By Massad Ayoob, GUNS Magazine
The Glock 30 came out in the latter 1990s, and promptly became my favorite specimen of the brand. Eleven .45 ACP rounds in a light, compact pistol with amazing accuracy? What’s not to like? For many, the only answer to that question was, “The slide’s too thick for the level of concealment we want.” For that, Glock had later introduced the slim 7-shot G36 in .45 ACP. Soon, creative Glock enthusiasts discovered they could get the 30 to work with that slim 36 slide on top. Some experimenters had malfunctions, others didn’t.
Glock was listening. When a special unit of the LAPD requested a thinner Glock .45 for their detectives, without losing capacity, Glock tweaked the recoil spring system and came up with a 36-size slide that seems to run just fine on the 30SF chassis. (SF stands for short frame—shorter front to back to better fit small hands.) The result is the new Glock 30S, and this is the story of one pre-introduction test sample, serial number TWB004, one of the very first off the production line.
I measured the trigger pull on a Lyman digital gauge, one set of measurements from the toe of the trigger (the lower tip area) and one from the center of the trigger. At 6 pounds, 3 ounces, that first measurement came very close to the stated 5.5-pound weight marked on the G30’s box. However, most of us pull from the center, and that gave less leverage on the pivoting Glock trigger. This required more effort: the gauge averaged it at 7 pounds, 14.1 ounces. To me and to some other graduates of Glock armorer’s school, it subjectively felt heavier than average for a nominally 5.5-pound Glock standard trigger setup. (No, they didn’t put in a “+” connector designed to deliver an 8-pound pull. We checked.)
According to my calipers, the slide of the 30S measures right about an inch wide, just ahead of the ejection port. The slide of my 30SF goes a whisker over 1-1/4 inches. That’s a good 20-percent reduction in slide width.
A narrower slide means a lighter slide, which of course in turn means a lighter pistol. I weighed three factory-configuration pistols from the Glock 30 series, each completely empty with the magazine removed. (They all take the same magazines, and loaded weight of the magazines is of course the same.) Ten rounds of 230-grain .45 ACP, plus the Glock 30 magazine in which they rest, plus an 11th round for the chamber, add up to just a bit under 11 ounces.
The unloaded original Glock 30 weighed 24 ounces on my scale. So, oddly enough, did the Glock 30SF—“Short Frame”—(front to back) version with the same wide slide. However, this new thin-slide Glock 30S tipped the same scale at only 20 ounces. That’s a 1/4 pound of weight reduction. Most in the concealed carry world consider that significant. This writer certainly does.
Shot from a Matrix rest on a concrete bench at 25 yards were 5-shot groups, measured each once for all five shots, and again for the best three, the latter measurement to factor out as much human error as possible. Measured center-to-center between the farthest bullet holes in question, to the nearest 0.05 inch—my testing protocol for well over a decade now.
Atlanta Arms & Ammo remanufactured 230-grain full metal jacket put all five in 2.25 inches, the first three hits in 0.75 inch. This proved to be the best group of the test. The always-accurate Black Hills 230-grain jacketed hollow point delivered 2.90 inches for all five and 1.55 inches for the best three. Remington 185-grain Express JHP punched five holes at 3.25 inches, the best three of them forming a 1.60-inch group.
For perspective, this is not the best I’ve seen done or even done myself with a standard Glock 30. However, the 5-shot groups with the 30S average 0.53 inch larger, and the 3-shot measurements 0.17 inch larger, than I got a few months ago with a fancy, big-name, 5-inch-barreled 1911 I tested for another magazine. That 1911 carries a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $1,103. With its typical Glock pricing, the 30S looks to me like a heckuva deal.
Recoil, in both of its elements, upward muzzle jump and rearward “kick” is a highly subjective thing. Some who shot the 30S said it felt exactly the same as the standard 30. To me, it was just a little snappier, more like the smaller Glock 36. Lt. Wayne Musgrove, a SWAT team commander whose daily carry is an issue G30SF with tac-light, had the same impression I did, and so did John Strayer, an IDPA Five-Gun Master with lots of Glock experience. I think I can safely say if you can handle any of the small Glock .45s, you’ll be able to handle this one.
More than 6 weeks before the scheduled debut of the G30S at the 2013 SHOT Show, Glock got a test sample to me. I was able to shoot this newest model at two matches, both sponsored by First Coast IDPA at the excellent Gateway Rifle and Pistol Club in Jacksonville, Fla. The first was a special event for wounded American servicemen, approved by the Wounded Warriors Project and ramrodded by Dr. Ed Sevetz. The second was the club’s monthly IDPA match for December 2012, attended by roughly a 100 shooters and directed by Dan Fox.
At the event for the wounded warriors, the rest of us were just shooting for demonstration purposes. One stage involved picking up a dropped “BUG” (back up gun) and engaging two partially obscured targets. The 30S was my choice for that, and it quickly gave me two snake-eyes pairs of bullet holes in the “bad guys’” heads. Impressive performance from the little pistol so far.
At the regular match, I shot my test 30S through the whole thing, using 230-grain .45 hardball as at the earlier event. If you’re testing a deer rifle for a gun magazine during deer season, you naturally go deer hunting with it; if I’m testing a defensive pistol, it makes the same good sense to shoot an International Defensive Pistol Association match with it, if schedules make it possible.
The first stage involved grabbing the gun from a box, loading it, and shooting through a small window at several paper targets and a steel popper, which triggered a briefly-exposed disappearing target. The small grip-frame made the 30S quick to snag out of the box, and no shots missed their targets, with no points lost on the 25-yard shots or the obscured target, and few points down on the disappearing one.
Stage 2 involved some movement and awkward cover positions; the 30S yielded a reasonably fast time on a tough multiple target array, shot clean with no points down. On Stage 3, we had to do everything lying down on our side, perpendicular to the target array, and because we couldn’t put our weight forward into the guns, recoil control became very significant here. I honestly didn’t notice the recoil, but dropped some points rushing the trigger—my fault, not the Glock’s. Stage 4 involved difficult shots on a mover swinging past a no-shoot, and some distant targets, but the 30S put every shot where the sights were.
Stage 5 was the most challenging, including a fast “clamshell” target and a very fast “disappearing target” activated by knocking down a steel Pepper Popper. The heavy .45 slug put the Popper down quick, and by the time I got on the disappearing target it was already, well, disappearing, and I got only one of the two requisite hits before it was back behind cover. However, 2 inches of the top of its head was still exposed, and the 30S allowed me to put a bullet there and salvage all five points that would otherwise have been missed. From about 15 yards or a little more, that earned my appreciation, and moments later, the new little Glock allowed me to do the same on the fast closing clamshell target.
There had been no malfunctions. Under match pressure, and under the pressure of 50 watching eyes on a 26-person shooting squad, the out-of-the-box Glock 30S had delivered all I could have asked. It turned out that I won the CDP division shooting against full-size 1911 .45s with this little .45 Glock calls “subcompact” and BATFE calls “double-action only,” this specimen coming with an 8-pound trigger pull. I can only conclude that this outcome says a lot positive about the ergonomics and the “shootability” of the Glock 30S.
Some who otherwise loved the Glock 30 for well over a decade complained its wide slide bothered them in terms of concealment. This was the genesis of early parts swaps between the 30 and the 36, and the creation of the 30S introduced in 2013.
A 1/4-pound weight saving is always appreciated on a “carry gun.” So is slimness, particularly when carrying inside the waistband. The 30S being new, there was no dedicated leather for it at the time of this writing. I didn’t have Glock 36 holsters on hand, but would be surprised if the wider frame of the 30 didn’t cause a fit problem. Since the “footprint” of the 30S is similar to that of the popular Glock 19/23/32 series, I tried the 30S in some of those.
The results were mixed. It fit, well, “OK” in an inside the waistband Ted Blocker scabbard made for standard-frame Glocks. It was very snug in Glock’s own low-priced plastic Sport/Combat holster for the 9mm- and .40-size pistols, more so than I was comfortable with. I found myself just carrying it in dedicated Glock 30 holsters by Galco and Ted Blocker. It worked fine from them, and carried comfortably. But, then, I’m used to carrying a Glock 30.
A lot of folks don’t get to dress as casually for concealed carry as I, but still appreciate 11 rounds of .45 ACP as a daily self-defense package. For those who need to carry “deeper,” that slimmer slide is going to be particularly valuable. Consider the cop whose backup gun is a holster attached to the straps of his concealment vest, under an armpit. The arm brushes it all day. The thinner, the better for comfort. Ditto the shopkeeper whose pistol has to be hidden inside a tucked-in shirt.
For some time now, new Glock designs have been more about evolution than revolution. With the 30S, they’ve listened to feedback from some of their most educated and experienced users, and created a more concealable version of one of their best sellers, which is also lighter and more comfortable to carry.
Sounds like progress to me. I think Glock is going to sell a lot of them. They’ve already sold one to this writer.
Photos By Robbie Barrkman
31 Waterloo Ave., Berwyn, PA 19312
Atlanta Arms and Ammo
721 Vine Cir., Social Circle, GA 30025
Black Hills Ammunition
3050 Eglin St., Rapid City, SD 57703
870 Remington Dr.
P.O. Box 700, Madison, NC 27025
30 Eagleville Rd., Eagleville, PA 19403
Maker: Glock Inc.
6000 Highlands Pkwy., Smyrna, GA 30082
Action: Double-action-only semi-auto
Caliber: .45 ACP
Barrel Length: 3.77″
Overall Length: 6.88″
Weight: 20.28 ounces (unloaded)
Finish: Tenifer, Sights: Fixed, dot front, white outline rear
Grips: Integral polymer
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