The GLOCK is the most popular police service pistol brand in the United States, to the tune of approximately 65% market dominance. In the commercial sector, many gun dealers around the country have told me that GLOCK is not only their best-selling handgun, but their best-selling firearm.

There are several reasons for this, including excellent aftermarket customer service, but the reasons for this popularity mainly boil down to a couple of key factors. One is the user-friendliness of the GLOCK platform. Another is the broad array of sizes and calibers available.

Fitting the Shooter’s Needs

With an easy trigger pull that’s consistent from first shot to last, and freedom from sharp edges that bite the hand, GLOCK pistols are easy to shoot. There is no simpler pistol to learn to shoot well. Insert magazine, cycle slide to chamber a round, squeeze the trigger to fire, repeat as necessary. Elements of the handgun manual of arms such as on-safe/off-safe, double-action/single-action, and decocking are all absent from the GLOCK handling protocol. Every trigger pull, from first to last, is exactly the same. If training time is limited, a simple design such as the GLOCK comes into its own.

GLOCKs come in different sizes to fit different needs. If maximum concealability is a key parameter, there is the subcompact “Baby” GLOCK with a 3.43-inch barrel, which is roughly the size of a snub-nose .38 revolver but squarer, holding far more ammunition and much easier to shoot. These include the GLOCK 26 in 9×19, the G27 .40-caliber, the G33 in .357, and the G39 chambered for the .45 G.A.P.

For a full-size service pistol, one can choose the GLOCK 17 (9×19), G22 (.40), G31 (.357) or G37 (.45 G.A.P.). Between those two paradigms in size there is the Compact series: the GLOCK 19 9×19, the G23 .40-caliber, the G32 in .357, and the G38 .45 G.A.P.

Intended originally for target and recreational use are the “long-slide” GLOCKs. First came the G17L (the “L” stands for “Long”) with a 6-inch barrel and commensurate-length slide in 9×19. The GLOCK 24, a .40-caliber pistol in the same format, followed. These are now produced only occasionally, having given way in popularity to the regularly produced GLOCK “Tactical/Practical” series. These pistols have 5.31-inch barrels with proportional slides, the GLOCK 34 in 9×19, and the GLOCK 35 in .40.

The G17L, G24, G34 and G35 come with a 4.5-pound trigger pull, intended to make it a little easier for target shooters to achieve extreme accuracy. When ordered by police, GLOCK furnishes these guns with standard 5.5-pound duty trigger pulls. The company recommends the 4.5-pound connector only for recreational shooting, unless it is mated with an NY-1 trigger spring module, which brings the total trigger pull up into approximately the 6-pound range.

Larger-frame guns are available for longer cartridges. In .45 Auto, the company offers the full-size 13+1 shot G21 with 4.5-inch barrel, and the 10+1 shot, subcompact GLOCK 30 in the same caliber. In 10mm Auto, the full-size GLOCK is the G20 and the subcompact is the G29.

Fitting the Shooter’s Hands

Gaston Glock took great pains to shape his original pistol to fit the hand of the typical soldier, an average-size adult male. Going on the assumption that the barrel should be straight in line with the long bones of the forearm and the pad of the distal joint of the trigger finger should be centered on the trigger, he absolutely achieved that hand fit parameter. As GLOCK pistols became more popular, the company worked on different approaches to fit a wider range of hand sizes and finger lengths.

The earliest approach was the introduction of the G36. By taking the compact G30 of the late 1990s and replacing its double-stack magazine with a narrower one that held just six .45 Auto rounds, GLOCK created its first slim-gripped pistol. The width of the slide was also reduced, making it an all-around “slim-line” gun. The reach from the back strap of the grip to the trigger was the shortest of any GLOCK. This was a boon to not only short-fingered shooters, but also those “old school” gunnies who preferred to contact the trigger with the distal joint of their index finger instead of the pad.

Next, in the large-frame guns, came the SF (Short Frame) series. Shorter in front-to-back grip measurement than the originals, the G21 SF, G30 SF, G20 SF, and G29 SF allowed the user of these powerful guns to grasp proportionally more of the grip frame, and get their index fingers deeper into the trigger guard.

In 2010, GLOCK introduced its Gen4 series. The first generation GLOCKS had relatively smooth gripping surface. To improve hand traction, in the 1980s, the company went to a second-generation approach, with checkering. Both generations had flat frontstraps on their grip frames. The third generation added finger grooves on the frontstrap.

Gen4 differs from its predecessors in two important respects. The most obvious is that the dimension between the center of the trigger and the point on the backstrap where the web of the hand rests has been reduced. The pistol is provided with two easily attached backstrap inserts. One of the inserts brings the feel to roughly that of a previous-generation GLOCK of the same model. The other extends further, adapting the gun to very large hands and resembling a GLOCK 21 or G20 in feel and trigger reach.

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