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A Smaller, Bigger Hammer: Glock 29 SF Review

by Greg Rodriguez   |  February 14th, 2013 7

Glock-29-SF_001

A few months ago, I got a note from Glock asking if I was interested in reviewing the 10mm Model 29 SF. The firm’s PR rep asked if I’d take a look at it from a hunting angle since the 10mm is my favorite cartridge for handgun hunting. I thought it was an odd request because the G29 is a stubby, little auto pistol with fixed sights and a 3.78-inch barrel. But after shooting it several times over the last few months, I have to say the pocket-sized G29 SF definitely has a place in the field.

SF Means Short Frame
The Model 29 SF’s “SF” designation stands for short frame. Glock’s .45 ACP Model 21 and the full-sized Model 20 10mm have notoriously large grips. The SF variants reduce the circumference of the grip by reducing the length of the grip between the backstrap and the trigger. The result is a smaller grip that makes Glock’s most powerful auto pistols more appealing to shooters with average-sized hands. Please note the word “average.” If you have small mitts, even the SF variant is probably still too big for you.

Like all Glocks, the G29 is a polymer-framed pistol. The frame has thumbrests molded into both sides of the grip and two finger grooves in the frontstrap with checkering in between the grooves to help maintain a secure grip under the little blaster’s significant recoil. The front of the frame has an integral accessory rail that accepts lights and lasers, and a reversible magazine release is located on the grip just aft of the trigger guard. The pistol comes with two 10-round, polymer magazines, and it also accepts the G20’s 15-round mag.

My sample gun’s trigger breaks at 5 pounds, 6 ounces. The striker-fired pistol uses Glock’s classic “Safe Action” trigger system, which is made up of three independent, automatic safeties. The proven safeties will not allow the pistol to fire no matter how hard it strikes the ground. Moving the trigger completely to the rear deactivates all three safeties simultaneously. They engage again when the trigger begins its forward movement. It is a safe design, but remember that the only release is on the trigger face. Always carry any Glock in a holster that completely covers the trigger for safety’s sake.

The SF has a hammer-forged, 3.7-inch barrel with hexagonal rifling. The machined steel slide is, understandably, a bit beefier than the slide of 9mm Glocks. The G29 slide wears Glock’s almost indestructible finish and is fitted with fixed sights. The front sight has a white dot, and the rear has a white outline. A robust external extractor is fitted into the slide, just aft of the ejection port.

The G29 SF, like its siblings, is all business. In fact, there is nothing pretty at all about the polymer pistol. But in my experience, Glocks usually make up for their lackluster looks with unfailing reliability—a must-have quality in a defensive pistol.

Bear-Busting Power
At first glance, I appreciated my G29’s compact size and expected reliability, but it seemed like a pistol without a purpose. After all, its stubby barrel and fixed sights are hardly ideal for hunting, and based on my experience with my 10mm 1911s, I thought the heavy-recoiling 10mm cartridge would be too much for most shooters to handle from such a compact pistol. However, the promise of bear-stopping power in a lightweight, compact package appealed to me, so I packed up my chronograph and a good supply of 10mm Auto ammunition and headed to the range.

I started with some 7-yard work to see where the sights hit and to get used to the trigger. The G29 hit where I looked and pounded my first few magazines into a nice, fist-sized group. But as I upped the ante with hotter hunting loads, the pistol started to jump around in my hands, opening up my groups. High heat and sweaty hands didn’t help, but subsequent sessions in cooler weather proved that I’m just not man enough to keep the G29 in check if I don’t readjust my grip every few rounds. The recoil isn’t brutal, but it’s certainly noticeable, and the short grip doesn’t provide enough of a purchase for even my small hands. Friends with larger hands had similar problems holding onto the G29 SF.

From the bench, the pistol showed a bit more promise, averaging around 2 inches at 15 yards and producing best groups in the 1.5-inch range with two loads. I also had no trouble ringing MGM’s BC-C Zone target at 100 yards with it. The little pistol displayed impressive accuracy, to be sure, but its fixed sights and short sight radius make it less than ideal for hunting. I also think the short barrel gives up too much velocity to justify the increased recoil.

For example, Double Tap’s 180-grain Nosler JHP averaged 1,162 fps from the 3.7-inch-barreled G29 SF. The same load averages 1,310 from my 5-inch Colt. That 1,162 fps average still beats a 180-grain projectile from the .40 S&W by about 100 fps, but that extra bit of performance comes at a price: 10mm Auto ammo is harder to find, and the Double Tap loads buck around in the hand a lot more than .40 S&W loadings.

It may sound like I’m a bit down on the G29 SF, but the truth is it’s a reliable pistol that shoots great. I would prefer 9mm or .45 ACP for self-defense in urban environments, and I’d opt for its big brother, the G20, for hunting. But the Lilliputian 10mm is ideal for outdoorsmen looking for more power and reach in a concealable package.

Bigger is usually better in bear country. With the right loads, the G29 SF offers that increased power in a package that is small and light enough to carry on extended backcountry excursions. And you can bet that no matter how wet or muddy or dirty it gets, this little big Glock will go bang every time you squeeze the trigger. What’s not to like about that?

Glock-29-SF_002

The “SF” stands for short frame, and it means the circumference of the grip is reduced by decreasing the length from the backstrap to the trigger.

  • Reacher6

    Gen 3 Model 20 always felt like a fence post in my hand. Tried the gen 4 and love it. Going to black bear country this fall as my backup.

  • Mazryonh

    Which generation was the Glock 29 you reviewed from?

    “A smaller, bigger hammer” doesn’t make much sense. A better title might have been “a smaller, meaner hammer” which the Glock 29 certainly is compared to a full-size 9mm Parabellum pistol.

    As for getting a better grip on a Glock 29, there are grip extensions mounted on Glock 29 magazines that fit on the bases, which will give your pinky finger more purchase. If you want to use Glock 20 magazines in a 29, there are magazine sleeves for those too that will bridge the gap between the base of the magazine and the bottom of the Glock 29′s grip. There are also the numerous stippling/grip modification services for Glocks that make them thinner or otherwise shorter beyond what you can get from stock models which could help.

    “The promise of bear-stopping power in a lightweight, compact package” has long appealed to those who carry, or end up carrying, snubnose revolvers in magnum cartridges. The Glock 29 has the snubnose .357 magnum revolvers beat in terms of capacity and relative recoil thanks to its magazine capacity and recoil spring assembly, not to mention how full-power 10mm ammunition can come very close to .41 magnum performance levels. I’m sure if you put a miniature red dot sight on your Glock 29 you could use it for short-range hunting.

    • Terry Kremin

      the 10mm can come close to the .41 magnum POLICE LOADS (The cartridge was designed to have two load levels, but use the same brass – so you had .41 Special loads, and then full magnum loads, with the special loads intended for law enforcement), which are no longer offered.

      The regular/standard .41magnum loads you can buy now are the full magnum variety.
      They put out a 210gr bullet at 1200-1350 fps.

      Buffalo Bore 10mm hunting comes close in velocity, but it uses only a 180 gr bullet.

      The 170gr Buffalo Bore .41magnum spits it out at 1650 fps.

      Not very close…

      • Mazryonh

        Have you tried Underwood Ammunition? Before the recent ammo shortage, their website regularly listed ammunition to the tune of 200 gr bullets travelling at 1200+ FPS being available in 10mm. The original Norma loading was specced to this level too.

        Besides, .41 Magnum is a rimmed cartridge, making it largely unsuitable for double-stack or higher magazines. That means you aren’t going to get as much capacity as you can with 10mm Auto.

        • Terry Kremin

          and come with a warning due to its high pressures about feed ramps….

          • Mazryonh

            You use the right tool for the right job. It’s similarly foolish to fire .357 Magnum rounds out of a revolver rated only for .38 Special as it is to use the 10mm rounds I mentioned in a gun without enough chamber support.

            Plenty of aftermarket barrels now with better chamber support for 10mm Glocks now too, and a Glock 20 or 29 can fire .40 S&W or .357 SIG with nothing more than a barrel swap.

  • franco

    The SF really isnt much different than the gen 4. Also, go to BBTI site and see what happens when you compare snub nosed 357,41mag and 44 mag velocity to the 10mm. The Glock is just a light as the alloy framed magnums, half the price, double the capacity and closes the gap on ballistics

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