in syndrome." An affliction we made up on the spot.


The Glock “Safe Action” trigger is part of the “pre-loaded” striker-fired assembly. The molded-in checkering means sweaty palms stay put.

Accuracy was on par with other Glocks we've shot. The Federal 230-gr. ammo delivered groups in the two-inch range at 15 feet, which was pretty good for a bunch of cold, runny-nosed guys shooting over a rolled-up wet towel. Hollow points all seemed to feed with predictable tenacity and, while we didn't measure groups, all plunked satisfactorily into the center of the wet targets.

This gun was fun to shoot, but keep in mind the Glock 21 is reminiscent of the old Colt "horse pistols" like the Dragoons. It is big, burly, tough and serious, just like a .44 Walker at full cock in the hands of a galloping Texas Ranger. Say what you will about a nine or even a .40, when the .45 caliber Glock 21 comes out, everyone stops to listen. And that's a fact.


The Glock 21 is a big, burly, and tough pistol reminiscent of the old Colt .44 “horse pistols” once carried by the Texas Rangers.

Cleaning and Care

Take down is unusual, as is most of the situation with the Glock. Pay close attention here. Take out the magazine and unload the chamber. Now the important part: You have to pull the trigger to take the load off the striker. So, it is extra critical and doubly important (sounds like we mean this, eh?) to make sure the chamber is empty.

After clearing and pulling the trigger, move the slide back a smidgen (which is more than a pinch and less than a tad) while pulling down on the slide lock buttons. They are located just under the slide rails on the frame, above the trigger guard. Then, work the slide off forward. Take the spring out and the barrel and you're done. Assembly means the reverse order and it's all easy and quick. A touch of good lubricant on all the right spots helps matters along nicely.

Glock 21

Caliber: .45 ACP
Barrel LENGTH: 4.6 inches
MAGAZINE CAPACITY: 13 + 1 L/E version
WEIGHT: 26.28 ounces (empty)
TRIGGER PULL: 5.5 pounds (standard)
OVERALL LENGTH: 7.59 inches
HEIGHT: 5.47 inches
WIDTH: 1.27 inches
PRICE:  About $700 (full retail)

Roy Huntington continues to idle away large segments of otherwise productive time by shooting a never-ending array of guns for POLICE Magazine. He's also the editor of American Handgunner Magazine and we remain skeptical whether either activity can properly be labeled as actual work.

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Tags: Glock, Duty Pistols, Firearms Reviews

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