The Gen 1 is where it all started–first released in 1982. As you might have read elsewhere, the first gun designed was the Glock 17 and, in the beginning, there were no plans for further development/models. Eventually, the market drove change and before the change to Gen 2, there were a total of four models produced: 17, P80, 17L, and a few 19s.
The 1st generation was one of constant change. The initial design, while reliable, was still under development. Early guns featured a slimmer barrel that was stainless steel without the later parkerized finish. Several variations exist in magazine, case, and small internal parts. All guns will have Austrian proof marks, but not consistent placement or number of marks. Very early (pre-US) guns also do not have a serial number plate in the frame. Most early guns were also fitted with target sights that have come to be called “Weakend Sights” because of their fragility. Standard (fixed) sights are also period correct, though the target version will fetch a premium. All frames had a half-moon mag well relief in the bottom of the front straps except the few 19s that were made.
|Models||17, 17L, 18, 19, P80|
|Common Characteristics||2-Pin Design|
|No Accessory Rail|
|Single Address Line|
|US Patent Mark (on US models)|
|Mag Well Relief|
The foundation of the glock line started with the model 17. These gen 1s are a thing of beauty–smooth clean lines and an iconic design. Even the carrying case was more intricate: individual bullet holders and molded to hold the mags, loader, and cleaning rod and brush.
The impetus behind the design was the Austrian army’s search for a replacement to the Walther P38–then in continuous service since WWII. The 17 design was a true underdog entry in the competition but took everyone by surprise winning the contract by a mile. Glock produced 30,000 pistols for the army who gave it the designation P80.
To our knowledge, there are no P80s in US collector hands but the company has one on loan at the Cody Firearms Museum in Cody, WY (pictured below).
There’s not much of a difference between a G17 and a P80–just the markings on the slide. Import laws make it difficult to bring guns in to the US so even the display model Glock loaned doesn’t have the true P80 frame. As the frame is considered the “firearm” by the ATF, the company could only bring in the slide and substituted a standard model 17 frame with the upper half being a P80. Astute observers will also notice that the placard on the museum display has accidentally been swapped with the Gen 1 19 next to it in the case.
As the 17 began to gain traction in the US, shooters began using it for competition. This led to the introduction of the model 17L featuring a 6″ barrel.
“L” stands for “long slide” and the gun was engineered to be interchangeable with model 17 lowers and internal parts save for the longer barrel and slide. The frames are the same size but with lighter springs and extended controls in comparison to the 17. The slide on the L is a full inch and a half longer than that of the standard model. The 17L is still in production in very small batches to today–typically only made ever other year. But there were two versions of the early barrel made, a standard 6″ and one with three “ports” cut perpendicular to the axis of the barrel. With the main purpose of the L design being for competition, the ports provided reduced recoil and faster follow up shots. However, the initial design proved weaker than expected and many of the early guns cracked. This makes the ported barrel versions just that much more rare.
1st Gen 17L production was a very limited run prior to release of the 2nd generation. For more details, see the rare list: The Grail Gun
The last variant towards the very end of the 1st gen was the model 19. Glock exploded on the US market as police departments began adopting it to replace their old service revolvers. Departments also began to request more compact designs, with the company landing on the 19-a shortened version of the 17 but otherwise very similar.
Very very few 19s were originally made in 1988 and most that were released were later returned to the company and destroyed. By the time the plans were finalized, the company was on the precipice of a full roll-out of the 2nd generation. The KS Alcohol Beverage Control solicited an order for approximately 100 experimental 19s that were fabricated using blocked molds from 17 along with the new shorter slides. The fit and finish were less than refined, but the sizing of the gun was extremely effective.
The above pictured gun is another that was a part of the Glock collection that was loaned to the Cody Firearms Museum–who actually have a second one on display as well. The only known 1st gen 19s left in existence were the few that the KS A.B.C. individual officers purchased back from the department. The initial contract guns were replaced shortly after being issued by gen 2 guns and the company destroyed the gen 1s. There were also a few examples that were sent to gun writers for evaluation. These guns are extremely rare and bring huge amounts of money on the collector market.