April 30, 1981: Ronald Reagan was President, Hall & Oates topped the charts, and a forward-thinking Austrian inventor filed the initial patent for one of the best handgun series ever made.
Today, Herr Gaston Glock has over 50 patents to his name, going as far back as 1953, but some 40 years ago this week, at the age of 51, he filed the original patent in Austria for what would become his G17 handgun, so named as it was his 17th patent.
The polymer-framed striker-fired pistol would be adopted first by his country’s army before going on to become what could only be described as a wild global success across the consumer, law enforcement, and military markets.
The new handgun had largely been designed and prototyped by Glock, working out of his workshop next to his home garage in the small town of Deutsch-Wagram, just North of Vienna, where he founded his company in 1963. Prior to his handgun, the engineer had patented and sold an entrenching tool and two different polymer-handled field knives to the Austrian Army, as well as lending his talent to design grenade casings and belt links for machine guns.
Mr. Glock was building the pistol for the Austrian military and law enforcement, which meant it had to be ready to fire at a moment’s notice in life-threatening situations. To address this critical need, Mr. Glock designed his pistol with three internal safeties – the trigger, firing pin and drop safeties – to ensure that the pistol would perform consistently while providing the best protection against accidental discharge.
Mr. Glock met additional requirements of the Austrian government by including a high-capacity magazine, lightweight materials, consistent trigger pull, and a hammer-forged barrel. Mr. Glock understood that reliability resides in simplicity, and therefore, he designed his pistol with as few parts as possible, minimizing its complexity. Today, the GLOCK pistol is made from an average of only 35 parts, which is significantly fewer than any other pistol on the market and makes it more durable, reliable, and easier to maintain.
Here in America, the G17 patent was approved on Sept. 10, 1985, and was duly issued Patent Number 4,539,889. The next year, Glock moved into their U.S. headquarters in Smyrna, Georgia, and remains there today.