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G21: The Small Glock .45 ACP (Or More Like a Pocket Canon)

Glock G21
Image: Creative Commons.

Chambered in .45 ACP, the G21 is not enormous — but it is mighty.

Glock Has the Goods

Regardless of what kind of pistol you’re after, Glock likely has a solution. The Austrian firearm manufacturer has an extensive selection of handguns, including long slide, standard, compact, and subcompact options. And while Glocks are considered quality firearms, one of their pistols, in particular, is worth mentioning.

Glock G21

The Glock G21 stands out; above the rest is Glock’s G21. This standard-sized Glock is a reasonably lightweight option and tips the scales at just under 39 ounces with a loaded magazine. This relatively low weight point is partly achieved by Glock’s polymer frame, a lightweight but robust design that does not compromise strength to achieve a low weight point and has the added benefit of not corroding.

.45 ACP

Lightweight aside, one of the G21’s most remarkable features is the pistol cartridge it is chambered in: the full-sized .45 ACP. 

The famous American gunsmith John Browning developed the .45 ACP and paired it with his iconic M1911 pistol, which was noted both then and now for its high stopping power. Needless to say, it packs a powerful punch.

However, despite chambering the large .45 ACP, standard G21 magazines can hold 13 cartridges, compared to the M1911’s 7- or 8-round single-stack magazines. In addition, the G21’s barrel length is 117 millimeters or 4.61 inches.

And compared to other pistols chambered in .45 ACP, like Browning’s M1911, the G21 is relatively small by comparison. One G21 variant, the G21SF, is even smaller, offering shooters a smaller diameter receiver for better control, especially for shooters with smaller hands.

The G21 features a strongly checked grip pattern that allows for a firm grip. The pistol also has finger grooves and a beaver-tail style, interchangeable backstrap that offers the shooter a high and tight grip — absolutely necessary when firing the powerful .45 ACP cartridge.

Like all Glocks, the G21 features the company’s patented three-point Safe Action safety system consisting of a trigger safety, a firing pin safety, as well as a drop safety. More on the Safe Action system can be read here and is worth a read.


The Glock G21 may well be one of the more powerful Glock pistols on the market today. The large .45 ACP cartridge combined with a high capacity 13-round magazine puts a considerable amount of firepower into the shooter’s hand and is noteworthy for a pistol like the G21. No doubt about it: the G321 packs a substantial punch and is a good option for a pistol chambered in .45 ACP.

Caleb Larson is a multimedia journalist and Defense Writer based in Europe. He lives in Berlin and covers the intersection of conflict, security, and technology, focusing on American foreign policy, European security, and German society.

Written By

Caleb Larson, a defense journalist based in Europe and holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy. He lives in Berlin and writes on U.S. and Russian foreign and defense policy, German politics and culture.

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