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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.