My Choice in "Plastic Pistols"
I'll say up front that I prefer steel pistols, almost always in a single-action design, and that I think nothing looks better than well done bluing and quality stocks of walnut or rosewood. I guess that makes me a traditionalist. I have nothing against hard chrome, electroless nickel or some other finishes, but if use in extremely harsh environments for extended periods of time is not an issue, I'll go with blue.
The bulk of my firearms are blued, but there are a few in stainless steel as well as hard chrome and E-nickel and I own one "plastic pistol."
I've owned others, but not all that many. They were a couple of Glock 17's, a Glock 22, and a Springfield XD9. I also owned an early Kahr P9. The above were sold or traded off. They just weren't for me despite the fact that they're extremely popular with a large number of shooters. Yet, I kept one plastic gun; it's features "work" for me.
If you're not a fan of the polymer pistols or are a traditionalist (like me), you might want to read on.
The pistol I kept was a Glock 26. For anyone who actually knows me or has read my stuff to any degree, it's no secret that I normally opt for longer barrels and full size versions of handguns. In my case, exceptions are snub .38's (for pocket carry), a 2 1/2" S&W Model 19 simply because I like it and a 3 1/2" Model 27 for the very same reason. Ditto an old Colt Agent .38 snub. I find all of them pleasing to the eye, fun to shoot, and have "pride of ownership" in each.
To me, the Glock 26 is one of the less attractive looking models in the Austrian stable of handguns. So why on earth would I pick a short-barreled, non-blued, polymer pistol? The reason is simple: It meets my perceived needs. That's not completely true; it meets nearly all of them.
I think this is an "ugly" pistol, but it has never malfunctioned with any ammunition tried, lends itself to inexpensive customizing for my particular "needs" and is capable of very satisfactory groups at 15 and 25 yards. I do not do as well with this pistol at 50 yards as with a Hi Power, CZ-75, or 1911. The two shots below the group shot at 15 yards in the picture were due to me, not the pistol. It does not exhibit the "first round flyer" syndrome present in some handguns.
So why did I go with the G26? I was looking for a pistol for pocket holster carry. I wanted something that would be easy to shoot well at speed, be utterly reliable and safe, and that would stand up to long term use with lots of shooting over coming years. I'd tried an early Kahr P9 that was more comfortable and slightly easier to conceal, but got rid of it. The reasons were two-fold:
1. It was not reliable with +P ammunition. My P9 was one of the early ones and at least once per magazine the slide lock would prematurely engage. While it worked fine with standard pressure ammunition, I insisted upon +P due to the shorter barrel and its accordingly lower velocities.
2. The Kahr P9 also abraded the skin at the base of my thumb. I'm the only person in the world that I've heard of having that problem, but it happens to me with P9's and to a lesser degree, K9 pistols.
I really regretted this, but despite Kahr's best efforts at the time, the P9 could not be made reliable to my satisfaction and for a "serious" carry pistol, reliability is a must.
I went with the Glock 26 for the following reasons:
1. The pistol has proven utterly reliable with all ammunition tried. This includes standard pressure ball and JHP's as well as Nato loads, +P JHP's, and +P+ JHP's. I have shot everything from 50-gr. specialty ammo to 147-gr. JHP's through this pistol with zero reliability problems. It's worked fine with handloads using jacketed or plated bullets.
This Glock 26 has been shot with lots of varied ammunition and it has never missed a beat. It handle's +P with ease. Bullet weight has not proven to be a problem in this particular pistol. The pistol packs sufficient "punch" with the better 9mm loads in my opinion to be considered a capable defense pistol.
2. While at the upper limit of what I can personally carry concealed in a pocket holster, the G26 can be carried in such a manner. I did carry it just that way for about a year, but in the end went back to an S&W J-frame. It is just that much more comfortable to carry via a pocket holster. I also noticed that with it flat profile, when I was seated just so, the pistol tended to try and slide out of my pocket. For these reasons, I no longer routinely carry it as a pocket gun. It can be done if deemed necessary, but I've pretty well regulated that "duty" to the lightweight snub .38.
3. As has been mentioned, I am not a real Glock fan. I have no particular pride in this pistol, something that cannot be said of many others I own. However, it has so many strong points that I intend to keep and use it for certain purposes. As most know, if a handgun is used in shooting another person, justified or not, it will spend some time away from home and in an evidence locker. It will be tested by a firearms expert as well. In short, the gun will be out of our control and subject to perhaps not the best treatment possible. I'd rather have my Glock subjected to less than ideal conditions than a more traditional blued firearm or one that holds strong sentimental value. My G26 could probably be replaced with another showing the same level of performance.
4. While it is not blued, it does have a dark finish…and one that turns out to be very durable and corrosion resistant. That is a plus to me.
5. I was able to make some minor changes in the gun without the expense associated with similar changes to more traditional pistols. Namely, I changed the sights, recoil spring guide, and added a plug for the hollow behind the magazine well to keep out dust. (Some opine that this is not needed, but I did it when I was carrying the gun via a pocket holster. Untold amounts of lint and debris found their way into that hollow and since I could see parts when looking through it, I didn't want to take a chance that some of it would eventually make its way into the guts of the gun. From what I've seen, I don't think it would actually affect reliability, but I was not willing to take the chance. The plastic sights, while usable, wore down with not that much practice from the holster. I replaced them with AroTek fixed sights. They mimic Novak sights somewhat and are reasonably priced. While I left the recoil spring strength alone, I did go with a Wolff two-piece, steel recoil spring guide system. I'm told that it's not at all necessary, but I just didn't like the flexible, polymer factory spring guide. The gun's functioned perfectly with the Wolff unit, but it never malfunctioned with the factory plastic rod, either.
Not a "match gun" by any standard, the Glock possesses plenty of accuracy for its intended purpose and is capable of better than the "combat accuracy" mentioned by some gun writers. Despite its short grip, I was very pleased that it is easy to shoot. The abbreviated grip presented me no control problems and allowed for both a precise hold for slow, precision shooting as well as for the faster "practical" drills. While felt recoil is subjective, varying from shooter to shooter, I did not find the G26 objectionable to shoot with even the hotter loads such as the Corbon or Winchester shown above.
6. The Glock 26 does not give up much with most ammunition despite its 3.46" barrel. This was a pleasant surprise. Elsewhere on this site, you will find "Glock 26" velocities listed if interested. It should be noted that a couple of favorite standard pressure loads do not quite "satisfy" when used in the Glock 26. Federal 115-gr. JHP and the now discontinued 124-gr. Nyclad simply don't work as well in the short barrels as in those 4 or 5" long. Triton, Corbon, Winchester, and other newer +P loads give virtually the same velocities from the Glock 26 as did my Hi Powers, albeit usually to the low side. However, differences were not great, velocities remain well in the ballistic envelope at which the bullets are designed to expand, and on the receiving end, there's probably no practical difference.
7. Having an abbreviated grip or butt, the Glock 26 is exceptionally easy to conceal under a loose-
fitting shirt or jacket. With a proper belt and holster, the gun that was too heavy for pocket carry will
be almost forgotten! In short, the G26 is extremely easy to carry via belt holsters. While I usually go
with a Commander .45 or a Browning Hi Power 9mm when wearing a belt rig, there are times that I
opt for the Glock. One reason is when wearing waist-length jackets. The longer guns can protrude
below the bottom of the jacket. The G26 does not.
I also believe from observation and the written work of folks using Glocks heavily that they last. They last for years and with heavy use. I am a shooter and long-term durability is a factor I look at strongly. The Glock meets this requirement.
While I do not believe in "Glock Perfection," I do believe that if an old traditionalist like me can find a use for one, others might, too. If you think you might try one, understand that like the Hi Power and 1911, the Glock design does not suffer foolish gun handling well. While pressing the trigger does move but a partially cocked striker rearward, this distance is not great compared to either a Kahr, most other DA autos or a double-action revolver. It is essential that the trigger finger not touch the trigger until ready to fire. This must be religiously practiced with all handguns, but especially so with a Glock. Despite its "safe action," it ain't so "safe" with the finger on the trigger as the one and only external safety has just been depressed and deactivated. Likewise, choose holsters with care and absolutely avoid those in which thumb breaks or retaining straps of any kind can get into the trigger guard when the pistol's being reholstered. This can cause the gun to be fired unintentionally.
Do NOT put your finger on the trigger or in the trigger guard until actually preparing to fire.
My Glock 26 has a home because it does what it's called upon to do very well…with the exception of being an "always" gun in a pocket holster. It's capable of spitting out up to 11 hot 9mm JHP's before reloading and felt recoil is very easy to control in rapid fire. I may never be a member of the Glock Camp (Sorry,couldn't resist), but this model has proven itself a capable performer and a viable carry pistol for me under certain circumstances.
If you are looking for a compact pistol, don't care for single-action, and want a durable, long-lived handgun in the 9mm power range, I suggest giving the Glock 26 a long, hard look.
It may be ugly, but it is worthy of serious consideration.