When it comes to the modern pistol, few brands are as widely known and commercially successful as the Glock. Credited for pioneering the use of synthetic polymers in the firearm industry, as well as introducing ferritic nitrocarburizing, Gaston Glock is a living legend when it comes to firearm development. However, the Austrian engineer started on his first pistol with no experience in designing or manufacturing handguns. So how did he do it? Glock recently uploaded a short, documentary-style video to YouTube that succinctly details the early history of the company, and its legendary foray into building pistols.
It all began in 1980. That year, Glock saw an opportunity when the Austrian government announced that it would seek a modern pistol to succeed their Walther P38 pistols. Glock already had connections to the Austrian military through contracts for curtain rods and field knives. However, those items were far from what would later become a revolutionary new pistol. Glock was 52 years old before he started on his first pistol design, and what he lacked in experience, he made up for with an extensive knowledge on synthetic polymers.
The same year that Austria announced its search for a new handgun, Glock had just purchased an injection-molding machine to produce parts for the knives he was manufacturing. At the time, his early employees were from the camera-making industry and were also trained in the production of polymer parts. After nailing down his first design, it took just 1 year for Glock to get his pistol into production. By 1981, he had already applied for an Austrian patent. That pistol was the Glock 17, named so because it was the 17th patent applied for by Glock’s company. Another year later, the pistol soundly beat all other contenders for the Austrian government’s new modern pistol, and was shortly after adopted into the country’s military and police forces. Judging the competition’s results for themselves, other governments soon expressed an interest in the Glock 17 as well, and so started Gaston Glock’s legacy.
You can learn more about Glock’s history below: