I lied, I said I was going to write about the 1911 first, but, since it takes me some time to wrie due to brain injuries and lack of concentration due to these injuries, I relied on my home boy C Squared to add his theory on the Glock as he is more Glock than 1911. So here it goes.
When it comes to firearms debates, Glock versus 1911 rivals only that of 9mm versus .45. There are camps that love one or the other and think it is the best ever. Both sides however…are right. There are goods and bads for both pistols and arguments for or against one feature or another; “plastic” or metal, grip angle, stock sights, trigger, grip safety, manual safety, the list goes on. What is not up for debate is the fact that, in the United States at least, the Glock and 1911 are the two most popular pistols with Glock boasting a 65% usage in American police departments alone and that is not counting public sales. (nbcnews.com) What about the Glock makes it so popular? What does it have that other guns do not and why does it show no sign of slowing down?
A brief history.
In 1980, Gaston Glock’s company that shares the same name gets a formal invite to Austrian Army to develop a new service sidearm. The following information can be found on the US Glock website: GLOCK Ges.m.b.H is formed. The Glock pistol is created in 1981 and in 1982 commissioned by the Austrian Army, Glock competes in a battery of comprehensive and crucial testing exercises against international competition. Contract awarded to GLOCK. One of the many features that people love about the Glock pistol is the fact that is has so few parts. In fact the “GLOCK “Safe Action”® pistol is manufactured with only 34 component parts, a significantly lower number of parts than the semi-automatic pistol designs of Glock’s competitors. This smaller number of component parts increases reliability by reducing the potential for technical problems. The cost associated with spare parts inventory is reduced, which contributes to the lower overall maintenance costs for the life of the Glock pistol.”
Glock’s revolutionary “Safe Action”® System provides a consistent trigger pull from the first to the last round. (us.glock.com) Is this as good as the completely single action trigger of a 1911? No, but it does not claim to be. It merely claims to be consistent which is an important factor in a modern defensive firearm. Not to say that pistols with double/single action triggers are awful weapons but the chances are better if your first press of the trigger is the same as the last press of the trigger. All things being equal, this is also inherently the same as a double action only pistol, but without the ultra heavy feeling those give. That is the DAO’s primary safety but that is another topic all on its own. The difference between a Glock trigger and that of a DAO is, like a 1911, the cycling of the slide resets the trigger. This only means that while dry firing, you will have to manually rack the slide for each trigger pull. Next Level Training has created a non-firing training pistol to resolve the dry fire issue with their SIRT pistol. http://nextleveltraining.com/
Is the pistol safe?
There is no manual, external safety. Safe is an inherent action that should be placed upon the owner/user of the firearm, however, non-gun people will tell you that is the stupidest thing ever to not have what they think of as a “traditional” safety. However, when considering that if you keep your finger OR other items off of the trigger (meaning being aware of what is inside your trigger guard at all times while shooting, holstering, and re-holstering) then the gun will not fire. Yes, yes, there are probably extreme rare cases the gun has malfunctioned and fired without any action applied to the trigger, but as rare as those come, I will leave it up to you the reader to research that one. No, instead of any manual external safeties it has three automatic safeties that only disengage when the gun is meant to be fired. We are going to interchange the term “meant to be fired” with “trigger being pulled” for the purpose of this article however. The three automatic independently operating mechanical safeties are built into the fire control system of the pistol. All three safeties disengage sequentially as the trigger is pulled and automatically reengage when the trigger is released. This safe, simple and fast system allows the user to concentrate fully on tactical tasks, particularly while under stress. It is safe if dropped and functional at temperatures from -40° to 122° Fahrenheit. The trigger safety is a lever incorporated into the trigger. When the trigger safety is in the forward position it blocks the trigger from moving rearward. The trigger safety and the trigger must be fully depressed at the same time to fire the pistol. If the trigger safety is not depressed, the trigger will not move rearward and allow the pistol to fire. The trigger safety is designed to protect against firing if the pistol is dropped or the trigger is subjected to lateral pressure. (us.glock.com)
That lack of manual safety also raises some additional concerns aside from a negligent discharge. One such potential outcome comes mostly from a law officer standpoint, where as if the officer were to have their duty weapon forcibly taken from them, a pistol with no manual external safety is an easy weapon to turn against the officer. It is also a burden for those with poor trigger control, but I cringe to think of those people actually constantly handling a firearm of any kind.
One key feature of the lack of manual safety however, is the learning curve applied to training. With only having to worry about pressing the trigger to the rear and not worrying about flicking off or on a safety, more time can be spent on the fundamentals of shooting the gun instead of getting it ready to be put into action. Now, with PROPER training, any safety can be defeated thus allowing the firearm to be put into the fight with little to no lost time in deploying said firearm. Some people however, just “don’t want to mess with it.” That is quite alright.
This is a major sticking point of the gun, especially for 1911 lovers. They just cannot get past the seemingly awkward angle of the grip and those that try to transition from a 1911 to a Glock will notice the difference more so than most any other pistol user. The problem with the Glock grip angle is also why the recoil is so manageable; it places your hand extremely high on the grip, just below the slide…literally, providing a the very least, optimal leverage, but at the most, a greater opportunity to be the weapon’s master and not its biotch. The angle forces the user’s hand to cant forward slightly and while yes, it creates a severe angle from the web of the hand to the trigger, it allows for an opportunity to mitigate the recoil better. Contrary to popular belief, a slight cant of your hand is stronger than your hand being straight as an arrow. This seems counter intuitive except for the fact that…the hand is not made to be completely straight. Ask a seasoned boxer or striking martial artist how the punch and you will see they lead with the knuckles of the pointer finger and middle finger. It is stronger and actually leads the wrist in to a more natural, inherently stronger relationship with the forearm. Couple that with proper grip and training and the gun all but aims for you. (Not really, but you get the point.) Users moving from 1911 guns, tend to point the Glock slightly nose up at first which is a minor inconvenience and can be rectified with a few minutes of dry fire and drawing from a holster training, after making the gun safe and clearing it and the room of any life ammo. Snap caps are helpful is this respect. Again, the reader can refer to Next Level Training for their SIRT pistol for additional practice. Another thing, and I have never heard a pro for this con, is the blocky feeling for the Glock’s grip. You seem to either like it or you do not. It either fits or it does not. As its many iterations have come and gone, the general grip shape has remained unchanged right up until the generation 4 with the exception of the “SF” or slim frame models. The generation 4 models have slightly shaved some size off of the grip making it a little more small hands friendly, but have also started including different sized backstraps to accommodate different hand sizes, to a point. There is only so much customizing you can do to a grip on any gun, even a 1911, and it is just not going to fit every single person. The only other complaint for or against the grip are what people call finger grooves, but they are more or less finger bumps because they stick out of the grip instead of set in. People that do not like them either generally try to find a generation 1 or 2 or just plain shave them off of their generation 3 and 4 models. To each his/her own.
With only 34 parts comes inherent reliability. Less parts means there are less things to fail. Bring that back to ease of replace and repair and you have a gun that, with proper maintenance can run for hundreds of thousands of rounds. The 1911 claims millions of rounds but you would be hard pressed to find more than a handful that are completely original, WWI, pistols that have not had anything replaced, that are still functional and reliable. Springs wear out over time as well as small metal parts and that is a fact. It is just like doing routine maintenance on your car. If you want your car to perform well, you have to change the oil, brake pads or rotors, tires, wiper blades etc. A firearm is no different and treated with regular maintenance any well built pistol will last most users longer than the number of rounds they can afford to put through it that will cause it to catastrophically fail. Glock also has a proprietary coating on their slide. More from the U.S. Glock website, “GLOCK applies advanced surface treatments on major metal components, resulting in slightly less than diamond hardness. This considerably reduces wear and tear on these metal components and makes them corrosion resistant, even when operating in saltwater conditions. The matte black surface minimizes light reflection—an advantage in tactical circumstances.” If I had my choice, I would prefer TiN or Cerakote but of the three to four Glocks I have owned, I have had no rust of any kind nor any break down of metals. The polymer Glock uses is not a typical glass-filled polymer and because it is a non-metal, naturally stands up to the elements longer. There are still generation 1 Glocks being carried daily by people still on their original frame. I personally know a police officer who carries a generation 2 G17 as his duty weapon.
When talking about self defense, the old adage goes, “speed is fine, but accuracy is final.” Well the Glock is not short on accuracy at all. It is by many people’s opinion the most accurate, out-of-the-box (meaning no modifications) pistol on the planet. Is it the best in target shooting type of accuracy? Probably not and if that is what you are looking for then you should probably look for a 1911 or a custom built race gun. With the right person behind the trigger, Glocks are accurate enough to claim a five inch grouping at 100 yards. Five inches with aiming center mass on a human is pretty deadly and nothing to thumb your nose at. Glock’s polygonal rifling provides a tighter bullet to barrel fit which means the tighter the bullet can spin, the better it can stay in its flight path. One downside to the polygonal rifling is that no lead bullets are to be fed into a Glock so for re-loaders who solely stick to lead reloads will have to either start reloading brass jacketed, copper, or another pistol altogether.
As of this writing per my location, a brand new in box Generation 4 Glock 17 can be had for about $550 plus taxes. Generation 3 Glocks are still available and can be had for a bit less, but that lower cost really comes down to not having an extra magazine that shiny new Gen4 comes with. Used Glock pistols have been bought and sold anywhere from as low as $300 to as high as $600 and change for highly coveted versions like a Gen 3 FDE RTF2 with fish gills. Would I personally pay any higher than $600 for a Glock? No, and that $600 is stretching it if taxes are not included. The price of a new Glock pistol is typically the final nail in the coffin when people decide what to buy. Is it accurate? Yes. Easy to maintain? Uh-huh. Reliable? Yep. However, when compared to a good, working, reliable 1911 you cannot beat even $600 for a brand new gun. Lets surmise that a really reliable 1911 that you trust your life to starts at $700 and then you have to work your way UP from there. Keeping in mind that $600 is the high end for a stock Glock. There are companies out there that doll up the Glock with supposed more accuracy, slide cut serrations, customized grip modifications, trigger work and more but those Glocks are currently running at or above $1000 when you consider you have to buy the gun, then send it in for the work to be done. A select few of those customizing companies offer through partnered retailers ready-to-buy custom guns that are generally in the $1000-$1500 price range.
Availability of accessories.
This one is a no-brainer here. Just as with the 1911, if you need something for a Glock, somebody probably already makes it. Holsters are not in any kind of short supply whether you want an all leather, all kydex, or hybrid thus making it again, popular on that factor alone. Magazines are just as easy to come by as 1911 magazines but you have fewer choices. While 1911 aficionados have Wilson Combat, MecGar, Kimber Pro, and a few others, Glock mostly manufactures its own magazines at an already low price and those can be found at most any physical gun store as well as online if you do not mind waiting. There is also a Korean manufacturer that also makes magazines but with the extreme availability of Glock brand magazines, I do not see why anybody would buy those but hey, do what you want with your money. It is also fairly easy to select a weapon light should you choose to do so however, most weapon light manufacturers pack their lights with adapters to fit most modern popular handguns. Sights are easy to come by as well just as on a 1911 and every major sights manufacturer makes variants of sights for Glocks. You can find fiber optic, plain steel contrast, tritium night sights, or a combination of any of those. They are easy to install with the right tools or a reliable gunsmith and typically last as long as you want them to. Now that we are in the 21st century, we are starting to slowly see the use of holographic optics small enough to be placed on the slide of pistols and Glocks are no exception. There are at least two manufacturers of reliable mini-red dot sights and Jeff Gonzales of Trident Concepts even has a hard time deciding on two of the big name players in the mini red dot arena. “I am still torn between the two big guns[brands], which are the Leupold Delta Point and the Trijicon RMR. In my opinion they both represent the best the industry has to offer at this point. It’s hard for me to pick a clear-cut winner as each has pros the others don’t, as well as cons the others don’t.” (Q&A session on itstactical.com)
I am not in the military or reserves and I have never served on a police force. I have literally only been shooting for about a decade with handguns but the guns I have owned the longest or have flipped to sell then regretted and bought another are Glocks. Sure I have owned some others, along with a 1911 which I flipped for a Gen 4 G19, but Glocks are my favorite weapon. Do I think they are the best? No, but like I suggest for the reader to decide on, they are the best for me. I have never shot a Glock I did not like to shoot and they are all more accurate than I am. As a matter of fact, my current carry weapon is a Gen 3 Glock 22 police trade-in that I cut the grip down to fit Glock 23 magazines for easier concealability. Long sight radius + shorter grip = pretty nice carry piece if you ask me. I have personally had my Glocks out on a sandy, dusty, hot Texas day for eight plus hours and with the exception of one round with a crappy grip, neither my G19 or G22 failed at any point. There were minor accuracy issues that seemed to be with .40SW reloads from a top re-manufactured ammo retailer, but that was out of one box of 50 rounds from the 200 rounds I brought that day. It was just odd and an isolated incident. As far as self defense ammo is concerned, I have fed at one point, any of my Glocks past or present everything from cheap Hornady XTP JHP to the more expensive but more proven Federal HST without a hiccup. The Glocks just run. The Glock for me is also easy to conceal as I roll with a K Rounds appendix in the waist (AIWB) holster and I do not have to worry about printing with the combination of how thin it is, the shorter grip, and the fact that I am a good fifteen pounds lighter than I used to be.
To sum it up, am I claiming the Glock is the best sidearm on the planet? Absolutely not. Is it the most accurate ever? No, I give that do a 1911 due to trigger and sight radius. It is however extremely popular and not just with law enforcement. Go to YouTube and watch any videos of almost any training class and you will see a heavy load of Glock users. They typically make their choices on either the reliability, availability, accuracy, price, or sometimes all of the above. The Glock does what it does with no frills, no fancy parts, (in stock formation) and no nonsense. It does not need nonsense, it just helps dispatch the deadly kind of nonsense with extreme prejudice! The only thing I always say, is take what I write as information to add to your tool box. When picking a firearm, always try to pick the largest gun in the largest caliber you can comfortably carry but most of all, pick one that is the best for you to shoot and shoot WELL.