So let’s establish something up front. Due to their ideal dimensions and ergonomics, I love the Glock 9mm’s, but have never had much use for their .45 caliber guns. I’m not against them, but the grips feel just a bit awkward for me. The full sized 21 feels like a brick, the compact 30 feels like a short brick, and the compact, single-stack 36 feels like a thin brick. It’s almost like they took a good gun that was designed around the 9mm and tried to outsize it into a .45…..
Regardless, Glock does offer a good selection of high-quality bricks, I mean guns in .45 ACP. I just shot them next to a Kahr and a Springfield. Here’s what it looked like.
I always tell people that you can’t get a good feel for how you will like a gun until you’ve shot it. Expectations can change, sometimes drastically, when you go from handling a gun over the retail counter to having that same gun try to leap out of your hands on the range, and that scenario can go both ways. Let me break it down for ya…
Had you asked me which gun(s) I liked the most before I walked out on the firing line, I would have chosen the Kahr CM45 and the Glock 30, just going off the pure feel of how they felt and handled. The Glock 30 Gen 4 is apparently slim enough that I can appreciate it as a well-rounded brick. The Kahr felt great. I thought both the XD-S and the Glock 36 felt too thin and sharp, and would likely bite quite a bit under the .45 recoil.
I lined them up and shot them all, going 2 shots at a time between each gun, and loading the mags twice. Starting with the Glock 36, I moved to the Glock 30, the Springfield XD-S, and finally the Kahr. Then rinse, repeat. Now understand that small plastic guns in .45 ACP are just not going to be very comfortable to shoot. Period. You are essentially launching a bowling ball out of an airsoft gun, and the thing is going to jump. A lot. That was my expectation going into this little experiment, and none of my chosen lineup disappointed. Here is what I thought about them.
The Glock 36 – it works well enough, and I would describe its recoil and general feel as pretty middle-of-the-road for a gun of that type. In other words, it met expectations almost verbatim. I didn’t love shooting it, but I didn’t expect to.
The Glock 30 – definitely easier to shoot than the 36. The double stack frame gives you a larger grip area and has less bite when it recoils. I expected to like it better than the other guns, and for the most part I did.
The Springfield XD-S 3.3 – I tried this one with both the 5-round and the extended 7-round magazine, and the gun exceeded my expectations on every count. It jumped, sure, but what impressed me the most was how consistently and accurately I could shoot it. The extended magazine did make the shooting experience slightly easier and more comfortable, but my accuracy was about the same with either of the mags in the gun.
The Kahr CM45 – I could look up the weight specs on this gun real quick, but it would just reaffirm that the gun is indeed feather light, and slaps the heck out of you when you touch it off. I enjoyed shooting it….not at all. Of the four, it came in dead last by a significant margin. Accuracy wasn't bad, but the shooting experience was.
To wrap this up, the two that surprised me the most were the Springfield and the Kahr. The Glock’s did exactly what I thought they would do, and to be fair, I had fired both of them multiple times previously. The Kahr was a bit of surprise in that I just didn’t like it at all when I rather expected to. The Springfield was a surprise in that I expected to not like it very much, and it was hands-down my favorite of the bunch. I found it a bit harder to hang onto than the Glock’s, but I also found that I kept putting bullets in the exact same places (or at least very close to the same places). I find that to be an endearing and admirable trait in a handgun.
To be sure of my conclusions, I loaded up 5 more rounds in the XD-S, ran a target out to 7 yards, and fired off a group that measured right at 1.75”, with 3 shots clover-leafed in the top of the bullseye, and 2 shots touching just above them. The recoil out of that little dude is daunting enough that I wouldn’t be first in line to buy one, but if you told me I absolutely HAD to carry a small gun in .45 ACP, I know which one I’d choose.