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Robb Manning

Glock 17 Review: How The Full-Sized Striker-Fired Set The Standard

The iconic Glock 17 transformed the modern handgun world and continues to exert its influence today.

Why the Glock 17 is among the most popular pistols made:

  • Developed for the Austrian Army to replace their P-38.
  • From 1986 capture around 70 percent of the US law enforcement market.
  • Used in an official military or government capacity in over 42 countries
  • The G17 is still Glock’s most popular model.
  • The low barrel sits above the shooter's hand resulting in less muzzle rise.
  • Due to its weight and balance it is known as a smooth-shooting pistol.

This is the first model Glock brought to market. The original. The one that started it all. The Glock 17 is the most innovative handgun design since John M Browning’s 1911, and when you add to that the way that Glock revolutionized handgun manufacture, the G17 is probably most innovative handgun ever.

Glock 17 Development

Some would argue that this is the best Glock ever made; the third generation G17.
Some would argue that this is the best Glock ever made; the third generation G17.

The Glock 17 was developed by Glock for the Austrian Army to replace their P-38, a gun that had been in use since World War II. Word quickly got around about this new upstart that beat out established gunmakers. By 1985 Glock had a contract with the Norwegian Army and suitors by the dozen vying to import the G17 into the US.

Glock decided to go their own route, however, and Glock USA opened its doors in 1986. From there, Glock would capture around 70 percent of the US law enforcement market, and become one of the (if not the) most popular handguns in the US civilian market. No other handgun brand is as recognizable by shooters and non-shooters alike. Today Glock is used in an official military or government capacity in over 42 countries. This does not include non-national police forces.

Why The Glock 17?

In the early days there was confusion and incorrect information as to why the first model was called the 17. To this day some of the confusion still exists amongst new Glock owners. Some sources said the reason was that the Austrian army laid out 17 requirements that must be met by the potential service pistol to be considered for adoption. Other sources stated it was due to the 17-round capacity of the Glock magazine. Both make sense, but neither is correct. Popular fiction perpetuated these myths.

Glock Reviews You Need To Read

In the novel Killing Floor, by Lee Child, the protagonist, one Jack Reacher, is confronted with a Glock 17. In his mind he goes over everything he knows about the weapon, which he says he knows well, with one of those things being, “Seventeen rounds to a magazine, hence the name.” Reacher got a lot right about the Glock, but this wasn’t one of them. The true reason the first Glock is named the 17 is because it was the 17th patent filed by Gaston Glock.

A G17 first generation. Incidentally, the two clips on the web belt…those are made by Glock, too.
A G17 first generation. Incidentally, the two clips on the web belt…those are made by Glock, too.

Still, it’s interesting to watch movies and read articles from that era and read the various theories as to the origin of the name. The other thing he got wrong was that Reacher recommended rejection of the Glock for the US Army, and instead recommended the Beretta 92F. In reality, the G17 was never entered into the official army trials. The US Department of Defense did receive from Glock four samples for unofficial testing and evaluation, but when they invited Glock for an official submission, Glock declined. It would have required extensive retooling of manufacturing equipment, which was something Glock wasn’t going to do at that time.

In another famous and hilarious Hollywood moment that was indicative of the perception of Glock pistols at the time, in Die Hard 2, John McClane (played by Bruce Willis) said of the Glock, “That punk pulled a Glock 7 on me. You know what that is? It’s a porcelain gun made in Germany. Doesn’t show up on your airport X-ray machines here, and it costs more than you make in a month.” Sure, this was before the age of the Internet and Wikipedia, but that is just lazy script writing.

The Glock 17 Enduring Legacy

Amazingly, after all these years, the G17 is still Glock’s most popular model. I’ve gone back and read books and magazine articles written at the time of the introduction of the .40 S&W G22 and the .45 ACP G21, and at the time some writers discussed the demise of the 9mm G17 and G19 because of the introduction of these other calibers, especially the .45 ACP — we are a .45 ACP nation, after all.

How often have you heard someone say, “if it doesn’t have a ‘4’ in front of it, it’s not big enough for self-defense.” But the G17 and the G19 didn’t become obsolete, and they weren’t replaced by the .40 S&W or .45 ACP. In fact, their popularity has only increased right along with the Glock itself.

A G17 is a great handgun for beginners, it’s soft on recoil, and the lack of a manual safety makes the shooter especially mindful of finger awareness.
A G17 is a great handgun for beginners, it’s soft on recoil, and the lack of a manual safety makes the shooter especially mindful of finger awareness.

There have been spikes in popularity of other models, especially when they are first introduced, but after the hoopla is over the Glock 17 9mm charges on. This is particularly amazing, given the popularity of the G22 among law enforcement agencies, and the numbers of those sold. It’s really quite remarkable how well the G17 still sells, and is a testament to the handgun.

I personally think the 9mm cartridge is just starting to come into its own in America. It’s kind of a curiosity that it took so long, but over a century after it was introduced, we’re just starting to appreciate it. I believe we’re in the Golden Age of the 9mm in America.

How The G17 Measures Up

A Gen4 G17 is 7.95 inches in length, 5.43 inches in height and 1.18 inches in width. It weighs 25.06 ounces unloaded and 32.13 ounces loaded. The barrel height is 1.26 inches, which is low, and has a lot to do with the minimal muzzle flip compared to other handguns. The lower a barrel sits above the shooter’s hand (bore axis), the less it will rise as a bullet is fired. The Gen3 is identical in dimension, with the exception that it is 8.03 inches in length, which is .08 inches longer.

All of the standard-frame, full-size Glocks (G17, G22, G31, and G37) are nearly identical in dimensions, with one minor exception; the G37 has a slightly wider slide, and the height is 5.51 inches, which is .08 inches higher. There is also a difference in weight, though not significant. Unloaded, the G22 weighs 25.59 ounces, the G31 weighs 26.12 ounces, and the G37 weighs 28.95 ounces.

Shooting The Glock 17

I’ve gotten to shoot a lot of Glocks in a lot of calibers and a lot of sizes. All of them, in fact. The very first two I fired for the book were the G17 Gen1 and Gen2. Then I shot everything else, with the very last two pistols I fired being the G17 Gen3 and Gen4. I’ve shot them before, but it’s been awhile.

Some would argue that this is the best Glock ever made; the third generation G17.
Some would argue that this is the best Glock ever made; the third generation G17.

After shooting everything else, I forgot how nicely the G17 shoots. The recoil is handled very well — much more so than 9mm guns from competitors, and it shoots as smooth as butter. It’s just a great gun, one of the all-time classics. I got to fire some American Eagle 115-grain FJM, as well as American Eagle 124-grain non-toxic primer TMJ (Total Metal Jacket). Then I finished it off with some Federal Premium 124-grain Hydra-Shok JHP.

Early Glock 17 Models

With Gen3 and Gen4 and Gen5 models, it’s simple to get them — they are all on the shelf of almost every gun store you walk into. The first two generations are not so easy to find — none of my friends or acquaintances had them, and it’s not like you can check them out on loan. I knew my only course of action would be to track them down and buy them. With a lot of research and a little work, I did just that.

A field-stripped third generation G17. The Flat Dark Earth frame is a special run that is made periodically.
A field-stripped third generation G17. The Flat Dark Earth frame is a special run that is made periodically.

Those two Glocks — which are both becoming very collectable — are still just as good as they were when they were released. They could be placed against any competitor’s guns on the market and still fare well. They are timeless designs, and built to be a workhorse. I have since decided to collect the G17 generations, since this is the only model that spans all four generations.

Learn More About Glock Options

Mini Draco Review: The Romanian Candle

The Mini Draco is a Romanian-made AK pistol and, like its namesake, the mini barrel spews forth fire.

Sometimes you just want as much firepower as you can get in the smallest package available. Forget all the talk about 9mm, .45 ACP, .357 Magnum or even 10mm—those are all pistol calibers, and as the axiom goes, “The only good use for a pistol in a firefight is to fight a path to your rifle.”

No, what I’m talking about is rifle calibers. If things go south, most people would prefer a rifle; it’s just not practical to carry one. So, we resort to handguns with all of the limitations of handgun calibers.

But what if your pistol is your rifle? It’d negate the limitations that handguns possess. That’s the intent behind the Mini Draco from Century Arms. It’s an AK pistol chambered in the AK’s legendary cartridge: the 7.62x39mm Soviet.

Cugir Mini Draco
The Mini Draco is Built in Cugir, Romania, and imported by Century Arms. Equipped with the Wolverine PBS-1 suppressor, it’s a fun plinker.

The Mini Draco is a Romanian-made AK Pistol—made in the Cugir Arms Factory that’s famous for the WASR series rifles—a close copy of the Russian AKM. Per the original Kalashnikov design, it has a stamped sheet metal receiver and incorporates rivets to secure the front and rear trunnions in place. Overall length is 17.5 inches, and it weighs 5.6 pounds without a magazine. Despite the small size of the Mini-Draco, the receiver is the same size as a standard AK.

AK receiver comparison
Despite being mini size—and classified as a pistol by the ATF—the Mini Draco (top) has the same receiver as a full-size Kalashnikov rifle.

The rear sight block looks the same as those found on standard-sized AK rifles, but aside from that, everything forward of the receiver is different from the norm. And that’s expected from an AK variant that’s so small. Naturally, the barrel and gas tube are shorter, but to make up for the lack of real estate up front, the front sight and gas block have been combined into one piece. It’s longer (measuring fore to aft), so many AK front sight windage adjustment tools will not work with this.

AK front sight comparison
The gas block and front sight from a full-size AK rifle (left) have been combined into one part for the Mini Draco.

The muzzle device isn’t the typical slant brake found on an AKM rifle, but it’s instead a compensator (though the Century Arms manual calls it a flash hider) of the same basic design as the government-issue one used on an AR-15, except with different thread (14×1 LH, common to AK rifles) and with three notches at the base.

Mini Draco Muzzle
The Mini Draco comes with an AR-15-style compensator, but it has different threading and three notches at the base. The notches secure it onto the muzzle via the front sight spring-loaded retaining plunger. Which notch you use determines the direction the muzzle blast is directed.

The receiver internals are standard for an AK of Romanian design, with the exception of the modified rear trunnion and the gas piston (which I’ll get into in a moment). The bolt carrier, bolt assembly and recoil spring assembly are the same as a standard-length AK rifle. To compensate for the short gas tube, the gas piston rod has been removed and only the piston rod head remains. In design, the head has been cut from the piston rod and attached directly to the bolt carrier. In reality, the head isn’t actually cut from the piston rod; it’s a separate machined part.

AK piston comparison
The Mini Draco has the same size bolt and bolt carrier (bottom) as a full-size AK rifle, but the gas piston rod is gone, only the head of the piston rod remains.

A hard polymer part called the recoil buffer is positioned in front of the rear trunnion to dampen the impact of the bolt carrier during cycling. Probably the most important function, though, is that it keeps the bolt carrier/gas piston from over-stroking. The recoil buffer looks like it’s from a 3D printer and is a little rough around the edges, so to speak. A piece of hard rubber would’ve probably had better longevity. During disassembly, the recoil buffer will need to be pulled out (it’s not attached) before the bolt carrier can be removed from the receiver.

Century Arms usually uses U.S.-built Tapco triggers in its AK rifles, in part because they’re better than what comes stock, but mostly for 922(r) parts compliance. The trigger in this Mini Draco doesn’t read Tapco, so it looks like a Romanian “government” trigger. It’s pretty good for being a stock trigger, though. It averaged a 5.1-pound pull weight, and it had a crisp break. I’ve pulled many worse Combloc triggers.

There’s no stock since it’s classified as a pistol, so the only furniture is a polymer pistol grip and the front handguard. The handguard is made of blond plywood and has a pretty nice-looking finish, in an industrial kind of way. It doesn’t have a top portion of handgrip, like most AKs, only the bottom.

Mini Draco Feature
The Mini Draco is an AK pistol with a 7.75-inch barrel. Here it’s sporting a Wolverine PBS-1 suppressor from Dead Air Armament.

Build Quality

Century Arms has taken some dings in the past on the roughness of their Romanian AKs, and in general, Romanian AKs have taken some online bashing for being “entry level.” They can be a little rough, but I’ve heard excellent things about reliability, which is the hallmark for AKs.

The Mini Draco that I have has pretty decent build quality. The rivets look good; they’re flush with the receiver surface. I don’t see any creases or bends in the sheet metal. There are no machining marks on the exterior surface of any parts, and even the internal parts/surfaces appear to be pretty good. The magazine well doesn’t have any burrs, nor do any of the other sheet metal edges. The safety selector on mine is very tight and hard to take off safely; it’s the tightest I’ve found on an AK. But hey, any problem that can be solved with a bench vise and a hammer isn’t a problem at all.

Draco Magwell
The Mini Draco magwell is unadulterated by Century Arms since as a pistol it is allowed to be imported from the factory with a standard double-stack magwell, as opposed to the WASR rifle's single-stack one that must be opened up.

There are, however, three things I can see that are negative. The first is the receiver end plate has sharp corners, right where the web of the grip hand rests when shooting. The second is the finish. The finish has a semi-course feel to it that’s typical of what I’ve seen on AKs from the Cugir/ROMARM factory, which is fine with me, but it appears to show wear pretty easy. I haven’t had mine for very long, and there’s quite a bit of wear already. It doesn’t bother me, but it might bother some people, especially those who like to keep their “safe guardians” looking mint.

Mini-Draco Receiver
The Mini Draco has a stamped sheet metal receiver, like the AKM it was derived from.

All of those things are forgivable—the AK was never meant to be pretty. But the most egregious issue is the use of the fragile recoil buffer that broke on mine. It goes against the entire ethos of the AK rifle to have a fragile 3D-printed polymer part. I’m pretty sure Mikhail Kalashnikov is rolling over in his grave. As much as I don’t like this fragile part, it’s inexpensive and easy enough to replace. It definitely isn’t a deal breaker.

Mini Draco buffer
For such an important part, the Recoil Buffer is fragile. It looks like it’s from a 3D printer and is very brittle. It’s cracked all the way through (bottom right), and the top is chipping away. The author hasn’t even put 300 rounds through it.


In regard to performance, the Mini Draco isn’t going to replicate or replace a rifle. For starters, it’s only going to be effective at close ranges—think 50 yards.

In the accuracy department, it has a lot working against it. The barrel is only 7.5-inches-long, not much longer than a competition-length handgun such as the Glock G34 with a 5.31-inch barrel.

Despite these factors, the Mini Draco was more accurate than expected. Between the five different loads tested at 50 yards, they averaged 4.74-inch five-shot groups. Red Army Standard was the best with a 3.0-inch group, and G2 Research was the worst with a 6.0-inch group. (Incidentally, the G2 Research improved significantly at 25 yards, with a 2.01-inch five-shot group. I didn’t include this in the data set for this article, because I couldn’t test all of the loads at this distance).

In addition, three upgrades would drastically improve accuracy: night sights, a red-dot optic and some sort of stabilization, like a sling or pistol brace. These upgrades would make it a pretty accurate little AK.

Draco Receiver with bolt

I was a little surprised I had some malfunctions with the Mini Draco, but all were magazine related. I had ten malfunctions during my testing phase, and then a buddy had eight malfunctions in the 30 rounds he fired using a South Korean-made steel magazine (I’ve never had issues with this magazine prior to this). All were instances where a round was loaded, it’d fire, but the next round wouldn’t feed properly. My feed issues were from the South Korean mag and one of the X-Tech magazines. I’ve used other magazines, including Tapco, Polish surplus and Russian steel surplus, and had zero issues with those.

MagPump AK mag loader
MagPump magazine loaders have become almost a necessity for the author, especially for range trips during winter months. This one is the AK magazine model and includes a magazine “unloader.” It loads magazines effort-free, prevents sore and/or frozen fingers, and the best part: It doesn’t matter which way the cartridges are loaded into it.

The Mini Draco is more shootable than one would initially think. For me, the AK recoil impulse is fairly mild, and it’s more of a slower recoil that’s spread out over time, whereas other rifles, such as the AR, even though recoil is milder, it’s more of a sharp crack.

The Final Scoop

The Mini Draco is a very fun gun to shoot, and from the “fun gun” aspect, there’s not a lot of downsides. In fact, range time doesn’t get much more fun—the 7.5-inch barrel means it’s loud, and it shoots flames like it’s a vintage WWII flame thrower. If you’re looking for a practical reason to buy one … don’t. If you like AKs and you like to have fun, it’s hard to beat the Mini Draco. It’s small, it’s loud…and it weighs only about a pound more than a Desert Eagle.

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the March 2021 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.

More On Romanian AKs:

The Peculiar Pioneer Arms PM-63C Pistol

Pioneer Arms PM-63C

The Cold War saw many interesting firearms designs, but few are as unique as the Polish PM-63, now available in the semi-auto Pioneer Arms PM-63C pistol.

Some firearms have a utilitarian look; some can be classified as beautiful; some look plain vanilla; and some firearms are flat out odd-looking. The PM-63 falls right into this last category of very odd-looking firearms.

Nevertheless, although it might look pretty weird, it’s a very well-thought-out design, and it reflects solid build quality for that era, especially for a Combloc weapon. But the select-fire PM-63 has been out of the reach of most Americans … until now. Thanks to Pioneer Arms, it’s been redesigned as the PM-63C—a civilian-legal, semi-auto pistol.

The PM-63 Design

The original PM-63 is a Polish-designed submachine gun (SMG) that’s blowback operated, hammer-fired and select-fire, with a full-auto rate of fire of 650 rounds per minute. It’s chambered in 9x18mm Makarov.

Officially named the “Pistolet Maszynowy wzor 1963” (PM Model 1963), it’s often referred to as the PM-63 RAK. It’s one of the first SMGs to incorporate the magazine well into the pistol grip, following in the footsteps of the Czechoslovakian Sa Vz 48 (aka Sa 23/24/25/26 Series) and the Israeli Uzi.

To retain pistol status with the ATF, the folding stock has been spot-welded in place, and the foregrip is permanently fixed and cannot be opened to a vertical grip.
To retain pistol status with the ATF, the folding stock has been spot-welded in place, and the foregrip is permanently fixed and cannot be opened to a vertical grip.

Development started in the late 1950s by Piotr Wilniewczyc, who died in 1960, before development was complete. A team from the state-owned factory completed development, and the PM-63 was adopted into Polish military and police service in 1965. Around 80,000 were made until production stopped in 1977. It would continue on in service until it was replaced in 1984 by the PM-84 Glauberyt. During its service life, the PM-63 was adopted for use by 13 different countries and fought in 12 different wars or conflicts.

The PM-63 is unique. It’s essentially a pistol/SMG hybrid. Where most SMGs are distinctly different designs than handguns, the PM-63 looks as if it started life as a handgun and was then half morphed into an SMG. What makes it so different is that SMGs typically have an upper receiver and a reciprocating internal bolt. The PM-63 doesn’t; it uses a traditional pistol slide assembly (slide, barrel, recoil spring, guide rod).

Another unique feature is the shovel-looking protrusion in front of the barrel. It’s a muzzle compensator that directs gasses up, forcing the muzzle down, thus helping make the gun more controllable in full auto. It also makes for a great, one-handed cocking mechanism—although I don’t recommend using it unless it’s for an emergency, because using it would mean pressing the muzzle of a loaded gun into an object you could potentially destroy.

Then, there’s the monstrosity in front of the trigger guard, which is a front grip. It can be used as a grip when folded or can be opened to be used as a vertical grip. Cleverly tucked away is a folding shoulder stock made of stamped steel. It closes by sliding forward, with the arm resting firmly against the receiver and the butt folded up, nestled in a cut in the rear of the receiver.

Da … We Have More Combloc Guns:

  • Is A Mosin-Nagant Still Worth The Money?
  • The AK-47: Rifle for the Motherland
  • SKS Collecting: The Last Hold Out?
  • The Makarov And Other 9x18mm Pistols
  • Nagant Revolver: Unique Relic From Behind The Iron Curtain
  • 7.62x25mm Tokarev: The Many Copies Of The Combloc Icon

A Few Details

The relatively heavy weight of the gun, the compensator and the shoulder stock—combined with the mild-recoiling 9x18mm Makarov cartridge—make the PM-63 easy to shoot, even on full auto. To further enhance shooting, there’s an inertia buffer inside the rear of the slide that reduces the rate of fire from around 850 rounds per minute to 650.

To disassemble (and assemble) the slide from the lower receiver, the tick mark on the lower receiver (located between, and just forward of, the safety and rear sight) must be positioned between the two tick marks on the slide so the barrel can be rotated.
To disassemble (and assemble) the slide from the lower receiver, the tick mark on the lower receiver (located between, and just forward of, the safety and rear sight) must be positioned between the two tick marks on the slide so the barrel can be rotated.

During the cycling of the action, the barrel doesn’t tilt like most handguns do; and, despite what some Internet sources say, the barrel doesn’t rotate during the firing process either. The locking ribs on the barrel lock with the locking ribs on the lower receiver, thus holding straight in line and fixed in place.

The mag release is located in the customary position used by European handguns of this era (the bottom of the grip/mag well). However, it’s better than most grip-bottom designs, because the release lever is thumbed toward the magazine instead of away from it, which is more awkward.

The rear sight incorporates an L-shaped flip sight with one side marked for 75 meters and the other for 150 meters. The front sight is blade-styled and machined into the slide. Despite the long overall length of the gun, the sight radius is only 6 inches (about the same as a Glock G19 compact pistol). The sights are pretty good for circa 1959, but by modern standards, they’re not very functional.

The PM-63C: Civilian Legal

What do you do when you find in your inventory guns that were produced for the military market, but they’re now obsolete? You do what Pioneer Arms Corp. did: You remanufacture them into a civilian-legal version for the U.S. civilian market.

U.S. gun owners and collectors can now purchase a semi-auto-only version called the PM-63C. The only downside? There will only ever be 650 of them … because only 650 are in existence.

The PM-63C looks odd, thanks, in part, to this large monstrosity in front of the trigger well. It’s a forward grip that has been permanently fixed into the folded position, per ATF rules. In the original select-fire version, the grip can be opened into a vertical grip.
The PM-63C looks odd, thanks, in part, to this large monstrosity in front of the trigger well. It’s a forward grip that has been permanently fixed into the folded position, per ATF rules. In the original select-fire version, the grip can be opened into a vertical grip.

There are four key differences between the original PM-63 and the civilian-legal PM-63C. First, and most obviously, it’s been remanufactured to shoot semi-auto-only. Second, to meet ATF requirements to qualify as “not a machine gun,” it fires from a “closed bolt”—or, in this instance, a closed slide. Third, to meet the ATF requirements for a pistol and not a short-barreled rifle (SBR), the folding shoulder stock has been bead-welded in the “closed” position so that it can’t be extended. Fourth—also to meet ATF requirements—the front grip is fixed in place so it can’t be unfolded into the vertical grip.

Markings include the original PM-63 stamping (on the right side of the slide) of the serial number: the circle-11 logo and “1971,” for the year of manufacture. Forward of that is the marking of the remanufacturing company (“INTERARMS, RADOM, POLAND, PM63-C cal 9×18”). On top of the slide and behind the rear sight is the mark of the importer, PAC’s U.S. subsidiary (“PIONEER ARMS CORP., FORT ORANGE, FL”). Just behind that is PAC’s archer (“Łucznik”) logo and “RADOM”, “POLAND” and an “11.”

PM-63C pistols can be purchased from PAC’s distributer, Classic Firearms, and includes the original-issue canvas holster, two magazines (one 15-round, one 25-round) and cleaning kit.

Range Time

The PM-63C is an interesting gun, but the biggest question I had was about reliability: It’s a difficult task to take a gun designed to be fired open-bolt and convert it to reliably fire from a closed bolt. It’s one thing to design a semi-auto version from the ground up, as with many MAC-11-style guns, but to convert an actual “already-made” military surplus gun is something different.

If this were the original select-fire PM-63, pressing the lever would allow the shooter to pull the shoulder stock to the rear. On this PM-63C, the lever still works. However, the stock bar has been welded in place.
If this were the original select-fire PM-63, pressing the lever would allow the shooter to pull the shoulder stock to the rear. On this PM-63C, the lever still works. However, the stock bar has been welded in place.

If you’ve ever pulled the trigger on a Combloc handgun, it’s like pulling a brick through a garden hose! However, my PM-63C is very different from that; it’s good … maybe even very good. It’s long, but grit-free and surprisingly light, and it averages a pull rate between 4.0 and 4.3 pounds. It’s pretty smooth, with a clean break and a short reset.

For me, reliability isn’t a big concern with a gun such as this. I’m not buying it to perform flawlessly, and it will never be used for self-defense. I have other guns for that. I’m buying it because it’s unique, and it’s a piece of Cold War history.

With that said, reliability was … okay. I didn’t put a ton of lead downrange (again, I’m not testing it in order to use it as a carry gun). In total, out of the 60 rounds I fired, I had 11 feed malfunctions. In all cases, the fresh round was about halfway into the chamber, and the slide just couldn’t push it in all the way. I believe a stouter recoil spring would resolve the issue.

Accuracy was better than expected. The PM-63C has a compact pistol-length barrel, along with a compact pistol sight radius and 1950s-era sights. I set up 12-inch targets at 25 yards and 50 yards. At both distances, I managed to get 80 or 90 percent of the hits within the 12-inch target.

With the shoulder stock in the “closed” position, the butt plate folds up under the lower receiver. Note the bead weld at the junction where the shoulder stock and shoulder stock latch pin meet, preventing it from being opened.
With the shoulder stock in the “closed” position, the butt plate folds up under the lower receiver. Note the bead weld at the junction where the shoulder stock and shoulder stock latch pin meet, preventing it from being opened.

At those ranges, It wasn’t bad. However, although the sights are marked “75 meters” and “150 meters,” the role for this is more of PDW, which would be mostly for closer ranges. Besides, let’s keep it real: It’s chambered in 9×18 Makarov, which has slightly more power than a .380 ACP; and no one is hurtling .380 downrange at 50 yards, let alone 75 or 150.

So, I set up some targets at 12 yards, and the PM-63C fared much better. I shot five-shot groups. The Hornady Critical Defense 95-grain FTX grouped at 2.12 inches; the Sellier & Bellot 95-grain FMJ grouped at 1.59 inches; and the Fiocchi 95-grain FMJ grouped at 1.57 inches. For me, that’s good enough for this gun to be fun to shoot.

Final Verdict

The PM-63C ranks pretty high in the “most-interesting” firearms category. Because I’m a history buff and gun collector, one of the genres/topics I’m most interested in is the Combloc/Eastern Europe. When both history and guns are combined, it’s tough for me to say “no.” And for the PM-63C, I wasn’t able to!

I paid $1,300 through Pioneer Arms’ distributer, Classic Firearms. Some might scoff at the price (“I can get a nice AR for that price!” is the popular refrain), but all my gun-purchase regrets are the guns I didn’t purchase (usually, because I thought the price was too high). For me, $1,300 is higher than I want to pay, but with only 650 of these PM-63Cs in existence, it’s likely the value will go up. I can’t guarantee that it will, but I can guarantee that either way, I’ll probably never get another chance to purchase one.

Pioneer Arms PM-63C Specifications
CALIBER: 9x18mm Makarov
ACTION TYPE: Semi-auto, blowback, closed bolt
FRAME: Steel; Bakelite furniture
SLIDE: Steel
BARREL: Chrome lined, 5.9 in.
TRIGGER: 4.2 lb. (average)
SIGHTS: Flip rear sight (75 and 150 meters); blade-style front sight
WEIGHT: 3.5 lb. (empty)
ACCESSORIES: 2 magazines (15- and 25-round); original canvas holster; cleaning kit
MSRP: $1,300 (distributed via ClassicFirearms.com)

For more information on the Pioneer Arms PM-63C, please visit pioneer-pac.com.

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the August 2020 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.

Glock 44: Perfection In .22 LR?

Glock 44 2

Three years in the making, the new Glock 44 finally gets the gunmaker into the .22 LR market. Was it worth the wait?

It’s not a secret that the Glock G19 is one of the most popular handguns in America. Developing a Glock chambered in .22 LR sounds like a no-brainer. It’s been three years in development, but that’s exactly what Glock did. The Glock 44, chambered in .22 Long Rifle, stays true to the Glock design, but it has a few differences to compensate for the no-recoil .22 LR cartridge.

The Glock 44 is a striker-fired, blowback, semi-automatic compact pistol. For most intents and purposes, it’s a Gen5—although Glock doesn’t call it a Gen5. It uses a modified G19 Gen5 frame and a hybrid polymer/steel slide. The barrel is the Glock Marksman Barrel (GMB) and is not a fixed-barrel like most rimfire handguns. The barrel stays straight during the entire cycling of the action.

The underside of the G44 (left) and the G19 Gen5. The barrel-locking lug on the G44 is long and narrow, while the locking lug on the G19 is short and wide. This prevents these slides from being swapped with the other’s frame.
The underside of the Glock 44 (left) and the G19 Gen5. The barrel-locking lug on the G44 is long and narrow, while the locking lug on the G19 is short and wide. This prevents these slides from being swapped with the other’s frame.

The Glock 44 can be adjusted to various shooter preferences via an ambidextrous slide stop lever, reversible mag catch and four interchangeable back straps (two beavertail and two standard). It comes with two 10-round magazines, and the polymer rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation.

The entire Glock 44 is about 10 ounces lighter than the G19, and the majority of that weight reduction is the slide. Most .22 handguns have an aluminum slide, but Glock wanted steel; it’s far more durable. But a steel slide would weigh too much for a .22 LR cartridge to cycle reliably. So, Glock designed a steel sub-structure and incorporated polymer—which Glock obviously knows very well.

For friction points, you always want steel on steel and polymer on polymer, because steel on polymer will expedite wear on those parts. The steel sub-structure is what makes contact with the metal slide rails on the frame, so there’s no friction or stress on the polymer portion of the slide. The slide face where the cartridge sits is also steel, as is the nose ring that the barrel goes through.

The slide internals don’t look much different than standard Glock OEM parts, but there are some changes, mostly due to the caliber. The big difference is the GMB. The chamber block is roughly the size of a G19 but has different locking lugs—because it’s not a tilt-barrel—and a ghost hole on top that’s a loaded chamber indicator.

The slide will accept any aftermarket sights designed for the G19. Nevertheless, take note if you go that route, because the dovetail is polymer, and metal sights could cause damage during installation if care is not taken.

Range Test

If you remove the slide, most noticeable is the locking block, which is polymer instead of metal, as well as the area in the frame where the locking block is located. It’s designed so that a G19 and a G44 can’t swap slides.

The trigger is all Glock. The take-up is slightly spongy, but it has a clean break. Glock lists the pull weight at 5.8 pounds; mine averaged about 5.5. For Glock users who don’t care for Glock factory triggers, the G44 will accept aftermarket triggers designed for the G19 Gen5.

When the Glock 44 was announced, the Internet almost exploded—about half with excitement and about half with hate. A lot of that hate centered on the magazine; in particular, the fact that it’s 10 rounds. But why 10 rounds? Why not 15? Everyone has 10. Some new .22s have more.

The hybrid steel/polymer slide consists of a steel sub-structure that makes contact with the slide and houses the high-friction parts. Polymer is then fused with the steel to complete the slide.
The hybrid steel/polymer slide consists of a steel sub-structure that makes contact with the slide and houses the high-friction parts. Polymer is then fused with the steel to complete the slide.

The short answer: Glock wanted more rounds too, but during the nearly 14 million rounds fired during its three years of development, having more than 10 rounds in the magazine didn’t meet expectations for reliability.

Although I’d rather have more rounds, I’m fine with that answer. However, for those of us who want more than 10 rounds, ProMag has a magazine in development for the G44. There‘s no set magazine capacity yet, but it will be at least 14 rounds. Its expected ship date is by March 1, 2020.
Aside from the 10-round capacity, one of the things I like most about the Glock 44 is the magazine. It has the same outer dimensions as the G19 magazine. In fact, they’ll fit into each other’s mag well (although my G44 mag won’t lock securely into the G19 mag well).

Why is this so important? Reloads—especially for training. Most .22 pistols have long, slim magazine tubes that are barely larger than the .22 rounds they hold. If you’re practicing realistic reloads, those suck. They’re slow; it’s hard to hit the slot in the mag well under pressure; and the mag wells jam up if you don’t insert them perfectly straight. Glock did it right with the design of the G44 mags, down to the load-assist lever on both sides.

What the Glock 44 Is Not

The Glock 44 stands out from the crowd for several reasons. Foremost, while a majority of the .22 LR handguns in this category feel like replicas, the G44 is a true Glock. It’s the actual Glock design that we know, and it feels like a Glock. More importantly, it shoots like a Glock. Same Glock feel, same Glock trigger, same Glock controls, same Glock maintenance/disassembly, same Glock … well, you get it: It’s a Glock.

Range Time

I know Glock’s goal for the Glock 44 is to shoot everything reliably. But, in reality, .22 ammunition has a very large variation in performance. Glock tested the G44, firing more than 14 million rounds of more than 120 makes of ammo to make sure it could reliably shoot anything. So, reliability was also my focus. I fired 1,500 rounds using 18 different loads.

The locking lugs on the G19 (top/back) are designed for the barrel block to tilt down during the cycling of the slide. The G44 (bottom/front) doesn’t tilt, so the locking lug just keeps it in place.
The locking lugs on the G19 (top/back) are designed for the barrel block to tilt down during the cycling of the slide. The G44 (bottom/front) doesn’t tilt, so the locking lug just keeps it in place.

The Glock 44 I tested just did not like four of the 18 loads I used, which accounted for 350 rounds. It was obvious that it was an issue with the ammo, because almost every time I had a malfunction, it was preceded by a weak-sounding discharge, and the slide either barely cycled or had a weak cycle—often so weak that the spent case barely made it out of the ejection port. Twice, the discharge was so weak that I was convinced it was a squib load, and I disassembled the gun and checked the barrel (I did lubricate the slide before testing, and I added two drops of lubrication after about 500 rounds).

For the rest of the 1,150 rounds fired from 14 different loads, there were 18 malfunctions, seven of which were also due to cartridges with weak powder charges that didn’t completely cycle the slide. Four times, the weak charge wouldn’t cycle the slide enough to extract; seven times, it extracted, but not enough to eject; and there were seven failures to feed (the bullet nose hit outside of chamber and got stuck. These were the seven malfunctions that weren’t related to an underpowered cartridge but were most likely due to carbon buildup. Five happened after). Six times, the slide did not lock back after the last round fired, because the round didn’t have enough power to cycle the slide far enough to lock back. But I don’t count these as failures.

Wrapping it Up

The Glock 44 fills a void in Glock’s lineup that shooters have been asking to have filled for years. It’s not sexy like a carbine or a single-stack 10mm, but it’s probably the thing Glock users have been asking for the longest. The G44 is going to be extremely popular, and Glock will sell a lot of them.

Glock 44 Specs:
CALIBER: .22 Long Rifle
ACTION TYPE: Semi-auto
FRAME: Polymer
CAPACITY: 10-round magazine
SLIDE: Steel/polymer fusion
BARREL: Glock Marksman Barrel; 4.02 in.; hex
TRIGGER: 5.8 lb. (5.5 lb., as tested)
SIGHTS: Polymer; adjustable
WEIGHT: 14.74 oz. (with empty mag)
HEIGHT (WITH MAG): 5.04 in.
SLIDE WIDTH: 1.01 in. (measured at steel sub-structure)
ACCESSORIES: Includes two 10-round mags; threaded barrel available MSRP: $430 (street price estimate: $370; blue label: $350)

For more information on the Glock 44, please visit us.glock.com/en.

More Glock Reviews:

G43X And G48: Solidifying The Glock 9mm Slimline Series

G43x G48

The Glock 43, Glock 43X and Glock 48 have burned like a prairie fire through the concealed carry market. Here's a look a what's driven their popularity.

What Are The Difference Between Glock Slimline Nines:

  • The G43 has a 3.41-inch barrel and 6-round capacity.
  • The G43X has a 3.41-inch barrel and 10-round capacity.
  • The G48 has a 4.17-inch barrel and 10-round capacity.

The U.S. concealed-carry market has been booming for many years now, and it shows no signs of stopping. As the concealed-carry market has become more and more popular, so have the micro-compact guns that fill the segment, and no caliber is as popular as the 9mm. It’s a full-power load that is able to be packed into a small package, so it’s no wonder why it’s so popular.

Glock Reference Guide
This post is an excerpt from Glock Reference Guide, 2nd Edition available at GunDigestStore.com.

The Glock Slimline 9mms have been very popular, ever since their introduction, starting with the first Slimline 9mm, the G43, in 2015. The G43 design is based off the G42, a .380 ACP caliber. There was a slimline pistol prior to that, the G36, but its design was based off the original Glock. The G42 design (and thus the Slimline 9mm) is different from the traditional Glock design, incorporating significant design changes.

The G43 came out just as the first edition of this book was going to print, and the Slimline 9mm lineup has now expanded to include the G43X and G48.

Learn More: Glock Reviews You Need To Read


Prior to the introduction of the G43, shooters had been clamoring for a single-stack 9mm Glock for years. And when Glock finally gave them one, in the form of the G43, people were lining up on waiting lists to get their hands on it.

Glock took heat from a lot of fans after not releasing a single-stack 9mm at the 2015 SHOT show. Some took it a little too personally and filled the Internet forums with overdramatic vows never to buy another Glock. Further salt was thrown on the “wounds” of fans, by the other makers who have had single-stack 9mms on the market for several years now.

I believe Glock was simply taking a little extra time to make sure it got it right, after taking a hit when the G42 had some issues coming out of the gate (mostly malfunctions when using overpowered and underpowered ammunition). It was easily remedied with modifications to a few parts, but Glock isn’t a company that takes well to having reliability issues. So, Glock engineers took a little extra time with this one, and judging by my experience, as well as what I’ve seen from others, with the G43, they got it right.


I get to test a lot of guns, which often requires me to carry the gun for EDC, especially when the gun is designed to be a carry gun. However, my go-to carry gun is a Glock: The G19 when my attire permits, the G43 when my attire doesn’t. I’m going to be honest, however, when it released it in 2018, SIG Sauer had me with the P365. Ten rounds in a micro-compact pistol that shoots like a larger pistol, it truly is a game-changer. And it did change the game, because now you see responses from other companies, including Glock. When Glock announced the G43X and G48, I was extremely happy. While the P365 is a fine gun, and has performed perfectly for me, my comfort level really is with the Glock. So, when the G48 (and G43X) were announced, I couldn’t have been happier.


You might wonder why I went out of numerical order and placed the G43X after the G48. It’s because you really needed to get to know the G48 before the G43X, since the G43X is a hybrid of the G43 and G48, a crossover, which is designated with the “X”. If you take the slide of the G43 and place it on the frame of the G48 (which is exactly what Glock did), you get the G43X. In fact, you can do it yourself. If you already own a G43, and buy a G48, combine the G43 slide and G48 frame and you have yourself a G43X.

By using the G48 frame, the G43X gives you 10 rounds, the same capacity as a G26 and SIG Sauer P365, but with a longer grip than those guns have.

Learn More About Glock Options

Editor's Note:This post is an excerpt from Glock Reference Guide, 2nd Edition available at GunDigestStore.com.

For Personal Defense, You Don’t Want A Custom Glock

Custom Gloc
Keanu Reeves training for the movie John Wick 2 with his Taran Tactical Innovations Combat Master Glock G34. (Photo by Taran Butler)

A custom Glock is only a gun-parts order away. But despite the wealth of aftermarket upgrades, ones meant for defense might be best left stock.

Why You Don't Want To Customize Your Self-Defense Glock:

  • Even something as simple as a Cerakote can change the specific tolerances of the pistol.
  • There are the potential legal pitfalls of using a Glock with custom parts.
  • While most aftermarket parts are high quality, there are instances of them failing.

Glock has gotten so big, Glock isn’t “just Glock.” An entire cottage industry has spawned off of Glock. There are dozens of companies that make aftermarket custom parts and accessories, with new ones sprouting up all the time. At least a dozen companies make custom Glocks for you to purchase, or you can send in your Glock and armorers will work their custom “magic.” And then there’s the relatively new, but fast-growing segment of PCCs – that’s Pistol Caliber Carbine – many of which are based off Glock magazines. Some even incorporate your Glock pistol into the carbine.

Glock Reference Guide
This post is an excerpt from Glock Reference Guide, 2nd Edition available at GunDigestStore.com.

In this day and age of the “Insta-gun,” it seems everyone with a camera or smartphone loves posting photos on Instagram of their customized guns with all OEM parts replaced with parts purchased for looks, first, and reliability/functionality, second. “Tacti-cool” as they call it. This is fine for competition Glocks, or casual shooting Glocks; but for me, all of my “go-to” and carry guns are pretty much stock. Those fighting guns are the guns I stake my life on, and I’m not concerned how those guns look, I’m only concerned how they perform. I’ll upgrade sights to aftermarket, but that’s about it. Glock makes each part with a very specific tolerance, and with very specific metals and polymers. Metals are hardened to a specific hardness, and are given a specific treatment/coating. Even something as simple as giving it a Cerakote can change the tolerances, even if just by a bit.

Then there is the argument about legal issues with custom parts. Does a light-pull trigger get used against you in the instance where you need to defend yourself? I’ve read some smart people who have argued from both sides; and I’ve also read some “Internet lawyers” argue both sides, as well. Who’s right?

It’s just not worth it, and that’s why I go plain-Jane stock on my fighting Glocks.

Learn More: Glock Reviews You Need To Read

But for my non-carry guns, that’s a different story. I like cool-looking guns as much as the next guy, and I’m not saying there’s not a time and place for cool-looking guns. While I keep all of my fighting guns mostly stock, I do have my fun guns that I modify with flashy, custom parts. Those guns are first and foremost shooters, but I enjoy having them look good, too. Those are not guns I depend on for my personal defense, so if one of those has a problem at the range due to a custom part, no big deal, I can fix it.

I also want to clarify, I’m in no way reporting or implying that most of these aftermarket parts aren’t high quality. I’m sure 99.9 percent of the time they function perfectly. However, as any Glock armorer can attest, if a Glock does break or have problems, a high percentage of the time it’s non-Glock aftermarket parts, or someone has altered a Glock OEM part (like buffing down parts to make them smoother, for a better trigger pull, which, again, changes tolerances). I’m the same way with all of my self/home-defense guns. My home-defense AR15s, for example, those all have triggers and parts designed for ruggedness. I don’t put competition triggers on them, it’s always a “combat” trigger or I keep the government trigger on it. Government triggers never break. But I have had fancy, cool-looking triggers break.

Are there likely to be a parts breakage or problems for the average shooter? No. Aftermarket parts made by reputable companies have been thoroughly tested, and tested again. The average shooter doesn’t put enough rounds down range through his or her Glock for it ever to be an issue.

Learn More About Glock Options

Editor's Note:This post is an excerpt from Glock Reference Guide, 2nd Edition available at GunDigestStore.com.

The Scorpion Evo 3 S1 Has Plenty Of Sting

Not only is the CZ Scorpion Evo 3 a blast to shoot, it is also a highly functional weapon — particularly with a buttstock.

  • As a pistol, the CZ Scorpion is a bit unwieldy, but slap on a buttstock and it becomes a highly useful firearm.
  • Opting for such a configuration, however, takes forethought, given it transforms the Scorpion Evo into a NFA-regulated short-barreled rifle.
  • The size and firepower a stocked Evo brings to the table makes it more powerful than a pistol and more convenient than a carbine.
  • There are a number of sling-mounting options for the Scorpion Evo, allowing users to adjust their carry method to the application.
  • The controls of the Evo are brilliantly executed and designed for easy manipulation, even with gloves on.
  • An important design point concerning controls is the non-reciprocating cocking handle, which opens real estate to grip this small gun.
  • The Scorpion Evo is outfitted with heavy-duty removable sights, complete with adjustable rear aperture.
  • The one complaint on the controls is the ambidextrous safety lever, which has the tendency to rub the trigger finger.
  • Disassembly/re-assembly of the Scorpion Evo 3 is a breeze and only takes a matter of minutes.

I’m a very utilitarian person — I don’t own a lot of frivolous stuff that doesn’t have a purpose. I don’t own a lot of fancy stuff, either. That is, with the exception of three things: I like a nice watch, I like fine leather, and of course…guns. But guns are the only thing I own that I’ll keep around just for the sake of keeping them around, even if one has no utility. Even my watch and leather items need to have a use.

Previously, when I’ve fired the semi-automatic versions of submachine guns (SMG), I felt that they fit into this category — fun gun that doesn’t really have utility. And honestly, they weren’t even that fun to shoot. In fact, of the two that I had fired, both were quite painful to shoot. They both had terrible trigger slap, and after a few magazines, my trigger finger throbbed.

Gun Digest Book of CZ
Become an expert on one of the world's most popular firearms companies and its guns with Gun Digest Book of CZ Firearms.

When I first laid eyes on the Scorpion Evo 3 S1, I erroneously thought that it would fit into this category — fun gun, no utility. I was correct about it being fun — it is by far the most fun gun that I’ve fired that isn’t belt-fed and/or full auto. It’s worth the price just for the amount of pure shooting enjoyment it provides. But, as far as a utilitarian firearm, in pistol form it’s pretty limited. It would make a good truck gun, or even a good home defense gun. Being in pistol form, though, it’s awkward to aim. It’s a little big to fire accurately one-handed, so the support arm has to be fully extended with the elbow straight, which leaves the primary arm bent. Not that’s there’s much recoil, but the minimal amount that it does have must be absorbed by the support arm. The whole thing is just awkward, and it’s not how it was intended to be used when it was designed. Mounting a laser on it does help, as does a nice, tight sling. A lot of users got some improvement by mounting an arm brace onto it, but even that isn’t a perfect solution.

A stock, though, turns it into a far more useful firearm. Not only that, as fun as the Scorpion pistol is, it doubles the fun of shooting it. Unfortunately, you can’t just put a stock on it, because that turns it into an SBR, subject to NFA regulation. But if you’re willing to go through the NFA process, a stock allows you to make well-aimed shots, and it also gives you complete control of the weapon for rapid follow-up shots. Suddenly you have a great gun for carrying in your ATV or truck as you’re driving about, and it also makes for a great home defense gun.

You get the best of both worlds: It’s compact for ease of transport, but open up the stock and you can get carbine-like accuracy. True, it’s not as compact as a handgun, yet if you can swing the extra size, it has increased muzzle velocity and is easier to aim and control. And yes, it can be fired with the stock folded.

There are other companies out there making handgun-caliber carbines, but they just don’t suit my needs as well as this one does. Many of them don’t have folding stocks, so they’re not any more compact than a rifle carbine. If you’re going to carry a firearm the size of a rifle carbine, might as well carry a rifle carbine — with the vast improvement in terminal ballistics, range and accuracy.

The Scorpion Evo 3 in all its glory.

SMGs and their semi-automatic versions fall into two basic designs: those that are fed by magazine through the grip, similar to a handgun, like an Uzi; and those that are fed by magazine through a magazine well located in front of the trigger guard, similar to a semi-automatic rifle, like the Scorpion and the Heckler & Koch MP5 before it.

The Scorpion Evo 3 gives you a couple of sling-mounting options. On the left hand side to the rear of the receiver is a slot through which a 1-inch sling can be fed, which makes for a single-point option. Any number of third-party sling mounts that fit onto the accessory rail can also be mounted as a second point when using that configuration. There’s rail at the twelve, three, six and nine o’clock positions to do this. Another option is the four sling swivels located on the right and left sides for ambidextrous use. The rear swivels are polymer molded with the receiver located just under the accessory rail, and the front ones are metal, just in front of the magazine well, halfway up the receiver. I’ve seen metal key rings used in these swivels for clipping a sling, but my preferred method is the “Uber Loop” Quick Wire Loop from Blue Force Gear. It makes for an even more versatile attachment point, and the nylon-coated stainless steel wires and nylon body are quieter than metal key rings.

There’s a lot I really like about the Scorpion Evo 3, and the first thing is that I’m approaching 1,000 rounds and it hasn’t come close to a malfunction. It has cycled perfectly each time, regardless of suppressed or unsuppressed, ammo make, bullet weight, bullet type, bullet construction, +P, standard, or subsonic.

The Scorpion Evo 3's smooth grip.

Second, I love the controls — other than the ambidextrous safety lever, which I’ll get to under dislikes. Everything else is brilliantly executed. It’s designed for use with gloves, so the controls are large, but they aren’t obtrusive. Not to sound all new-agey, but the weapon and controls meld nicely together and have a nice flow. An oversized paddle-style ambidextrous magazine release straddles the trigger guard to the front. It’s large, but completely out of the way unless you need it. The texture is not aggressive, but very effective — the graduated lines are reminiscent of the seating found at the Roman Coliseum. The bolt stop is located just above and in front of the trigger. It’s also oversized, yet it stays out of your way unless you need it. It has the same contoured steps as the mag release.

The pistol grip is smooth with no texturing on the sides, only the front and back straps have the same graduated step texture as the controls. It’s designed to be shouldered, not fired like a pistol, so texturing wasn’t as necessary in its original form. Fired like a pistol the lack of texture isn’t that big of a deal, with or without gloves. The bottom of the grip is a little bulbous. It looks like the blown-out magazine wells found on race handguns, except here it serves to keep your hand in position, not to insert magazines.

As for controls, I also like that the cocking handle is non-reciprocating. That’s important for a gun this small, since there’s not a lot of real estate to put the hand anyway. Having to worry about a reciprocating charging handle slamming into the digits would be a distraction, and probably lead to a lot of user-induced malfunctions. I dislike reciprocating charging handles. Before top rails were widely adopted (and mostly mandatory for today’s firearms) to mount optics, it wasn’t uncommon for SMGs to have a top-mounted reciprocating charging handle. Back then, it didn’t matter.

The Scorpion Evo 3 boasts metal sights.

Today, those designs pretty much exclude the mounting of any type of optic, unless you buy a special mount. But, if you mount it on the side, you run the risk of the thumb-busting I just mentioned. Usually, it doesn’t occur while operating the firearm in its intended SOP; the thumb busting occurs during moments of use outside that box — such as when using a benchrest to sight it in.

The removable sights are of metal construction and are heavy duty. As far as I can tell, the only thing made of polymer on the sights is the adjustable rear aperture sight peep, which is actually four peeps on a rotary that allow you to choose the size aperture that you want. The front sight is a post-style sight that is adjustable for windage. These are the same sights that come standard on the 805 Bren S1 Pistol.

There’s only one thing I don’t like about the Scorpion Evo 3, and CZ fixed it right away. The ambidextrous safety’s right-side lever rubs really bad on the first joint of the shooting finger. It doesn’t take long for it to be painful to shoot. Fortunately, they offer a safety delete that gets rid of the left-hand (right side) safety lever. According to CZ-USA, there are three reasons for the safety lever issue. First, since the Scorpion Evo was developed and designed primarily for military/law enforcement agencies, it was made to shoot on full automatic. On full auto, the safety lever is pointing forward, so it wouldn’t rub on the trigger finger. It’s only an issue when it’s on semi-automatic, so it’s mostly an issue for us civilians, and wasn’t really discovered until it hit the U.S. market. Second, it was designed to be an SBR, with a stock, and when firing with a stock most of the pressure is on the shoulder, not on the hand (as is the case with the pistol version), so the finger doesn’t rub on the selector switch. Third, it was designed for tactical users who almost always have on gloves, particularly in the cool/cold Czech Republic.

Disassembly of the Scorpion Evo 3 is simple.

Disassembly is a real chore, and I say that facetiously. It’s one of the easiest firearms to disassemble that I’ve come across, even more so than firearms famous for being easy to disassemble.

First, remove the magazine, clear it, then physically and visually inspect the chamber to make sure that it is clear. Pull the cocking handle to the rear, and lock the bolt open, pushing the cocking handle up. This is different from most firearms, where you keep the bolt in the closed position to disassemble. Push the disassembly pin all the way through; don’t worry, it’s captured so you won’t lose it.

Grasp the trigger case assembly and pull down, then forward to remove. Carefully place your thumb (you don’t want the heavy bolt to slam closed on you) on the front of the bolt, and push slightly rearward, then ease it forward slowly until you can pull it down and then out of the receiver. The bolt and recoil spring will come out as one unit.

That is as far as it needs to be disassembled for maintenance. Three part assemblies, none of them small, none of them easily lost in the field.

To reassemble, insert the bolt/recoil spring assembly buffer into position at the rear of the receiver, and using your thumb, push rearward and down until it is in position, then ease it slowly forward until the cocking handle engages with it. If the bolt assembly isn’t fully seated, the cocking handle won’t engage with it — you need to push the bolt farther to the rear and push downward.

Once engaged, remove your thumb and pull the cocking handle to the rear and lock the bolt open. Insert the rear of the trigger case assembly (the back of the trigger guard) into its slot, rotate the front of the trigger case assembly into position, and press the disassembly pin into place. Do a function check and it’s assembled.

Scorpion Evo 3 specs.

This article is an excerpt from the Gun Digest Book of CZ Firearms.

Gun Review: Beretta ARX 100 Rifle

Beretta ARX 100 review - mainThe Beretta ARX 100 is a futuristic rifle that’s both versatile and a smooth shooter.

I have always been a Beretta fan. It started when I was a teenager growing up in the ‘80s, long before I even got my hands on one. I was hooked on an action-adventure series of novels where the main protagonist carried a Beretta AR-70. Therefore, I liked the Beretta AR-70.

I grew up and forgot about those books, but I never forgot about that Beretta. My appreciation for Beretta only grew during my 11 years in the U.S. Marine Corps; my M9 never failed me, and the fit and finish is superior to just about anything else I’ve fired.

When given the opportunity to test the ARX 100, I jumped. The ARX 100 is the civilian-legal, semi-automatic brother to the select-fire ARX 160, which is only available to military and law enforcement.

The ARX 100 is a modular system that’s built to be reliable. It uses a rotary locking bolt and a fixed-piston, moving-cylinder gas system. It was also designed to be simple to operate and require low maintenance. It has a two-position adjustable gas valve to regulate the bolt speed, marked “S” for standard ammunition and “N” for non-standard, low-power ammunition. To use, always start with the Standard setting, and if it’s not cycling properly, move it to non-standard.

Beretta ARX 100 Review - 1It is chambered in 5.56mm NATO (as tested), with more chamberings on the way. It has a 16-inch, chrome-lined, light-profile barrel with a twist rate of 1:7 and dual feed ramps. It’s capped with a standard-issue A2 birdcage compensator threaded 1/2×28 RH. The barrel heats up really fast, and with extended fire there could be some concern with the thin-profile, though this is mitigated at least a little by how easy it is to swap out barrels.

The ARX 100 weighs 6.8 pounds, is 35.5 inches long with stock extended (26.5 inches with folded stock), and 8.5 inches in height. The four-position stock folds to the right; the rifle can be fired with it folded. The pistol grip has the feel of a military-issue AR grip, but it is one piece with the lower and has a storage compartment.

The gun has a monolithic top rail, two short rails at the three and nine o’clock positions, and a two-part lower rail. The lower rail comes with a slide-off cover, which serves as a forward grip. The front exposed portion of the rail is a standard picatinny rail, and the part under the cover is for Beretta-specific accessories for the Italian army, such as grenade launchers. It comes with six sling attachment points, so however you like it, you’ll be good-to-go.

Beretta ARX 100 review - 10The best thing about the ARX 100 is reliability. Out of the box I put 210 rounds of American Eagle XM855 through it without so much as a glitch. Then, without cleaning it, I returned to the range and put another 90 through it, suppressed, with no problems. This was a far cry from a thousand-round endurance test, yet generally, if I don’t get a malfunction during the break-in period, I like my chances.

Beretta ARX 100 Review - 3The ARX 100 has an ambidextrous safety, bolt catch and magazine release. The magazine release is located in the same position as on an AR, just press with your index finger. A third magazine release button is located under the trigger guard. The bolt catch is located forward of the trigger guard, on the sides. The safety is similar in form to an AR, and it also doubles as the disassembly lever; press it up past “safe” to disassemble.

One of the coolest features on the ARX 100 is the selective right or left-side ejection. Just in front of the folding stock hinge is a shrouded port containing ejection selector. Push it to the left for right side ejection, and press it to the right for left side ejection. That’s outstanding.

It’s interesting how it works: The bolt face has two opposing ejectors, one at the three o’clock and nine o’clock positions. Long ejector pins and springs project from the back of the bolt. As the bolt travels rearward, the ejector pin contacts the ejection selector on the side you have selected as the side you don’t want the brass to come out of, and the selector disengages that ejector by moving it out of the way so it doesn’t make contact with the case rim. The downside to this is that the bolt must move all the way to the rear, so if the bolt short strokes the case won’t eject.

There’s a lot to like about the ARX 100, but there are some things that Beretta can do better. Some of these things might be my personal preference, but some things will be pretty much universally disapproved. None of the issues are deal-breakers. I sent an email to John Tamborino, Beretta’s Tactical Products Manager asking about these issues, and his response was that Beretta is aware of all of these quirks and is already working to fix them.

I know Beretta, and I believe these things will be addressed, and soon. Fixing these issues would make a top contender for this market, especially at the price point, which is less than the FN SCAR.

Beretta ARX 100 Review - 4First, the Beretta ARX 100 is missing an adjustable cheek piece. It has a really high line of sight, and it has a severe comb drop that makes it difficult to get a good cheek weld for that line of sight. With the flip-up sights I had to raise my cheek off the rifle slightly; the same even when I mounted a Meopta M-RAD, which is really small. I mounted a Trijicon RX30 on it and it sat so high that instead of resting my cheek on the stock, I found myself resting my bottom jaw on it.

To give some perspective, the line of sight using optics or the flip-up sights is roughly the same height as mounting an optic on the carry handle of an M16A2. That’s really high, and is the reason the flattop receiver was invented. I know the stock was designed the way it was, low and without a cheek piece, so that it could be fired with the stock folded. But this comes at the expense of shooting with the stock not folded, which is how it is usually fired. A good fix would be a removable cheek piece like the SIG 556xi.

Second, the trigger is very heavy; mine averaged 10.4 pounds. It’s heavy enough that about 25 rounds into a magazine dump, my finger started to fatigue and my rate of fire slowed. I have never had that happen before. Yet it’s consistent and pretty smooth, so I was still able to get decent accuracy. A lighter trigger would better realize the accuracy potential of the rifle.

Next, deployment of the flip-up sights is awkward, and closing them is worse. To open the front sight you have to reach over the top of the rifle with your off-hand, and press the release button (it moves right to left). Repeat for the rear sight. It’s not quick, but clumsy. Closure is even worse: Press the front sight closed, then while holding it closed, press the button on the left side to move it to the right.

Beretta ARX 100 Review - 5Aside from deployment and closing, the sights do their job. The front sight post is first zeroed for elevation. The rear sight is a disk that is marked one through six; one being 100 meters, six being 600. Simply spin for the distance of the target. I’m good with this so far.

But windage adjustments are done on the front sight, and require a tool, either the included tool or a screwdriver, coin, etc. If ever the windage needs to be changed while shooting, the shooter will have to pause, reach into their pocket, and hope they have a tool. If one is planning on mounting an optic, these sights will provide a serviceable backup, and they do co-witness.

The final thing is the bolt handle. It’s thin, and if the user is wearing gloves, it’s fine, but if barehanded, it’s unnecessarily uncomfortable. It’s like carrying a heavy bucket with a broken handle; after awhile the wire handle digs into your hand. It needs to be thin so that it can be rotated to the other side, but more surface area can be added for grasping, and it would still be able to rotate.

Disassembly is tool-free with no pins, another plus, and since about 90 percent of what I disassemble are ARs, it’s kind of fun to take apart something else. First, take the magazine out and make clear. Fold the stock to the right, thus exposing the retaining plate located at the back of the receiver. Grab the grip with your left hand, and use your thumb to press up on the safety so that it goes past Safe. At the same time, with your right hand, press in on the retaining plate. With your left hand, pull down on the grip and the lower receiver will pull out. It can be a little tricky to coordinate this all at once, and I found it best to do it with the muzzle resting on the floor.

Now, pull the bolt handle back so it aligns with the notch; pull the bolt handle out until it snaps, then rotate it so that it is pointing forward. Pull the bolt carrier out from the receiver.

Beretta ARX 100 Review - 6The barrel is simple to remove, which is a great feature, and it can be done without the rest of the rifle fully disassembled. The bolt needs to be out of the way, but it can’t just be locked to the rear; when the barrel comes out of its seat, the bolt will slam forward, potentially damaging the receiver. Instead, the manual says that you must disassemble it to the point in which the lower receiver is removed, then the bolt can be rotated forward, which prevents the bolt from slamming forward. Once the bolt arm is pointing forward, you can remove the barrel; simply pull down on both sides of the take down lever, like a Glock, and pull the barrel out. If your intent is to fully disassemble the rifle for cleaning, this method works fine.

To conduct a rapid barrel swap and get back to shooting, I found a better way that involves no other disassembly at all. Insert an empty magazine, which prevents the bolt from slamming forward. Then lock the bolt to the rear and take the barrel out. Now you can remove the magazine; once you do, ease the bolt forward. To re-insert the barrel, lock the bolt to the rear (you don’t need to insert an empty mag) and insert the barrel, piston up. Once it’s almost seated you’ll feel resistance; press it in, and the takedown lever will snap. Give it a good tug to make sure it’s seated.

Beretta ARX 100 review - 7It’s simple and with a minimal amount of practice a barrel could be swapped out in less than 10 seconds. This makes it a cinch to clean the rifle, but more importantly it allows barrels to quickly be changed during live shoots.

The ARX uses AR-15 STANAG magazines and comes with one heavy-duty metal magazine. It works with most magazines made for the AR-15, but not all. I used Magpul Gen1 magazines and HK clear polymer magazines, and both worked perfectly. I tried to use a TangoDown magazine, but I couldn’t get it to seat properly. Magazines that have a rib to prevent over-seating will mostly be a no-go. It’s a huge benefit to everyone that Beretta chose to use the AR-15 magazine. The AR is the most popular gun in America amongst civilian shooters, and anyone who’s owned one for a while has a lot of magazines for it. It’s great to not have to buy different magazines. It also allows for the use of all the same mag pouches and kit that you already own.


Beretta ARX 100
Type: Semi-auto, gas piston
Caliber: 5.56 NATO (as tested), 6.8 SPC, .300 BLK, 5.45x39mm, 7.62x39mm
Barrel: 16 in., chrome-lined, 1:7 twist
Trigger: 10.5 lbs.
Sights: Flip-up, removable, adjustable
Stock: Four-position, foldable
Weight: 6.8 lbs.
Overall Length: 35.5 in.
Price: $1,950
Manufacturer: Beretta

Editor's Note: This article is an excerpt from the July 2016 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.

CZ 455: One Rimfire To Rule Them All

CZ 455
The CZ 455 with a SilencerCo Sparrow 22 suppressor and a Leatherwood Hi-Lux 4-16×44 scope.

The CZ 455 is an eminently flexible rimfire, giving shooters endless configuration options. On top of that, the bolt-action rifle offers what every marksman wants — dead-on accuracy.

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The CZ 455 is the rimfire bolt action of the CZ lineup. It uses an interchangeable barrel system allowing the user to switch from one chambering to another, as well as different barrel configurations. It also allows the action to be swapped from one style of stock to another. About a minute and a couple of tools (that CZ includes with the barrels) are all that’s required.

Additional barrel kits are available at the CZ webstore and range in price from $123 to $189. Stocks are available as well, and range in price from $115 to $220. The Full Stock is a little more and costs $300, and there’s a high-speed, low-drag Precision Trainer for $690. The majority of the stocks are in the $115 to $125 price range, though, so it isn’t one of those things where people are going to get gouged for over-priced accessories. This is something I’ve always appreciated about CZ — their accessories are all priced reasonably.

CZ 455
To change barrel configurations, first loosen the two barrel screws until the barrel can be removed, then install the new barrel, index on the screw holes and tighten the screws, then remove the magazine well and replace with the appropriate one.

The 455 uses a cold hammer-forged barrel that’s been free-floated and has the accuracy for which CZ is known.

The model sent to me for testing was the 455 American Synthetic Suppressor-Ready .22LR. The barrel is free-float and is 16.5 inches long with a 1:16-inch rate of twist. The muzzle is threaded with 1/2×28 pitch. I was able to direct-thread my SilencerCo Sparrow on to it, but I prefer to use the SilencerCo adapter, for perfect length. With all that it takes to get a suppressor, I’d rather thread it on to something made specifically for it.

The quietest and most reliable .22 subsonic suppressor ammo that I have used is the CCI Suppressor 45-grain Hollow Point, which clocks in at 970 feet per second. Plus, it’s relatively clean compared to other subsonic .22 ammo I’ve shot (.22 ammo is notoriously dirty, and the suppressor catches most of that), or probably more accurately stated, it’s not unnecessarily dirty. With the Sparrow, CCI and 455, when I pulled the trigger, all I heard was the firing pin spring, then the firing pin hitting the primer, then the bullet hitting the paper down range. It’s pretty remarkable if you’ve never used a bolt-action .22 with suppressor. It’s half as loud as my son’s Red Rider BB gun, and quieter than an electric stapler.

The action is fully machined from bar stock. It’s S.O.L.I.D., whereas the receiver walls on other .22 bolt-action rifles are thin — around .13 inch — the receiver walls on the 455 are essentially the same thickness as the 527, which is chambered in .223. The side walls where it locks up measure .25 inch, which is about the same as the full size 550. My point being that this .22 is built like a centerfire bolt action. I have one bolt-action .17 HMR rimfire, and the receiver is so thin that when I push the bolt forward — which has a narrow circumference — it almost feels like I’m leveraging the bolt handle to the right, and this really makes it hard to get the round into the chamber. Especially when I really work the bolt fast. Not so with the 455.

CZ 455
High scope mounts must be used to accommodate the high bolt throw.

It comes with one five-round detachable magazine. It’s a very flimsy plastic magazine, and if it were to fall out of the rifle and inadvertently get stepped on, it would be done. As far as I can tell, this is the only weak spot in the entire rifle. They’re not even that cheap, at $28 to $36 a pop, depending on caliber and number of rounds. There is a steel five-rounder available. The biggest benefit is that it is the same magazine used in the 512, so they can be swapped out.

Mine did not come with iron sights, though some models do, including the Full Stock, Lux, Ultra Lux, Trainer and Scout. It comes with a standard 11mm dovetail machined into the receiver.

To remove the bolt, pull the trigger and it slides out. Same thing to insert it back into the receiver; just pull the trigger. The bolt has two extractors for reliable extraction. Regardless of all else, the case is going to get extracted.

The trigger is adjustable for pull weight — from the factory, mine averaged 3 pounds and half an ounce. It gets repetitive writing about these CZ triggers, but it’s just such a great trigger. There’s no take-up, no creep, you just lightly squeeze and it breaks. It’s smooth, with a crisp break.

CZ 455
Equipped with this SilencerCo Sparrow 22, the 455 is so quiet you can only hear the firing pin spring, the firing pin hit the primer, and then the bullet hitting the paper downrange.

The synthetic stock is black and has a soft-touch finish, which I like. It’s comfortable to hold and gives good purchase. It has a high, flat, “American-style” comb that works best with a scope.

It has a two-position manual safety with fire to the rear. When on safe, the bolt cannot be opened. A cocking indicator shows whether or not it’s cocked.

What I like about the 455 is that CZ includes all of the features that they do for their centerfire rifles, including the adjustable trigger.

It comes in 14 models:

  • American (.22 LR, .17 HMR, .22 WMR), Turkish walnut stock, 20.5-inch sporter barrel
  • American Synthetic (.22 LR), synthetic stock, 20.5-inch sporter barrel
  • American Synthetic Suppressor-Ready (tested) (.22 LR), synthetic stock, 16.5-inch barrel
  • American Combo (comes with both .22 LR and 17 HMR barrels), Turkish walnut stockVarmint (.22 LR, .17 HMR, .22 WMR), Turkish walnut stock, 20.5-inch long/.866-inch diameter cylindrical heavy barrel
  • Varmint Thumbhole Fluted (.22 LR), nutmeg laminate stock with thumbhole, 20.5-inch long/.866-inch diameter cylindrical heavy fluted barrel
  • Varmint Evolution® (.22 LR, .17 HMR, .22 WMR), Coyote laminate (pink available) Evolution® stock with extreme free float. 20.5-inch barrel
  • Varmint Tacticool Suppressor-Ready (.22 LR), laminate black stock, 16.5-inch threaded barrel (1/2×28)
  • Varmint Precision Trainer (.22 LR), camouflage composite stock, 20.5-inch long/.866-inch diameter cylindrical heavy barrel
  • Varmint Precision Trainer Suppressor-Ready (.22 LR comes in two barrels; 24-inch heavy taper and 16.5-inch heavy), camouflage composite stock, threaded barrel (1/2×28)
  • Full Stock (.22 LR, .17 HMR, .22 WMR), Turkish walnut, full stock, Bavarian comb, 20.5-inch barrel
  • Lux (.22 LR, .22 WMR), Turkish walnut stock, adjustable iron sights. 20.5-inch barrel
  • Ultra Lux (.22 LR), Beechwood stock, 28.6-inch barrel
  • Training Rifle (.22 LR), Beechwood stock with Schnabel forend. 24.8-inch barrel, adjustable tangent rear sight
CZ 455
Not unexpectedly, the 455 has an excellent trigger.

The predecessor to the 455 is the model 452, which has been discontinued except for two models, the left-hand and Scout (youth). The model 452 transitioned to the 455 action in 2011, and the only one (other than the youth Scout) that continues to be made, albeit in limited numbers, is the left-hand model. The 452 barrels are threaded into the action, which is the traditional method, but it eliminates the ability to swap out barrels for different chamberings, as can be done with the 455.

The Scout is a compact youth rimfire rifle with a 12-inch length of pull. It comes with a single-round adapter installed to teach proper marksmanship, but it also accepts the .22 LR magazines for the 452 or 455. It comes blued with a basic Beechwood stock. It has open iron sights, with 11mm dovetails milled into the receiver for mounting a scope. It’s nice and light at 5.06 pounds, which is one to three pounds lighter than the other 452 or 455 models.

Editor's Note: This article is an excerpt from the Gun Digest Book of CZ Firearms.

CZ’s Vz 58, Not Another AK Knockoff

Vz 58
At first blush, the Vz 58 looks like an AK clone. But get into the guts of the rifle and you'll discover it's a much different animal.
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While most of the Warsaw Pact countries walked in lockstep with Soviet Union weapons designs, Czechoslovakia went its own way. One of the results was CZ's Vz 58 rifle.

This gem is nearly as rugged as the AK and on many design points superior to the better known battle rifle from behind the Iron Curtain.

To the casual observer, the 58 looks like a Soviet Kalashnikov. The magazine has the same banana-shaped silhouette. The grips have a similar shape, as does the stock. And the front grips and barrel also have a similar profile. Internally, though, they couldn’t be more different.

The Samopal (Sa) Vz 58 was designed by Jirí Cermák starting in 1956, and the Czech army adopted it in 1958. It was used by the Czechoslovakian army until the dissolution of Czechoslovakia on January 1, 1993. After that it was in use by the Czech and Slovak armies, and continued until the Bren 805 replaced it in the Czech army (though it is still in use by some reserve units). The Slovak Army continues to use it as the standard service rifle, mostly due to financial reasons, though they are also looking at the Bren 805 to replace it eventually (they have purchased 688 Bren 805s).

It is a gas-operated, magazine-fed, selective-fire weapon. It has a short stroke piston gas operating system. It uses breech-block locking systems that include a separate tilting locking piece. In all, the bolt assembly consists of a bolt carrier, bolt, locking piece and striker. The top surface of the bolt carrier (actually the top two surfaces, because it’s two surfaces of the triangle-shaped (loosely) bolt carrier) is exposed, and the cocking lever is machined into it.

Vz 58
The field-stripped internals of a Vz 58 (top to bottom): receiver cover/spring housing, bolt carrier, (next row, left to right) striker, bolt, bolt locking pivot, (below that) piston, and piston spring. On the left is the top handguard cover.

What serves as the receiver cover is also the housing for the spring units; both the return spring and striker spring are held in place by their guide rods, which are part of the return mechanism base.

The firing group is an interesting design as well. Unlike most military assault rifles and their civilian semi-auto counterparts, which are hammer-fired, the Vz 58 is striker-fired. As the bolt carrier group moves forward and the bolt goes into battery, the striker nose catches on the sear, holding it in place, well behind the bolt. When the trigger is pulled, the sear drops out of the way and the striker spring (which as I mentioned is attached to the receiver cover) pushes the striker forward and into the firing pin, firing the cartridge.

It uses a machined receiver, unlike the original AK design which is stamped (the AK would later change to a milled receiver, and then later back to stamped). The tolerances on the Vz 58 are far tighter than on Russian-made AKs.

The Vz 58 also has a last-round bolt hold open, though of an unconventional design. A rib, or fin, runs the length of the magazine, and inside it is a knob offshoot from the magazine follower. When a magazine is inserted into the rifle, the bolt catch button on the rifle fits inside the rib on the magazine. Upon the last round being fired, the magazine follower knob inside of the rib presses against the bolt catch button, holding the bolt hold open.

Vz 58
The Vz 58 magazine has the same banana-shape as the AK, due to the same highly-tapered 7.62×39 cartridge.

When the magazine is inserted and the last round has been fired, the magazine follower knob will press against the button and hold the bolt to the rear.

The magazine is lighter than the AK mag, which can be good or bad, depending on your point of view. It’s not as indestructible as an AK mag, but it does cut down on some of the extra weight. It’s more akin to an AR15 USGI magazine.

It uses a more conventional AR15-like selector switch than does the Kalashnikov, but the position of it is horrible. Instead of mounting it on the left side of the receiver to be manipulated by the thumb of the shooting hand, it’s on the right side, to be manipulated by the trigger finger. This is naturally going to slow down engagement time, as the finger has to go from the selector switch to the trigger. It’s also not that comfortable. Modern practice is, when not firing the weapon, the trigger finger is held straight, outside of the trigger guard. This would place the trigger finger just over the lever portion of the selector. Over the long haul, that’s not comfortable.

A short stroke piston gas system — like the Vz 58 — is one in which the piston is not attached to the bolt carrier, and when the weapon is fired, it only moves an inch or two, using a short, strong burst of energy to transfer its momentum to the bolt. This kicks the bolt out of battery, sending it on it’s way where the recoil forces of the cartridge firing do the rest to cycle the bullet. The short stroke system is generally made up of two or three parts, aside from the bolt carrier.

Compare that to a long stroke piston gas system, in which the piston is part of the bolt carrier group and it moves as one unit throughout the entire reloading process. The Kalashnikov is a prime example of a long stroke system.

The downside to the long stroke piston gas system is that there is a lot of extra mass that is moving, which increases recoil and also slows the cyclic rate of fire (though that only affects those shooting select-fire weapons in fully-automatic mode). The short stroke is generally easier to make; however, the downside is that it has more moving parts.

Vz 58
You have to love the furniture — wood chip impregnated plastic resin

Of all the Cold War communist bloc weapons, this is my favorite. My fascination with it started from a shallow perspective — I thought the furniture looked pretty cool, in a communist chic kind of way. I mean, who else would use wood chip impregnated plastic resin?

I really like the simplicity of it, and believe it is a superior weapon to the Kalashnikov. It has higher build quality, is more accurate, and I believe is more reliable. Now, I’ve had one friend tell me that over in the sandbox, he saw allies having issues with the Vz 58 getting sand in it, due to the open receiver design. I can’t verify this, however, as I wasn’t there first hand.

Where it loses out to the Kalashnikov, however, is despite being fielded to some degree by over 20 different user nations, it has never seen large scale use in major combat operations. It’s just not as combat proven as the AK. It’s seen skirmishes and it’s seen limited use in battle, but mostly non-linear combat operations. Never one large army equipped with it, going into battle against another country. It does continue to see service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This article is an excerpt from the Gun Digest Book of CZ Firearms.

Česká zbrojovka’s Flagship Pistol — The CZ 75

CZ 75
An original, blued Model 75, made in Czechoslovakia.
CZ 75
Become an expert on one of the world's most popular firearms companies and its guns with Gun Digest Book of CZ Firearms.

The CZ 75 is a masterpiece in firearms design. It is one of the original wonder-nines, a term coined in the late 1970s. A wonder-nine is a pistol that is 9mm (of course, hence the “nine”), double-stack magazine (read: high capacity of 12 or more rounds), double-action trigger, and of polymer, stainless, or alloy construction for ease of maintenance. Remember, at the time most police departments still carried .357 revolvers with a 6-round capacity. It was a big deal to have a gun that carried, at a minimum, twice that. And the semi-auto that Americans were most familiar with — the 1911 — you had to have a cocked hammer to fire the first round because it was single-action only. The ability to carry the weapon on safe with the hammer down, take the weapon off safe, and fire it without manually cocking the hammer was also a big deal.

Unfortunately, the CZ 75 didn’t catch on in the U.S. upon it’s release, as it did elsewhere. Not many Americans got to handle one because it was born on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain. Only a few got to hold it and shoot it, and most of them raved about it.

The pistol was designed in 1974 by CZ’s best weapon designers of the time, brothers Josef and František Koucký. Despite the Iron Curtain, it was actually designed with export to the West in mind, and it’s unfortunate that it was never exported to the U.S. It would have made a fine military side arm for someone, but of course that would never happen with any of the Warsaw Pact countries — Czechoslovakia included — because of the requirement to use the 9×18 Makarov. The CZ 75 was designed around the 9×19 Luger from the start, so it’s only hope for use as a service gun would have been with the west.

CZ 75
The CZ 75 slide is only moved back far enough to line up the
disassembly lines.

The CZ 75 is CZ’s flagship handgun. The centerpiece of all other new handgun production. It’s iconic. It’s a legend. It’s reached a status that few other handguns have reached. That category includes the 1911, Walther P38, Beretta 92FS, Walther PP/PPK, with the newest handgun to be added to that list being the Glock. It would have been possible to include the CZ 75 in the Cold War chapter in this book, because that’s when it was made, and for a long time it had that “Iron Curtain” aura in the West, because it was unobtainable. However, it fit best in the current production guns, because, chiefly it is current production. But also because at the time it was built, as I said in the previous paragraph, the Czechs built it to Western standards, Western tastes, and it was really built for sale on the Western market.

The 75 is an all-steel, locked-breech semi-automatic handgun. Two locking lugs are machined into the top of the barrel and, upon lock-up, fit into the matching recess in the slide. It uses the Browning design to unlock the barrel when the slide is pulled to the rear. It uses a selective double-action trigger, which means it can be carried cocked and locked (like the 1911) for a first-round single action pull, or it can be carried hammer down for a first round double action pull. The choice is yours.

The most notable feature of the CZ 75 is the slide rails fit inside of the lower frame assembly, and not the other way around. It’s generally the first thing people notice, and it does give it a bore axis much lower than any other hammer-fired handgun. This design was first seen in the SIG P210, designed in 1949, then the CZ 75. There are not many handguns that have been manufactured since then that incorporate this into their design — the Bren Ten is one that comes to mind — with exception of 19 different companies making clones and imitations.

Read More: The Complete History of the CZ-75 and it's Early Clones

CZ 75
The CZ 75 is most famous for the slide-inside-frame design.

I feel inclined to say something about those clones. There are some that are better than others, and I’ve even heard that some of the clones are pretty darn good. It’s unfortunate, though, that due to the communist system that the 75 was designed under, the design wasn’t patented. So, no one was paid for creating one of the most prolific handguns ever made — other than a communist worker’s salary — no one was compensated the design being used, and there are no royalties paid. Companies freely copied the design, and others poached design elements from the pistol and incorporated them into their own. It’s a shame, really, and for both the maker and the consumer. The consumer suffers, because since CZ had no control over the design, they also had no quality control over the products that were made by other companies. An example of this is Taurus, who makes a clone of the Beretta 92 FS. They have the license to do so, they paid for the license and rights to make it, and Beretta had control over the quality.

In general, I like the slide-inside-of-frame design of the 75, though it does have one drawback. When charging the slide to chamber a round, if you’re used to a large slab of slide to grasp, this only has a narrow bit of slide available for grasping, making it a little more difficult to rack the slide.

Editor's Note: This article is from Gun Digest Book of CZ Firearms.

What Makes The Glock 34 A Top Competitor?

Built for competition, the long-slide Glock 34 takes striker-fired accuracy to a new level.

Why the Glock 34 is a top long-slide pistol:

  • Introduced as a replacement for the Glock 17L.
  • Exceedingly long to maximize sight radius, yet fit into the IPSC box.
  • Top of the slide machined to ensure proper weight to function flawlessly.
  • Trigger pull is right around 5 pounds.
  • Aside from competition, the G34 is also utilized by law enforcement and some military.

The G34 was introduced in 1998, as a long-slide variant to the G17, and a replacement for the G17L. It was designed specifically to fit in the IPSC box that made the G17L obsolete.

The G34: It was designed for competition, but has practical/tactical use.
The Glock 34: It was designed for competition, but has practical/tactical use.

Glock made sure to make the G34 as long as possible so as to maximize sight radius, yet still fit in the box. It was introduced as a third generation Glock, but is now also offered in Gen4 and Gen5. The barrel length is listed as 5.31 inches, which is .83 inches longer than the G17. The slide length comes out to just over eight inches, which gives it a sight radius of 7.55 inches.

Glock Reviews You Need To Read

Not to point out the obvious, but the G17 was designed to fire a 9mm projectile, which it does quite well. If Glock were to change the weight of the G17 slide, it would change the dynamics of slide operation and wouldn’t function properly. The Glock 34 is a long slide sitting atop a G17 frame, and thus the question becomes; how does one make a long slide weigh the same as the standard length slide? Glock went with the simple solution of machining out an opening on top of the slide (it resembles the sun roof of an automobile). I like how it looks, some people don’t, but either way it’s a simple solution that works.

I purchased my Glock 34 as part of the GSSF purchase program, so mine is a blue box model (if you don’t know what that means, please refer to the GSSF Chapter). Mine came with the extended slide catch lever and a 5.5-pound trigger (standard trigger comes with the 3.5-pound connector, designated with a minus symbol) that averaged about 4.9 pounds on my Lyman digital trigger scale.

Glock machined out the slide to keep the weight the same as the G17. A change of more or less weight will affect the cycle speed, which decreases reliability.
Glock machined out the slide to keep the weight the same as the G17. A change of more or less weight will affect the cycle speed, which decreases reliability.

The 3.5 connector-equipped Glock is actually a very nice trigger, one preferred by a lot of competitive shooters. My Glock 34 did not come with the adjustable sights, like other G34s, but instead came with the non-adjustable polymer sights.

The Glock 34 is a competition animal, but as you would guess, it’s not a very good concealed carry gun. I’ve carried mine in open carry situations and it’s fine, but for concealed carry it doesn’t work as well. Carried inside the waistband, the long slide is going to pry against the upper part of your leg, dig into the bone, and generally not be very comfortable, especially when sitting. I found it to be the opposite of comfortable. Carried outside the waistband, it’s going to be too long and will stick out from under the bottom of the shirt.

There is a place for it in the tactical world, whether in military special operating forces, or special police units. Some of these units have no issues with carrying a pistol the size of a 1911, and if you factor in the 1911 grip safety, the Glock 34 is just a bit shorter than the 1911, except it has a longer sight radius. Of course, if a unit wants a .45, the best choice is the G41, but for something in a 9mm, the Glock 34 would make an outstanding choice.

The extended slide stop lever.
The extended slide stop lever.

When it comes to 9mm, compared to other popular duty 9mm handguns, the Glock G34 is shorter than most, despite the long slide, especially when you start to factor in the added length of the beavertails that most hammer-fired guns have. Factoring that, the Beretta M9 is about a half-inch longer, however, the sight radius of the G34 is over one inch longer. Another favorite 9mm, the CZ-75b, is also longer.

The Glock 34 uses standard G17 magazines and extended 9mm magazines, but just like the G17 it cannot use G19 compact or G26 sub-compact magazines

Learn More About Glock Options

Editor's Note: This article is an excerpt from Glock Reference Guide.

“Baby Glock”: Is The Glock 26 The Best Carry Double-Stack?

One of the Glock's first subcompact pistols, the Glock 26 set the standard for concealable double-stack 9mms.

How the subcompact Glock 26 excels as a carry pistol:

  • Shorter frame makes it less likely to print.
  • Its heft makes the 9mm more manageable to shoot.
  • Still, at 26 ounces unloaded it's not overburdening for everyday carry.
  • Standard 10+1 capacity provides excellent firepower.
  • Accepts Glock 19 magazines to enhance capacity.

The Glock 26 and Glock 27 were introduced at the same time in July, 1995. They were the first of the subcompact Glocks, often affectionately called “Baby Glocks.” The Glock 26 is chambered in 9×19 and the G27 is chambered in .40 S&W. It was only natural to go with these two calibers for the first of the subcompacts, for two reasons. First, these are the two most popular calibers in total Glock sales. Second, these are the two most popular issue calibers for police departments.


As with all standard-frame Glocks, the beauty is in the universal controls. It doesn’t matter if you’re handling the long slide G34, the G17 or G19, the G26 or G27, the .45 GAP pistols, .357 pistols, or any other standard-frame pistols, the controls are in the same location. The only Glocks that are different are the large-frame Glocks (like the G20), and the slimline Glocks (like the G42). Even those have the controls located in the same relative place on the frame, the only difference being that the differing thicknesses of the respective frame changes how your thumb interacts with those controls.

Carrying The Glock 26

The Glock 26 is my current everyday carry (EDC) pistol. Wisconsin is pretty new to concealed carry, and being a writer I’ve had the luxury of testing out many different concealed carry pistols. I started with wanting the smallest pistol I could find, which ended up being a little .380. Then I wanted something with more horsepower, which landed me a compact .45. Except that it wasn’t that compact, and I tired of trying to prevent it from printing. That’s about the time all the micro-nines hit the market, and I’ve tried most of them.

The G26 field stripped.
The Glock 26 Gen 4 field stripped.

My initial carry 9mm was a nice little pistol, and reliable. But some of the parts on it seemed to wear out fast. The second one I tried is one of the fanciest on the market, but is the least reliable pistol I’ve ever owned. One failure per magazine is terrible, and this wasn’t just mine, but a widespread problem. I tried a couple of other micro-nines, and found one that is really great, except I don’t care for the trigger.

Glock Reviews You Need To Read

About that time rumors were swirling about the new Glock G42 coming out, which everyone thought would be a single-stack 9mm. If it was, it would be exactly what I was looking for. If you know one Glock, you pretty much know them all, and I like what I know about Glock pistols. But when it was released, it wasn’t a 9mm. So I turned to the Glock 26, and I love it. I can’t picture carrying anything else for my EDC. It’s not quite as thin as I would like, but in exchange, it holds ten rounds in a standard mag, with the ability to use full-size G17 magazines (and will also work with G19 magazines). So I carry the 10-round magazine loaded, with a 17-round magazine on my belt.

(Top to bottom): G26, G19 and G17 slides. Notice where the wall thickness reduction starts on each model.
(Top to bottom): G26, G19 and G17 slides. Notice where the wall thickness reduction starts on each model.

How The G26 Measures Up

The Glock 26 is 6.41 inches in length, and 4.17 inches in height. That puts it at 0.9 inches shorter than the G19, and about 1.5 inches shorter than the G17. In height it’s about 0.8 inches shorter than the G19 and almost 1.3 inches shorter than the G17. At 21.17 ounces, it’s approximately two ounces lighter than the G19, and almost 3.5 ounces lighter than the G17. Given the difference in size, that’s not a lot of weight difference.

For the most part, though, there’s not going to be a lot of weight difference, and there shouldn’t be. There are three parts to the Glock that are reduced to make for the compact and sub-compact models: the frame (the bottom of the mag well and the front of the dust cover), the slide, and the barrel. The only part that can be shortened with impunity is the frame, but that’s only half an inch of polymer shell in two different places. The weight difference between the three frames is 3/8 of an ounce each.

(Top to bottom): G26, G19, and G17. The difference in barrel length is a reduction in the hollow barrel, which is once again, not a lot of weight reduction.
(Top to bottom): Glock 26, Glock 19, and Glock 17. The difference in barrel length is a reduction in the hollow barrel, which is once again, not a lot of weight reduction.

Glock 26 And Recoil

The thing is, the 9mm cartridge creates basically the same recoil when fired, whether it’s from a G26, G19 or G17, which means you still need the same force to counter the force of recoil. The barrel and the frame comprise one of the two ways to counter the force of recoil, the other being the slide spring. You can’t have a significant reduction of weight in the slide and barrel, because you still need that counterweight.

Each model has a specific slide weight that it needs to cycle properly, and to achieve that, a portion of the slide wall is reduced so that it is thinner. The G17 reduces the slide wall about three-fourths of an inch from the front of the ejection port. The G19 doesn’t reduce it until after an inch and a half. The Glock G26 doesn’t reduce it until as far forward as possible, which actually ends up being at the same place as the G19. To make up for the extra mass it needs, it uses the slide spring.

(Top to bottom): G26, G19, and G17. The difference in weight of the three different slide springs isn’t a lot, either.
(Top to bottom): G26, G19, and G17. The difference in weight of the three different slide springs isn’t a lot, either.

Unlike the compact and standard-frame Glock models, the G26 and other sub-compact models do not have an accessory rail on the dustcover. This means that you won’t be able to mount a flashlight on it, and if you’re looking to add a laser it will have to be mounted in a different manor, such as on the grip or the slide spring. The front of the slide is also beveled, which I think makes it look nice, and not so boxy. The lack of a rail (and thus accessories) and the beveled slide front make for a really smooth, easy slide into a carry holster.

Glock 26 Specs

Caliber: 9mm
Barrel Length: 3.43 inch
Weight Unloaded: 25.75 ounces
Capacity: 10+1
Length: 6.50 inch
Slide Length: 6.26 inch
Overall Width: 1.26 inch
Slide Width: 1.0 inch
Height Including Magazine: 4.17 inch
Sight Radius: 5.39 inch (polymer); 5.35 inch (steel); 5.31 (GNS)
Trigger Distance: 2.83 inch (Gen 3); 2.76 (Gen 4 & Gen 5)

For more information on the Glock G26, please visit www.glock.com.

Editor's Note: This excerpt is from Glock Reference Guide.

Learn More About Glock Options

Glock 19: The Perfect Compromise 9mm Double-Stack

The G19 is still one of Glock’s top sellers.
Now in its fifth generation, the Glock 19 is still one of Glock’s top sellers.

An excellent compromise between full-sized and sub-compact, the Glock 19 remains a top choice in double-stack 9mm pistols.

Why you should consider the Glock 19 for concealed carry:

  • Outstanding middle ground between full-sized and sub-compact pistols.
  • Handles and shoots much like a full-sized pistol.
  • Magazines are and will always be plentiful.
  • Variety of magazine capacities available.
  • Very trim compared to other 15+1 capacity pistols.
  • Relatively easy to conceal.
  • Widely used in law enforcement.
  • Glock 19 Gen 4 and Glock 19 Gen 5 offer removable backstrap systems.

The Glock 19 was the second Glock pistol released to the civilian market, with production beginning in March,1988 (It beat the G17L by one month). The Glock 19 is one of the two pistols that have been around for all five generations, though first-generation G19 Glocks were only prototype, so they are extremely rare. After all these years the Glock 19 is still the second most popular Glock model, after the Glock 17.

Glock 19 Vs Glock 17

This compact 9mm Glock is just a G17 that has been made 0.67 inches shorter in length and 0.56 inches shorter in the grip. It’s about 1.4 ounces lighter. It is an excellent compromise between the full size and the sub-compact. The definition of a “compact” pistol can sometimes get a little murky because if you look at the Glock 19, it looks like a full-size handgun. The designation is relative and differs from company to company. What one company calls a full-size, another calls a compact. This is especially true for companies like Glock, which manufactures combat/duty pistols that are often larger than other pistols.

A field stripped G19.
A field stripped G19.

The Glock pistol sizes can be summarized by how they are used within police departments—the full-size pistols (Glock 17, Glock 22, etc.) are generally issued to uniformed police officers who open carry. The compact pistols (Glock 19, Glock 23, etc.) are generally issued to plainclothes officers, where concealment is not necessary, but being discreet is.

Glock Reviews You Need To Read

The sub-compact pistols (Glock 26, Glock 27, etc.) are generally issued to undercover officers, where concealment is needed. Of course, this is a generalization and not always the case; some departments just issue the compact pistol to everyone.

If I could only own one handgun, which is thankfully not the case—God bless America—it would be this one. It’s big enough that it handles and shoots much like a full-size handgun, yet compact enough that it can be concealed with a jacket, vest, or even a properly designed shirt. It’s roughly the size of a 1911 Commander, though a little bit smaller and lighter. It makes for an excellent “go to” handgun.

The 9×19 cartridge is the most common cartridge in America, and aside from the popularity among civilians, it is the US military standard cartridge, the NATO standard cartridge, and the choice of many police departments. Plus, since it also uses Glock 17 magazines, with the sheer number of G19s and G17s in America, magazines will always be plentiful.

Glock 19 Capacity

Whether real or perceived—and I’m going to refrain from entering into politics here—the threat to “high capacity” magazines (or what we in the gun community call standard capacity) has led to a boom in sales of these magazines, with boom being an understatement. So there are a lot of them out there.

A G19 barrel and spring (the top barrel and the top spring) compared to a G17 barrel and spring.
A Glock 19 barrel and spring (the top barrel and the top spring) compared to a Glock 17 barrel and spring.

Glock engineers have always been excellent at stuffing the maximum number of rounds into their magazines. Evidence of this is found when you compare the same-class offerings of other manufacturers. Compare the Ruger SR9c, Smith & Wesson M&P9c, and Springfield Armory XD(M) 3.8 Compact. To compare magazine capacity, one must consider height, which is determined primarily by grip height, and this, along with grip width, is one of the biggest determinants of magazine capacity.

Glock 19 Size

Of the compact models, the Glock 19 has a 15-round capacity, with a 4.9-inch height and 1.18-inch width. It has a slightly longer grip than the other three, but that extra grip gives you the highest magazine round count at 15. The XD(M) 3.8 Compact is 4.75 inches in height with a magazine capacity of 13 rounds, so it’s only .15 inches shorter than the Glock 19, but loses two rounds. The Smith & Wesson is 4.3 inches in height with a 12-round capacity. It’s 0.6 inches shorter than the Glock 19, and it loses three rounds. It’s not a terrible trade-off, three rounds for just over half an inch—better than losing two rounds for only a .15-inch shorter grip.

The Ruger falls somewhere in the middle, with a 4.61-inch grip height, but loses out in capacity with a 10-round magazine—five rounds less than the Glock 19. That’s only two-thirds the capacity. I’m a fan of Ruger, but in this case it looks like they chose lawyers and economics over consumer desire for higher magazine capacity.

The popularity of the 9mm is at an all-time high in the US. So when advancements are made in handgun cartridge design, it’s going to hit the 9mm first.
The popularity of the 9mm is at an all-time high in the US. So when advancements are made in handgun cartridge design, it’s going to hit the 9mm first.

Everyone has to make a 10-round magazine for states like California, but Ruger chose to make all of its SR9c magazines 10-round capacity. I guess that saves money because they only have to have one type of magazine made for them, and only half the models in inventory  (other companies have two of each model, one regular-capacity model, and one 10-round magazine model for states that have magazine maximum capacity laws—effectively making two models for what would only be one model).

I don’t like it when lawyers drive design, and I also don’t like it when companies go strictly off the bottom line. I realize that a company needs to be profitable, and it’s their choice to only offer a 10-round magazine, but I think in the long run it hurts their market share.

Glock 19 Specs:

Caliber: 9mm
Capacity: 15+1
Weight (unloaded): 21.16 ounces (Gen 3 & 4); 21.52 ounces (Gen 5)
Barrel Length: 4.02 inch
Overall Length: 7.36 inch
Slide Length: 6.85 inch
Overall Width: 1.26 inch
Slide Width: 1.0 inch
Height (including mag): 5.04 inch
Sight Radius: 6.02 inch (polymer); 5.98 inch (steel), 5.94 inch (GNS)
Trigger Distance: 2.80 inch (Gen 3); 2.76 inch (Gen 4 & 5)

Learn More About Glock Options

AR-15 Review: Get Tactical in 2015

Don’t believe the gloom and doom about the slowing AR market. Now has never been a better time to be shopping for your first … or 12th modern sporting rifle.

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2015 looks to be a good year for ARs, and it’s off to a good start. This year’s SHOT Show saw some companies offering new features, some companies just changing the dressing, one company offering no dressing and some companies offering hybrids of caliber platforms and even rifle platforms. With firearms as super-popular as the AR—much like the 1911—companies don’t feel like they can contently sit with last year’s model. There’s a feeling that they must produce a new model or configuration every year. With 1911s this often means that a “new model” is just different checkering on the grip. This is sometimes true with the AR, but not the ones that made this list.

This article appeared in Modern Shooter Spring 2015.

Glock MOS Review

Glock MOS review.

The Modular Optics System changes the game for this popular firearm maker.

Glock MOS Review

Three MOS models are in various states of dress. Author Photo
Three MOS models are in various states of dress. Author Photo

Optical sights mounted on handguns have been popular with competitive and target shooters for quite some time now, but the setup is also becoming popular for fighting weapons. It’s clear the advantage that optics provides for fast target acquisition, but it’s also an advantage for faster follower up shots and transition between targets.

In a hostile situation, optics also make it easy to rack the slide if one of your arms is incapacitated. The biggest advantage, however, is the plane of focus. With iron sights, whether pistol or rifle, the shooter must focus on the front sight, leaving the target blurry. No one wants a blurry bad guy. It’s best to have him or her in focus.

A red dot optic places the dot in the same focal plane as the target, so both are in focus. These reasons are also what make red dot optics great for handgun hunters, which is the primary intent of the G40.

It’s also for these reasons that optics are becoming popular with police tactical units, and—some will find this surprising—many concealed carry people are using them on their weapons as well. People who do use them for carry claim the optics are not as hard to conceal as one would think.

For me, the whole MOS package with the optic plus the long slide wouldn’t be my preference for carry, but everyone has different circumstances. Just to see how it feels I strapped one on and carried it for a day and found the optic to be less burdensome than the long slide, which was hard to conceal even with a long shirt. Plus it’s uncomfortable when sitting.

Glock MOS ReviewThe outward corner of the optic printed a little, but otherwise I couldn’t tell it was there. I was also pleased to find that my current carry holster worked with the optic mounted on the MOS.

Not all will work, depending on how low the cut on the front of the holster goes, but I have a Tucker Gunleather holster that I use for my G26, G19 and G22 (it works with all the standard frame Glocks), and the front is cut low enough that it didn’t impede at all with the Trijicon RMR I had mounted on it.
No More Aftermarket Needs

Prior to the MOS line, competitive shooters who wanted optics on their Glock either had to purchase an aftermarket slide or have their slide machined by a gunsmith. Now for an MSRP of $840, you can buy a Glock that is optics ready.

The G40 is not meant for competition shooting, but for hunting and as a defensive weapon. It does not have slide length restrictions because it doesn’t need to fit into an IPSC box. It has a full-length 9.49-inch long slide with a sight radius of 8.19 inches. That makes it about .6-inch longer than the G41 and .75-inch longer than the G34 and G35. That will give the 10mm more range and accuracy potential.

The G34 MOS comes in at 8.74 inches long with a height of 5.43 inches and a width of 1.18 inches. The bore axis is 1.26 inches and the sight radius is 7.55 inches. It weighs 25.95 ounces. Comparing the standard G34 Gen4 to the MOS version shows little difference.

Glock lists a measurement difference of .07 inches between the two, and the difference in weight is .07 ounces. Non-MOS versions of the G35 or G41 were not on hand to compare with the MOS versions, but Glock lists the specs of the MOS variants of those models as right in line with the standard Gen4 variants, just like as in the G34. Magazine capacity, trigger pull, trigger travel and other specs remain unchanged from the standard to MOS variants.

MOS Features

Glock MOS Review.The MOS pistols come with five interchangeable plates: 00 is the cover plate for when using iron sights and no optics; 01 for use with Eotech, Doctor, Insight and Meopta; 02 for using Trijicon RMR; 03 for C-More; and 04 on the Leupold Delta Point.

Installation is simple; unscrew and remove the base plate, position the plate designed for use with your optic and screw it in position. Then attach your optic to the plate with screws, using the method outlined by the optic manufacturer. The end result is a system that is versatile, simple to use and provides a very secure mount.

For the MOS, Glock cut out a section from the slide that is .196 inches deep at its deepest and 1.929 inches long. The cover plate weights 1.416 ounces and the four other plates weigh in at approximately .71- to .77-ounce each. All models use the same set of plates, even the 10mm G40. The G40 is able to use the same plates, because according to Glock techs, unlike the G20, which has the large frame wide slide, the G40 has a narrow slide, like the G41.

One of the details noticeable about the G34 and G35 is that toward the front of the side cutout, the wall between it and the ejector is very thin (this is not an issue with the large frame G41 and G40). I measured it at its thinnest point, and it’s .020 inches thick, which is almost paper-thin.

This isn’t anything to be alarmed about. Glock assures that it’s strong enough, and closer inspection shows that it curves down and becomes thicker by the time it reaches the extractor. Take an even closer look and you’ll see that this area of the slide isn’t even a load-bearing section. Even if the thin wall were to get chipped, it would not affect the function of the handgun.

According to Glock marketing coordinator Connie Kempffer, Glock has no current plans to discontinue the G34, G35 or G41 Gen3 or Gen4 non-MOS versions. Glock is a business, however, and as a general rule plans can and will change. If sales of the non-MOS Gen4 plummet, as they likely will, Glock will probably not keep them around for sentimentality. It could be one of those deals, like the compensated models, where every once in a while they are pulled out of mothballs and a run is made. The G40 will not have a non-MOS variant available. The G34 and G35 will continue to also be offered in Gen3, and since the G41 was introduced post-Gen3, it will not.

It will be interesting to see how long Glock continues to sell the Gen4 non-MOS variants of these pistols. There’s no downside to buying an MOS as compared to the standard Gen4, other than the additional cost. If a shooter owns an MOS and decides they don’t want optics, they don’t have to use optics—just put on the cover plate. However, if a shooter owns a standard configuration Gen4 and decides they do want optics, they can’t, unless they revisit one of the two options mentioned before.
If you already own a G34, G35 or G41, Glock will not be offering MOS slides for sale, so you’ll have to spring for a new pistol.

Realize that Accuracy Potential

Glock MOS test.Accuracy-wise, nothing about the MOS models is different from the standard Gen4 models. They will have the same accuracy potential, and the addition of the optical red-dot will just give another tool to help realize that accuracy potential. Being a relative newcomer to optics mounted on handguns, I can tell you this—mounting a red-dot on a handgun is not a magic pill that will have a shooter hitting the 10 mark every time or shooting gnats off a hog’s behind.

It will still require practice to become proficient, specifically in the acquisition phase. The high line of sight of the optic will take some getting used to. Once the dot is on the target, it’s good to go, though.

I’m just a slightly above average pistol shot, and I fired tight groups with this gun. The G34 with a Trijicon RMR at 45 feet, using Federal HST 124-grain JHP, fired a five-shot group that I could almost cover with a quarter. I fired groups just as good with the G35 and G41, and groups almost as good without the optic. So even without the optic these are still very accurate.

After using iron sights with handguns to acquire a target for the better part of 25 years, using an optic doesn’t feel as natural, so it will take some time to get used to shooting with one. I really like it though, and given some time behind the trigger, it’s something I could really appreciate.

It’s a given that the MOS line will be a hit amongst completion and target shooters, but this is going to really change the game in the tactical and defensive carry community, as well, not because Glock was the first to put a MOS-type model on the market—because they weren’t—but due to how prolific and accepted Glock is in the shooting universe as well as in American culture as a whole. Nearly every movie and TV show with guns in it features Glocks, and if a pop song mentions a gun it’s a Glock. Nearly three-fourths of law enforcement has a Glock visible on the hip, and almost every gun store you go to sells them. There’s little chance that the MOS line won’t be a hit.

Glock Gen4 MOS (G34, G35, G41)

Caliber:    9mm, .40 S&W, .45ACP
Action Type:    Semi-auto
Receiver:    Polymer
Barrel:    Hammer-forged, polygonal rifling
Magazine:    17, 15, 13
Trigger:    4.5/5.5 lbs., .49 travel
Sights:    fixed or adjustable, optic-ready
Weight:    25.95 oz., 27.53 oz., 27 oz.
Overall Length:    8.74” (G34 & G35) & 8.9” (G41)
Accessories:    4x MOS plates, 4x back straps
MSRP    $840
Website    us.glock.com