Caliber - .40SW
Capacity - 15+1
Action - Glock's proprietary "Safe Action" system
Barrel - 5.32 inches
Weight - 27.27 oz. with empty magazine
The Glock 34 and 35 (in 9mm and .40, respectively) were introduced in 1998 to replace the G17L and 24 "longslide" competition models. The new models feature a shortened 5.32" barrel (as opposed to the G17L/24's 6" tube), which allows them to fit in the dimensional box used to determine suitability for use in IPSC and IDPA competition. Additionally, the G34 and G35 were the first Glocks to use the 3rd-Generation "FG&R" frame, with integral finger grooves and dustcover accessory rail. Although originally intended for competition, the G34 & G35 quickly became popular with law enforcement SWAT teams, and have even been adopted as standard-issue by some forward-thinking departments. Popularity among both citizens and law enforcment led to the G34/35 being labeled as "practical-tactical" or "tactical longslide" models. The longer sight radius, better balance and increased muzzle velocity afforded by the longer barrel are certainly appealing in applications where concealment is not an issue. The frame is identical to the full-sized Glock in the same caliber (ie G17/22), and accepts the same magazines.
The G35 was on my "nice to have" list; I really wasn't shopping for one, but intended to get one as my prize pistol in the event I won a GSSF match this year. But when a used G35 with night sights came through the gun shop where I work at a price too low to pass up, I had to have it! The gun came in the plastic box with two magazines and all the accoutrements that come with a new pistol.
Fit and finish
This G35, like many of the used guns that come through my shop, was in "used but excellent" condition - no holster wear to speak of and very little internal wear. This gun hadn't been shot much. My G35 came, as do most of them, with the extended slide stop, extended magazine release and 3.5# connector as standard. It also had Meprolight night sights added after the fact, replacing the lousy Glock polymer adjustable sights that normally come on the Practical/Tactical guns. The previous owner had also installed a Jentra frame plug. I considered myself fortunate because these are all mods I normally do to my carry guns anyway! The only thing the G35 had that I didn't care for was an aftermarket non-captive steel guide rod. I promptly replaced this with the factory recoil spring assembly before I even fired the first shot. Why? Because I'm not a fan of aftermarket gizmos in Glocks, especially those that replace major operating components of the weapon!
Was the G35 everything I hoped it would be? Well, no... and YES! The G35's longer, heavier slide means its center of gravity is moved forward, making the pistol noticeably nose-heavy. This, combined with a slower slide velocity compared to the G23, results in a more drawn-out recoil pulse and more muzzle flip than I expected. On the smaller 23, the slide slams back and forth so quickly that muzzle rise is largely negated and the recoil is perceived as one quick "snap". The 35 is not a pussycat to shoot by any means; when stoked with full-house factory ammo like CCI's hot 155gr Gold Dot and Blazer loads, it's a real hand-cannon! Not uncontrollable or painful, but you definitely know you're touching off something with some authority. But with the G35's longer muzzle come higher velocities and a longer sight radius, which translates directly into better accuracy. On my first range trip, I fired the G35 at 25 and 50 yards, mostly for familiarization and function testing. As I got used to the way the gun handled and got the sights dialed in for my eyes and shooting style, groups began to shrink, with the gun showing some real promise at 50 yards. By the end of the range session, the gun had ripped through 250 rounds of factory ammo and mixed reloads without a single hiccup. The following weeks would put the big Glock to the test - both at typical defensive distances and at ranges that would make most folks reach for a rifle...
Fast & Furious
I took the G35 to a local indoor range to get some trigger time at typical "combat" distances of 0-50 feet. Unfortunately, I did not yet have a holster for the G35 and so could not do presentation drills, but I wanted to see how the larger gun handled in fast, close-range shooting scenarios. In a word, excellent. Despite the G35's nose-heavy balance and longer slide travel, it handled very similarly to my G23s, giving up very little in the way of shot-to-shot split times or pointability. In fact, its longer sight radius proved an asset even at close ranges; at 50 feet, I was able to put the contents of three magazines into one large, ragged hole within the 9-ring of the target as fast as I could acquire the sights and press the trigger. With the big G35 having proven itself an outstanding combat pistol at both shorter and longer ranges, I decided it was time to give the gun the acid test...
The Hundred-Yard Handgun
In 1999, two students at Columbine High School in Colorado went on a killing spree, murdering several of their classmates and a teacher before turning their weapons on themselves. One of the killers engaged a responding police officer at a range of 60 yards using a 9mm carbine. The officer, armed with a pistol, returned fire but was unable to hit the gunman. In many police departments, this scenario has been used to justify the issuing of "patrol carbines" for use at what are regarded as distances "beyond pistol range". Patrol carbines are not a bad thing, as they give officers yet another tool on which to draw in a tactical situation. But I also believe that many people both inside and outside the law enforcement community tend to shortchange the capabilities of the handgun at longer distances. A little training and a good tool can greatly extend the variety of scenarios to which the officer or armed citizen may effectively respond with a pistol.
At a Level II handgun class several years ago, Steve Silverman of FR&I hit a bowling pin at 88 yards with a single shot from his G23, challenging me to redefine what "beyond pistol range" really meant. Since then, I have shot pistols at long-range targets on a regular basis with varying degrees of success. It was with these experiences in mind that I loaded up the G35, put the sights squarely on my home range's 100-yard rifle gong, and pressed the trigger. BANG! A split-second of silence, then... PTING! The heavy gong barely moved, but the sound was crystal clear. One shot, one hit at 100 yards with a handgun, shooting off-hand. A fluke? I'd made hits at this range before with my G17 and G23, but not with any sort of consistency. I pressed the trigger again, and was rewarded with another ring of the gong. In fact, every time I properly lined up the sights and minded my trigger control, the big Glock obediently put a 165gr projectile into the target 100 yards downrange. Incredible! Now, hitting an 18" target doesn't exactly require pinpoint accuracy, and I'd much rather grab one of my AR-15s for anything that required precision at that distance. But being able to hit a target of that size would certainly translate into effective suppression fire on a person or vehicle at that distance - and that might be enough to cause an assailant to reconsider the wisdom of his actions, or allow me sufficient opportunity to get to safety. And police officers armed with accurate handguns like the G35 and properly trained in their employment beyond "traditional" handgun distances would almost certainly be able to bring an early end to a potentially tragic situation like the one that unfolded at Columbine High School.
The Bottom Line
The Glock 35 is outstanding. In close, it behaves much like any other Glock pistol. At 25, 50 and even out to 100 yards, the G35 really shows its stuff. It probably isn't physically any more accurate than a G22 or G23, but its combination of longer sight radius, higher muzzle velocities and good handling characteristics makes it easier to exploit the gun's accuracy potential. The G35 would be an excellent choice for law enforcement duty use, home defense or competition, and is among the most versatile of Glock's designs.
Update 6/29/03 Shooting the G35 in its first match, I won Competition Class at the Hoosier State Regional Challenge VII! This is my first time winning a pistol in six years of shooting GSSF. Now I have to decide which Glock model I want to claim as my prize... oh, the agony! (Update: I chose a G23.)