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This is a rant, and I’m going to take heat for it.

Gun people are some serious fanboys at times. I’m focusing my rant here on Glock because they’re low hanging fruit. Well, that and their well-known tagline: “Perfection.”

Anyone who’s been into this for a while knows that this tagline is far from the truth. If it was, then why does every Glock enthusiast factor the price of replacing the junk plastic sights into the cost of any model they purchase?

If it was perfection, why are there so many discussions about shooting low and left, brass to the forehead, awkward grip angles, shallow magazine releases, uncomfortable finger grooves, and other issues?

The answer is good marketing and groupthink.

Glock 19 pistol
Glock 19 pistol, photo credit to Mitchell Askelson

When Perception is Not Reality

Honestly, I don’t have anything against Glock, per se. They’re fine pistols for serving their intended purpose. If Glock is your preference, then bully for you and carry on. There are a lot of trainers and shooters I respect out there recommending Glocks because of their relative simplicity and the large selection of inexpensive accessories. They’ve practically become the AR-15 of the pistol world.

However, I have trouble with people who confuse marketing materials as cold hard truth.

I pick on Glock because they are a great case study in smart firearms marketing and the cultural effects thereof.

The Way Back machine

Back n 2014 or so, a good friend and fellow officer lent me a book by Paul M. Barrett titled Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun

Of course, the title alone triggered my skepticism immediately. First, how could Glock be America’s gun if it’s Austrian? Second, that moniker clearly belongs to the AR-15 or 1911.

But I digress.

The book is an entertaining read that details Glock’s inception, heavy-handed sales and marketing tactics, and eventual acceptance into popular culture. 

Key Points

Rather than go into detail, since you might want to read the book, I’ll get to the point.

Glock was in the right place at the right time. They came to the US right as police departments were reeling from the 1986 Miami shootout. Police were questioning their long-beloved revolvers and looking for something with a bit more capacity.

Beretta had recently won the military M9 competition and was focusing on large government contracts. Sig was busy pouting over its loss to Beretta.

At least, as a Beretta fan, I’d like so.

Glock’s polymer wonder was both lighter and had half the number of parts to maintain compared to all-metal classics. It was fresh of winning the Austrian Army contract and was just…different.

The key thing here was cost, though. Since they are mostly polymer, and the metal parts were practically all manufactured through computer-aided machinery, Glocks were extremely cheap to produce.

This is especially true when compared to the other all-metal pistols at the time.

The cheap manufacturing costs set them up for an intensely aggressive marketing campaign where they offered to buy a department’s old pistols and exchange them for new Glocks at a steep discount rate. They still made money on the deal.

That’s how they swept America’s police departments. They were cheaper and more aggressive with greasing the wheels of politics. 

They also had strippers to sweeten the deal. Really.

Is it Really a Feature?

If you’re wondering where I’m going with this, just hang on. 

Glock is a great example of selling your shortcomings as features. Gaston looked at a wide range of classic pistols and compared their features. He had an eye for where he could remove parts and complexity from his design, making the thing easier to manufacture.

During that research, he determined that a safety on a double action pistol is not required. In a traditional sense, he was right.

Double action pistols usually have trigger pulls in the 8-12 lb range. You have to want to pull the trigger. If it’s a DA/SA mechanism, the pistol switches to single action mode for a nice light trigger pull.

The belief is that the heavier trigger on the double action first shot is the “safety” so long as you’re following the rest of the safety rules. No external safety means one less thing to fumble with when you need to draw and fire that pistol right now.

The trouble is that the Glock isn’t really double action like we’re talking about with a Beretta 92, Sig 226, or CZ. It’s a striker fired pistol with a nominal 5.5 trigger pull, barely lighter than one of the others in single action mode.

To those that pay attention, this is an obvious point of concern. But the marketers are great at their jobs.

You don’t need a thumb safety since it has one built into the trigger, you see. In fact, you shouldn’t even want a thumb safety. That thing will kill you in a fight!

This is how it happens. A feature gets left off for simplicity, and the marketers spin it as something that you shouldn’t have wanted in the first place.

The Power of Groupthink

Good marketing only gets you so far.

Eventually, a rabid fan base will do a lot in your favor. Once the Glock reached commonplace status among police departments, and especially when it got picked up by “cool guy” military units with the budgets and leeway to do what they wanted, it was game over.

If those guys are using it, then it must be the best.

I can’t count the number of internet pissing matches I’ve seen, or been in, where the Glockolyte declares that you absolutely need a Glock for that moment when the bad guy has your wife/girlfriend/daughter as a hostage in the dark while you’re upside down fending off the alien invasion with your weak hand. DA/SA will kill you, m

Ok, that’s an exaggeration. But only a little.

The point here is that once there are enough fanboys chanting, then the new people just showing up to the scene want to be part of the “in-crowd.” It’s no longer marketing, it’s social pressure.

I’ve seen so many new shooters get pushed towards Glock, and then stay there even when they might be better served by something else. They just feel pressured to support their brand.

Glockolytes aren’t the only ones doing this. I’ve seen the same behavior from fans of LaRue Tactical and other manufacturers. Even worse is when I see it from the “just as good as” crowd pressuring new shooters into buying questionable parts.

Bringing it Home

I’m not interested in rehashing fights over external safeties vs no external safeties. Everyone has a preference.

I’m also not interested in bringing up examples of negligent or accidental discharges stemming from loose t-shirts, worn leather holsters, or improper unloading. Those things happen, and not just to Glock owners.

This whole rant isn’t even really about Glock. 

I’m imploring you to not take marketing materials and social pressure as sources of truth. 

In the firearms world, unbiased information is very difficult to come by. Until you have the experience to know your needs and then analyze the options in front of you, there’s a lot of risk. That also means that you’re going to make mistakes early on.

That’s ok, go with it. 

The simple truth is that quality firearm A serves you just as well as quality firearm B in 90% of circumstances. Pick one and stick with it until you have your needs figured out.

Glock’s tagline of Perfection is just one example H&K has their infamous No Compromises line, even though there are indeed some compromises. Even worse was Kel-Tec’s ill-fated “For those who’d drink their own urine” campaign.

Yeah, that happened.

In the end, don’t let the hunt for perfection stop you from working with what you’ve got right in front you.

Matt

Matt

Matt is the primary author and owner of The Everyday Marksman. He's former military officer turned professional tech sector trainer. He's a lifelong learner, passionate outdoorsman, and steadfast supporter of firearms culture.

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Sunshine Shooter
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“I’ve seen so many new shooters get pushed towards Glock, and then stay there even when they might be better served by something else. They just feel pressured to support their brand.”
-this. It honestly disappoints me that so many people who claim to be “open minded” started off on Glock, got good with Glock, and have never given any time to anything other than a Glock, or anything other than striker-fired guns. I think you hit the nail on the head with this one.

Pete
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Pete

“You should not have a favorite weapon. To become over-familiar with one weapon is as much a fault as not knowing it sufficiently well.” ― Miyamoto Musashi

DarkLordOfOptics
Member

Weeellll, while I generally agree with your take on heavy handed marketing, I think there is a point you are missing entirely and that point is really why strike fired pistols exist. Basically, you are being more than a little elitist. The reason I know you are being elitist is that I look in the mirror every once in a while and I know what an elitist looks like (well and since you actually like that turd of a Beretta, I am not sure there is any possibility of a redemption for you :-)). Vast majority of gun shooting public does not have your skills, will never have your skills if they try and will never spend enough time developing those skills even if they generally have the ability. You may like it or dislike it, but a Glock (or any similar striker fired pistol) are simply easier to train beginners on than other commonly available pistol type. I have trained a bunch of people to use handguns and have attended a few Frontsight classes that are a great example, of teaching basic handgun skills to the masses. For people who are just trying to get some basic skills, but for whom this is neither a hobby nor an occupation, a Glock is just awesome: “point it in the right direction, keep all your extremities away from the muzzle and focus on sight alignment and trigger control”.
Introducing more variable into it for beginners is just trouble for you and frustration for them. A buddy of mine who is new to this, bought a Sig P226 since it fit his hand really well and took it to a four day handgun class where every first shot was DA. He developed a blister on his trigger finger on day two. That did not exactly encourage a lot of practice and he could not get he first two shots to go int he same spot for the life of him due to different trigger pulls. I am sure he would work through ti with some practice (I shot P220 for a couple of years exclusively and it is celarly doable), but he will never have enough practice. I shoot more rounds in a month than he does in a couple of years. That is just one example. Safety manipulation is, apparently, enough of a pain in the neck that newbies tend to just keep it off on 1911s. Well, that’s kinda dangerous.
When someone asks me what handgun they should get for their first gun, I point them Glock, XD, P320, etc. It is easy to learn and easy to be safe with. Once they develop some fundamentals, they can move onto anything they want, but for a beginner, striker-fired handgun is it.

Unclewalther
Member
Unclewalther

Thank you, This is a truth that more people need to read and understand… a very well written piece….

Dave
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Dave

“This whole rant isn’t even really about Glock.”

This is what stood out the most to me. I didn’t find much of a technical criticism of the item itself.

I generally think of Glock as the best value – the highest quality item available for the lowest price. I can get a better pistol, but it won’t be cheaper, and I can get a cheaper pistol, but it won’t be better. That doesn’t even make the Glock my favorite pistol (I prefer some that cost more), it’s just its position in the market. If someone’s going to get into this seriously – for work or hobby, then it’ll probably be even cheaper/easier to set up a Glock and all of the attendant gear (mags, holsters, spare parts, etc) than it would with any other brand I know of.

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