Sitting amongst the assembled throng of writers, trainers, firearm distributors and other stakeholders immediately following Glock's unveiling of the G44, I smiled and muttered "10 mm!" It was the punchline of a meme that had rapidly circulated when Glock had done an earlier rollout of what was expected to be a single-stack, subcompact 9 mm (the G43), but which turned out to be a 10 mm (for which somewhat fewer people were clamoring). Now, the gun that some people were betting was a pistol-caliber carbine turned out to be a .22 LR pistol.
It's a shame baseball isn't big in Austria 'cause these guys can really throw a curve.
It took a few moments and a handful of details to understand why the .22 LR and why this .22 LR, in particular. Once I did, I had to applaud; not the engineering, but the strategy.
Here's what you need to know: The new G44 is sized almost identically to the iconic G19. It will fit G19 gear, including holsters and magazine pouches. And it is a Glock.
Why It’s Important
The Glock name on the slide makes it important. Some people like spending hours on research. Others like being idiosyncratic; it becomes part of their identity and they want a pistol that reflects that quality. Still others just fall in love with a particular gun for no easily articulated reason. However, the vast majority don't really enjoy poring over conflicting articles and videos, soliciting opinions from those who may have agendas or whose needs are very different from their own. Gasp, many may not even be gun enthusiasts. They might just view a gun as a practical tool, one it's good to proficient with, but a tool nonetheless. They want something that is essentially a "no-brainer." That's what the choice of a Glock has become for much of the market. The simplicity, reliability, light weight, durability, accuracy and value of the company's products strip away the uncertainty that often comes with big ticket items. "Glock knuckle" is a malady that sometimes befalls the Glock purchaser; buyer's remorse is not.
Of all Glock's pistols, the compact 9 mm G19 is the one which dominates the personal protection market. Just as Jerry West (ask your grandparents) became the logo of the NBA, the G19 has become the symbol for handguns. It's now the default silhouette you often see used to represent handguns. Its balance of size, weight, chambering and firepower make it stand out, even within the Glock line.
Its position in the market is what makes creation of the G44 such a clever move. If you own a G19, you can suddenly have a nearly identical pistol that you can shoot to your heart's content, one that impacts relatively lightly on both your wallet and your shooting hand. Even the cheapest military surplus 9 mm is less affordable than .22 LR rimfire. Imagine being able to tell your spouse you are buying a new gun to save money. Moreover, much of the additional cost of purchasing a new gun is sidestepped by the fact that the G44 will fit your G19 holster and its mags will fit your G19 mag carriers.
But, let's say you're a newbie purchasing that first handgun. Now you can get a high-quality rimfire to practice with, one without punishing recoil or muzzle blast that may make you develop bad habits or at least get in the way of developing good ones. And, when you're ready, you can move up to the center-fire G19 without having to buy new gear, adjust to a different "feel" or learn a whole new manual-of-arms.
The G44 works both ends of the market, facilitating brand loyalty in the veteran shooter and initiating it in the novice.
Of course, some Glock haters (who would complain if Glock cured cancer) point out that there are already plenty of .22 LR pistols on the market. Sure there are—and there ought to be more; competition is a good thing. But, again, buy one and you'll likely have to purchase dedicated gear for it. And if you use it to teach someone to shoot, that person will likely have to transition to an unfamiliar centerfire with an unfamiliar handling and operation protocol. Also, don't forget that Glock's popularity feeds on itself. There are scores of easily located accessories for them because of the brand's popularity.
What about .22 LR conversion kits? OK, this isn't fair, but I had one from a very reputable manufacturer and it just flat-out wouldn't work. Maybe some do. I wound up tossing mine. However, looking back, it had a much smaller slide than the one the pistol came with, so it wouldn't have been compatible with G19 holsters. That said, if you have a good one you like—or see one you want—go for it. Just don’t expect everyone to be so enamored of conversion kits that no one wants or needs a G44.
If you're someone who yawned, scoffed or smirked when you heard that the G44 was a rimfire, you may want to get over yourself. One of the things immediately apparent at the Glock gathering was the number of women shooters and trainers the company had invited. Glock called it correctly. When the G44 was unveiled, many of them all but did handsprings. It was exactly what they’d wanted. Women are the fastest-growing segment of the firearms market and those who've taken it upon themselves to promote guns and shooting to women--your NRA included--have longed for a pistol they can start beginning female shooters on that allows an easy transition to a fighting caliber. If you don't think getting new people involved in shooting is important, you haven't been paying attention to the news.
As I write this in Virginia, the commonwealth is considering making firearms training a felony. Yeah, you read that right. This new gun might be the biggest boon to training in years. If you’re not a trainer—even just an informal one for family, friends and coworkers—why aren’t you?
The Gun So what about the G44 itself? What kind of gun is it? Well, as we said, it's a Glock. It worked--every time. There were several tables set up with a pair of G44s on each and crates of rimfire ammo being loaded into a bunch of magazines. I didn't see a misfire all day. Oh, I'm sure it'll happen. Rimfire ammunition is notorious for it as it is difficult to always get the priming compound all the way around the rim, but on this day, both pistol and ammo did their part.
It was accurate. I dinged steel four times at over a hundred yards after all of five minutes of handling the gun. (No, the hits weren't in a row and it took more than a few tries, but still ...). The sights are drift- and windage-adjustable ball-and-bucket type, which some despise but which worked fine on a variety of small to medium steel targets arranged about 8 to 25 yards out.
It was familiar. The feel in the hand, the trigger pull, the balance all felt like, well, you know. The only significant difference from the G19 was the weight. A loaded Gen5 G19 weighs 30.16 ounces. A loaded G44 weighs 15.94 ounces. That lightness makes it even less burdensome on the hip, but does actually give the new gun a slight kick—for a .22 LR. Oh, nothing harsh, mind you, nowhere near that of a centerfire, but if you are used to all-steel, bull-barrel rimfires (as I am) with an empty weight of 36 to 42 ounces, the muzzle rise comes as a mild surprise. Of course, when you see slender Ashley Rheuark, of the Glock pistol team, make one sound like it's full auto but with every shot hitting a little 3-inch target, you realize that, no, recoil really isn't a problem.
Is the G44 revolutionary? No. Is it innovative? Not especially. It’s solid, but unspectacular. Should you not buy the rimfire you really want or trade in those you already have? Nope.
Should you have one in addition to what you already own? Probably. Does it position Glock more strongly in the handgun market? Absolutely. Will it sell like hotcakes? Believe it, Hot Rod.
Rimfires are inherently versatile, so not only should the G44 find love as a trainer, but also as a plinker, a kit gun, a small-game pistol and maybe even a competition gun. Glock already has a threaded barrel ready and extra magazines can be purchased as well.