In 1996, Glock introduced the subcompact “baby Glock.” It was originally offered in two models: the 9mm Glock 26 and the .40 Glock 27. In time, two other versions were added: the Glock 33, chambered for .357 SIG, and the Glock 39, built around the .45 GAP cartridge.

When the G26 and the G27 came out, I was immediately impressed by their reliability and “shootability.” Neither “kicked” in proportion to their size reduction compared to the full-size G17 9mm and G22 .40. When the test was over, I bought both pistols and kept them.

Big Performance

What was most surprising with these little guns was that, off the bench, they “outshot” their big brothers. The primary Glock 17 I had at that time would group 3.5 to 4 inches at 25 yards with most loads, better than that with its favorite Winchester 115-grain ammunition…but my little Glock 26 delivered 2.5-inch groups at the same distance, with regularity. In .40 caliber, I saw the same thing. During 2002 and 2003, I was testing new uniform security holsters for my police department, and since the standard-size Glock was already the most popular police gun, I was given permission to carry the Glock of my choice. Since I worked in an area with long winters and had learned that any hollowpoint can plug and turn into ball if it has to pierce enough inert fabric such as winter clothing, I wanted something larger in caliber. I chose the Glock 22 as my service gun during that period. It made sense to carry a backup that would take not only the same ammunition but the same magazines, so the Glock 27 in the same .40 caliber became my backup gun when working for the department.

I couldn’t help but notice the same thing I’d seen with the full-size Glock versus the baby Glock in 9mm—the smaller one shot tighter from a 25-yard benchrest. One reason I carried Black Hills 165-grain EXP ammunition—which at that time was a Gold Dot bullet loaded to 1,140 feet per second (fps) velocity—was that it was not only dynamic in flesh and capable of passing the FBI Protocols, but it was also match-grade accurate. The G22 was not the most accurate pistol Glock ever made, and with many loads, my specimen would only group around 4 inches or so. With the Black Hills duty loads, however, my groups shrank into the 2-inch range.

However, off the bench, my G27 was about the same with the Black Hills round for grouping…tighter with most anything else…and once put five Winchester 155-grain Silvertips into a 1.5 inches off the bench at an Indiana class, in front of witnesses.

I still tended to carry full-size Glocks as “primaries.” After all, their larger grip frames held longer magazines with more cartridges. Those same grip-frames afforded me room to get all the fingers of my firing hand wrapped around the pistol. The longer sight radius seemed more forgiving in rapid fire on multiple targets. I reserved the “Baby Glock” for when I had to conceal a gun under a tailored suit, and sometimes for backup when I was carrying a larger Glock in the same caliber as a primary weapon.

Recent input has made me reconsider the baby Glock’s “shootability”… and my preference for the .40 caliber G27, and later the .357 Glock 33, over the Glock 26 and its long-maligned 9mm round.

GSSF Input

GSSF, the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation ( has for many years had separate classes for competition-style Glocks with 5.3-inch and 6-inch barrels, service Glocks with up to 4.5-inch barrels, and the subcompact baby Glocks. In the last couple of years, we’ve seen something very interesting happen with “the little ones compared to the big ones.”

We’ve seen the “snubnosed” Baby Glocks—in every such case, the 9mm Glock 26—win not just the Subcompact event, but the overall championship title that GSSF calls “Matchmeister.”

Now, I don’t recall ever seeing a major PPC match where a competitor with a snub-nosed revolver tallied the overall high score and beat all the shooters with long-barreled guns. I’ve never heard of a major IPSC/USPSA match where a guy with a stubby Colt Officers subcompact .45 ACP beat everyone who went into that competition field with a 5-inch barrel or even longer 1911 pistol. Nor have I ever heard of anyone winning the National Pistol Championship at Camp Perry with guns whose barrels were shorter than 5 inches in length, even though the shorter guns have always been eligible to compete. So, what’s going on in GSSF?

Well, to start, you’ll generally have three matches to shoot with each category of pistol in GSSF. There’s “Glock the Plates,” where you face a Bianchi Cup array of six steel disks, each 8 inches in diameter, from a distance of 11 yards. On the signal, you come up from low ready, and the timer stops when you’ve shot your last plate down flat from 33 feet away. You’ll do that four times. You have 11 shots at your disposal, and can’t reload; if any plate is left standing when you go to slide lock, it’s an additional 10 seconds added to your time and score.

Then, you’ll have to deal with “Five to Glock.” Five tombstone-shaped Bianchi Cup targets will be arrayed in front of you at distances of, roughly, 5 to 25 yards. You’ll come up from low ready and fire two shots at each of the five targets. You get full value only for hitting the 8-inch-diameter center circle. A hit in the ring outside that costs you a second added to your time…a hit outside that ring means an additional 3 seconds…and missing the target entirely is a whopping 10-second penalty. You’ll make that run three times.

The third event (though you can shoot them in any sequence you choose) is the “Glock M.” Four cardboard Bianchi targets and a row of steel Pepper Poppers are arrayed in a shape that would look like the letter “M” when seen from above the range. The steel targets are in the middle. You have three runs of two shots on each of the four cardboard targets—same rules as “Five to Glock”—plus one steel target that has to be knocked down on each run.

If you strike down every piece of steel with one shot, that’s a total of some 81 shots. If you can do it in under a 100 seconds, you’re generally perceived to be a darn good shot. And, if you can do it in less than half that time—and beat all the people with bigger guns, while you are using a baby Glock—well, that’s just phenomenal. It says something powerful about not only the shooter, but the little subcompact pistol the shooter used to perform that feat.

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Show Comments
  • Joe

    I was sucked into the .380 fad a few years ago and wanted to upgrade to something more useful recently. I’ve been debating between the G19 and G26 (as an every day CCW) for a few weeks now, and naturally went to the internet for thoughts / critiques. The boards I’ve visited seemed split, based on personal preference. I KNEW I should’ve started my search with Mr Ayoob. Thank you for answering all the big questions regarding accuracy, defensive capability, and general knowledge. I hope to buy my G26 next week.

  • scott will

    long-maligned 9mm round? Give me a break.

  • Adam

    Hey Mas,

    Great article, I just shot this 3 round group from standing at 25 yards with my bone-stock G26. I had a brief warmup (only 247 rounds ;)) It measured 1 3/8″ center to center. The G 26 is capable of great accuracy, where it really suffers is in trying to rapidly draw from concealment and reloading with such stumpy magazines.