This remarkable pistol is a classic not only because of the success of its design but also for the materials used in its construction. Its extensive use of synthetic plastic or polymer materials has resulted in a revolution in firearms manufacture and design that has gradually been followed by most of the company’s competitors. Nicknamed “Drastic Plastic” and “Combat Tupperware,” no other series of self-defense pistols had the impact on the American law enforcement or armed self-defense scene like those from Glock, Inc. Estimates run that more than 60 percent of American law enforcement officers are armed with Glock handguns in a variety of calibers and sizes.
Glock pistols are chosen for a variety of reasons, but all of these reasons point to an extremely successful design that has established a solid reputation for accuracy, ease of control and most importantly in a defensive pistol—reliability.

The first GLOCK ever produced: GLOCK 82 AKA GLOCK 17.

Gaston Glock is the driving force behind these guns and the design genius responsible for this incredibly successful product. In 1963, he established his firm in Deutsch-Wagram, a community near Vienna, Austria.
Although Glock had worked as an engineer for Steyr, his new company first made such mundane items as plastic curtain rods. During the 1970’s, he secured contracts with the Austrian military for items ranging from entrenching tools to military knives and machine-gun ammunition belt links.
It wasn’t until the Austrian military announced they were interested in purchasing a new military pistol that Glock got serious about making a handgun. It is readily apparent that Gaston Glock in his first attempt to manufacture a serious military-style service pistol scored a long ball hit the first time at bat. The pistol achieved success and its designer’s initial goal almost immediately because the Austrian military adopted the Glock 17 in 1982 as their P80 service pistol.
The next Glock conquest following the adoption by the Austrian military was the Norwegian military service pistol contract in 1984. This was the first major sale of the pistol outside of Austria and it was noticed by handgun manufacturers around the world.
Two years later, the Glock pistol came to America where there was some initial resistance to the “plastic” gun and more than one comparison was made to a cheap, throwaway plastic ink pen. The performance of this handgun soon overcame the naysayers and sales increased beyond expectation. In addition, anti-gun American politicians claimed this plastic gun was invisible to airport metal detectors. That simply isn’t true, nor was it ever. The slide, barrel and recoil spring are all steel components and together comprise more than 80% of the gun’s total weight. These steel components are easily recognizable by all security devices in use over the past 20 years.
Law enforcement agencies interested in converting to auto-pistols favored the Glock for several reasons. Transition to the Glock Safe Action was easier than any other contemporary design. The pistol had only one external operating lever and was less confusing to the individual used to the simple operation of the swing-out cylinder revolver. Another persuasive factor was the pistol’s simplicity. This dispensed with the need for extensive gunsmith knowledge and police armorers were trained in as little as one day.


The Glock 17 offered a number of innovations when first introduced, but by far the most notable was its one-piece polymer frame. Other manufacturers had previously experimented and attempted to make handguns with polymer parts, sometimes major polymer parts, but none had created such a solid design.
The result was a pistol that was considerably lighter than most of its contemporaries, and it also had a grip that came closer to fitting that elusive “one size fits all” category.
Additionally, the double-stack magazine on the original Glock 17 was also made from polymer and held 17 rounds of 9x19mm ammunition! With one round loaded in the chamber, the Glock 17 was an 18 shooter.
According to various sources outside the company, the Glock pistol frames are molded from a proprietary derivative of Nylon 6 polymer. Nylon 6 polymer is chemically stable in a wide range of
conditions and chemical environments.
It will degrade very, very slightly over time when subjected to long periods of ultraviolet exposure, but Nylon 6’s greatest weakness occurs when submersed in water in excess of 120 degrees. However, few bathers have been attacked in sulfur spring baths, so this is a small concern for most Glock owners and operators. The pistol’s slide and barrel were forged of steel, and Glock used the Browning cam-operated, tilting-barrel system to lock the action during firing.
The Glock’s controls were all on the left side of the frame and included a takedown latch, magazine catch, slide stop and a trigger that incorporated a safety. The latter is part of the pistol’s trigger mechanism that the company classified as a “SAFE Action” system.
The system has three independent safety systems. The first is the trigger safety, which is located in the center of the trigger pad itself and is the most non-conventional of all the Glock safety systems. This trigger safety has to be deliberately depressed in order for the trigger to move. There is the firing pin lock that blocks movement of the firing pin or striker assembly until action from the trigger bar disengages it. The third and final safety system is the drop safety and it works off the rear part of the trigger bar, which has a cruciform shape. While sounding somewhat complicated on the printed page, the truth is it is simple in operation and works extremely reliably.
Another big plus to the design of the Glock 17 was its simplicity and the relatively low number of parts. When there are fewer parts, there is a significantly reduced opportunity for things to break or go wrong. The parts count varies according to how the parts are counted. Some commentators state the Glock design features 29 separate parts, while some authorities list 34.
The main reason there is a discrepancy is due to the differences found in the rear sight, and whether or not the Glock in question has the extra pin in the locking block. This pin is not found on the Glock 17, 17L, 18, 19, 25 and 34 models. Regardless, the part count for this design remains low in comparison to other designs and the reliability factor has proven to be high.
In spite of the use of plastic, Glock pistols are remarkably rugged and durable. During the Austrian military pistol trials, one Glock 17 ran through 15,000 rounds without a single malfunction. Before they adopted the Glock 22 and 23 in 40 S&W, the FBI ran higher round counts with even better results. At a recent IWA show, the company had a pistol on display that had run through an amazing 348,210 rounds.
This specific pistol had been used by Hirtenberger for functional and durability tests of their 9mm ammunition and the only parts replaced throughout their testing was a recoil spring assembly and a firing pin spring. After the 348,210 rounds had been fired, an inspection revealed a crack in the barrel and it was replaced. But it is well to note that 65 percent of the rounds fired were stress level proof rounds, and another five percent of this total round count was high-pressure military combat ammunition.


The next pistol to be born into the Glock family was the Glock 18. It appeared in 1986 and was a select-fire or full-auto pistol in 9x19mm caliber. Most experts of full-auto machine pistols have little positive to say on their behalf, other than the fact they are easier to conceal than a larger submachine gun. Nevertheless, if the target distances are limited to those of the average room in a home, the Glock 18 is effective with regard to the number of rounds placed on target. The Glock 18 operates at its best efficiency when it is fired in short two or three round bursts. Yet, it must be said the Glock 18 is a rather exotic member of the Glock family due to its restricted availability. It is sold only to military and law enforcement agencies.
The next two models to appear were the Glock Model 17L and the Glock 19 in 1988. The Glock 17L was the first ‘Long Slide’ Glock and was intended strictly for competition use. It featured a barrel of 6 inches and a slide to match. The early Glock 17L pistol barrels all featured compensator ports, but problems with these forced the factory to discontinue the barrel porting and later versions have all featured non-ported barrels.
The Glock 17L was also the first Glock pistol to feature the “Minus” trigger connector. The Minus trigger connector is sometimes mistakenly referred to as the 3.5 pound connector, which it is not. The trigger pulls on a 17L are between 4.5 pounds and 5.5 pounds, but the “Minus” connector does lighten the felt trigger pull significantly on a Glock pistol. Unfortunately, Glock feels it is too good at this task and could create a dangerous situation for those armed personnel who routinely hold people at gunpoint. The trigger pull is so light they could unintentionally discharge the pistol without realizing they are pulling the trigger.
The Glock 19 is a reduced-size Glock 17. This new pistol has a shorter height grip and a shortened slide, but the big advantage is its magazine capacity of 15 rounds, which matches that of many far larger 9mm service pistols.
In 1988, changes were made to the surface pattern on the grip of all Glock pistols. The original Glock 17 had a polymer grip with a “pebbled” surface texture, but starting in 1988, a serrated pattern was added to the front of the grip and a combination serrated/checkered pattern was found at the rear of the grip. These serrations aided in the shooter’s purchase of
the gun, especially so if the shooter’s hand was moist from either perspiration or any sort of water or other liquid.
In 1990, Glock scored another coup when it initially announced the introduction of the Glock 20 and Glock 21 handguns. The Glock 20 is the large-frame Glock pistol chambered for the 10mm Auto cartridge and the Glock 21 is another large-frame pistol built to handle the 45 ACP cartridge.
These guns were introduced at the SHOT Show of that year, but Smith & Wesson and Winchester made bigger news with the introduction of the 40 S&W-caliber cartridge and the prototype S&W Model 4006, which chambered the round. Gaston Glock took the technical information about the cartridge back to Austria with him and actually beat Smith & Wesson into production with Glock’s own 40 S&W pistols— the Glock 22 and Glock 23.
The Glock 22 is the same size as the original Glock 17, while the Glock 23 is a companion pistol to the Glock 19 in size and shape. The Glock 22, after 11 years of existence, has gone on to become the single-most popular sidearm in American law enforcement. Much of this success can be credited to the Glock’s design and the compromise offered by the 40-caliber chambering. The 40 S&W cartridge offers big-bore terminal ballistics while at the same time maintaining the ability to stay within the size package of a conventional 9x19mm pistol. It would be 4 more years before another pistol was added to the Glock family of handguns, and this time it was a pistol designed solely for competition called the Glock 24. Essentially, the Glock 24 is similar to the previous Glock 17L, but now it is chambered for the 40 S&W cartridge.
The year 1995 saw the introduction of the Glock 25. This pistol is chambered for the 380 ACP and is the same size and shape as the previous Glock 19 and Glock 23. The big difference here is the unlocked action. It operates via a straight blow-back design and the magazine, holding 15 rounds of 380 ammo, has a recessed wall in the back to take up the space not needed by the shorter 380 Auto cartridges.
The Glock 25 was created for sale in those countries that prohibit private citizens from owning any military- or police caliber handgun. Apparently, it has proven to be a popular pistol in South America, but due to the lack of sufficient import points, it is prohibited from import and sale to the general public in this country.
In 1996, the Mini-Glocks were introduced. They are the Glock 26 in 9x19mm caliber and the Glock 27 in 40 S&W. Both are small, easy to carry and accurate.
A 380 Auto version of the Glock 26 was introduced the following year, and it was appropriately labeled the Glock 28. Also introduced in 1997 were the Glock 29 and the Glock 30.
The 1994 Crime Bill outlawing the possession of “ammunition feeding devices capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition” fostered the development of and interest in guns holding 10 rounds or less.
While the Glocks 26, 27 and 28 can truly be called Mini- Glocks, the Glock 29 and 30 were mid-size versions of the large-frame Glock 20 and Glock 21 in 10mm and 45 ACP, respectively. Again, the magazine capacity is limited to 10 rounds in the Model 29 and nine rounds in the Model 30. (The
Model 30 has an option of a slightly extended magazine holding 10 rounds, but it adds length to the butt of the pistol.) During this same time period, a new law enforcement cartridge was developed by SigArms called the 357 SIG.
In lighter projectile weights, this round offers not only the performance of a 357 Magnum revolver but also the ability to be combined with the high magazine capacity of a law enforcement auto-pistol.
As a result, in 1998 Glock introduced the 357 SIG chambered Glock 31, 32, and 33 models. The Glock 31 is equivalent in size, shape and balance to the 17 while the 32 mimics the Glock 19 and 23. The Glock 33 is another Mini-Glock and the same size and shape as the Glock 26 and 27.
Also introduced that same year were two more models aimed for both competition and tactical team use by law enforcement agencies. The Glock 34 was a 9x19mm-caliber pistol featuring a 5.32 inch barrel and a longer slide than that found on the Glock 17. It employed the same frame as the Glock 17, but the slide featured a prominent cutout on the top forward portion.
The Glock 35 was essentially the same pistol built on the Glock 22 frame, but chambered for the 40 S&W cartridge. These pistols were built to fit inside the box mandated by the freshly created IDPA shooting association and to meet the needs of different law enforcement emergency response teams that wanted a pistol with a longer sight radius, but with the proven reliability of the Glock pistol design.
The last member to join the Glock line-up was the Glock 36. Introduced in 1999, the Glock 36 is significant because it is the first Glock to feature an originally designed single column magazine to provide an even narrower grip profile than that found on the previous Glock 30. The Glock 36 is a 45 Auto pistol and the single-column magazine holds six rounds.
Although its overall shape and size is approximately the same as the Glock 30, the slide is narrower so the two pistols do not have interchangeable parts.
Gaston Glock may not appreciate the nicknames given his products, but in truth, the term “Combat Tupperware” has come to signify the respect so many military, law enforcement and armed civilians have developed over the years for the many different Glock products. The legacy of the Glock 17 is a long line of pistols that have earned a solid reputation for accuracy and reliability.


Begin by removing the magazine and checking that the chamber is unloaded and then un-cock the striker by pulling the trigger, making sure the muzzle points in a safe direction.
The barrel latch has two serrated edges that protrude out of grooves on both sides of the frame just above the trigger. Pull the slide back about 1/8 inch and grasp both of these protrusions and pull them down to release the barrel. The slide can then be removed off the front of the frame.
With the barrel removed, take out the recoil spring assembly followed by the barrel to complete the field strip. The pistol is assembled in reverse order.


I must confess that I have never been a great fan of the Glock pistol. I also have to admit that much of my prejudice is rooted in the fact the Glock is a handgun with absolutely no aesthetic appeal. For me, it is just plain ugly when compared to other handguns like a Peacemaker, Model 19 or a Luger. The Glock does not give me the “pride of ownership” feeling that is
associated with wearing a quality-made Swiss watch.
My antipathy towards the Glock is not based on aesthetics alone. I have never felt comfortable with the Safe Action trigger system. Muscular coordination is not my strong suit. When I was active in action shooting, I found my finger often inadvertently came in contact with the trigger when making a fast draw. My concern is, should this happen to me with a Glock, I might compress the first light take-up and end up releasing the striker.
My other concern is that the only way to release the striker when it is partially cocked is to pull the trigger. If there were some de-cocking control, I would feel much more comfortable with the pistol.
Nevertheless, my shooting experience with Glock pistols over the past 20 years has resulted in a grudging respect and appreciation of its merits. All have performed well and made me realize that the Glock is actually a remarkable design.
It is the extensive use of plastic that gives the impression that the Glock is a cheap product. A closer examination of the pistol, however, reveals it is actually very well made. The steel parts like the barrel and slide exhibit a high quality of forging and machining, while the polymer frame is very well executed.
With only two controls (a magazine catch and slide stop), operating the Glock is simplicity itself. The well-designed grip provides good access to the trigger. The grip also places the barrel axis low in relation to the hand, giving the pistol excellent pointing characteristics as well as reducing recoil to a minimum.
The pistol has very good fixed sights that are easy to acquire quickly and the unique Safe Action trigger is very easy to control—perhaps too easy for uncoordinated individuals such as myself.
The trigger action needs some elaboration. While officially designed as a double-action-only, my immediate impression was that it was more like that of a single action that has a lot of pre-travel.
After the unlocking lever in the face of the trigger is compressed, there is a relatively light, long pull until the final stage where the striker is about to be released. At this point, depending upon the type of trigger, pulls vary from between as light as 3.5 pounds to 12 pounds. The latter pull is known as the New York Plus trigger and is often installed for police departments that want a heavier pull.
It is imperative when shooting a Glock to keep your finger off the trigger until you have to shoot. Under stress, one can inadvertently press the trigger to the point where the striker is to be released without being conscious of having done so. In truth, this applies to virtually all firearms.
Another point to stress is that the only way to un-cock the striker is to pull the trigger. As this has to be done in a number of handling and operating procedures, it is essential to double check that the pistol’s chamber is unloaded and, as an extra measure of safety, to keep the pistol pointing a safe direction.
While the Glock has great reliability, it is important to always retain a strong, firm grip on the pistol. If not, the slide will not cycle back far enough to load a fresh round in the chamber. This occurrence is known as “limp wristing” and usually happens with one-handed shooting. It is not just confined to Glocks, however, but can occur with any lightweight semi-automatic pistol. The fact is Glocks are in use with thousands of police officers and civilians throughout the nation. All the officers and trainers to whom I have spoken have had high praise for the pistol. So putting my personal feelings and prejudices aside, I have to admit the Glock is an excellent service pistol and one of the classic handguns of the century.


The Glock 17 is of such recent manufacture that it does not qualify as a collector item. Used pistol values do not exceed the price of the new models.