The Myth: Glocks are only self-defense and have no role for hunters.
There’s no question that Glock handguns are among the most popular choices for defensive, law enforcement, and military use throughout the world, and for good reason: they’re extremely reliable, lightweight, relatively inexpensive and generally quite accurate. But why haven’t Glocks been widely embraced by outdoorsmen?
The Test: By evaluating various key elements, we will determine whether a Glock 20 in 10mm Auto is a viable handgun for big game hunting, animal defense, and general “outdoor” use traditionally reserved for big bore revolvers.
The Cartridge: For starters, the only Glock that can even be considered an appropriate big game handgun is the Glock 20 chambered in the potent 10mm Auto cartridge. Mike McNett at Doubletap Ammo built his business around the 10-mil and offers more loads than any other manufacturer. His hunting loads include a 200 gr. Nosler JHP that leaves the Glock’s barrel at roughly 1200 feet per second, and hard cast flat nose bullets of 200 and 230 grains with muzzle velocities of 1300 and 1120 fps, respectively. By comparison, Federal’s 210 gr. JHP factory .41 Magnum load moves along at 1230 fps out of a 6” barrel. On paper, the 10mm is capable of taking deer-sized game as well as feral hogs, mountain lions, and small to medium-size black bears, it has been used successfully on bigger game like elk as well.
Accuracy: A handgun designed for hunting game animals must possess inherent accuracy beyond what is expected of pistols designed for defensive use. The “experts” tell us that the average lethal force encounter takes place at around 7 yards; most hunting shots will be at more than three times that distance. We are already handicapping ourselves balistically by carrying a handgun rather than a rifle afield so, from my perspective, there is less margin for error with a handgun on game. We shot the Glock 20 using various loads, including Doubletap’s full-power hunting ammo. The combo was capable of five-shot groups in the 1.5-1.8” range at 25 yards and minute-of-lung hits at 50. With a self-imposed limited of 35 yards (the same limit I use with a bow) I would feel confident of making ethical hits on game with this handgun.
Reliability/Durability: This is the category where the Glock blows away the competition. I don’t like making claims of absolute superiority but here goes: in my experience, the Glock is the most durable and reliable handgun on the market—period. This is why I think the Glock 20 is worth considering as an outdoorsman’s sidearm: it’s not prone to corrosion; you can carry it on the Alaskan coastline or in Southern swamps without having dreams about rust. You can carry it in the snow or in the desert Southwest, you can leave it in a tackle box. They just work. Try that with your $3,000 custom 1911 in .460 Rowland, when it rains, you will cry.
Shootability: I’ve been shooting handguns of every flavor for more than 25 years but I’ll admit that the plurality of my shooting is with various Glocks. I carry Glocks for self-defense and I use a Glock for USPSA matches—I’m comfortable with them. That said, the Glock trigger can take some getting used to. To make the Glock 20 a little more forgiving on the longer shots, I added a drop-in trigger kit from Glockmeister and a set of competition sights from Brownells.
The Glockmeister trigger kit uses factory Glock parts (with an aftermarket spring) to achieve a trigger pull a bit smoother and about a pound lighter than the 5.5 lb. trigger on a factory Glock. It’s not as slick as the Vanek trigger I use on my race gun, but it’s a fraction of the price. If you’re going to use your Glock for defensive use as well as hunting, I would leave the trigger alone. I bought this one from Smitty.
If there’s one thing that I would replace on every Glock it’s the factory sights. Where I live in the South, deer are pretty nocturnal so the ability to see your sights close to the end of legal shooting hours is key. I chose Brownells’ Sevigny Mixed Sight Set which uses a plain steel rear sight with a nice wide notch and a fiber-optic front sight that includes both red and green inserts.
Intangibles: Three other factors to mention about the Glock 20:
1. It’s small enough and light enough (under 40 ounces loaded) to ride on your hip all day without dragging your pants to the ground.
2. It holds an unreal 15+1 rounds, which is great if you plan to use it as your defensive carry gun as well. Note: Make sure this is legal for hunting in your jurisdiction
3. Did I mention that Ted Nugent uses one? Enough said.
Conclusion: The 10mm Glock is an incredibly versatile handgun that uses a powerful cartridge. At reasonable distances, the Glock 20 is a perfectly viable handgun for big game and a great all-around choice for the great outdoors. This myth is dead wrong: Glocks aren’t just for guys in photographer’s vests and 5.11 pants.