Tactical Weapons Firearms

Gaston Glock, inventor of Glock pistol, dead at 94

Named for its inventor, Gaston Glock, the GLOCK company is one of most recognizable in the firearms and manufacturing industries around the world.
Miguel Ortiz Avatar
A glock pistol composite with Gaston Glock
Left: Glock 49; Right: A picture from September 4, 2003 shows Austrian engineer Gaston Glock at an event in Velden, Carinthia, Austria. Austrian engineer Gaston Glock, whose eponymous Glock pistol achieved global cult status, died at the age of 94 on December 27, 2023, according to the company. (Photo by GERT EGGENBERGER / APA / AFP) / Austria OUT (Photo by GERT EGGENBERGER/APA/AFP via Getty Images)

The GLOCK brand pistol is so synonymous with striker-fired, semi-automatic, polymer-frame handguns that other weapons following this design are sometimes referred to as “Glocks.” Named for its inventor, Gaston Glock, the GLOCK company is one of most recognizable in the firearms and manufacturing industries around the world. On December 27, 2023, GLOCK’s founder passed away at the age of 94.

Gaston Glock, inventor of the GLOCK pistol (GLOCK US)

Glock was born on July 19, 1929, in Vienna, Austria. In 1963, he founded the GLOCK company as a manufacturer of curtain rods. The next decade, Glock began manufacturing knives and entrenching tools for the Austrian military. Through this contract, Glock learned of the military’s intent to replace its WWII-era Walther P38 pistols. Capitalizing on the opportunity, Glock decided to design a pistol and compete for the contract.

General Miller carries a modified Glock in Afghanistan (U.S. Army)

Glock used his inexperience in the firearms industry to his advantage. Rather than following established firearm design and philosophy, he started with a clean slate and set out to design the ideal modern handgun. In 1982, Glock assembled a team of European police, military and competitive shooters to draw from their collective experiences. Just three months later, Glock developed a working prototype of his pistol.

A Navy SEAL trains with a customized Glock 19 (U.S. Navy)

Designated the Glock 17, the new handgun was not the first double-stack, striker-fired or polymer-frame 9mm handgun. However, it was the first to combine these features into a cost-effective package using synthetic materials and modern manufacturing techniques. Despite having a capacity of 17 rounds of 9mm, the Glock 17 is so named because it was the GLOCK company’s 17th patent.

U.S. Marines and British Royal Marine Commandos train on Glock 17s (U.S. Marine Corps)

In early 1982, the same year that it was designed and built, the Glock 17 was rigorously tested and evaluated by the Austrian military. Passing all of the trials and emerging as the winner, the Glock 17 was adopted as the P80. Through the 1980s, militaries and law enforcement agencies around the world bought GLOCK pistols. By 1992, roughly 350,000 were sold in over 45 countries, including 250,000 in the United States.

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

In 1999, Glock asked for a meeting with one of his financial advisers, Charles Ewert, whom he suspected of embezzling the company’s funds. Ewert hired an assassin to murder Glock and cover up his embezzlement. The assassin attacked Glock in a parking lot, but the company’s founder fought back and survived. Both Ewert and the assassin were convicted of attempted murder and imprisoned.

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SMA Michael Grinston fires an accessorized Special Forces Glock 19 (U.S. Army)

Following his death, Glock leaves behind a legacy of a wide range of iconic firearms. The British Army issues the Glock 17 Gen 4 as the L131A1 General Service Pistol; U.S. Special Operations Command issues the Glock 19 Gen 3 and Gen 4 as the Mk27; and the FBI, DHS and DEA all issue some form of GLOCK pistol to their agents.