Monday, July 21, 2014

Heckler und Gloch?

Glock-inspired striker fired pistols are popping up all over the defense gun marketplace. They're everywhere you look.

In the previous century, something happened to dramatically change the revolver market. Everybody who made revolvers took a careful look at the then-new Smith and Wesson Hand Ejector revolver. The thing just worked. The cylinder swung out the side and the empty cases were pushed out. all of them at the same time, with a rod sticking out of the front of the cylinder. Then you reloaded the cylinder and swung it back into place in the frame, and were ready to fire again. Before long, nearly everyone who made double action revolvers made them that way. Break top actions, side gate loading and the neurotic Merwin Hulbert mechanism went away in favor of the Smith system, which allowed revolvers to be quick to reload and also strongly built, with solid one-piece frames.

Something like that is now happening with auto pistols. More and more pistol makers offer striker fired DAO pistols resembling the Glock. Latest onto the bandwagon is Heckler & Koch. Here is a commercial for their entry in the Son of Glock sweepstakes.

I was wondering how the technology was going to work out: the question of which 20th century pistol would become the defining technology heading into the 21st. With so many pistol companies now on the same bandwagon it looks like we have a winner, it's the Glock. Truth to tell, I was rooting for the SIG Sauer P22X pistols with their decocker lockwork, hammer fired action and DA/SA functioning. But that wasn't what caught on. Now even SIG is offering a Glock-like striker fired pistol.

You can, to date, buy a Glockalike pistol from Ruger, Springfield, Smith & Wesson, Taurus, FN, SIG, H&K and likely some that I cannot now remember. Who will be next to offer such a gun? Colt, maybe--late to the party as usual.

Converging technology indicates that makers and purchasers have arrived at a matured consensus about how things ought to work. Nowadays, cars are enough alike that you can get into a strange one and drive it away with no trouble, but things were not always like that. The gearshift pedals, hand throttle and spark advance of the Ford Model T are things you will never see again. Likewise, recent double action revolvers, with few exceptions, are enough alike that if you are checked out on any one of them you can shoot the rest: Smith, Ruger, Colt, Taurus, Armscor, Charter or what have you.

In the last century, auto pistol designs converged upon the tipping barrel, short recoil Colt-Browning system, but there were as yet many variations in safety catches, mag releases and lockwork. It now it looks like we are converging on the Glock as the inspiration for how pistols ought to work.

Something odd about all this is that the Glock 17,  pattern and basis of subsequent Glocks, was Gaston Glock's very first firearm design. Was the result beginner's luck, or was it the advantage of bringing fresh eyes to a problem?

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