GLOCK pistols are more than popular. They are more than ubiquitous. They have now achieved a level of significance that would have once seemed preposterous. They have become America’s default pistol.

That’s right. Decades ago, when you visualized a handgun, it was usually a double-action revolver or—if you were an aficionado—a 1911. But today, when many shooters think of a defensive handgun, the GLOCK springs to mind. It is, after all, the choice of approximately 65 percent of the U.S. law enforcement market. Its place in the consciousness of American shooters really becomes apparent when you go to a defensive shooting school.

It was recently while attending High Caliber Training (HCT) in Arkansas and Personal Tactics in Georgia, two new, top-notch combat schools, that I began to realize just how dominant the Glock pistol is.

Breaking With Tradition

When I first got involved in handgun shooting, there existed a stereotype of the shooting instructor. He was often a Vietnam-era veteran, fifty-ish, with salt & pepper close-cropped hair. He had a bit of a belly, but was generally in pretty good shape and on his hip was a customized 1911 in a leather holster.

Get to a school today, though and you’re more likely to be confronted by a veteran of Desert Storm, the Iraq or Afghanistan War. He may be in his forties or he may be younger and on his hip there will typically be a GLOCK, often in a kydex holster.

Look at your fellow students and you’ll find them similarly equipped, regardless of skill level. When it comes to the difficult task of choosing a carry gun, while some guns are “more right” than others, a GLOCK is almost never wrong.

Both Steve Reichert, director of HCT, and Robert Wilson, Chief Instructor at Personal Tactics, each carry a GLOCK.

High Caliber Training & GLOCKs

In fact, GLOCKs can be seen all over the vast 780-acre HCT facility. The school is an outgrowth of Tier 1 Group (T1G), a very high-level school for high-level operators in the corporate and military communities as well as a host of government agencies. Reichert took T1G’s pistol and tactical courses and pared them down and focused them into a three-day concealed carry course suitable for law enforcement officers and legally armed civilians who are basically proficient with handguns.

The course goes from basic marksmanship to shooting from various positions, shooting on the move (including over obstacles), shooting in low light and even shooting on the move in low light. Additionally, malfunction and clearance drills are a part of the routine.

Reichert is a decorated veteran of the Iraq War, having earned the Bronze Star with Valor for neutralizing nine enemy combatants at ranges between 900 and 1,614 meters during a single engagement. Much of his staff are also recent military. They take their business very seriously, offering a course based on the most recent military data collected in the field from debriefings and after-action reports. They have a very low tolerance for what doesn’t work or is unproven and the majority of the HCT staff carry GLOCK 9x19s.

Reichert explains the appeal this way, “They are rather accurate out of the box, they run forever and the triggers are very manageable.”

Astonishing Durability

Instructors put a whole lot of ammunition through their guns. This is particularly true at HCT, where instructors often join students on the firing line to demonstrate technique and also to maintain their own considerable skills. How do GLOCKs stand up to that volume of shooting?

“One of our instructors has 85,000 rounds down his GLOCK 17’s tube,” says Reichert. “The pistol is a little sluggish now since he hasn’t cleaned it—ever. Another instructor had his G17’s slide crack at around 220,000 rounds. GLOCK replaced the pistol, no questions asked.”

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