By Brian Jensen
The .40 S&W is not just a flash in the pan as some writers called it when it first came out in the late ’80’s. It is the mainstay of American law enforcement, and may even see some favor in our Spec Ops community. In both the law enforcement and civilian market, the Glock is king of the .40 heap. There is not an agency in my county, and likely my state, that doesn’t at least allow for the Glock. Moreover, the gun that seems to go the fastest right now in the gun stores is, you guessed it, the Glock. Is it any wonder why Glock is backordered around one million guns.
I’ve carried a Glock in .40 S&W in several iterations for almost 20 years and also carried other .40s as well, so I have a pretty good foundation for looking at the Glock 35 Gen 4. On top of that, I’ve carried the Gen 4 35 for almost two years now.
By now the advantages of the Gen 4 design have been pretty well hashed out, but they are worth mentioning in general terms. First, it’s an adaptable platform. The gun can be better fit to the hands of the shooter with the multiple backstrap system (referred to as the MBS). This system also uses the new “polymid” texture on the grip to give a firmer hold on the pistol. For additional adaptability, you can set up any Gen 4 gun for right or left and shooters by moving the magazine release to either side.
The other significant difference is the new recoil spring assembly (RSA) for the Gen 4 pistols; it’s a multi-spring captured assembly similar as what has been seen for years on the subcompact Glocks. It changes the snappiness of the .40 S&W to a more straight back recoil – not necessarily less, but different in feel. Another benefit to the assembly is that it lasts longer, going to 5,000 rounds over the 1,500 to 3,000 rounds in the older plastic rod assembly. However, the benefit of the new RSA that many will really like it that it fixes what many shooters have found to be a problem when shooting a Gen 3 Glock with weapon-mounted lights. The older guns seemed to suffer malfunctions when shooting the .40s with the mounted lights. However, the problem was only on certain guns, and was not always consistent between shooters. The new Gen 4 system seems to solve this.
The Glock 35
The Glock 35 is what Glock refers to as its “Practical Tactical” model. It is at home as a tactical pistol as much as an IPSC Limited gun (non-Production class). The longer barrel puts more weight forward and will translate into less muzzle flip for rapid follow up shots, and the longer sight radius gives a better sight picture for accuracy. For those who like their full-size 1911, this is your Glock, because it handles like a 1911 with that long slide.
Both the National City Police and Escondido Police Department in Southern California issue and carry the G35, using both the Gen 3 and Gen 4 iterations. These agencies have found the G35 is the best gun for their money.
OK, so law enforcement likes it, but what makes this a good gun for the average Joe Citizen? All the same reasons. The Glock 35 is a tool, and it is as good a self-defense gun for the citizen as it is a duty gun for officers. The greater advantage for the civilian shooter is the gun is well suited for those wanting to compete as well. For those who aren’t loaded with cash, but want to shoot the occasional IPSC match, the Glock 35 you keep in the nightstand can also win your class at the range. (Or even plink cans in the backroad.)
The G35 Gen 4 was tested with four different brands of ammunition, two JHP loads and two FMJ loads, all in the 180-grain variety. The 180-grain JHP Ranger Non-T (Load RA40180HP), 180-grain Federal HST (Load P40HST1), 180-grain Federal American Eagle FMJ (Load AE40R1) and 180-grain CCI Lawman FMJ (Load 53652) were all tried. All testing was done with the Chrony Beta Chronometer. Averages were done via a 10-shot string of each load.
Testing showed most ammo was fired at close to factory specifications, so there wasn’t a big difference as far as muzzle velocity from what the manufacturer says should come from a 4-inch barrel gun. Surprising, however, was the tremendous spread of velocities from the American Gunsmithing Intitute
Winchester Ranger JHP. For a load often carried s a duty round, the 200 + fps deviation between different shots was shocking. A similar deviation was found with the American Eagle Ball, but I wasn’t as concerned with that since it’s a practice round. All other ammo, was pretty much consistent with only minor maximum deviations in velocity.
Handling was easygoing, even with the snappy .40 S&W round, a credit to the longer sight radius and the recoil spring assembly. Some .40s are bear to shoot for a long period of time, but most could shoot the G35 all day long. The felt recoil is categorically different from, say a Gen 3 Glock 22 in .40. The extra barrel length and new recoil system together work to make this feel more like a 9 mm than a .40.
The gun pointed naturally, but shot slightly to the left. Doing point-shooting drills with the gun was like it was an extension of your hand, with follow-up shots falling within an inch or two of the first neat hole in the target. I actually do better shooting with the gun in this role than when doing rested shots from a sandbag.
The advantage of the longer barrel beyond taming the muzzle flip of the .40 is the extended sight radius. This weapon is wearing Warren Tactical sights, which are an improvement from the plastic factory version I’ve seen shear off on Glocks after repeated draws. If there was anything I suggest to someone who buys any Glock is to dump the factory plastic sights, and invest in metal sights, if not night sights. With the longer barrel length, the sight picture is clear, but it will overemphasize any shakiness in your hold, so bear that in mind.
Accuracy is dead on, bearing in mind that the only limitation was skill level. The gun is capable of more than we saw in testing. With a rest the best group was with the Federal HST that gave a 2 ½ inch group at 25 yards, with a flyer that opened it up to 4 ½ inches.
This Gen 4 Glock is equipped with what Glock aficionados refer to as the “dot” connector. The new Gen 4 system seemed to raise trigger pull by about a pound on most models. The fix for this a new connector in the trigger housing that is marked with a “.” or dot that was supposed to bring the trigger pull down to the original specs of 5.5 pounds. The tested pistol was slightly higher, averaging out a 5 pounds, 14.3 ounces using a Lyman Electronic trigger pull gauge. The take-up was standard Glock as the spring tension is taken up until the firing pin makes contact with the connector, with a crisp let-off, and the traditional crisp trigger reset Glocks are known for. (It’s no 1911, but still not bad at all.)
Overall, handling was boringly reliable. Point, pull trigger, gun goes bang, bullet hits target. There were no malfunctions of any kind. While this gun has over 1,000 rounds through it, it should be noted there was no break in period. The gun worked straight out of the box, without a single malfunction in those 1,000 rounds.
So, is this the .40 S&W for you? Well, it does a lot of things really well, all in one gun. It can defend your home, and shoot IPSC courses. It can wear a light, or not, it can be carried concealed with some effort. It has a potent caliber for a handgun round, and can even be adapted to fire the .357 Sig round with an aftermarket barrel. Imagine that for a backwoods handgun, a 5.32 inch .357 Sig. Moreover, it does what many other guns have failed to do, tame the .40 S&W for those who hate that snappy cartridge. In short, this gun has a tremendous area of potential, whatever your needs.