Hard-Hitting Hybrid: Glock G30S Review
April 30, 2013
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 usable 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.