Firearm: Glock G44 (MSRP: $379)
Like pretty much everybody else in this business, when the Glock G44 was first introduced a few years ago, I thought “Oh great, a .22LR pistol that will make a great training gun for people who own a Glock G19.” I didn’t own a Glock G19 at the time, though, so I set that knowledge aside and continued on with my life.
Two years ago, I switched to carrying a Glock G19, and then last year, I had a student in one of my concealed carry classes bring a Glock G44 to the range. I got a chance to shoot it, and I was immediately hooked on this gun. There was no recoil, and the gun looked, acted and felt like the G19 in my holster on my waistband, except there was a lot less drama happening when I shot it.
That would have been the end of things, except I started reading some of the great works of defensive firearms training by people like Massad Ayoob and others, who didn’t exactly endorse the idea of using .22LR as a “go to” caliber, but realized that if a person just can’t handle the recoil and power of a centerfire cartridge, the low cost and low recoil of a .22LR was probably the best option for them.
This got me thinking, and the release of new ammo like Federal’s 22 Punch and new guns like the Ruger Lite Rack spurred me to order some ballistics gel and do some testing. In my tests, the Federal Punch and Winchester Silvertip .22LR rounds both achieved 12 or more inches of penetration into gel when shot out of a G44. This is a standard that many .32ACP and .380ACP defensive rounds can’t reach, and it made me reconsider the effectiveness of a .22LR as a sub-caliber defensive cartridge.
The Glock G44 mimics much of the features of its 9mm cousin. It has a trigger that breaks at right around 5.5 pounds, and a grip and frame that is for all purposes identical to a Glock G19. The slide, however, is a metal and polymer hybrid, so take great care when replacing the sights on this gun. The action is also different. The G19 is a locked breech action, while the G44 is straight blowback action. The G19 holds 15 rounds of 9mm in a magazine, while the G44 holds just 10. At first glance, this makes little sense, as .22LR is a much smaller cartridge than 9mm. However, .22LR is a rimmed cartridge, and those rims can overlap inside the magazine, leading to a failure to feed malfunction. All of a sudden, having just 10 rounds in the magazine, but making sure they all feed well into the gun, makes a lot of sense.
The Glock G44, then, can serve double duty. Because it fits in holsters made for the Glock G19 it works absolutely perfect as a training gun. You can use the G44 to practice on things such as your drawstroke, rather than use your G19 and more expensive 9mm ammo. In addition to this, it can (I repeat “can.” Not “should,” or “must,” but “can”) serve as a defensive pistol as well.
Dark Star Gear Orion Holster (MSRP: $85)
This particular holster has been my personal daily carry holster for the last two years, and it shows it. I’ve attached a teardrop wedge (also made by Dark Star Gear) to help conceal my carry gun (a Glock 19) under my clothing. The wedge forces the bottom of the holster out, away from my body, which in turn forces the top of my pistol inwards, towards my body, improving concealment. You can read more about wedges and wings and how they work in our article on choosing the best holster for your body type.
The Orion holster itself is set up to accommodate pretty much every compact-sized Glock model out there, including the Glock 44. The holster is adjustable for cant and can mount on your belt using a number of different attachment devices. The Orion can work well as a Inside the Waistband (IWB) holster on your hip, but it really shines when used for appendix carry, or AIWB.
When positioned in that spot, and used in conjunction with a stabilizing wing and wedge, the Orion is very comfortable to wear all day long. Dark Star Gear makes great holsters, and the Orion is proof of their expertise.
Surefire Sidekick Multi-Output LED Keychain Flashlight (MSRP: $29.99)
A flashlight is one of those tools that serves so many different functions, it’s hard to imagine never having one within easy reach. A flashlight shining out in the dark serves notice that you’re aware that bad things can happen in low light, and you’re prepared to deal with them. They’re also useful for finding things in the dark nooks and crannies of a typical workplace, finding your way in the dark and so many other things.
The Surefire Sidekick isn’t the brightest light out there, but it’s one of the smallest, and at 300 lumens, it kicks out a lot of power for its diminutive size. That amount of power might be too much for some situations, so the Sidekick also has reduced power settings for 60 and 5 lumens as well. Best of all, the Sidekick is USB rechargeable, so you don’t have to go hunting for some obscure battery when it runs out of power.