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Glock 21 4th generation Review

I have a very firm policy here... that I won’t review a gun until I’ve fired ~1000 rounds through it. I really believe that anything other than that is doing a disservice to our readers here. Last night at West Coast Armory Indoor Range, the Gen4 Glock 21 cruised past the 1000 round mark, reaching 1054 rounds.

Gen4 Glock 21, Hornady Critical Defense and CED7000 timer
The first thing about this gun that I notice as a reviewer is how big it is. Compared to my Glock 34, it just seems huge and chunky especially when you look at the slide profiles. But in the hand it doesn’t feel that big, because the Gen4 uses the same grip profile as the G21SF, which I feel was the best of the polymer .45s before the Gen 4 came out. Because it’s a Gen 4, it also comes with additional backstraps so that you could in theory increase the size of the grip. I have to wonder why you’d do that though as with my bigger than average hands the unmodified grip is ample enough to provide plenty of surface area.

The “Big Change” with the Gen4 guns is of course the recoil system, which Glock says helps to reduce felt recoil. The answer to that is a resounding “yes it does?” The problem is that measuring something like that is very difficult to actually quantify in real numbers. It feels a little less snappy to me than the non-Gen4 models, but…well, you get the idea. It certainly does feel much better to shoot for me than its major competitor, the M&P45. The thing that I don’t like about the recoil system is that I can’t install aftermarket springs to custom tune it to handloaded match ammo; no one currently makes an aftermarket part for the Gen4 Glock 21 recoil system.

One of the other Gen4 changes that I really like is the mag release button. I always felt that the standard button you got on Gen3 guns was too small, and the “competition” button on the G34 and G35 was too big. The new Gen4 button strikes a good balance between those two, making it relatively easy to reach, but not so large I’m in danger of accidentally dumping my mag on the deck at the worst possible moment. Other Gen4 upgrades I haven’t really messed with too much; this gun does have the Gen4 extractor on it, which I’m going to replace with a Lone Wolf, but otherwise not really mess with. The sights are still embarrassingly terrible, so I ripped them off and replaced them with Warren Tactical sights to match what I have on my G34. The trigger breaks at 4.5lbs when measured from the tip of the trigger face, and so far the gun has only bobbled once in a 1000 rounds, and that was with a clearly under-charged round of Remington UMC.

With 1000 rounds already on the frame, we’re going to keep running this gun through 2012. I actually do plan on shooting this thing in every match, including things where a .45 is a dumb idea like the Pro-Am and Bianchi Cup. In fact, I’m going to also use this to go for my goal of Production GM…using a .45. According to various sources, that would officially qualify as “beast mode.”


  • Nice review of a great pistol. I never though I would ever consider getting rid of my Gen. 3 but it's getting very tempting;very. :\">
  • All my Glocks are 2nd gens, and all have replacement barrels. They all shoot fine, but I'm a fan of safeties on semi-autos...which Glock doesn't have.
  • That is what I carry as my duty weapon. Love it. No issues to date.
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