Today the Glock pistol has become the gun of choice for both criminals and law enforcement in the United States.
In his book Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun, Paul Barrett traces how the sleek, high-capacity Austrian weapon found its way into Hollywood films and rap lyrics, not to mention two-thirds of all U.S. police departments.
The Glock was created in 1982 by curtain-rod manufacturer Gaston Glock. Glock didn’t like the handguns available on the market and decided to manufacture a new gun from scratch. Before starting, he asked gun experts in his native Austria what could be done to improve a handgun for the modern era.
“They said, ‘A gun with much larger ammunition capacity, a gun that is much more durable and reliable … [and] the gun should be easy to fire [and] easy to learn how to use,'” Barrett tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “He integrated all of those elements into the Glock, and that’s how he won his original contract with the Austrian army.”
The original Glock 17, the model adopted by the Austrian army, contained only 36 parts and could hold 17 bullets in its magazine. It didn’t have an external safety like other semiautomatic handguns. It also didn’t have a decocking mechanism. The result? A lightweight, interchangeable model that could be dropped, submerged and subjected to temperature extremes — and still accurately fire.