Basic trainees use airsoft M4s at Fort Jackson, SC (U.S. Army)

If you search online for airsoft guns, you'll find a plethora of replica firearms that shoot 6mm plastic bbs. Airsoft guns can be used in a range of activities from casually plinking soda cans in the backyard to fully immersive military simulation events that can last for days. Naturally, U.S. military firearms like the venerable M4 carbine and M1911 pistol are popular choices for airsofters to carry into their bb battles. As a result, the airsoft market is awash with every conceivable variant of these, and other, real-world firearms. However, one gun has long been coveted by airsoft players for its popularity and rarity.

Used by armed forces, security agencies and police forces in at least 48 countries, Glock pistols are some of the most iconic firearms in the world. Though they are not standard issue with the U.S. military, their use in special forces units and general popularity led to a great demand for airsoft replicas. However, the Glock Company was very wary of their designs and trademark being used without their permission and aggressively combated airsoft replicas coming to the U.S. from Asia as counterfeit products.



U.S. soldiers receive instruction from their British counterparts on the Glock 17 (DVIDS)

Airsoft guns shipped from Asia bearing Glock logos were confiscated by U.S. Customs and were unable to be sold in the United States. To get around this, some retailers selling to U.S. customers would solder the trademarks off of the replica Glocks in order to get them past customs. The occasional entrepreneurial airsofter would make a trip to Japan and bring back a few airsoft Glocks declared only as "toy guns", and sell them at an inflated price on the Glock-hungry American airsoft market.

However, despite the incredibly high demand for the airsoft version of Gaston Glock's famous firearms, the replicas that did make it into the states were not perfect copies. Aside from the orange tips and the fact that they shot bbs rather than bullets, the airsoft Glock replicas were slightly wider than the pistols that served as their template. As a result, they did not fit in holsters designed for real Glocks.

Left: Elite Force really wants you to know that they have the Glock license (Author)

Right: If you force an Elite Force Glock into an OEM Glock holster, you'll have a heck of a time getting it back out…trust me (Author)

In 2017, airsoft history was made when Glock finally gave out the license for Glock airsoft guns. The German manufacturer Umarex and its subsidiary, Elite Force, obtained a worldwide (except France and all French territories) exclusive license. The French company Cybergun obtained the Glock license in France and its territories. It's a little confusing, but this detail is important.

With its parent company holding the license, Elite Force contracted Taiwan-based airsoft manufacturers Kien Well Toy Industrial Company and Vega Force Company to produce the licensed gas-powered airsoft Glocks. Both KWC and VFC had been making unlicensed airsoft Glocks and simply adjusted some of the markings on their guns to meet Elite Force and Glock's requirements. However, even these licensed replicas suffered from the aforementioned fault of being too wide and not fitting in Glock holsters.

Credit where it's due, the Elite Force Glock Gen 4s do have interchangeable backstraps (Author)

Enter Cybergun and its subsidiary, Spartan Military & Law Enforcement. Holding licenses in France for FN Herstal, Sig Sauer, Famas, Colt, Kalashnikov, and now Glock, Spartan M&LE contracts airsoft manufacturers to supply realistic training tools to military units and law enforcement agencies around the world. Since plastic bbs are extremely inexpensive compared to simunition rounds or other training solutions, many organizations have implemented airsoft as a training tool. Building their products to a high standard to simulate real firearms as closely as possible, Spartan M&LE dictates precise specifications to their airsoft manufacturers.

The "Made in Taiwan" sticker rather clashes with the "Austria" marking (Author)

Though the Spartan M&LE Glocks are made by VFC like the Elite Force Glocks, Spartan M&LE required VFC to update their design to make the guns as close to the real thing as possible. As a result, Spartan M&LE Glocks feature a more definitive trigger (Glock triggers are infamously mushy, so that says a lot about the poor triggers in the Elite Force Glocks). Though it's unnecessary in airsoft, the slide on Spartan M&LE Glocks reciprocates the same distance as real Glocks and locks back fully; Elite Force Glocks have a shorter cycle and lock a few millimeters shorter to save gas. Finally, Spartan M&LE Glocks are a 1:1 scale replica of real Glocks and fit perfectly into their holsters.

Like a glove (Author)

Unfortunately for many American airsofters, the Spartan M&LE Glocks can only be sold to military and law enforcement personnel. In fact, when Spartan M&LE first sold the airsoft Glocks in the states, the guns had to be purchased in bulk by military units or police departments. Today, individual military and law enforcement personnel can submit their identification to airsoft retailers and purchase the airsoft Glocks for personal use.

Whether you want to train at home for your duty weapon or just have the most exclusive gun on the airsoft field, the Spartan M&LE Glocks offer service members and law enforcement personnel the best replica on the market today.

An Air Force Special Operator fires a Glock 19 (U.S. Air Force)