These pistols are often referred to as the “Safe Action” pistol by the manufacturing company itself. The series is one of the most popular series of modern handguns. It features a frame out of polymer and operates using short recoil. These semi-automatic pistols feature a locked breach and they are produced and designed by Glock Ges.m.b.H., which is located in Deutsch-Wagram, Austria. The Glock pistol is being used by the military and police in Austria since 1982.
This pistol faced a lot of resistance in its initial days as the market was not ready to accept a gun made out of plastic. The main reasons behind the resistance were the concerns of its reliability and durability. Also, it was feared by many that the pistol would not be detected by the metal detectors located at airports. Despite these concerns the Glock pistols have become the most successful and the most profitable product line for the company. The global market share of this product amounts to 65% in terms of handguns for the company. The major users of this handgun include the law enforcement agencies in the United States among various other security agencies and national armed forces. These pistols are also favored by civilians who enjoy using them for recreational purposes, like in shooting competitions or as a favored choice in personal handguns for self defense as it can be easily concealed and carried.
The Austrian military sought tenders for a new pistol which would serve as a replacement to their Walther P38 handguns which were extremely popular in World War II. This announcement was made in the 1980 by Austrian military. A 17 criteria list was prepared, by the Austrian Ministry of Defense, which would govern the use of this modern pistol:
- The design of the pistol should feature self-loading capability.
- The pistol should have the potential to fire the NATOstandard 9×19mm Parabellum round.
- There should be no requirement of any means of assistance for loading the magazines.
- The minimum capacity of each magazine must be of at least 8 rounds.
- All the necessary actions to make the pistol ready for firing should be performed single handedly, either with the left or the right hand.
- The pistol’s design should ensure that it is safe from any accidental discharge that might occur due to a stroke, drop, and shock from a height of at least 2 meters while falling onto a steel plate.
- The main parts of the pistol should be disassembled and reassembled with ease without requiring any tools whatsoever.
- The cleaning and the maintenance of the pistol should not require the use of any tools.
- The construction of the pistol should be similar to the P38 and it should not exceed 58 parts.
- The long term maintenance of the pistol should require any precise testing or measuring devices; neither should it require any gauges.
- The manufacturer of the pistol should be able to provide the Ministry of Defense with complete drawings featuring the engineering of the pistol and of exploded views. All these must be provided along with all the details pertaining to the production of the pistol.
- The components should be such that they can be used interchangeably among pistols.
- During the test fire of 10,000 rounds, more than 20 malfunctions were not allowed. Not even minor jams which could be fixed without tools were accepted.
- The pistol will be inspected for any signs of wear, after the firing of 15,000 rounds using standard ammunition. After which it will be used to fire cartridge generating 5000 bar (500 MPa; 73,000 psi), as a pressure test. The normal operating Pmax pressure as per NATO standards for 9mm is considered to be around 2,520 bar (252 MPa; 36,500 psi). After this test the critical parts of the pistols were required to be up to a certain mark in order to avoid disqualification.
- The design should not be dangerous even when the pistol is mishandled.
- The energy of the muzzle should at least be 441.5 J while firing a 9mm S-round/P-08 Hirtenberger AG.
- The Pistols which would score above 70% of the maximum points were to be considered for military use.