Glock firearms have become the most iconic weapons of the 21st century. The company took a meteoric rise from a small parts production company with a few military contracts to the firearms producer synonymous with durability and dependability. The dates below are just some of the highlights of that ascension–one unprecedented in the firearms industry.
Ghaston Glock founded the GLOCK Ges.m.b.H company in Austria1. In the early days, he had no ambition towards firearm development–that would come nearly twenty years later. Initially, the company focused on smart parts production with polymer materials–the most often quoted as being curtain fixtures–but not much is know about the early company as Mr. Glock has always been a secretive man.
The first military products were developed and introduced; knives, grenade casings, and machine gun belt links1.
Ghaston Glock overheard discussion of a pending search for new Austrian military issue handgun and decided to gather a group of engineers to design an entry for the contract competition2.
The Glock 17 design is finished and patented–so named as it was the 17th patent Ghaston Glock had secured.
The G17 won out over several competitors for the Austrian army contract who then became the first issuer of the new pistol. The Army issues are the same internally as a G17 but were named the P802.
The entrenching tool was released–a military tool that’s stayed in production to today1.
Soldier of Fortune magazine published the first US story covering the Glock 17. Writer Peter Kokalis’s article offered glowing praise for the new pistol creating demand in the US market. No avenue for importation yet existed making everyone wait to get their hands on the new “novelty” firearm3.
The model 17 passed NATO durability tests and was selected by the Norwegian Army as their standard sidearm.
Karl Walter and Wolfgang Reidl began working for Glock–specifically brought on to oversee roll-out in the US market.
Glock established a US subsidiary of the parent company, Glock Inc in Smyrna, GA1. They began to aggressively market to PDs state-side as a beachhead to commercial sales3. The results were more impressive than anyone could have anticipated.
The first model 17s came to the US.
The model 18 was developed for Austrian special forces.
’86 was also the first year that gun control advocates began to demonize the Glock as “undetectable” and a “hijacker special.”
A second production facility was opened in Ferlach, Austria to increase capacity and try to keep up with demand4.
The first model 17L was released as a competition shooter’s special.
The model 19 was released as a compact option to the 17–the first prototypes were literally cut down from 17 frames.
2nd Generation versions were also released for all three models–the first 19s that were not prototypes.
May: The model 22 and 23 were released-beating S&W to the punch as the first .40 S&W handguns on the market. (this was quite the coupe at the time given that the caliber was developed in collaboration with S&W)
July: The first model 20s shipped to the US.
Dec: The first model 21s shipped to the US.
The model 24 was the next in line–released in Feb5 as a ported model, followed the next month in a standard barrel format. These were the .40 equivalent of the model 17L but are the only model to have the oval-shaped ports in the barrel. (see the rare list for pics and further details)
The “Assault Weapons Ban” is passed by US congress banning many models of weapons by name and also restricting civilian magazine capacity to 10 rds6. This turned out to be a boon for the Glock line as it had rapidly gained acclaim as the firearm of choice for self-defense and the panic buying that ensued after passage of the law significantly boosted sales3.
“Baby Glocks” (the subcompact models 26 & 27) were first released in the summer on ’955. Much speculation exists that these models were conceived in response to the AWB. As magazine capacity was limited to 10 rds, Glock decided to make a corresponding size frame.
The first training model, the 17T, was released as a training aid for police. The T fires simmunition rounds for non-lethal force-on-force live fire training. The only 2nd generation training model is the 17T, but 19Ts have also been made in Gen 3, 4, & 5 configurations.
The first compact big bore guns (the models 29 & 30) were shipped in Dec–just in time for Christmas.
Glock added three offerings in the .357 SIG caliber. Models 31, 32, and 33 were all released (standard, compact, and sub-compact frame sizes). A couple of interesting notes for collectors: 1. There are gen 2 guns out there that are extremely rare due to the limited production window before gen 3 came out. 2. There are also a small number of .357 SIG guns that actually say “.357 SIG” on the slide. Most will only say “.357” as Glock does not like advertising for their competitors.
Gen 3 models were released with a complete redesign of the frame. An accessory rail was molded into the polymer nose as well as finger grooves on the front strap and a thumb rest on the sides.
New long slide models in 9×19 and .40 (models 34 & 35) were also released that April5. Among the Glock collector community, we’ve always believed that these models were only made in Gen 3 and newer configuration, however the 1998 Glock Annual does have a picture of a Gen 2 gun for the 34/35 product page. I’m still hunting for a real life example.
The first slimline, single-stack model was released: The .45 ACP Glock 364.
Glock tactical lights were released to take advantage of the growing market for handgun mounted accessories.
Glock decided to develop their own cartridge which culminated with the release of the model 37 in .45 GAP. The idea was to fit a .45 caliber bullet into the same frame size as the standard model 17. The GAP cartridge is .45 diameter, but is a shorter casing (and higher pressure) than a .45 ACP allowing for a slimmer grip.
The rollout of .45 GAP models was extended with models 38 (compact frame) and 39 (sub-compact frame)5. Glock spent several years heavily promoting the new bullet and guns, but as of today it has not achieved great commercial success.
The next evolution in frame design was released–first for police and later for commercial production as well. These models are known as “RTF2” designs and are technically a Gen 3 pattern with a different texture. Internally they were the same as standard Gen 3. The first models also included a new slide serration pattern that was curved to improve grip (and was wildly derided). RTF2 models were released with the curved serrations in 17, 19, 22, 22C, 23, and 23C models and with straight serrations in 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 29, 30, & 31 models.
A new long slide .45 ACP was developed and released as the model 41Gen4 and the slimline model 42 in .380 was also released5. The 42 is still the only model available in .380 to the US market (models 25 and 28 are sold internationally but require special permits for importation to the US).
A new subsidiary was founded in Slovakia4.
A new 10mm long-slide model was developed and released as the model 40MOS5. To date it is only produced with the modular optic system.
The model 43 was also released in the summer5 and was the first slimline 9mm-similar, but slightly larger than the model 42.