Glock: Humble beginnings triggered innovations that revolutionized the industry

Story and photos by Russell Purcell (@RoadTestRuss)

When Gaston Glock – an unassuming manager of a car radiator factory in Vienna – decided that he could build a better semi-automatic pistol, no one would have predicted that the mild-mannered Austrian would develop a handgun that would revolutionize the industry.The potent combination of employing modern production techniques and using fewer overall parts allowed Glock to gain an enormous cost advantage over his more established rivals.

Gaston Glock had a mind for business and a penchant for manufacturing. As a sideline, he and his wife Helga had been producing a line of brass fittings for doors and windows out of their garage with great success. After years of learning how to work with various metals and steel, the dynamic duo eventually transitioned to the production of durable field knives and bayonets. In seemingly no time at all, the ambitious couple was able to produce their knives for a price that was so competitive that they landed a contract to supply the Austrian Army.

With his foot in the door with Austria’s Ministry of Defense, Gaston found himself in the right place at the right time when he overheard two generals discussing the need for a new sidearm, and after arranging a meeting with top brass, the tenacious entrepreneur was given the greenlight to bid on the contract to provide the military with a new gun.

Gaston’s innovative polymer-framed design became known as the “Safe Action” Pistol due to the clever integration of the safety into the trigger design.

Glock Trigger Safety

After proving itself to be ultra-reliable, robust and safe, the lightweight Glock pistol was adopted by both the Austrian army and police service in 1982. Initial concerns around the gun’s largely plastic construction centred around it being an increased security threat as it was hard to detect using some metal detectors, but as detector technology improved this has become less and less of a concern.

The “Plastic Fantastic” is now in its fourth generation, and the Glock lineup of pistols includes no less than 25 models in its consumer lineup, as well as several law enforcement only models and a selection of special training variants. Glock pistols are available in a wide variety of sizes, ranging from slim-line subcompact models perfect for concealed carry, all the way up to competition ready long-slide variants.  The now iconic handguns can be chambered for most of the popular calibres, including 9mm, .40, 10mm, .45 Auto, .45 GAP, .380 Auto, and .357.

Glock 41 Gen 4

Over the last three decades the Glock has become arguably, the most popular pistol in the world, with some accounts claiming that the firm now commands as much as 65% of the market share of handguns in the United States alone, not to mention possessing a stranglehold on sales to police forces, government agencies, professional security and military organizations around the globe.

If you would like to sample some of the more popular models form Glock’s current catalog you should plan to attend the upcoming Glock Day event at DVC. This annual event allows you the opportunity to handle and shoot the latest offerings from Glock as well as a variety of firearms from DVC’s own rental fleet, including an Ak-47 and AR-15 rifles chambered in .223.
I am the proud owner of two fourth generation Glock 17s, but after putting some rounds through both the Glock 41 Gen 4 and a Glock 17L at last year’s event, I know that one day I will have to invest in a larger gun safe.

Glock 21 Gen 3

An added attraction for current Glock owners is having access to a Glock representative who will be on site to inspect customer pistols free-of-charge (a service available to all patrons attending the event should they choose to bring their own firearm) and give quick tutorials on proper care and maintenance.

So mark down Sunday, June 12th, on your calendars, phones and iPads, as Glock Day is on the horizon. The event begins at 12:00 and runs until trigger fingers are sore and the supply of ammunition and hotdogs runs low. Lineups are expected, however they do move fast, but it is always wise to download the liability waiver from the website (http://vancouvergunrange.ca/documents/waiver.pdf) and fill it in prior to arrival to expedite processing on the day of the event. See you at the range!

Glock 17

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