From the desk of Jerry Bolster
Did you unwrap a new Glock this Christmas? Here’s a quick low down, a little background, and a few pointers to keep you and your pistol running hot this winter:
A Plastic Gun
The Glock pistol was invented by a group of engineers headed up by Austrian chemical engineer Gaston Glock around 1981. Gaston had been designing military parts out of hard plastics since the early 1960s and had made E-tools (a military shovel), knives, and other items out of his plastics. With Gaston’s experience in engineering military equipment from polymer, his group was contracted by the Austrian government to create a new pistol for the Austrian Army after their prototype’ G17’ outpaced the competition in testing. The Austrian Army selected the G17 as its new pistol, and the Norwegian Army soon followed. By 1989, half of Glock’s sales were going to U.S. Law Enforcement agencies.
Safe Action Pistol
The Glock separated itself from others not only with its lighter polymer design, but also with its new internal mechanisms. The Glock uses an internal striker rather than a hammer, like many other pistols, especially most pistols that were around when the Glock was invented. The Glock company called their models a “Safe Action Pistol” because it utilizes three different mechanical systems that won’t allow the Glock to fire unless the trigger is pulled. Unlike some other types of pistols, you cannot drop a Glock and cause a discharge.
The first of these mechanical safeties is the ‘trigger safety’ which is probably one of the first things you notice that is different on Glock. It looks like a thin lever on the trigger. This lever helps mechanically block the trigger from being pulled from unintentional side snags or drops.
The second device on a Glock is the firing pin safety. The firing pin is what hits your bullet and makes it go bang, and the Glock answer to making this safer was to put a physical block in front of the pin. This blocks it from contacting a bullet until the trigger is pressed. Once the trigger is pressed, the block is moved and the firing pin has a clear lane to strike the bullet and cause a bang.
The third mechanism is a drop safety which is harder to explain without photos – but suffice it to say that it’s a mechanical design that doesn’t allow the trigger bar to drop and the striker to be released until the trigger is intentionally pulled back to a certain point. These three mechanical safety devices ensure that a Glock pistol can’t fire until the trigger has actually been pulled.
Controversy & Tough Talk
Glocks are made of polymer instead of steel – which causes a lot of controversy and ‘tough talk’ in the shooting world. However, the polymer guns have an excellent track record. The performance of a Glock straight out of the package is impressive given their comparably low price point. Police forces and military forces worldwide have used them for twenty-five years because of their simplicity, reliability, and price.
One book on the topic says that John Browning, inventor of the famous 1911 pistol, was ahead of his time when he designed the steel workhorse used as the semi-auto combat pistol of choice for a generation of professional shooters. The legend of the 1911 makes many people doubt the utility of a “plastic” gun – but the reality is if John Browning were alive today – he’d be making polymer pistols (Manning, J., 2015. The Glock Reference Guide).
There are different thought processes in the gun community about things like plastic vs steel, or revolvers vs semi-autos. They all have merit.
The merit of your new pistol is this: Polymer is lighter, a better value, and dampens recoil better than metal. It doesn’t rust, doesn’t change temperature like metal, and the walls are thinner allowing for more ammo in a smaller frame. These qualities make Glocks a smart choice for most shooters.
In my training with various military and law enforcement groups and shooting USPSA matches, I’ve seen many steel frame pistols in action. Some are impressive, but their cost is two or three times what you’ll pay for the reliability of a Glock. The professional gun carriers I know, street cops and military personnel, mostly all prefer the Glock pistol. It’s a reliable machine that will go bang for thousands and thousands of rounds.
Practice – The Key to Safety
There’s a saying that some people buy a $3,000 rifle when they need a $1,000 rifle and $2,000 of training.
Training really is the key to safety with firearms.
Training with YOUR specific weapon is very important. Get familiar with how your specific firearm operates. There’s an ocean of well-intentioned ignorance out there that results in injuries that a little practice and few hours’ worth of quality instruction could avoid. We recommend taking a class at a local gun range and getting involved in your local USPSA matches. A short course will teach you all the fundamentals, and shooting at USPSA matches will give you some practical shooting skills and let you rub shoulders with master shooters who will teach you everything you need to know. Get out there and shoot! Talk is cheap and reading is nearly worthless when it comes to learning how to shoot.
Also…get some Victory Steel Targets today to practice on. A 3/8” thick silhouette or gong will last even longer than your Glock pistol. If you go to a range and their steel targets look like they were made in World War 1, name drop Victory Shooting Steel, LLC! We'll set them up with high quality AR500 steel targets at plastic gun prices!
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Until we reload,
The VSS Team