Glock Ges.m.b.H. (trademarked as GLOCK) is a weapons manufacturer headquartered in Deutsch-Wagram, Austria, named after its founder, Gaston Glock. While the company is best known for its line of polymer-framed pistols, it also produces field knives, entrenching tools, and apparel. Glock handguns are used by armed forces and law enforcement organizations worldwide, including a majority of law enforcement agencies in the United States. In some countries Glock handguns are popular with citizens for personal protection and practical shooting. The company sponsors a competitive shooting team which travels worldwide. As of 2014, Glock produces more than two dozen models of handguns in three different sizes and seven different cartridges in three calibers.
Glock handguns are common sidearms among law enforcement agencies and military organizations around the world, and are also largely popular weapons amongst civilians for home defense, and concealed/open carry. The popularity of Glock pistols can be attributed to a number of factors. They are widely reputed as highly reliable, being able to function under extreme conditions and to fire a wide range of ammunition types (9mm, 10mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, .45 GAP, .357 SIG, .380 ACP; third-party conversion kits for .22 LR, .400 Corbon, .40 Super, and .50 GI are also available). The simplicity of the Glock design as well as its simple operating method contributes to this reliability, as it contains a relatively small number of components (nearly half as many as the typical handgun) making maintenance and repair easier.
The polymer frame makes them lighter than typical steel or aluminum-framed handguns, an attractive feature for police officers and regular citizens who carry firearms for extended periods of time. The trigger is the only operating element; all three safeties are deactivated when the trigger is pulled, and automatically activated when it is released. Glock pistols have no other manual safeties (as some other brands have a lever or button); the only external controls aside from the trigger itself are the slide stop lever, the magazine catch, and the slide lock for disassembly. This adds to the simplicity of use and removes a potential source of error while operating the handgun under stress. Most of the steel components in a Glock pistol are treated with a nitriding process called “Tenifer”, which increases the surface hardness and makes the pistol resistant to corrosion and wear.
Though the Heckler & Koch VP70 was the first polymer-framed pistol and predates the Glock 17 by 12 years, the popularity of Glock pistols inspired other manufacturers to begin production of similar polymer-framed firearms, including the Walther P99, Smith & Wesson Sigma, HS2000 (Springfield Armory XD), Steyr M, Taurus PT 24/7, Caracal, FN Herstal FNP and Ruger SR9 pistols. In addition to their semi-automatic handguns, Glock also produces a select-fire pistol, the Glock 18, which is able to be fired in either semi-automatic or fully automatic mode. This model is generally available only to law enforcement or military organizations and the details of its production are seemingly classified. Conversion kits for other Glocks to be fired in fully automatic mode also exist, but they are third-party, and they are specifically marked as Title 2 devices by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives – restricting their purchase and possession to ATF 3 license Dealers in the US.