Glock 44 Initial Review
Glock has finally stepped into the rimfire game, something that I personally have been waiting for. This is a training tool that rounds out the Glock family in a way nothing else could. I want to be very upfront about our review here at GunsAmerica of this new model. We have seen via other reviewers, some of whom I know personally, some problems develop with certain G44 guns. To head this off at the pass, and get you firsthand scoop, we decided we had to run the G44 hard. So hard in fact, that the video portion had to be broken into two parts. Our first half, which is already 14 minutes long, covers the first thousand rounds, over 8 brands of ammo. You can fast forward to the 12-minute mark if you just want the executive summary. Next week we will be back with the next thousand rounds, which takes us to the point many others had issues. If they were going to have them.
First of all, we have to talk about the engineering of the gun. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the recoil impulse and available energy of a 22 Long Rifle round is different than any centerfire handgun bullet. Therefore, to make one work, basic physics says you can move less mass. Other handgun companies seeking to make a rimfire version of their flagship pistol have solved this in different ways historically. Method one is to scale down the entire gun to something like 75% size. This is cool for kids but doesn’t help a grown man much. Method two is to take an existing 22 pistol and slap a plastic shell around it to look like your gun. It looks aesthetically correct, but it doesn’t feel right. In the hand, or when firing, which I am also not a fan of.
The aftermarket also sometimes has a solution; a conversion kit. The normal method is to take a handguns steel slide and remake it from aluminum. This cuts down the weight significantly, while not changing the feel or look of the gun. But it also has drawbacks. Some have the sights milled in as a weight savings, which means you are stuck with them. Considering that is the first thing we usually change on a Glock, a less than ideal end state. And I have also never had great success with them. Perfect if you want to train malfunctions, not so great for anything else.
So how did Glock solve the problem? In a way that was ingeniously simple, a trademark Glock move. Some 40-pound forehead engineer must’ve thought, “Polymer is even lighter than aluminum, who do we know that makes excellent polymers?” And then he tripped over a Glock box and had an epiphany. (The infamous Glock storage box is also made in house, in case you ever need to play Combat Tupperware Jeopardy.)
The slide on the G44 is in fact polymer, with some magic blended in. Polymer is fantastically strong, in certain applications. It also has the benefit of flexing a bit under torque, which gives it incredible durability. It happens faster than the human eye can perceive, but do go watch a Glock firing under slow-motion video. The frame actually moves in a wave. Either a happy accident or more of Gaston’s genius, this is part of what gives a Glock its durability. As we now know well after close to four decades, a Glock frame will outlast a steel frame by a long shot.
One of the few things polymer won’t outlast steel on is abrasion resistance. Which is obviously a problem since the slide is a moving part on a semi-auto pistol. Even your centerfire Glock in the nightstand has steel rails built into the frame, which is what the steel slide rides on. A purely plastic slide would last about 20 minutes before it was worn down to a nub. So how to solve this problem?
Simple. They reverse-engineered how the traditional Glock frame works and applied it to the slide. In front of the rear sight is a steel insert, that extends down to full-length steel slide rails. Which pretty much makes the G44 a polymer, steel, polymer sandwich. And also makes the slide incredibly light.
Then comes the truly amazing part. Slide weight aside, Glock managed to build a rimfire that looks and feels EXACTLY like a real boy gun. When you pop the gun apart, it would be easy to mistake the internals for any other Glock. Firing pin block, slide release, trigger components- all familiar. The ejector body may have a bit more angle, but its the same basic part. And the barrel even has a square chamber end, making it look like any other small frame. Until you take it out and it looks like a piece of spaghetti with a meatball on the end. That is not an indictment, as the accuracy in the gun doesn’t suffer for it.
We could wax eloquent about the finish and grip texture now if you like, but I don’t think that helps anyone. For all intents and purposes, it is a Gen 5 Glock 19 down chambered to 22 LR. I’m quite confident you have held a G-19, and if not that is an easy fix. It has the same Gen 5 trigger as the other guns, which translates like this. The trigger is better than a factory Gen3, but out of the box, still not a race-tuned 1911. Fair enough?
What does help, and what we all want to know, is does it perform. We are also going to take an unorthodox position on that this time, especially since we are two months behind some other reviews you might have seen. Here are the facts.
Number one, I am a Glock fan, generally speaking. I used them as race guns in both USPSA and 3 Gun, and I carried one daily assaulting targets in Baghdad. Then I trained a generation of assaulters on the Glock platform to do the same. Hell, I have even been on a Glock poster.
But if you have been a regular reader, you also know I brook no BS. No quarter asked, none given if you make a bad gun. I almost got blackballed from the industry for nuking a major player’s intro to polymer guns, and I regret none of it. I also own several Gen3 Glocks, and one Gen5 Glock, but no Gen4 Glocks. Draw your own conclusions there.
A Google search of G44 problems turns up 4 potential issues, all of which we have addressed. First, some people said that the gun wouldn’t shoot their normal 22LR ammo. This would be a problem for me personally if it was true. I don’t want to buy Eley 10X for my handgun. Also, Glock built an entire company reputation on reliability. I expect the 22LR to be the same. Because of that, I bought 8 brands of ammunition. Ranging from subsonic to hypervelocity, that is a fair test to me. If we weren’t in an ammo crunch, I would do even more.
Right from magazine number one, with no lube beside the copper color grease new Glocks wear, my G44 ran like a sewing machine. The first 6 brands no issue, at two full magazines each, with not so much as a hiccup. That was Gem-tech subs, CCI, Federal in a couple of flavors, and Blazer. It would not eat the Winchester or Remington bulk I had. But still, 6 out of 8 is pretty amazing. Through the next 1000 rounds, I had zero issues with the 6 it liked. Not one malfunction, which would be amazing at that round count in centerfire.
I heard some complaints about accuracy, people swearing the G44 shot 7-inches high. My test model would hit a 2 inch by 2-inch steel mini IPSC head every time I pulled the trigger correctly, at 10 meters. Out of the box, it was a smidge left, but it is also wearing adjustable sights. I find that level of accuracy 100% acceptable, and well beyond the ability of most shooters. I only had one test gun, and therefore only one data sample. But from what I see, the problem probably isn’t the gun.
Next, we saw some allegations that the polymer slide was cracking. Well, that is why we ran 1000 rounds out of it, and have 1000 more on tap. For our test gun, a post-shooting tear down showed absolutely no abnormal wear or signs of failure. This also covered the thought that perhaps the firing pin wasn’t durable enough. Ours showed no wear or signs of problems.
In light of the durability test, we will be back next week with a final tally. But so far, so good.
I think right now we can go ahead and draw some conclusions. As a training tool, the G44 is absolutely perfect. It allows you to get thousands and thousands of training rounds downrange, without being sponsored by Uncle Sugar. It fits in your holster, and magazines in magazine pouches. It feels like a Glock, it shoots like a Glock, and it runs like a Glock. If Combat Tupperware is your duty gun, home defense gun, or CCW gun, you absolutely need this. I don’t buy review guns often, but there is about a zero chance Glock is getting this one back. I suggest you do the same.