Glock Handguns: An American Mainstay

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posted on April 21, 2022
Glock company logo "Glock Perfection"

Today Glock pistols serve alongside thousands of law enforcement officers nationwide, as well as being the primary self-defense gun for tens of thousands of law-abiding citizens. They’re also serving on front lines manned by militaries across the globe and win competitions, but the company didn’t start as a firearm manufacturer.

Gaston Glock, an Austrian engineer, founded Glock Ges.m.b.H in 1963. The company specialized in the production of injection molded parts at the time. Curtain rods are the most-cited product from the early days, but it also created knives, machine gun belt links and even grenade casings for Austria’s military. 

By the early 1980s, though, Gaston understood the durability of modern polymer made it an ideal solution for pistols. In 1982 the company introduced its first semi-automatic handgun with a frame constructed from the material. That 9 mm Luger-chambered G17 had a 17-round capacity and, despite having only 36 parts in all—and no manual safety—proved to be so unfailing and reliable that the Austrian Army adopted it the next year.

Then in 1984 the handgun passed the NATO durability test with flying colors. The Norwegian Army responded by adopting it as its standard-issue sidearm and enthusiasts across the globe began to take note.

Company expansion accelerated quickly afterward. In 1986 the company established an office in Smyrna, Ga., and the next year it opened a second manufacturing plant in Austria to meet growing demand.

Gen2 models were released in 1988, along with additional chamberings. Accessory rails appeared on Gen3 models a decade later. Today the company is up to Gen5 and offers a wide range of versions, including crossover models with special features, optics-ready pistols and much more.

The innovative company introduces new variants with enviable regularity, despite the fact its established versions continue to be among the top choices. B. Gil Horman included one of them in his “12 Popular Micro Nines for Concealed Carry” report for American Rifleman for this year. “Back in 1994, the Glock G26 was instrumental in establishing the subcompact size polymer-framed, semi-automatic pistol as a standard for more comfortable carry,” he explains. “With Gen 3, 4 and 5 models still in production today, it’s 6.5” long, 4.17” tall (with a flush-fit magazine) and has a slide that's 1” wide.” A pistol released nearly a decade ago ranking in the top dozen speaks volumes about the quality and performance the company packs into its entire lineup.

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