New Glock Practical/Tactical

by Walt Rauch

The new GLOCK Practical/Tactical (P/T) guns, Models 34 and 35, are a definite change of direction for GLOCK, which has been downsizing its guns for the past few years. Why now go upstream? Simple. There's a need for a slightly longer version of the Model 17 (9x19mm) and the Model 22 (.40S&W), which was not filled by the previous long-barreled GLOCK Models 17L (9x19mm) and 24 (.40S&W).

The P/T guns have 5.32-inch barrels with matching 8.15-inch slides mounted atop the frames of the standard Models 17 and 22 pistols, which have barrels that measure 4.49 inches. The 5.32-inch barrel and 8.15-inch slide length give the guns the muzzle 'feel" of a 1911. As a comparison, measuring a WWII 1911A1, the slide is 7.5 inches long with a 5-inch barrel. The P/Ts are slightly but not overly muzzle heavy. Magazine capacity is 10 rounds, of course, unless you have preban mags or are in law enforcement.

The weight, fit and balance of any handgun is very personal to the shooter. What fits one individual will be awkward to another. After working extensively - for too many years to think about - with a 1911, drawing from a holster, and then switching over to the standard-sized GLOCKs, I find that my muzzle goes right up past my aiming point unless I make a conscious effort to stop it, for the standard GLOCK guns don't have that extra bit of forward weight to which I've become accustomed with the 1911. As an aside, I don't have this problem with the Compact Model G19 (9x19mm), Model 23 (.40S&W), G29 (10mm) or the G30 (.45ACP). I tried the Model 17L and the 24 and the problem corrected itself, but then I found that the guns were just a little too long to effectively draw without bringing them up too high during the draw stroke. I also felt that there was too much slide and gun hanging out front, moving around when I was shooting.

The distance between front and rear sights on the new P/T guns measures 7.32 inches. The WWII 1911 A1 measures 5 inches and longer on most custom 1911s, since the rear sight is usually moved further to the rear. All this is subjective, of course, but now that I've had the opportunity to shoot both P/T guns, I find that, paraphrasing Goldilocks and the Three Bears, "They're not too long, they're not too short, they're just right." I feel very comfortable with both because they're so close in balance to my 1911 s.

Accessories Considered

Other than the extended slide and 5.3-inch barrel, what else is there that makes these guns differ from the rest of the excellent GLOCK handguns? Well, GLOCK is equipping both models with 3.5-pound connectors, extended magazine releases and slide stopd and, of course, the new finger groove frame with tactical light accessory rails on the forward dust cover. Speaking of which, at the present time, there are three lights under development. The manufacturers are Insight Technology, Inc., Wilcox Industries and Surefire, Inc. All three units slip on the rails from the front of the frame and lock via a spring-loaded bar that works the same as the GLOCK slide lock.

I found that installation can be easily and safely accomplished as follows: If you draw the light or hold it with your off hand as if it were a spare magazine, bring the light up to the gun with your palm upward and index the rear of your palm against the front edge of the trigger guard. This should orient the tactical light such that it's directly at the front of the frame, yet your fingers and hand will be beneath the gun's muzzle. Pull back on the light and it will lock on the rails. (Chris Edwards, GLOCK's director of training, and I worked this out to be able to easily teach how to install the light and he's dubbed this method "the Rauch Roll.") A good trick, courtesy of Mark Donebergh, a GLOCK district manager, is to affix a weaver scope mount of the appropriate diameter to the rails and then insert a Surefire or Streamlight Scorpion light into it. This should also work on other handguns which use the dual-rail system, such as the Heckler & Koch and Walther P99 handguns.

For holsters, the choices are at present limited to a belt slide of some sort. I was fortunate enough to have Tim Wegner of Blade-Tech make up a Kydex belt slide for the standard GLOCK frame so that I could interchange it among my G17, 22 and 23. (For those of you who already have belt slides for the GLOCKS, you may find that the holster is tighter when the new GLOCKs with the light rails are carried. The dust cover has been slightly widened and also flattened on the bottom of the dust shield to better stabilize the tactical lights when attached.)

Trigger Options

The trigger pulls on both guns were very good. I like the longer sight radius, as my eyes aren't what they used to be and the longer the barrel and sights, the better. I've installed 3.5-pound connectors in other GLOCKs and the actual trigger pull, measured on a Chatillion trigger pull gauge, read out at over 5 pounds. This is, for me, fine for competition, but for self-defense, GLOCK will sell or install the standard 5.5-pound connector or the New York or New York Plus connectors. This will bring the real measured pull to eight or more pounds.

Where will these guns find a home? To start, there are two practical competition venues: theInternational Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) and the Practical and Limited Classes in the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC). Both organizations have established a "box" rule. For a particular gun to be permitted to be used in competition, the gun, with magazine installed, must fit inside a certain size box. For IDPA, the box measures 8.75 x 6 x 1.63 inches; for IPSC it's 8.858 x 5.906 x 1.772 inches. The P/T guns fit in both.

Another advantage of a longer barrel in .40S&W is that it helps shooters in the "Major' power category in IPSC. (IPSC divides calibers into two classes, Major and Minor. The relative standings are determined by multiplying the bullet weight in grains by its velocity in feet per second and dividing the result by 1000. Those rounds that exceed a numerical rating of 175 are Major and those that exceed 125 but do not reach 175 are considered Minor.)

Although reloaded ammunition voids all factory warranties, including GLOCK's, due to the amount of ammunition consumed in both competition and practice, shooters of either discipline reload. Trying to achieve the Major rating with a GLOCK Model 22 (.40S&W) with its 4.49-inch barrel stretched or exceeded safe pressures and a few shooters have had their guns involuntarily and suddenly disassemble themselves while firing reloads in this quest. With the Model 24 (.40S&W) and a barrel length of 6.02 inches, this wasn't a problem. It just didn't catch on with the shooters and now, with the Box Rule, the Model 24 won't fit, eliminating it from the game or the class.

Long Barrels & Law Inforcoment

Backing up a bit, for those of us who are old enough to remember, lawmen - who used to carry revolvers - favored the longer-barreled guns. For years, the Los Angeles (CA) Police Department carried 6-inch barreled Smith & Wesson revolvers chambered for the .38 Special. The New York State Police carried Colt 5.5-inch revolvers chambered for the .45 Colt cartridge, as did the Canadian Royal Mounted Police. Here in my home state of Pennsylvania, the State Police used 6-inch barreled Colt .38 Special revolvers. Many of the lawmen actually preferred a 5-inch barrel, however, because they found the longer guns to be awkward when seated. (This created some abominable holsters along the way, such as the swivel holster that was unsnapped and swiveled forward or backward when the officer sat down and was to be resnapped into place with a fastener when the officer stood up. This often gave rise to the spectacle of the gun and holster swinging fore and aft as he walked, for he usually forgot to refasten the holster!) However, the lawmen also knew that they got more velocity out of the cartridges with the longer barrels and could get more accuracy with the long sight radius.

The GLOCK models 17L and 24 are long enough to get a good sight radius and higher velocities from the ammunition, but also have the same seating problems. Not only do a few tactical teams both in the US and overseas use these models, but they also use tactical thigh holsters, so they don't have seating or drawing difficulties.

These observations still hold true for the most part, even today. Most strong-side belt-worn guns that have barrels over 5 inches long are often not comfortable when seated, or they push the holster up and the whole mess digs into the wearer. A longer sight radius does help in accurate shooting, though, since not all ammunition has the velocity optimized for short-barreled handguns. (In fairness, many of the ammo companies have done just that, as I've discovered during chronographing sessions of the same manufacturer's gun with a 3.75-inch barrel and a 4.5-inch barrel. Some of the five-shot averages did not differ by 25 feet per second, while others gained well over 100 feet per second in the longer barrel.) The P/T guns should address these areas nicely for most.

Thunder Ranch Stress Test

I was able to shoot both new models under what can charitably be called "stressful conditions." Along with my friends Chris Edwards of GLOCK and fellow gun-writer Frank James, I attended the first High Intensity Tactical (H.I.T) course offered by Clint Smith at Thunder Ranch in Mountain Home, Texas. The first day, we were greeted by Harry Fleming, our lead instructor, along with other staff instructors at the Ranch while Clint Smith was finishing up his own training at another school. (The best trainers are eternal students.) After a brief introduction to the course and other administrative duties, we got right to it, splitting into four groups for the duration. (Not much time is spent in the classroom sitting on your behind at Thunder Ranch. You learn by doing and being corrected as you perform, not by lounging in a chair.)

Quoting from the H.I.T course description: "This three-day course is a fast-moving review of defensive handguns skills and the application of tactics to potential confrontations. Review to include but not limited to:

  • Standard range exercises & manipulatory skills review
  • Terminator tactical review & runs
  • Orange Range tactical review & skills
  • Vehicle defense dry & live drills
  • Night fire review and tactical runs
Student requirements, 1000 rounds (500 ball mandatory). Mandatory enrollment requirement: Thunder Ranch Defensive Handgun #2."

Translated, the above means that Clint and his staff, after ensuring that our gun-handling skills were up to speed, ran us flat out on moving targets that advanced, retreated, wobbled and disappeared and we did this using high and low cover, advancing, retreating and moving out of the center line of the threat, from in and around a car and doing all these exercises in light and darkness.

This gave us a chance to work with both the gun-mounted Insight Technology and Wilcox Industries-brand lights, as well as handheld flashlights. I used a Surefire 6P and a Streamlight Scorpion light. (A separate handheld light is necessary, as you might not want to - or be able to - point mounted light at everything in the area.) We also "cleared" the Terminator, a shoot house, as well as the Tower, a four-story concrete building which presents such niceties as engaging threats while ascending and descending stairways and clearing the corners that present themselves before and after these obstacles - not for the faint of heart, to be sure. By the end of the three-day course, everyone and every gun was well-worn and well-tested. We fired in excess of 1000 rounds each of Federal 165-grain JFP .40S&W and CCI Blazer 115-grain JFP 9 mm ammo through the guns and both the guns and students finished without any permanent damage. (The guns held up much better than we did, in fact.) There is no graduation exercise; the entire program is the test.

The H.I.T. course is, to me, the Thunder Ranch doctoral dissertation on handgun and tactical "gunology' as taught at the facility. You also get to see those areas in which you are lacking. Regardless of the level of expertise, there's always room for improvement.

During all this, Chris, Frank and I switched off using the new P/T GLOCKs. I had also brought along my GLOCK Models 22 and 23 for comparison. I had no complaints with the pointability of these guns, other than those previously mentioned. I do find that the G23, the compact .40S&W, does leave my liftle finger tingling after extended firing, as the cutout in the frame is exactly where my liftle finger falls when gripping it. This annoyance was ameliorated with the addition of a Pearce base plate, which has a filler at its forward edge to fill up the space on the lower front edge of the front strap. The problem does not occur with either the standard or the P/T guns.

All in all, the combination of the new P/T guns and the H.I.T. course at Thunder Ranch is a defining experience, combining a top fighting school and handgun. It does not get much better than this!

first published in the July 1998 edition of Guns &Weapons For Law Enforcement

Glock 35 Specifications
Caliber .40 S&W
Action Safe Action (constant double action mode)
Overall length (slide) 8.15 in. (207 mm)
Height, including magazine 5.43 in. (138 mm)
Width 1.18 in. (30 mm)
Barrel length 5.32 in. (135 mm)
Sight radius 7.32 in. (186 mm)
Rifling Hexagonal profile with right-hand twist of one turn in 9.84 in. (250 mm)
Weight, without magazine 24.52 oz. (695 g)
Weight, empty magazine 2.75 oz. (78 g)
Weight, full magazine ~11.46 oz. (~325 g)
Magazine capacity 15 rounds
Standard trigger pull ~4.5 lbs. (~2.0 kg)
Trigger pull length 0.5 in. (12.5 mm)
Number of safeties 3

information courtesy of GLOCK