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Glock 23 Review: Is the .40 S&W Dead?

We take a look at the Glock 23 -- a .40 S&W pistol sporting that familiar Glock look and feel. Is it worth your time? Come find out.

How many times have you heard your shooting buddies say, “the .40 is history!” That seems to be the prevalent opinion among many pistol shooters.

But I’m not so sure about that…

.40 S&W Round
.40 S&W Round

.40 still works and is generally available on ammo shelves. The “Glock-19-of-the.40-world” — the G23 — is one of the most popular pistols out there from which to launch .40 caliber bullets. 

Except for generational changes, this G23 is pretty much like any other .40 the company has produced, but let’s take a closer look. I’ll walk you through some specs, pros/cons, and then hit the range to help you decide if you need a G23 in your life.

Glock 23
Glock 23

So, keep reading!

Table of Contents

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Pros & Cons 

Pros 

  • Reliable
  • Converts to .357 Sig or 9mm with barrel swap
  • Can find .40 S&W on shelves

Cons

  • Decent felt recoil
  • Holds less rounds that 9mm counterparts

The Bottom Line 

The Glock 23’s compact frame is a good balance between full-size and sub-compact pistols, and its stock 13-round capacity is certainly adequate for most purposes. If you are looking for a plain-jane, .40 compact pistol that is reliable and accurate, look at the G23.

Specs & Features 

Specs 

  • Caliber: 40 S&W
  • Width: 1.26”
  • Length: 7.36”
  • Barrel Length: 4.02”
  • Height: 5.04”
  • Weight: 31.2 oz.
  • Capacity: 13; Optional, 14/15/16/22

Features

  • Convertible calibers with barrel swap
  • Access to Glock aftermarket

Source: Glock

499
at Gunprime

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Background

1999 was a great year for handgunners. First, Smith and Wesson brought out the .40 S&W, after the F.B.I. asked for a lower-powered 10mm round — they liked the 10mm’s .400 bullet diameter but not so much the recoil that it produced.

Frangibles from Sinterfire and Inceptor, left to right 9mm, .45 ACP, 10mm, and .50 Beowulf. Inceptor is easy to distinguish from others due to its dark brown color & fluted bullet
Left to right: 9mm, .45 ACP, 10mm, and .50 Beowulf.

Glock effectively boosted the .40 S&W market when they jumped on the .40 bandwagon and brought out what eventually became the premier law enforcement pistol — the model 22, in 1990. The G23 was birthed that same year, as well.

For the last 32 years, law enforcement agencies all over the country have used both of these guns.

Even though the .40’s popularity has dipped in recent years, it is still a viable cartridge, and ammo is generally available to buy.

Who Is It For?

Law enforcement’s involvement with the .40 points to its number one civilian purpose…self-defense. The Glock 23 is one of the most popular platforms for that caliber and usage.

Just as the G19 is the best-selling 9mm Glock makes and is a universal favorite, the G23 is arguably the best-selling .40 in the civilian market due to its versatility.

Crimson Trace RAD Pro Gunsite Glock G19
Crimson Trace RAD Pro Gunsite Glock G19

Concealed carriers who are Glockies love this gun, at least the ones I’ve talked to.

This is the primary market and purpose for the G23, with home defense and competition falling behind. Its “Glock-iness” guarantees that it will be (and has been, all these years) accepted as a reliable, accurate pistol that many hundreds of shooters are familiar with.

Fit & Feel

I feel I must qualify my comments right up front…I’m not the most ardent Glock fan. I have owned Glocks and shot even more of them, but they just don’t melt my butter.

Having said that, I have nothing against them, it’s just personal preference. After all, they are the most popular law enforcement pistol in the country for a reason. 

Glock 23

The fit of the gun to my hand is like the fit of most all Glocks, blocky. If you are a younger shooter who grew up with polymer-framed, double-stack pistols, then the grip should feel just right.

For folks like myself, who cut my handgun teeth on revolvers and 1911s, the grip feels rectangular in circumference, and my not-large hand has a bit of trouble reaching the trigger.

The Glock SF versions of their guns help but are not a total solution. Otherwise, the gun is on par with other polymer semi-autos I’ve shot. 

One small gripe…

Unless you grab a Gen 5 version, the mag release is not reversible. That’s a dealbreaker for some of us lefties. The left-side-only slide release is another issue.

Thankfully, Glock resolved these two issues in the Gen 5 models and even included an extra backstrap to further help the gun fit your hand.

Glock 19 and 17 gen 5 MOS
Gen 5 model Glock G19 and G17..note the loss of the finger grooves and you get some ambi capabilities with Gen 5.

It was about time…other manufacturers had done those things for a few years. It’s good that Glock caught up with them.

How Does It Shoot?

Right here might be a good place to talk about recoil. .40 S&W generates on average 6.3 ft./lbs. of felt recoil, 50% more than the 9mm’s 4.5 ft./lbs.

Granted, those are not all that high when compared with other cartridges — .357 Magnum will impart right at 9 lbs. of whack to your hand, double that of the 9mm.

.357 Magnum Round
.357 Magnum Round

The recoil isn’t a deal breaker, but just be aware that a .40 will kick more than a 9mm, all things equal.

Now, on to the shooting…

I set up a few targets at 20 yards at my backyard range and let fly. The gun and the ammo were more than up to the intended task.

Glock 23

This target was the best of the bunch — I’m not gonna show you a sloppy one, right? The thing is, none of them were what I’d call sloppy. It was pretty consistent.

Can’t get much better than that!

What Sets It Apart

The thing you get with Glock is familiarity…a Glock is a Glock is a Glock.

Set of Glocks
Here a Glock, there a Glock…

Shoot one, you basically know how the next will feel. But that’s a bonus if you find yourself sporting a different model for carry than home defense.

Not to mention, Glock has a wide aftermarket to partake in.

By The Numbers 

Reliability: 5/5

No issues here at all. It worked as intended.

Ergonomics: 3/5

It’s blocky, but if you’re okay with those Glock ergonomics, you’ll be fine. But there are other models on the market with a better feel.

Accuracy: 5/5

Again, no issues. It hit where I wanted it to.

Customization: 5/5

There are hundreds of aftermarket Glock sights, barrels, etc. out there. 

Value: 4/5

I’ve felt for years that, though the quality is good, Glocks can be overpriced. There are other great guns out there for less.

Overall: 4.5/5

499
at Gunprime

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Upgrades for the Model 23

Let’s start with lights…

This G23 came with a Streamlight TLR-1 already mounted. It’s rated at 1,000 lumens, which ought to get anybody’s attention.

108
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

The F23 has one slot on its rail, so you can use single- or no-bar lasers or lights. There are too many lights, not to mention lasers, out there to list a bunch of them…

I’ll direct you to our round-up of the best pistol lights here. In terms of lasers, there are those that are strictly lasers, and then there are laser/light combos.

What if you wanted a better trigger for your Glock? There are several out there.

All Tested Glock Triggers
We’ve tested a lot of Glock triggers around here.

Without re-inventing the wheel, let me direct you to our review of the best aftermarket Glock triggers.

We’ve had plenty of experience upgrading our Austrian wonders.

Final Verdict

The Glock 23 is one viable gun for concealed carry, in a no-nonsense caliber. It doesn’t matter that it’s older — it simply works.

Glock 23
Glock 23

For the most up-to-date version, grab a Gen 5, but if you can stand an older model, you can find Gen 3 versions used.

What do you think of the G23? Let us know in the comments below. For more on Gaston’s pistols, check out the Best Glocks: Across Calibers and Sizes.

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5 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    David Reed

    Just got a Gen 5 Glock 23. Taking it to the range this weekend.

    September 16, 2022 12:56 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    24and7

    The 40 is a very good man stopper, with the right ammo...The 40m worked better with old school bullets...The Law Enforcement rounds are what hurt the 40 the most...Old school hollow points worked far better that these new controlled expansion garbage....Old school police rounds had much better one shot stops than the FBI rounds...The FBI monkeying around with the bullets and the designs caused a lot of issues...The Law Enforcement only and so called defense rounds rounds are really designed to keep people alive during deadly force encounters....A lot of officers began have to shot perps multiple times to put them down....Same with 9mm, BPLE federals stopped perps a whole lot better with one shot because the exploded in targets...You always see law officer dumping mags in people before they go down...That hurt police more than anything else....The lawyers always ask "why did the shoot him so many times!"....Give me a box of Hi-shoks instead of those HST, critical dookie or gold dot any day....I've been around and seen what works in the field..

    July 31, 2022 11:15 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mr. Mark

    I shot quite a few Glocks early on and was not a big fan. Like you I thought these full sized pistols were too blocky and uncomfortable. Then one day I had the opportunity to shoot a 23. Of all the Glocks I'd handled, this one was way different. It fit my hand well (I am small framed with short fingers), the recoil wasn't bad, and it was, for me, very accurate. I grew up with the .357 revolver and never shot a semi-auto pistol accurately, so this Glock was a huge and pleasant surprise. It hasn't failed after a couple of thousand rounds. Ammo seems to be available just about anywhere I look (still having problems getting 9mm ammo but it's getting better). Anyway, I've pretty much retired all of my other handguns and the 23 is my EDC. Can't go wrong IMHO.

    July 29, 2022 9:32 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    John

    I still carry a Glock 22 .40 S&W Gen 4 for my main EDC.

    Personally I like the .40 S&W round, its always been 100% effective for me in the several cases where I had no other choice but to fire. Not sure really what people have against it.

    July 29, 2022 7:57 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Ben Korsmo

      Agreed. My first carry gun was a Gen 3 22. Wonderful piece. I currently go back and forth between the 19x and 45 - depending on what color clothing I’m wearing. Haha. The 22 has been modded a bit and is now more suited to IDPA. It’s got well over 50k rounds through it and still NEVER misses.

      July 30, 2022 10:19 am
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