Understanding the Basics of the Glock Pistol System

The Glock pistol is undoubtedly one of the most popular series of pistols in the world, even though it had a rather inauspicious beginning in 1982.

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There were two problems that had to be overcome before the Glock 17, the first Glock produced, would be accepted. Both problems stemmed from its polymer frame. While Glock was not the first polymer frame handgun on the market, it garnered much more attention due to its adoption as the service pistol of the Austrian Army.

The first problem was that the polymer frame was distrusted because of questions of durability. Americans were used to blued or stainless steel (sometimes aluminum) framed handguns. It would take awhile - especially in the law enforcement community - before the Glock would be trusted. Polymer was found to be just as rugged as any other material used for building pistol frames.

The second problem was that the liberal news media quickly painted the new Glock 17 as a "terrorist weapon" useful in highjacking aircraft. It was insinuated that the entire gun was plastic, and could not be detected by X-ray scanners in airports. These bogus claims were quickly put to rest, although they initially caused quite a bit of controversy.

Fast forward to today. Glock holds 67% of the U.S. law enforcement market. Its rise to the top has been meteoric due to its simple and reliable operation, its accuracy, and its light weight. It is extremely popular in the civilian world for lawful carry or home defense, and its name is just as famous as Colt and Smith and Wesson.

I have owned and carried many different Glocks since 1992, both on duty and off, and am certified as a factory armorer. My first Glock was the 9mm G19 compact as an off-duty gun, and from there owned the full size 9mm G17, the slimline .45 ACP G36, the mini G27 in .40, the G31, 32 and 33 which are all 357 SIG caliber, the .40 caliber Glock 23, and my most recent Glock acquisition, the 13 round Generation 4 G21 in .45 ACP. That covers much of the Glock lineup, and I wanted to pass along some of what I have learned about the breed to date.


  1. Do not shoot plain lead bullets, reloads or otherwise, through any Glock regardless of caliber. It is recommended against by the factory, and may void the warranty.
  2. Remember that the "Safe-Action" trigger pull weight is only 5.5 lbs. The trigger finger must be kept on the frame of the pistol-not on the trigger guard-until you are ready to shoot. The safety lever in the trigger will only prevent an accidental discharge from light contact with the triggers sides, and not the center of the trigger. This means that you should NEVER carry a Glock of any type stuffed in your pants waistband or loose in a purse or pack without a holster that covers the trigger guard.
  3. Sometimes cited as a design problem - but not in my opinion - is the fact that in order to disassemble a Glock for cleaning, the trigger needs to be pulled on an empty chamber. Always remove the magazine first, then clear the chamber, then check again before disassembly. If accidental discharges during cleaning were a common occurrence, Glock would not be favored as a police duty pistol.
  4. Follow Glock lubrication directions carefully. A total of five drops is all that is needed for proper functioning. Never oil the firing pin.
  5. If money is an issue, don't feel that you MUST have the newest Generation 4 Glocks with the adjustable backstrap unless your hands are very large. The two additional backstraps included with the Gen 4s only make the basic grip progressively larger and are mounted over the existing frame. Used examples of earlier generation Glocks will serve most shooters just fine.

Running the Glock

There are only a couple of pointers here that should be made. The first two are reiterations:

  1. Any polymer pistol requires a firm grip and locked wrist for guaranteed reliable functioning. Polymer flexes slightly when fired, which can aggravate the effect of not keeping the grip firm and the wrist locked.
  2. Only the very earliest Glock 17 magazines were designed not to fall free when the release button is pressed. If you find yourself reaching up to pull the magazine out of the grip during a reload, you are inadvertently pushing against the end of the magazine release on the right side of the frame with your index finger, as you are pushing in with your thumb. Curl your index finger away from the frame as you push the release button and the magazines will fall free.

There you have it, some of the basics of Glock Pistol system. I will discuss the individual pistols in upcoming posts.