Saturday, January 08, 2011

Glock Model 39 .45 GAP


As I was trying to decide what to write about first in the new year I thought "why not write about what I'm carrying right now?"  Ah, a small Glock in the maligned .45 GAP caliber.  I'm sure that everyone knows the story that the .45 GAP was born from Glock's realization that Americans love the .45 Caliber but their .45 ACP pistols were built on their 10mm frame causing their .45's to be larger than they needed to be.  Many people with medium sized hands and most everyone with small hands found the large Glock pistols in .45 ACP to have a grip circumference that was not conducive to their shooting grip.  Hence the .45 GAP round was developed to be shorter allowing Glock to trim that grip circumference down to a more universally user-friendly size.  The more compact grip gave police departments who wanted a .45 caliber weapon the ability to provide their officers a pistol in  the familiar Glock platform with a size that could accommodate everyone.  The .45 GAP is certainly not as popular with police departments as their .40 S&W and 9mm calibers but it is in use by the State Police in Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina as well as a small number of municipalities and State Park Police Officers.

One of the obvious questions at this point might be why not go with a Model 27 in .40 S&W or the Model 36 (which any regular reader knows I love).  I'll answer that question after we compare the specifications between the 39, 27, and 36.


Mode 39, 27, and 36 Specification Comparison
Model
Caliber
Height
Length
Barrel Length
Width
Weight
Capacity
Sights
39
.45 GAP
4.17”
6.3”
3.46”
1.18”
19.33 oz
6 + 1
Fixed
27
.40 S&W
4.17”
6.29”
3.46”
1.18”
19.75 oz
9 + 1
Fixed
36
.45 ACP
4.76"
6.77”
3.78”
1.13”
20.11
6 + 1
Fixed

So, why would I choose the model 39 over the model 36 in .45 ACP?  Well, the 39 is a little shorter in length and height making it easier to conceal.  It's girth is a little wider than the model 36 making it fit my hand and spreading the recoil just a little bit better.  Now, as for the model 27; it does give you three extra rounds of .40 S&W but....it's a .40, not a .45.  That may mean little in terms of ballistic numbers but it means a lot to me!  Also, for all of the baby Glock models I buy one "must have" accessory which is a Pearce grip extender to make the pistol easier to hold.  With the addition of the Pearce + 1 grip extender.  I now have 7 + 1 rounds of ammo at my disposal which does not make me feel under-gunned (especially when I carry a spare magazine).  The Pearce + 1 grip extender adds very little to the overall height of the pistol so it is still superbly easy to carry.

The Pearce + 1 grip extender in place on a Glock 39 resting in it's Remora IWB holster with a spare magazine in a Remora magazine IWB pouch.


Model 39 Performance At-A-Glance






Handling
Terrible
Poor
Acceptable
Good
Excellent
Fit & Finish
Terrible
Rough
Acceptable
Good
Excellent
Sights
None
Too Small
Useable
Good
Excellent
Trigger
Terrible
Poor
Acceptable
Good
Excellent
Power Scale
.22LR
.380 ACP
9mm
.40 S&W
.45 GAP
Carry/Concealment
Too Large
Compact
Ultra Compact
Micro Compact
Pocket Pistol
Reliability
Unreliable
Somewhat Reliable
Fair
OK
Completely Reliable
Accuracy
Poor
Fair
Acceptable
Combat +
Bullseye

Let’s examine the individual characteristics of the G39:






Handling
Terrible
Poor
Acceptable
Good
Excellent

This is a Glock so there is little surprise in the handling of the pistol, it handles like....a Glock.  There are no safeties or decockers to have to manipulate.  Another after market accessory that I find preferable on my Glocks is an extended slide release.  Fortunately the Model 39 came with one standard so I did not need to add one.






Fit & Finish
Terrible
Rough
Acceptable
Good
Excellent

Again, it's a Glock so it is finished like a Glock.  The Glock bluing is no worse than anyone else's and it is far superior to more than a few but the real Glock genius is the Tenifer treatment.  I have seen Glocks with the bluing worn off but I have never seen one with rust or pitting on it.






Sights
None
Too Small
Useable
Good
Excellent

The sights on Glocks are actually pretty darn good but my other "must have" accessory for a Glock pistol are night sights and this one is certainly no exception.






Trigger
Terrible
Poor
Acceptable
Good
Excellent

The trigger pull on Glock pistols is one of the most complained about features.  When I first started shooting them I felt the same way.  I had primarily been a single action 1911 type of guy and the Glock just felt weird.  But as my horizons widened and I began shooting more double action pistols my view changed.  The 5.5 pound trigger pull is just about perfect for a carry pistol and once I figured out how to work the fast reset of the Glock trigger I can produce bursts of two and three rounds that aren't full auto fast but fast enough to be controllable at conversation distances.






Power Scale
.22LR
.380 ACP
9mm
.40 S&W
.45 ACP/GAP

It's a .45, need I say more?  Yes there are some ballistic differences between the .45 GAP and the .45 ACP but they are hardly worth the discussion.






Carry/Concealment
Too Large
Compact
Ultra Compact
Micro Compact
Pocket Pistol


The G39 is built on what is commonly called the "Baby Glock" frame.  I find it a little too large and heavy for pocket carry but I know there are those who have found the right pair of trousers to accommodate pocket carry.  With my Remora holster she sits very easily in my waist band and I hardly know she is there.






Reliability
Unreliable
Somewhat Reliable
Fair
OK
Completely Reliable

Again, there is very little to discuss here.  She has eaten 230 Grain hardball, 185 grain hollowpoints, and 200 grain hollowpoints.  The basic drawback to the .45 GAP is ammo accessibility as not every gun shop or hunting department is going to carry it.  I am fortunate in that the gun shop/range that I frequent has a fairly large stock of Speer 185 and 200 grain hollowpoint ammo.






Accuracy
Poor
Fair
Acceptable
Combat +
Bullseye

I have it listed here as "Combat +" simply because, while not a bullseye competition pistol, she does shoot far better than what most would consider average combat accuracy.  For further discussion let's look at the targets:

Here's the first shot out of the box at 21 feet:

Here's three targets at 21 feet



50 Feet

Defensive Ammo:

185 grain Speer Gold Dot Hollowpoint ammo fired at 21 feet

Speer Gold Dot Hollowpoint 200 grain Ammo fired at 21 feet

Speer 200 grain Gold Dot Hollowpoint ammo fired at 45 feet

So, in summation while the biggest drawback to the Model 39 is ammo accessibility and cost (and it is available via internet sales) she is easy to carry, powerful, more accurate than she needs to be, and completely reliable.  Having one of these blasters at the ready makes me very comfortable in just about any surroundings.  


10 comments:

Alain said...

Excellent review as always, but darn I just picked up a Gen4 model 26- I looked at the 36 but something about the 9mm - just had to have one. Now I'll need to check out the model 39 -my wife is going to kill me!
PS Just a figure of speech!
I hope
Al

BlackDavid said...

Sir,

Began reading your reviews some months ago...very nicely done.
Upon reading your back issues, I was surprised to see we ended up in similar places by different paths. For thirty plus years I have bought handguns (for shooting and sometimes hunting), selling those that became unreliable...or replaced some when something better came along. I try to keep no more than 3 to 5 at one time, but have owned a minimum of 35 handguns, and shot an equal number that I didn't own. The Glock is one of the few that I have shot frequently (my wife owned three), but would never own...runs contrary to my spirit or something.
My .45 SIG C-3 replaced my Kimbers as it proved better balanced and more accurate. It sports Esmerelda O Sheehan slim half checker grips as well...but in black ebony. It's my night time gun for univited guests.
My 9mm Browning Hi Power, with Craig Spegel grips and C&S SFS system is my waste-products-hit-the ventilator piece.
My 9mm STI Rogue is my everyday carry piece. Perfect balance of weight, accuracy, and quality. If only I could erase the rollmarks...
My .380 SIG 238 is my pocket piece.

I mention this as I have held and dry fired the Kimber Solo Carry (two tone) and gone on the reserve list. It appears to be very tightly made with better balance and shorter trigger than the Kahr, more rounded than anything, sight picture similar to the SIG 238 (perfect), and has the whole 1911 perfect grip.
The requirement to use premium ammunition would no doubt limit it's usage in practice...but shouldn't deter someone that shoots an awful lot with similar guns.
And it appears that it might be the perfect replacement for the SIG 238...small enough for extreme carry conditions, but without the nagging doubts that often accompany a .380.
We'll see...

Anonymous said...

I never cease to be frustrated by gun magazines or other sources that publish so-called "reviews" of a handgun, which is never tasked with scoring hits beyond a few yards. Here, the gun in question was tried out to a whopping 45 feet (about 10 yards). While I am quite familiar with the worn out old saw about most gunfights being at toe to toe distance, there ARE the occasional encounters that go beyond that and for which we should be prepared, if that time ever comes. Not only that, but many police departments, to include the one I retired from, require that you qualify out to 25 yards with any off-duty gun you carry. Same requirement for my HR-218 recert, every year.

With this in mind, why do so many so-called "reviews" find it impossible to take the gun out to 25 yards when it is being put through its paces????
I have a Ruger LCP and a Kel Tec P-32, both of which will keep the entire mag plus one on the silhouette at 25 yards with ease. Why can the writers not let us see what these guns do at that range? Is it that they cannot shoot?

rjf415 said...

Average Joe--good review. I'm afraid the 45 GAP will walk slowly into oblivion, just like the 10mm, 45 Magnum, or the 45 AE. The round, while a good idea, will not easily replace 100 years of reputation (45 ACP). As you stated ammo is difficult now—just wait. And in the end, isn’t the 45 Gap just another version of the 40 S&W (another answer to an issue that didn’t exist)?

GlockMan said...

Great article on the 39! I own all three Glock 45GAP models and love the caliber. It fits my hands perfect and shoots like a dream! I also enjoy reloading the GAP.

Kevin said...

I have carried a Glock 30. (45ACP) for 14 years with many rounds put through it and only one stovepipe when it was new. As for the bluing, 14 years on carrying in a in the pants holster and it has lost only a little bluing.

glockumollie said...

tHE THRILL IN THIS PISTOL IS THAT IT IS A TRUE SUBCOMPACT AND GIVES TRUE 45CAL BALLISTICS AND DON'T FORGET CAN BE RELOADED WITH THE MAGS FROM THE 37 AND 38 SO IT FAR SURPASSES THE 36 IN ROUNDS AVAILABLE FOR YOUR MAG RELOADS. aLSO THE 38 IS MUCH LIKE A G19 IN 45CAL. i DIG THESE GUNS. i THINK THE 38 AND 39 ARE BOTH SO FAR UNDERRATED IT IS REDICULOUS. i THINK THESE ARE NOT ONLY GREAT CARRY GUNS BUT R GOING TO TURN OUT TO BE HIGHLY SOUGHT AFTER COLLECTORS PIECES. winner!

Anonymous said...

120313
When out in the community the Glock 39 has remained my primary CCW resource for over six years now.
When traveling away from the area or in a higher risk environment will carry the G30 due to ammunition availability.
While not as commonly stocked in the smaller stores I have never had problems finding GAP rounds.
Both Glocks have internal guide rod lasers.
No regrets on either resource, would recommend both the G39 and the G30 without reservation.
- Richard in Colorado

Tiggy said...

Yep .45 GAP was an answer to a problem that didn't exist but look at it now...

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure where you went to school to learn math, but 45' is not about 10 yards. It's actually exactly 15 yards and it was also done at 50'. FYI that's about 17 yards.