16 Jan 2011

Why a Glock?

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The article illustrates a Glock 17, while the Wall Street Journal reported, January 12th, that Loughner used a Glock 19 with a 33-round magazine. This shooter is emptying the magazine as rapidly as possible without much care in aiming.

Two Gun Enthusiasts attempt to explain Jared Lee Loughner’s choice of weapon.

Ex-Serviceman thinks Glocks are more reliable and better made. “My guess is that, per Occam’s razor, the cops, gangbangers, and psychos of the world just figured they might as well use a high quality handgun.

Texas Gun Enthusiast is less sure, but thinks it must be the brand-name.

I don’t especially agree with either of them. I was discussing the same subject a few days ago on my class email list. A liberal classmate immediately assumed that Glocks (and semi-automaic pistols in general) are innovative and intrinsically deadlier types of ordinance, which ought to be strictly regulated. I replied assuring him that Glocks are not super-weapons.

I wrote, and have slightly re-edited:

Glocks are ordinary pistols. Semi-automatic pistols are flat and somewhat easier to carry concealed, they have magazines typically containing more rounds, and they are slightly faster to reload, but lots of shooters still think revolvers are preferable and superior.

Semi-automatics are certainly not intrinsically more accurate than revolvers. Loughner’s performance suggests that he was a competent shot. A revolver can be reloaded very quickly using a speedloader, and compared to a normal magazine a competent shot could fire not all that many fewer rounds with equivalent accuracy in the same space of time. Loughner did use an unconventional 33-round magazine which definitely gave him a firepower advantage over a revolver, but which also diminished his weapon’s concealability and significantly increased the possibility of a malfunction.

If this incident proves anything, it proves that, in a country of 300 million people, there exists a real percentage of crazy and malevolent individuals bent on mayhem. Ordinary people need Glocks and other handguns as portable tools for self defense and the defense of the helpless and unarmed.

Guns have lots of purposes. Hundreds of millions of them exist in private hands in this country. Only an infinitesimal number of guns are ever used in crime and only a still more microscopic percentage are ever actually fired with intent at anybody. God only knows how many Glocks are out there. I expect there are probably hundreds of thousands of them. (The WSJ noted that 70,000 were sold in the USA in 2008.) I would not be surprised if the real figure was more than half a million. If a Glock’s only purpose was to kill or maim human beings, there would be one hell of a lot larger body count nationwide, wouldn’t there?

A Glock pistol is not an assault weapon. It is an ordinary semi-automatic pistol. Semi-automatic pistols have been in common use since the 1890s. The German Army adopted the Luger in 1908. The US military adopted the .45 Colt Automatic in 1911.

American police used to be skilled shooters and overwhelmingly preferred to carry revolvers chambered in .38 Special or .357 Magnum until a few decades ago, when a new fashion emphasizing semi-auto pistols and big magazines came along as part of a general nationwide militarization of American police, in my view representing one more evidence of a sissified nation’s increasing timidity and paranoia.

My experience is that the Glock pistol is surprisingly easy to shoot, but it also has –in my opinion– some very objectionable features and can be dangerous to an unskilled user. A lot of police are accidentally shooting themselves in the leg with Glocks these days.

Glocks are made in part of synthetic material and are in no way aesthetically appealing.

Glocks have long, rather heavy trigger pulls, and they have no real safety. There is a little lever on the front of the trigger, which must be depressed for the trigger to move. That is it for a safety on a Glock. If you are pulling the trigger, I would say, you are inevitably depressing that little lever, too. Essentially, the Glock is designed to operate like a double-action revolver that can only be fired double-action.

Nobody expects a revolver to have a safety, Glock argues, so why do you want one on your semi-automatic pistol? Just treat it like a revolver.

I do not own a Glock, but if I did, I would carry it with an empty chamber, in lieu of a safety, and be content to rack the slide if I intended to use it. The Glock’s long, heavy trigger pull, I will grant, is smooth, and with practice you can tell when it is about to fire, so you can aim accurately. The mechanism is quite good at absorbing recoil, so it is easy to stay on target with a second shot. I would rate the Glock’s ability to stay on target with multiple shots its most attractive feature.

Beyond that, my impression is that Glocks are so popular because they are comparatively inexpensive. A Glock is a Toyota of handguns, not a Mercedes. When people all over the country take mandatory gun safety courses these days, the center-fire pistol they are going to get to shoot will, overwhelmingly most commonly, be a Glock.

So, I’d say, Loughner used a Glock because the 9mm Glock has become today what the .38 Smith & Wesson Model 10 Military & Police revolver used to be, what the Colt Model 1873 Peacemaker was a long time ago, the conventional choice of personal sidearm, most police department’s choice of issue weapon.

3 Feedbacks on "Why a Glock?"

Lucius Quinctius

For those who aim Glocks are never an option.


I agree with your comments. Mainstream media reporting about firearms is usually misleading at best. Glocks are no more dangerous than any other 9mm semi-auto pistol. The 33 round magazine, probably an after-market item, did make it possible for Loughner to fire twice as many rounds before reloading than if he’d used standard magazines, but a practiced shooter such as Loughner probably would have been able to reload in a few seconds anyway. It is true though that he was tackled by bystanders while he was trying to reload.

I don’t own a Glock. For several reasons I prefer (and own) the Ruger SR9, which is also a striker-fired, double action only semi-auto. Unlike the Glock the SR9 also has a manual safety. The standard issue magazines hold 17 rounds. And, the SR9 is a little less expensive than the Glock with equal or better performance and reliability.

I was surprised to learn that one of the bystanders who tackled Loughner and held him for the police was Joe Zamudio, a 24-year-old art gallery worker with a concealed carry permit who was carrying a 9mm semi-auto at the time. He didn’t draw it because he didn’t need to, Loughner had already been subdued by the time Zamudio arrived. Zamudio was naive enough to tell reporters that he “almost” drew his gun on another person who wasn’t involved in the shooting, and that seems to be the angle taken by the few MSM reporters that even mentioned the fact. You know, “concealed carry permit holder almost shoots wrong person.” Even though he didn’t draw, much less fire.


I wonder what exactly Lucius Quinctius means by his comment? I own and shoot 4 handguns: a Hi-Standard Model E .22 target pistol, a Ruger LCR .38, a Smith & Wesson Model 65 .357, and the Ruger SR9 referred to in my earlier comment. When I’m in practice I can put 10 rounds in a space a dime will cover at 50 ft with the Hi Standard, and I can put 10 rounds in a 5 inch circle at the same distance with the SR9, much better than I can do with either revolver. The SR9 and the Glock are very comparable in accuracy. The whole thing is practice. If the Glock wasn’t an accurate reliable firearm it wouldn’t be used by police forces all over the country.


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