I am very clearly on record here on the blog saying that the Glock 19 is my favorite pistol (probably my favorite firearm). The Glock 19 is the last firearm I would ever get rid of, as it can fill many different roles. However, though it can fill many roles, it is not necessarily the perfect gun for each of those roles. As such, it may be a bit of a “jack of all trades, master of none.”
For concealment work, the Glock 19 is right at the edge of what I can comfortably conceal on a day to day basis. Even with a great belt and holster combination, my diminutive frame means that I must be careful about my wardrobe choices if I am to succeed in effectively concealing it.
Although dimensionally not much smaller than the Glock 19, the Glock 26, when teamed up with the same belt and holster combination, virtually disappears on me, and in the warmer months is the pistol I carry more often. As an additional benefit, I have found that I shoot the Glock 26 as well as the Glock 19; indeed, in two classes where I used it, I actually shot it BETTER than my Glock 19 (see here and here).
In discussing the Glock 26, I thought it might be a good idea to start with a few “negatives” and then move on to its virtues.
As I see it, the Glock 26 comes with at least three negatives. The first is that, if worn for maximum concealment with its flush-fit 10 round magazine, one cannot get a full grip on the draw. This can be a bit of a hindrance, and I do find that I sometimes have to adjust my grip/move more slowly in gripping in order to get the best grip I can. This issue is not insignificant and why I listed it first.
A second issue is the reduced sight radius as compared with its larger cousins. However, as noted above, personally I tend to shoot the 26 as well as the 19, so I do not think it is that big of a deal at reasonable distances (25 yards and in).
A third issue is the lack of an accessory rail. If a person plans to make the Glock 26 his or her “do everything pistol”, the lack of a rail to easily mount a light—such as for home defense purposes—may be an issue.
A less serious issue for me is the fact that the shorter length of the slide can inhibit some pistol manipulations, such as press checks, where my hand gets a little too close to the muzzle for comfort.
There are plenty of positives, and I list these in no particular order:
First, the Glock 26 can accept any of the Glock double-stack 9mm magazines. This means it can accept magazines varying in capacity from 10 up to 33 rounds (not many would try to conceal it in the latter configuration!).
If I carry the Glock 26, it is because I am seeking more concealment. Therefore, I usually carry it with the factory 10 round magazine. However, I do have several magazines with Pearce +1 and Glock Factory +2 extensions, and Magpul’s 12 round Glock 26 magazine should be available shortly.
While some may argue that using these extensions makes the pistol the same size as a Glock 19, this is not entirely true. While front strap length is pretty much identical to a Glock 19 when utilizing such extensions, the backstrap length remains unchanged, and it is the backstrap portion of the grip that tends to “print” the most through clothing. Thus, a Glock 26 with a 12 round magazine is still a bit easier to conceal and lighter on the belt than a Glock 19.
Even at its “official” standard capacity of 10+1 rounds, the Glock 26 is still in my “happy place” of holding at least 10 rounds. In addition, it is a useful pistol for those who live in states where 10 rounds is the maximum capacity permitted. As well as I tend to shoot the Glock 26, if I lived in a state where 10 rounds was the maximum, I would probably carry the 26 over a neutered Glock 19.
The ability to carry all of the magazine sizes gives the 26 one distinct advantage of the Glock 19. The Glock 26 can be “made bigger”, but the Glock 19 cannot be “made smaller”. If you could only afford one gun but wanted one that could be concealed as well as serve other roles, the ability of the Glock 26 to carry larger magazines (perhaps equipped with a grip sleeve to allow for a full grip) allows it to grow to fit these other roles (however, I do NOT recommend using such grip sleeves on your concealed carry reloads, as they make the reloads harder to conceal and can pinch horribly if you catch a bit of skin from your firing hand between the grip sleeve and the grip….ask me how I know!).
The ability of the Glock 26 to carry larger magazines also makes it a handy backup to its larger cousins like the Glock 17 and 19. There are many officers—and presumably some civilians—who choose to carry a larger Glock model but then keep the Glock 26 in a backup role, perhaps on an ankle, in a bellyband, or some other location. The ability to use the larger magazines in the smaller pistol means that, if the larger pistol becomes inoperable, its magazines could still be used in the Glock 26.
I still firmly believe that the Glock 19 is the BEST Glock pistol (and one of the best pistols in general), but the Glock 26 is not without its own merits. With the release of the Glock 43 a little over a year ago, many seem to feel that the Glock 26 has no real place, and for a while I felt the same way. I have recently purchased a Glock 43 and will probably review it soon. As thin and light as it is, I am not super-comfortable with its capacity, so the Glock 26 will maintain a place in my carry rotation for the foreseeable future.