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Handgun Reviews

Short and Sweet

by Greg Rodriguez   |  September 24th, 2010 3

The new 30 SF is a major-caliber mini-Glock sure to be a big hit with the CCW crowd.


Mustafa Bilal

It’s no secret that I’m a 1911 devotee, but I hold the Glock pistol in high regard. In fact, I recommend the solid, reliable Austrian pistols all the time to folks in the market for a good defensive pistol. I also keep a well-worn Glock 19 in the console of my truck and, on really hot days, I carry a Glock 26 concealed under a T-shirt in a Milt Sparks IWB holster.

So you might wonder if I’m such a Glock fan, why don’t I carry one every day? The two-part answer to that question is that I feel safer trusting my life to the .45 ACP cartridge and, until now, Glocks so-chambered were too big for my Lilliputian mitts.

Things got better with the introduction last year of the slimmer-handled Glock 21 SF (short frame), but the full-size pistol was still bigger than I feel comfortable concealing. But the introduction this year of the Glock 30 SF caused me to seriously reconsider my choice of carry guns.

The Glock 30 SF is, simply put, a .45 ACP mini-Glock with a recontoured grip frame. That handy modification reduces the trigger reach by 3mm, making the pistol a bit easier to hang onto for smaller-handed shooters. Its short butt accepts 10-round, double- stack magazines. The mini-Glock’s frame also has molded-in checkering and finger grooves for a surer grip. The face of the trigger guard is similarly checkered.

As with all Glocks, the 30 SF is built on a rugged polymer frame with a forward accessory rail and a steel locking block and slide rail inserts. When Glock pioneered polymer frames more than 20 years ago, many shooters doubted their strength, but they proved their mettle.

Again, like all Glocks, the 30 SF uses the patented Safe Action trigger system. The Safe Action system employs a tensioned firing pin lock. When you pull the trigger, the trigger bar moves the firing pin lock back so the gun can fire. Pulling the trigger automatically deactivates the drop safety and the firing pin safety in sequence, deflecting the trigger bar downward by the connector and releasing the firing pin

When the trigger is released, all three safety features (trigger, drop and firing pin safeties) automatically re-engage, making the weapon safe again.

I am no fan of long, heavy triggers or excessive safety devices, so the Glock’s Safe Action and 5.5-pound standard trigger pull suit me just fine. They are fast, reliable and easy to learn. They are also very safe, provided you keep your finger off the trigger.

The 30 SF’s slide is machined from solid bar stock. The front of the slide is rounded for a smoother profile and easier re-holstering. The slide top is flat with rounded edges.

The fixed front sight has a white dot, and the dovetailed rear has a plain white outline, though the test pistol came with three-dot tritium sights. The rear notch is nice and wide in keeping with the high speed, up-close-and-personal role for which the 30 SF was designed.

The 30 SF’s external extractor, which also serves as a loaded chamber indicator, is located behind the ejection port on the right side of the slide. A fixed, frame-mounted ejector kicks empties well clear.

The slide also houses the 30 SF’s 3.78-inch, hammer-forged, octagon-rifled barrel. The octagonal rifling is devoid of the sharp edges inherent with conventional rifling, which reduces fouling and, according to Glock, boosts velocities.

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GLOCK

Model 30

Type: delayed blowback center-fire semiauto
Caliber: .45 ACP
Capacity: 10+1, double-stack magazine (also accepts 13-round, Glock 21 SF magazines)
Overall Length: 6.77 in.
Height: 4.76 in.
Width: 1.27 in.
Barrel: 3.78 in., octagonal rifling with 1:15 3.4 RH twist
Weight: 23.99 oz.
Construction: polymer frame with finger-groove front strap and molded-in checkering; steel slide with Tenifer matte finish
Trigger: SafeAction; 5 lb., 9 oz. pull
Sights: low-profile, drift adjustable, with optional three-dot, tritium inserts with white outlines
Accessories: case, speed loader, clea
ning set, cable lock, owners manual
Price: $540
Manufacturer: Glock, Inc., glock.com , 770-432-1202


How’s this for accuracy? Fifty rounds of 185-grain Hornady XTPs fired offhand at 15 yards.
Mustafa Bilal

At first glance, the new Glock 30 SF appeared to address my concerns about the grip size of .45 ACP Glocks. Although it is more compact and concealable than the Glock 21 or a full-size 1911, it still offers 10+1 rounds of .45 ACP punch.

It is a bit thicker than I would like but not so much that it is difficult to conceal. Besides, an extra fraction of an inch in thickness is a small price to pay for a few extra rounds of 230-grain goodness.

Because the frame is still a bit beefy, I was concerned that the 3mm reduction in trigger reach may not be noticeable. But my concerns were unfounded. The difference, while not great, was noticeable right away. Though on the edge of what feels comfortable in my small hands, I could still acquire a solid firing grip with the new mini-Glock.

The new pistol pointed well, too, coming on target quickly thanks to its ergonomic grip angle. The trigger broke at five pounds, nine ounces, or just one ounce over factory spec. Overall, the new pistol looked and felt great, so I quickly cleaned and lubed it in preparation for my next trip to the range.

Because of heavy rains and a tight deadline, I had to do the majority of my testing indoors at the Top Gun Range (topgunrange.com) in Houston, which has a separate training bay that allowed me the freedom to move around and really wring out the new pistol.

Before starting my accuracy testing, I fired 20 230-grain Federal Hydra-Shoks into the chest of a silhouette target to get a feel for the new pistol. All 20 rounds fed, fired, and ejected without incident. They impacted a hair high and left but grouped tight, so I moved the target back to 15 yards, which I felt was a fair range given the compact size of the pistol.

From my Outers Pistol Perch, I fired five five-shot groups with five different loads. All shot remarkably similar, but Hornady’s 185-grain XTP load produced the best average of 1.97 inches and the smallest group–a 1.38-inch beauty. The 230-grain Hydra-Shok load was a close second, with a five-group average of 2.16 inches. Ammunition from Cor-Bon, Black Hills, Remington and Winchester performed well, too, and I would feel comfortable using any of the hollowpoint loads I tested for self-defense.

With my accuracy testing complete, I stepped in front of the bench and moved a silhouette target to 15 yards and fired five magazines into the target as fast as I could get my sights back on target and squeeze the trigger. Although a few errant rounds opened up the group a bit, the rest of the rounds fell into a gaping hole that was, like the rest of the groups, a hair high and left. The entire group could easily be covered with a softball–pretty impressive for a sub-compact packin’ pistol.

With the accuracy work out of the way, I loaded up my magazines, laid out the rest of my ammunition and went to work emptying it in a variety of drills designed to test the pistol’s reliability, accuracy and handling qualities.

I started firing 10 singles at seven yards from the Low ready position. I had no trouble doing this accurately and quickly, so I switched to double taps. Again, I had no trouble doing it accurately, although I was a bit slower than I am with a full-size, steel-frame gun. This was doubtless caused by the increased recoil of the polymer-framed mini-Glock over my full-size pistols.

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ACCURACY RESULTS:

Glock 30 SF

CALIBER BULLET WEIGHT(gr.) MUZZLE VELOCITY (fps) AVG. GROUP (in.)
Hornady XTP 185 950 1.97
Federal Hydra-Shock 230 850 2.16
Cor-Bon FMJ Match 230 750 2.28
Winchester JHP 230 880 2.33
Black Hills JHP 185 1,000 2.70
Remington FMJ 230 835 3.15
Notes: Average accuracy is the result of five, five-shot groups fired from an Outers Pistol Perch at 15 yards. Velocities are manufacturer-published figures.

Despite its small size and low weight, the author found it a lot more controllable during rapid-fire strings than he expected.

Next, I fired a few failure-to-stop, or body armor drills, which involve firing a double tap to the chest and one to the head. Again, I was a wee bit slower than with my full-size gun, but that was to be expected given the size and weight difference between the two.

What I didn’t expect was how small the difference was, or how accurately I was able to shoot the little G30 SF at speed. Clearly, the shorter trigger reach made a difference by allowing me to get a more solid grip. The gun slid around a bit during extended rapid-fire strings, but not as much as the old Glock 30 did.

I was impressed with Glock’s latest offering. It proved to be as unflappably reliable as every other Glock I’ve tested, and it was pretty darn accurate, too. It was also a lot more controllable during rapid-fire strings than I expected, given its size and weight.

As good as it is, like just about every gun I’ve ever tested, the Glock 30 SF had a few warts. First, although it is, technically, a subcompact pistol, it’s still a bit on the chunky side. For example, its slide is 1.124 inches, compared to a 1911’s slide width of .918-inch. The .2-inch difference may not seem like much, but it is noticeable.

My only other issues had to do with the grip. It felt fine during slow fire, but when I sped things up, the pistol tended to shift around in my hand after a few rounds, forcing me to adjust my grip mid-string. Those with larger hands would likely not have that problem.

I also had trouble with my right ring finger getting pinched between the magazine and the grip frame. This may or may not be a user-specific issue, as my friend, John Wood, had the same problem.

Still, Glock’s new 30 SF combines .45 ACP punch with relentless reliability and fine accuracy in a slick, easily concealable package. It certainly made a lasting impression on me. Sadly, its grip may still be a tad thick for my small hands, but that’s my loss. Average-size shooters will find the newest Austrian offering to be a peach of a packin’ pistol.

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