January 14, 2021 5 min read 1 Comment

The Glock 21 and Glock 23 handguns have stellar reputations among law enforcement, sport shooting enthusiasts, and plenty of people interested in personal protection. While they’re both excellent guns, they do have some differences that you should consider before investing money in a CCW.

Glock 21 vs Glock 23: Size, Weight, and Concealment

The Glock 21 and Glock 23 models are both full-size guns that require carefully molded holsters for concealed carry.

Glock 21 Measurements

Overall length: 7.36 inches

Barrel length: 4.02 inches

Height: 5.04 inches

Width: 1.26 inches

Weight: 31.22 ounces (just under 2 pounds) with a loaded magazine

Glock 23 Measurements

Overall length: 8.07 inches

Barrel length: 4.61 inches

Height: 5.51 inches

Width: 1.34 inches

Weight: 38.8 ounces (2.425 pounds) with a loaded magazine

The Better Option for Concealment

Choosing the Glock 21 gives you a slightly smaller, more lightweight pistol to carry. About .7 inches doesn’t sound like much until you carry it in a CCW holster. Perhaps even more importantly, the Glock 21 Gen4’s shorter barrel makes it easier to conceal than the Glock 23 Gen4.

Since both guns are fairly wide, consider getting a holster claw kit that will angle the grip inward to decrease printing. Once your gun gets wider than 1.25 inches, even a slight adjustment can make a big difference in concealment.

Glock 21 vs Glock 23: Caliber and Magazine Capacity

Why would someone choose a full-sized Glock 21 or Glock 23 as their concealed carry weapon? Magazine capacity often plays into the decisions. Plus, the guns carry larger rounds than the smaller models that tend to carry 9mm rounds. That means you get more rounds that pack more power.

The Glock 21 has a 13-round magazine that carries .45 caliber rounds. The Glock 23 comes standard with a 13-round magazine that carries 40 S&W rounds. Both options have their pros and cons.

With .45 caliber rounds, you get:

  • Better accuracy (potentially) because they have less recoil.
  • Greater penetration.
  • A larger size that comes at a higher price.

With the .40 caliber rounds, you get:

  • Higher velocity.
  • Lighter weight and smaller size.
  • A more affordable price.

If you aren’t sure which caliber meets your needs, go to a shooting range that will let you try both. Some people don’t mind the sharp recoil of .40-caliber rounds. Others find that they prefer the improved accuracy and greater penetration that they get from the .45 S&W rounds.

While there’s a price difference between the options, try not to base your decision on how much the rounds cost. Typically, you can expect to spend more money on .45 rounds. Price often varies depending on availability, though. It’s unlikely—but possible—that .40-caliber rounds could become more expensive in the future.

Comparing Magazine Capacities

The Glock 21 and Glock 23 come standard with 13-round magazines. If you buy a Glock 21, you can only use the 13-round magazine. There aren’t any high-capacity options. Granted, you still get considerably more rounds than you would when carrying a compact pistol.

If you want a large magazine capacity, you have to choose the Glock G23. Optional magazines can hold 14, 15, 16, or 22 rounds.

Keep in mind that a 22-round magazine will make it harder to conceal your weapon. Then again, you can’t deny the obvious advantage of having such a high-capacity magazine.

Glock 21 vs Glock 23: Features

Safe Action System

Both the G21 and G23 make use of Glock’s Safe Action System, which includes:

  • Drop safety that prevents the firing pin from moving forward.
  • Firing pin safety that mechanically blocks the firing pin.
  • Trigger safety that helps prevent accidental firings.
  • Trigger reset that lets you fire a second round without completely releasing the trigger.


The Glock 21 and 23 come with 3-point sights. If you want to upgrade to a laser sight or tritium night sight, get the Glock 21. The G21’s polymer frame has a built-in accessory rail that makes upgrades easy to add.

Alternatives to Consider

The Glock 21 and Glock 23 are obviously terrific handguns. They’re so reliable that law enforcement departments across the U.S. use them as service pistols. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re the best open and concealed carry options for you. It makes sense to consider some alternatives before you invest in any gun.

Glock 19

The Glock 19 has the same dimensions as the Glock 21. With the Glock 19, though, you get a standard magazine that carries 15 9mm rounds. Magazine capacities for the gun go all the way up to 33. If you don’t mind the Glock 21’s size—but you prefer 9mm rounds and a higher capacity magazine—the Glock 19 could serve you well.

We make a Kydex IWB holster just for the Glock 19. Use it to improve concealment, access, and comfort. If you’re the kind of Glock owner who has multiple models, you can use the Glock 19 holster for the G23, too!

Glock 20

The Glock 20 has measurements that fall somewhere between the G21 and G23. With the Glock 20, though, you get to carry 100mm Auto rounds. The rounds will give you a little more power than 9mm rounds, but they weigh slightly less than those used in the Glock 21 and Glock 23.

We have an IWB Glock 20 holster that also has the right interior to hold the Glock 21.

Glock 42

The Glock 42 is Glock’s smallest subcompact CCW. It only measures 5.94 inches from end to end. The overall width is just .98 inches. The barrel length is a mere 3.25 inches. With a loaded magazine, the Glock 42 only weighs 15.87 ounces (just under a pound).

Why doesn’t everyone choose the 42? Some people actually don’t like the small size. If you have large hands, you might find it difficult to hold the grip properly. If you have smaller hands, though, you could love the G42’s grip.

The Glock 42’s magazine can only hold 6 .380 Auto rounds. If you want more rounds, you shouldn’t choose the Glock 42. It’s built to give everyday carriers a small, lightweight option for quick self-defense.

Since the G42 is so small, make sure you get our Kydex holster designed for its unique size.

Our Holsters for Glock CCWs

No matter which handgun you prefer as a CCW, we probably make a Kydex holster designed for the specific model. We have IWB and OWB holsters for most Glock pistols because they are such popular guns for law enforcement, the military, and consumers.

Pick the Right Holster for Your Glock Pistol

Whether you choose the Glock 21 or the Glock 23—or a completely different model—you need a holster that can help conceal your weapon and keep you comfortable without blocking access.

We make all of our holsters in the U.S. from durable Kydex material. Each holster is designed to meet the dimensions and features of specific guns. Always check our online store to find a holster that fits your gun.

If you're leaning towards owning a Glock 21, then you will benefit from our Glock 21 IWB Kydex holster.

If the Glock 23 sounds like a better option for you, buy our Glock 23 IWB Kydex holster.

We believe in our products so much that we include a lifetime warranty with every purchase. We rarely have to exchange holsters for our customers because we always focus on quality.

Order your Glock CCW holster before 3 p.m. Eastern, and we will get the delivery process started today!

1 Response

James Turner
James Turner

May 09, 2023

You have answered so many questions for me! Great piece and great job Ben. Thanks for the advice

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