The Ultimate Glock Guide
Glock and Glock Pistols : Everything You Ever Wanted To Know
Arguably, the most popular gun maker of the past 30 years has been Glock, and for so many good reasons. There have been controversies as well, and deeply divided opinions among the gun-owning community. However, so many owners and professional users attest that Glock pistols are the best working guns that can be had, and many thousands - if not millions - of people trust their lives to a Glock pistol.
This guide will tell you virtually everything you need to know about Glock, GmbH., and the pistols that they make. They make something for virtually everyone, handgun-wise, so there are very few people that wouldn't be well-served by purchasing a Glock firearm.
The Start of Glock
The genesis of Glock pistols is naturally with the founder and namesake of the company, Gaston Glock, who was actually in business as a supplier to the Austrian military long before he started making handguns.
Glock started by making knives and entrenching tools for the Austrian armed forces along with knife sheaths, specifically those made of - and here comes the key part - durable polymers, which were also engineered for knife and entrenching tool handles. By the time pistol manufacturing came into the picture, founder Gaston Glock along with others employed at the company were already experts in polymer design.
Prior to 1980, they didn't manufacture firearms and getting into the market didn't appear to be much of a priority. However, in that year, the Austrian government put out notice that they wanted a replacement for the Walther P-38, which despite the age of the design was still the primary sidearm of Austrian military and police. They wanted a pistol that fired the 9x19mm cartridge, held 8 or more rounds, was drop-safe, could be operated ambidextrously, was insanely reliable, could handle overpressure ammunition and could be very easily maintained, among other requirements.
In 1982, Glock gathered as many experts in firearms design from around Europe as he could find, and by 1983 had created the Glock 17. What most people don't know is that the model designation has nothing to do with the carrying capacity; the gun was the 17th patent issued to Glock.
In 1983, the Austrian military held the pistol trials and the Glock 17 handily beat the other entries, including the Steyr GB, Beretta 92, Sig Sauer P220 and P226, and H&K's P7 and P9 pistols.
More militaries and police departments followed, as did more designs - the uber-rare select-fire capable Glock 18 was released in 1985, followed by the 17L (6-in barrel longslide variant) and Glock 19 compact in 1988.
The first venture into other calibers was the Glock 22, released in 1990 with the ostensible goal of attracting the FBI by offering a pistol chambered in .40 S&W, followed by the Glock 20 in 10mm Auto the following year. In the intervening years, further calibers have come out including .380 Auto, .45 ACP, .357 Sig and .45 GAP or Glock Automatic Pistol, a round with a shorter case but the same ballistics as .45 ACP.
Around the mid 1990s, Glock began producing more pistols with concealed carry in mind, as well as updating their pistol designs as they went, introducing a new "generation" every few years. Today's pistols are "Gen 4," and today's Glock pistols are among the best that can be had at almost any price-point. Full-size, compact and subcompact variants of nearly every caliber are available, and several now include extended sizes as well.
If a person owns a semi-auto pistol for service, home defense, carry, target shooting or handgun hunting, there's a Glock that will fit your needs.
Over the years, there has been a certain amount of Glock controversy and much of it is either unwarranted or sheerly a matter of opinion.
In the 1980s, a rumor was started (which was given further legs by being printed in "Time" magazine and mentioned in a few movies and TV shows) that Glock pistols, being made of polymer (a few times it was erroneously called "porcelain," which is a ceramic rather than a plastic) could not be detected by metal detectors. This was never true; the slide is metal, as are certain internal components and - of course - the bullets. Thankfully, time and sense have exposed this as a gun myth.
Other controversial aspects of Glock pistols include a trigger pull being part of the disassembly procedure and the lack of a positive safety.
It's true that negligent discharges have occurred with Glock pistols, but they have occurred with every make and model of pistol besides Glock firearms. Regardless of the make and model of firearm, accidental discharges are preventable simply by observing proper gun safety.
The Glock safety system - the Safe Action system - is a three-fold passive safety system, incorporating both a trigger safety, firing pin safety and drop safety system in one. The system itself makes the pistol virtually invulnerable to drop or slam fires.
The trigger safety system includes a trigger lever, a piece of the trigger extending forward from the rest of the trigger whilst the trigger is at rest. While not depressed, the trigger bar is directed away from the sear. Effectively, the trigger mechanism is disconnected from the firing mechanism unless the trigger lever is depressed.
A second failsafe mechanism is the firing pin block. When the trigger is slack, a cylindrical block is lowered between the firing pin and a chambered cartridge. The block itself has a firing pin channel, but in order for the firing pin and striker to engage the cartridge primer, the trigger has to be pulled, which raises the firing pin block. This opens the "channel" to the cartridge primer and allows for the round to be discharged.
Glock's drop safety mechanism is a trigger bar ramp that directs the trigger bar away from the sear, effectively rendering the pistol unable to fire unless rearward pressure is applied to the trigger, this tilts the trigger bar toward the sear, engaging it only if the trigger is deliberately pulled and thus avoiding drop or slam fires.
Key Glock Features
To be certain, a number of incredible Glock innovations have irrevocably altered the handgun market. Semi-automatic pistols today are often judged on how well they perform compared to the Glock pistol of similar dimension and caliber.
The polymer-framed, striker-fired pistol design is only as popular as it is because of Glock. Striker-action pistols are something of a hybrid design as they combine almost all of the benefits of single-action and double-action trigger operations without any of the drawbacks.
Double-action pistols have long trigger pulls, as pulling the trigger cocks AND fires the pistol, which some shooters have difficulty shooting accurately. Single-action pistols, while having crisp, light trigger pulls, have to be cocked before firing. This is either done manually before every shot in the case of single-action revolvers, or before the first shot of a single-action auto such as the 1911 or Browning High Power. (Want to learn more? Check out our Single Action vs Double Action blog.)
A "striker" is a spring-loaded firing pin, which is placed under spring tension by cycling the slide. Most double- and single-action pistols employ a firing pin that is far more passive in operation; an external hammer strikes the firing pin, which strikes the cartridge primer and discharges the round. Striker pistols, however, have no hammer.
Striker-fired pistols, like both double- and single-action semi-automatics, are made ready to fire by racking the slide. This action loads the pistol and cocks the striker. However, the difference is they cannot be decocked, unlike single-action semi-autos and revolvers, which are almost universally hammer-fired. Additionally, striker-fired pistols almost always have the light, crisp trigger pull of a single-action pistol.
In summation, Glocks and the striker-fired pistols derived from or based on them in some part, are easier to operate and easier to shoot than the single-action and double-action semi-autos that preceded them. This makes shooting an easier skill to learn for many shooters, as older designs of semi-auto pistols can be complicated to master.
Glock pistols created something that barely existed in the handgun market: affordable quality, across almost every dimension. Glock pistols are very reasonably priced, and certainly more so given how reliable, accurate and shootable they are. In previous eras, it wasn't possible to get an accurate, reliable and easy shooting pistol without investing a lot of money into one.
Today, an increasing number of gun makers are designing and releasing handguns designed for a lifetime of reliable service at affordable prices, many with a striker-fired design similar to Glock pistols, with law enforcement, military, home defense and concealed carry applications in mind.
Glock Pistols To Look Out For
There are so many Glock pistols, as Glock's frame architecture allows the company to produce pistols for a wide range of calibers. As a result, most semi-auto calibers are represented and most semi-auto calibers have full-size, compact and subcompact firearms chambering them. There are also long-slide Glock pistols in almost all calibers, and a few near micropistols to choose from as well.
It's more the case that Glock derives a frame and chassis, then mates calibers to it, much as carmakers create compact, mid-size and full-size chassis architecture and then build a coupe, sedan and crossover SUV around each.
Of the full-size guns, the best-known is the Glock 17, as it is the gun that started it all. The 17 is chambered in 9mm, is ready to run +P virtually out of the box and carries 17+1 rounds, though it can accept 10-round and 33-round extended magazines. The Gen4 MOS model is compatible with optics, as is the Glock 34 Gen4, the competition longslide variant.
Other full-size Glocks include the Glock 22 in .40 S&W, Glock 20 in 10mm, the 21 in .45 ACP, 37 in .45 GAP, and Glock 31 in .357 Sig.
The Glock 19 is considered by many to be a "Goldilocks" gun, or at least as close to one as possible, as it's compact and light enough for everyday or concealed carry, but large enough and with sufficient capacity (standard is 15 rounds) for use as a service pistol. The Glock 23, Glock 32 and Glock 38, in .40 S&W, .357 Sig and .45 GAP, respectively, are the same dimensions though obviously chambered in different calibers. A .380 Auto pistol of this size, the Glock 25, is made but only offered to law enforcement.
Of the subcompacts, the Glock 26, 27 and 33 are even more compact than their slightly larger counterparts, and are among the most popular concealed carry pistols on the market, with the 26 in 9mm being the most popular. The 27 and 33 are offered in .40 S&W and .357 Sig, respectively. The .380 variant in this architecture, the Glock 28, is likewise law-enforcement only.
Of the big-bore subcompacts, Glock offers the 29 in 10mm, 30 in .45 ACP and Glock 39 in .45 GAP. The 29 and 30 are slightly wider, taller and longer than the 26/27/33 architecture, offering slightly better purchase on the grip, which many shooters find necessary in larger calibers.
Glock also produces two slimline subcompacts, the Glock 43 in 9mm and Glock 36 in .45 ACP. Barrel size is the essentially the same (though the barrel of the 43 is .03 inches shorter than the Glock 26) as is height, but width is reduced as these pistols employ single-stack magazines in lieu of double stack magazines. The Glock 43 is a mere 1.02 inches wide, and the 36 is 1.1 inches wide, for easy deep concealment. Both pistols carry 6+1 rounds.
Glock's lone micropistol, only scarcely smaller than the Glock 43, is the Glock 42, offered in .380 Auto. The 42 sports a 3.25-inch barrel, standing 4.13 inches tall and 0.94 inches wide, making it perhaps the sole Glock that could be concealed in a pocket if one were to pocket carry.
The longslide Glocks, such as the 17L, are very popular in handgun shooting competitions, but some have found use with handgun hunters. For the latter purpose, the Glock 40 in 10mm is the most capable. The Glock 40 is also offered with MOS capability, allowing the pistol to have optics mounted on it.
Alien Gear Glock Holsters
Alien Gear Glock holsters are available in every single holster design we manufacture and for almost every pistol made by Glock. In fact, the only Glock pistols we do not currently make a holster for are the long-slide models, such as the Glock 17L, Glock 24, 34, 35, Glock 40 and 41.
Every Glock that isn't those longslide models...we make a holster for. In fact, two of Alien Gear's best-sellers are Glock 19 holsters and Glock 26 holsters. When we redesigned our holster shells earlier this year for select models, it was no small surprise that Glocks were heavily represented among them. At that, our Glock concealed carry holsters are heavily represented in our best-selling holster models.
Glock IWB holsters are made for every Glock pistol we make a holster for, including full-size, compact and subcompact models. We also manufacture Glock OWB holsters, including our Cloak Mod paddle holster and belt-slide holster, all being compatible with our Cloak Dock holster mount systems.
Additionally, Glock magazine carriers are available as well, as both of our Cloak Mag Carrier models (the single and double mag carrier models) can be had for Glock magazines.
Glock Rumors And Upcoming Glock Pistols
The most recent of new Glock pistols was released in 2015, the Glock 43 - the single-stack, slimline 9mm subcompact. Since then, there have been some Glock rumors surrounding upcoming editions of current pistols in the lineup.
The biggest of the recent Glock rumors emerged around the fall of 2016, which was that Glock had or was securing the trademark for the term "Gen 5," so the lineup is apparently in for a refresh.
Around the same time, a new Glock 17 for police and military service emerged, or at least pictures of it did. It also happens to be tipped as the new FBI service pistol, and the "FBI Glock" has a few enhancements for law enforcement use. Dubbed the 17M, improvements include a flared magazine well and magazine cutout for an extended magazine lip, a longer dual recoil spring, a revised magazine release button, changed barrel rifling and an updated, smoother trigger.
The 17M is already in limited service with police departments across the country, and though it's had some teething issues, will be appearing in more police armories nationwide in coming months. Some of these improvements may be showing up in the Gen 5 models, so keep your eyes peeled.
The other big news is that the Glock Gen 5 pistol is said to be in the current pistol trials for the US armed forces, as they are seeking a replacement for the Beretta M9. It may well become our service personnel's sidearm. They wouldn't be the first.
About The Author
Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.