With all of the Glock handguns, there are enough variations on the original theme that choosing the one that is right for you can be a bit complicated without a discussion of the basic types. So, let’s divide this discussion into two main areas — frame size and caliber. First frame size. Discounting the .45 GAP pistols and the Competition Glocks, there are four basic Glock pistol frame sizes — Standard, Compact, Subcompact and Subcompact Slimline, although one size is a tad misleading.

Glock Standard

The Standard frame size is the frame size of the original Glock: the 9mm 17. The part that is a tad misleading is that the .45 and 10mm Glock 21 and 20 have a larger grip girth than other Standards — more of a Standard Plus size. Both have an SF frame option available, which reduces the circumference of the grip frame at the rear, but they are still larger than the Standards in 9mm, .40 or .357 calibers.

The Standards excel as home defense and training or outdoors guns, and will most likely result in the best accuracy. They can be carried concealed. In fact, the LOADED weight differential between the Standard and Subcompact frame 9mm Glock 17 and Glock 26 is only six ounces. However, the overall size differential is much greater because of barrel and grip frame length. Since Standard Glock handguns are harder to conceal, they aren’t an ideal “one size does-it-all” pistol.


The mid-size Compact frame Glock is my choice for a “one size does-it-all pistol.” The Glock 19 loses almost an inch in overall length and a half-inch in overall height over the Standard, yet gives up only two rounds of magazine capacity. The Compact Glock can easily serve as a home defense or concealment pistol. For new users who can only afford one Glock, this is the one to get.

Glock Subcompact

Subcompact and Subcompact Slimlines are commonly known as mini-Glocks. They are the deep concealment Glock handguns, capable of being concealed in ankle holsters. The Subcompacts are harder to handle since recoil and muzzle blast are more pronounced. Of course you can defend your home with the Subcompacts, albeit with a reduced magazine capacity. The subcompact Slimline Glock is a tad larger than the standard Subcompact and chambers the .45 ACP in a single stack magazine. With a six round magazine capacity, it is not the most popular Glock, but it is one heck of an accurate, easy shooting gun.

Caliber Choices

The basic caliber choices, chambered in most pistol frame sizes, are 9mm, .40, .357 SIG, 10mm, and .45 ACP. Too many new shooters — cops included — feel that they MUST have a .40 caliber pistol or they won’t be one of the cool kids. The .40 is a high pressure, blasty round, with palpable recoil. The .357 SIG has ample power, with less recoil but more blast than the .40. I have a Glock 32 in that caliber that I carried on SWAT. The .45 pistols are larger guns with less capacity in any given frame size. So, for most concealed carry, home defense, or new shooters, I recommend the 9mm. It costs less, recoils and blasts less, yet is still effective enough that it is the duty caliber for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office and NYPD. New and experienced users will benefit from carrying the 9mm in any Glock pistol frame sizes. Get to a range that rents a variety of Glock pistols and try them all. See which one works best for you.

About Scott W. Wagner

Scott W. Wagner has been a law enforcement officer since 1980, working undercover in liquor and narcotics investigations and as a member, sniper and assistant team leader of a SWAT team. He currently works as a patrol sergeant. He is a police firearms instructor, certified to train revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun. Scott also works as a criminal justice professor and police academy commander.