In 1980 the Austrian Army sent out its’ list of requirements for a duty pistol to replace its WW2 era Walther P38 pistols. The project had all the major players, highly respected names in the firearms industry with decades of excellent products. So when the entrants to the tests were announced there was Steyr, H&K, Sig, Beretta, and something called a Glock Safe Action Pistol. Gaston Glock, a small time military contractor who made knives and plastic stuff, at the age of 52, decided ‘what the heck’. Without knowing much at all about guns he began his research and consulted with experts; 17 prototypes later he had the Glock 17. It beat all the usual suspects with ease and became the new Austrian military sidearm.
In the late 1980’s they hit the shores in the US with what we now call the Gen 2 pistols. The first model, the G17 was a little too large for a lot of users, but the G19 was slightly smaller and was an even bigger hit than the G17. There was a significant amount of angst among the consumers with concerns over its lack of an external manual safety, the polymer construction, being striker fired, it had a funny trigger, it did not point like a 1911, the grip was large and very square, and it was deemed ugly. As many a celebrity has learned though: any publicity is good publicity. The intense debate over the gun and the level of enthusiastic testing it created helped make it a hit. The Glock was not the first pistol with high capacity (Browning Hi-Power), nor was it the first polymer semi auto (H ünd K Vp70), it wasn’t even the first passive safety pistol (Sauer Model 30). But what Glock did was put all the pieces together in an affordable, reliable package. Its design slowly began winning favor because, hey, they worked, and worked very well. The military has a saying, “if it sounds stupid, but it works, it ain’t stupid”. Well in Glock’s case, if it is ugly, but it always works, it isn’t ugly.
Like another German design, Birkenstock sandals, they were so ugly they became trendy. All of a sudden Glocks were in the movies, the rap videos, and 60% of police holsters. The last partly because of aggressive marketing and steep discounts to Law Enforcement, knowing that if the police carried them it would give more credibility to the gun. Rumor is that Glock’s PR department gave the prop houses guns to be used in movies and Tv, because everyone wants what they see on TV.
Generation 3 was released in 1996 and the most visible change, being the most controversial so far, was the addition of finger grooves to the grips. A lot of users just held on to the Gen 2 models because of the grip, but they were missing out because the action was strengthened for Gen 3 and they got an accessory rail. Gen 4 came out in 2010 with a better grip surface, adjustable backstraps, a reversible magazine release, but the big ticket was the updated springs which really helped improve perceived recoil.
Every semi-auto handgun of the 21st century has been benchmarked against Glock, and it is doubtful that will change. But one thing is certain in the business world. A company can never be content, you only stay on top as long as you keep working. Which brings us to the Glock Gen 5. In looking at what Glock has done it is as though they took a look at the Gen4 pistols and then studied what the voice of the customer has been asking for, and then… did that. Seems like a novel idea but it is truly amazing how many companies fail to do this. The $85 million dollar contract with the FBI might have been additional incentive. At any rate the FBI wish list was the same as most users wish lists.
The first thing everyone will notice, finger grooves: GONE. But there is much more to this upgrade. Huzzah! Steel sights are a factory option! Eagle eyed reviewers will note, Glocks have now joined the ranks of the fully ambidextrous pistols because in addition to Gen4’s reversible mag release now the slide stop is ambi as well. The mag well in the grip of the pistol is slightly flared and the magazines themselves have a longer floor plate all to aid in speedy reloads. The barrel rifling and crown have been upgraded to increase potential accuracy. Glock “melted” the edges of the front of the slide to prevent it from catching on clothing on the draw, this does de-blockify the gun somewhat, but it still looks like a Glock.
Glock has reworked the trigger assembly to further simplify it; less parts are generally a good thing for durability and reliability. They designed it so that springs are in compression instead of tension. Compressing springs is easier on them than stretching them, so this should make them last longer and be more consistent in their rates over time. They also angled the the edge of the drop safety which should improve the trigger pull. This will not likely replace a match trigger, but it should be a good improvement. As for the rest of the changes: There are two locking block pins instead of three. The magazine follower has been smoothed and changed from black to orange, the better to see through the witness hole. They have beefed up the extractor and there is also a firing pin safety on the new gun similar to the single stack G43 model. One thing that all of these changes mean, but to what extent is not exactly known, is that there will be certain incompatibilities for some aftermarket or replacement parts, especially the trigger.
Another Glock notable trademark has been the Tenifer coating, which is a ferritic nitrocarburizing process. It is similar if not identical to the more common Melonite process. Basically the metal is submerged in a molten salt bath which results in a surface treatment/coating that is more durable, harder, and smoother than most other coatings. The new Gen5 Glocks have what they are calling a nDLC coating/process. There is not a lot of information coming from Glock on what an nDLC coating is. Never fear, we know a metallurgist. nDLC stands for Nano Diamond Like Carbon. Which is a coating applied through a process called Physical Vapor Deposition or PVD. The result is a treatment/coating that is about as hard as diamond and looks a lot like blueing. If that sounds cool that is because it is. Melonite/Tenifer is tough, but it can be worn off with a lot of use/abuse. nDLC is next level stuff, especially in a production gun. Not only is DLC hard & tough it is self lubricating. This coating has been previously used only in the most high end custom guns and is unlikely to ever wear from normal handling and use of a typical carry gun.
The Gen 5 is shipping with three magazines; G17 are 17 round, G19 are 15 round. At least in States where the full splendor of the 2nd Amendment is allowed.
Even with all the changes, the Gen5 is still 100% Glock, it looks like a Glock, it points like a Glock, and it holds like a Glock, it disassembles just like a Glock. They should prove even more tough, accurate, and reliable than the previous models. So if you loved them before, you will likely love this one more. If you didn’t love it before, well, this might change your mind.
Check one out and take one home from Liberty Tree.