Contents of the GLOCK.TXT file
THE GLOCK LINE --------------
by Sgt. Chris Pollack
Reprinted from "Police Magazine"
Most of the new wave of auto pistols that have proven so popular for police
work the past decade are not really new.
The double-action trigger and slide-mounted decocking and safety lever were
popularized by Walther in 1935. Smith and Wesson adapted the design to its
first 9mm pistol in the early 1950s in response to the U.S. government's
initial effort to replace the 1911 .45ACP. When the Army's plan to change
to a 9mm fell through, S&W marketed the gun to the public as the Model 39.
Three model generations later, the heritage of S&W's auto pistols is still
Beretta has built pistols on the same basic open slide design for more than
50 years. The addition of a double-action trigger and Walther-style
decocking lever produced the Model 92.
The one new pistol in the past decade was so radically different in design
and construction that it met with significant resistance from the very group
that now so enthusiastically embraces it. When gun control advocates tried
to stop importation of the Glock, falsely claiming it was a "terrorist"
weapon undetectable by x-ray and airport security magnetometers, the
Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association of Police Organizations
and other police groups lobbied strongly for the legislation. The
"Washington Post" called the Glock a gun only a terrorist could love.
Fortunately, saner minds prevailed. Within the year, the Washington
Metropolitan Police Department transitioned all their officers to the Glock
pistol. Today, about 25 percent of Glock's domestic sales is to police
agencies. (Glock also has about 40 percent of the lucrative American
law-enforcement market - Ed.)
Probably the biggest reason for the Glock pistol's advanced technology is
that Austrian engineer and businessman Gaston Glock knew little about guns
and a lot about plastics and manufacturing. He hired people who knew
firearms design and set about, unhampered by conventional design
limitations, to build a new gun. His second prototype was adopted by the
Austrian army and is essentially the same gun sold today as the 9mm Glock
The frame or receiver of the Glock pistol is polymer (Glock prefers that
word over plastic). On traditional auto pistol designs, the slide rides on
rails that are machined as part of the frame. On the Glock those rails are
two opposing pairs of carbide steel inserts that are permanently put into
place during the polymer injection molding process. The steel slide does
not contact the frame but rides on the carbide inserts. American buyers,
including police, were initially suspicious of the durability of the
polymer, expecting it to warp like a phonograph record in the sun. It does
not. The Glock will function in temperatures from minus 40 to 392 degrees
Like the venerable police revolver, the Glock has no safety or decocking
lever to manipulate when firing. Police agencies adopting the Glock have
viewed this as a plus since the transition training for officers accustomed
to revolvers is simplified.
Despite the absence of a lever to manipulate, the Glock pistol has three
safeties. The trigger safety is a small lever protruding from the face of
the trigger which must be depressed before the trigger will fire the gun.
This is accomplished, without thought or effort, by the trigger finger in
the normal firing position, but it ensures that the gun will not fire by
incidental pressure on the trigger. The trigger finger must be in a firing
position to cause a discharge. There are two more internal safeties. The
firing-pin safety blocks the firing pin from moving forward unless the
trigger is pulled completely to the rear. The drop safety prevents firing
pin movement if the gun is dropped.
Although generally categorized as a double-action pistol, the Glock is
technically not. When the slide is operated manually or by firing the gun,
the firing pin is partially held back by the sear. Pulling the trigger
retracts the firing pin the rest of the way before the sear releases it to
fire the round. One advantage of this system is that the trigger pull is
absolutely consistent from shot to shot. Traditional double-action designs
have a 12-pound, long pull for the first shot and a short four-pound pull
for subsequent shots until the gun is uncocked. Other manufacturers have
recently solved this problem of two distinctly different trigger pulls by
offering double-action only (sometimes called trigger-action) pistols. The
result is that every shot requires a long 12-pound pull.
The Glock, on the other hand, originally came with a five-pound trigger
pull. In response to police department requests, Glock also offers an
eight-pound trigger. The New York State Police wanted to adopt the Glock,
but they wanted a trigger that was more like the revolvers they carried.
Glock introduced a new trigger spring that offered more constant resistance
similar to the revolver. Called the New York trigger spring, when coupled
with the five-pound sear, it offers an eight-pound trigger that feels more
like the traditional revolver trigger pull.
An additional benefit is that the trigger needs less travel to discharge the
gun, so the distance from the back of the frame to the trigger face is no
less than on double-action guns. Also, because the grip checkering is
modeled into the frame during the manufacturing process, there are no
separate grip panels to increase the girth of the gun. These two factors
make a gun that better fits the average hand. People with small hands are
able to get a more secure and consistent grip on the Glock than on other
pistols with similar large magazine capacity.
Depending on ammunition, Glock pistols will produce accuracy that ranges
from acceptable (three inches at 25 yards) to outstanding. My Glock 21
turns in five-shot, hand-held groups under two inches at 25 yards with
200-grain .45ACP load produced by Black Hills Ammunition.
The intrinsic accuracy of the guns is a product of the design and precise
manufacturing tolerances. The practical accuracy, what the shooter is
capable of doing with the gun, is enhanced by the design. For example, in
addition to the grip size and trigger pull, the axis of the bore is lower
and closer to the shooter's hand, in part because there is no external
hammer. The recoiling slide has less leverage working against the hand
during recoil, thereby allowing the shooter to dominate recoil and
re-acquire his sight picture for a faster second shot.
Another advantage touted by the manufacturer is that the police armorer's
job is greatly simplified, requiring only that he identify the
malfunctioning part and replace it with a new one. Parts drop in and
require no fitting. The Glock armorer's tool kit is a pin punch; a nail
will suffice if the punch is not available. A sight adjustment tool for
moving the fixed sights is also available. The optional adjustable sight is
a little fragile for a duty gun. Three-dot night sights are another option.
The Glock has only 33 parts, the fewest by a wide margin of any of the
popular police auto-pistols. The Glock police armorer's course takes one
day, although that may increase to two days to allow range time. Other
firearms manufacturers courses run from three days to one week. At one
Glock school I attended, students disassembled guns in the classroom,
exchanged parts and re-assembled the guns that were then taken to the firing
range. All worked flawlessly. Glock pistols routinely pass 10,000-round
tests, and individual guns have functioned for literally hundreds of
thousands of rounds with only minor parts replacement.
The durability of the polymer frame is matched by Glock's proprietary metal
finish called Tenifer. It is so corrosion and abrasion resistant that it
will actually abrade hardened steel. Glock armorer instructors routinely
use the slide to file down the point of a punch to prove Tenifer's strength.
While test firing the full-auto Glock 18 pistol, when it got too hot to
hold, we would run it under the faucet to cool it off, then return to
firing. Although this has been done hundreds of times, there was no
corrosion. I have never seen a Glock rust.
The Glock pistol began with the Austrian army's quest for a new service
pistol, and has grown, in response primarily to the American market, to the
point that a listing of the various models is helpful.
The Glock 17 is a full-sized 9mm pistol with a 4.5-inch barrel and 17-round
magazine. The model number and magazine capacity are only coincidental.
Gaston Glock numbered his products in the order of their development. His
first pistol just happened to be product number 17.
The 17L is a long-slide version of the 17 with a six-inch barrel designed
Seldom encountered in the U.S., the Glock 18 is a full-auto, selective-fire
version of the 17 with a slightly longer barrel. Developed for Austrian
anti-terrorist units who wanted a concealable machine pistol, it has a
selector switch for semi- or full-auto on the left rear of the slide where
it is easily manipulated by the thumb. With a cyclic rate of about 1100
rounds per minute, it is a fistful of firepower for the expert only, and it
is available only to police agencies. Individual sales are prohibited by
The 9mm Glock 19 is a slightly smaller version of the Model 17. With a
four-inch barrel and a grip shortened by a quarter of an inch, the 19 was
designed for the American police market to fulfill the concept of one gun
for uniform and plainclothes. It does not fit very small hands any better
than the larger gun because the grip diameter and trigger reach are the
When it became apparent that the FBI was going to adopt a 10mm pistol, Glock
determined that it would get in on the trend. Although it was also obvious
that S&W was going to get the FBI contract, Glock aimed for the rest of the
market with the Model 20. The Bureau specifically excluded Glock from
consideration by writing bid requests that required an external decocking
Glock faced a similar problem with the U.S. Army's Joint Service Pistol
Project specification that the gun had to be capable of delivering a second
firing pin blow to the primer by simply pulling the trigger a second time, a
facility of questionable value, but it effectively eliminated the Glock and
assured the government of a traditional, 50-year-old design.
The Glock 20 is a larger gun and a quarter-pound heavier than the 9mm's.
Although there is a similarity, it does not feel exactly the same as the 9mm
gun in your hand. Despite the Bureau's adoption of the 10mm, not too many
police departments have been inclined to follow. For the agency or
individual wanting a gun designed to handle the full power 10mm, though, the
Glock 20 is a good choice.
Gaston Glock resisted the pleas of .45ACP fans to build a .45. He probably
would not have relented if it had not been for the 10mm. Once he had a
prototype capable of handling the higher pressures of the 10mm, there was no
reason not to chamber the same gun in .45. Ironically, the Model 21 .45ACP
will probably outsell the 10mm. It is the first gun that would tempt a
dyed-in-the-wool fan of the Colt auto to give up his 1911. The trigger pull
is clean and consistent, magazine capacity is 13 rounds, and accuracy is
excellent. It generates enthusiasm among people who are not the least
impressed by the latest "wondernine" and who refer to double-action autos as
When Smith & Wesson announced the .40 S&W cartridge two years ago, the
marketability of the concept was apparent to Glock. The FBI specified a
10mm cartridge loaded down to a velocity of 950 feet per second with a
180-grain bullet. The significance of the sub-sonic load was that it could
be made in a shorter cartridge with lower pressures than the full-power
10mm, and it could be chambered in a 9mm-size gun. Development of the
Models 20 and 21 was temporarily shelved in favor of the .40 S&W caliber
guns. Police agencies who already knew and liked the Glock design in 9mm
lined up to get the new models in .40 caliber even before they were
available. Although the 9mm is the biggest seller, the .40 S&W is a popular
alternative. The Glock 22 is the .44 caliber gun with critical exterior
dimensions identical to the Glock 17 9mm. The Glock 23 is a .40 caliber gun
the same size as the Model 19.
Glock has sold more than 300,000 pistols, a great many of them to individual
officers and police departments. Development of new products promises to be
of continued interest to police. In the future, look for a carbine firing
pistol ammo and utilizing Glock pistol magazines as a companion long arm for
agencies already using Glock pistols. A truly compact and concealable .380
safe-action pistol would make a good back-up gun for law enforcement. Also
look for at least some production to be done in the United States.
For more info or a free Glock brochure, contact your local dealer, or write
or call Glock, Inc.
P.O. Box 369
Smyrna, GA 30081
Phone: (404) 432-1202
Fax: (404) 433-8719
Telex: 543353 Glock Atl UD