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.
A larger size that comes at a higher price.
With the .40 caliber rounds, you get:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.