Thursday, 15 March 2012

Book Review - Glock: The Rise of America's Gun

Not really a handgun kind of guy myself [air pistols aside I've only ever fired an S&W 1911] but I do enjoy a bit of riflery and know a few enthusiasts, as Glock is such a touchstone of the culture I was interested in the story behind the icon. I wasn't disappointed, I would defiantly put this one in the upper tier of business books/corporate histories. It's a really interesting tale.

An outsider who'd never even owned firearms, and whose shooting experience made even mine seem comprehensive, starts with a clean sheet of paper and re-invents the pistol. An ingenious salesman sees the wind change for American law enforcement - wheel guns are out: it's not 'is it going to be an automatic pistol?' its 'which automatic pistol is it going to be?' - and seizes the day.
Ably assisted by lap dancers, with press and promotion by anti-gun pressure groups, and added profits generated by the assault weapons ban, team Glock turn an obscure Austrian radiator manufacturer into a major industrialist, his invention into a design icon and cultural phenomenon.

If you're hoping for pages of technical detail about the differences between Gaston Glock's design and that of his competitors you'll be better off reading or perhaps The Gun Digest Book of the Glock.  If you find stories of corporate opportunism and intrigue are to your taste you'll not be disappointed. I've always loved stories of the little team no one has ever heard of, rocking up and changing the game, Glock certainly did that. Well worth a read.

One from the 'ya couldn't make it up files'

Shaven-headed bearded muslim chap, my age, sitting next to me on the train.
"You're reading that and no one's even looking, if I was reading it they'd be pulling the emergency cord". Yep we laughed out loud.

On the blogging front
Not been out and about much lately, but I have been reading some great books, so more book reviews to come, some local history with suburban hunters and, funds permitting, a very special trip to meet another blogger or two. Before the chalk streams dry up completely I'm hoping this season is 'the season' I'll fulfil that longstanding ambition of catching a wild trout within the city limits

More Soon
Your pal


Hippo said...

You mean you sat next to some Muslim bloke on the train who instantly recognised what you were reading AND YOU DID NOT REPORT HIM?!!!

It is just this sort of lackadaisical attitude to community security...

I will add this one to my Amazon wish list and in return, although it has nothing to do wqith firearms but a lot to do with shooting from the hip, I recommend to you Tom Bower's book Bernie Eccleston. Like you, I love these books about underdogs coming out good.

I see that even the Police here in Angola are being issued with Glocks. Don't they look as though they have been chiselled out of house bricks?

I still prefer the CZ 83. It is compact, doesn't distort the line of my dinner jacket and even I, with arms like spider's legs, can pull a sight picture quickly and hold it steady.

Josh said...

What a great anecdote! I'm interested in those kinds of stories, so, even though I'm a Ruger man, myself (my only pistol is a Ruger Single Six in .22 long rifle and .22 magnum), I may pick it up.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


I keep hearing good things about the Bernie Eccleston book, but I also hear there's a lot more still to come out

I've gotta say the other thing the book made me want to do was learn about polymer injection, if he's making them as cheaply as the book says he is there's lots of things you could do with a polymer injector, for instance I've go a fly reel made the same way but to woeful tolerances, be neat to be able to make good ones at home.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


Bit taken with the ruger take on the scout rifle myself, shame they don't make it in 7mm08 which would be my scout cal. of choice. If I ever have money again I might build one up as the actions and barrels are interchangeable.


Exploriment said...

I have this on order at the library. Looking forward to it. But I was hoping it would finally answer the argument: Which is better - the Glock or the M1911? ;-)

Another book along the same lines and a fascinating read is The Gun by C.J. Chivers (who although a reporter for the NY Times, was also a USMC captain who commanded an infantry company). A history of the machine gun, but more specifically the AK. It's amazing to think that about 75 years before its introduction, a machine gun was a massive thing that was essentially artillery. Took a team of horses to pull it and the ammo and a whole crew to serve it, weighed a ton. The machine gun changed warfare. But with the AK, a guy could haul the ammo it would have taken in a backpack. Cheap, easy to produce, although not very accurate, it, even more than the machine gun changed warfare. Suddenly, there were millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions of what had previously been just a handful of difficult to produce and maintain weapons. It really changed warfare. Sure the Germans had produced an “assault rifle” years before, but with typical teutonic efficiency, it was a finely machined piece of equipment. The Russians made it a much simpler item to produce. Stamp out the parts rather than machine them in a multi step process. Never mind the fine fixtures. Crank em out.

hodgeman said...

Thanks- I'll have to check this one out. Most of the technical Glock books quickly revert to "geardo" speak and lose me.

I have been a Glock fan for a long time. Great pistols that are easy to fire and take a real beating. I fired my first one something like 80,000 rounds involved in IDPA shooting and practice. Once I fired 3500 round without cleaning it. It never did malfunction and I finally cleaned it because just handling it would get your clothes and hands filthy.

Just goes to show you that reinventing the wheel sometimes requires that you have no ideal what a wheel even looks like.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


Which is better? I'm thinking that the two designs are almost a century apart, but having said that the Kimber Ultra Carry II is a very slick piece of kit.

Thanks for the tip on Chivers book - my son is currently obsessed with all kinds of militaria so it might earn me some cred with him,

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


I've only ever cleaned a rifle that's fired a few rounds of Privi (grubby Serbian ammo) and a fair amount of much came out 3500 must have been filthy, that's some testament to any mechanical device


LSP said...

Leaving aside any jihadite preference for the plastic Austrian handgun, my next pistol purchase will be a Glock 17. Maybe I will read the book.

Get into pistols, Bushwhacker. You know, deep down, that it makes sense.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


If I was in your neck of the woods I'd [also] get one of those Encore pistols (in 7mm), an Ultra Carry II and a broom-handle Mauser with furniture. Sweet