What do you look for in a concealed carry handgun? Me? I want a small frame semi-automatic pistol chambered for a caliber with known stopping power, a large capacity magazine, a grip big enough I can get all four fingers firmly wrapped around it, and functional reliability without question.
Sounds perfect, right? If you ever find such a pistol, please let me know! The truth of the matter is that life is a series of compromises and the choice of a concealed carry handgun is no different. Every manufacturer that offers subcompact or compact frame pistols does what they believe to be the best compromise on the things concealed carry shooters look for in a handgun.
Glock is no different. The Glock 26 came to the market in 1994 and became affectionately known among Glock aficionados as the “Baby Glock.” The Glock 26 is now into its 5th Generation and each subsequent upgrade has brought more fans to the table.
Understanding the Glock 26
The Glock 26 is a modified variant of the Glock 19. A lot of re-engineering happened to lighten and shrink the frame to a sub-compact design. Glock engineers created the Glock 26 specifically for the concealed carry market, and they did an admirable job.
The Glock 26 shares the heritage of the Glock 17 and the Glock 19. This shared heritage brings several features to the Glock 26’s versatility as a concealed carry handgun. That being said, choosing a sub-compact frame usually means compromising on the grip. The Glock 26 grip is no different – most shooters find that their little finger has nothing to grasp.
The solution goes back to the shared heritage and the fact that the Glock 26 will accept and function with magazines from the Glock 71 and the Glock 19. Many aftermarket sleeves will fit over the longer, higher capacity magazines giving the Glock 26 a much more functional grip surface.
One other huge concern with small, lighter framed semi-automatic concealed carry pistols is functionality and reliability. Glock addressed this concern in the Glock 26 by redesigning the frame, locking block, and spring assemblies, including the addition of a dual recoil spring mechanism. These engineering innovations preserved Glock’s reputation for reliability and functionality.
The Glock 26 is not just a shortened and lightened Glock 91. Even though it shares some common features and magazines, the Glock 26 is a well-engineered and thoroughly redesigned pistol aimed squarely at the concealed carry market.
Why Choose to Carry a Glock 26?
Functionality and Reliability
Always first on my list of considerations when choosing a concealed carry gun is reliability and functionality. The very act of putting on a gun every morning comes with a tacit understanding that there is always the possibility that I might have to use it.
I want the confidence that if that time comes, the gun that I decide to conceal carry will function without fail. Glock has that sort of reputation and that is a comfort. I want to know that when the time comes, and I am forced into a situation that the gun I am carrying will go bang when I pull the trigger.
Carry concealed safely is a huge concern. The last thing anyone wants is a negligent discharge. There are several answers to this problem.
- Carry a double-action only (DAO) pistol
- Carry with an empty chamber
- Carry a single-action only (SAO) gun with a manual safety
The debate over DAO vs. SAO rages. We won’t go into it here. I feel like it is a legitimate discussion and a decision that every shooter must make. I dislike the long and heavy trigger pull of a DAO pistol, especially when I expect that reaction time may be critical.
Some prefer a SAO pistol with a manual safety. A manual safety is a legitimate choice and is certainly safer than a pure SAO pistol with a full chamber. For me, having to perform one more thing before I am ready to fire after drawing is not a comfortable thought. I know that the argument is to practice until it is automatic. I just think there are better alternatives.
Let me address carrying with an empty chamber. To me, this is almost like not carrying at all. The time it takes to chamber a round and make the gun ready to fire takes longer than most confrontations last in real life. That time could be a disaster waiting to happen.
Which brings me to the Glock 26 and Glocks Safe Action Trigger system. The Safe Action Trigger system is another compromise feature. It isn’t a true manual safety, but it is safer than a pure SAO action. The trigger pull is not as short or as sensitive as it could be, but it is a much better alternative than a DAO action.
What’s the use of carrying concealed if you can’t keep the gun concealed? The Glock 26 is a true sub-compact pistol, designed to be concealed comfortably and safely. It fits well either inside the waistband or outside the waistband and is light enough to be almost forgotten when carried.
One area of concern is the width of the frame. To maintain compatibility with the Glock 17 and Glock 19 magazines, the frame of the Glock 26 must be the same width. Magazine compatibility allows a double stack magazine configuration but adds a bit of bulk to the gun.
The width of the Glock 26 isn’t a big issue for most people. Having a magazine capacity of 10 rounds is enough of an advantage to offset the width disadvantage over single-stack frames like the Glock 43, which only allows a 6-round magazine.
We come back to the question of compromise. Do you prefer more magazine capacity, or do you want a thinner frame with slightly less weight? The Glock 26 is an excellent compromise offering excellent magazine capacity with an easy to conceal frame size.
I didn’t list ergonomics in the introduction, but it needs to be a consideration. Simply put, how does the gun feel in your hand? Carrying concealed is a much different concept than picking a gun to take to the range for target or competition use. The gun must fit you and almost become an extension of your arm.
I always advocate training and practice as the key to being prepared for any situation that may occur. If the gun you choose to conceal carry feels comfortable in your hand and come to point almost automatically when you draw and aim, that can be an advantage in quick reaction time events.
I have found that the Glock 26 (and most Glocks for that matter) are a pleasant and comfortable fit in my hand. Glock has had many years to refine the grip angle and design of their pistol frames and it shows.
If the time comes when that gun comes out of your holster, the goal is to end whatever threat is presenting itself. The key to that is knockdown power or delivered energy. Any caliber that you chose for your concealed carry gun is potentially lethal. The question is, how quickly will it be lethal.
The Glock 26 is chambered for the 9x19mm round. An argument can be made that this is the most popular defensive pistol caliber in the US (maybe around the world) today. It doesn’t offer the delivered kinetic energy of larger calibers like the .45 and the .40SW. However, it is much better than the .380 or smaller calibers.
Debate rages over knockdown power. Advances in ballistic design for self-defense ammunition has quelled some of the arguments. The ability to control recoil and put rounds on target is a consideration that figures into the equation as well.
The Glock 26 chambered in 9x19mm, when coupled with the right choice in a bullet, offers excellent stopping power in a small package. There is a reason that many law enforcement agencies across the US have gone to the 9x19mm caliber as their duty choice.
I must mention accuracy. Your concealed carry gun can be the safest, most ergonometric, and reliable gun in the world, but if it can’t reasonably hit the target at which you are aiming, it is worthless. If you have a minimum level of skill, you should be able to punch holes in a paper target at 7 and 15 yards with consistency.
The Glock 26 Generation 5 features a new barrel, termed by Glock as the “Marksman barrel”. This is a much-improved barrel over previous Glocks. Some Glock owners report significant improvements in accuracy with the new Marksman barrel.
You should remember that ammunition is still a big variable in accuracy and reliability. Choosing ammunition for a concealed carry self-defense gun shouldn’t be a price-based decision. The overlooked issue with ammunition choice for a concealed carry gun is reliability.
I always suggest that you put enough rounds downrange with your choice of self-defense ammunition to be certain that your gun will function correctly. Running 200 rounds of high-quality ballistic tip ammunition can get expensive but is well worth the price in confidence in your choices.
What About the Other Glocks?
As I have said before, life is about compromises. Glock offers a wide variety of frame sizes and caliber combinations to fit almost anyone’s needs. The set of compromises that the Glock 26 offers are ones that I am comfortable with to the degree that I can recommend it.
You should explore the possibilities before deciding. Understand your own needs and desires in a concealed carry gun and weigh all the factors. For most of us, the expense of purchasing a concealed carry handgun is serious and limits us to one option. You must make sure that the option is right for you.
Is the Glock 26 Worth It?
In the end, the Glock 26 Generation 5 meets my requirements for a concealed carry gun. It isn’t perfect but the compromises I have to accept are well within my comfort zone. I can carry the Glock 26 confident that if the time ever comes and I need it, the Glock 26 will stop any threat it meets.If you are interested in comparing the Glock 26 and other top concealed carry weapons, read our Comprehensive Guide to the Top 10 Concealed Carry Guns.