GUN REVIEW: Glock 21 Gen 3

I am no stranger to the Glock format. My first Glock was a Glock 17, which I bought after I sold my first pistol, a Taurus PT1911, to somebody with an interest in gunsmithing. After the Taurus’s safety fell out for the second time, I decided to heed a friend’s advice and give Glock a spin. It took some time, but I eventually reached a point where I clicked and I became one of the biggest Glock advocates in my circles.

I’ve personally owned a Glock 17 (full sized 9mm), a Glock 19 (compact 9mm), a Glock 22 (full sized .40cal S&W), and a Glock 26 (subcompact 9mm). These four are among Glock’s best sellers. I personally prefer the G19 above all. I got rid of my G22 because I did not like the snappiness of the .40cal S&W, and found I could get follow-on shots on target faster with my 9mm than I could with a .40.

While researching a character for a new series I’m planning, I decided I did not want them to carry a Glock 9mm, since that is Ben Williams’s preferred weapon. I am of the belief that one’s choice in a handgun is a personal statement. For Williams, he is all about functionality and pragmatism, which is what the Glock 19 represents.

This new character is a former Army Special Mission Unit operator. Finding out information about what the premier counter terrorism unit carries as their sidearm is hard, as, unlike a certain other SMU, the Army’s unit tends to take operational security seriously.

What I was able to find was that sometime during the 2000s, that unit got away from 1911s (which they carried since their inception in 1979) and moved towards Glock 22s. Apparently, the frames of the G22s eventually cracked, as they were not geared towards the high pressure of the .40S&W cartridge, so eventually they moved to Glocks in 9mm (17, 19, 34).

I wanted this new character to carry a .45. I wanted one of his character flaws to be giving credibility to the debunked notion of stopping power, mentioned here in an article by Massad Ayoob where he debunks it and several other myths about gunfighting. So, I thought perhaps he would look at the Glock 21, which runs on a Glock 20 frame (designed for a 10mm cartridge). My rationale is that he’s used to Glocks, doesn’t think 9mm is enough, doesn’t like the .40, and wants to run a .45.

I’ve done a bit of poking around the internet. Granted, what I’ve found is anecdotal evidence, but I’ve found that when it comes to reliability issues, absent a comprehensive torture test, anecdotal evidence will usually get the job done. If a gun is not to be trusted, reliability wise (such as the Hi-Point series of pistols), you will find a sufficient volume of anecdotal evidence to support it. Likewise, if you find a volume of anecdotal evidence saying that a gun is solid, then chances are it will be.

Of course, the only way to find out for one’s self is to get on the range and get some trigger time behind it, so I went to a range, rented a Glock 21 and 100 rounds of .45ACP, and hit the range.

Glock 21 in .45ACP.

As you can see, this G21 looks like it’s been around a bit. It’s a Generation 3 G21, so it’s more than likely got some age on it. What I found immediately is that, while the G21 frame did not handle the recoil of a .45 as well as a steel-framed pistol, its size was more than adequate for a trained shooter, particularly one who has experience running the Glock platform. It was definitely thicker and bulkier than a G17 or a G22, which might rule it out for concealed carry, even for somebody my size (6’0″ and 285 lbs at the time of writing).

Aside from that, it handled like a Glock that just liked to be a little louder than its predecessors. The reset is crisp. If you like Glock stock triggers, you won’t find any issue with a stock G21. If you don’t like Glock stock triggers, you’re going to hate it. It’s like Dr. Pepper in that sense.


I shot the G21 at distances of 21, 30, and 45 feet. My groupings were a bit loose. I attribute that to one part not having shot in a month (in the original Instagram post, I said it had been a couple of months, but my memory was foggy and I forgot that I had shot the SIG-Sauer P320 in February) and one part not having shot .45ACP in years. Still, none of my shots were off the silhouette, and I managed to blow out half of the X ring with my shots.

The last few shots I fired were at 21 feet, all head shots. I usually throw a shot or two when firing repeated head shots, but I managed to drill all of them. I suffered no malfunctions throughout the one hundred rounds, which is hardly a torture test, but should be enough of an indicator for the average concealed carrier.

As for the anecdotal evidence that I’ve seen vis-a-vis the G21, I saw multiple stories of people having owned Gen 2 G21s for two decades without failure, and saw no complaints about the Gen 3s. Of course, if I saw a story that a SOF unit ran a G21 into the ground without issue, that would be the best testament, since they fire tens of thousands of rounds through their weapons per year, but I’ll have to settle for concealed carriers and LEOs who vouch for the weapon.

Personally speaking, I might pick up a G21 down the road just for fun and to stay current on the .45ACP. Fans of both Glocks and the .45ACP round will be pleased.

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