G23 Vs G29


We think the biggest improvement from “Gen 3” GLOCK 23 is when the gun is used without any of the supplied grip panels in place.

Time has not quite eclipsed the standard 10mm round, but it is now decidedly less popular than the 40 S&W it sired. The big reason: the 40 S&W delivers noticeably more power than the 9mm, but the larger high-velocity round can still be packed into same frame as current 9mm pistols with little structural change.

Glock 23 Compact 40 Auto

The middle size Glock 19 has been around long enough so that it is nearly invisible. We rarely see it in slick magazines unless the article is about off-duty guns. The standard Glock 23 is very much the G19 beefed up to support 40 S&W. But in doing so we think the standard G23 loses some of the 19’s nimble appeal. What the Gen 4 does for the G23 is slim down the grip, making it smaller without losing the structural integrity necessary for firing a heavier bullet in the neighborhood of 1000 fps. Magazine capacity was 13 rounds. With the grip slimmed down, there was enough space left to accommodate a selection of backstraps, of which two were supplied.

g23 40 caliber

The Generation 4 pistols utilize flat-topped spikes for improved grip. With the largest backstrap in place, we installed the extra-length pin (right arrow, supplied). Note the mag release is almost flush with the grip. We had to turn the gun and press inward at its front corner to release the magazine.

Before we go further, we should answer the question, "What happened to Generation 3?" According to Glock customer service, Gen 4 or Generation 4 is a nickname the company adopted after it became popular among consumers. What some refer to as the Gen 3, however, is the RTF2. RTF stands for "rough texture frame" and was distinguished by a surface pattern of small spikes molded into the grip. This pattern was to better serve operators who commonly wear gloves while in the field. Limited to law enforcement personnel only, the RTF2 pistols are now out of production.

g23 night sight

Glock night sights provided better definition than the standard sights, in our opinion, as well as excellent illumination.

The spikes that distinguish the Gen 4 texture from the RTF2 pistols are flat and less abrasive. Another characteristic of the Gen 4 was its magazine release that can be changed to the other side of the frame. The release button was seated flush on the sides protruding only at the forward edge of the grip. This made it necessary to rotate the pistol in the hand to release the magazine. The Gen 4 pistols also utilized a multiple-recoil-spring guide rod. The model designation SF or Short Frame (in this case meaning the distance from the trigger to the rear of the backstrap), will be going away in some models. That is because with none of the extra backstraps in place, the bare pistol will in fact be very close in dimension to an SF style pistol. Our G23 Gen 4 came with Glock’s night sights (a $50 upgrade) that we think provided a better overall sight picture that the stock units as well as illumination.

g23 extractor

The loaded-chamber indicator consisted of a ridge at the edge of the extractor that could be felt by the index finger in the off trigger position. Easier to feel than it was to see, we found it effective. Admittedly, this only served right-handed shooters.

The method of holding the extra backstraps (marked M and L) was inconspicuous. The groove that holds the straps in place appeared ornamental and gracefully followed the lines of the grip. Located near the web of the hand was the trigger housing pin, which served to anchor the extra backstraps. An extra-length pin and a push-pin tool were supplied, so we didn’t need to use a hammer. One of the backstraps turn the gun ostensibly into a "Gen 3" pistol, and the other makes the grip larger still. You’ll need the long pin to properly seat the largest backstrap.

g23 barrel

We thought Glock did a particularly good job of providing a clean, recessed crown on our G23 Generation 4 pistol. Glock uses hexagonal rifling in the G23 barrels.

Without an alternate backstrap in place, the shooters in our group with the largest hands wore the Gen 4 like it was a glove. The larger backstraps may actually be of more use to shooters with thinner gauge palms. The key is to get a firm grip without leaving space beneath the hand. This better allows the shooter to isolate the trigger finger from the stress of holding the gun. Some shooters use the technique of releasing the trigger no further than the point of reset after every shot. But we felt that trigger feedback was somewhat vague and concentrating on finding the release point could distract the shooter from maintaining a firm grip. Given that the overall consistency of the trigger was very good, we think a slightly longer but consistent-length stroke of the trigger from shot to shot was more effective.

In terms of benchrest accuracy, the Black Hills 180-grain FMJ rounds were the best choice with five-round groups varying in size from 1.4 inches to 2.1 inches across. For some reason the G23 Gen 4 didn’t take to the Pow’r Ball loads. In our view the 180-grain rounds, which are more or less an industry standard for 40 S&W, seemed to be the best choice.

Our Team Said: Among serious competitive shooters, one of the most popular grip modifications to the Glock pistol is grip reduction. So we’re not sure how many shooters will actually choose to apply the extra backstraps. But we applaud the Gen 4 grip profile, which makes the pistol easier to handle and more visually appealing, too. It might be the improved grip that was helping us better cope with recoil or it might just be the new recoil system. This unit added weight below the barrel where it could work against muzzle flip. Or the multi-spring action may be spreading the recoil impulse over a longer period of time, thus changing our perception of how the recoil felt. Regardless, we liked this pistol because it provides the power of the G23 but carried more like the G19.

Glock 29 Subcompact 10mm

We expected the 10mm Model 29 to be a handful, but we think there were two factors that actually made our test enjoyable. For one, today’s 10mm rounds have been refined so that the 20+ available commercial loads are more efficient and less harsh. Second, a key characteristic of the Glock pistol is that it does tend to flex and absorb shock. This was recently underscored when a few innovative manufacturers chose to produce Glock frames made from steel and aluminum. We had a similar experience firing a small steel-framed 1911 45 alongside a 45 ACP Glock 30SF.

g29 guide rod spring

The G23 Gen 4 utilized a three-spring plunger-style recoil system to dampen the action of 40 S&W rounds (foreground). But in our view, the two-spring system found in the stubby little G29 seemed to work just as well, if not better, regulating the more-powerful 10mm ammunition.

The Glock was much easier on our hands. In a side-by-side test of the 30SF vs. our G29, we had to say that the 10mm recoiled sharper but with less torque, and the cycling process seemed to be over much sooner. What made the Glock 30SF more controllable was the oversized base pad that comes standard on this model. Adding a grip extension to the G29 would be very helpful, in our view.

g29 magazine

The key difference in terms of function between the 45 ACP Glock 30 SF magazine (left) and the 10mm G29 magazine was the basepad. They both held 10 rounds, but the G30 SF basepad provided space for the shooter's pinky. The G29 turned out to be an enjoyable gun to shoot, but we think it would benefit from an extended basepad for a better grip.

Our G29 offered the standard Glock components. The magazine release was left side only. It was thin but taller than the one found on the Gen 4, and we liked its availability. We’d prefer the upgraded slide release over the flat sheetmetal tab that was difficult to operate. But you didn’t have to pull the slide back very far to release the catch and let it forward. The standard sights were low profile, but some shooters find the bold white underscore distracting.

g29 magazine release button

Smaller in overall surface area, we thought the standard magazine release was easier to find and press than the one found on the G23 Gen 4 pistol. Also, notice the difference in texture between this Gen 3 design and the Gen 4 stippling found on the model 23. The relatively mild grip surface of the 10mm is better suited for concealment, thus its popularity with LE.

Takedown and reassembly of the Glocks was very simple. First, clear the gun completely because the action must be decocked, and the only way to do this is to press the trigger. With the slide retracted about 3/8 inch, the locks on each side of the frame are pulled downward. The slide was then free to move forward off the frame. Sliding the top end onto the frame will reset the locks automatically. With the top end removed, we were surprised how much the slide of this 3.78-inch barrel gun weighed. The entire pistol was listed at about 25 ounces yet the full-size Model 20 with a 4.6-inch barrel weighed just shy of 28 ounces. For the sake of further comparison, the slide of the G29 with barrel and recoil system removed weighed the same as a model 30SF. The 45 ACP barrel itself was the only component that weighed less. Magazine capacity of the G29 was 10 rounds.

The 10mm G29 was the pleasant surprise of the test. The 180 MC rounds from Remington were preferred, delivering an average group measuring 1.3 inches across. The Federal Hydra-Shoks produced an average size group of 2.1 inches, and the Pow’R Ball rounds varied from 2.3 to 3.1 inches per five-shot group from support. We think shooting offhand would have been improved with the help of a place to put our pinky. The Pow’R Ball ammunition delivered 545 ft.-lbs. from the little barrel. The Hydra-Shok was more consistent, probably as a result of greater controllability. Generating less felt recoil, these 180-grain rounds flew at 952 fps and brought with them 362 ft.-lbs. of muzzle energy.

Our Team Said: When it comes to subcompact power, we think the G29 deserves more than just a serious look. 10mm was designed as an alternative to 45 ACP, and it provides similar if not more power. The difference was in the delivery — less torque, but a little more snap, quicker cycling, and a slightly smaller hole. Comparing typical bullet weights, the 180-grain 10mm rounds carry a little easier than 230-grain forty-fives. Otherwise, 10mm and 45 ACP guns typically weigh about the same. When compared to 40 S&W pistols, it took a radical load such as the Pow’R Ball to compete with standard 10mm numbers. Overall, the G29 more than proved its worth.

gun tests

Originally Published In October 2011.

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