[Review] Glock 45: The New Compact Crossover Pistol

I have a habit, whether right or wrong, of looking at something I’ve seen before and making the borderline-snide comment “nothing new to see here, folks, move along…”. I admit I’ve used that, or similar, statements in some of my gun reviews. A more polite way of putting it might be “not much new here because the old way works” or words to that effect. Thus I introduce the fairly-new Glock 45. There is not much new here, but… Glock has taken two of its popular models and combined them, seemingly. There are some improvements and design changes. Let’s see where it came from.

Model 45 Ancestry

The G45 was introduced in September, 2018. Basically, the 45 is a black version of the Glock coyote-tan 19X. (For my 19X review, click here). The 19X is the civilian version of Glock’s submission for the recent pistol trials that the Army requested. As we know, the SIG Sauer P320 MHS (modular handgun system) pistol won that trial. Glock (not a company to cry in its beir) pretty much immediately re-designed the gun for the civilian market. To the best of my knowledge, all this involved doing was to remove the manual thumb safety. The civvy version even retains the lanyard loop. Thus, was born the civilian 19X. This pistol is a Gen 5 gun, which means that it has:

  • Forward slide serrations
  • “Marksman” match barrel
  • No grip finger grooves
  • Ambidextrous slide release
  • Flared mag well
  • Reversible magazine release
  • Tougher nDLC finish
  • Modular backstrap system
  • Enhanced trigger

(For a complete breakdown and an explanation of the difference between Glock generations read my article on the Glock 9mm models). One Gen 5 Model 19 “feature” that wasn’t replicated on the G45 or 19X was the less-than-useful cutout at the bottom front of the mag well. This cut was done, as I understand it, in order to make it easier to strip a balky magazine out of the gun if the mag would fail to fall free. There are other ways of doing this that don’t involve causing pain when shooting the gun…that cutout’s edge rides right against my hand and downright hurts after a period of shooting. I was not the first to discover this interesting effect. Even if they had “dulled” that sharp front edge a bit, it might be a little easier on the hand. I, for one, am glad to see it gone on these two guns.

In designing a pistol with a full-size frame and a compact-size slide and barrel, Glock has jumped on the bandwagon that other manufacturers have hitched a ride on. This seems to be the current trend in defensive pistols – a large, full-sized frame that holds many rounds coupled with an easier-handling, shorter barrel and slide. Now, if you’re going to carry these two guns in an OWB holster, then the grip length doesn’t matter a lot. But, if you’re trying to carry the gun concealed, say inside your waistband, that full-size grip can stick out and print through your shirt. I have always said that, between the slide and the grip, the grip is the harder to conceal of the two. The grip can be too long and print, as mentioned above but if the slide is longer, it usually can be concealed without issue. That’s because the slide is hidden away from view, unlike the grip. So, if you are going to carry a 19X or 45 concealed, you’d better find a holster that helps hide the 17-round-capacity grip. If you decide to carry concealed check out this article on CCW insurance.

Enter Law Enforcement

The 45 is finding favor with police agencies. There are some interesting reasons why, or at least I think they’re interesting – I don’t get out much. For one thing, when the coyote-tan (insert coyote howl here) gun hit the market, police agencies mostly looked at it as an improvement over their Glock 17s. But – they couldn’t take that light-brown color, and didn’t need a lanyard loop. They might have been interested if it were available in black. Well, now it is. The 45 solved those issues. Another reason law enforcement agencies might have been interested in the long-slide-short-barrel approach is that the gun was much like their model 17s. Same grip, same mag capacity, and similar holsters. They looked favorably on the slightly-shorter barrel, as a shorter barrel does tend to handle somewhat better than a long one for some folks. And, given the small difference between Glock 17 and Glock 19 barrel lengths, the shorter one doesn’t give up a lot in terms of sight radius or velocity. After all, they’re basically putting a Glock-19-length barrel on the 45. The 19 is Glocks’ best-seller, for some good reasons. This was a gamble that paid off for Gaston’s company. So, now police agencies have a new kid on the block to evaluate.

The long-grip-short-barrel thing is evident in other companies’ designs. Heck, even Taurus has gotten into the act. I just acquired a G3c compact (3.2-inch barrel) that came with three 12-round magazines, but 15- and 17-rounders are available from the company, with sleeves that fill in the grip. And, I owned a Springfield Armory XD(M) Compact in .45 ACP that came standard with both 9- and 13-round magazines. It had a 3.8-inch barrel. That seems to be a trend. And, from what I have seen and experienced, it’s not a bad idea. If you are going to carry a pistol with a longer grip, you do have to learn how to hide it well but once you do, the advantages of having 17 or so rounds at your disposal can make the effort worthwhile.

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Specifications

Let’s look at the specs. For fun, I’ll list the 45’s specifications and also the 19X’s. Let’s see just how similar they are…

Model 45Model 19X
Length:7.44 in.7.44 in.
Height (with mag):5.47 in.5.47 in.
Width:1.34 in.1.30 in.
Sights:Glock standard*same
Sight Radius:6.02 in.5.94 in.
Finish:nDLC (Diamond-Like Coating)nPVD, coyote brown
Barrel Length:4.02 in.same
Barrel Rifling:Enhanced hexagonal with right-hand twistsame
Length of twist:9.84 in.same
Magazine Capacity:17**17/19**
Weight, empty:20.8 oz. (my scale)22.05 oz. (Glock spec)
Weight, loaded mag:30.1 oz. (my scale)31.39 oz (Glock spec)
Trigger pull:5 lbs, 13.3 oz. (my scale)~5 lbs, 8 oz. (Glock spec)
Lanyard ring:noyes
MSRP:$699.00$749.00
Real-World Approx. Price:$570.00$600.00

* for about $45 more, you can get an MOS version with cutout for an optical sight

**of course, being a Glock 9mm, you could use any greater-capacity magazine made by Glock in that caliber, including 33-rounders and 50-round drums

So, we see that the 19X is very similar to the 45, except for finish color and lanyard ring. My friend, who loaned me this 45 for review, also owns the 19x that I reviewed earlier (link above). To my mind, it would be like owning two guns fairly identical except for color. They should carry and shoot very similarly to each other.

Glock G19X left side

So…do you buy the 45 or the 19X? They are, for all practical purposes, the same gun wearing different colors. If you are looking to buy the civilian version of the gun Glock submitted for the handgun trials, you will buy the 19X. On the other hand, if you think guns should only be “dressed” in formal black, you’ll buy the 45. Aside from the lanyard ring (which should be removable, I would guess) and the color, there isn’t a lot of difference. Both guns come with 17-round mags and the above-mentioned Gen 5 features. So, more than with a lot of pistols, the choice really comes down to color preference. That’s something that is a personal preference. I do know which one I would buy, given the choice…

Pictures

Before we get to the shooting part, let’s look at some photos…

Glock 45 right profile

A few things jump out at anyone familiar with Glocks. First, the earlier-generation grip finger grooves are gone, the slide stop is evident on this starboard side shot and the slide forward serrations are evident. But, other than that…well, this is still one Glock that will capture attention. Very nice. And, that “short” slide is obvious against the longer grip frame.

Glock 45 field-stripped
Field-stripped, the gun looks pretty familiar to Glockophiles.
Glock 45 grip
A close-up of the grip.

The texturing has been improved, finger grooves gone and the replaceable backstrap knockout pin is evident. Note also the same-size hole for the mag release as is on the other side – the release is reversible.

Glock 45 feed ramp
The feed ramp, nicely polished.

Not exactly a mirror finish a’ la Springfield Armory, but functional and reliable.

Glock 45 frametop
The top of the frame.

There are a few small tweaks here under the hood, but as I said in the beginning, not much new to see here, folks, move along…

Glock 45 slide underneath
Speaking of under the hood, here’s the bottom of the slide.

Everything that needs to be slippery is polished. Note the striker block is relieved fore and aft in order to facilitate function with minimal friction.

Glock 45 recoil spring
The recoil spring, double-wound to help mitigate recoil.
Glock 45 magazine
The 17-round magazine.
Glock 45 flared mag well
And, one of the more-interesting Gen 5 changes, a flared mag well. It really does help guide the mag into the grip.

My Glock Sight Hissy-Fit

As for the sights, well, they’re pretty much the standard plastic Glock “cup-and-ball”, “goalpost-and-football”, or “__- __-___” (fill in your own description). To this day, I don’t know why Glock insists on mounting plastic sights of this configuration on their guns. The rear-sight outline they use looks like a clumsy attempt to imitate the finely-executed white rear notch outline on an older Smith & Wesson double-action revolver. Looks like Glock used a white crayon that was too thick… For a company that makes night sights available on many of their guns, why don’t they just include those on every gun they sell, from the get-go? Their guns are not cheap…Glock, why not give the buyer even more of an incentive to spend their hard-earned cash on your product by installing, at the factory, first-rate sights? This might keep them from buying another gun that is just as reliable, as easy to carry and shoot and already includes useful sights at a lower price. That is one question that I would like to ask a Glock executive. You shouldn’t pay $500-$700 for a gun and then immediately have to turn around and spend another $80-$100 on sight upgrades. Many police agencies require night or other sights on any backup gun officers carry, so this is money out of their pocket from day one of ownership. Heck, even Taurus is including Glock-compatible steel sights with their new $275 G3c compact 9mm. Anyway, that’s my two cents’ worth.

Shooting The Model 45

I was anxious to shoot the 45 for a couple of reasons. The main reason was that I wanted to see what shooting a Glock 17 with a 19 slide might feel like – that’s basically what we have here. It did feel a bit odd to have that long grip in my hand with room for all my fingers but yet have that shorter slide up top with the front sight seemingly closer to my face. I know, it was my imagination but it was different. At any rate, it worked very well.

I was able to dig up three different loads to shoot – two factory loads, plus one of my handloads. In this day & age of very scarce ammo, I consider myself lucky to have anything to put through a gun. And, with 9mm being THE most popular handgun cartridge out there now, that caliber of ammo is extra-scarce. At any rate, I shot a few targets using Winchester 115-grain and Fiocchi 115-grain, both FMJ. My handload consisted of a Lee 124-grain round-nose cast bullet over 4.8 grains of Long Shot powder. (For you reloaders out there, you might give Long Shot a try if you haven’t done so yet – it is very versatile, accurate, readily available and burns fairly cleanly).

At any rate, here are some representative targets… they were shot at 20 yards.

Glock 45 target fiocchi
Fiocchi. Grouped a bit low, but was centered otherwise. I clocked this load at 1090 fps.
Glock 45 target winchester
Winchester. Not too bad – fairly centered. This load shot right at 1100 fps.
Glock 45 target handload
My handload. Except for it printing to the left a bit, this was the most accurate load of the three. It clocked at 1080 fps.

As you can see, any of these loads would work for practice. In terms of shooting lead bullets through a Glock, I’ve done that many times, usually with excellent results. I owned a Model 30 .45 ACP Glock once upon a time and put I-don’t-know-how-many-cast-bullets downrange with it. I do not condone this practice officially though – Glock says to not use lead bullets with their polygonally-rifled barrels. If you do shoot lead, just clean your barrel very well after each session. It’s the lead build-up that can cause problems.

Please note that there is a big difference between soft lead bullets (like those that are swaged) and hard-cast bullets. The harder ones have more tin and antimony in them and rate higher on the Brinnell hardness scale. Do NOT shoot swaged lead or equivalent-softness bullets in your Glocks! At any rate, mine are hard-cast, powder-coated bullets that did not leave any lead or anything else other than powder fouling in the bore. So, you’re on your own. Given the current ammo situation, it might almost be worth getting a third-party conventionally-rifled barrel for your Model 45 to shoot cast bullets since they are readily available. Casting your own bullets and reloading does make for a rock-steady ammo supply, though – if you can’t find ammo at your local store, you’re not out of luck. A press and related equipment, bullet furnace and mold, and some wheel weights and you’re in business. (For more about these topics you can read my articles on reloading and powder coating bullets. Both are interesting reads if you’ve not done either before).

I have explained before that, when I review a gun, I don’t usually shoot hundreds of rounds. There are a couple of reasons for this. For one, I am not that great a shot and I wouldn’t want someone to decide whether or not to buy a certain gun because of some of my pattern-like groups. Another reason is that I couldn’t get hundreds of rounds to shoot through a gun right now even if I wanted to. Plus, let’s face it – it’s a Glock and is going to shoot pretty much like any other Glock out there, right? I am not the biggest Glock fan in the room, but I will admit that, for the most part, they are accurate enough and certainly reliable. This one was no exception.

Conclusions

I enjoyed shooting the Model 45 I was loaned. Would I like to own one (or its near-twin, the 19x)? Possibly, but I think that I might lean more towards the plain ol’ 19 family, of whatever generation. (Except for Gen 5 – I do not like that semi-circular cut-out at the bottom front of the grip!). The reason I would take one of those over its longer-gripped brethren is exactly that – the grip is too long for me. If you are built like my friend who loaned me this gun and his 19X, then you would be perfectly happy with their Model-17-length grips. He is tall and thin. But I am built more like Curly of the Three Stooges and have all of his svelte shape – that is, if round is a shape. I have trouble hiding a compact-sized grip, even in an IWB holster. It’s just me – I know, after reviewing a ton of holsters, that there are some out there that supposedly make it easier to conceal a longer grip for us Curlys. But, alas, not for me… I still have a tough time getting guns under wraps. At any rate, you, dear reader, have a choice. If you can handle the longer grip, go for the extended-capacity models. If you’re built like me, at least we have extended magazines we can buy if needed. And, who’s to say that 15 rounds isn’t a good thing? I’m carrying my new Taurus G3c that comes with 12-round magazines (three of them). I like think that a 12-round-capacity is enough, so 15 or 17 would be a plus.

If you are looking for a new Glock and want something different, take a look at the 45. This model seems to be popular with law enforcement, so that gives the rest of us reason to look at it. If you like a 19-length slide but want a couple of extra rounds in your hand, check this gun out. I don’t think you’ll be sorry. As always, leave us a comment below if you have experience with this gun or its sibling, the 19X. Keep ‘em in the black, and stay safe!

Written by Mike

Mike has been a shooter, bullet caster and reloader for over 40 years. Never one to be satisfied with the status quo, he is often found at his reloading bench concocting yet another load. With a target range in his backyard and after 40 years of shooting, his knowledge of firearms and reloading is fairly extensive. He is married, with four sons and daughters-law and 9-and-counting grandkids.

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