Glock’s Model 23 is the next smaller version of the Model 22 used by many law enforcement agencies in the United States and around the globe, in the same way that the Glock 19 is a smaller version of the Glock 17.
In terms of size, the Model 23 and the Glock 19 are similar and, without reading the roll marks on the guns, it’s almost impossible to distinguish one from the other. The only real giveaway is the size of the holes in their barrels—the hole on a .40 caliber is one millimeter bigger than the hole on the barrel of a 9mm.
The major difference, of course, is that the Model 19 fires the 9mm Parabellum cartridge, while the Model 23 fires the bigger and more powerful .40 S&W round.
So why did I pick the Model 23 instead of the more popular Model 19?
To start with, I’d already owned a Model 19, which I’d sold off 18 years before. What had impressed me most about that gun was its compactness and its solid feel, once it had a full magazine in the grip.
On the other hand, I was already carrying the full-size S&W M&P 9mm at the time. I had never owned a gun in .40 S&W before, so I decided to get one the same size as the Model 19. This would provide me with something smaller than the S&W M&P9 that I was carrying, and give me a cartridge that packed a little more oomph than the 9mm.
Getting Ready to Carry
I was already thinking of the Model 23 as an alternative carry gun, so I immediately ordered several additions and accessories to get it ready for the job, starting with two Glock 22 magazines.
The Glock 23 comes from the factory supplied with two 13-round magazines.
One of the great things about Glocks, though, is that the magazines for most of their bigger models are also designed to work with the smaller variants. The standard 15-round magazines designed for the larger Glock 22, for example, can be used on the smaller Model 23, if you don’t mind an extra inch protruding beyond the base of the smaller gun’s grip.
For good measure, I also added the “Plus 2” base plates to these 15-round magazines, effectively turning them into 17-rounders. This increased the protrusion at the base of the grip to about an inch and a half.
I had been hearing and reading about Lasermax’s products for quite some time, and finally decided to acquire a Lasermax unit to replace the original recoil spring assembly on the Glock 23.
I liked the fact that the Lasermax laser unit fitted entirely within the gun. Just by looking at the gun, it would have been difficult to recognize that it was equipped with laser sights.
The Lasermax unit had no provisions for adjustment or zeroing. Its manufacturer claimed that once installed, it would put the gun’s point of impact within 2 inches of wherever the laser dot pointed.
Installing it on the Glock 23 required that you also replaced the take-down lever, which then served as the laser unit’s on/off switch.
Unlike a Crimson Trace unit, the Lasermax laser attachment did not automatically switch on when you gripped the gun. You needed to turn the laser unit on manually, by pressing the extended take-down lever inward from either side. Not as quick as a Crimson Trace laser, but reasonably fast when you got used to it.
Also unlike most other laser units, the beam generated by the Lasermax unit was a pulsating red dot. It didn’t project a steady red dot onto the target. Personally, I thought that the pulsating red dot was easier to pick up, especially in dynamic target acquisition situations.
Express Night Sights
What followed was a set of 24/7 Express night sights. I obtained a pair and used them to replace the Glock 23’s factory sights.
Instead of a U-shaped notch in the rear, the Express sights had a very shallow ‘V’, with a vertical white line intersecting the lowest part of the ‘V’. Up front, the white-dotted post that Glock used was replaced by a fairly large white ball.
This arrangement is called an express sight because it was extensively used on the African ‘express’ rifles tasked to hunt lion, elephant, rhino, Cape buffalo and other dangerous game. The sights have a reputation for being quick to acquire, and for being reasonably accurate at short to medium ranges.
Using the express sights was quick and easy. You put the large white ball on your target, made it touch the center of the shallow ‘V’, and you squeezed the trigger. As simple as that.
The main advantage of using Express-type sights was supposed to be their ability to to put you on target faster. There was definitely some truth to this—when you drew your gun and began to acquire your target, it was easy to pick up that big white ball you were using as your front sight. At close quarters, say 5 meters, it wasn’t even necessary to finish aligning your rear sight. You simply put the big white ball on your target, and squeezed. 8 times out of 10, the result was a center-of-mass hit on a man-sized silhouette target.
The 24/7 Express night sights that I got also came equipped with tritium vials which glowed in the dark. Tritium sights are amazing things: they require no batteries, and are guaranteed to retain their glow for at least 15 years.
In low light, what you saw using these Express sights was a vertical line (representing the center of the shallow ‘V’ in the rear sight) and a dot (representing the center of the white ball up front). You simply “dotted the i” to get yourself on target.
IWB (Inside-the-Waistband) Holster
To cap things off, I nestled the accessorized Glock 23 in a nylon DeSantis holster.
This particular holster had an elastic nylon pouch that could accommodate an extra magazine in front of the holstered sidearm. I never really used the elastic pouch while wearing the rig; my preference was to tuck the extra magazine into the trouser pocket on my weak-hand side. The only time the elastic pouch got used was when the holster came off, to keep the extra magazine from getting misplaced.
How Does the Glock 23 Perform?
Because it fires the .40 S&W cartridge, the recoil from the Glock 23 is much snappier than the recoil from a 9mm Glock 19. Factory loaded ammunition in .40 S&W generates more power than standard 9mm Parabellum loads, and the recoil you feel reminds you that you’re firing a more powerful cartridge.
The Model 23 I own has functioned flawlessly ever since I acquired it. Even during the 200-round break-in session, there were no failures to load, to fire, or to eject. As per the manufacturer’s admonition, I only fed it full-jacketed ammunition, and it has not given me the slightest reason to doubt its reliability.
It was not intended to be a competition piece; using the gun’s new sights, I am perfectly satisfied when it produces 4-inch groups at 15 meters.
Steering Clear of “Kabooms”
The term “kaboom” comes from discussions in the gun forums, and was originally used to describe what happens to a .40 caliber Glock when a defective cartridge blows the gun apart. The much-feared “kaboom” can be caused by a variety of factors, including obstructed barrels, weak cartridge shell casings, and overloaded rounds.
To avoid the dreaded “kaboom” that gun forums are always talking about, I limit the number of times that my .40 S&W cartridge cases get reloaded. I allow them to be reloaded twice—exclusively with jacketed rounds—before handing the thrice-fired empties over to fellow .40 S&W shooters at the club who don’t use Glocks. They love me for it (!)
22-Round Magazines, Anyone?
Several years ago, I came across what appeared to be Glock-manufactured .40 S&W magazines which held 22 cartridges. Not being one to thumb my nose at higher-capacity options (especially when they appeared to be original factory equipment, complete with Glock’s imprimatur), I naturally purchased a pair.
These 22-round magazines were a trifle longer than the 17-round (15+2) magazines that I already owned, and they protruded over 2 inches beyond the base of the Glock 23’s grip. Since they were meant to be carried as reloads, however, I didn’t mind their extra length one bit.
What really disappointed me was that both of these new 22-round magazines failed to work properly with my Glock 23.
Every time I loaded them to full capacity and took them to the range with me, they would fail to cough up their full complement of cartridges. At some point during the firing string, the .40 S&W cartridges would always nose-dive inside those magazines, resulting in a failure to feed in every instance. It didn’t matter what sort of .40 S&W ammunition I used, either. The malfunction manifested itself with full metal jackets and with every brand of hollow points I tried.
I have no idea whether this is a common occurrence with these 22-round magazines, or if I simply obtained a bad pair. I have not had the chance to test these extended magazines with a full-size Glock 22, to determine whether they work properly with the larger gun.
Suffice it to say that they have never worked properly with my Model 23, and I would never dream of carrying extra ammunition in these magazines, as reloads for defensive carry. I happen to believe that every piece of carry equipment needs to deliver 100% performance every time, and magazines are no exception.
These two magazines have since been locked away, until I find the time to take them apart and hopefully, find out why they behave so badly.
The Glock 23 is my go-to sidearm for everyday carry to this very day. It is compact, not too heavy, and it packs almost as much authority as a .45 ACP. It has been accessorized the way I want it, and the gun itself should provide a lifetime of useful service.
The only problem, so far, has been with the Lasermax recoil spring laser unit. I have discovered that when a laser unit is installed less than an inch from the muzzle, smoke and firing residue quickly foul the laser’s lens, reducing its brightness and diminishing the sharpness of the red dot that it projects.
The Lasermax is now so badly fogged up from repeated firing that, instead of a sharply-defined red dot, it has begun to project a blurry red patch with no defined center. While this still gives you an idea of where your bullets are going to go, it is virtually useless for more deliberate work.
Having learned a valuable lesson, my next laser sight will have to be a unit that sits well behind the gun’s muzzle, the way that Crimson Trace laser units are configured.
I have also found that I prefer a laser unit that automatically switches on when I grip the handgun. In a critical situation, this eliminates the need to manually switch on the laser, and allows you to put the gun to work faster.