After several weeks of waiting for my preferred distributor to get Glock 48’s in stock, I started calling all the major distributors until I found one that had some G48’s available. Ordered two. One to leave in factory original condition, and one to modify as a possible new carry gun.
Historically I have favored the S&W M&P guns over the Glocks. The standard Glock frame is just a little too big for my hands. I have a gen 3 G19 that a gunsmith did a grip reduction on, and while it’s seen a lot of use as a class loaner, it never was as comfortable to me as the regular M&P frame with small grip insert, or the M&P Shield.
I found myself carrying the M&P Shield a lot more often than the full size M&P over the past several months. I had spent quite a bit of time working with the Shield in the past, adding a Silencerco threaded barrel and a Taylor Freelance Glock sight block w/ Dawson Precision front sight, to extend the sight radius to roughly 4″. I also put a Crimson Trace laser on it.
And I experimented with different magazine base pads and insert kits, finding several solutions to make the Shield into a practical 9+1 carry gun, documented in this older blog post. Most recently, I put the flat faced Apex trigger in the Shield, which improved the trigger feel quite a bit.
I started running a wide variety of drills with the modded Shield, not comparing it against “small gun” standards but against what I could do with the full size M&P. One drill I used a lot was the “modified Cooper Cup” as documented by Ed Head in a 2018 Shooting Illustrated article. This drill was also a “historical” drill going back to the Cooper era at Gunsite. It included multiple reloads and 25 yard shooting. Despite putting in a lot of work, I kept coming back to two key limitations:
- It’s hard to do reloads quickly when you can’t get all 4 fingers of your shooting hand on the grip frame of the pistol.
- The Shield, with its 3″ barrel, just would not group better than 5″ at 25 yards from benchrest with any ammo I put in it. By comparison, the full size 1.0 M&P was consistent 2-3″ groups at 25 yards with the same ammo from the bench.
Enter the Glock 48
I’m a fanatic about gun fit because I’ve seen how much it matters to ease of operation, the way the gun “points”, and shooting with speed and accuracy generally. Rubbing the middle section of the trigger finger against the frame, (a.k.a. frame-dragging), can contribute to shots going left for right handed shooters. This article by Tom Givens explains the issue in detail. The problem, for people with shorter fingers, is that there are very few single stack options that aren’t either $1000+ 1911’s or guns with chopped frames and 3″ barrels. I learned recently that Springfield dropped the 4″ XD-S from their product line. The problem is that untrained/undertrained gun buyers are overly obsessed with finding the smallest carry gun possible, with no regard to how some of those compromises affect performance.
In reality, a gun with a chopped frame, that comes with a magazine with a pinky ledge, ends up being the same length as a gun with a 4-finger frame and a flush mag is. The difference is ease of handling when it’s time to reload the gun under any time pressure. So despite the fact that barrel length, for a gun carried IWB, really doesn’t affect concealability, but does affect shot to shot recovery time, bullet velocity and accuracy, buyers (and the dealers that have to choose which models to carry), don’t seem to want a single stack striker fired carry gun with a frame long enough to grip with all your fingers, with a 4″ barrel. So in a world full of duty sized high capacity guns, and chopped frame 3″ barrel micro guns, the 4″ single stack has not been available — even though many industry types have been saying that “single stack Glock 19 is the most requested variant that Glock hasn’t made yet”.
When the 43X and 48 were announced, many bloggers and commenters revealed their own ignorance of the value of longer frames and longer barrels, as they questioned the reasoning behind the introduction of both models. It’s the perspective you get when you (a) don’t train a lot of people with smaller hands (b) don’t understand gun fit and therefore don’t even notice the number of people that would benefit from a single stack frame, and (c) don’t include timed reloads, or reloads at all, in any shooting done to write a gun review.
The G48 seems to be a great fit for my hand. I can get on the trigger with no frame-dragging. I can run the mag release without shifting the gun in my grip. No extended mag release needed. If I want to, I can close the slide from slide lock by pushing down on the slide lock lever, making my slide lock reloads a little quicker than the power stroke technique. It feels slimmer than the Shield, even flatter feeling than a single stack 1911.
Configuring my Glock 48
It’s a given that the Glock factory sights have to be replaced. I was curious about the new F8 sights introduced by XS. I have not been a fan of their Big Dot product, but the F8s specifically included design features I think are useful: good light on both sides of the front sight, sharp ledge to facilitate one handed gun manipulation, high contrast/color on the front sight, black solid rear…with the added bonus of vertical tritium dots (not horizontal 3-dots). I got a set of the F8s and put them on my new G48.
Apex announced that their flat faced gen 3 Glock trigger was compatible with the G48. Liking the Apex trigger on my Shield, I went ahead and put that part in my Glock 48. (Note – to remove the Glock 48 trigger face from the trigger bar requires damaging the factory trigger face itself, since the pin is a one-way pin and the only way to get it out is to punch through the housing.)
Shooting the Glock 48
I figured out that the Glock 48 would fit in a Comp-Tac CTAC IWB holster made for a G19, if I removed the rubber washers that prevented the holster shell from closing flat. And I found that the G48 mags fit just fine in mag carriers made for full size M&P mags, if the screws holding the shells closed were tightened down a little extra to compress the rubber washers. So by raiding my boxes of class loaner gear, and robbing the other 2 mags from Glock 48 #2’s box, I had a full carry and practice rig: holster, mag pouches, and 4 mags.
I shot a few rounds as a quick check at 15 yards to make sure I had gotten the rear sight left-right position correct, went back into the shop, made a small adjustment, checked it again, said “good enough to try” and started running drills.
The first drill I ran was the 2019 FBI qualification course of fire, as shared recently by Tom Givens to Rangemaster alumni. Tom taught at the FBI academy last year. He’s been using the FBI qual course in his classes for quite some time, and his opinions on what could be changed to improve the qual were shared with FBI staff.
FBI PISTOL QUALIFICATION COURSE, revised Jan 2019
QIT silhouette, scored 2 points per hit
3 yards Draw and fire 3 rds strong hand only, switch hands and fire 3 rds support hand only, all in 6 seconds
5 yards Draw and fire 3 rds in 3 seconds
From the Ready, fire 3 rds in 2 seconds
From the Ready, fire 6 rds in 4 seconds
7 yards Draw and fire 5 rds in 5 seconds
From the Ready, fire 4 rounds, conduct an empty gun reload, and fire 4 more rds, all in 8 seconds
From the Ready, fire 5 rounds in 4 seconds
15 yards Draw and fire 3 rds in 6 seconds
From the Ready, fire 3 rds in 5 seconds
25 yards Draw and fire 4 rds from Standing, drop to a Kneeling Position and fire 4 more rds from Kneeling, all in 20 seconds.
50 rounds total 100 points possible 90 or above for instructors
Awhile back I made myself a stencil that had the QIT bottle as a cutout, so I could convert USPSA/IDPA targets to practice QIT’s easily. The 1980’s version of the target included a lower area of the bottle (marked “OLD” in the pic). The current target does not include that lower section as an acceptable hit area.
Prior to running the live fire test I had done maybe 20 dry fire shots with the G48. I did not expect to clean the course, with almost all the shots staying the inner small box.
Next up, Ed Head’s modified Cooper Cup drill. It included more reloads than the FBI qual did, and the scoring area of the Gunsite target is smaller. I had not been able to shoot a perfect score on the drill with my Shield, even after all the mods and multiple attempts. First run with the G48 was 220/225, with one round dropped low at 25 yards. I made the mistake of checking my target at 15 yards before I moved back to 25 to finish, and what was on my mind was “all you need is 4 good shots and you can clean the course finally!”. Thinking about outcomes instead of the process never helps and the proof is there with that one bad shot. However — I was very pleased with the results.
Zeroing and Group Size
Now with 100 rounds or so through the gun, time to really check out how the F8 sights worked for 25 yard shooting, and what kind of mechanical accuracy I could get out of the gun. My first attempt, using Blazer 124 gr JRN ammo, was decent, but I knew I did not shoot as well as I could. I had some Freedom Munitions 124 gr JRN reman ammo on hand, and shot a test group with it, to get a measure on what I thought would be the “low end” of potential accuracy. I ended up with a 6 shot group that was under 3″ at 25 yards, with the center of the group 1.5″ above the spot on the target where the tip of the front sight had been. While that’s not a statistically valid number of trials, it was a good result that indicates even though the F8 sights were originally made using G43 (shorter barrel) geometry, they are good to go. 1-2″ high at 25 yards usually equates to “right on” at 10 yards, which is certainly what I had observed in the drills. And the 3″ group size surpassed any group I’ve shot with the Shield – not just my gun with the aftermarket barrel, but several other samples of that gun I’ve shot benchrest groups with over the past few years.
More to Come
My plan is to run the G48 as much as I can between now and the Rangemaster Tactical Conference coming up in mid-March, including running the F8 sights in low light during the low light class I’m teaching March 2. Unless I break the gun or encounter some other problem with it, I will likely be using that gun in the match and as my daily carry gun at the Conference.