July 10, 2012

A History of Glock Generations

[Updated February 15, 2018]

If you’re confused about how generations of Glocks have differed over the years, Scott Fuller, Product Tech head at CheaperThanDirt.com, posted a concise history of the changes.

In 1963, Gaston Glock founded a plastics company near Vienna, Austria. His moderately successful company primarily manufactured plastic curtain rod rings along with various other plastic products. Soon, Mr. Glock realized the strength and durability that could be realized by combining plastic and steel for particular military products, and he began supplying the Austrian military with various tools and components. When two military Colonels were visiting in 1981 to oversee the manufacturing of plastic grenade components, Mr. Glock overheard the military officials lamenting the fact that no one could manufacture military pistols that would meet their specifications.

Mr. Glock interjected, saying that he could produce the pistols. The military men laughed at him. But Gaston Glock was not someone who tolerated being laughed at. He immediately set to work in his basement designing a pistol that would not only meet but exceed the requirements of the Austrian military. Glock had no experience building pistols before, but if you asked him, that was an advantage. Despite their inexperience in manufacturing small arms, Glock was nevertheless invited to participate in the bidding process. Glock’s revolutionary design so impressed the military evaluators that in 1983, the Austrian army ordered 25,000 Glock pistols. In 1985, Glock established a factory in Smyrna, Georgia, so that they could better serve the United States firearm market. The Glock 17 became enormously popular in the United States and was readily adopted by law enforcement agencies.

Around the same time, GLOCK developed their second model handgun, the G18 machine pistol. The G18 was based off of the G17, but had a selector switch on the back of the slide that allowed the firearm to fire in semi- or full-auto. Because of its small size and extremely high cyclic rate (1,200 RPM), the G18 was never widely used. Glock’s popularity increased demands from consumers for a compact model that could be easily concealed. In 1988 Glock released the G19, a compact 9mm. Despite the smaller frame of the G19, it still had a 15 round capacity. It was around this time that Glock also built a plant in Hong Kong to meet demand from Southeast Asia, as well as a second factory in Austria.

Soon, Glock released their big bore models: the G20 and G21 in 10mm and .45 ACP, respectively. These large pistols gained a huge following from American consumers who valued them for their large caliber stopping power. When the FBI developed their .40 caliber round with Smith and Wesson, Glock answered in 1990 with the G22 and G23. The G22 was a full sized .40 caliber handgun, and the G23 was the compact model. Later that year a fourth Glock factory was opened in South America to better serve markets in Brazil and the rest of Latin America.

When the Glock pistols were initially released, rumors about the guns were rampant. One rumor was that Glock pistols could pass undetected through airport metal detectors. These rumors proved totally fictional.

While the Glock Safe Action Pistol consists of over a pound of steel, the “Combat Tupperware” nickname comes from its frame being almost completely made of polymer.

The Glock Model 17 was adopted into service with the Austrian police and military forces in 1982 as the P80, and has since been considered the world’s and the United State’s premier duty sidearm.

The Glock has had many evolutionary changes over the past 28 years, with the major model changes identified as “Generations”. Glock is currently producing its fourth generation of pistols in a range of model lines.

Glock Generations

The Glock has had many evolutionary changes over the past 28 years, with the major model changes identified as “Generations”. Glock is currently releasing its fourth generation pistols all along its model line.

1st Generation

The 1st Generation Glock, as it came to be known, was introduced to the US market in 1984. The Glock pistols continued their rise in status and production with very few changes. Glock did switch to a captive recoil spring fairly early in the pistols life and at one point the serial number became stamped on imbedded steel plates in the pistol's dustcover.

First Generation glock pistol

First Generation - 1984

2nd Generation

In 1988 Glock added checkering on the front and back straps on all its models. In 1990, the locking block was enlarged and an additional cross pin was added on the non 9mm caliber models.

second generation glock pistol

Second Generation - 1988

3rd Generation

In 1998 Glock changed the frame substantially. An accessory rail was added, officially known as the “Universal Glock Rail”. Thumb rests and finger grooves were added, the extractor was changed to also function as a loaded chamber indicator and the OD color was added to the lineup. In 2002 all 17, 19 and 34 models started using the larger locking block and additional cross pin to simplify production.

third generation glock pistol

Third Generation - 1998


In 2009 at SHOT Glock introduced the Model 22 RTF2 with a pyramid grip texture and scalloped slide serrations. It is still considered a 3rd generation gun. Glock produced the RTF2 in models 17, 19, 22, 23 and 23C. Around mid-2010 Glock dropped the crescent shaped slide serrations and started using the standard slide serrations on the RTF2 models. As of January 2011 the RTF2 Model Glocks were available only to Law Enforcement.

rtf2 glock pistol

RTF2 - 2009

4th Generation

In January 2010 Glock debuted the latest and greatest version of the Glock Safe Action Pistol. The big changes are a smaller grip circumference with add on backstraps, a captive dual spring recoil assembly, a truncated pyramid grip texture and a larger, reversible magazine release. These changes are accompanied by smaller changes in the barrel, slide, trigger bar, trigger housing, the deletion of cutout on the front of the grip for magazine removal, and the additional notch on the magazines for left-handed magazine release.

fourth generation glock pistol

Fourth Generation - 2010

See all of the latest Glock products on its website. And be sure to refer to Gun Tests' dozens of reports on Glock models from over the years to get a full scope of the brand's contributions.

Comments (10)

I posted the comment about my G23 misfeeding when using G22 mags. A response from Glock Canada ask about the markings on the mag feeders. There were two different markings on my mags. If you have this problem, it is probably a mag marked ".40" on the very top. The mags with the marking on the lower part of the feeder worked. LONGER MAGS DON'T ALWAYS WORK IN PISTOLS THAT USE SHORTER MAGS!!

P.S. Glock U.S.A. blew me off.

Posted by: DocBen | September 16, 2019 1:44 PM    Report this comment

My first Glock was a Gen 1 G22. Sold that and now have Gen 3 G22, G23 and a G19. I have a hand full of G22 mags and decided to load them up and use them in my G23. The G23 repeatedly jammed. I put a G23 mag in and it worked perfectly. Has anyone else experienced this?

Posted by: DocBen | August 31, 2019 2:30 PM    Report this comment

The G19 was the first firearm I ever purchased, and would be the last I would not sell, but keep. I've accidentally dropped it 2x into desert sand. Bummer. Wait! It can take it! I blew the schmutz out of the ejection port and emptied it into the berm both times, all 15 rounds w/o a burp. What a weapon. You have to change that trigger reset spring every 5000 rounds, so keep some around!!! (Ask me how I know?) A minimum of 20K rounds thru this thing. And it looks new.

Posted by: pcmacd | February 21, 2018 7:01 PM    Report this comment

I've owned a model 35 since they gets came out. I've fired over 20k rounds and have never had a FTF or FTE. The gun just plan shoots. Fits my hand & I find it to be a beautiful (I know, that guy must be blind or crazy for saying that) well made handgun. If I forced to only own one handgun it would be myG35.

Posted by: theburg2014@gmail.com | February 17, 2018 12:46 AM    Report this comment

I have 7 Glocks, and my favorite is the Glock 21. They are reliable, easy to service and modify and basically are great pistols. I retired my EAA Witness, 1911, from daily carry and shooting. See no reason to change brands.

Posted by: gregweb | February 16, 2018 2:58 PM    Report this comment

I think its funny that people will post that they don't care for whatever which means they read the whole article on a subject they didnt like? I love glocks I love the fact that I was able to modify and personalize the firearm to my preferences. No gun comes perfect out of the box but other than the 1911 how many other guns can you mold to be you perfect piece. Great article, thanks.

Posted by: Rico1957 | February 16, 2018 9:36 AM    Report this comment

Actually, I think the term was "Tactical Tupperware". (It flows better) The original boxes which the Gen 1s shipped in also resembled a Tupperware container. It had a post in the middle for the trigger guard. The theory was that the Austrian Army could stack the containers on a steel rod and lock them in place for storage. Unfortunately, the design also inserted a plastic piece into the trigger guard to secure the gun. If someone negligently left a round in the chamber, it could remain there loaded and sometimes compressed the trigger. So, the next box came with the same post insert but with wings that made you pull the trigger before storing. Both of these boxes were looked just like Tupperware.
My department was a little slow jumping into the semi-auto game. I had a Gen1 Glock 19 that I carried and still wish I had it.

Posted by: TP8433 | February 16, 2018 9:01 AM    Report this comment

When Glock introduced their product I had no use for one, not until the late 1990s when a range officer insisted I fire one at his indoor 50 ft. range. The piece was a G19 which hit the 9 ring on the B2 target@ 50 ft. Lucky shot, no doubt. Fired more and they were well in the 7-10 rings.

That convinced me that they were something to have. I now have a 19,21,23,27,and 34. My carry piece is the 27.

I also have 2 ea H&K USPs, SIG 229 and the Colt Gold cup that I bought in 1967. I dumped the S&Ws I did own.

For bulls-eye competition, I'll use the Gold Cup. For my protection, I'll use a Glock.

Posted by: boom-boom | July 12, 2012 4:35 PM    Report this comment

Glock pistols have a great reputation for durability, reliability, and accuracy. That said, my personal taste in handguns is such that I just cannot abide the Glock. I have owned three of them, and they were OK, but a Glock pistol just does not feel as good in my hand as a SIG Sauer, a CZ-75, a S&W M&P, or a 1911. To me, the Glock is also nowhere as aesthetically pleasing in appearance as the aforementioned pieces. I suppose that if it was to be a Glock or nothing, I'd acquiesce, but as long as I have any freedom of choice, I am likely to stay with most anything but a Glock.

Posted by: canovack | July 11, 2012 12:10 PM    Report this comment

We hate spam as much as you do, and we're on a constant lookout for spammy comments. If you see spam on a GunReports post before we do, just enter 'SPAM' as a comment, and we'll be alerted to look at the file asap. Thanks for helping us patrol the AO. --Yr. Obt. Svts @ GunReports.com.

Posted by: ttwoodard | July 10, 2012 1:05 PM    Report this comment

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