The Sub Compact Glock 26 Pistol

By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff

G 26
Illustration courtesy of Glock, Inc.

Gaston Glock ushered in the modern era of polymer framed pistols with his wildly successful and much copied Model 17 service pistol. The same basic design has been morphed into an entire line of pistols, including full size, compact, and sub compact models in calibers 9x19, .357 SIG, .40 S&W, 10mm Auto, and .45 ACP. The Model G26 (9x19) is a sub compact pistol particularly well suited for concealed carry.

The sub compact Glock 26 pistol has polymer receivers with molded-in steel slide rails. The slide is machined (not stamped) from solid steel, and most of the internal parts are also steel.

The slide, barrel (inside and out), and most other major steel parts are Tenifer coated, a process which gives them an incredibly hard surface, almost as hard as an industrial diamond, and is more rust resistant than stainless steel. Tenifer meets or exceeds all stainless steel specifications. Some of the small steel parts are Parkerized, and the slide rails are chrome steel. Glock pistols, due to their polymer plastic receiver and Tenifer-coated steel parts, are more resistant to corrosion than any other pistol. This makes them ideal for daily carry, especially in harsh environments.

The essence of the basic Glock pistol design is simplicity and ease of operation. Glocks are hammerless, striker-fired, short recoil operated, autoloading pistols with a unique "Safe Action" mechanism.

The ATF classifies the Glock Safe Action mechanism as "double action only" (DAO), but that is not technically correct. On a Glock, the slide must first be racked to partially compress the striker (or firing pin) spring and set the trigger before the pistol can be fired. (The slide of any semi-auto pistol is normally "racked," or pulled all the way back and allowed to snap forward, after a loaded magazine has been inserted in order to carry a cartridge into the chamber.) After the slide has been racked and the trigger set, the Glock trigger pull feels somewhat like a two stage, single action military trigger.

The trigger's rather long rearward travel disconnects the automatic safeties and completes the compression of the already partially cocked striker spring. Near the end of the trigger's rearward stroke the end of the trigger bar contacts the downward angled slope of the trigger connector. This angled surface forces the trigger bar down as it continues rearward and it carries with it the cruciform sear, which slips off of the striker (firing pin) tang, allowing the striker to be carried forward by the powerful striker spring, discharging the pistol.

Unlike a real double action pistol, if a cartridge does not fire and the slide is not cycled or manually racked, a second pull on the trigger accomplishes nothing. Unlike a DAO trigger, the Glock trigger does not reset itself. In this it is like a single action trigger. Also unlike a DAO pistol, when the slide is at battery (fully forward) and the trigger has not been pulled, the striker spring is not relaxed; indeed, it is mostly (but not entirely) compressed. The Glock Safe Action is neither double action or single action, it is a new type of mechanism.

The Glock Safe Action incorporates three separate safety mechanisms, all of which are automatically activated when the slide is at battery. There is a trigger block safety, a small blade protruding from the front surface of the trigger, which prevents the rearward movement of the trigger unless it is depressed. There is an internal firing pin safety (similar to a Colt Series 80 pistol) that blocks the forward movement of the firing pin until the trigger is pulled all the way to the rear. And there is an internal drop safety that locks the sear and prevents release of the striker until the trigger is pulled fully to the rear.

Glock sub compact pistols are among the safest ever designed, and no user action is required to render them safe. All that is required is that most basic of proper gun handling procedures: keep your finger off the trigger until you intend to shoot the gun!

Glock 26 pistols are available with five different trigger pull weights. In the standard Glock trigger mechanism, it is the angle of the ramp on the trigger connector that primarily determines the trigger pull weight. The greater the angle, the greater the pull weight. Glock trigger connectors are manufactured with three different angles, and all three connectors fit any Glock pistol.

The G17L, Glock's competition pistol, comes with a "target" trigger connector that is supposed to require 3.5 pounds of force to actuate. This "3.5 pound" trigger connector actually provides about a 5 pound trigger pull in the pistols I have measured. This is the best stock Glock trigger, and the target connector can be substituted for the standard connector in other Glock models, including the Glock 26. However, Glock refuses, purely as a matter of company policy, to sell target connectors separately, so this is one part that must be purchased from the after market.

The standard Glock trigger is supposed to have a "5 pound" trigger connector. This connector has a ramp set at a 90 degree angle. These actually result in about a 7 pound trigger pull in the pistols I have measured, and are the connector usually (but not always) found in civilian G26 pistols.

Initially at the request of Florida's Miami PD, but subsequently adopted for most police service triggers, is the 8 pound connector. This trigger connector has a 105 degree ramp. It is hard to hold a lightweight pistol like a Glock 26 steady against such a heavy trigger pull.

And then there is the infamous "New York" trigger, developed at the request of the New York State Police, which is supposed to emulate the heavy trigger pull of a double action revolver. (Why anyone would want to do that is beyond me.) These use extra heavy trigger springs in conjunction with a standard "5 pound" trigger connector. There are actually two different springs for New York triggers. One is supposed to add about 3 pounds to the pull weight, and the other adds about 5 pounds to the pull weight. When combined with the standard trigger connector these wretched New York triggers have a pull of about 10 to 12 pounds, or more. New York triggers should be avoided like the plague.

Glock barrels are hammer forged and use hexagonal rifling. In other words, the inside of a finished barrel is hexagonal in shape with a right hand twist. If you look inside of a fired Glock barrel the pattern in the powder residue looks much like that in a Marlin Micro-Groove barrel, with 12 longitudinal rub streaks inside of the barrel.

Glock magazines are made of steel lined polymer, with steel feed lips and steel springs. There are two vertical rows of little numbered holes in the back panel of each Glock double stack magazine through which one can see how many cartridges remain. The polymer magazine follower trips the slide stop after the last round is fired, locking back the slide for convenient reloading.

Glock 26 pistols have only two controls, besides the trigger, and those are conventionally located. There is no hammer and no manual safety to worry about; there is only a magazine release and a slide release. The magazine release is a rectangular plastic button on the left side of the pistol grip behind the lower loop of the trigger guard. The slide release is also on the left side of the pistol, a flat metal lever directly below the slide and above the left hand grip panel. The uninitiated might mistake it for a frame mounted safety. That is it, Glock 26 pistols have no other controls that must be manipulated. By design, nothing sticks out of a Glock pistol to catch on clothing.

The extractor, located on the right side of the slide immediately behind the ejection port, also serves as a loaded chamber indicator. The shooter needs only to touch the right side of the slide to know whether the chamber is loaded, even in total darkness. If there is a cartridge in the chamber, the extractor is elevated slightly above its recess and can be felt. If the chamber is empty, the extractor sits flush in its grove, and the side of the slide behind the ejection port feels smooth.

Standard Glock 26 sights are of the patridge type. The large, square faced front blade has a big white dot on its face. A white line outlines the square notch rear sight, which is mounted in a dovetail notch at the rear of the frame. There is also an optional version of the rear sight that is adjustable for windage and elevation. These are highly visible, low profile combat sights, not target sights. Glock 26 pistols are also available with tritium night sights.

Glock pistols have several fundamental design advantages over most other pistols. For one, the grip angle is ergonomic, similar to that of the classic Luger pistol that was famous for its good pointing qualities.

The Glock's polymer frame tends to minimize the effect of recoil (quite noticeable in any sub compact pistol) by flexing slightly with each shot; Glock pistols are known as "soft" shooters. Another advantage is the Glock's low bore axis. This minimizes muzzle flip and speeds recovery after a shot has been fired; it also tends to minimize perceived recoil.

Glock sub compacts come with the same high visibility, combat type sights as Glock full size service pistols, an important advantage compared to the tiny sights supplied on many sub compact pistols. Due to its locked breech design, the G26 is chambered for the full power 9mm Luger service pistol cartridge rather than the less powerful calibers suitable for "blow back" operation pistols.

The Glock Safe Action trigger mechanism makes very rapid repeat shots possible. After the initial long (approximately 2/5") trigger stroke has been completed and the end of the trigger bar has contacted the trigger connector's angled ramp, the Glock trigger requires only about 1/8" additional rearward movement to fire the pistol. The trigger only needs about 1/8" of forward travel to reset for the next shot. Once a Glock shooter has learned proper trigger control, double taps can be achieved faster than with almost any other pistol.

The result of these design subtleties is that the Glock 26 pistol has good practical accuracy compared to most of the competition. Good practical accuracy means that it is relatively easy to shoot accurately.

The G26, G27 and G33 models are nearly identical. The salient difference is that the G26 is chambered for the 9mm Luger cartridge, the G27 is chambered for the .40 S&W cartridge, and the G33 is chambered for the .357 SIG cartridge. The magazine capacity is 10 cartridges in the G26 and 9 cartridges in the G27 and G33.

The sub compact Glock 26 has a barrel 3.46 inches long. Its length is 6.29 inches, height is 4.17 inches, and width is 1.18 inches. The weight is 19.75 ounces.

The Glock 26 has the same diameter grip as the full size Glock pistols, and in fact can use the long magazines intended for larger Glock pistols. The G26 will, for example, accept magazines from a compact G19 or full size G17.

The principle drawback to the sub compact Glock pistols, from the shooter's perspective, is that the grip is too short for a three finger grip. Only two fingers will fit on the short grip. An excellent addition is to replace the standard flat magazine floorplate with a "+2" floorplate. These are deeper floorplates that provide a place to rest the little finger of the gripping hand. They also allow an extra cartridge or two to be loaded into the magazine.

The results of test firing a Glock 26 are reviewed below. The G26 reviewed is unmodified except for the substitution of a "target" trigger connector and the addition of a +2 magazine floorplate. The actual trigger pull weight of this pistol is about 5.5 pounds.

Guns and Shooting Online staffers Maria Williams, Jim Fleck and Chuck Hawks fired the little Glock. We fired the G26 from a bench rest at the range and also from a two handed standing position in the field. We used Winchester/USA "White Box" ammunition (115 grain FMJ bullet) throughout. A compact G19 pistol and a Colt Cobra snub nose revolver were also fired for comparison purposes.

After burning up about 150 rounds of ammunition the average 5 shot group was about 4 inches at 25 yards. This is larger than the average group size we got from the bigger G19 pistol. We attribute the difference more to the G26's shorter sight radius, short grip and increased recoil rather than any substantial difference in intrinsic accuracy. All three shooters felt that they could shoot the G19 faster and more accurately. However, if the shooter really concentrates, good marksmanship is possible with the G26. Maria, for example, who was probably the best shot with the G26, made a spectacular 50 yard shot at a clay pigeon propped against a stump.

From the 25 yard benchrest, the Colt Cobra revolver easily out performed the G26, cutting the Glock's average group size by at least an inch. We attribute this primarily to the far superior single action trigger pull of the little Colt, which is almost of target revolver quality. 25 yards is a long way for any belly gun!

There were no malfunctions during our testing of the G26. Malfunctions with Glock pistols are rare. The most common type of Glock malfunction is a "stovepipe" jam (failure to completely eject the fired case). This is usually caused by the shooter "limp wristing" the gun (not holding it rigidly against the force of recoil). This is an operator error rather than a pistol malfunction per se. Since we are all experienced Glock shooters, we had no such problems.

The sub compact Glocks are excellent pistols for daily concealed carry. They are safe, powerful, reliable, and (compared to most sub compact autos) relatively easy to shoot.

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