History and DesignEdit
The Glock 17 was introduced in 1982. Its inventor, Gaston Glock, was an Austrian engineer who only had experience with synthetic polymers, not firearms. He later got the idea to make a simply constructed pistol almost entirely out of polymers to compete for the spot in the Austrian military pistol trials to replace the aging Walther P38. However, the Glock 17 is not the first polymer handgun. Heckler and Koch of Germany twenty years earlier made the VP70 to little success. Glock got together a team of firearms experts from across Europe to determine the most desirable traits in a handgun, designed around the criteria, which included that all actions necessary to prepare the pistol for firing must be done single-handed or ambidextrous, disassembly of the main parts must not require tools, the pistol's construction may not exceed 58 individual parts (equivalent of a P38, although Glocks have 34) and after firing 15,000 rounds of standard ammunition, the pistol will fire an overpressure test cartridge. The Glock's frame, magazine body and several other components are made from a high-strength nylon-based radio-opaque polymer invented by Gaston Glock and called Polymer 2. This plastic was specially formulated to provide increased durability and is more resilient than carbon steel and most steel alloys. Polymer 2 is resistant to shock, caustic liquids and temperature extremes where traditional steel/alloy frames would warp and become brittle. The injection molded frame's trigger guard is squared off at the front and checkered. The grip has a non-slip, stippled surface checkering on the sides and both the front and rear straps. The Glock 17 outperformed 8 different pistols from five other established manufacturers (Heckler & Koch of Germany offered their P7M8, P7M13 and P9S, SIG Sauer of Germany bid with their P220 and P226 models, Beretta of Italy submitted their model 92SB-F, FN Herstal proposed an updated variant of the Browning Hi-Power and the home-grown Steyr entered the competition with the GB). Glock later emerged as the winner of all 17 of the grueling endurance tests and was quickly adopted into service with the Austrian military and police forces in 1982 as the P80 (Pistole 80), with an initial order for 25,000 guns.
Although the Glock Model 17 is noted for its 17-round magazine, that is not why it is called the Glock 17. It is so named because the final design of the Glock 17 was Gaston Glock's seventeenth patent. Oddly enough, the Glock 17 also met all 17 requirements for the Austrian military trials. Although the Glock was mocked for its blocky appearance, sights and controls, lack of hammer, lack of external safety and polymer parts and for years there was a bias against polymer guns on the market due to fears that they would not be detected in metal detectors. This fear was later proven to be untrue but nonetheless was featured in Die Hard 2 (which just so happened to be the first movie of many to feature a Glock). The results of the Austrian trials sparked interest in the United States, where a similar effort to select a service-wide replacement for the M1911 had been ongoing since the late 1970s (known as the Joint Service Small Arms Program). In late 1983, the United States Department of Defense inquired about the Glock pistol and received four samples of the Glock 17 for unofficial evaluation. Glock was then invited to participate in the XM9 Personal Defense Pistol Trials, but declined because the DOD specifications would require extensive retooling of production equipment and providing 35 test samples in an unrealistic time frame. Shortly thereafter, the Glock 17 was accepted into service with the Norwegian, Swiss, German, French, Russian, British and Swedish Armed Forces, surpassing all prior NATO durability standards. By 1992, some 350,000 pistols had been sold in more than 45 countries, including 250,000 in the United States alone. Today it is one of the easiest pistols to disassemble and the Glock is unique in the way that the milled slides can easily be switched from pistol to pistol to allow for different caliber changes. It is also the only pistol that has three separate internal safeties that engage at once. The Glock 17 is one of the only three Glock models to be manufactured in all four generations. There are three safeties on the gun (trigger safety, drop safety and firing pin block), and since it is technically a light double action trigger as opposed to a hammer-fired designation such as DA/SA, the Glock is known as the "safe action pistol". Glocks today are used by sport shooters, law enforcement, numerous armies across the globe and civilian defense. Over 7 million Glocks have been produced as of 2007. Since 1982, the number of Glock model patents has increased from 17 to 42 in several different calibers.