The Glock was created in 1982 by curtain-rod manufacturer Gaston Glock. Glock didn’t like the handguns available on the market and decided to manufacture a new gun from scratch. Before starting, he asked gun experts in his native Austria what could be done to improve a handgun for the modern era.
“They said, ‘A gun with much larger ammunition capacity, a gun that is much more durable and reliable … [and] the gun should be easy to fire [and] easy to learn how to use,'” Barrett tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “He integrated all of those elements into the Glock, and that’s how he won his original contract with the Austrian army.”
The original Glock 17, the model adopted by the Austrian army, contained only 36 parts and could hold 17 bullets in its magazine. It didn’t have an external safety like other semiautomatic handguns. It also didn’t have a decocking mechanism. The result? A lightweight, interchangeable model that could be dropped, submerged and subjected to temperature extremes — and still accurately fire.
In 1988, the Glock made its way to the United States. It was perfect timing, coinciding with the rise of the American drug trade, when many cops were feeling outmanned by gangs on the street. The Glock’s large capacity and light body gave it advantages over other guns.
—Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun by Paul Barrett
Image a Glock 18 from The Arms Site