It's that time again ladies and germs. That magical, mystical day of the year that we celebrate the coming of the polymer revolution in the birth of that great inventor, Mr. Gaston Glock.
Who is Mr. Glock?
Born July 19, 1929 in Austria, Gaston Glock had a rather ordinary life as an engineer and small businessman. As a young boy, he saw Austria first annexed by Adolph Hitler, and then survived the hell that was WWII and the subsequent Allied occupation. Taking his harsh childhood and resolving to pull himself forward, he entered into business. By the 1970s he ran a small plastics company, centered in his own home workshop. This company, in which his children and wife chipped in, made curtain rods and other domestic items.
Then, in 1978, he won a contract to provide the Austrian Army with a revolutionary new field knife (the Feldmesser FM 78) that used an almost indestructible polymer handle and sheath. From his newfound contacts in the Army, he found out that there would be a large award of up to 25,000 units for a new combat pistol.
Never having built a firearm before, Glock picked the brains of several expert shooters. From this and the Austrian government's specifications sheet he produced an entirely new pistol. This design had simply 33 moving parts, used a revolutionary polymer lower, and a deep steel treatment that lasted far longer than any Parkerizing coating. Right-handed, he test fired the gun for the first time himself, using his left hand so that if it went kaboom, his good hand would still be preserved.
All of this effort paid off in 1982 when his gun was adopted as the as the P80 (Pistole 80) by the Austrian military, having beat out eight other designs by some of the best and oldest firearms companies in the world.
His P80 became known worldwide as the Glock 17 and is used by the militaries of over 50 countries. Today more than 5-millions Glock Safe Action pistols have been manufactured in nearly 30 variants and subvariants in four different generations. Glock is a household name and has been used in conversation, song, and media as both a noun and a verb. When Smith and Wesson introduced their polymer framed Sigma series, it was called almost universally 'the Swock' as a measure of comparison.
This sublime success made Glock a millionaire, which brought its own problems. In 1999, a would-be hitman and former French Foreign Legion member assaulted Glock in a parking garage in Luxembourg in an assassination attempt. The 70-year old Glock fought back, dotting the man's eyes and knocking out teeth like so many tic-tacs.
He is still the head of his international company, with its headquarters still in Austria. He swims laps around his pool au-natural most mornings and just married a woman some 51-years younger than him.
Happy 84th Mr. G!