Glock is a private Austrian firearms production company which specializes in small arms, knives and apparel. The founder and head engineer of the company, Gaston Glock, had no experience with firearms when Glock 17 was being prototyped. Back in the 1980s, the Austrian army announced to seek new tenders to replace its WW-II type side arms with a modern generation duty pistol.
The defense ministry summed up a list of 17 criteria for the new generation handgun which included 9x19mm para cartridge, self-loading, secure against accidental discharge, drop test (2m) on a steel plate and no assistance in loading the mags. It was tested against an over-pressure test cartridge generating 5000 bar pressure and finally, was inspected for wear after firing 15000 rounds.
Luckily, Glock17 passed all the tests outperforming 5 other manufacturers including Sig, H&K, FN, Baretta, and Steyr. It is a short recoil-operated, locked breach semi-automatic pistol with a polymer frame. Austrian army adopted this handgun with an initial order of 25000 pieces.
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All the way from 1980 to 2017, Glock has adopted to perform accurately and perfectly (as their logo says – Glock Perfection). In doing so, its pistols have gone through various modifications which can be classified into 5 generations.
Generation 1: Being produced in the 1980s, Glock 17 was the first-generation handgun which was recognized by the pebble finish and finger groove-less frames. The barrels had small diameters, known as pencil barrels, with thinner bore walls.
Generation 2: In the second-generation models (1990), checkering was introduced on the front strap and the trigger guard while serrations were on the back strap. The mags were modified replacing the floorplate with a follower spring.
Generation 3: In 1998, Glock made some notable changes in the handgun for modern use. An accessory rail, known as the universal Glock rail, which is almost similar to Picatinny rails, was added for the mounting of lasers or tactical lights. Finger grooves were added on the front strap. A modified extractor was added which serves as a loaded chamber indicator. The polymer frames were enhanced and quality was redefined.
Generation 4: At the Shooting, hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT SHOW) in 2009, Glock displayed 4th generation handguns, as engraved on the slide “Gen4”. The initial full-sized pistols presented at the show were Glock 17 – 9x19mm para and Glock 22 – .40S&W with a modified rough-textured frame, interchangeable backstraps, which were available in various sizes, and grip checkering. Glock produced several variants under this generation such as subcompact G-26, G-27, and G-30 reduced-sized compact variants G-17 and G-22, and G-20.
Generation 5: In 2017, Glock presented gen5 pistols, namely G-17 and G-19, with improved reliability and ergonomics-centred revisions. Many parts of Gen5 firearms cannot be interchanged with the previous variants. DLC finishing was adopted for the barrel and slide, with no finger grooves on the front strap. Mags were redesigned with an orange indicator for better visuals.
Besides 9x19mm para, other Glock variants also cartridges .45ACP, .40, .357, .22LR, .380, and 10mm auto. It comes in a variety of variants. The Glock with normal frame size includes the subcompact variants i.e., G-26, G-27, G-28, G29, G30, G-33 and G-39, the compact variants i.e., G-19, G-23, G-25, G-32, G-38, G-44 and G-46, the Standard variants i.e., G-17, G-18, G20, G-21, G-22, G-31 and G-37. The Glocks with slim-line variants include G-36, G-42 and G-43.
Many countries produce clones and unlicensed versions of Glocks including Iran, Myanmar, China, Turkey, and Taiwan. In Pakistan, G-17 and G-19 variants of Glock are used by Special Services Group (SSG)
Ismail Mir is a researcher and small arms expert. He tweets @cruelassassins