Let me begin this article by stating for the record that for the longest time I hated Glock pistols with a capital H. It sounds funny now, but when I initially began experimenting with Glocks, I felt incredibly uneasy about carrying one with a round in the chamber because they always seemed to be a breath away from going off. In fact, it took years of me test firing various Glocks with different types of ammunition and reading every magazine article ever written about Glocks for me to change the way I feel about these incredibly well-made, striker fired pistols. So, after a very long transition period, I now own a Glock 17, a Glock 19 and a Glock 21, and I have another Glock 17 with a discontinued OD green frame and Glock night sights on order at the law enforcement price.
Recently, I had the opportunity to test Gen4 versions of the Glock 17 and 22. In this review, I will examine the newest version of America’s most popular law enforcement service pistol, the Glock 22 Gen4.
For several years now I’ve been waiting for Glock to come out with a new generation of pistols that offer a slightly different type of ergonomics. I’ve also wondered why the subcompact Glock pistols had a captive recoil spring but the larger models did not. While this is not a big problem on Glocks chambered in 9mm, some end users who wanted or needed to use a Glock pistol in a more substantial caliber had problems dealing with the increase in recoil and, in some instances, had reliability issues when using some of the previous generation Glock pistols.
Over the past few years, firearms manufacturers have begun manufacturing pistols with adjustable grip panels or different size inserts you can change to adjust the ergonomics and alter the way a pistol feels in your hand. With its Gen4 models, Glock decided to make this transition as well. Glock Gen4s feature a standard small grip and two interchangeable backstraps (one medium, one large). They also sport a captive or dual recoil spring designed to reduce felt recoil, improve reliability and improve longevity. Of course, like previous Glocks, the Gen4s come standard with an accessory rail for use with a tactical light, and you can also equip them with night sights.
If you have a small hand, you may find the Glock 22 Gen4 will fit your hand perfectly without having to install the medium or large interchangeable backstrap. When you decide to see how this pistol feels in your hand under firing conditions, test fire it using the standard small grip before you add on any of the interchangeable back straps. If you have a large hand and don’t feel comfortable using the standard small grip, you can then easily try it with the medium or large interchangeable back strap.
Installing these interchangeable back straps is incredibly easy. Simply clip the bottom of the interchangeable backstrap to the bottom of the standard grip and use the supplied pin to secure the top to the frame.
The medium-size backstrap bumps the Glock 22 Gen4’s grip up to the same ergonomics as an earlier generation Glock 22 pistol. Should you install the large backstrap, the grip’s dimensions will approximate that found on a previous generation Glock 21.
The Glock 22 Gen4 proved softer shooting in my hand than previous generations right out of the box. I was curious how the pistol performed with the new grip options, so I test fired it using the standard or small grip as well as with the two interchangeable medium and large backstraps. I ended up leaving the large backstrap installed on the test pistol for as long as I had it on loan to me for evaluation purposes—it felt comfortable because it seemed to be a tad more rounded off along the edges than the more squared off grip on a full-size Glock 21 in .45 ACP.
As someone who has been injured in the line of duty three times, I have arthritis, which has been made worse after years of shooting .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .41 Magnum and .45 ACP caliber revolvers as well as all kinds of pistols without using rubber grips or wearing gloves. This means my hands are sensitive to recoil. So, if I say a handgun is comfortable to shoot, it must actually be very comfortable to shoot for the average shooter.
I’m happy to report that in my opinion the Glock 22 Gen4 is more comfortable to shoot than the Glock 22 Gen3 using a variety of ammunition. Because recoil is very subjective and affects all of us differently, other people who fire one may not notice any difference. Example: My oldest son is a city police officer who has carried a Glock 22 Gen3 for many years now. When he was recently issued a new Gen4, he said he didn’t notice any difference in its shooting characteristics. We did agree the Gen4 has been flawlessly reliable, whereas the Gen3 he was issued in the past was not reliable with training ammunition (but always reliable with hollow-point service ammunition).
After studying this problem in more than one Glock 22 Gen3, he and I have come to the conclusion that for some reason previous generation Glock 22 service pistols chambered in .40 SW occasionally had a problem feeding stubby, flat-tip, .40 SW, full-metal-jacket (FMJ) training ammo. The slightly rounder bullet tips on hollow-point ammo seem to make the difference. Tip: Should you ever experience a stoppage or malfunction of any kind while training or practicing with any Glock, don’t leave the range until your pistol can reliably feed high-quality hollow-point law enforcement service ammunition that anyone can buy in the United States.
While I have no problem using a pistol chambered in .40 SW, I am one of those shooters who prefers to carry a 9mm pistol or a .45 ACP pistol as well as an all stainless steel or even a blued steel .38 Special/.357 Magnum Smith & Wesson revolver. This doesn’t mean I don’t own and occasionally carry a pistol chambered in .40 SW. It merely means that of all the calibers, I stopped relying on .40 SW and .357 SIG pistols because 9mm and .45 ACP satisfy my personal protection needs at this time. However, for various reasons law enforcement agencies have transitioned en masse to pistols chambered .40 SW, which is available in three primary or popular loads that includes various brands of 180-grain FMJ training and hollow-point ammo, 155-grain FMJ and hollow-point ammo, and 165-grain FMJ and hollow-point ammo.
Regardless of the bullet weight or design, the .40 SW bullet provides a caliber mid-range between 9mm and .45 ACP. The benefit: You get to carry a high-capacity pistol with a few less rounds than the same model chambered in 9mm while receiving some increase in effectiveness. As a result, service pistols and even backup and off duty guns chambered in .40 SW caliber generally appear to be the most popular caliber currently used by U.S. law enforcement personnel.
I found Glock 22 Gen4 flawlessly reliable, and as accurate as any law enforcement service pistol needs to be as long as the operator holds up their end and uses the right amount of sight alignment and trigger control. I had no problem making head shots, center-mass chest shots or plinking at pieces of debris at an outdoor range in the desert at various close-quarter-battle distances
I also conducted a torture test by completely submerging the test pistol in a muddy, sand filled pond. Even though the Glock 22 Gen4 was soaking wet and filled with particles of muddy sand and desert grit, I was able to fire the contents of not one but two magazines into a nearby mound of dirt without experiencing any problems whatsoever.
My son the police officer is now a certified firearms instructor for his department, and he says their newly issued Glock 22 Gen4s have been incredibly reliable as far as he knows. Members of the department recently qualified, and when I asked my son if he observed or heard of any stoppages or malfunctions with any of the Glock 22 Gen4s he said, “No.”
In the Field
As strange as this may sound coming from someone retired from law enforcement, I tend to prefer to carry full-size and compact handguns instead of subcompact. From a concealed carry perspective, I found this full-size Glock comfortable to carry when I use an Uncle Mikes inside-the-pants holster or a De Santis inside-the-pants holster.
I was torn between giving the Glock 22 Gen4 eight or nine stars out of 10. After taking some time to review the pros and cons, I realized my main complaint with the Gen4s is that I feel Glock should’ve been a little more aggressive or creative when they designed the new grip options. In other words, if you’re going to redesign the grip, redesign it to make these pistols feel like an entirely new set of pistols. My point: Even though the Gen4 is a much better pistol in my hands than the Gen3, I wish the Gen4s were even better than they are as far as ergonomics are concerned.
At the same time, I’m very happy about the use of a captive recoil spring in the Gen4s. This improvement is long overdue. Even if you don’t notice any improvement in dampening recoil by using a captive or dual recoil spring, this type of recoil spring will help keep a pistol running reliably and in fine working order for a long period of time.
In my case, the new grip options didn’t seem to matter as much as the use of a captive or double recoil spring in the Gen4. While I still receive some benefit from the option of switching from a medium to a full size interchangeable back strap, the fact the Gen4 feels a tad softer shooting in my hands with all grip options is a major improvement in and of itself.
In the end, I also can’t forget how this pistol passed my torture test with flying colors. Any pistol that can perform like that deserves a bump up in rating, so why not make it nine out of 10 stars.
If I buy another Glock, it will most likely be a Glock 22 Gen4. In fact, I may end up trading the Glock 23C Gen3 I don’t carry much now to get one.
|.40 SW||15+1||7.32″”||4.49″||5.43″||1.18″||22.92 oz. unloaded|
|Glock 22 Gen4 (Gander Mountain)||
|Crimson Trace Lasergrips Glock Gen4 17/22/31/34/35 (Gander Mountain)||
|+ 1 others available from Gander Mountain ↓|
|Glock 22 Gen4 (Impact Guns)||
|Glock 22 Gen4 (Top Gun Supply)||