Over the years, Glock has become a “household” word, at least in the Urban Dictionary. There are many different models of Glock pistols, but when I envision a Glock, my mind goes back to the 1980s and I picture a Glock 17. Though the pistol has gone through some noticeable design changes in the area of the grip and the recoil spring and guide rod, the functioning and safety features have remained the same.
For some of the younger crowd it might be hard to imagine the firearms industry without polymer-framed pistols. Gaston Glock, the Austrian inventor of the Glock pistols, changed all of that. Though Heckler & Koch had a polymer-framed pistol in the ‘70s, now just about every major (and minor) manufacturer of semi automatic pistols has a striker fired (no hammer), polymer-framed handgun. Like many weapons, their popularity didn’t become widespread in the civilian market until they had achieved a high level of use and acceptance in the Military and Law Enforcement communities. The Glock 17 has become a standard in most Police Departments in the United States and abroad. The Glock pistol is equally popular with military units throughout the world. As a matter of fact, the Glock 17 was designed for the Austrian Army as a replacement for the Walther P38 that was in use at the time.
This pistol has also proven extremely popular in the civilian market for many years now. Though many think that the number 17 in the pistol’s name results from its potential 17 round magazine capacity (also available in 19 and 33), the 17 actually represents Gaston Glock’s 17th patent submission.
The Glock 17 is a lightweight pistol compared to a steel framed design, as polymer is stronger and 86% lighter than steel. The gun’s proprietary Tenifer metal treatment insures a tough and hard surface on the slide and barrel that is resist-ant to scratching and corrosion.
The camming action of the lock up of the pistol resembles that of the Browning High Power. The rifling of the barrel is a right hand hexagonal type and its length of twist is 250mm. You can always tell if a round has been fired from a Glock because of the unique elongated imprint of the firing pins impression in the primer of the empty case, unlike the round indentation from a “traditional” shaped firing pin.
Glock employs what they call “Safe Action” to describe the pistol’s three safety features, all of which are deactivated when the trigger is pulled for firing, and reactivated upon releasing the trigger. The first safety is an external trigger safety and consists of a lever found on the trigger blade itself. This lever will rotate and act upon the trigger bar and connector when the finger naturally pulls the trigger. The other two safety features of the pistol are internal. One uses a hardened steel pin to block the firing pin in the firing pin channel until the trigger is pulled. The third safety (the drop safety) will only allow the gun to fire if the trigger is pulled straight back as the trigger bar will then be guided on a safety ramp inside the firearm.
The trigger pull of the stock gun is about 5.5 lbs., but for law enforcement purposes you can buy what is called a New York Trigger. This will give you a trigger pull of about 12 lbs. A 15-lbs pull can be achieved with a New York plus and New York Plus-Plus Trigger. These options were implemented as “Lawyer” safety features. Of course, the best way to prevent accidental (negligent) discharges is to keep your finger off the trigger until you intend to shoot. The trigger IS NOT a finger rest.
The Glock 17 is a durable weapon platform and can even be safely fired underwater with the addition of special spring cups that fit in the striker assembly. These allow water to pass by without slowing the forward travel of the firing pin and causing a misfire. The solid design and lock up of the pistol allows for the higher pressures of aquatic operation to be possible.
This does not mean that you can go scuba diving and shoot at sharks (though it is possible as an alternative to being eaten alive), it was intended to allow Special Forces units to safely fire the weapon after being submerged or close to the surface area.
There are a several precautions which you must consider before you show your friends how to shoot at fish while using a snorkel. Specifically, 9mm is the only “safe” caliber to shoot while submerged, as rounds such as .40 S&W and .45 ACP Glock will result in excessive pressure build up in the gun. Full metal jacket rounds in 9 mm should be used because hollow points will expand and cause dangerous pressure levels. There should be no air present in the pistol as this will also cause high pressure issues. Keep in mind that sound pressure levels are much higher underwater. Just because you can’t hear your friends yelling at you while in a pool doesn’t mean that you will not suffer hearing loss if you shoot your Glock with both it and your head underwater!
Field stripping the pistol is as easy as it gets. Make sure the weapon is unloaded, release the magazine, pull the trigger, move slide back about an 1/8”, pull down the take down tabs on both sides of the frame and then ease the slide forward off of the frame. Next, the recoil guide rod and spring can be taken off by pushing slightly forward and up. The barrel can be removed from the slide by lifting it up from the rear.
At this point the gun is ready to be cleaned, lightly lubricated and put back together in the reverse order of the field strip-ping. Maintenance is that quick and easy!
The late model Glock 17 has added a light rail for quick mounting of a tactical light system, a welcome addition. There are many after market products available for Glock pistols, such as various front and rear sights and many different types of laser sighting systems as well. Another thing I like is that there is a hole in the lower part of the grip that will allow a lanyard to be attached to the pistol. This allows you to drop the weapon safely and switch to a rifle quickly.
Right out of the box, the Glock 17 is a safe and accurate pistol. This firearm is another weapon that has made a dramatic impact on the history of firearms and will be in constant use for years to come. This pistol has become a “classic” design since it was first manufactured in the early 1980s. It is still a proven and reliable “work horse” in the 21st century.