The Glock 17 Pistol: American Rifleman's Original Review

by Jacob Solomon Jun 4, 2023 News
The Glock 17 Pistol: American Rifleman

In the May 1986 issue of American Rifleman, there was an article about the Glock 17 pistol. As part of American Rifleman's 100th anniversary celebration, it has been re- published.

There has been a lot of coverage of the gun in the media. Most of the coverage of firearms is hogwash.

Without going into details that could cause irritation and apoplexy, it should be said that.

  1. The Glock 17 is not an "all plastic gun"—it is, in fact and weight, about 83% steel.
  2. The Glock 17 does not "pass through metal detectors undetected." Nineteen ounces of steel plus about 4 ozs. of lead, if a pistol and a full magazine are considered, should trip any metal detector—provided the unit is plugged in.
  3. The Glock 17 is not "invisible when passed through an X-ray screen." It looks like what it is—again, provided the machine is plugged in, and assuming the viewer know his or her business and is attending to it.
  4. Given A, B and C (above), we are really baffled by this one: "The Libyans are said to be trying covert methods to obtain these weapons." Why is the Glock 17 better for Libyans than other pistols? Since the Glock 17s are on the world market, why the "covert methods?" Last, but not least, who started the rumor and why—other than to make a catchy story? We don't know and nobody in the U.S. or Austrian government seems to either. Nor does Gaston Glock, the pistol's designer, manufacturer and chairman of the board of Glock G.m.b.H. of Deutch Wagram, Austria.

During the height of the anti-gun pressidiocy, Glock visited the NRA. Wolfgang Riedl was his marketing manager and Karl Walter was the U.S. importer. The rumor wasn't true.

The designer of the pistol easily explained his weapon to the staff of the National Rifle Association.

We took advantage of Glock's visit to get some first-hand information on what turned out to be a very interesting pistol.

The answer he gave to our first question was very revealing.

Glock said he didn't know the difference between a pistol and a revolver. From there, things continued.

The company was formed by a mechanical engineer with a background in synthetic materials. Combat knives, bayonets, and entrenching shovels are still in the line and are available in the US.

The Austrian military's pistol requirement form was seen by Glock in 1980, but he didn't think much of it. It called for 9mm parabellum chambering and a large magazine capacity.

His 15-man factory was approached by a foreign pistol maker that was interested in the Austrian requirement but didn't want an Austrian manufacturing or assembly site. He made his decision when he was contacted by two more foreign pistol makers.

The fully loaded Glock was provided by the Metallurgical Engineers of Atlanta.

He studied military pistol, test procedures and requirements from all over the world and, with two of his employees, came up with a working prototype. He had to make a second prototype in two months because it didn't suit him in every way.

The pistol that the Austrian Army uses is the same one that the prototype is based on.

We are unaware of the success story if itInvolves a man innocent of basic gun knowledge and a completely new gun.

A major European nation is using the gun. Does any other nation use it? The Norwegian Army will be fully armed with the Glock 17 in three years, according to the man. Norway is a NATO member and the Glock is a NATO standard pistol. Many military and police units are considering the Glock 17 and some have purchased it in more than trial quantities. The Libyans aren't included.

First removing the magazine and clearing the chamber, the Glock 17 can be field stripped. The locking slide is depressed after the slide is pulled about a quarter of an inch.

We naively asked if the factory had any more workers. There are about 40 people involved in the pistol project, but one man is in charge of the computer panel that controls all the machines.

One of his great assets is here. He has been to many arms factories in the last few years and admits to being amazed at the number of obsolete equipment and modern equipment found in almost all of them. His, except his.

We asked what use Glock G.m.b.H. made of sub-suppliers, and got a surprising answer that he thinks he has an advantage over his competitors.

Everything is made by us except for the springs and raw material. We mill the steel slide material into shapes. Our patented specifications are received, and then we mold it into something. Three hardening processes are used for the slide and barrel. 70 Rockwell Cone is harder than a file because of the final hardening.

The first part of the question asked if he visualized an all-plastic gun.

He said his next gun would be tailored to the needs of the Austrian military. He should know that plastic has not reached the stage where it can be used alone to make a military- acceptable firearm.

We asked him a final question after he fully disassembled his pistol with only a small punch.

Austrian and Norwegian service pistols differ from the U.S. imported Glock.

The only differences are that the pistol has a molded-in serial number in the frame and the rear sight can be adjusted for elevation. There is nothing else to say.

The slide unit can be slid forward after the slide is depressed.

In the absence of Mr. Glock, Riedl and Walter, the questions were best answered by examining and testing the new pistol.

A "double-action" is what the Glock 17 is called. While Glock's preferred term "Safe-Action" is not self-explanatory, Glock's terminology and parts illustration are used here to explain things.

The firing pin is partially held back by the sear plate on the rear of thetrigger bar when the slide is pulled. It keeps the firing pin from primer contact, it allows the passive firing pin safety plunger to block pin movement, and it shortens the final movement or cocking of the firing pin.

The pistol works that way if the slide is manually reloaded or if it is recoiled for subsequent shots. The first and subsequent shots have the same Trigger Pulls. Double-actions that operate as "long- pull" double-actions for only the first shot and " short- pull" double-actions after that are necessary.

The recoil spring and tube are removed after the slide is removed.

The Glock 17 that we tested had a smooth, constant, medium-length pull of about 6 lbs., but lighter or heavier pulls can be had by substituting the appropriatetrigger springs that are available from the importer.

The pistol's only manual is contained in thetrigger. The lever protrudes through the face of thetrigger and extends through the body of thetrigger to reach the frame. The rear portion of the safety lever is out of contact with the frame when the shooter is depressed. Thetrigger is free to move back and forth.

The return spring of the safety lever is very weak, so there is no need to work on it. The main advantages of the system are simplicity and insurance against firing if the gun is accidentally dropped. If the soldier makes the decision to carry the gun with the chamber loaded, he doesn't need to ask if the thumb safety is on or off. The safety lever will pivot out of engagement with the frame when the gun is pulled.

This is unusual, and Glock's manual stresses the point that the pistol ordinarily should be carried empty except when you intend to shoot. When a round is chambered, it is impossible to carry or set the pistol so that it doesn't go off.

The safety lever can be used to prevent the triggering from being depressed until the finger on the Trigger is depressed. It's presence and the absence of any other manual safety require that particular attention be paid to familiarization with the Glock 17 by a prospective user.

The mechanics of the Glock 17 are easy to understand.

The magazine will fall from the well if the magazine catch is pressed on the left side of the frame.

To make sure the chamber is empty, the slide is open and closed. The slide is opened a quarter inch or so and the locking slide is pulled down after thetrigger is pulled.

The steel rails are shown with other steel parts that are related to the locking and Safe Action firing mechanism.

The slide unit is slid off the frame when the slide is depressed. The recoil spring and tube can be removed, as well as the barrel with its squared chamber area. There is an open cam on the barrel's underside that engages the steel locking block.

The factory doesn't recommend that you complete the field- stripping of the Glock 17 with a nail.

The slide unit's working parts are revealed when the receiver is stripped of it. The four molded-in slide "rails" that measure about 0.4" in length are located in pairs at the rear of the receiver and above and forward of the two-hand holdtrigger guard.

The rear sight has a square notch and the front sight has a white dot insert. Prior to accuracy and function testing, there were some doubts voiced by shooter.

Heavy recoil from the pistol's light weight was expected. The pistol that was found to be pleasant to shoot was the Glock.

The firing pin of the Glock is rectangular in cross section. The raised rectangular impression of the firing pin hole in the breech is taken into account by the fired primer. We found that it works well.

An exploded view of the Glock 17 pistol.

The magazine is loaded with the help of a plastic loading tool. A sleeve is used to look at the magazine. The magazine follower has a wedge inside it that makes it easier to insert the bullets. Once it is mastered, a magazine can be loaded in a short amount of time, with no problems.

The springy, hard-to-manage pull was expected by firers because of the half-cocking for every shot arrangement. It wasn't the case. The Glock's 6-lb. pull is an easy one to master and it has the advantage over double-actions of a consistent pull on all shots.

It's hard to believe that the designer of the pistol is a man of limited firearms experience. The grip is designed to absorb recoil and point. The slide release was easy to reach for both ham-fisted and small firers. The pistol's limited muzzle jump made rapid-fire possible. The Glock 17 is quite similar to any large-capacity 9mm that has been tested recently.

Our sample gun has fired over 300 rounds. The accuracy figures are shown in the table.

The Austrian military has repeatedly fired five-hour test sessions of 10,000 rounds each successfully, that is to say, without a single malfunction.

The Glock 17 should suit the Austrian soldiers well.

The Glock 17 pistol specifications can be found in the appendix. Glock G.m.b.H., Hausfeldstrasse 17, A-2232 Deutch-Wagram, Austria is a manufacturer and importer of firearms. The mechanism type is recoil operated and semi-automatic. The magazine capacity is only 6 lbs., with 17 rounds and a contents indicator.