Why Special Forces and LEO’s use Glock
by Quinn Bonner
With thousands of handguns out there, why do our best and bravest choose Glock?
How Glock got its Start
Glocks have been long trusted by militaries all over the world, even before they developed their first handgun. Gaston Glock, the founder of Glock, started his company in Austria (not to be confused with Australia, no Kangaroos or Koalas there) beginning in 1963 by manufacturing injected molded metal and polymer parts. By 1970, Glock was producing a line of military products consisting of knives, grenade casings, and machine gun belt links. In the early 1980’s Austrian military and law enforcement agencies were requesting a dependable striker-fired handgun to replace the hammer-fired Steyr GB, which had many flaws in its design. In 1982, Glock released its G17 which was immediately adopted by Austrian Military and LEO’s after outperforming 8 handguns from 5 major established firearms manufacturers (H&K, Sig Sauer, Beretta, FN, and Steyr). This immediately grabbed the attention of NATO and the U.S Military who were in the market to replace the iconic and widely used Browning M1911. NATO and the U.S were looking for a lighter pistol that had a larger magazine capacity than the M1911’s 7 round magazine, and Glock absolutely delivered.
Reinventing the Modern Handgun
When Gaston Glock took on the challenge of designing a handgun for the Austrian Military, he wanted to do more than just meet their specs. He wanted to revolutionize pistols as we knew it by combining a kind of quality, durability, and reliability never seen before. Glock set out to design a pistol that would be dependable and safe, something you could pick up and fire at a moment’s notice but also be protective against accidental discharges. It was the first of its kind to include 3 internal safeties in the trigger, firing pin, and drop safeties. The Austrian Military also wanted a sidearm that was simple to field strip, so Glock designed the G17 to only comprise of 35 parts. Another request by the Austrian Military was to maintain the high magazine capacity the Steyr GB offered. Glock did just that while keeping its G17 more compact. The most notable change Glock introduced was its revolutionary durable polymer frame, creating the lightest standard pistol made at the time. With the first Glock 17 being lightweight, reliable, consistent and simple, it was an obvious choice for the new standard issue sidearm for militaries and law enforcement agencies all over the world.
The Road to #1
After the Glock 17 passed the NATO durability test in 1984, the Norwegian Army selected it as their service pistol as well. The rapid adoption of this new innovative pistol opened the eyes of military and law enforcement agencies everywhere. The G17 had gained huge popularity from U.S Law Enforcement, and soon after federal, state and local agencies were adopting them left and right. By 1986, Glock opened its U.S Headquarters in Smyrna Georgia. Once Glock was established in the U.S, they began collaborating with LEO and Federal agencies and became available in multiple sizes and calibers. Today over 65% of all the federal, state and local agencies issue Glocks as their standard issue.
Adoption by Special Forces
By 2003, the Glock sensation reached U.S Special forces. One of the most elite Special Forces units, the U.S Army Delta Force, was the first Special Forces unit to use .40 caliber Glock 22. Despite not being adopted by all of the U.S military because of their pre-9/11 requisition of the Berretta M9 and continued favoritism of the M1911, U.S Special Forces units began requesting Glocks specifically. After Delta Forces saw continued success with Glock in the Middle East during Operation Enduring Freedom, the U.S Special Forces Command (SOCOM) took notice. More covert operations were being conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the U.S Special Forces required a smaller and lighter pistol for conceal carry missions.
The lightweight, high capacity and compact line of Glocks was soon highly requested by many Special Forces Operators. SOCOM was reluctant at first to open a new arms contract because the M9 Beretta was chosen as the standard issue sidearm just a few years prior. As their popularity from LEO agencies sky-rocketed, SOCOM finally decided to give their operators what they wanted. From 2006-2010 the rest of SOCOM units (U.S Army Special Forces, Navy SEALs, and the Air Force’s 24th Special Tactics Squadron) began issuing different Glock models to meet the needs of their specific operations. Today the DOD has replaced the M9 Beretta with the Sig P320/M17, but many Special Forces units still rely heavily on the Glock 17, 19, and 22.
Today, Glock is the leading firearms industry in sales with the G17 and the G19 being the two top selling handguns of all time. Currently Glock is in its 5th generation of firearms with its newest subcompact G43X being both the newest in its series and the highest selling pistol of 2022 so far. The name Glock alone is the first you think about when it comes to pistols. As a company they always are listening to customer feedback and constantly improving their craft generation after generation. Every single firearm they have released has been consistently reliable and innovative. It’s no surprise that many firearm manufacturers today use many of the concepts Glock designed into the original G17. Glock will forever be a leader in pistols and I look forward to seeing their future innovations
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