Nowadays, handguns from the Glock family of Safe Action pistols are among the most common you’ll see. The Austrian company makes their handguns in a variety of sizes and calibers from 380 ACP up to the awe-inspiring 10mm. If you have not considered one of these handguns in your survival strategy, you may be shortchanging yourself.
First, a Little History
The year was 1982 and a new handgun hit the market called the Glock 17. The concept was radical for its time: There was no hammer, no safety and the frames were made of plastic. The handguns even shipped in what could best be described as a black Tupperware box as opposed to the wooden or cardboard cartons more common in that day and age.
Myths surrounded the import. For example, some said it would be used by terrorists to hijack planes because it could bypass a metal detector thanks to its plastic frame. That statement, however, was flat-out ridiculous because the pistol still contains more than one pound of steel in its construction.
There also was great interest in the Safe Action feature. External safeties had always been seen as necessities on semi-automatic pistols since their invention. But Glock eliminated them by creating what they called a Safe Action trigger. This purpose-built, two-piece trigger performs the function of a safety and prevents the pistol from being fired should it drop on the ground or be struck by another object.
Eliminating a manual safety was key in allowing Glock to take over the majority of police handgun contracts as the firing sequence resembled that of a revolver, which allowed users to draw, point, aim and shoot without having to disengage a safety switch.
Perhaps Glock’s biggest advantage at the time was releasing their first model with a 17-round magazine. It was one of the largest pistol magazines available at the time without extending beyond the grip frame. And it has remained the ideal ever since. Glock and a number of aftermarket supporters also offer 10-round magazines for those who reside in restrictive states.
Shooting the Glock
There is a bit more muscle needed and a small bit of science involved with successfully and accurately shooting a Glock. The polymer frame forces the shooter to maintain a firm and strong grip. Otherwise, the frame can exhibit too much flex when the follow-through portion of the firing sequence is committed and the heavier-style trigger is the bane of single-action, semi-automatic pistol fans everywhere.
Some shooters claim the bore axis is too high, or that “they shoot too high” when firing a Glock. This varies depending upon the shooter, as most shooters do not experience this.
Aside from that, the Glock is one of the ultimate handguns to have when a disaster strikes. Aside from its reputation for reliability in the most adverse conditions (Glocks have been dropped from helicopters, run over with HUMVEEs, buried and caked in sand and mud, and even frozen in a block of ice without suffering any negative effects) they can be completely disassembled by only using a single punch.
For those concerned with home defense and self-defense, Glocks remain a great choice.
The smallest handgun in their lineup is the Model 42, a single stack handgun chambered in 380 ACP. This is part of Glock’s Slimline, along with the slightly larger Model 43 in 9mm and even larger Model 36 in 45 ACP.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the competition frames represent their largest handguns, including the 17L, 34, 41 and 40. The latter is probably the most powerful handgun that the company produces – a 10mm with a 6-inch slide that pushes the ballistics of that cartridge toward true Magnum revolver performance. This makes for an ideal sidearm in bear country, and Norwegian Police have been using the shorter Model 20 in the same caliber for decades in areas frequented by polar bears.
Their most popular handguns tend to be in the three basic sizes: full size (represented by the Model 17 in 9mm and 22 in 40 S&W), compact (Model 19 in 9mm and 23 in 40 S&W) and subcompact (Model 26 in 9mm and 27 in 40 S&W). The larger calibers such as 45 ACP and 10mm are built on slightly larger frames, with the compact models having a length that falls between the compact and subcompact pistols.
In recent years, Glock has been incorporating other features into their latest pistols. They have added rails to attach lights and lasers, included removable plates on the top of the slides to install optical sights, and added threaded barrels for use with silencers. They even offer interchangeable back straps to fit hands of all sizes.
The aftermarket support for the company makes them a hit with customers who want to try different calibers, triggers or install a stock and convert the Glock into a short-barreled rifle. Personally, I never leave my Glocks in factory condition and have customized them. I have installed, among other add-ons, fiber optic sights on a few and find them superior to night sights for a variety of reasons.
Just about every holster manufacturer offers leather or Kydex rigs to carry the Glock and in many ways, this Austrian-made pistol is more of an American handgun than the ones actually made here.
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