Pejoratively dubbed “combat Tupperware” by old-school purists when first introduced in the early-1980’s, the Glock 17 ushered in a new era of combat handgun technology. With extensive use of high-tech polymers and modern manufacturing techniques, the Glock’s simplicity, durability, and low cost to produce blew away early competition in handgun modernization bake-offs and was quickly adopted as a NATO-classified sidearm surpassing stringent standards including no more than 20 (even minor) jams or malfunctions per 10,000 rounds fired.
Today, surveys indicate that Glocks are the standard- issue firearm for the majority of law enforcement agencies in the US and command the lion’s share of hardware at USPSA (United States Practical Shooting Association) Production-Class shooting competitions. And I can personally attest to their performance.
After my disappointing experience with the M&P at a steel-plate shooting match (see previous post), I switched over to a Glock and have been problem-free ever since. Where the M&P was plagued with issues ranging from an annoying false-trigger reset, to light-striker misfires, to failures to feed, my Glock 17 shot perfectly right out of the box and has never looked back. After literally thousands of rounds I can’t recall a single malfunction including even a minor jam of ANY sort. Carl from Chicago even borrowed my Glock for an all-day 500-round training course at Blackwater where, despite the foul weather and Carl’s admitted tendencies toward clumsily sprouting multiple-thumbs, the Glock served perfectly.
Compared to the supple feel of an M&P, picking up a Glock is a little bit like gripping a two-by-four. But I’ve found that blocky grip to be comforting in a way. Harder edges leave no doubt where your hands are placed meaning consistent draws time after time.
I’ve found accuracy to be excellent. Follow-up shots are easily controllable and the definitive “clunk” of the trigger reset is tactile and easily felt through a flood of adrenaline in the heat of competition. To wit, I tried some free-hand shooting on 8” paper plates at both 21’ and 35’ at the range the other day (trading off with my father in law to help neutralize any user-error ) and got some decent combat-quality groupings. While I don’t expect a stock Glock to ever rival my match-grade 1911 for pinpoint accuracy, sometimes good is good enough.
With only 33 parts, the Glock is simple to strip and maintain. OEM and after-market parts are plentiful allowing an array of simple modifications from extended mag releases, to night sights, to heavier tungsten guide-rods. In another post, I’ll detail a 30-second trigger job which lowers the pull weight from the factory standard 5.5lbs to 3.5 in 60-seconds for about $10-bucks with a drop-in part.
One caution for the ammo reloader, however. Unlike traditional cut-groove barrel manufacturing, Glock uses a polygonal rifling technique. The benefits purportedly include a better gas seal around the bullet which results in more consistent velocities and accuracy. Unfortunately, that tighter seal can result in rapid lead residue buildup when firing cast bullets (i.e. non-jacketed) ultimately clogging the barrel. The internet is rife with photos of “blown glocks” by hapless shooters who ignored the warning – essentially destroying a $500 weapon for the sake a saving a few pennies on ammo.
After returning my M&P to the factory for service and being denied a fix under their supposed world-class warranty program, I’ve since sold the pistol back to the shop where I bought it and will likely never touch another Smith & Wesson automatic again. Let them stick to revolvers.
My sentiment was recently backed up by one of my Blackwater instructors who sent me the following email after being an early supporter of the M&P:
“After extensive trials with the M&P, I decided to go back to the Glock for a variety of reasons (simplicity, ruggedness, and above all, accuracy). I really liked the M&P’s ergonomics, but found it very deficient accuracy-wise (as have other trainers at other schools). As long as you don’t expect better than 8-10” groups at 25 yds, it is OK. In comparison, Glocks routinely shoot groups have that size even after thousands of rounds. I also found the M&P somewhat fragile compared to the Glock.”