Airsoft Basics: What is a Glock?
What is a Glock?
A Glock is a term used to describe Airsoft pistols which are licensed replicas of the real Glock series of handguns. Real Glocks are manufactured in Austria and have a great reputation for reliability and accuracy and are widely used by civilians as well as Police and Law Enforcement. The first generation of Glock 17 was introduced in 1982 in response to an Austrian Army requirement and was named as such as it was the 17th patent registered by Glock Ges.m.b.H.
Glocks make many appearances in films to this day, and some of the biggest Glock myths started with their appearances in popular culture. In Die Hard 2, John McClane famously claims the Glock is "a porcelain gun made in Germany. Doesn't show up on your airport X-ray machines, here, and it cost more than you make in a month."
Obviously, this isn't the case but was a myth that derived from the Glock pistols' use of polymer in its lower frame, and its modern, blocky and advanced appearance. Real Glocks have a steel slide and barrel, and a polymer frame, but this was a very space-aged concept at the time of the first Glock's introduction and was only previously seen in certain experimental H&K pistols. Yes, they do in fact show up on metal detectors!
Airsoft Glocks are available through UMAREX and are manufactured by KWA, VFC or GHK, and are perfectly visually accurate to the real Glock series of handguns, complete with authentic Glock trademarks.
Airsoft Glocks are available in either green gas or CO2-powered form, and are gas blowback pistols, for the most part, meaning the slide will cycle automatically with each shot using gas pressure.
A Glock isn't a single handgun, there are in fact many Glock models with different barrel, slide and frame lengths. Glocks are also available in several generations with slight alterations to their external design for better ergonomics and handling. If you want to learn more about the different types of Glock, check out the next section!
There are as many different Glock types as there are grains of sand on a beach, so we are going to focus on the Glock types available for Airsoft, and outline the differences between them. Let's get stuck in!
The Glock 17 was the first Glock pistol introduced in the real world and is Glock's service-sized handgun, designed to be issued to Military and Law Enforcement personnel. The Glock 17 is widely used by UK Armed Police and is also issued to the British Army as their standard service sidearm, as well as a multitude of other militaries worldwide.
Glock 17s are the most popular Glock in Airsoft as they are a great size for combat use, are simple to operate and fit in a wide variety of holsters. The Glock 17 has a 4.3-inch barrel and a full-size frame with a 20mm rail on the dust cover to mount accessories, most often a tactical flashlight.
The Glock 19 is Glock's first compact pistol offering, designed for Military and Law Enforcement units who need a more compact pistol that is easier to conceal but retains magazine compatibility with the larger Glock 17. The Glock 19 has been issued to the FBI, and is used by many US Law Enforcement Agencies as the smaller frame of the Glock 19 was found to be more suitable for LEOs of any hand size.
The Glock 19 uses a shorter 3.8-inch barrel and a shortened frame, and due to this it has also become a favourite amongst concealed carry weapons permit holders in the US. The Glock 19 is far from the smallest Glock, however, and still has the barrel length and mag capacity to serve as a combat pistol. The Glock 19 is currently issued to the US Navy SEALs and is their go-to sidearm. If James Bond chose his sidearms based on pure practicality, he would be rocking a Glock 19!
Glock 19X / Glock 45
The Glock 19X was a competitor in the US Army's Modular Handgun System program, seeking to find a replacement for the venerable Berretta M9A1 in US Army service. The Glock actually lost out in this contest to the Sig Sauer M17, primarily due to cost. Despite this, the Glock 19X went on to be one of the best selling Glock pistols on the civilian market, with over 100,000 Glock 19X's being sold in the first 6 months alone.
Following on from the success of the Glock 19X, Glock introduced the Glock 45, which was effectively a Glock 19X with front slide serrations, without a lanyard loop and with a redesigned magazine well, allowing compatibility with a wide range of Glock magazine base plates. The Glock 45 is also available in good old-fashioned Glock black, unlike the 19X which was made exclusively in modern tactical tan.
These Glocks use a Glock 17-sized frame, with a Glock 19 length slide, making for a great combination which is easier and faster to draw than a Glock 17 and has room for your full hand, unlike the Glock 19. These two Glocks are recent additions to the Glock lineup, and as such, they are only available in generation 5 format.
This is the Glock we all know too well from CoD and is the select fire version of the Glock 17. The Glock 18 was originally designed as a torture test platform for Glock pistols and was designed to meet a requirement laid out by EKO Cobra, Austria's counter-terrorist police. The Glock 18C is classed as a "machine pistol" thanks to its full auto fire mode, and is only available in real steel form to Military and Law Enforcement units.
The Glock 18C is combat pistol sized, being identical in dimensions to the Glock 17, and retaining compatibility with Glock 17 magazines. The 18C variant differs in its fire selector switch on the left side of the slide, and its compensator cuts in the barrel and slide which help the shooter keep the muzzle down when firing in full auto.
The Glock 26 is the sub-compact Glock model, designed primarily for civilian concealed carry use, though it also serves with the US Military as the MK.26. The Glock 26 was the first of the sub-compact Glocks, and is more than just a shortened Glock 19. The internals required a full reworking to function in this tiny format, and the Glock 26 uses a dual recoil spring to help manage the 9mm Parabellum cartridge in this new, bite-sized form.
The Glock 26 retains compatibility with Glock 17, 18 and 19 magazines, though its factory magazine cannot be used in any of these variants due to its ultra-short length. Glock 26s are most often used by Airsofters as backup weapons due to their tiny size, and full-sized Glock performance.
The pocket Glock! The Glock 42 is an ultra-compact Glock pistol, designed specifically for concealed carry. The Glock 42 differs from the Glock 26 in that it uses a single stacked magazine and is far slimmer, making it easy to conceal, and chambers the .380 ACP cartridge, making it easier to shoot with a slightly lighter recoiling cartridge than the usual 9mm Parabellum.
Being a super compact pistol, the Glock 42 lacks the railed frame of the larger Glock pistols, though this isn't an issue due to the intended role of the 42. This pistol is intended to be carried in situations where even the Glock 26 isn't small enough to go unnoticed, and serves many Airsofters as a last-ditch backup weapon for this reason.
The Glock 34 is the competition-optimised variant of the Glock 17 and sports a longer slide and 5.1-inch barrel. The front of the Glock 34 slide features a weight-reducing port to help balance the pistol, and a reprofiled slide for an easier draw and reholster process.
The Glock 34 uses a Glock 17-sized frame and was designed to replace the Glock 17L, a long-barreled Glock 17 variant which was judged to be too long to be admitted to many practical shooting competitions. Introduced in 1998, the Glock 34 has gone on to be one of the most popular Glock variants, and is used with some choice Tarran Tactical modifications by John Wick himself!
To make the matter all the more confusing, Glock pistols are also available in several generations, matching the incremental changes made to real steel Glocks over the years. Each generation has its pros and cons, and a later generation does not necessarily mean a superior pistol; it is all about the configuration you prefer.
Airsoft Glocks are for the most part available in gen.3 through gen.5 configuration, but some later Glock models such as the 19X are only available in gen.5 configuration as they are a more recent release.
The primary changes between generations are external, and Airsoft Glocks of all generations generally use the same internals and perform about the same on the range. Let's take a look at the different Glock generations, and how they differ!
The Glock gen.3 is probably the most easily recognised Glock for most and has the classic blocky Glock slide we all recognise, complete with rear serrations and “white dot and U” open iron sights. Gen.3 slides are compatible with gen.4 slides, as the only difference between the two is the markings.
The gen.3 frame includes finger ridges built into the design with the classic Glock textured grip panels on either side, and a fixed backstrap with squared checkering on its surface for improved gripping qualities. The gen.3 Glock uses a low-profile magazine release, which is smaller than a gen.4 or 5 mag release.
This means it is slightly harder to find when under pressure, but there is little chance of accidentally dropping your magazine when drawing or reholstering. Like all Glocks from generation 3 onwards, gen.3 frames are equipped with a 20mm frame rail at the front for adding a tactical flashlight or laser aiming module.
The slide of a gen.4 Glock pistol is similar in design to the gen.3, with the primary difference being the markings. Gen.3 Glocks tend to not indicate the generation on the slide, whereas gen.4 Glocks usually have "Gen.4" engraved aft of the model number on the left side of the slide.
The generation 4 frame has a redesigned dot texture on the grip panels, giving it a more modern look and improving gripping qualities for gloved shooters. The gen.4 frame also boasts interchangeable back straps, allowing you to change the size of the grip to fit hands of different sizes.
Another gen.4 update is the enlarged magazine release, which is designed for ultra-fast reloads with the balancing factor that accidentally dropping your magazine is more likely for inexperienced users. The gen.4 frame also includes a 20mm frame rail, making it ready for a tactical flashlight or laser aiming module for the more tactically inclined.
The Gen.5 Glock slide is reprofiled at the front to assist with reholstering and has a sleeker more streamlined look. Gen.5 slides use the same white dot and "U" sights as previous Glock models and are compatible with the same aftermarket sights. Gen.5 also has an ambidextrous slide release lever, allowing the slide to be released from either side of the pistol.
Gen.5 slides are not compatible with gen.4 or gen.3 frames due to their lack of a cutout for the ambidextrous slide release. Likewise, aftermarket slides designed for the gen.3 or gen.4 Glocks will not work with the gen.5 frames.
The gen.5 frame omits the finger ridges found on other Glocks but uses the same dot textured grip style as the gen.4, adding in a built-in low profile magazine well flare to speed up reloads, and a cutout at the front to assist with removing a dirty or stuck magazine. As one would expect, the gen.5 frame is equipped with a 20mm frame rail at the front for the addition of accessories.
The Gen 5 mag release is enlarged similarly to the gen.4, offering fast access with a slightly heightened risk of accidentally dropping your magazine. Aftermarket flared magazine wells will not work unless they are for the gen.5 Glock specifically, due to the gen.5's built-in magwell flare. Like the gen.4, gen.5 Glocks also have exchangeable back straps, allowing them to be adjusted to suit any hand shape or size.
Why use a Glock?
So, why do Airsofters find Glocks so appealing? A big part of it is the prevalence of Glock pistols in the real world, and in movies and TV shows. Being a staple of popular culture, the iconic Glock design is present almost anywhere a pistol appears in film and TV and has permeated the minds of the public like few other handgun designs in the world.
The Glock has a no-frills, menacing look which leaves no doubt as to its intended purpose as a combat sidearm. The utilitarian looks of the Glock appeal to the more Milsim/Polsim oriented Airsofters who have a leaning towards real-world accurate impressions of military and police units.
That said, Glocks are also often seen in competition styled formats, with ported slides, fluted barrels and speed enhancements designed for scorchingly fast performance against the clock. These Glocks also make fantastic skirmish sidearms, especially for those inclined to use an HPA adapter for a speed soft style primary pistol loadout.
The majority of Airsoft Glocks are Gas Blowback Pistols, meaning they fire every time you pull the trigger and the slide cycles automatically, providing impressive recoil with each shot for an immersive firing experience which gives appropriate tribute to the real thing.
Many skirmishers choose Glocks for their impressive performance and the availability of upgrades and enhancements for the platform. Being one of the most popular pistol designs in Airsoft, the aftermarket serves the Glock platform well, and if you desire it, will allow you to keep your Glock at the cutting edge of handgun setups as new parts are released continuously!
Now you should know a bit more about Glocks, both the real pistols and what's out there for Airsoft in Glock form. There is a Glock for everyone out there, it's time to find the right one for you! If you are ready to rock out with your Glock out, click the button below to see our selection of Airsoft Glocks!