Debuting in 1982, Glock has revolutionized the foundation on which military and law enforcement handguns sit. Glock pistols not only revolutionized the material in which military grade pistols are manufactured but the sheer market share they hold is nothing short of amazing. Entering the market as a polymer frame firearm with the fewest parts of any firearm of its kind with utter reliability and dependability, Glock converted the most diehard steel and aluminium frame pistol shooters into devout disciples of polymer. In the early days the pistol was very disrespectfully referred to as “Tactical Tupperware” due to the type of box in came in as well as the occasional joke of the gun coming with a tube of epoxy for repairs would soon lead all detractors into the world of Glock.
The first generation Glock 17 pistols had a smooth polymer grip. They had a 2-piece spring guide and recoil spring. The magazine was designed so it would not drop free when the magazine release was pressed. Although this proved to be problematic for American users, the Austrian Army required it. Rumour had it that it was so the magazines could not be lost in the snow. To be able to import the gun into the United States a few modifications had to be made. In Europe the serial number had to be on the slide and barrel. In the U.S. it is required on the frame, so Glock moulded a tab into the frame. Also to meet the points for importation, Glock added an adjustable sight. The first generation was in fact the Austrian Army model P-80 although it would be sold else where as the Glock 17 (Gaston Glock’s 17th patent).
The Glock 17 pistol is striker fired omitting any external hammer. The striker has a partial load on it when the pistol is ready to fire. Approximately 25% of the load is taken up. When the trigger is pulled, the remaining 75% of the striker is taken up and released to fire the cartridge. Mr. Glock called his pistol “Safe Action.” No external safeties are used. However, the pistol has 3 internal safeties. To gain a realistic perspective, you must understand that military and law enforcement personnel carried revolvers with no manual safety for many years. This was never deemed unsafe. However, with double action semiautomatic pistols, it is common for firearms instructors to find it difficult to train inexperienced people. Reason being the first heavy pull of the trigger is often a flyer due to the extreme amount of force required to depress the trigger. The follow-up single action shot is often also a flyer due to anticipation of the heavier trigger pull, even though the pistol is now firing in the lighter single action mode. The Glock pistols have one constant trigger pull from first to last shot. Removing the element of anticipation, the shooter has enhanced accuracy and more accurate first shot hits.
The 3 safeties in the “Safe Action” Glock pistol are all passive and function in order. The first safety is the trigger safety. There is a lever in the center of the trigger that unless disengaged prevents any rearward movement of the trigger. The trigger safety is disengaged only by the trigger finger. The second safety is the firing pin safety. The firing pin safety physically blocks the strikers’ movement until the trigger is pulled to the rear. When the trigger is pulled rearward, the trigger bar pushes upward on the firing pin safety disengaging it. The final safety is the drop safety. This is a track which the trigger bar/cruciform moves. When the trigger is pulled all the way to the rear the trigger bar is pushed down, releasing the striker to fire the cartridge. When the trigger is released, all 3 safeties automatically engage. The Glock pistol has been dropped 100 feet in the air from a helicopter with a primed cartridge in the chamber. When examined, it did not fire.
The slide is manufactured from a bar of solid steel and is finished by a process called gas nitration. This clear finish penetrates .05 inches into the metal. The slide of a Glock pistol is so hard it is just under a diamond on the Rockwell scale (55 to 60). This finish is so hard that Austrian soldiers sharpen their bayonets on the slide. This finish is corrosive resistant as well.
The barrel of the Glock 17 is cold hammer forged. After a pilot hole is drilled through the center of the barrel a mandrel, which contains the rifling and chamber, is placed inside the barrel blank. Multiple hammers exert tons of force on the outside of the barrel, forming the polygonal bore and chamber. Unlike conventional barrels with cut rifling, there are no sharp lands and grooves. The bore diameter is tighter than a conventional barrel as well. This does two things. First, due to no sharp lands and grooves the barrel does not wear much at all increasing long term accuracy/barrel life and making the barrel easy to clean. Second is a tighter bullet to barrel seal increasing velocity.
The second generation Glock was made for the desires of the American consumer. First, the grip was changed to add checkering to the front and back strap of the pistol. Additionally slightly rougher sides were added as well. Internally, the recoil spring and spring guide were changed to a captive assembly. Later second generations received an upgrade on the trigger group and firing pin block for improved safety. Glock provided this for free based on the serial number range of the pistol. The pistol was offered with fixed sights, adjustable as well as tritium night sights. Perhaps the most significant change was for the American consumer with the drop free magazine. The internal metal body went around all sides of the magazine preventing the magazines from swelling whether empty or full. With the introduction of other calibers, an additional pin was added to secure in the locking block on all non 9×19 caliber pistols. During this generation calibres in .40, 10mm Auto, .45 Auto, .357 and .380 Auto were introduced.