Glock 21 Gen5

The Quest Continues
; .

The Gen5 continues the G21 tradition of 13+1 .45 ACP capacity.

The Gen5 GLOCK 21 features the MOS (Modular Optics System) cuts for
mounting your favorite optical sight. Gen5 comes with 3 mags and 3 grip configuration options.

Handgunners who favor blue steel and walnut like to ask, “If the company’s motto is ‘GLOCK Perfection,’ how come they’re in the fifth generation of upgrades?” Well, maybe the motto should have been “Quest for perfection.” In any case, we present the Gen5 GLOCK 21, or in GLOCKspeak, the G21.5.

Introduced in 1990 with a 13 + 1 capacity, the light polymer-framed G21 quickly became the nation’s most popular police .45 Auto and many an armed citizen bought one too. The Gen5 features are as follows.

Flat-Front Grip — In addition to the necessarily large girth, the biggest “fit” complaint of the Model 21 was the finger grooves, which simply didn’t fit all fingers. The 21.5 eliminates the problem with a comfortable flat front-strap.

MOS — Our test pistol has GLOCK’s MOS (Modular Optics System) configuration. Red dot optical sights are the current hotness and GLOCK is on top of it. The included sights were standard plastic with a “ball in basket” sight picture and this is what we used in testing.

Ambidextrous Slide-Stop Lever — This is a Gen5 hallmark welcomed by southpaw users. Like its Gen4 predecessor, the 21.5’s magazine release button is also reversible.

Flared Magazine Well — The mag well is much wider than those of its predecessors, measuring 1.20″ according to the calipers. It is nicely beveled and flared, and was faster to reload compared to my Gen4 G21. Reload speed was also enhanced, oddly enough, by the grip shape. An arthritic right thumb forced me to move my G21 Gen4’s mag release to the right side so I could activate it with my trigger finger. The mag release, as near as I can tell, is identical between Gen4 and Gen5 on the 21s, yet I didn’t have to do this with the 21.5. The only reason I can think of is the straight front of the Gen5’s grip-frame better facilitated the slight shift in the hand required for the thumb to reach the button.

Tapered Front Slide Edges — This allows smoother re-holstering. The Gen5 also comes with front as well as rear slide grasping grooves, a feature I don’t care for though many do.


Check the 3-shot cloverleaf! The GLOCK 21 Gen5 at 25
yards using the Winchester 230-grain Ranger-T.

The GLOCK 21 Gen5 (right) has a much more
welcoming mag well than the Gen4.

The Gen5 GLOCK 21 features the MOS (Modular Optics System)
cuts for mounting your favorite optical sight.

The new Gen5 (left) has rounded front slide edges and
holsters more smoothly than Gen4 (right).

Range Time

For me, the trigger is the heart of the Gen5 improvements. The older GLOCKs had triggers like a Mauser or Springfield military rifle — a long, light take-up before hitting the “wall” of resistance then a short 5.5-lb. press to break the shot. With the Gen5, there is a firm resistance from the beginning of the pull and then a smooth roll to the shot. If you’ve felt an earlier GLOCK with the NY-1 trigger spring mated with the 3.5-lb. to 4.5-lb. connector, you have a good idea how the Gen5 feels.

I personally think it’s the best “street trigger” GLOCK has yet put in a pistol and I’m glad to see it now on the 21.5. This trigger is the reason a Gen5 G19 9mm has supplanted my favorite G30 .45 as my most-carried GLOCK for some time now. Yet, it’s good enough I’ve seen pistol matches won with Gen5s in many different hands, mine included.

The Gen5 also features GLOCK’s “Marksman barrel” with some actual rifling in it. With a Caldwell Matrix rest on a concrete bench at the 25-yard line, Remington’s 185-grain JHP .45 ACP at over 1,000 feet per second put five shots into 1.65″ with the best three well under an inch at 0.80″ center to center. This “best three” measurement correlates well with what the same gun and load will generally do for all five from a machine rest and is easier for most of our readers to duplicate for comparison with their own guns.

Nosler’s 185-grain Match JHP measured 2.10″ for all five shots and 1.45″ for the best three. I suspect the Marksman .45 barrel’s rifling was optimized for the more popular 230-grain rounds because the next load up was Winchester’s Ranger-T, the improved descendant of the controversial Black Talon and known to expand to as much as a full inch in diameter with optimum penetration.

The first shot went way high, creating a 2.50″ group but the best three were in a tight cloverleaf, a 0.25″ center to center! I use exclamation points sparingly, but felt one was warranted here. So, yes, the Marksman barrel is no empty hype. The 21.5 did exhibit the “4+1 syndrome” first identified by Wiley Clapp, the tendency for the first hand-chambered round to go slightly errant from the auto-cycled follow-up shots due to being in battery in a subtly different manner. I suspect more break-in may improve things.

The G21 has always “kicked light for its power level” and the 21.5 was no exception. We found it easily controllable, including my five-foot tall wife, a self-described “GLOCK Girl” who proclaimed, “This one’s a keeper!”

I think she’s right and I eagerly await the introduction of the more compact Gen5 G30 .45 Auto, expected to be announced soon. MSRP: $745

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