Glock 23  – The Mid-Size and Less Traumatizing .40 Caliber Gun

Concealed Carry


Fellow fans of the classic Stanley Kubrick film Full Metal Jacket will recall the “duality of man, the Jungian thing, sir” scene involving Sgt. Joker (Matthew Modine) and the Pogue Colonel (Bruce Boa).  

Well, as a firearms enthusiast and gun writer, I sometimes deal with the “duality of man” conundrum myself. I am a big-time fan of Glock semiautomatic pistols, but I am certainly not a fan of the .40 S&W cartridge. I shall now try to reconcile these conflicting views, at least in part, as I review the Glock 23 .40 S&W pistol.

Glock 23 Early History and Specifications

The .40 cal Glock 23 is to the .40 cal Glock 22 what the 9mm Glock 19 is to the 9mm Glock 17, — the compact, mid-size offspring of the original full-size gun. Rounding out the concept, the Glock 27 and Glock 26 are the respective subcompact baby Glocks in .40 and 9mm. 

The G23 made its debut in 1990. As the manufacturer’s official info page states: “The GLOCK 23 combines compact dimensions for both open and concealed carry, with minimum weight, despite its substantial magazine capacity in 40 S&W caliber. Having survived endurance tests and use by numerous Law Enforcement agencies, the G23 pistol has repeatedly demonstrated its world-class durability and reliability in the most adverse conditions.”

Barrel length is 4.02 inches, overall length 7.36”, height (including magazine) is 5.04”, empty weight is 21.16 ounces, and fully loaded weight is 31.22 oz. The standard magazine capacity is 13+1 rounds.

Personal Shooting Impressions/Range Report

Off I went once more to the top-notch Silver Eagle Group indoor shooting facility in Ashburn, Virginia, to take advantage of their rental Gen3 Glock 23. (I was hoping to try the Gen5 version, especially after my very positive shooting experience with the Gen5 G19, but alas, they didn’t have one available.) 

I must admit that I was feeling some trepidation as I got ready to fire it, remembering my godawful experience with the G27. In an attempt to stay balanced, I told myself to temper those trepidatious feelings by recalling that my shooting experiences with the full-size G22 were reasonably good.

Bottom line up front is that firing the G23, while the pistol was far from an all-time fave, turned out to be a pleasant surprise — not the torture session that the G27 delivered. For one thing, the grip fit my hand better than the stubby G27 grip. It gave me better recoil control, which meant this time my pinky was not viciously stung, nor was blood drawn from the base knuckle of that same finger.

Being a pre-Gen5 specimen, the slide stop lever was the stubby, darn near vestigial lever that sits practically flush with the frame. But it was still easy to reach and manipulate with my thumb, as was the magazine release button. As is true of most hammerless, striker-fired pistols, manual slide racking was quite easy. The magazine spring tension was such that filling the magazine was fairly easy until the last round, and even then it wasn’t too much of a struggle. 

As for trigger pull, I admit I was spoiled by the super-crisp single-action sliding trigger on the Wilson CQB M1911 .45 ACP that I fired earlier in the same range session. The stock “safe action” trigger of this older Glock felt adequate by comparison. (Factory stock Gen5 triggers, as well as aftermarket 3.5 lb connectors for previous Glock generations, are much better.) Having the safety on the trigger was a mild irritant, but not downright abrasive like the G27’s had been.

The Glock 23 was a pleasant surprise in the accuracy department as well. As I have said before, I’ve heard from multiple sources that the .40 S&W round has less intrinsic accuracy than the 9mm and .45 ACP. In my experience, it has less practical accuracy as well, although I do have some respected shooting buddies who swear by the .40 as a competition round. But with 7-yard head shots and 25-yard center-torso shots alike — 25 rounds at each distance using Speer Lawman 180-grain total metal jacket rounds and fired from a Classic Weaver Stance — I only dropped one round outside of the A-zone (into the B-zone of the head and C-zone of the torso) on the ISPC/USPSA practice target

Reliability was 100%.

I still won’t be rushing out to buy a Glock 23, or any other .40 cal for that matter. 

Want Your Own?

True Gun Value states that “A GEN3 GLOCK 23 pistol is currently worth an average price of $551.76 new and $346.00 used . The 12 month average price is $567.19 new and $354.72 used..” If you’d rather go with the latest ‘n’ greatest Gen 5, then “A GEN5 GLOCK 23 pistol is currently worth an average price of $635.14 new and $415.09 used . The 12 month average price is $623.76 new and $415.09 used.”

Buds Gun Shop currently has a half-dozen G23 options available, at a price range of $489.99 to $555. 

Christian D. Orr has 33 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011.

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