Glock pistols have plenty of fans in the United States, and I admit to being one of them. The easy to operate design and reliability of the Glock has resulted in the pistol's adoption by military, law enforcement and personal protection folks around the world. But most folks who've found a place for a Glock in their shooting line up will agree that Glock's journey toward perfection is ongoing, and there is still room for improvement. A new Glock pistol scheduled to hit the market this year has a blend of features that draws on the company’s past efforts to meet its customer’s demands. It's the new G30S sub-compact chambered in .45 ACP.
In the late 1980s, Glock released the G30 based on the double-stack G29 sub-compact pistol. The G29 was designed to handle the relatively high pressures generated by the 10 mm cartridge (37,500 psi Max), so re-chambering the pistol to fire the lower-pressure .45 ACP (21,000 psi Max) was not a problem. The result was a tough, compact, .45 ACP with 10+1 capacity and a grip frame that would accept the full-size 13-round magazines of the G21. The down side of the original G30 was its blocky, short grip. For those with smaller hands, the G30 is just not a good fit. Some customers also complained that it was a little too thick and heavy for daily carry.
In 2000, Glock released its next sub-compact .45 ACP, the G36 Slimline, which was designed to address the concerns shooters had with the G30. The G36 featured the narrowest, reduced-weight slide in the Glock line up and a slim single-stack grip frame. From a weight and shape perspective, it was a perfect-packin' pistol. The G36 is still one of the most interesting pistols offered in the Glock catalogue. Unlike other Glock pistols, which share a good deal of component and magazine compatibility, the G36 requires model-specific parts that are not always easy to find. The single-stack magazine is incompatible with other models, and shooters have historically been less than enthusiastic about the 6+1 ammunition capacity. To top it off, Glock has yet to upgrade the G36 to include an accessory rail for lights and lasers.
In 2007, Glock introduced a new full-size pistol frame to compete in the U.S. military Joint Combat Pistol trials for a new .45 ACP handgun to replace the M9 9 mm pistols in use at the time. The Short Frames, designated with an SF suffix, featured a reduced backstrap to provide a better one-size-fits-all grip shape. The SF frame was also made available for the G30. Since that time, Glock has moved on to the Gen 4 grip frames with interchangeable backstraps, and made a few internal changes as well.
So how does all of this history add up to the new G30S? Recently, Glock was contacted by an agency looking for a pistol with a specific set of features to fit its needs. As the engineers and agency reps worked together, it became clear that Glock had everything needed to fill the request, but not all in one place. The pistol needed to be compact and chambered for .45 ACP. The G30 SF frame offered the compact size, good hand fit and 10+1 capacity the agency was looking for. It needed to be relatively slim and light. The G36 slide is only 1.1 inches wide, and shaves nearly 4 ounces off of the unloaded weight of the gun. Having hammered out the kinks, a Gen 4 recoil assembly was installed and the pistol was complete. After looking it over, and naming it the G30S, the Glock team agreed they had the "best of" the sub-compact .45 ACP that the market has been waiting for.
On the range, the G30S handled just the way a Glock should. It reliably digested a variety of practice grade, defense grade and +P .45 ACP ammunition using four different factory magazines. It's not unusual to have a couple of malfunctions with a new pistol during the first 200-round break in period, but the G30S didn't produce any hiccups at all. The factory white-outline rear/white-dot front sights are certainly adequate, but the shooting experience is enhanced when they are replaced with a good set of three-dot night sights.
The G30S trigger arrives with the standard 5.5 pound connector installed, but the trigger tripped the digital gauge at 6 pounds, 5 ounces. Most factory triggers are about a pound heavier than advertised, which does not readily detract from the out-of-the-box shooting qualities of the pistol. If you prefer a lighter trigger, the weight can be easily reduced by installing an inexpensive 3.5 pound connector.
The Gen-3 SF grip felt good in my hands and was comfortable to shoot with. The light G36 slide gave the pistol a nice balance. A sub-compact .45 ACP pistol that weighs less than 21 ounces is going to be exciting to shoot, especially when it's stocked with +P loads. But the felt recoil of the G30S was manageable thanks to the grip shape and the polymer frame flexing a little when the action cycled. Formal accuracy testing was conducted with standard pressure defensive hollow points. The best single off-the-bench 25-yard, five-shot group was 2.75 inches, with no single group exceeding 3.5 inches.
The G30S proved to be a comfortable carry gun. Although it may not fit into every G36 holster on the market, it did fit into the Crossbreed and Springtac holsters I've used for the G36 in the past. The 3 ounces or so of extra of weight produced by four additional rounds of ammunition in the magazine were certainly nothing to complain about.
The G30S was just the right size to test drive with the new Urban Express iBag from Woolstenhulme Design Bags. Many of the dedicated off-the-body carry bags currently on the market are designed for use in tactical, sporting or casual dress situations. This means they often look out of place when men need to dress up for business or formal events. The iBag blends leather, heavy-duty polyester fabric and antique brass hardware to create a handsome appearance, while containing a series of pockets and features designed specifically for concealed carry. The holster pocket is located on the back of the bag with dual-lockable zippers for right- or left-handed access. Both sides of this pocket are lined with Cosmolon loops to securely attach a removable, fully adjustable holster. Its appearance and functionality make it ideal for those situations when dressing "tactically" is not an option.
At first blush, Glock's new G30S may sound a bit like a Franken-gun, and for some gun manufacturers it would be. But Glock pistols are based on a modular design with several guns sharing the same frames, slides and components. This new blend of existing parts is a successful one. It's just as rugged, reliable and accurate as the two long-standing Glock sub-compact .45s in their catalogue, but with the best features of both.