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Why the Glock 19 Is Truly a Revolutionary Gun

November 19, 2019 Topic: Security Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: GunGunsMilitaryTechnologyGlockGlock 19

Why the Glock 19 Is Truly a Revolutionary Gun

Simply put: It changed the industry. Here are three reasons why. 

The Glock 19 is one of the most popular guns on the planet. Police, militaries, and paramilitaries on almost every continent carry them daily. As a result, the Glock 19’s design has heavily influenced designers at competing firms. Here are some ways the Glock 19 has been influential on the firearms market.

1. Size:

While originally billed as a “compact” handgun, the Glock 19 managed to fit 15 rounds into a package that was lighter and smaller than most full-size duty handguns at the time. As a result, many departments bought them as standard-issue handguns, cutting down on the weight and bulk of their sidearms. The proliferation of the Glock 19 as a standard-issue gun made its form factor the standard worldwide. Most new pistols are designed to be as similar sized as possible to the Glock 19, as the longer barrel and grip of older duty pistols have been largely made redundant.

This can be seen in CZ releasing the P-10C, the “Compact” version of their P-10 pistol as the initial version, releasing the full-sized P-10F only a few years later. Similar trends can be seen in the sizing of the Walther PPQ and PPS pistols, as well as Beretta’s APX.

2. Light Rails:

While the Glock 19 is excellent in most aspects, one possible weakness is its semi-proprietary “Glock rail” used to mount weapon lights. While most Picatinny-compatible flashlights will fit on the Glock rail, the single cross slot limits the options when it comes to moving lights forward and back on the rail. As a result, most of Glock’s competitors use a standard Picatinny-spec three-slot rail to offer more flexibility and compatibility than the Glock 19. Even custom frames like the Polymer80 frame for the Glock 19 ditch the Glock rail for a standard three-shot Picatinny.

In this specific case, the Glock 19 was more influential in showing what not to do than what to do, but influential nonetheless. While proprietary rails were popular in the 1990s, they are all but gone today. 

3. Sights:

In another example of “what not to do”, Glocks have long been infamous for the plastic sights that they ship with from the factory. The stock plastic sights on the Glock, while clear and readable enough, are known for subpar durability, easily wearing down if one carries or uses the gun a lot. While Glock offers metal sights from the factory for serious contracts, plenty of guns still ship without them.

This has also driven plenty of Glock competitors to ship only with metal sights from the factory as an option as a way to one-up the Glock.

While all of these trends cannot be solely attributed to the Glock 19, it’s probably fair to attribute some responsibility to it. As the “gold standard” of what a modern pistol should be, most firearm designers are acutely aware of what it does well and what it does poorly.

Charlie Gao studied political and computer science at Grinnell College and is a frequent commentator on defense and national-security issues.