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Glock pistols are a bit of a paradox. Everyone knows about them. (Unless you live under a rock, how could you not?) But ask someone to explain the Glock handgun line by model, generation, caliber, and use, and you’re going to end up with a lot of blank stares. If you’re trying to select the best one for you or someone else it’s pretty important to have a grasp on the company’s ecosystem.

It doesn’t help that Glock pistols have a sameness to their look that blurs the lines between one model and the next. Or a numbering methodology that has zero bearing on the pistol’s cartridge or intended use. The fact that Glock has overlapping generations pistols still in production doesn’t help clear things up either.

Fear not. We’re going to break down the best Glock pistols in the lineup so you can become an expert on the Austrian wondergun, looking at them by model, frame size, caliber, and intended use. We’ll also help you figure out the optimal Glock handgun for your needs, whether you’re looking for something for concealed carry, home protection, bear defense, or competition.

Jump to:

    The Glock Universe Explained
    Glock Pistols By Cartridge

    Best Full-Sized (for now): Glock G17
    Best Glock You Can’t Own (Yet): Glock G47 MOS
    Best for Concealed Carry: Glock G19 Gen 5
    Best Optics-Ready for Self Defense: Glock G45 MOS
    Best 10mm: Glock G20
    Best for Competition: Glock G17 MOS
    Best .45 ACP: Glock G30 SF
    Best Compact: Glock G19 MOS
    Best Subcompact: Glock G43X
    Best Rimfire: Glock G44
    FAQs

The Glock Universe Explained

Best Glocks of 2023: A Complete Guide to Glock Pistols
The author testing a Glock G19. Matt Foster

First, what is a Glock? In short they are polymer framed, striker fired pistols originally manufactured in Austria and imported to the U.S. in 1986. It was the first commercially successful pistol with an injection molded polymer frame and the handgun world has never been the same.

While at first glance all the Glock pistols look like they’re made from the same cookie cutter, there are subtle and major differences between the models and latest generation of these handguns, as well as some configurations you may not be aware of. Let’s take a closer look.

Model Numbers: Glock’s model numbering nomenclature may seem arcane, but it’s actually quite simple; It’s sequential. That’s it. It’s literally just sequential in the order of model introduction. It has nothing to do with magazine capacity, cartridge, frame size, etc. For instance, the G48 is the 48th model of Glock pistol introduced to the commercial or military/law enforcement market.

Cartridges

Unless you want something really weird or really small you can have a Glock in just about any pistol cartridge you want. They are available in .22LR, .380ACP, 9mm, .357Sig, 10mm, .45 GAP (Glock Auto Pistol), .45 ACP, and yes even .40 S&W if you’re still one of the malcontents interested in that cartridge. As you might suspect there are more models available in 9mm than any other cartridge, but there are plenty of offerings in the other chamberings as well.

Glock size comparisons
Standard, compact, and subcompact Glock models. Matt Foster

Frame Sizes

Glock has relatively intuitive nomenclature for their frame sizes. Standard, Compact, Subcompact, Competition and Long slide.

  • STANDARD: Standard frame models are typical full size or duty sized handguns designed for open carry. Barrel length is 4.5 in.
  • COMPACT: Compact Glocks are slightly shorter both in slide length and grip length to facilitate concealed carry but are still substantial handguns. These are not something you’re going to drop into your pocket but work well for inside- or outside-the-waistband concealed carry. Barrel length is 4.0 in.
  • SUBCOMPACT: Subcompact models are even shorter both in slide length and grip length. Some of their models are double stack and recently they’ve introduced single stack models as well in their Subcompact category. Barrel length is 3.4 in. (3.25 in. for the G42 in .380 Auto)
  • COMPETITION: Going the other direction in size, the Competition pistols have a Standard size frame but a longer barrel and slide for an increased sight radius. Barrel length is 5.3. in.
  • LONG SLIDE: While not quite a buntline, the Long Slide models immediately grab your attention, with a slide-to-frame ratio that makes you say “Oh, I really wanna shoot that!” They have the longest barrels and slides of all the best Glocks. These are target or hunting handguns (in the case of the 10mm Auto). Barrel length is 6.0 in.

X Factor

One caveat in the Glock model lineup are the “X” models. These will pair a compact or subcompact slide with the next size up frame.

Modular Optics System (MOS)

MOS stands for Modular Optics System. Models with an MOS designation have the slide cut to accept optics via a series of plates that come with MOS pistols. These plates are adapters to allow mounting the most popular micro red dot sights like the Trijicon RMR, Leupold Delta Point, various Holosuns, etc. Think of the MOS plates as scope mounts specific to the most popular micro red dots on the market.

Best Glocks of 2023: A Complete Guide to Glock Pistols
Glock are easy to field strip and maintain. Matt Foster

Generation (Gen 5 vs. Gen 4):

Glock pistols are now in their 5th generation. The Gen 3 and Gen 4 pistols are still available from the factory. There were only minor differences between the 3rd and 4th generations, but there are significant differences between the 5th generation and what came before. The Gen 5s have the following improvements:

  • Glock Marksman barrels
  • No finger grooves
  • New trigger module design
  • Ambi-slide stop lever
  • Reversible magazine catch
  • New ejector design
  • Captured recoil spring

So, unless you’re unless you have a finger groove fetish, go with a Gen 5 if it’s available in the model and caliber you want.

Glock Pistols By Cartridge

Best Glocks of 2023: A Complete Guide to Glock Pistols
Glock chambers pistols in (from left to right) .22 lr, .380 Auto, 9x19mm, .357 Sig, .40 S&W, 10mm Auto, .45 ACP, and .45 GAP. Matt Foster

Ok, here’s where things get a bit messy, but we can clean it up. Let’s look at what’s available by cartridge, starting with the most popular, the 9X19mm. Models listed are Gen 5 unless noted otherwise.

9X19mm

The Glock G17 is the model that started it all here in the U.S., and it’s going away. Yes, that’s right, Glock is going to replace the G17 with another model of 9mm, the Glock G47. It was developed earlier, thus being out later than the G48, but wasn’t available commercially until now. Basically it’s a G17 but with a slightly shorter frame at the accessory rail area, and the guide rod ring on the slide is longer to take up the space.  This is so you can mix and match slides and frames with a G19 to create a “long slide” G19MOS (G47 slide on G19 frame), or a G19X MOS. In addition to the new G47 you can get every type of Glock pistol available in 9mm. As a bonus if you have a pistol caliber carbine it like almost assuredly takes Glock magazines.

  • Standard – G47MOS
  • Compact – G19, G19X, G19MOS, G45MOS
  • Compact (Single Stack) – G48, G48MOS
  • Subcompact – G26
  • Subcompact (Single Stack) – G43, G43X, G43XMOS
  • Competition – G34MOS (Gen 4 G34 is still listed on their website, but get the Gen5 34MOS)
  • Long Slide – G17L

Read Next: Best 9mm Ammo

.40 S&W

Though the .40 S&W isn’t nearly as popular as it once was—the arguments for the cartridge are less valid than they once were—Glock still offers a variety of models.

  • Standard – G22, G22MOS
  • Compact – G23, G23MOS
  • Compact (Single Stack) – None
  • Subcompact – G27
  • Subcompact (Single Stack) – None
  • Competition – G35 (Popular in USPSA Limited Division)
  • Long Slide – G24 (Gen4)

.357 Sig.

Will the .357 Sig outlast the .40 S&W? It just might. Until we find out, here are the Glocks you can get in this zippy little bottlenecked pistol cartridge.

  • Standard – G31 (Gen4)
  • Compact – G32 (Gen4)
  • Compact (Single Stack) – None
  • Subcompact – G33
  • Subcompact (Single Stack) – None
  • Competition – None
  • Long Slide – None
10mm glocks
(Top to bottom) G40 MOS, G20, and G29, all three are chambered in 10mm Auto. Matt Foster

10mm Auto

Glock has more models of 10mm than any other pistol manufacturer with some real standouts. Recently Outdoor Life determined that a 10mm auto is a better bet against bears than even the vaunted .44 Mag. Currently all Glock 10mm pistols are Gen4 configurations.

  • Standard – G20 Gen 5, G20SF (Small Frame, Gen 3)
  • Compact – None
  • Compact (Single Stack) – None
  • Subcompact – G29, G29SF (Small Frame, Gen 3)
  • Subcompact (Single Stack) – None
  • Competition – None
  • Long Slide – G40MOS (Gen 4)

.45 ACP

Yes, the .45 Auto (aka .45 ACP) is America’s cartridge but at some point it will be dead and buried while the 9mm still soldiers on. That said, if you just gotta have your pistol stoked with fatties, Glock has you covered with a decent selection of pistols configurations. All .45 Auto Glock pistols are Gen 4 models.

  • Standard – G22 Gen 5, G21SF (Small Frame, Gen 3)
  • Compact – None
  • Compact (Single Stack) – None
  • Subcompact – G30 (Gen 4), G30SF (Small Frame, Gen 3)
  • Subcompact (Single Stack) – G36
  • Competition – G41 (Gen 4), G41MOS (Gen 4)
  • Long Slide – None

.45 G.A.P. (Glock Auto Pistol)

The .45 G.A.P. was developed to give .45 Auto ballistics in a cartridge that would fit into the same size frame as the 9mm Glocks (the G20 and G21 have larger grips to accommodate the double stack magazines of the .45 Auto and 10mm Auto). If you really like the .45 Auto ballistics but want a bit smaller pistol, this might be the cartridge for you. All .45 G.A.P. pistols are Gen 3 models.

  • Standard – G37
  • Compact – G38
  • Compact (Single Stack) – None
  • Subcompact – G39
  • Subcompact – None
  • Competition – None
  • Long Slide – None

.380 Auto

The G42 is the Mini Me in the Glock lineup. It’s listed under their Subcompact category, but really, it’s more in the “micro” category. While it’s a bit big for a pocket pistol, it is still works for that method of carry

.22 LR

If you want or need a training pistol exactly dimensioned like your G19, the G44 is for you. It’s dimensionally almost identical to the G19 series but holds 10 rounds of 22LR.

Read Next: Best Handguns of 2022

What Is The Best Glock?

To cut to the chase, here are the top Glocks for each of these end-user categories. As you’ll see in the rest of the article, there are variations on each Glock pistol listed that might offer features more suited to your specific needs, but these Glocks form a solid foundation to start from.

Best Full-Sized (for now): Glock G17

Glock

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The Glock G17 is still the standard by which all full-sized striker-fired polymer-framed duty pistols are judged. That said, 2023 brings a notable upgrade to the G17 format with the commercial release of the Glock G47, which is poised to replace the G17 in the Glock handgun lineup.

Best Glock You Can’t Own (Yet): Glock G47 MOS

Matt Foster

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Fingers crossed, we should be able to purchase the G47 MOS any day now, but as of this writing it was still exclusively reserved for law enforcement, most notably for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) which announced a contract for the G47 more than three years ago.

This pistol is going to replace the G17 in the company’s lineup, which represents a major shift from the handgun that put Glock on the map all those years ago. It is essentially a Gen 5 G17 in its dimensions but has as slide cut to fit on G19 rails. This raises the prospect of assembling a long-slide Glock on a short G19 frame—a configuration shooters have requested for many years.

Best for Concealed Carry: Glock G19 Gen 5

Matt Foster

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The G19 in Gen 5 trim strikes the best balance between a concealable pistol with excellent capacity (15 rounds standard), handling and reliability—all at a good price. The modular backstrap system allows the pistol to be quickly tailored for shooters with any sized hands and the Gen 5s are lefty-friendly.

Best Optics-Ready for Self Defense: Glock G45 MOS

Matt Foster

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The G45 MOS combines a compact slide with a full-sized frame in a Gen 5 configuration. The MOS system allows for easy mounting of red-dot reflex sights. The G45 comes with 17-round magazines, but can be outfitted with mags that take 19, 24, 31 and 33 rounds. For many Glock enthusiasts the G45 MOS is the ultimate hybrid crossover. 

Best 10mm: Glock G20

Matt Foster

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The G20 is a well-balanced 10mm Auto that works well for hunting and for protection against bears. You can trick out a G20 for bear defense, or if you don’t mind the extra barrel length, go with the optics-ready G40 MOS Long Slide. 

Read the Best Bear Defense Handguns to learn more about choosing a pistol for bear country.

Best for Competition: Glock G17 MOS

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As an all-around pistol for various practical handgun competitions, the G17 MOS is tough to beat. It’s available in either Gen 4 or Gen 5 configurations and can accept magazines with a wide range of capacities. If you’re only going to run iron sights, then the G17L with a long slide is worth looking at.

Best .45 ACP: Glock G30 SF

Matt Foster

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If you’re looking to rock this classic self-defense round, the G30 SF is the top selection in the company’s lineup. The SF has a shortened frame with reduced grip dimensions—for shooters with smaller hands or those wanting more concealability—yet packs 10 rounds of .45 Auto into a magazine.

Best Compact: Glock G19 MOS

Time was the standard G19 would be a shoo-in for this category, but it is clear the trend toward optics-ready pistols is here to stay. With that in mind the Glock G19 MOS, which comes with multiple mounting plates for various reflex sights, is the way to go. The only downside to the MOS versus the original is the higher price tag.

Best Subcompact: Glock G43X

Matt Foster

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For concealment and all-day carry comfort the G43X really shines. Despite its slim frame, the G43X carries 10 rounds of 9mm. It has no finger grooves in the grip and a minimalist profile.  With its 3.41-inch barrel it is just over a pound (18.7 oz.) with an empty magazine.

Best Rimfire: Glock G44

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The G44 mimics the dimensions of the G19 and has a 10-round capacity. Geared toward first-time gun owners and those looking for a dedicated trainer, the G44 is the ultimate Glock plinker.

FAQs

Which Is Considered the Best Glock?

For the longest time, if you had to pick one pistol to represent the quintessential Glock, it would have been the original G17, which was introduced back in 1986. But in 2023 Glock is making the G47 available for commercial sale, which is basically the G17 updated to be more modular while incorporating Glock Gen 5 features. So even though it won’t be widely available for a bit, the G47 is going to dethrone the G17 as the best Austrian wondergun.

What Are The Top 5 Best Glocks?

If you wanted to assemble the ultimate group of Glock pistols, here’s what we suggest:
Glock G19 MOS (Most versatile)
Glock G47 (Top full sized)
Glock G20 (Ideal for hunting, bear protection and wilderness carry)
Glock G43X (Single-stack for deep concealment)
Glock G44 (Rimfire trainer and plinker)

What Is The Best Glock Trigger?

Adding after-market triggers is one of most common and popular upgrades on these pistols. The best Glock trigger depends on your needs. Apex Action makes one that is very budget friendly. The Timney Alpha Competition series is popular with competitive shooters. While the Zev Pro Ultimate kit is the best complete trigger replacement.

Final Thoughts

While the G19 is the default best Glock for concealed carry, you can see that Glock has a lot more to offer than their ubiquitous 9mms. Their cartridge selection combined with pistol configurations do in fact have something from almost any need, from deep concealment to hunting and even bear defense.

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