The Glock Encyclopedia Volume 1: The Basics

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Confused by all the models of Glock? You are not the only one but we’re here to walk you through them!

Glock is the most issued service pistol of the modern-day, which is massively impressive for a company founded to make curtain rods. Gaston Glock had no experience making guns but he did have experience in polymer manufacturing. He gathered together top European handgun experts, prototyped the Glock 17 in 1982 and the rest is glorious Austrian history.

Glock Pistols: The Basics

Glock pistols are polymer-framed, semi-automatic, short-recoil operated, locked-breech, striker-fired handguns. Well, most of them are – the rimfire G44 is a blowback-operated pistol and is the only gun to break the mold. Glock pistols come in tons of different calibers and in a variety of different sizes. These weren’t the first polymer frame pistol, but they were the first wildly successful polymer pistol.

The G17 was the first model produced and was designed to fill a need within the Austrian Army. The Austrian Army’s specific needs drove the weapon’s development and defined Glock pistols to this very day. The Austrian Army needed a safe, lightweight, high-capacity, and reliable semi-auto pistol and Glock filled that need.

What do Glock Numbers Stand For?

Glock has a simple way to name their pistols. Every model is assigned a number after the letter G, which predictably stands for Glock. The numbers have nothing to do with the firearm itself and may seem arbitrary to most – for example, the G45 is not a 45 caliber handgun, it’s actually a 9mm.

The numbers are assigned to designs as they are started, not in the order in which they are released. So while the G20 and 21 began development before the 22 and 23, the 22 and 23 were released first.
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The more you know.

Glock’s Safe Action Design

The G17 hit the streets at a time where manual safety devices on handguns were the norm. Glock’s Plastic Fantastics had no manual safeties, but that didn’t mean they were unsafe. Glock refers to their pistols as the Glock Safe Action Pistol referencing the three built-in independent safety devices.

Trigger Safety

The trigger safety is that famous little doohickey that sits in the middle of the trigger. Your finger presses the trigger safety as you pull the trigger so without activating the trigger safety, the trigger cannot be pulled.

Firing Pin Safety

The firing pin safety blocks the firing pin from moving forward when the striker is cocked. As the trigger is pulled, the trigger bar pushes the firing pin safety up and out of the way. If you release the trigger before firing, the firing pin safety automatically falls back into place.

The Drop Safety

The drop safety is a device that does exactly what you think. If you drop the gun it ensures it cannot fire. As you pull the trigger the trigger bar lowers down the safety ramp and allows the firing pin to release.

A Generational Thing

Glock is currently in its fifth generation. New generations arrive as Glock makes changes, both external and internal. There’s no timeline on when Glock generations end or begin, they’re improved upon as need be.

The release of a new generation doesn’t always mean earlier generations are disappearing. Often new and older Glock generations are produced side by side.

There are also guns that exist outside of Glock’s defined generations. Some weapons are all over the place and may lack the generational signifiers used to determine which generation a weapon is. Some guns are also split generations, which is most common between the Gen 2 and Gen 3 guns. Glock aficionados often refer to them as Gen 2.5 guns.

Glock Generations 101

Here’s a rundown of the Glock Generations:

Gen 1 – The first Glocks ever on the market. Plain and simple: they’re guns that work. The Gen 1 is made up entirely of one gun, the Glock 17.
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Gen 2 – Glock added various sizes and calibers with Gen 2 models. A metal plate with the serial number was inserted, the guide rod system became a single-piece design, checkering was added to the front and rear of the grip, and the magazine baseplate was changed.

Some Gen 2 guns have Picatinny rails, and these are typically called Gen 2.5 guns.

Gen 3 – The third generation is where rails became a standard option on guns large than subcompacts. The grip has finger grooves added, and scallops cut into the left and right side of the frame that acted as thumb rests.

Internal changes included a cross pin above the trigger pin to ease stress on the locking block. The extractor also now stood up when the chamber was loaded and acted as a loaded chamber indicator.
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Gen 4 – With the Gen 4, Glock made the pistol grip slightly smaller and added a modular backstrap system to change the size of the grip. The grip was also more aggressively textured, and the magazine release was made reversible for lefties.

The Gen 4 also incorporated a dual spring recoil rod assembly that reduces felt recoil. Gen 4 was also the introduction of MOS guns that allowed for easy optics mounting.

Gen 5 – The newest Glock generation is Gen 5. These guns saw the removal of finger grooves, the magazine well is flared for quicker reloads, a high relief cut is made to the trigger guard for a higher grip, and the slide lock is now ambidextrous.
Additionally, Glock added a new match grade barrel to the guns, and the cross pin above the trigger guard has also been removed.
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But Wait, There’s More…

Now that you’ve got the basics down pat, we can move into specific models, categories, and more in Part 2!

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Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. Travis has trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army.

He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms based hobbies.


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4 thoughts on “The Glock Encyclopedia Volume 1: The Basics”

  1. Dennis Prince

    Today, the best ammunition is the one you can find. It seems that most gun stores and sporting goods stores are completely out. They all tell me they have it on order but can’t guarantee when it will arrive. I have found one store which has been able to stock a “generic” (i.e., no name) ammo. I bought several boxes because I felt that it was better than having no ammo at all.

  2. Charlotte Keenan

    Thank you , I was lucky enough to inherit a glock ‘ knew very little about it! Enjoyed learning from your page & will be back to buy a holster for my glock as soon as I can! Thank you again!

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