The Glock Pistol Part I - Shooting the Glockin Gun Discussion Sat Jan 08, 2011 11:48 pm
by Greasy Paws • | 111 Posts
The Glock Pistol Part I - Shooting the Glock.by Massad Ayoob
When it came my turn to do an edition of the Gun Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery, I said among other things, “There is no easier pistol to learn to shoot well!” It’s the truth, and the statement deserved the italics, then and now. The manual of arms is drastically simple. Insert magazine. Rack slide. Pistol will now shoot when trigger is pulled. End of story.
The low bore axis and the steep Luger-like grip angle make the Glock a “natural pointer.” If poor light or urgent circumstances keep you from getting the sight picture you might want, the wide flat top of its slide guides the eye in coarse aim like the “BROADway” rib popularized on tournament claybird shotguns by the Browning Superposed. Caliber for caliber, it kicks less than you’d think it should, because the polymer frame is flexing very slightly with the recoil and absorbing some of the impact.
Glock 37 holds 11 rounds of .45 GAP, and is standard issue now for state troopers in Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.
While any semiautomatic pistol can have a stoppage due to cycling failure if it is not held with a locked wrist, absent human error the Glock performs at a high order of reliability shared only by the best Beretta, HK, SIG, S&W, and Ruger products. Its durability is unexceeded.
The company’s motto, “Glock Perfection,” sounds rather bold. They might have better said, “Quest for Perfection,” because I have to say that the company has been responsive to constructive criticism. When some felt the 5.5-pound trigger was too light for police work and self-defense, they made heavier pulls available.
The first fix was an 8-pound connector between the trigger bar and the unique cruciform sear plate, but that didn’t do much to mitigate unintentional discharges and just made the pistol harder to shoot accurately. At the request of the New York State Police, Glock came up with a new module to replace the trigger spring.
Dubbed the New York Trigger (NY-1), it gave a firm resistance to the trigger finger from the very beginning of the pull, and brought total pull weight up to about eight pounds while still using the 5-pound connector. NYSP adopted the Glock 17 so equipped, and kept the NY-1 when they later switched to the Glock 37. NYPD wanted an even heavier pull for the Glock 19 that was the most popular on the city’s list of three approved 9mm service pistols. Glock introduced a module that raised pull weight to nearly 12 pounds, the NY-2, but it made the gun so difficult to shoot that no entities but NYPD and the New York State Parole office seem to have adopted that variation.
This, plus strong emphasis from Glock and other sectors of the police training community on keeping the finger out of the trigger guard until one has actually chosen to fire, has made the Glock pistol a safe gun in competent hands. It can be argued that no gun is safe in incompetent hands.
While I personally feel the NY-2 trigger passes a point of diminishing returns with its nearly 12-pound pull weight over a short travel, the nominally 8-pound NY-1 trigger gives a remarkably good pull, one that can satisfy the liability defense attorney and the marksman alike. I have it in all my carry Glocks, have won matches with it, and prefer it for several reasons. First, there is the liability element.
It’s not safer so much because it’s a couple of pounds heavier; it’s safer because it gives a firm resistance to the finger from the very beginning of the pull. The standard Glock trigger pull is rather like that of a classic Mauser military rifle: a long, light take-up, and then only a short space where the trigger resists the finger before giving a clean break. The vasoconstriction that accompanies fight or flight response makes us lose our sense of touch and fine motor skill, and that light take-up can be lost under stress. The firm resistance of the New York trigger is more likely to be felt by the shooter, under these circumstances, in time to prevent an accidental discharge.
Second, the New York pull gives a crisper, cleaner break. The regular Glock trigger gives you a bit of a sproing like your childhood cap pistol when the shot goes, and the NY does not. It also seems to control backlash better. Finally, it is more durable. I’ve seen several of the little “s”-shaped springs that connect the trigger bar to the cruciform sear plate break over the years, but I’ve personally never seen an NY-1 fail. It’s simply a stronger unit.
Early on, shooters discovered that the plastic Glock sights tended to break. Install some good metal night sights (you can order them as a factory option), and the NY-1 trigger module, and you have an extraordinarily robust pistol.
The 3.5-pound trigger is, as Glock clearly states in its literature, for target shooters only. I wouldn’t put it in a carry gun, and I’ve seen a lot of people who do better with the New York because it gives them more of a surprise break. The lighter pull will of course better survive a trigger jerk, but jerking the trigger is not how people win affairs involving pistols. Another option popular among the cognoscenti is mating the 3.5-pound connector to the NY-1 module, which gives a smooth, revolverish pull of about five pounds.
The Glock is famous for its endurance and its ability to work dry. Recently, at Frank Garcia’s excellent “thousand rounds a day” shooting course (firstname.lastname@example.org), I deliberately ran my G17 bone dry for the first two days. There were no malfunctions. Didn’t clean it, either. I know a lot of Glocksmen who routinely go 5,000 rounds between cleanings with no problems. Neither is a good idea, but it’s good to know that the gun will take it.
In 2003, the trigger pivot pin broke on my G22 during the Police Combat state shoot. I didn’t notice until I went to clean it when I got home; the pistol had kept working, and won the match for me. There are stories of range rental Glocks that have gone hundreds of thousands of documented rounds and kept working. In a world where many service pistols have a real-world service life of only 10,000 rounds, that’s something to conjure with.
Some models, notably the G19 and G30, will occasionally eject to the rear and bounce a spent casing off your right earmuff. If that bothers you, a good gunsmith or factory-trained armorer can tweak ejector and extractor to fix that. And, for heaven’s sake, use only Glock magazines! There’s not an aftermarket unit out there that I’d trust.
Some find the pistol large for their hands, particularly the bigger frame models. Gaston Glock and his team designed the G17 as a military weapon, to fit the typical combat soldier, an average size adult male. Furthermore, they designed it on the assumption that the shooter would activate the trigger with the pad of the index finger. For those who prefer to make contact at the distal joint, trigger reach may also be too far.
Solution: Robbie Barrkman came up with the “Robarize” job, in which the hollow in the back of the grip is filled with epoxy, and then the whole thing is taken down, moving the rear grip-strap forward and profoundly improving trigger reach. For information reach out to www.robarguns.com. My friend Rick Devoid also does an excellent job of this, and you can reach him at www.tarnhelm.com.
For those who wish their Glock had a traditional manual safety, Devoid can handle that too. He installs the safety developed by Joe Comminolli of Syracuse, New York. Right hand only, operating with a downward swipe of the thumb like a 1911 or Browning Hi-Power’s lever, it’s natural, quick, and sturdy. I’ve carried one for months at a time and found it ergonomic and foolproof. Glock’s own short-lived 17-S had its thumb safety mounted on the slide, where the selector switch is located on the G18 machine pistol.
Glock’s enhancement of their products continues. More recently we’ve seen the SF option, a frame that is shorter front to back on the 10mm and .45 ACP versions, to better fit smaller hands. The RTF (Rough Textured Finish) option feels a little like permanent skateboard tape, factory-applied to the grips. By the time you read this, you will hopefully be able to purchase Glocks with replaceable backstrap panels to adapt grip size and trigger reach to individual shooters’ needs.
"My ardent desire is, and my aim has been ... to comply strictly with all our engagements foreign and domestic; but to keep the United States free from political connections with every other country. To see that they may be independent of all, and under the influence of none. In a word, I want an American character, that the powers of Europe may be convinced we act for ourselves and not for others; this, in my judgment, is the only way to be respected abroad and happy at home." --George Washington, letter to Partick Henry, 1775