The Glock G18

by Walt Rauch

As we've seen the development, design and worldwide acceptance of every Glock model and caliber, one model has all but been ignored - the G18/G18C. These are Glocks that offer the option of fully-automatic fire. The Model 18 has three external changes from the original Model 17: a left side, slide-mounted fire control or selector switch; a barrel that extends past the front of the slide and three horizontal and diagonal cuts that run across the top of the barrel to act as a compensator (the same design used on the 17L and 24 compensated models).

The newest Glock 18, the G18C, has a keyhole opening cut into the forward portion of the slide, not unlike the opening on the Glock long-slide Models 17L and 24, although the G18 has a standard-length slide. The keyhole opening provides a venting area to allow the four, progressively-larger (from back to front) compensator cuts machined into the barrel to accomplish their job, which is to afford more control over the rapid-firing machine pistol.

The compensator cuts, of varying widths, appear to be EDM-machined into the barrel and start about halfway back on the top. The rear two cuts are narrow, while the front two cuts are wider. The slide is also hollowed, or dished, out in a rectangular pattern between the rear of the ejection port and the rear sight. My guess is that this lightening of the slide serves to maintain the cyclic rate of the original G18, since the compensator should drain off some of the bullet's velocity, thus slowing up the cycling. Making the slide lighter would compensate for this decrease.

First Glock 18

While completing the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Sub-Machine Gun Instructors' Course at the DEA Firearms Training Unit at FBI headquarters in Quantico, Virginia, this past summer of 1996, I was permitted to spend an hour or so familiarizing myself with a very early-model G18 that belonged to the DEA. The sample G18 appeared to be one of the first imported into the U.S., for it lacked the now-familiar impressed checkering on the front and back straps.

Both the original and the new C18C are easy to operate; the semi-auto function is the same as every other Glock with its 'Safe Action' trigger and safety. The control for semi- or full-auto firing is not unlike a side-mounted thumb safety and works in a similar manner. The control switch is located on the left rear side of the slide in the grasping groove area. It is easily moved by your firing-hand thumb or your left hand while gripping the gun in a two-handed hold. When the selector is horizontal with the length of the slide, or in the 'up' position, the gun works as a semi-auto. Pushing the lever down 45 degrees puts the gun in full-auto mode.

Shooting Impressions While at the DEA and under the very careful control of the DEA instructor, I first loaded the standard 17-round magazine into the gun with an assortment of Federal Hydra Shock 147-grain JHP and Winchester NATO 124-grain JRN ammo - the duty and practice ammo for the DEA. After dry firing and then shooting a half-dozen rounds semi-auto at the FBI/DEA QIT bottle target 10 yards away with a two-handed hold, I threw the switch over to full auto. Wow! The gun emptied the mag in a blink of an eye! In proper technical terms, the C18 cycles between 1100 and 1300 rounds per minute, dependent upon the ammunition used.

The easiest way to describe shooting the G18 full-auto is that it feels just like turning on a high pressure water hose. The gun bucks and just starts pushing straight back in your hands, while you note an ejected stream of brass cases arcing up and over your right shoulder.

Leaning forward aggressively, I emptied the 17-round mag into the bottle area on target. Next up was the 33-round Glock magazine. This proved to be the most interesting way of loading and shooting the G18. With 33 rounds and a single pull and hold back on the trigger, the shots were literally 'hosed' onto the target.

Again, with the 33-round magazine and two targets side by side at 10 yards, I was able, with the trigger still pulled and held, to get the first four or five shots on the first target and the next four or five rounds on the second target and then back and forth until the gun locked back. I might point out that after 33 rounds in this exercise, to keep my balance I had to take one normal step forward as the slide locked back.

After emptying half a dozen standard mags and two more 33-round mags at one or both targets, I next ran the gun one-handed on full-auto. Again, I was able to shoot four to five rounds on one target and move the gun to the adjacent target with the same results. The mandatory one-step-forward with the two-handed hold wasn't necessary, since I quickly learned to take an exaggerated forward leaning posture on my right or firing side. Putting 200-plus pounds behind the gun helped.

New G18C Details

Only Gaston Glock would take a perfectly good design and make it better. I found nothing to carp at with the original G18's performance, but the new G18C is even better at carrying out its task. I had no difficulty in learning to control the original G18 down at Quantico, but the gun did require intense concentration to get accurate rounds in the full-auto mode.

The new G18C is much easier to shoot accurately, as we learned while testing it with John Ricco and his staff at Classic Pistol, a newly-opened, state-of-the-art indoor pistol range in Feasterville, Pennsylvania. Glocks District Manager, Steve Palinkas, provided a brand-new G18C and stood by as we put it through its paces. As before, I had Police Officer Robert Thomsen's help in doing the control and accuracy testing.

Shooting the New G18C

Bob went first. At a distance of 10 yards or less, he had no difficulty learning to shoot a full 33-round mag of Remington 115-grain UMC ball ammo into tight groups on the Speedwell QIT target. (The Remington-furnished UMC ammo was totally reliable throughout the 850 rounds fired, by the way.) Compared to the original G18, the G18C is a pussycat to shoot. The compensator system really works, almost completely eliminating muzzle lift. While standing to the side, you can see the flame shooting out of the compensator ports, but while firing the G18C, the fire is above your line of sight and is not noticeable. The fired brass ejects outward to the right about 12 inches or so. Semi-auto fire was as accurate as wit any standard 9x19mm Glock. It should be noted that in the original specifications for the G18, the trigger pull was listed at eight pounds, while the new G18C has the standard Glock trigger pull of five-and-a-half pounds.

After Bob and I calmed down enough to stop emptying 33-round mags at one target, I set up four targets across the range, spaced about 1 yard apart and 10 yards downrange. With one continuous burst of 33 rounds, all the targets were engaged with at least two and often four rounds each as I learned to move the gun better across the array. Of course, with one pull of the trigger for each target, four rounds found their mark each time. Next, I engaged one target from 5, 10, 12 and 15 yards with a two-handed combat grip and also with both strong- and weak-hand-only. I again found, as I had previously on the DEA range, that four rounds would score with one trigger pull. The G18C certainly is an interesting firearm!

The G18C definitely has advantages over the long guns, such as the H&K MP5 and the M16 variants, for the G18C is a very low-profile automatic weapon. (In fairness to the long guns, with the HK MP5 and the M16, I am able to fire two-round bursts with the gun in full-auto mode. With the Glock G18, however, I was only able to get three- and usually four-round bursts with one pull and release of the trigger.)

The G18C looks like a standard Glock 17 9x19mm handgun. Whatever carry method is good for a handgun is the same for the G18. It is a very non-threatening piece of equipment. No bad guy, spectator or news reporter would have a clue until the gun is fired.

The G18 is controllable and will not spray bullets indiscriminately all over the area, despite the 50 to 70 years of bad press that has accrued to the concept of shooting a hand-held machine pistol. Common wisdom is that you can not hit anything with the gun without a shoulder stock, and even with the stock it is still an iffy proposition. Common wisdom has not shot a Glock 18! (My sole prior experience with machine pistols was with the German C96 Mauser pistol and a variant, the Spanish-made Astra. They were almost impossible to shoot accurately on full-auto without a shoulder stock.)

With only two exposures with the G18s, I am certainly not an expert on the gun, but the experiences do lend themselves to a few conclusions. First off, shooting this gun is fun! I know that this is not the proper attitude to bring to learning to shoot a weapon designed for defensive and offensive work against human beings. But still, the gun is fun. Other than having a grand time, my observations are that the G18 can be easily controlled with one- or two-handed firing without a great deal of live-fire training and, if the threat is within 10 yards, there is little chance of stray rounds leaving the aiming area.

How does this translate into real- world use? In close-quarters engagements, in a building or residence, for instance, 10 yards is not an unreasonable maximum distance to shoot at a threat. The G18 is certainly much handier than maneuvering a long arm through confined quarters by high-risk entry and arrest teams, and the operator has the options of carrying a bullet-resistant shield or light source while still having the choice of semi- or full-auto fire. For dignitary protection or while riding in vehicles, the Glock 18 will be much quicker to bring to bear on target. If lethal force is not required, the G18 can be re-holstered and secured as would be done with any handgun, not a small consideration when handling prisoners. It is ideal for plainclothes officers assigned to, say, airport security, where there's a high threat potential and a full-auto capability is desired, but the officer still wants to remain low profile. A Glock 18C loaded with a 17-round standard magazine is, of course, easily concealed, while loaded 33-round mags can be carried as spares The G18, with a standard 17-round mag and a +2 base pad extension, is certainly the most low-profile full-auto gun on the market today!

Glock 18 Specifications
Caliber 9x19 mm
Action Safe Action (constant double action mode)
Modes of fire Safe, semiautomatic and fully automatic
Overall length (slide) 7.32 in. (186 mm)
Height, including magazine 5.43 in. (138 mm)
Width 1.18 in. (30 mm)
Barrel length 4.49 in. (114 mm)
Sight radius 6.49 in. (165 mm)
Rifling Hexagonal profile with right-hand twist of one turn in 9.84 in. (250 mm)
Weight, without magazine 21.87 oz. (620 g)
Weight, empty magazine 2.75 oz. (78 g)
Weight, full magazine ~9.87 oz. (~280 g)
Magazine capacity 17 rounds
Standard trigger pull ~5.5 lbs. (~2.5 kg)
Trigger pull length 0.5 in. (12.5 mm)
Number of safeties 3

information courtesy of GLOCK