GLOCK was founded by Mr. Gaston Glock, an engineer, in 1963 in Deutsch-Wagram, near Vienna, Austria to specialize in the manufacture of plastic and steel components. GLOCK quickly realized the desirability of combining plastic and steel, particularly for military products, and began to supply the Austrian Army with machine gun belts, practice hand grenades, plastic clips, field knives and entrenching tools.
In the early 1980s, the Austrian military decided to acquire a new duty pistol asking numerous famous local and foreign weapon manufacturers for their bids. Due to GLOCK’s excellent reputation with previous military contracts, GLOCK was also invited to bid on this new contract. This was a new challenge for the company, since pistols were not in its product line at that time. However, the fact that GLOCK was a newcomer to this field turned out to be an advantage. In this way, GLOCK was able to develop a revolutionary new product according to the customer’s needs, rather than modify an already existing product.
The result was a breakthrough in firearms technology. With its polymer frame, the GLOCK pistol was considerably light in weight had the highest magazine capacity of any other pistol in its class. The pistol did not have any external safety lever, hammer, decocker, or any other operation controls which must be deactivated prior to making the weapon ready to shoot.
This made the pistol faster, simpler and safer to use than any other pistol. The new pistol concept allowed the shooter to concentrate on tactical considerations, rather than manipulation of levers or hammers on the pistol.
In short, the pistol combined two different systems – it considered the advantages of the double-action revolver (simple to operate, reliable) and those of the auto-loading pistol (maximum firepower, fast reloading). This was the birth of the well-known Safe-Action system. By merely pulling the trigger to the rear, the three independent safeties (trigger safety, firing pin safety and drop safety) are automatically deactivated and re-activated when the trigger is released.
Smith & Wesson (and Beretta to a lesser extent) dominated the police firearms business in the U.S. when I began my law enforcement career in 1976. In 1985 Glock came along with a gun made from a nylon resin that was tough enough to be made into most parts of a pistol (except the carbon steel barrel).
The same year Glock opened a U.S. subsidiary in Smyrna to promote sales to law enforcement. With the rise of drug-related crime, cops and feds found themselves out gunned by criminals and began trading in their six-shot revolvers for semiautomatic pistols. The Glock 17 held 18 rounds and, because it was cheap to make, few competitors could beat it on price.
The Glock was also revolutionary for its simple design—34 parts, compared with 60 or so for the Smith & Wesson .45 caliber semiautomatic—and its 24-ounce weight, to 25.4 ounces for the Smith & Wesson. In tests Glock shooters also experienced softer recoil because the gun’s polymer frame flexes slightly when fired.
Glock quickly became the side arm of choice for the New York City PD, U.S. Special Forces and the FBI.
The fast growing market demanded new models. The GLOCK 18, a subcompact submachinegun based on the GLOCK 17, capable of semi-automatic or full-automatic firing through the use of a selector switch, followed. The weapon was capable of firing at a rate of 1.200 rounds per minute and was designed for use by special forces.
In response to the demand for a more compact model by plain clothes federal agents, the GLOCK 19 was developed in 1988. The pistol was designed with a 4-inch barrel and shorter frame. With a magazine capacity of 15 rounds, the GLOCK 19 had equivalent firepower with many of the full-size duty pistols on the market at that time. The compact size and excellent firepower again met the demand of both law enforcement and civilian markets.
The subcompact GLOCK 26 (9mm) and GLOCK 27 (.40) were designed to address the increased popularity of concealed carry handguns. Introduced in 1996, these pistols had the potent combination of high magazine capacity, “serious” calibers, precise accuracy and minimal size and weight, which made them an instant success. I had not purchased a hand gun since 1977 (S&W Model 60 and S&W Model 66) and was issued a Glock 19 by Customs. in 1997 I purchased a Glock 26, which I still own and carry.
The two-millionth GLOCK pistol to be produced by the GLOCK factory was displayed at the 1999 Shot Show. The pistol was engraved “My two millionth pistol” and was signed by the President, Mr. Gaston Glock.
As more U.S. police departments switched to the Glock in the 1990s, the gun-buying public followed suit. It soon became the weapon of choice for cops, criminals and the gun-buying public.
And like countless other consumer fads, writes Barrett, the Glock, with its black matte finish and boxy shape, found its way into our popular culture.
In 1971, Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry” praised Smith & Wesson’s .44 Magnum as “the most powerful handgun in the world,” but, in the ’90s, the Glock had its “Dirty Harry moment.”
The Glock’s firepower was lauded by Bruce Willis in 1990’s Die Hard 2. Authors such as Elmore Leonard dropped Glocks into their novels. Prime-time TV cops began carrying them.
And in 1998’s U.S. Marshals, Tommy Lee Jones told Robert Downey Jr. to get rid of his Taurus PT945 and “get yourself a Glock and lose that nickel-plated sissy pistol.”
Soon, rappers embraced the Glock in lyrics and videos.
Missteps by Smith & Wesson, Colt, Beretta and other gun makers helped Glock roll over all of them.
It’s not “all Glock, all the time” for hand gun owners in America today. But Glock is still the leader in law enforcement, both on the streets and on TV. If I could only own one firearm, it would most certainly be a GLOCK .