Add some zest to your shooting with Glock 357 sauce
As you may know, we kind of have a thing for the .357 Sig cartridge – as evidenced by some our our previous work including our review on the Glock 32, CorBon .357 Sig DPX ammo, Federal Premium .357 Sig ammo, and a less serious work with Hornady’s Critical Defense .357 Sig ammo tested head-to-head with a big jar of grape jelly. That one worked out pretty well for all involved, except for the grape jelly.
While our obsession for the .357 Sig round may not be completely rational, one valid reason we like it is the cartridge design itself. Being a bottle-necked pistol cartridge. It just wants to feed easily – like Rosie O’Donnell. The tapered profile of the cartridge, regardless of the shape of the projectile – round nose or hollow point – allows the cartridge to feed into the chamber very, very easily.
[color-box]We’ve never had any reliability trouble with either the Glock 32 or Glock 31 chambered in .357 Sig. We’ve also found it amazingly insensitive to quality of grip. You can shoot it with a firm grip or the most dramatic limp wrist you can muster and it will work.[/color-box]
With all that said, we were just about as anxious as Lindsay Lohan at a Policeman’s Ball to get our hands on a full-size Glock 31 Gen 4 .357 Sig model.
But first, let’s consider some interesting and useful facts about the Glock 31.
Pop Quiz on the Glock 31
Circle all true statements below.
- A number of state highway patrol agencies, including Tennessee and Mississippi rely on the Glock 31 for duty use.
- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg secretly carries a Glock 31 in his Kenneth Cole man bag. He calls it a satchel, but let’s face it – it’s a murse. (Tweet This)
- .357 Sig rounds launched from a Glock 31 are capable of Mach 17, but can be completely silenced by shooting through a Walmart Premium chuck steak. (Tweet This)
- The “SIG” in .357 Sig stands for “Shooting Is Great!”
If you circled number 1 only, you win the prize, the nature of which will be determined as soon as Congress votes itself a pay decrease.
What’s in Glock 357 Sauce? A Glock 31 Gen 4 .357 Sig review
The Glock 31 is a full size model, identical in exterior dimensions to the Glock 17 Gen 4 9mm. It’s 7.95″ long, 5.43″ high, and 1.18″ wide. It features a 4.49″ barrel with 6.5″ between the front and rear sights. The relatively long sight radius is one of the features that makes the Glock 31 Gen 4 easy to shoot well. One notable difference between the Glock 31 and Glock 17 models is the weight. As the .357 Sig round operates at very high pressure, the Glock 31 Gen 4 is just a bit heavier, weighing in at 23.28 ounces unloaded and 33.09 ounces loaded with 15 rounds of .357 Sig ammunition. The Glock 17 is only a tad over one ounce heavier in loaded or unloaded configuration, and compared side by side, we couldn’t tell the difference.
Like the ubiquitous Glock 22, the Glock 31 holds 15 rounds in the magazine. Ubiquitous is a very important word that means ‘it’s all over the place’, kind of like how armor-piercing sand gnats are here in the lowcountry (swamps!) of South Carolina. Add a round to the chamber and you’ve got 16 total rounds in the Glock 31.
Like the other Glock Generation 4 models, the Glock 31 offers a number of enhancements to the Glock 31 Generation 3:
- As we noted in our Glock 17 Gen 4 review, the magazine release button is significantly enlarged. While a seemingly minor change, it makes a big difference in usability. Ease of dropping a magazine is much improved. The magazine release button is also reversible.
- The Glock 31 Gen 4 also features interchangeable grip backstraps with 3 size options, allowing the owner to customize fit to their specific hand size.
- The recoil spring assembly is now a two-part spring. While we did not notice any difference in function from the single spring Glock Gen 3 models, Glock claims that the new spring assemblies will offer longer life cycle and reduced felt recoil. The Glock 31 is certainly a soft shooting gun, but we were only able to compare felt recoil to a Glock 32 Gen 3, which is not an apples to apples comparison given the smaller size and lighter weight of the Glock 32.
- Also like other Gen 4 models, the Glock 31 Gen 4 features a new and improved grip texture. We really, really like the new feel. While personal preference rules and your opinion may vary, ours is that no grip tape, stippling, or other type of grip enhancement is necessary on the Gen 4 models. It’s solid in the hand and offers a positive feel even when the palms get sweaty.
Our evaluation model was equipped with upgraded Glock night sights. While the standard Glock sites are constructed of polymer with a single dot on the front, and notched rear sight surrounded by a white “U” shaped outline, the Glock night sights are steel construction front and rear. They are also of the 3 dot design, with a single tritium dot in the front and tritium dots on either side of the rear notch. With all the Glock carrying and shooting we’ve done, we’ve never had an issue with the standard polymer sights, but there is a certain, and probably irrational, level of comfort present with the upgraded steel models. Plus you can see them in the dark.
[color-box]Our evaluation Glock 31 Gen 4 came with standard Glock packaging. You’ll get (3) 15 round magazines, a cleaning rod with brush, two additional grip backstraps for size adjustment, and the obligatory gun lock. This all comes neatly packaged in a Glock hard plastic case.[/color-box]
A serious moment – .357 Sig bullet setback
If you’re to become a .357 Sig cartridge aficionado, then you also need to understand the concept of bullet setback. This issue has nothing to do with the Glock 31 or any other handgun chambered in .357 Sig, but rather the .357 Sig cartridge design itself.
[color-box]The .357 Sig cartridge is a bottleneck design, much like many rifle cartridges. Bottleneck is a fancy Latin word that translates loosely to looks like a bottle. (Tweet This)[/color-box]
We mention this because the .357 Sig is a pistol cartridge, and therefore much shorter than a bottle-necked rifle cartridge in all measurements. This becomes important as the straight walls of the top of the cartridge offer less gripping surface area than a traditional straight walled cartridge.
Why should you care about this?
[color-box]Other than accumulating obscure knowledge of pistol cartridge design, if you’re going to use a gun chambered in .357 Sig, you need to be aware of the potential for bullet setback. If your daily carry and storage method leads to a lot of chamberings and un-chamberings of the same cartridge, i.e. the one at the top of your magazine, there is potential for the bullet to become pushed back in to the cartridge casing itself over time. I say potential because with most quality factory ammunition this is not a serious concern. With cheap stuff, reloaded ammunition, or ammunition that has been cycled repeatedly, you want to keep an eye out for bullet setback.[/color-box]
If you do notice a cartridge where the bullet is compressed into the casing, do not shoot it! Instead, dispose of it safely. Most shooting ranges have a disposal container for live ammunition. The reason you should not shoot it is that as a bullet gets pushed into the casing, the volume of that casing is decreased. The same powder charge is still present, so that careful balance of interior cartridge volume and powder charge is now out of whack – and dangerously high pressure spikes can result. Abnormally high pressure is not healthy for you or your gun.
We only mention this as something that all .357 Sig shooters should be aware of. In all our shooting of .357 Sig ammunition, we’ve only spotted one mild case of bullet setback in years and years. Nonetheless, it’s always a good habit to visually inspect your ammunition whenever you load your gun. Keep an eye out for bullet setback and you’ll have no worries.
Feel the need for speed
Some time ago, we tested the Glock 32 Gen 3 and did some velocity testing with several different loads. So how much difference does the extra 1/2” barrel in the Glock 31 make? Here are the some of the results as measured by our Shooting Chrony Beta Master, placed 15 feet down range.
Glock 32 Gen 3
Glock 31 Gen 4
|Hornady Critical Defense 125 grain||1,231||1,257|
|Winchester PDX1 Defender 125 grain||N/A||1,389|
|Speer Gold Dot 125 grain||N/A||1,404|
|Federal Premium JHP 125 grain||N/A||1,354|
|CorBon DPX 125 grain||N/A||1,313|
|CorBon JHP 125 grain||N/A||1,469|
|CorBon Pow’RBall 100 grain||1,623||1,620|
|Georgia Arms 125 grain Gold Dot||1,362||1,395|
|Remington UMC 125 grain||1,359||1,405|
With the exception of the CorBon Pow’RBall, which showed an unexpected anomaly in velocity differences, we found that the slightly longer barrel in the Glock 31 increased velocity by about 30-35 feet per second on average.
Considering the real world velocities we measured out of a real world Glock 31, it’s apparent that the .357 Sig round combined with this Glock, meets the original cartridge design goal of approximating the velocity of a 125 grain .357 magnum round from a 4 inch barreled revolver. Three different loads we tested clocked over 1,400 feet per second – and that measurement was taken 15 feet down range. Not too shabby!
We took the Glock 31 Gen 4 to the range – a lot – to get a good feel for its handling qualities. While cornering was good, it really excelled in the straightaways.
But seriously, in addition to quite a bit of informal plinking, we ran through some drills with it to get a feel for the admittedly subjective measure of ‘shootability.’ We ran it through some Dot Torture drills and found the Glock 31 easy to control in all three dot torture scenarios: two-handed, strong hand only, and weak hand only. We found it easy to control this gun even when shooting full power self-defense loads.
We also shot the Glock 31 Gen 4 in a side by side comparison with a Glock 32 Gen 3 and a Glock 17 Gen 4. While the 31 was noticeably less snappy than the Glock 32, we weren’t sure if this was a result of the larger gun size and weight, new recoil spring design, or combination of both. We also did some side by side shooting with a Glock 17 and the Glock 31. With full power defense loads in each, it was hard to tell the difference in felt recoil between the 9mm Glock 17 9mm and the more powerful .357 Sig Glock 31 .357 Sig.
What if you want .40 S&W flavors?
One of the neat things about the Glock 31 in .357 Sig is that you can easily modify the gun to shoot .40 S&W. Simply swap out the barrel for a Glock 22 Gen 4 factory barrel, or get an aftermarket one from companies like Lone Wolf, and you’re good to go. The existing .357 Sig magazines will work fine. Depending on the loads you shoot, you may want or need to replace the recoil spring. Be sure to check with the experts at Lone Wolf Distributors or another reputable supplier before venturing off on your own!
One of the benefits of the Glock’s ubiquity (there’s that word again) is the availability of aftermarket accessories like lights, lasers, fixed sights, and performance parts. The Glock 31 Gen 4 features an accessory rail that allows attachment of lights, lasers, and even bayonets. Why anyone would seriously want to put a bayonet on a pistol is beyond us, but you have to admit it sounds amusing. Maybe it would be handy for opening stubborn ammo boxes.
We went all out, but practical, in outfitting the evaluation Glock 31. For a laser, we added the Crimson Trace LG-850 Lasergrips for Glock Gen 4 full size and compact models. For a tactical light, we mounted the Crimson Trace Lightguard LTG-736 for Glock full size and compact models. Both laser and light operate by instinctive pressure activation with the laser being activated from the rear of the grip and the light from the front. On other words, simply pick up your gun with a proper grip and both laser and light are on and ready to go. We wrote about this combination with a Glock 17 Gen 4 as Nightstand Perfection a while back, but we may have to reconsider in favor of the more powerful Glock 31 Gen 4.
Closing with authority
[color-box]The really compelling thing about the Glock 31 Gen 4 is velocity. Arguments over the relative effectiveness of large and slow rounds compared to small and fast rounds will likely go on until the end of time, or until our Congress manages to pass a budget, whichever comes first.[/color-box]
If you’re a fan of velocity, then take a serious look at the Glock 31 Gen 4 in .357 Sig. With it’s 4.49″ barrel, you’re going to get fantastic velocity out of self defense ammunition – and at the same time, the pistol will be easy to control. It’s not an untamed beast, but rather a tamed one.
|Four Nuns! Like every other Glock we’ve owned or tested, reliability was not a question. It works – clean or dirty. We have yet to clean this one just to see. We’re giving the Glock 31 Gen 4 Four Nuns because of it’s combination of power with controllability. It’s easy – and pleasant – to shoot.|
While you’re here, why not grab a copy of my free eBook, A Fistful of Shooting Tips? It’ll help make you a better handgun shooter and the envy of your range in no time!