Austria’s Semi-automatic Glock is a series of pistols designed and produced in Austria.  Though the founder Gaston Glock was inexperienced in both the designing and manufacturing of firearm, he was an engineer with extensive knowledge of newer advanced synthetic polymers.  His knowledge proved to be instrumental in developing the successful development of the company’s initial line of polymer framed pistols -with the Glock-17 becoming known by some as one of the top pistols ever manufactured.  Glock is also credited for introducing the firearms industry to ferritic nitrocarburizing – an anti-corrosion treatment for surface parts of metal guns.

A variety of pistols from around the world are on display in the Firearms and Ordnance Gallery at the Armed Forces History Museum in Largo, FL.  Step into this gallery and witness the power that is housed within. 

Though the market initially resisted Glock’s ‘plastic gun’ concept, the company’s pistols are one of their more profitable product lines.  Glock pistols command 65% of the US handgun market for law enforcement agencies.  Glock also supplies a number of national armed forces and security agencies throughout the world.

Development of the Glock Pistols

The Austrian military made an announcement in 1980 that it would be replacing the Walther P38 handgun – a WWII era weapon.  Their Ministry of Defense outlined the basic criteria for this new service pistol.  In 1982, Glock learned Austrian Army’s plan to procure a new weapon and begin assembling a team of European experts in the handgun field.  He chose a variety of people – including some from the military, some from the police force and he even chose civilians involved in sport shooting.

It wasn’t long before Glock had his first working prototype.  Between Glock’s use of synthetic materials and the newer production technology, the design was very cost effective, making it a viable candidate.  The Glock 17 (so-named as it was the company’s 17th patent) passed every endurance and abuse test and was chosen over a number of pistol designs from well-known manufacturers to be the official replacement of the Walther P38.  Both military and police forces in Austria adopted the Glock 17 (aka:  P80 – Pistole 80) into service in 1982.   Many consider the Glock-17 one of the top pistols of all time.

Interest in the Glock 17 Spreads

As news of the Austrian trial results spread, interest not only grew in Western Europe, but overseas as well.  This was particularly true in the United States where the US military were also seeking a replacement for their military issue M1911.  Though invited to participate in the US trials, Glock declined as providing the US with this weapon would have required extensive changes in their production equipment.   Shortly after though, this pistol was accepted into service by the armed forces of Norway and Sweden.  Because the weapon surpassed all previous durability standards set by NATO, it was given status as the standard NATO-classified sidearm.


  • Service History:  1982 to present day
  • Production History:  1982 to present day
  • Total number built:  2.5 million
  • Glock 17 cartridge:  9 x 19mm Parabellum
  • Action:
    • Short recoil
    • Locked Breech
    • Tilting Barrel
    • Muzzle Velocity:  1,230 feet per second
    • Effective Range:  55 yards

A number of variants emerged within the 9x19mm Parabellum design.  Other variants included the 10mm Auto (Glock 20 and 29), the .45 ACP (Glock 21, 30 and 36), the .40 S&W (Glock 22, 23, 24, 27 and 35), the .380 ACP (Glock 25 and 28), the .357 SIG (Glock 31, 32 and 33) and the .45 GAP (Glock 37, 38 and 39).

Within its first 10 years, this pistol reached sales in excess of 350,000 in over 45 countries; the U.S. alone accounting for 250,000 of that total.  To date, more than 50 countries worldwide have utilized Austria’s Semi-Automatic Glock pistol.