I had heard about them. Glocks. They were supposed to be the best thing since sliced bread. I finally saw one in the late 80s. I wasn't impressed. From what I had heard, they were prone to stove pipes, the mags expanded and wouldn't drop free, and they were ugly. At any rate, I didn't like them compared to my 1911s that I had grown up on and was shooting in the Marine Corps. And when the Corps transitioned to 9mm, I preferred the Beretta to the Glock because at least it felt like you were holding a real weapon, not a BB gun.
I was Old School, having been taught how to shoot by veteran shooters: Distinguished Marksmen. Guys who shot 10 out of 10 with 7 Xs from 50 yards with one hand on the gun, the other in a pocket. And they shot the 1911. I had learned how to shoot on a 1911 as a boy, and was now shooting one in National Match courses of fire. As far as I was concerned, to use anything else was sacrilege.
I had some learning to do...
It didn't help any that the 9mm was underpowered for the purpose of combat. It was said that it didn't matter if you had twice as many rounds in the gun, because you needed twice as many to do the same job as one round of 45 ACP. And so I went on carrying a 1911 everywhere I went. I'd bought it in 1984 and had to have it rebuilt twice because of all the use I put it through, including a trip to the sand box. The 1911 had a narrow grip, and mine had some wrap-around Pachmayr grips which felt great. The grip angle was such that it pointed naturally for me. I didn't shoot my first Glock until the late 90s, and hated it. The grip angle was different and I always had to adjust my front sight down when coming from the holster. The trigger felt mushy to me. No crisp single action. There wasn't a traditional safety, and I wasn't so sure I approved of that. And again, it felt like a BB gun.
As time wore on, my 1911 wore out for a second time (I shot a lot), and I had been hearing more and more about the Glock. I even had some Marine friends who were buying and carrying them. I resisted, of course, sticking with my Old School values. I carried two different 1911s now, my old one that was now a MEUSOC gun, and a Springfield Armory Ultra Compact. From time to time, I also carried my personal Beretta M-9. Advances in bullet technology were making the 9mm more attractive.
Living in the South at the time, I used to sweat a lot. Strangely enough, this was what got me to give Glocks another look. A friend of mine had one that he carried religiously and heard me complaining about always having to clean the rust off my gun at the end of a day from the sweat. It aggravated me that I couldn't get a decent finish for my guns, even with Duracoat. He told me he never had a problem with rust, no matter what the conditions were. And he loved his Glock for its durability and reliability. At about the same time, I was retiring from the Marine Corps and wanted to get in to teaching people how to shoot to defend themselves. Many police agencies were going to Glocks. If I was going to make anything of myself when I got out, I figured I'd better catch up on current events.
Those who do not adapt, fail, or words to that effect.
When I got out, I went to work for a private security company and we carried and qualified with Glock 19s. I learned that not only could I shoot a Glock, once I put my mind to it, but I could shoot it well. Very well. I soon came to appreciate the simplicity in the design, and the resulting reliability. So in 2008, I bought my first Glock through law enforcement channels, so it came with night sights. It was a Gen 4 G-17. Still felt like a BB gun, but I was getting used to the trigger. And I also like having 17 rounds of +P hollow points at my disposal. Mag changes were as quick with the Glock as with my Beretta or 1911. And in the case of the latter, much less frequent. I still had the problem of riding the front sight high when presenting from the holster or compressed ready (retention ready for some). Round about that time I met a guy named Bill Rogers, who introduced me to the Grip Force Adapter. It put a 'beaver tail' on the gun, and took up the space at the top of the grip to make the grip angle more akin to a 1911.
What a difference!
So with that, I put my new gun through its paces. After several thousand rounds, no cleaning, lousy ammo, nasty weather, and zero malfunctions, I was satisfied. It wasn't long after that my wife bought her own first Glock--the first of several for each of us.
I still love my 1911s. Nothing in the world quite feels the same. But this Old School Marine loves his Tupperware just as much. After years of fighting it, I must admit that ounce for ounce, bullet for bullet, nothing beats a Glock. Chesty Puller must be rolling in his grave right now...or John Browning. God bless them both.
Keep the sights aligned, and keep the trigger moving!
-Jacques (Jake) Pelletier is a retired US Marine, combat Veteran, and Distinguished Shooter with over 30 years of tactical shooting experience. He is also a Master Firearms Instructor, LE Firearms Instructor, and co-owner of Raven Firearms Training in northern New Hampshire.