The Best Bugout Handgun — Glock 21SF

Identifying the Glock 21SF

The Best Bugout Handgun

The Model 21, Glock’s full-size .45 caliber handgun, makes an outstanding handgun for your bugout bag, and the Glock 21SF is, incredibly, a brilliant improvement on this gun. In this article we’ll be looking at the differences between the two, and why either one is my favorite bugout handgun.

Video: SnoMan compares the Glock 21 and the Glock 21SF.

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Glock Handgun Features

All Glocks have a nylon-based polymer frame and magazine body which is lighter and less brittle than a steel frame through a wider range of temperatures. The barrel and slide are treated with the “Tenifer” process, Glock’s proprietary ferritic nitrocarburizing method, which results in greater hardness and corrosion resistance than stainless steel. Tenifer steel is a dull gray, so Glock “Parkerizes” the guns to give them a cool black finish. Even if this finish wears off — as by holster wear on my Glock 23 concealed-carry favorite — the gun retains all of the benefits of the Tenifer process. I don’t mind the holster wear. I think it adds character, like chestnut handrails on a centuries-old staircase in a European castle.

From a practical standpoint, the corrosion resistance alone makes any Glock a good candidate for a bugout gun. I don’t know about you, but I’ve left my bugout bag unattended for months at a time. I know, it’s bad practice, but it’s a reality nonetheless. I should check my bag every month, but Spring brings baseball, gardening, ballet lessons, and lots of traveling, and I just have to slack off on some things to retain my sanity. Dusting my desktop and checking the bugout bag are some of the first items neglected.

Anyway, the bag gets neglected, and if any moisture develops from temperature and humidity changes, metallic items in the bag can rust — unless they are corrosion resistant, like the Glocks. (Clothes can mildew as well, but that won’t kill you — a rusty gun might put your life at risk).


Glock Safe-Action Trigger

Glocks don’t have a manual safety. That is, you can’t throw a lever and disable the trigger, but it’s almost impossible to accidentally discharge because it does have three independent safety mechanisms. One is an external integrated safety which prevents accidental activation of the trigger. This consists of a lever on the trigger that must be depressed in order to operate it. Because this lever is depressed only by direct backwards pressure on the trigger, it prevents almost any accidental trigger operation unless it is deliberate.

The other two safeties are internal. One is a firing pin safety that blocks the firing pin unless the trigger is depressed. The other is a drop safety that releases the trigger bar only as the trigger is depressed — the gun theoretically cannot discharge by dropping it. I haven’t tried it, though. :)

Comparing the Glock 21 and 21SF

One of the common complaints of the 21 is that the grip is too large. Glock addressed this in the SF model, which stands for “short frame,” not “slim frame.” The grip is the same thickness in both guns, but they shortened the distance between the backstrap and the trigger, thereby decreasing the circumference of the grip without changing its thickness.

New to the 21SF is an optional ambidextrous magazine release and Picatinny rail instead of the standard “Universal Glock” rail for accessories like lights and lasers. Magazines from the original 21 will not work in the ambi-optioned 21SF; you have to get mags specifically made for the 21SF. (I have read that they do work, but that hasn’t been my experience. Mags made for the 21SF will work in both guns. These mags are distinguished by a small metal plate on their front.

Some variants of the 21SF come without the ambi mag release or the Picatinny rail, and so are visually difficult to distinguish from the regular 21 — except for the “SF” stamped into the right side of the frame just behind the accessory rail.

The Glocks you see in the video are Generation 3. Gen 4 Glocks are now available and have a few new features you should look into before buying. One nice improvement, for instance, is a new two-stage recoil spring like the one in the baby Glocks. My 21SF includes factory Tritium night sights, and I also have an Advantage Arms .22 conversion for the 21.

Recommendation – Glock 21SF

The 21, and specifically the 21SF because it fits my hand better, is my favorite bugout bag handgun because of the basic Glock characteristics and because of the caliber. If you’ve read the Survival News Online blog for very long, you know I’m not fanatical about any particular caliber, but if I can have only one handgun in an Armageddon situation, I want .45. And so the Glock 21SF fits the bill — and my hand.


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  • Kimberly Edwards

    I guess the Glock 21 isn't for everyone. It kicks too much for me. I like the Ruger LCP .380, and it fits right in my pocket.

  • sn0man

    The right choice is the gun that works for you. The Ruger LCP is an excellent choice — I have one myself. Does your have the laser?

  • Phillip

    Once again Im going with the 9mm because the ammo is easier to find and carry. I do like the stopping power of a 45 but can carry twice the amount of ammo with the 9mm" in a bugout situation" yo…

    • sn0man

      Those are definitely good reasons to go with 9mm, can't fault you there. One thing I like about .45 is it's sub sonic, so I have both!

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  • Andrew Kukis

    looking for a holster for my block21sf/w picatinny rail, black hawk style with the trigger release.

  • Michael B

    More suitably for bugging out is a Glock 20SF. Pick up a 9mm, a .357Sig and a .40SW conversion barrel, along with a Glock 21 upper and you now have 5 weapons in one; in the most popular LEA calibers around. You can also grab a .38 Super barrel, a .400 Corbon and a .45 Win mag barrel, too, and actually have 8 pistols in one.
    In all survival situations, you have to maximize minimally … and think outside the box.

    • Ralph C

      I could see getting a 9mm 45acp 40sw maybe a 38 super but in survival situation only the first 3 will be the easiest to locate if 0 balance ammo occurs!

  • Guest

    I carry the Glock 21sf Gen3 for work and wouldn’t go with anything else if given the choice. I have put a couple extras into my g21 like a tungsten guide rod which is supposed to never break or bend and adds weight to help with recoil, highly recommend that.

  • StandAndFight0

    Although I served as a trainer as well as a Glock, Sig, H&K, and Smith Armorer( I loved my Sig 226 but when the Sheriff allowed us to go to 10mm, .40 Cal and .45 the mag capacity on the Sig was insufficient so I got a n H&K USP .45 which I would have married but divorce and retirement cleaned out my safe) 20+ years ago we were still under the impression formed by the initial tests by the FBI and I actually had a students Glock 17 go full auto I was not buying a Glock. Well after researching why the Glock went full auto I came to the conclusion that it was improper cleaning. The Glock is pretty much a “dry” firearm my word and the use of excess oil caused a build up of an amazing amount of residue locking the firing pin in firing position causing the malfunction. Well years of experience and usage have made me smarter. I can no longer afford an H&K and have found other handguns that perform well. In this political climate I felt it necessary to upgrade my equipment. I now have an EDC of a Glock 21SF and a bug out bag Glock 23. I am extremely happy with both and can tell you that the drop safety works just fine.(don’t ask). I was before the time of laser sights and rails they came into use but I didn’t follow the crowd except on my MP5. I now added a Red and Green dot sight on my S&W Sport AR (money doesn’t make you happy but it was sure nice when I could afford a Bushmaster). I want to add either a light or laser sight I found an inexpensive company that makes excellent equipment and in looking at my two handguns nieter have he rails as shown in the picture. There is a groove on bottom that looks functional and the grooves on the side look similar to my AR. Can I use a piece of equipment made for a Picatinny? I let technology get ahead of me. Thanks.