Glock GEN 5 G45 Compact, 9x19mm

“The Compact Crossover pistol G45 in 9x19mm combines a compact slide with a full size frame and has all the benefits of a Gen5 model. Utilizing the design and engineering GLOCK developed for its military pistols (G19X) combined with Operator and worldwide Law Enforcement specifications.” – Source: Glock.

Up front, I have to say that I am not a Glock “Fan boy” and, as many of you know, I do favor the 1911 when it comes to defensive pistols.

That’s not to say that I don’t shoot Glock pistols on occasion. In fact, just this morning a ran a number of cartridges through a GEN 4 Glock G21 and a handful of cartridges through a brand new, custom built G26 that belongs to my shooting companion.  Shooting the G21 was a last minute decision, because I had planned on running the EDC (RIA 1911 FS Tactical), but switched to the G21 because it was a range rental and I was feeling too lazy to clean my own pistol.

The G21 was a GEN 4 model that was outfitted with night sights high enough to clear a noise suppressor that, unfortunately, was not mounted. I had to compensate for the sight height but was still able to put most rounds where I wanted them on the target.  Having 13-rounds of 45 ACP is not a bad selling point, but the physical size of the G21 is a challenge to stuff in my pants even when housed in a good IWB holster; it is a “Duty’ pistol in every sense of the word. I do have a long-term ‘Test and Evaluation’ relationship with a Gen 3 Glock G30SF but it, like the G21, is a challenge for me to carry and hide reasonably. That’s not to say that it cannot be done; it is simply a challenge to do so.

In truth, I like the Springfield XD (XDm, and XDs) line of pistols over the Glock pistols simply because of the grip safety, a device that I have come to trust on the 1911 and carried over that ‘like’ by preferring the Springfield over the Glock. Like the Glock G21 and G30, the Springfield comparable pistols are a holster-full of pistol and concealing them is a challenge.

So, why would I be writing a review on the Glock G45?  Well, and to tell the truth, I just like the darn thing for reasons that I am going to go into.

When Glock came out with the 19X, I read all the rants and ravings about it, had seen and handled a couple of them, but did not like them for some reason.  When the G45 arrived on the scene, I had a chance to hold one that had been ordered for law-enforcement use (Blue Label) and instantly took a liking to it. This was coming from a guy who prefers 1911-based pistols in .45 ACP flavoring, but also considers the CZ75 and Beretta 92 as standards in the 9mm auditorium.  This coming from a guy only carries 8-rounds of ammunition in his EDC – but they are fat 8-rounds and that should count for something.  There was; however, something about the G45 that appealed to me and I knew that to appease the appealing that I would, eventually, wind up in a long-term ‘Test and Evaluation” relationship with the G45.

When the Glock G19X hit the marketplace a lot of people took a liking to it. In fact, around 100,000 of these were sold and the G19X continues to be sold. It is after all, and according to Glock, a compact G17. It had a shorter barrel and had a shorter grip to accommodate a magazine with fewer cartridges than the G17. The G17 magazine could be used in the G19, but most carried the G19 with the standard magazine and had G17 magazines for spares. The G19 is probably the most popular of the Glock 9x19mm line-up extant. I often wondered what a G17 barrel would be like in a G19 frame, since the butt is always the hardest to conceal and a wee bit more of velocity of the G17 would be an advantage over the G19.  Glock; however, went a different route with the G45; put a shorter G19 slide and barrel on a G17 frame with more capacity and still call it a compact pistol. However, there is nothing compact about the grip length of a G17 frame.  With that said, let’s take a look at the Glock GEN 5 G45. If you have a sour impression of polymer pistols like the Glock, as I did, this review just might alter that impression a bit.

The GEN 5 Glock pistols are an improvement over previous generations, but some say that may not be so.

The Glock G45 closely resembles previous pistols, but if you are enthusiastically Glock, something tells you the GEN 5 handgun is different.

The slide is beveled near the muzzle as an aid in holstering the handgun in tightly fitted holsters.

The slide has front serrations. Front serrations are preferred by some for press checking their pistol. Glock has started adding these front serrations to more of their pistols. The slide also has an nDLC Coating; an ion-bonded finish that reduces corrosion and scratching. It also aids in the reliable functionality of the weapon in un-lubed or adverse conditions.

The front sight is taller than previous types and the rear sight is cut with a wider sighting notch. If you don’t care for the standard polymer sights, the sights are also available in steel and in night sights. The latter option was my choice in the G45, and I really like them.

The barrel is considerably different than earlier versions, and one that many will praise is that the barrel in the G45 is a match-grade Marksman barrel complete with an enhanced hexagonal bore in a right-hand twist, cut with conventional rifling. Polygonal rifling has advantages, but it isn’t well-suited to launching lead bullets. Polygonal rifling has a smooth profile without deep grooves in the barrel; there is nowhere for lead deposits to build up. As such, lead will coat the barrel and eventually lead to pressure spikes (though this can vary depending on whether true hard-cast bullets are used). This GEN 5 barrel is well-suited to use with any type of ammunition. Beyond the new rifling, the Gen 5 barrel employs a lockup more similar to the Glock 19s than the previous 17s and thus isn’t interchangeable with 17s. It also features a recessed barrel crown, which is a nice touch. Additionally, the barrel seems to better support the cartridge at the web of the cartridge, which is just forward of the extractor groove, and has provided much in the discussion regarding “6 O’clock Blowouts” that have occurred in Glock pistols.

The grip frame features a flared magazine well. The flare is very slight but provides a significant advantage in rapidly replenishing the ammunition supply.

The grip frame is reasonably textured and offers good hand fit for most shooters. The finger grooves are gone, and four back strap panels ship with the pistol from the factory. These grip panels accommodate the largest of hand sizes; I mounted the thickest grip that added a nice beaver-tail to the top of the frame, and the difference in feel when holding the grip was surprising in a good way. The G45 ships with a grip panel holder that also serves as a tool for removing the grip pin, which is then replaced with a longer pin to accommodate the grip panels, which are snapped into place over the standard grip. In case you want to switch back to the stock grip, the tool also holds the stock pin so that you don’t lose the darn thing.

The ambidextrous slide lock is an improvement for those of left-handed persuasion, but I normally don’t use the thing anyway to release the slide, unless I have to quickly get the pistol back into action, as the ‘sling-shot’ method is preferred.

The magazines now have orange followers and the base pads are thicker than before. The Glock G45 ships with three magazines, which makes the G45 more than ready right out of the box. Due to the G17 frame, magazine capacity has increased to 19 over the standard G19 17 round capacity.  While 19+1 in a loaded pistol is not a bad thing, having the capability to carry 38 more in two spare magazines that you don’t have to purchase separately is a very good thing.  A loading tool, while not an UpLula product, makes stuffing those magazines a little easier. And, the G45 also utilizes GEN 4 magazines; something that the 19X does not.

The most obvious change to the Gen 5’s design is the flat front grip strap. While I never have had a problem with finger groove grips, as aftermarket Hogue grips find their way on virtually every 1911 I carry, I have to say that I actually like the G45 grips frame without them. The grip is mildly textured on all gripping surfaces, and the texturing provides a sure grip without being over-bearing, as with the Springfield products. The grip width took me by surprise.

My usual EDC, the RIA 1911FS Tactical with Hogue finger-groove rubber grips, measured in at 1.285-inches in width. The grip width of the G45, on the other hand, was actually less at 1.1875-inches. When gripping the G45, my trigger finger just falls into place where I like it on the trigger (with the thickest beavertail adapter installed).  As compared to the 1911, there is a definite change in gripping a pistol like the G45 and something to get used to if, like me, you are not used to.

Glock has also done away with the half-moon cutout at the bottom of the grip. I never had an issue with the way it was but I do like the way it is now.

If just the slide width is taken into account, the 1″ G45 slide width is only slightly wider than the 1911, which measured out at 0.9145-inch. The overall width of the G45 measures out at 1.34-inches. Surprisingly, the entire width of the G45 is actually thinner, when the ambidextrous thumb safety is taken into consideration, than the 1911 (1.4360-inches).

Unless you are a Glock enthusiast, you may not notice that the strengthening pin applied to the action is omitted. This pin, I always felt, was a weak point to the Glock design. I have seen frame cracks at the top of these pins, which were probably due to many rounds being fired or (possibly) too hot of cartridges fired.

A coil spring rather than a flat spring now tensions the takedown lever. The safety plunger is cut at a different angle, and the striker is thicker than in previous generations.

The firing pin channel is teardrop-shaped. This new design may be a step forward for reliability, as dirt, debris, unburned powder and brass shavings have a way of finding their way into the channel.

The lock-work; however, does not interchange with older handguns; therefore, current aftermarket parts will not fit the Gen 5. A small, temporary price to pay for GEN5 Glock ownership at the present time, but I expect that will change in the near future.

Trigger pull was exactly at the standard 5.5-pound mark, and I cannot detect any difference between the G45 and my other Glock pistols.

The G45 balances well in the hand, as does a 1911 “Commander” where the barrel and slide is shorter but the grip is full-sized. The G17 feels, to me, just a little long in the barrel; whereas, the G45 feels just about right where it should be. With the large grip panel with beaver-tail installed, the G45 has just a natural feel for me; neither compact nor overly-large for carry.

Since the topic of carry has arisen, let’s talk about being able to conceal the G45. While Glock claims that the G45 is a ‘Compact’ pistol, I mentioned earlier that the grip is anything but compact.  A lot of folks like the G19 due to its shorter grip length. The shorter grip length makes concealment easier, but at the cost of a few less cartridges in the magazine. The G45 is marketed towards law enforcement use. The shorter barrel and slide of the G45 means that their duty holster won’t be digging into the seat of their company cars, and/or pushing their duty belts to far upward to be uncomfortable. The capacity; however, LEOs like and the more the better. The increased capacity is welcomed. But, for those who conceal carry IWB as a civilian or off-duty carry as a LEO, there has to be a trade-off between capacity and the concealment factor. For some, the G19 may be the better option with its shorter grip length.

Another factor in concealing the G45 is the use of the beaver-tail grip panels. The beaver-tail does extend the rear of the slide area out a bit, but with a properly-canted holster, the tip of the butt will actually be higher than the edge of the beaver-tail. However, a lot depends on where you carry. My normal carry is just behind the hip. For that reason, I like a little more forward cant to my holster than normal, because this position the tip of the butt closer to the middle of my side, which helps to better conceal the firearm should I be bending over. The butt is pulled in as tight to the body as possible, to minimize ‘side printing’ that makes one look like they are carrying an oxygen bottle to a smoker’s convention.

A bit of modification to a Simply Rugged ‘CUDA’ holster intended for the Springfield XDm 4.5 has made for a nearly ideal IWB Glock carrier.  Borrowing a set of belt clips from a Cross Breed holster, and installing them into the belt cutouts, allowed me to position the holster low in the waistband but still allowed for proper gripping of the G45. I was also able to adjust the cant to my liking; a bit more forward than the standard 15-degree FBI cant. While the holster does collapse when the G45 is removed, re-holstering is easy given the contours of the muzzle end of the firearm. In truth, I am more concerned with pulling the pistol smoothly from the holster, and this holster allows just that. Fast out, slow in. The holster also affords complete muzzle, front sights, and rear sight protection. And, it is leather, which is a bit more forgiving on the finish than Kydex.

For cold-weather carry, and with the proper clothing and holster, concealing the G45 should not be an issue. In warm and hot weather, more consideration as to clothing and the method of carry needs to be made regardless of the firearm carried.

With that out of the way, let’s move on to why you are really reading this article. How does the G45 shoot?

RANGE TIME

As I don’t shoot 9mm ammunition that much, there was not a lot on hand with the exception of some 115-grain Perfecta FMJ and some 124-grain FMJ from Georgia Arms. Since I have had good luck with Sig Sauer 230-grain JHP .45 ACP in my 1911, I decided to foot for a box of Sig Sauer 147-grain 9mm JHP for the G45 as well as several Hornady Custom 147-grain XTP cartridges. The Hornady was the hotter of the two defensive loads fired, but both had exceptional accuracy.

The G45 ran without a hitch, which is really not surprising. The G45 is a Glock, after all.

The trigger is probably the best of any Glock pistol that I have fired; it simply rolls past through the pull rather than meeting a wall that is common to most Glock pistols. That ‘roll’ make for a very consistent trigger pull and that aids in the accuracy department. My shooting companions that shot the G45 were impressed by the trigger.

The full grip definitely makes a difference, as does the beaver-tail grip adapter. The beaver-tail rests ever so gently against the top of my hand and slide bite is one less thing I have to think about. I have to say that, even though the frame is polymer, this is one of the best feeling pistols I have yet to grip. For me, the longer trigger reach means that I have less movement with my trigger finger. Coupled with a good grip on the handle, the G45 feels like it is part of my hand and I could tell a difference in my shooting from the first shot taken.

The Glock Night Sights were spot on. Simply place the front dot on what you want to hit, roll the trigger back. and watch that 9mm hole appear at your POA (if you do your part).

Felt recoil is mild, as compared to my 1911 in 9mm with its all steel frame, even though the 1911 is the heavier pistol. The G45 is just a joy to shoot with this beaver-tail grip and I find myself not readjusting my grip as often as I do with the 1911.

The Wrap-Up

I have to say that the decision for having the Glock G45, when long-term ‘Test and Evaluation’ pistols in the same caliber are at my disposal, was a difficult decision.  The closest contender, in my opinion, is the Springfield XDm 3.8 in 9mm with its 19-round capacity. While I have not shot the Springfield XDm 3.8 in 9mm, I have shot the XDm 4.5 in that caliber (http://guntoters.com/blog/2018/01/28/springfield-armory-xdm-9mm-4-5/) and it is a fine pistol, but suffers from the same challenge as the Glock G45 (and Glock G17) – concealability.

The barrel of the G45, at 4.02-inches, does not have an appreciable advantage over the Springfield XDm 3.8 or possibly over other pistols in the ‘compact’ range of pistols on the market. The capacity of the G45, at 17+1, is less than that of the comparable Springfield XDm 3.8 (or 4.5) by two cartridges. The Springfield XDm 3.8 is the heavier of the two pistols, and heavy plus ergonomics equate to lighter felt recoil, but the G45 does a fine job in handling recoil.

Both the Springfield XDm and Glock G45 feel good in my hand, but the CZ75 feels even better, and I have never cared for the Smith & Wesson line-up of polymer pistols, although I have tried to care.

I think that because the Glock GEN5 G45 is a slightly different animal in the Glock pack is what drew me to it. That it came with night sights was a plus, as the standard Glock rear sight is a bit wider than I care for. The exchangeable rear grip panel with beaver-tail was also a plus in preventing ‘slide bite,’ as I have been ‘slide’ bitten by the G19 and G17at times, because of my high grip.

The Glock G17 and the G19 have been proven worthy over the years of delivering the mail, and here is a hybrid of both with some definite improvements, as I see them.

The specifications for the G45 really don’t tell the whole story, and you would probably pass the G45 by if you just relied on those specifications. Hopefully, this review will convince you to give the Glock G45 a first look, if not a second one. I think that you are really going to like this pistol.

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About Taurian

Taurian is an Oath Keeper, veteran, former LEO and Defensive Tactics Instructor. Until retirement, Taurian had over forty-seven years of experience as a Technical Writer and Training Program Developer. After leaving home at the age of ten without any shoes, Taurian continues on with many years devoted to the keeping and bearing of arms.

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