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By Charlie Gao, The National Interest
While the Glock is the most popular modern pistol, it may not be the best gun for everyone’s needs. Here are some alternatives to the Glock that could be better than it, and why.
(This first appeared earlier in the month.)
1. STI 2011
The STI 2011 is an updated, double-stack 1911 chambered in 9mm or .40 S&W. Highly customized 2011s have dominated the American competition shooting scene due to their excellent single-action only triggers, high capacity and low recoil impulse.
While triggers and upgrades exist that can get the striker-fired Glock near the level of the 2011, the superior shooting characteristics of the 2011 make it a far more popular choice in many competitive shooting divisions.
However, 2011s are more expensive, require far more maintenance and are less reliable in adverse conditions than Glocks, so they are practically unseen in military service. For non-competitors, the Glock is almost always a better choice.
2. H&K SFP9/VP9
While H&K released the first polymer-framed striker-fired pistol in the VP70, the SFP9 marked their first return to that market, almost thirty years after the release of the Glock.
It improves on the Glock by featuring an “improved” trigger design relative to the Glock. The SFP9’s trigger feels cleaner than even fifth-generation Glocks, resets fully after being pulled, and doesn’t need to be pulled to disassemble the gun.
The SFP9 also features modular grip panels taken from earlier H&K pistols, that allow the user to configure both the width and length of the grip. Glock only allows users to configure the length of the grip with replaceable backstraps, so the H&K may be better for those who prefer a wider gun.
Finally, the H&K brings the notorious H&K mag release. Two small paddles at the junction of the grip and trigger guard, the H&K mag release is either loved or hated by their users. For those who like it, it allows the user to drop the mags faster and more reliably than with traditional “push button” mag releases. For those who hate it, it’s slower and more cumbersome. Wisely, H&K offers the SFP9 with both a push button and traditional H&K mag release.
The SFP9 is used by various European police services. From limited testimonials, it is well liked.
The CZ-75 is one of the most versatile handgun designs out there. Like the 2011, it’s been a big winner in competitive shooting, with tuned CZs being some of the most popular guns on competitive circuits.
But unlike the 2011, the CZ is considered reliable enough for duty use. Multiple national armies use the CZ-75 as a standard pistol, and the Mexican federal police selected the P-09 variant of the CZ-75 as a standard issue service arm in 2013.
The P-09 variant, in particular, is set to compete with the Glock for customers who want a double action/single-action pistol. With a 19-round capacity, it holds two more rounds versus a Glock 17. Like the Glock, it has a polymer frame to keep weight down, and the pistol can be configured with the safety on either side or simply as a decocker only model.
4. B&T Universal Service Weapon
The B&T Universal Service Weapon is a revival of the concept of a stocked pistol. As pistols take a lot of skill to shoot accurately, the USW features a low-profile folding stock that can be rapidly deployed to allow police officers with minimal training to shoot effectively. Paired with the Aimpoint Nano red dot, users of the USW were found to achieve far greater hit rates with the system than regular pistols.
While B&T manufactures a version of the USW for the Glock, the dedicated USW system features extended controls and a pistol frame meant for rigid mounting of the stock and stationary optic.
5. A custom Glock.
The popularity of the Glock has led to an incredible aftermarket of almost every single part on the gun. Custom versions of the slide, trigger, and grip are made by many companies, so it’s possible to build a Glock that contains almost 90 percent non-original Glock parts. Pistols like that are often far superior to stock Glocks, with better trigger pulls, shorter trigger resets, and more grippy textures on the frame.
The integration of red dot sights onto the slide is a particular area where the aftermarket has far eclipsed Glock’s original offering. Custom slides let pistol red dots sit lower into the Glock slide, so they are lower profile and co-witnessing with iron sights is easier. Glock’s own MOS system only allows red dots to sit relatively high on the slide, and is not preferred by most users of pistol red dots.
However, custom Glocks are often not as “combat tested” as a stock Glock, so while they may provide better features on a flat range, some parts may not be suitable for police or military usage.
Charlie Gao studied political and computer science at Grinnell College and is a frequent commentator on defense and national-security issues.