In the world of firearms, Glock is a household name. You don’t have to own one to see how successful the company has been at developing a line of pistols that have been incredibly well-received. But why? Well, let’s see where it all started to understand how Glock has gotten to where it is today.
A Brief History of the Start
Gaston Glock’s 17th patent, the Glock 17, won the Austrian Armed Forces contract in the early 1980s, beating out some of the big-name brands like Beretta, Sig Sauer, FN Herstal, and Heckler & Koch. It was then adopted by numerous European nations and NATO allies. As their militaries began adopting the guns, the police forces followed. In a mere 10 years, they were in use in 45 countries.
That surge continued throughout the 1990s, and they became adopted by more and more agencies, departments, and militaries. That certainly leads to some large orders, but let us never underestimate the buying power of the American gun owner. Now, let’s look at why Glock’s consumer sales have grown so exponentially.
People, en masse, tend to buy what they’re familiar with, especially if it’s their first time. At one point, roughly 65-percent of U.S. police departments were issuing Glocks. If that is what officers were training on, they already had that familiarity when they went to buy a personal firearm. If they, in turn, taught others to shoot, that would be that person's familiar option as well, and the cycle can be perpetuated.
Another reason I think you see Glock sales numbers so high is their sheer prevalence and market saturation. New buyers who may not know much about the industry look to what they’ve heard about for their first purchase. Being featured in movies, music, TV, and video games, people know how popular they are. Pair that with being highly recommended by most gun shop employees, and you confirm their bias to buy Glock.
Finally, they're just plain good guns. You can hand an experienced shooter a Glock, and they will run through almost any course of fire just fine. To help that, the various models run the gamut from single-stack micro compacts like the G42, duty and carry guns like the G17 and G19, competition guns like the G34, and even the big 10mm G40 you can reasonably hunt with. Glock has over 50 models, and yet, if you’ve trained with one before and pick up a different model, it will feel incredibly familiar.
The tolerances to which Glocks are manufactured may be one of the contributing factors that help them perform in a wide variety of settings. That’s not to say their tolerances are sloppy, more like a balance of form and functionality. Some fine, hand-built 1911s might glide like butter on the bench while clean. Introduce some debris, and that smoothness gives way to jamming issues. Glocks seem to have enough space so that the foreign material falls away just as easily as it got in. They’re not going to fail after a roll around in the sand or dirt.
They operate in the most austere environments and conditions because they are simple. Simplicity spawns reliability. When you combine simplicity, reliability, and accuracy, you have the hallmark traits desired by any military, government agency, or law enforcement department seeking to outfit their people with firearms. They want to be able to hand any class of new recruits the same pistol and reach a standard for performance. When they find that right fit, they order them...a lot of them.
Keep It Simple
That simplicity isn’t just in the design and usage but the maintenance as well. Field stripping a Glock doesn’t leave much to the imagination. It’s almost all there in front of you. That means that even a novice gun owner can easily clean and lube their firearm to ensure reliable service for years.
You can complain that they have not been innovative lately. You can complain that they have sub-par ergonomics. You can even bring up that they lost major ground to Sig in 2017, but you can’t argue with their performance, sales track record, and their sheer infusion into anything firearms-related. Heck, half the “No Firearms Allowed” signs I see have an outline of a Glock being used! When it comes to pistols, the bar is set by Glock.