The development of the first Glock forever changed the handgun market as we know it. Here are five of the company’s most iconic models.
In the early 1980s the Glock Model 17 was introduced and it forever changed the world of service pistols. The Glock 17 wasn’t the first striker-fired pistol, but it was the first to be a commercial success.
By combining internal safety features and a long stroke, two-stage trigger pull with a center blade safety in the trigger, the Glock provided police departments with a large magazine capacity, lightweight gun with a high degree of safety and ease of operation. Currently available in 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 GAP and .45 ACP, the various Glock models have set the standard for striker-fired guns and proved the system to be both reliable and easy to use. The Glock line has proved to be one of the most successful designs of semi-auto pistols in history, and they continue to be among the most successful, recognized brands in the firearms industry.
Glock probably has the most loyal following of any handgun currently manufactured. The company considers its design as a safety action and those safety features are just what propelled the Glock to the forefront of the striker-fired revolution.
In fact, those features could be said to have almost single-handedly created the popularity of striker-fired pistols. The Glock is affordable, reliable and safe, and these are characteristics that make a good service pistol. Here are five Glock models that have changed the way we view semi-auto handguns or at the very least, have defined Glock’s sense of innovation and quality.
Designed to become the adopted service pistol of Austria in 1982, the Glock 17 continues to garner sales and positive comments from the shooting fraternity after 32 years of production. The Glock 17 was so named because it was the 17th set of technical drawings in the company’s quest in the Austrian Army’s procurement process. Being the original pistol in the line, there have been revisions. Currently, the latest version is the Generation 4. Other than the recoil spring and extractor designs, the changes in the Glock generations mostly are concerned with ergonomics.
At 25 ounces unloaded and with a barrel length of 4½ inches and a width of less than 11⁄8 inches, the Glock 17 is a compact service pistol. Boxy in shape, they were designed for function. Chambered in 9mm and with a standard 17-round magazine, the Glock 17 is a great balance of function, power and ergonomics. Its striker-fired design has proven to allow easy training and safe operation.
The Glock 42 is a bit larger than most of the current run of .380s on the market. For ultimate concealment, this might be a minor drawback, but for many who find the tiny guns a bit intimidating, it’s an answer to a prayer. With a standard Glock trigger pull, all the safety features of the Glock Safety Action and quality full-size sights, the 42 is still quite compact, light and thin. With the advent of quality .380 defensive ammunition the baby Glock might not be considered a one shot stopper, but it’s certainly no wimp. Many feel it’s just the right size for a carry pistol, not too big, not too small, just right. Maybe we should dub it the Goldilocks Glock.
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The smallest true striker-fired gun, the Glock 42, is a new .380 compact, a downsized carry gun with all the features of the full-size models. It’s a slim, sub-compact pistol, a little larger than most .380s, but weighing just over 13 ounces with a 3¼-inch barrel. Like other models, it comes with two six-round magazines and has the familiar white dot front and white U outline sights.
While the Glock reputation was built on service pistols, it’s inevitable that competition with Glock pistols would happen. In fact, the company has its own shooters organization, the Glock Shooting Sports Foundation (GSSF). The Glock 34 is specifically designed for competition with a longer 5.3-inch barrel and a correspondingly long sight radius. Designed for USPSA, IDPA, IPSC and GSSF competition, it’s a 9mm gun that departs from the standard drift adjustable sights with click adjustable sights, allowing for a higher degree of pinpoint accuracy.
The Glock 22 is externally identical to the Glock 17 but chambered in .40 S&W. It’s arguably the most issued pistol in modern police history, with departments all over the United States adopting it as the standard issue sidearm. While there are those who feel the 9mm isn’t a reliable man stopper, there are few who hold that position on the .40 S&W. The .40 has similar energy to the iconic .45 ACP round, but magazine capacity is more like the 9mm Glock 17. In fact, the Glock 22 in .40 caliber only gives up two rounds over the Glock 17. The end result is an easy-to-operate and reliable, powerful high-capacity pistol that offers what many departments believe to be the best compromise of capacity and power.
In America, we value horsepower, and the top of the Glock line—the G20—certainly has horsepower. The 10mm round produces a massive 550 foot-pounds of power, and the magazine capacity of 15 rounds produces a handgun with a high power-to-weight ratio. With an empty weight of just over 30 ounces and a fully loaded weight of 39 ounces, the G20 provides stopping power and firepower that have the potential to handle almost any situation, including being a much more effective version of bear spray. It’s even a great option for those big game handgun hunters who prefer a modern semi-auto design pistol to a standard revolver platform.
This article appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of Modern Shooter magazine, presented by Gun Digest.