No handgun has ever induced a greater frenzy of hysteria on
the part of anti-gun politicians and their sympathetic media
myrmidons than the Glock 17. Yet, none of their contentions
are true. It is not invisible when passed through an X-ray
screen. It cannot pass through properly monitored metal
detectors without notice. And, it is most certainly not "all
plastic," as by weight the Glock pistol is 83 percent steel.
This so-called "detectability" issue has been raised in no
country outside of the United States.
Gaston Glock's 9mm Parabellum pistol was first introduced to
the American public by Soldier offortune Magazine almost four
years ago (See
"Plastic Perfection," SOF, October'84). Since that time
more than 350 U.S. local law enforcement and federal agencies
have adopted or authorized the Glock as a duty weapon. In
addition to Austria, the armed forces of both Norway and the
Netherlands have adopted the Glock. Law enforcement agencies
and military units in Belgium, Canada, Ecuador, Hong Kong, India,
Jordan, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Venezuela and West
Germany issue the Glock as their standard sidearm. Tens of
thousands have been sold to the U.S. public, and hundreds
of thousands worldwide.
Glock has just announced the introduction of a new compact
version, called the Model 19, and a long-slide target version -
the Model 17L with 6-inch barrel and muzzle compensator.
Also available, albeit only to law enforcement agencies, is
the Model 18, a machine pistol with 33-round magazines. SOF's
test specimen of the production series Model 19 has an overall
length of 7.4 inches, a height, with sights, of 4.64 inches and
a width of 1.18 inches. The barrel length is 4 inches. In overall
length, height and barrel length, the Model 19 is 1/2-inch shorter
than its predecessor. The weight remains approximately the
same at 23 ounces with an empty magazine. Of this mass,
almost 19 ounces represents the steel components. To preserve
the operational reliability of the short recoil system, the slide's
mass was not reduced. With the exception of the slide, frame,
barrel, locking block, recoil spring, guide rod and slide lock spring,
all of the other components are interchangeable between the
models 17 and 19. There are only 35 parts in the Glock pistol,
including the magazine. Glock says there are 33, but I count
the sights and trigger spring cups as two components each.
Of little matter, as in either case, this is still less than half the
number of bits and pieces found in competing designs.
The Glock's remarkable record of success in just four years
is matched by its even more remarkable design. Glock's only
condescension to conventionality is the pistol's method of
operation. Short recoil operated, the barrel is locked to the
slide by a single lug which recesses into the ejection port, in
the manner of the SIG-Sauer series. During the recoil stroke
the barrel moves rearward approximately 3 millimeters until
the bullet leaves the barrel and pressures drop downward,
separating from the slide and terminating any further motion.
The slide's continued rearward movement and counter-recoil
cycle are those of the Browning system.
Hammerless and striker-fired, the Glock's trigger and firing
pin mechanisms are innovative and mostly unique. There is
no manually operated thumb safety or decocking lever. A
so-called "Safe Action" trigger system, pattemed after that
encountered on the Sauer Behorden ("Authority") Model 1930
caliber 7.65niin pocket pistol, constitutes the first failsafe.
A wide outer trigger (serrated, on the new Model 19)
encompasses a small, spring-loaded inner trigger, both fabricated
from polymer. The outer trigger cannot be actuated, such as
by contact with a holster, unless the inner trigger is depressed
first. Thus the trigger can be pulled only from the center,
not the edges.
A spring-loaded firing pin safety in the slide blocks forward
movement of the striker, and is raised and deacfivated by a
projection on the sheet-metal tfigger bar as the trigger is pulled
to its final rearward position. When the trigger is in the forward
position, the firing pin's spring remains lightly compressed. As
the trigger is pulled 10mm through its first stage (with a pull
weight of approximately 2.2 pounds), its full compression is
almost complete. Removal of the finger from the trigger at
this time will return the firing pin spring to its partially
compressed, "relaxed" and completely safe state. Continued
pressure at this point will 1) Draw the firing pin fully rearward
and its spring into complete compression; and then 2) Draw
the T-shaped end of the trigger bar to its final rearward
position in the trigger housing's stepped safety notch; so that
3) It is free to drop downward away from both the "connector"
(sear) and a projection at the end of the striker to release
the firing pin and fire the round. The firing pin is rectangular
in cross-section with a chisel-shaped tip. Although primers
are left with an instantly identifiable indentation, the striker's
unorthodox configuration produces less drag on the primer
(eliminating the possibility of firing pin breakage) and
concentrates its momentum onto a smaller area to ensure
positive ignition. A fluted firing pin, which permits the Glock
pistol to be fired underwater, is available to legitimate
government agencies only. A stamped sheet-metal ejector,
with an odd-looking inward cant, is permanently attached
to the polymer trigger housing.
Further explanation of the connector is required. This
sheet-metal component also serves as a disconnector.
When the slide moves forward in counter-recoil, a hump
above the rail on the right side pushes the connector away
from the trigger bar to prevent another round from being
fired until the trigger is released and the trigger bar moves
forward. The angle between the connector's upper face
and its bottom face determines the trigger pull weight of
the second stage. An angle of 90 degrees will produce the
standard pull weight of 5 pounds. A pull weight of 8 pounds
is achieved by increasing the angle to 105 degrees (it is
stamped with a "+"). A pull weight of 3 1/2 pounds,
available only with the new Long Slide Target Model 17,
is obtained when the angle is reduced to 75 degrees. If
the pistol is to be stored for any length of time, the trigger
should remain in the retracted position to remove all tension
on the firing pin spring.
This triple-safe trigger mechanism is housed in the high-impact
polymer frame that initiated the pistol's unjustified controversy.
All the more strange as Heckler & Koch's VP70z and P9s pistols,
both introduced more than a decade ago, were fabricated
with largely polycarbonate frames. Four steel guide rails (about
.4 inches in length) for the the slide have been integrated
into the injection-molded frame, in pairs at the rear of the frame
and above and in front of the trigger guard on the Glock series.
To meet BATF regulations, a steel plate carrying the serial
number has been embedded into the frame in front of the
trigger guard. The trigger guard has been squared off and
stippled, but those who fire from the correct Weaver position
will not use this dubious fetish.
The grip-to-frame angle of the Model 19 remains that of
the Glock 17 which is somewhat steeper than competing
designs. However, there is a heavier non-slip, stipple effect
on the sides of the grip and both the front and rear straps
are grooved. As there are no separate grip panels, the grip
portion of the pistol accomodates normal-sized hands despite
its large magazine capacity
The locking block, which engages a 45-degree camming surface
on the barrel's lower lug, appears to be the Glock's only investment
casting. It's retained in the frame by the same steel axis pin
that holds the trigger and slide stop. The trigger housing is
attached to the frame by means of a polymer pin. A spring-loaded,
sheet-metal pressing serves as the slide stop, which is protected
from accidental manipulation by a raised guard molded into the
frame. The slide lock, operated by a single bent flat spring,
engages a step on the front of the barrel's locking lug to prevent
the slide and frame groups from parting company during the
counter-recoil stroke. The magazine catch-release, another
polymer component - located where it belongs, on the left
side of the frame, directly to the rear of the trigger guard - is
held in place by an uncoiled piece of spring steel. Both interior
surfaces of the magazine-well's mouth have a beveled contour
to assist in the insertion of magazines.
Rectangular in shape, the slide is milled from bar stock using
CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machinery. Three hardening
processes are employed on both the slide and barrel. The final
Tenifer finish, two hundredths of a millimeter in thickness,
produces a patented 69 Rockwell Cone hardness (much harder
than any steel object it is likely to contact) by means of a
nitrided bath at 500 degrees Centigrade. Scratches, which are
in this instance no more than deposits from the other object,
can usually be removed with a cloth and solvent. This matte,
non-glare finish is 99-percent salt water corrosion resistant
and meets or exceeds stainless steel specifications. It's also
80 percent more corrosion-resistant than any hard-chrome finish.
Milled into both the top and right side of the slide, the Glock's
large ejection port enhances functional reliability. A large claw
extractor, fitted to the slide at the rear of the ejection port on
the right side, maintains its tension from a spring-loaded plunger,
which, together with the firing pin assembly, are held in place
by a polymer backing plate. Cocking serrations on the Model
19's slide have been cross-checkered.
When shipped to the United States, all Glock pistols are equipped
with polymer, white outline, adjustable rear sights to meet BATF
import regulations. They are somewhat fragile and of little use
on a defensive handgun. They can, and should be, substituted
by the importer, Glock, Inc. (Dept. SOF, Suite 190, 5000 Highlands
Parkway, Smyma, GA 30080; phone: 404-432-1202) for fixed sights
for a modest surcharge. Four heights are available: 6.1mm (lower
impact), 6.5mm (standard issue), and the higher impact 6.9mm
and 7.3mm. A rear sight mounting and adjustment device can
be obtained by certified Glock armorers. The polymer front sight
carries a white dot. Best of all, in my opinion, are the Armson
Self Luminous Trijicon steel sights ("Armson's Bright Sights," SOF,
March '87) with which the Models 17 or 19 can now be fitted
directly from Glock, Inc. Sight radius of the Model 19 is 6 inches.
The hammer-forged rifling in Glock's barrels is equally innovative.
Called "Hexagonal," this rifling lies somewhere between conventional
land and groove and H&K's "Polygonal" bores. With a right-hand
twist of one turn in 9.84 inches, this hexagonal profile (in cross-section
a series of six small arcs connected by flat surfaces) provides a
better gas seal, more consistent velocities, superior accuracy and
ease of maintenance. A single-coil recoil spring under the barrel
rides on a polymer guide rod which is hollow to serve as a cooling
There is an almost confusing array of magazines available for
the Model 19. It comes equipped with two 15-round magazines
whose floorplates are flush with the magazine-well. This yields
a total of 16 rounds for those who will carry one round up the
spout in disregard of Glock's admonition against this practice
(for untrained personnel). A 17-round magazine with an extended
floorplate is also available. Neither of these magazines can be
used in the Model 17 series or Model 18 machine pistol. Model 17,
17-and-19-round magazines and Model 18 33-round magazines
can be installed in the Model 19 although they will extend beyond
the frame. All are of the single-position feed, staggered column
type. Magazine bodies, followers and floorplates are fabricated
from polymer. The magazine bodies have steel liners and indicator
holes starting with round #4 up to the capacity of the magazine.
When new, Glock magazines will drop freely from the magazine
well. After use, however, the magazine walls will set with an
outward bulge that requries their removal by hand. In my opinion,
this is a matter of small consequence. If you haven't solved your
problem with sixteen rounds, a pistol was an inappropriate choice
for the scenario. Each Glock pistol is issued with a polymer magazine
loader and cleaning rod and a nylon-bristle bore brush. The polymer
storage box has been designed for armory stacking and retention
with a steel rod or chain.
Other accessories include four different holsters and magazine
pouches - all fabricated from polymer. Personally, I prefer Bruce
Nelson's superb #1 Professional leather holster and single magazine
pouch for the entire Glock series (Bruce Nelson Combat Leather,
Dept. SOF, P.O. Box 8691 CRB, Tucson, AZ 85738; catalog, $3).
This hand-fitted rig with its double belt-loop system pulls the
grip area of the frame into the body, requires no straps for
retention and can be wom either strong-side or cross-draw.
While somewhat different from the norm, there is nothing complex
about the Glock's disassembly procedures. First, remove the
magazine and remove any round in the chamber. Then, and only
then, pull the trigger. Wrap the four fingers of the right hand
over the slide from the right side with the thumb wrapped around
the rear of the frame and retract the slide about an 1/8-inch (any
more than that and the trigger will move forward to prevent
separation of the slide and frame). Pull the slide lock downward
with the thumb and index finger of the left hand. While the slide
lock is down, push the slide forward and off the frame. Push the
guide rod forward and remove the rod and recoil spring. Push
the barrel forward, lift up and pull it back out of the slide. No
further disassembly is recommended. Do not attempt to manipulate
the trigger system after the slide has been removed or you may
damage the inner trigger's spring. Reassemble in the reverse order.
To disassemble the magazine, merely squeeze the side walls at
the base and slide off the floorplate.
There can be no question about the Glock's levels of reliability
or durability. It has successfully passed tests every bit as
rigorous as the XM9 trials, involving hundreds of thousands
of rounds. That it was excluded from the most recent XM9
trials is a commentary on the U.S. Army's conventional mind-set,
not the Glock design.
SOF's test and evaluation of the Model 19 did no more than
confirm impressions already built from thousands of rounds
fired through our Glock 17, which looks and performs as well
today as it did four years ago.
There were no stoppages
attributable to the pistol during the course of the more than
500 rounds fired to date through our test specimen. The
frame's inherent elasticity dampens perceived recoil considerably.
Target re-acquisition times from shot to shot are minimal.
Quite muzzle heavy, the Model 19 points instinctively and
comes on target with great speed. With its clean and constant
trigger system, the hit probability is high. There is, of course,
no hammer bite to distract the shooter. The frame's grip
ergonomics are excellent.
What about the accuracy potential? Most engagements with
a handgun will take place at 21 feet or less. Firing a pistol from
50 yards off a Ransom rest will provide information concerning
its theoretical accuracy potential, but nothing about its practical
accuracy in a stress scenario. We fired the Model 19 at ATS
combat targets from 21 feet in the Weaver position. Our most
accurate load, a 115-grain FMJ (Full Metal Jacket) cartridge
manufactured by Black Hills Shooters Supply (Dept. SOF, 3401
South Highway 79, Rapid City, SD 57701; phone: 605-348-5150),
will consistently dump five rounds into a ragged half-inch hole
at this distance. That's outstanding.
How much velocity do you lose when you opt for the Model 19's
four-inch barrel? No more than four percent, as the 115-grain
projectile dropped only 44 fps, averaging 1,107 fps (10 feet from
the muzzle) out of the Glock 17's 4 1/2-inch barrel and 1,063 fps
as it sped out of the Model 19 4-inch barrel.
There's a virtual hailstorm of large capacity 9mm Parabellum
pistols out there. Within the next few years this cartridge will
almost entirely replace the .38 Special and .357 Magnum as the
standard U.S. police service round. Anyone casting about for a
nine mill could do no better than selecting any one of the Glock
series. Glock's new Model 19 is the finest 9mm factory compact
available, bar none. Both the Model 17 and 19 carry a suggested
retail price of $511. If you want to shoot at gongs, the long slide
target Model 17L will cost you $740.53. This includes a one-year
limited warranty on all parts and five years or 10,000 rounds
on the barrel, slide and frame.
originally published in the August 1988 edition of
Soldier of Fortune Magazine