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Hard-Hitting Hybrid: Glock G30S Review

by Patrick Sweeney   |  April 30th, 2013 12


For a few years now, enterprising shooters who happened to own both Glock G36s and G30s have been mixing and matching, mating their G36 slides to their G30 frames. Their goal was to create a more compact .45 ACP without sacrificing magazine capacity. Most of the resulting pistols worked just fine, but their owners were left with a slim G36 slide parked on a portly G30 frame. And short of being able to buy just the parts (not possible through Glock itself) or scoring salvaged parts from one source or another, there was no way to finish with just one completed, desired pistol—much less a gun with matching serial numbers.

Then, a year or so ago, I started hearing rumors of such a gun being requested by an unnamed police department. Well, unlike many of the other rumors concerning Glocks, this one actually turned out to be true. The company has just come out with the G30S: a G36 slide parked on top of a G30SF frame.

In short, the company has found a way to make lemonade out of black polymer lemons. The G30, while useful, was perhaps not well thought-out, with its porky G21-size slide. And the G36 was never the single-stack Glock many had hoped for. But by teaming that lighter G36 slide to the just-big-enough G30SF (SF is short for Short Frame) frame, I think Glock has a very attractive carry gun on its hands.

Notice the company decided to utilize the G30SF frame, not the G30 frame. The SF Glocks were an attempt to make the oversize, big-butt Glocks something that was more normal in use and function. While a minimal decrease, it has been enough for many shooters. For example, the previously too-big G20 and G21 models have become useable by many more shooters with the adoption of the SF versions.

The new G30S is chambered in .45 ACP, and it uses magazines compatible with the older G30 and the original G21. Magazine capacity for the 30S is 10 rounds, and the frame is relieved to handle the oversize base plate of the standard magazine. (Yes, you could rebuild the magazine with a flush base plate and reduce capacity to nine, which would produce an even more concealable gun. However, I think the G30 series is already compact enough to carry easily—and also difficult enough to shoot that you wouldn’t want to make it smaller and decrease capacity.)

All the rest of the G30S is normal Glock. It has the same polymer sights, Gen 3 frame with light rail, safeties external and internal, all operating the same way. Internally, the ejector block is not the regular one that you’d find on the G30 but rather an SF version.

While the G30 is now offered in both the Gen 3 and Gen 4 versions, Glock has not yet gotten around to making the G30S in a Gen 4 version. Hey, it just started making the G30S, and it is busy switching the various other models over to Gen 4, so give the company some time.

Overall, the G30S differs so slightly from the G30 that if you did not look at the model designation on the slide when you picked it up, I’m not sure you could tell there was anything different about it.

I went to the range with a supply of .45 ACP ammunition and gave it a go. I ran a good cross-section of ammunition through it and in the process reminded myself how much I dislike lightweight, big-bore, fat little pistols.

The G30S weighs 20.3 ounces sans magazine, and any .45 ACP pistol that weighs just under a pound and a half will be work to shoot, regardless of who made it. When the frame is fat and short, there will be lots of sight movement, frame squirming and a need for a weasel-throttling grip to keep it all under control.

While generating chronograph data and shooting for accuracy, I remembered the peculiarity I have with compact Glocks: They smack my trigger finger. And this one did so with a great amount of gusto. I suspect it has something to do with the geometry of my hand and the particular grip and grip force I use. But the G30S made me pay.

However, the payment was actually worth it. I figured the G30S barrel, being a fraction over 3.25 inches long, would be a slow one. After all, you make a barrel that short and even a .45 ACP starts to suffer.

What I found was that the G30S didn’t suffer nearly as much as I expected, especially considering the cold. It finally managed to struggle up past 20 degrees on the day I generated the chrono data, so having the G30S come as close as it did to the speeds posted by pistols with longer barrels was impressive.

The accuracy was better than I had expected as well. I’ve had people gush over the accuracy of their Glocks for years, but I have not really been all that impressed. I guess it stems in part from having spent entirely too much time with custom-built 1911s, where you fully expect a pistol that costs as much as six months of house payments to deliver Bullseye accuracy.

Well, the G30S is no PPC or Bullseye pistol, but for a subcompact it certainly delivers the goods. Is it worth all the anticipation and hype? Surprisingly, yes. I have a full-size G21 that has been subjected to a frame reduction, and the frame on my G21 is still smaller in size than the SF frame of the G30S. But the G21 is a full-size pistol. It is a duty gun or a “loaded for bear” carry gun.

The G30S is a much more compact pistol, and while you might regret having “only” 10 rounds in a magazine, you can always use G21 magazines as reloads. There, you’ll get the extra three rounds that a G21 magazine provides—more if your magazines have +2 or larger base pads.

Is the lighter slide of any great import? Good question. While I didn’t have a G30 or 30SF to compare it to, by my calculations the G30S slide could be as much as 5.5 ounces less than the aforementioned models.

That weight loss would go a long way to explaining the snappy recoil I experienced and is something you might want to be aware of if you are considering the G30S as your main carry gun. Now, as a backup to a G21, it would be smashing. You could use the same magazines and be good to go. But G30S’s recoil will make you pay.

As for accuracy, I suspect the accuracy experienced by most shooters will be more influenced by the recoil than by the inherent accuracy of any given G30S. Make no mistake; it comes back at you. Despite the recoil, I was able to post par times on various drills and get a decent percentage of hits on the 100-yard gongs, despite the below-freezing temps.

As a main carry gun, the G30S is going to fulfill all the desires of any Glock aficionado in that it will be nearly indestructible and utterly reliable. As long as you feed it jacketed ammunition, it will continue to work and shoot accurately.

If you use factory ammo and something goes wrong, Glock will take care of you (if you feed it reloads, though, you’re on your own). And if you ever feel the need to have it looked at, service is as close as the nearest GSSF match, where a Glock factory armorer will overhaul it if needed.

Would I buy one? It is no great secret that when it comes to Glocks I’m not king of the Kool-Aid drinkers. In fact, it takes large amounts of caffeine ingestion in order for me to show much enthusiasm at all for polymer-framed pistols of any stripe. However, at the next GSSF match, where I fully intend to win even more free Glocks (okay, at least I fully intend to try), I’m certainly going to have a G30S on the list of “Got to order one this time” models.


The G30S demonstrated good accuracy for a pistol of its size. Further, it posted impressive velocities despite its short barrel.

  • Mark S McKinney

    I have a G30 that I’ve put over 9500 rounds through. Three tactical courses with only one bobble which was my fault. In firing from position one I was too close to my rotund body and the slide did not (could not) go completely to the rear and caused a stove pipe. Needless to say, after the bruised experience, it never happened again and the G30 still purrs like a kitten with all the original parts. Great Gun. I qualified scores as an ATF instructor with the G30. A keeper for sure.

    • Mark S McKinney

      Disclaimer…. I do not like the ATF or the DHS for that matter!!!! :)

  • T.D. Honeycutt

    I have carried the G30 and the G36. Because of the size of the G30, I moved to the G36, and consider it the best all-around Glock for concealed carry. Sure the capacity is not equal to the G30 or the G21, but a mag and a reload serves the purpose. (If I’m working, it’s the G22 and two extra reloads. But that doesn’t require concealment, and I have a big duty belt to distribute all the weight.).
    I might give the G30S a look but my G21SF in cold weather could get my round count up without difficult concealment problems.

    • scott will

      I had a 30sf and a 36. The 36 left first.Hate the grip. If you haven’t got a 30s yet, you will love it.

  • Dean

    My personal preference would have too be the Colt 1911 i find its has the best all around stopping power the only other one would be a shot gun for all around home protection but that’s just me .

  • Ken

    I recently got a Glock 30 SF. I put trijicons on it. Took a dremmel tool to where the front strap meets the trigger guard and made myself a comfy middle finger nook. Took the dremmel tool to the front base of the ten round factory magazines and ended up with a great pinkie rest and a little fast pull ledge.
    I aso rounded off the front bottom tip of the trigger guard … just a bit so that I still have an off hand fore finger rest but enough to facilitate IWB tuck with a clipdraw device if I want to use one.
    I broke it in using everything from Walmart Winchester to Cor-Bon and Speer. (Not too much of the good stuff due to the shortage.) Currently use Speer GD 200 grain +p… most accurate. I I hope I don’t have to use it cause the stuff is irreplaceable.
    Got it to five shot 3 in. groups at 10 yards… looking through the bottom of my bi-focals and about a six in. group at 25 yards using the top of my bi-focals. News flash… old age is a bitch!
    I got my first 1911 at age 15 in 1962. Been in dozens of fights with a 1911.
    When not armed with a long gun I always carried a 1911 and a Browning HP at the same time. Due to its suppressive fire capability, the HP is better when responding to surprize attack and the 1911 is always better when initiating the fight. I retired in the early 80’s
    I finally got friendly with plasic around 2005. High cap beats mother, flag, apple pie and 1911’s.
    The Glock 30 SF is not a pistol for beginners. Nor is it a “comfy” pistol unless you take a dremmel to it or have it done. I carry it in a IWB kydex I got on Amazon.
    However, eleven rounds of .45 ACP in a small package and another ten or thirteen on the hip is at least 21 rounds… and that is enough for my rule of at least three .45 ACP rounds per expected thug.

  • Joel Schochet

    Oh, Patrick. You’re one of my favorite gun writers but I’ve never seen you make mistakes like those in this article. The barrel of the 30S is 3.8 inches (actually Glock says 3.78), not a shade over 3.25. Perhaps this is why performed better than you had expected. Also, it is 3.5 ounces lighter than the 30/30SF, still noticeable. I’m waiting for mine, and waiting …

  • Sam Colt

    Ordered a G30s in MAY. Have yet to see it. I don’t think that it is fair to the gun dealers to catalog a pistol without Glock stipulating that it will take so long to get one?
    I could have had just about any other brand of pistol by now! (Going on 7 months). When my patience runs out, I just may cancel…………..

  • Sarge

    While I get that this is simply a trade publication review, I’m a little bewildered by all this talk about recoil. For the uninformed, the way around that is to simply shoot this gun to the exclusion of everything else for about six months.

  • gym

    One of the greatest carry gun ever made. And I have been carrying every day for 44 years. If you want to carry a 45 , this is the ultimate package.

  • gym

    I even bought a scratched gun, because they are impossible to find, I had a 30 for 20 ears, and loved it, but it was just to fat. I had to shoulder holster it, this one I can carry in owb or iwb, even a remora.

  • Bubba Rick

    Best 45 acp platform in production. As small as practical for a 10 shot handgun

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