The above picture is of one of the very earliest made Glock’s known. It was featured in a Soldier of Fortune article introducing the Glock brand to the US market. As has been well documented, the Austrian Army adopted was the first to adopt a Glock firearm–a variant of the model 17 that they renamed the P80. These first versions had stainless steel barrels and no serial number plates on the frames (not required in large parts of Europe). While it’s not know exactly what version the authors at SOF were given access to, it’s clear that it was an early variant just from the stainless steel barrel.
In the very early days, the Glock company experimented with many different parts and finishes–and apparently tennifer coating the barrels was not part of the original design. It only took a few serial banks of experimenting before they landed on a barrel finish but examining early specimens of serial banks AA to AD, it appears that they went back and forth between stainless and tennifer as examples of both versions abound in those prefixes. They further modified design of the barrel by expanding the walls somewhere around serial bank AM (or maybe AN). Smaller parts continued to be changed along the way–most notably the changes to the trigger bar that settled on a regular shape around serial AX (estimated).
Things then became more regular thru the B to F letter prefixes until the transition to Gen 2 frames. Interestingly–there are Gen 2 model 19s as early as BR prefix in Europe even though they were using the DN prefix as an experimental range (gen 1 and 2 examples both exist in that block). With all these variations overlapping, it becomes obvious that the early guns were not produced in sequential serial ranges and it is hard to know whether all serial banks were even used (or completed).
And that leads me back to the foundational question: what was the first Glock produced? At this point in time, it is assumed that the first production gun bore serial number “AA001” but it is very possible that there are numbers pre-dating this (the internet even has pictures of “prototype” Glock designs that likely weren’t ever serialized). At this time, the only thing that can be said with certainty is that the AF serial range is the first bank imported into the US–most examples that predate that time frame will be found without the serial plate.
The uncertainty of what is out there is part of the thrill of Glock collecting for me. Someday, it’s likely that there will be a factory records/history division and clarity will be found on what existed and when. But for now, it feels a lot like the wild west and you never know what you’ll run into today. Happy hunting!