The Glock 21 Gen 4 is not an entirely new animal compared to its predecessor the G21-TF, or “Thin Frame.” It is the same width, but the grips are more secure yet less abusive on the hand, and it has the Gen 4 dual spring system for a different recoil feel that is very manageable. The Gen 4 guns also come with two extra mags.
The biggest outward change you’ll notice on the Gen 4 guns is the RTF, or Rough Textured Finish. This new version has a much less abrasive feel to it while being more secure feeling.
This is the dual captured spring system that you find on all the Gen 4 guns. From a physics standpoint, you can’t technically change the recoil of a gun without adding to the weight, but the way recoil is directed, and over how much time during the shot has been changed by this added spring, and the gun is extremely manageable.
If this is your first double stack .45 in a Glock, I suggest you go try one out at a range, or at least go hold one for a while in a gunshop. It is substantially thicker than a 9mm Glock, though it doesnt’ feel as thick as many 1911 doublestacks I have tried over the years.
Even though the .45 is thicker, and even though I generally prefer the 9mm version, my not overly large hands line up perfectly with the controls on the G21 Gen 4. The gun fits me well.
This is the Double Tap MK1 holster they made me for my G21 Gen 4. It was too tight at first but they fixed it quickly and now it works great. This is an outside the wasteband pistol holster. I am law enforcement so ultra-concealability isn’t an issue. The curve of the Kydex holster and the way it is inset is good enough for me. The ten degree cant is standard.
I found the backstrap that comes with the gun to be just perfect for my hand, but if you have a very long hand and prefer a thick double stack feel, the G21 does come with two extra backstraps. You push a pin at the top out and the grips hook into the bottom.
As someone new to carrying a doublestack .45, especially in a Glock, the G21 Gen 4 feels like second nature already to me. I prefer to carry a Glock after all these years, and the added firepower of 13+1 rounds of .45 ACP, plus an extra two mags on my belt, never hurts. This was the BlackHawk holster I started with, but I prefer the Double Tap I am using now. Ultimately the choice is yours and you’ll have to look around to see what you are comfortable with. It is nice to know that there are good options, and so far in my experience the G21 Gen 4 is a great option for both duty belt and concealed carry, and I now carry mine every day.
By Brian Jensen
At SHOT Show 2012 a little while back we got a brief look at the Gen 4 version of the Glock 21. Fortunately for me, I had just purchased a new Gen 4 G21 just a few days prior to the show, and we can now get a chance to look at it from a more “hands on” point of view.
Once I pulled the G21 from the Glock box, I noticed some differences right away from my earlier Gen 3 guns. First off, the grip has the characteristic nibs that Glock calls “polymids” set in the familiar RTF, or “Rough Textured Finish” pattern. Actually feeling the Gen 4 version of RTF, and carrying it for a bit, I prefer it over the Gen 3 RTF2 style. The RTF2 surface was a bit more aggressive than I cared for, and was rough on clothing. As a big fan of the Glock overall, this was a welcome change, because to me it feels “just right” and I think I grip it more securely than the Gen 3.
The other thing I noticed was the newer finish Glock is putting on their guns. It is the duller gray finish, which is less slippery for gripping, and also less shiny than the earlier finish. Some say the older coating is more durable, but this remains to be seen – I like the more “no-nonsense,” dull finish. Personally, I don’t mind if my working guns get a little finish wear after carry and use as it gives them character. Finish wear may hurt long term value, but I feel that my carry guns pay for themselves over the time I carry them.
This G21 came with the Glock night sights, which I think are now being supplied by Meprolight. These are superior to the older sights in my humble opinion, as the white plastic outline around the tritium capsules is bigger, and easier to pick up quickly in low light than the previous versions. This is one of the Gen 4 additions and changes that seem to be driven by the consumer. Glock is listening, and they are improving their guns generation to generation.
Overall, the fit and finish was business as usual, standard Glock. No frills, flat black/gray, but tight and clean with nothing unfinished or half-way on the gun. I have always found that when you buy a Glock you are buying a complete product that has been well tested and manufactured to the toughest tolerances.
The Gen 4…in Real Life
The Gen 4 comes with the multiple back strap system (MBS), which allows for the gun to be adapted to the shooter’s hand. I found that the gun without any of the inserts was somewhat more comfortable than the SF model of the Gen 3, and likely is very similar in size. The medium backstrap is the equivalent of the Gen 3 standard size, and the large would be ideal for those with big paws.
Without the backstrap, my hand felt comfortable on the grip, and my trigger finger rested comfortably at the slide take down notch when not engaging the trigger. Reaching the trigger was no problem. The web of my hand did get a little bit of a dig from the rear, left side corner of the backstrap at the tang. The reason is that this is a double stack .45 ACP, and the grip will still need to be decent sized to accommodate the magazine.
At The Range
Torture testing a gun when you don’t torture test for a living isn’t something that most of us can do, but I did take my new G21 to the range for an afternoon to put it through its paces. After 200+ rounds, there were no jams, flubs, or hiccups. The weapon was somewhat boring in being reliable, and never gave me any surprises.
Accuracy was on par with most other combat pistols in my experiences. On five shot groups at 7 yards the G21 shot into a 2” hole as long as I did my part. Even rested, that distance is pretty long for thick combat sights on a short pistol radius, but generally that is what I shoot high quality pistols in this price range into.
The G21’s recoil was somewhat muted, or maybe just different, compared to the previous G21 Gen 2 I shot. I’m used to a 9mm, which I prefer, so the recoil of the venerable .45 ACP was noticeably beefier and much more snappy, but It was definitely manageable, with easy follow up shots. Rapid fire I could keep all the rounds from a full magazine into a pie-plate sized group at 7 yards.
I remember the Gen 2 as much more of a handful, but I didn’t shoot them side by side. I don’t know how to describe “different” in all of these Gen 4 guns. The new dual spring recoil system makes it just a hair less snappy in the .40 S&W, and the .45 was a similar kind of thing. It’s one of those things where the recoil is just different in how you feel it. You could say it feels less, but I think it’s more accurate to say it’s just a little different. I have not found a quantification system otherwise for pistol recoil. You’ll have to try it for yourself. The one thing Glock does say is that these new recoil systems will last longer. (5,000 rounds versus 2500 rounds on .40 guns, and I would wager it’s more for the .45 due to its lower pressures.)
For quick reloads, the new wider magazine release button worked easily, and I never felt the need for an “extended” version magazine. In .45 ACP the standard 13 round magazine plus one in the pipe is enough, and adds over 12 ounces to the overall weight of the gun in ammo alone. This new Gen 4 mag system has the added benefit of being ambidextrous (able to switch to either side for both right or left handed shooters). This is an obvious nod to the Glock fans out there who are southpaws. With all the ambi guns on the market today, there is no reason a lefty Glock lover shouldn’t have a lefty option. Note also that the Gen 4 guns come with a total of 3 mags, one in the gun and two in the case.
I didn’t measure the trigger pull on my new G21 Gen 4, but it seemed normal for Glocks, in the 5 1/2 pound range. Overall the gun is 7.6″ inches long, 5.5″ high, and 1.3″ wide. The sight radius is 6.8″ and it has a 4.6″ barrel. It is 26.28 ounces empty.
Carrying the G21 Gen 4
I have been carrying the G21 for a few weeks now, and have found it to be far more comfortable to carry than I expected. Since a duty holster is outside your belt and comfort isn’t such an issue, I’ll focus on carrying the G21 Gen 4 concealed because that is primarily how I do it, as absurd as it may sound to carry a full-sized .45 concealed.
At first I used a Blackhawk Serpa paddle holster. The draw was smooth and quick even though the gun is locked in, but I found the holster was not ideal for CCW – at least for me. They are outstanding range holsters, and I have used their duty version for uniformed carry. However, the paddle holster itself sticks out pretty far on my side, and doesn’t keep as discreetly concealed as I’d like.
Later I stumbled upon Double Tap Holsters out of Michigan. They offer an excellent Kydex holster, at a price we can all afford, and with a very quick turnaround time. The holster also comes with a lifetime warranty. After poking around their website, I ordered a Mk I Outside the Waistband holster for my G21. The initial holster was very tight, and I sent it back for a little tweaking. It was quickly sent back, and now after a break in of a dozen draws or so, is pulls naturally and with ease, but keeps it tight in the ride when you want it to stay put.
The Mk I is similar in design to other kydex holsters that have become so popular these days. The holster holds the gun tight to the body, and as a result, it carries easily and doesn’t flop around – which is very unusual for this size gun. I had it on for days at a time, even fell asleep on the couch after a long day at work, and never felt it.
And just as an aside, KUDOS to Double Tap Holsters. It is easy to get positive feedback for a great product that comes off the line perfect, but not every one of every product does come off the line perfect. I got into contact with Double Tap Holsters when I found the holster was a little too tight (the gun was almost stuck in the holster). Their reply was simple, “send it back and we’ll make it right.” When it came back (and turnaround was less than a week I believe), it was just that – “made right.” It has now become my favorite holster. I plan on purchasing more, as well as a mag holder from them based upon their customer service alone.
The G21 Gen 4 is an updated version of a very successful design. Many people have shied away from this gun, due to the girth of the grip, but the updates found on the Gen 4 series grip can do some work towards making this gun more accepted for those with medium hands. The new “grippier” surface of the Gen 4’s is a nice change as well. It isn’t too aggressive so you feel like you’re holding a cheese grater and it definitely won’t eat away at your clothes. The double spring has been well received, and I certainly prefer it to the old Glock feel. I hope to get some review guns in from Glock in other Gen 4 models this year, so hopefully we’ll talk more about these improvements to the award winning and bulletproof reliable Glock design.
The Gen 4 G21 is still a thick gun, but once you adapt to the size and learn to shoot it well, I expect it will last a lifetime. The G21 is built on a frame for the 10mm which has substantially higher pressures, so the low pressure .45 ACP that was made for the metalurgy of the early 1900s is no challenge, and doesn’t batter the modern metal and plastic-urgy of the Glock whatsoever. Don’t worry, the size isn’t on the scale of “It’s a monster!” that I first believed it to be, but it’s not the svelte width of a 1911 either, as it holds 13 rounds.
You may laugh that I judge holsters on their concealability. This is a double-stack .45 ACP, and you wouldn’t normally see this as a choice for CCW. But it is a rough world out there, and the more firepower the better. It was nice to see the G21 Gen 4 carry as well as it did and, if you’re going somewhere that you’ll need 13+1 rounds of .45 in your gun, you can grab your G21 and be aptly protected. I like this gun a lot as you can tell, and especially if you are a Glock fan, I think you will too.