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Old September 8, 2013, 03:33 AM   #1
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Glock 23 Gen 4 w/beavertail Extended Review

Glock 23 Gen 4 (with factory beavertail backstrap) review:

The goal of this review is to take a hard and objective look at the Glock 23 Gen 4 as a specific model, rather than reviewing Glock as a brand, or looking at Gen 4 as a whole. Overlap will only be considered as it allows us to draw conclusions relevant to the Glock 23 Gen 4 as a specific model.

Overview of the pistol:
The Glock 23 Gen 4 is the midsized Glock offered in the .40 S&W chambering. It is a striker fired, polymer framed pistol. While it is called their "compact" .40, the Glock 23 Gen 4 has a 4.01" barrel, full grip, and 13+1 capacity, all of which puts it in the service pistol category. This pistol is actively in service use with a variety of Federal and police organizations.

My Suggested Uses of the Pistol:
- concealed carry
- home defense
- service use, whether issued or chosen
- recreational shooting
- trail gun or wilderness sidearm, noting that I find the idea of shooting a bear with most handguns to be... well... if you ever do it, set up a camera first. Failblog awaits!

There are better choices for competition, and if you're a wing nut with aspirations of becoming a spree shooter, I suggest that you make it a challenge and simply run around pointing your fingers and yelling, "BANGBANGBANG!!!"

What you need to know: Reliability, Durability, and track record:
- YouTube search: "Glock 23 Gen 4 issues", "Glock 23 Gen 4 problems", "Glock 23 Gen 4 failures". Most of the results are actually reviews, rather than reports of issues. There are also some results that are "Generation 4" issue discussions. Watching those, you'll note that they center on 9mm Gen 4 offerings.

- Google search: "Glock 23 Gen 4 issues", "Glock 23 Gen 4 problems", "Glock 23 Gen 4 failures". Similar results.

- My 1st hand experience: As of the writing of this review, my Glock 23 Gen 4 has 300 rounds (200 of Magtech 180gr, 100 of WWB 165gr) through it without any stoppages or malfunctions.

- Noteworthy: There are enough of these in service use that there should be LOTS of model specific negative chatter if there were reoccuring issues.

It appears as though there are no reoccuring/common problems with the Glock 23 Gen 4 as a model.

Appearance: Appearance is one of those areas where one Glock overlaps with every other. The consensus is generally that they are either ugly, or at least boring and blocky looking. It's certainly not the Jessica Biel of the pistol world. Personally, I'm OK with that.

Ergonomics: Grip As with all Glocks, the grip of the Glock 23 Gen 4 is a hot topic. The grip angle is a little more aggressive than most pistol grips on the market, and it has a 'hump' in the lower/rear portion of the grip. These two quirks combine to put the user's strong hand at a slight forward cant while aiming down the sights. Many folks don't 'naturally point' with Glock pistols, and find themselves bringing these pistols up into a "ski jump" (muzzle angled slightly up). The theory seems to be that the more aggressive position of the hand puts the user in position to fight muzzle rise before it happens. I am of the opinion that the grip angle discussion is badly over played. Glocks didn't point naturally for me when I first transitioned to them, but it took very little time to get used to. I have experienced a defensive draw situation, and the sights came right up in line with my eyes.

The circumference of the grip is also misunderstood. Many people mistakenly think that the out-of-the-box grip circumference of Gen 4 Glocks is the same as that of previous generations. This is not the case. As part of the multiple backstrap frame system, Glock reduced the back of the grip by 1/8" across the width of the rear portion of the grip. When you look at the grip from the side, you'll notice a gradual line going down the frame. That line marks the area where the reduction took place, and where the M and L backstrap panels line up. When the M (medium) panel is on, the grip circumference then matches that of earlier generations of Glock 23s. Naturally, the L (Large) panel makes the grip pretty big. Where early Gen 4 pistols came with 2 backstrap panels, the newer ones ship with 4. There are flat and beavertail versions of the M and L sizes. As the title of the review indicates, my preference is to install the M beavertail backstrap.

The grip texture of the Glock 23 Gen 4 is pretty aggressive. I have handled the frame with slick hands, and had no issue maintaining a solid grip on the firearm.

The grip also has finger grooves at the front. Some folks dislike the finger grooves, and say that they feel crowded on the grip, or that the bottom of their strong hand middle finger is mashed up into the bottom of the trigger guard. While I happen to like the finger grooves, I respect that not all folks do. I find that the grooves help me lock into the grip quickly, and to stay locked in. While they aren't strictly necessary, they seem to help just a little.

The new beavertail backstrap is fantastic. I have good size fists, and get a very high grip when I shoot. Without the beavertail, I have to shift my support hand slightly so that I can roll my strong hand thumb knuckle down a little to avoid slide bite. I'm still easily able to shoot this way, but the beavertail allows me to get a very positive and natural grip on the pistol without worrying about slide bite. It also serves as a sort of 'wheelie bar' on the pistol, helping to keep the front from lifting very much. Between the grip aid and the wheelie bar effect, it makes the pistol even that much more flat shooting. Those are two small effects that add up to a lot of value.

Ergonomics: Controls
- mag release: the mag release is big, and lays pretty flat to the frame. I carry this frame as my EDC, and haven't had any issues with accidentally actuating the mag release. When I want to hit the button, it is fast, and requires minimal breaking of the grip. I am a very big fan of this mag release.

- slide stop/release: the slide release is in line with the strong hand thumb while gripping to shoot. Sweeping the thumb north --> south on the frame will cause most people to move their thumb right over it. It is pretty low profile, so it doesn't snag on anything. It's also small enough that I wouldn't try to use it in a defensive situation. During an adrenaline dump, most folks are unlikely to easily make use of the slide release. Aftermarket extended slide stops are available. I left mine stock, and train to slingshot to chamber a round after reloading.

- takedown lever: extremely well done. After you've done it a time or two, stripping a Glock takes seconds. No tools necessary.

Trigger: The Glock 23 Gen 4 has a constant trigger pull. It is a bit spongy and mechanical feeling in dry fire. The reset is tactile and audible (you can feel and hear it). Glocks typically have a trigger break between 5.5 and 6.5 pounds. This area is another where I feel that people spend too much time promoting or attacking Glock. To be blunt, this is an utterly forgetable trigger. It won't do anything for you, but it won't get in your way, either. There are aftermarket options to change the trigger in a number of ways. I don't consider them at all necessary, but they are out there for those who like to tinker.

Sights: The Glock 23 Gen 4 typically ships with Glock's rather "meh" box and dot. That's a white 'box' to the rear, and a white dot to the front. The rear sight has a 'ledge' on the front. Some trainers are fond of racking the slide off of the belt during 1 hand manipulations. Personally, I like the ledge, but I hate the rear 'U'. I often black my Glock rear sights out with a Sharpie. There are a lot of aftermarket sight options available for this pistol. If I ever change mine from stock, this is what I would change.

Capacity: The Glock 23 Gen 4 ships with (3) 13rd magazines. It will also accept Glock 22 (15rd) mags, as well as 22 and 31 round offerings. Note: Earlier Glock mags will also fit in the Glock 23 Gen 4, unless the user has moved the mag release to the other side to accomodate a lefty shooter. I consider this mag flexibility to be a big selling point of the pistol. The 31 round magazines may be a little too long for many people, but the 22 round magazines give the user a LOT of rounds to work with, and aren't so long as to be clumsy. I'll talk a bit more about this in later posts in the thread.

Recoil impulse: The Glock 23 Gen 4 has a low bore, and an awesome recoil spring assembly. It is notably less snappy than earlier Glock 23 pistols were. I would describe the recoil impulse as primarily backward, with little muzzle rise. This is an easy pistol to shoot with speed, which I consider to be one of the most critical traits for a defensive pistol.

Specs: The Glock 23 Gen 4 is only 1.18" wide, which is a lot more narrow than many people realize. The blocky appearance of the slide gives the impression of more width. Length: 7.28", Height: 4.99", Sight radius: 6.02", Weight: 21.31oz empty, 31.06oz loaded. With a quality holster, this pistol is shockingly easy to conceal. I use this frame for EDC in all weather, and can conceal the pistol with a 22 round mag in it if I wear a light jacket.

I'm going to share an anecdote here to explain part of my appreciation for this pistol. During a conversation a couple of months ago, a friend of mine mentioned having had to do structure clearing in Iraq using a Sig P220 (while lugging a bolt gun around). This is an extreme example, but it poses a serious question:

"If you have to shoot to live, and you are stuck with a pistol, what do you want to be carrying?"

My answer to that question is: I want a pistol that is purpose built for fast and accurate shooting, is chambered in a service caliber, and has enough rounds on board to get the job done. While the Glock 23 Gen 4 isn't perfect, and isn't the only solution for any one defensive handgun need, it is a great choice for a wide variety of defensive handgun applications.
Currently Own: Beretta PX4 9mm, Glock 23 (Gen 4), Glock 19 (Gen 4) x2
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Old September 8, 2013, 03:40 AM   #2
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Join Date: March 10, 2012
Posts: 1,059
Replying first to reserve the second post for extended notes and comments, to be added via edit at a later date.
Currently Own: Beretta PX4 9mm, Glock 23 (Gen 4), Glock 19 (Gen 4) x2
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