S&W Airweight revolver vs Glock 23 vs Springfield XDm .40 4.5″

I recently wrote about how the Smith & Wesson 642 Airweight .38 Special revolver (pictured below) compares to the Springfield XDm .40 caliber 4.5″ semiautomatic pistol. You can see that post here.

Today, I shot the same S&W 642 snub nose revolver and the Glock 23 (pictured below) which is a .40 caliber compact model. The Glock “compact” models lie between their full sized pistols and their “subcompact” size. I was surprised to find that I could still fit all the fingers of my shooting hand around the handle. So it is not as small as the “compact” size of other brands.

The weight of the Glock 23 is reportedly 21 oz empty and 31 oz when fully loaded with the 12 round magazine. So it is much heavier than the 16 oz S&W snub nose .38 Special, which can only hold 5 rounds. Despite the weight difference, both of these guns would be suitable for concealed carry. The S&W snub nose is smaller and lighter but is limited to 5 rounds of .38 Special, while the heavier Glock 23 gives you 12 rounds of a more powerful .40 caliber load.

Really, it is more appropriate to compare the two semiautomatics I have shot: the Glock 23 and the Springfield XDm .40 (pictured below.) It would have been an even better comparison if I had shot the XDm .40 compact model, but nevertheless there are a few things I can mention about the guns I have shot that might be helpful to someone trying to decide between brands.

For me, the perceived recoil was similar with the S&W .38 Special Airweight revolver and the Glock 23. I thought the recoil of the Springfield XDm felt much lighter. But that is just my subjective opinion. Going back and forth between the small S&W revolver and the semiautomatic Glock 23, my accuracy was consistently much better with the Glock 23 than it was with the small revolver. My accuracy was similar with both the Glock 23 and the Springfield XDm semiautomatic pistols.

Glock is a famous brand. Glocks have been used by countless good guys and bad guys all over the world. Part of the reason for the brand’s popularity is the cost. Glocks have been a good value at their purchase price. But I found the Glock 23 to be a crude product. Glocks in general are famous for being solid, and for reportedly holding up under heavy use. But I found the Glock 23 to be stark, with hard lines, and without character. Also, I had one malfunction with it when a bullet didn’t eject properly and got stuck in the chamber. By comparison, the Springfiled XDm felt better in my hand, had much more elegant, fluid lines, and in general seemed to be of much better construction than the Glock. Again, all my subjective opinion.

The Smith & Wesson .38 Special snub nose revolver has a special place in history and in popular culture. It’s still around because it’s still a reliable firearm, and .38 Special has been an effective projectile. The snub nose is also small, light, easy to conceal. I plan to always have one in my (eventual) collection. But the semiautomatics I discussed, though slightly heavier, have the advantages of chambering more powerful bullets, housing more of them, delivering faster followup shots, and allowing better accuracy.

I have probably been biased forever after shooting the Springfield XDm .40 and the Glock 23. For me, based on my limited experience, there is no question I would choose a Springfield anything over a Glock anything. I see Glocks as stark, utilitarian handguns without soul. By comparison, I see the Springfield XDm’s as much more elegant, better built, smoother firing, with less perceived recoil, just as accurate, and sporting an attractive style. And as for price, it’s the same as always: You get what you pay for.

Leave me a comment
  • Linda January 20, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    I like the way you describe the guns… a Cadillac vs. a Jeep? I’ve enjoyed learning more with each post and the pics are awesome! : )

    • Ferd January 20, 2012 at 5:17 PM

      Thanks, Linda. I’m trying to learn as much as I can every time I go shooting, and I’ll post what I learn.

      I’m itching to try the Ruger SR9C. It is a compact 9mm semiautomatic, the Gun of the Year in 2010. If it lives up to its reputation, that’s probably what I’ll get.

      There’s also the Ruger SR40C, their .40 caliber compact model. The Ruger SR compacts are slimmer and lighter. They may not hold as many bullets, but they are easier to carry concealed.

      For important purchases, I tend to pick the “Cadillac.” (Though I drive a Honda Civic!) :D

      I can’t take any credit for the pictures. I “borrowed” them from the internet. ;-)

  • Katherine January 25, 2012 at 8:53 PM

    The first gun I ever shot was a Sig Saur 226 9mm…. I also shot a small 22. Boy that Sig was intimidating. I would love to try more guns… sounds awesome!

    • Ferd January 26, 2012 at 9:22 PM

      I can rent guns for $10 at the shooting range we go to. They don’t have all models, but the ones they do have are all new to me. I try a new one every time I go. It’s really fun! :-)

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