Convert that Glock to Full Auto (All NFA Rules apply)

  1. christophereger
    When you pick up a Glock, there is a certain streamlined raciness about it. The pistol just feels like its itching to go, head to the range, and put in some serious work punching holes in paper. Have you ever thought to yourself, "Gee, I wonder how fun firing a Glock set up for full auto would be?" Well, it is actually a (carefully regulated) possibility.

    A select fire Glock?

    You may have heard of the Glock 17 and Glock 19, both 9mm safe action pistols, but what about the gun that falls in between them: the Glock 18!?

    A Glock 18 going full auto, some 298 rounds in just over a minute.

    This bad boy is a redesigned G17 that was set up with a selector switch to move between single shots and full-auto. In other words, it can go either 'pew' or 'pew-pew-pew' with a choice of a switch.


    Now unfortunately the G18 is pretty rare in this country. There are, however, conversions that can be made to standard model Glocks that were born as semi-auto guns. However, of course, there are some rules to that.

    The NFA stumbling block

    Select-fire or full-auto firearms (commonly called machineguns) were legal for anyone to buy cash-and-carry in the US up until 1934. Before then you could walk into a hardware store and buy a Thompson submachine gun over the counter or order a WWI surplus Lewis gun through the mail. Then came the National Firearms Act of 1934 that put restrictions on the sale of these types of guns, mandating that they had to be registered and requiring a $200 tax (which at the time was equivalent to about $3500 in today's scratch). Then in 1968, things got tighter.

    Finally in 1986, the Hughes Amendment slipped through Congress that said effectively that mere civilians could not own machine guns but graciously grandfathered those "Pre-86" guns already out there and registered/stamped. Therefore, this means that the only way to have a select fire or full-auto Glock is for it to be either an NFA-registered Class III gun made before 1986, or be an FFL holder with the right SOT rider.

    From the ATF's website on these conversions:

    "A Glock conversion switch is a part designed and intended for use in converting a semiautomatic Glock pistol into a machinegun; therefore, it is a "machinegun" as defined in 26 U.S.C. 5845(b). Glock conversion devices are considered post-May 19, 1986 machineguns and may only be lawfully possessed by properly licensed Federal Firearms Licensees who have paid the appropriate Special Occupational Tax (SOT) required of those manufacturing, importing, or dealing in National Firearms Act (NFA) firearms."

    So just because you can find these things on the interwebs from anywhere from $75-$300, does not mean you can install them without making sure all your T's are crossed (as in ATF) before you buy one.

    The Mechanics behind it

    A conversion itself is fast and simple, often requiring no technical expertise-- at least in the case of rear plate switches. Conversion requires removal of the original polymer slide cover plate and replacing it with the conversion device. By switching these plates, which takes less than 60 seconds, the conversion is complete. Conversion of a Glock pistol will result in a rate of fire of approximately 1200 rounds per minute.

    (Photo courtesy of ATF -- but repeated here for educational reference purposes in case they are taken down over there)

    (Photo courtesy of ATF -- but repeated here for educational reference purposes in case they are taken down over there)

    (Photo courtesy of ATF -- but repeated here for educational reference purposes in case they are taken down over there)

    (Photo courtesy of ATF -- but repeated here for educational reference purposes in case they are taken down over there)

    That means a 33-round extended mag in your G17 would go dry in, oh, about the time it takes to say, "Wow, that's fast."

    The second type of conversion is the side-mounted switch, which requires some finesse, some gunsmithing ability, and of course, proper NFA regulations.

    TWANGnBANG testing select-fire a Glock conversion using a side-mounted G18 style switch. (Did we mention that of course all NFA rules apply?)

    So remember boys and girls, a Glock is a great thing, and a select-fire Glock is a wonderful thing, but keep it legal out there.

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