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Weapon of Choice

A curious history of Glock.

3:45 PM, Jan 23, 2012 • By VICTORINO MATUS
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It shouldn't come as a surprise that a book on a handgun's history would come out now. After all, C.J. Chivers's The Gun, about the AK-47, not only sold well but also won the Pulitzer Prize. The story of the Glock is different. It came out in the early 1980s—not as a product of a Stalinist regime and not as a symbol of revolutions around the globe, but simply because the Austrian Army was looking to procure a new handgun made in-country. Mark A. Keefe IV, editor in chief of American Rifleman, reviews Glock: The Rise of America's Gun by Paul Barrett in the Washington Post.

Writes Keefe,

In 1982, an obscure Austrian engineer named Gaston Glock, who worked in a radiator plant and had a side business with his wife making curtain rods, knives and belt buckles, invented a type of pistol that changed the worlds of law enforcement and firearms and powerfully influenced politics and popular culture.... In designing the gun, Glock started with no preconceived notions—just a clean sheet of paper, a practical idea, good advice, sound engineering and no investment in any particular manufacturing method. When he received the contract, his workspace was the garage where he made his knives.

He had a gift for blending plastic and metal. By mating polymer and machined steel components, he was able to manufacture his pistol at an extremely competitive price. His process gave his fledgling company a profit margin of, at times, an estimated 70 percent, considerably higher than his competitors’.

Wild profits led inevitably to wild corruption, with Glock's own former colleague attempting not only to steal millions but murder Glock in the process. (A Belgian mercenary was hired to perform the hit but failed—the unarmed Glock miraculously overpowered and subdued the assassin. Insert Belgian joke here.) As Keefe points out, some readers will chafe at the subtitle, "The Rise of America's Gun." But the fact remains, "it rides in the holster of two-thirds of American police officers, including FBI agents (they carry Glock 22s today)." Keefe also points out, "It has also been used to perpetrate heinous crimes by mass murders such as George Hennard, Seung Hui Cho and Jared Lee Loughner."

The entire review, not long at all, is worth reading.

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