U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- When venturing out into the backcountry you need to have some sort of firearm on you. A foot race with a bear is not my idea of enjoying the outdoors, and I prefer a more guaranteed method for survival. Fifteen rounds of 10mm Auto should deter bears and any other threat. For that reason, my firearm of choice for woodsy situations is the Glock 20 SF (Short Frame) pistol.
The Glock 20 SF is a full-size semi-automatic pistol, featuring a 15(+1) round capacity, and is chambered in the potent 10mm Auto cartridge. Both the power of the 10mm Auto cartridge and the carrying capacity of the Glock 20 SF make it an obvious choice of sidearm when in the woods. While some may argue the 10mm does not feature the “knockdown power” of a .357 magnum, evidence shows that it is still more than adequate for use against bears.
AmmoLand’s Dean Weingarten has reported eight incidents since 2002 where a 10mm Auto pistol was successfully used in defense against a bear attack. Five of those eight incidents reportedly involved some variation of a 10mm Glock pistol. Comparatively, there were nine reported incidents involving a .357 magnum: eight were successful, one result was not as lucky.
What you get with the Glock 20 SF is a modern handgun with a track record of success against North America’s most deadly predator, from a manufacturer known for the reliability of their firearms.
Due to Glock’s general popularity, the G20 SF also receives all the benefits of a very deep aftermarket for attachments, accessories, parts, and holsters. There are available base pads that can add five rounds to the factory magazines for a total capacity of 20 rounds of 10mm. Alternatively, you could grab yourself a few 30-round ETS magazines if that’s your preference, or go with a KRISS +18 round extension for a full onboard 33 rounds.
One notable mention is the availability of .40S&W caliber conversions which can be done by swapping out the factory 10mm barrel for the aftermarket 40cal barrel. While not much cheaper this does provide you with the flexibility of training with a slightly less expensive cartridge in the same platform.
On my own model, I decided to keep it simple by only adding a set of Trijicon night sights and a Streamlight TLR-1 HL weaponlight. Although the G20 SF is a full-size pistol, it is fairly lightweight even when fully loaded with the factory magazines. As someone who enjoys hiking, saving a few ounces on a polymer semi-auto is preferable to carrying a heavier wheel gun. The size of the pistol also lends it to be comfortable to carry. The majority of the time I’m hiking I carry the G20 SF in a Gunfighters Inc. Kenai chest holster.
If there is one drawback to the G20 SF, it would be the inability to mount an optic out of the box. Seeing that the pistol is an older model it is to be expected. If Glock decides to come out with an updated full-size 10mm (not including the G40 Gen4), I hope to see a MOS optic cut on the slide. The upside of the Glock 20 SF being an older model is that you can find it at very good prices today.
On the Range
During the course of a few range days, I put approximately 300 to 400 rounds of 10mm Auto through my Glock 20 SF. My G20 SF experienced no malfunctions throughout those trips to the range. The gun proved accurate for me out to 50 yards and I have no doubt that distance could be furthered. In my hand, the G20 SF is comfortable but could be more comfortable if it featured the Gen5 grips without finger grooves.
Recoil was never much of a challenge but it obviously has more of a kick than your granny’s 22. Although that recoil is noticeable, it isn’t impossible to control for a relatively fast follow-up shot. There is no insane, face-smashing muzzle flip to worry about so long as you have an appropriate stance, but I wasn’t able to come close to a “double-tap” sort of speed. On the other hand, I was able to achieve an accurate and well-paced cadence of fire on an IPSC steel target at 25 yards.
There were two features on the G20 SF that I noticed to be just a little bit small: the magazine release and the slide stop/lock. The magazine release is really inconsequential to me. However, someone with smaller hands might want to replace it with an aftermarket product to avoid having to twist your hand to reach it. The slide stop is similarly a little bit tough to use when the gun is locked back. Over the course of shooting the gun, I felt this problem presented itself less, and I was able to close the slide using my thumb. Either way, you can always rack the slide normally, so I do not see this as a real negative point either, but still worth a mention.
Reloading is obviously just as easy as all other Glocks; drop the old mag and insert the new. This is probably one of the most alluring arguments for the Glock 20 SF over a revolver. The old Fudd belief that if “you can’t do it with six” has definitely been largely left to the wayside. If there is a massive blood-thirsty beast rushing through the woods, I want all the ammo and opportunities that I can to survive.
In the end, my decision to go with a semi-automatic 10mm over a .44 magnum revolver really boils down to my personal comfort with Glocks specifically. Simply put, I have many more hours and rounds fired through semi-autos and various Glock models than I do with revolvers. From those hours and rounds fired, I have developed a trust in Glock’s reputed reliability, and the G20 SF has proven to live up to that expectation. If you are on your way to the backcountry, the Glock 20 SF is the ideal companion to bring along on the trail.
About Duncan Johnson:
Duncan is a firm believer in the Second Amendment and that “shall not be infringed”, which means exactly that. A life-long firearms enthusiast and a graduate of George Mason University, now competing regularly in 3 gun competitions, Duncan is always looking to improve his shooting skills. Duncan is a regular contributor to AmmoLand and assists in the everyday gun-news publishing as an assistant editor.