Hot on the heels of the announcement of the new single-stack slimline G43X and G48, both of which are skinny little 9mm’s, I am going to take the time to do a rewind and look at GLOCK’s first attempt at the single-stack slimline game: the .45 ACP GLOCK 36.
The early generations of GLOCK pistols could never be called attractive. They were introduced when polymer was still a relatively new material in the gun world and as a result they came out looking strange by comparison to what was standard at the time.
The age of wood and steel is far from over, but the age of plastic has certainly been in full swing for some time now and lots of gun owners have grown to like (or at least appreciate) polymer pistols
GLOCK’s first guns were high capacity for the time and established what is now the standard, be it 15 or 17 round magazines. An interesting note is that they were introduced in a Euro-centric world where small bore pistols were the most common in the hands of police and military, 9mm chief among them.
I suspect that Europeans failed to grasp the .45 bore because they are still largely essentially serfs living under the will of their governments and as a result gravitated towards smaller, weaker rounds designed for deterrence and not self-defense. Feudalism has never fully left the spirit of many European states and the most common guns there are developed for use by governments, not individuals. This was the same for GLOCK in the early years.
The .45 round, be it .45 Colt, .45-70, or .45 ACP, has always been synonymous with American exceptionalism and the spirit of adventure. As a result, GLOCK eventually released the G21 with the American market in mind.
They ended up with a what I can only describe as a bulky, thick chunk of steel and polymer that had all the ergonomic properties of a brick. Some people took a liking to it, as 13+1 rounds of .45 ACP is enough to overlook some minor issues.
The later release of the G36 was something new for GLOCK. The gun was a departure from the high-capacities of their prior models and featured a new type of magazine. The single-stack magazines of the GLOCK 36 holds six rounds plus one in the chamber. Two are included in the box with a G36.
The significance of the G36 can’t be understated. This was the first in a line of GLOCK pistols that attempted innovation within the constraints of the original GLOCK design. It was thinner than the double stack G21, but as flat as a GLOCK 19, allowing .45 power in a (relatively) small package.
To look at the GLOCK 36 today is to look at a stepping stone design. The gun wastes a large amount of space. It’s far bulkier than it needs to be and isn’t kind on the eyes. The first and most noticeable issue is the grip which, while narrow(er), is exceedingly thick from front to back. That makes it prone to moving in the hand under recoil and the lack of grippy grip texture on the sides makes it somewhat hard to control. And the G36 has the characteristic GLOCK trigger pull that’s frequently described as mushy.
The limited capacity is another issue with the pistol. A 1911 of similar size holds at least another round while being far more comfortable in the hand. Guns like the Smith & Wesson M&P45 Shield (which was introduced have superior ergonomics, grip texture, and magazine capacity for equal size.
A big complaint I have is that the magazine has a large basepad that is necessary for a firm grip on the gun. With the mag removed, you only have a two-finger grip on it and your hand becomes the magwell in the event of a reload. Even a compact 1911 with equal capacity has flush-fitting magazines.
The attempt at making a concealed carry .45 ACP pistol was honorable on GLOCK’s part. They took to a market that was already biased and threw down. I can respect that, but the gun we are left with is left wanting in today’s concealed carry market.
My advice to GLOCK — not that they’ve asked — is to issue an updated variant of this concept in the way of the G43 or the new G43X. I’d be surprised if they aren’t already hard at work on just that. The .45 has a large following in the US and an updated gun with the improved Gen5 trigger would sell extremely well.
I fired the G36 over my Oehler 35P chronograph at a distance of five feet from the muzzle. Velocity is the average of ten shots and accuracy is the average of three, five-shot groups at 15 yards.
Buffalo Bore 185gr JHP +P———————1008fps, 2.5”
Buffalo Bore 230gr JHP +P———————-903fps, 3.0”
Buffalo Bore 255gr +P Outdoorsman————875fps, 3.5”
SIG SAUER 230gr V-Crown JHP——————-850fps, 2.75”
SIG SAUER 185gr V-Crown JHP——————–925fps, 2.25”
Hornady American Gunner 185gr JHP———-848fps, 3.0”
Hornady Critical Duty 220gr +P——————950fps, 1.5”
Hornady Custom 200gr XTP +P——————925fps, 3.25”
Overall I found that the G36 was not especially accurate given its intended role. It’s mechanically sound as I had not a single issue with it as far as reliability is concerned, but it just wasn’t an enjoyable gun to shoot.
Like virtually all GLOCK pistols, it’s dependable and will go bang when needed. For a gun that’s meant to be carried a lot and shot a little, that’s okay.
The best load tested was the Hornady Critical Duty 220gr +P. It shot to point of aim all the way out to 25 yards, where it again performed well. The high recoil of most of the ammo coupled with the snappy slide movement made rapid shots, even at close range, difficult at best.
For a gun that is almost the same overall size and weight as a GLOCK 19, it offers few of the benefits of its 9mm brother and the features of the gun fall short of what is otherwise available on the market today.
Again, if GLOCK were to come out and combine the engineering of the G43 and adapt it to the .45 ACP, including addressing the grip length on the G36, they would have a winner. But so far, there are only 9mm’s so far in the Gen5 line.
Specifications: GLOCK G36
Caliber: .45 ACP
Capacity: 6+1 Rounds
Barrel Length: 3.75”
Overall Length: 7”
Sights: Polymer U-notch
Weight: 22.5oz with empty mag
Street Price: $550
Ratings (out of five stars):
Accuracy * *
I was expecting a bit more from the G36, but I wasn’t to be rewarded the way I had hoped. The only load I got to fire with a reasonable degree of precision was the Hornady Critical Defense, but even that wasn’t exceptional.
Reliability * * * * *
The big redeeming factor of this pistol was that I never had a problem with it as far as reliability. The gun fired everything I put in it.
I have never given a gun a one star rating in ergonomics before, but this one takes it. Despite a single stack magazines, the flat, wide grip and narrow profile make the gun feel akin to a 2×4 in the hand and it torques under recoil as a result. The recoil spring is quite stiff by comparison to similar guns, which makes it difficult to operate with cold or slippery hands.
Customize This * * * * *
Another blessing of this pistol is that it has a plethora of aftermarket accessories available for it (think aftermarket trigger and night sights).
Aesthetics * * *
More modern GLOCK pistols border on being aesthetically attractive, much in the same way that some actors and actresses become somehow better looking with time. But this is not that. The flattened pancake look of the gun and the off-putting differences in surface texture won’t turn any heads.
Overall * * *
While it’s not necessarily the most compact .45 out there, the GLOCK 36 is a reliable and sturdy gun for daily CCW use. The general idea behind it is still sound, but is at this point the G36 is significantly outclassed by other .45 ACP pistols in the same genre. You won’t be sorry if you go with a G36, but you may be slightly disappointed upon seeing what else is out there.