On December 27th, Gaston Glock passed away at home in Austria. As the founder of one of the most innovative and forward-thinking firearms companies that bears his name, he found himself on the receiving end of heavy criticism. In 2000, when he refused to sign a voluntary gun control deal with the US government, many were up in arms over his hubris.
To be fair, he frequently ignored criticism for his life’s work. What was shared publicly was rarely “positive.” In July 1999, he was suspicious of an investor’s motives with his money. So at the age of 70, he went off to Luxembourg to confront his broker, Charles Ewert. Fearful for his life, Ewert had hired a former professional wrestler, Jacques Pecheur, to attack Glock with a rubber hammer. Defending from the attack, Glock won and had the duo arrested.
When he left his wife of 49 years, Helga Glock, in 2011, he got into an incredibly long battle over her alimony. In response, once done, he nearly immediately wed Kathrin, a woman who was more than 50 years younger than he. Ultimately, she was the wife he left behind, along with a daughter and son. His massive equestrian-focused estate in the province of Carinthia will be quieter without him or the celebrities who often visited.
For Glock, life wasn’t always like this. Originally manufacturing knives and curtain rods, he responded in the 1980s when the Austrian military started demanding a new pistol. Hiring some of the best gun experts he could find, Glock and his team innovated what became known as the G17. Built primarily out of plastic, this pistol would change the face of firearms. The nylon-based polymer frame and metal slide made for a formidable combination and easily outshone others to win the contract.
Quickly, the pistol became a global sensation. People were claiming that it was the only gun that could skip a metal detector while fully loaded (a lie).
In 1998, Tommy Lee Jones made Glock immortal as he told Robert Downy Junior’s character, “Get yourself a Glock and lose that nickel-plated sissy pistol,” in the classic U.S. Marshalls. He later added to that by saying, “These things are so cool. They shoot underwater! You can pour sand in them, and they’ll shoot. Shoot every time. It’s a good choice.” He was right, too.
Suddenly, this was the pistol to carry. Already a hero in the ghetto, the brand became infamous in rap songs, appearing in videos across the nation. Also adapted by police agencies and militaries the world over, you couldn’t look anywhere on the map and not find a jurisdiction that wasn’t using Glock for something.
One of the key pieces in the George W. Bush Presidential Museum is the 9mm Glock Saddam Hussein was found with him in a spider hole in his hometown of Tikrit on December 13, 2003. This pistol had been fired and was in full working order when captured. No small feat if you ask anyone who’s ever been to the region.
Still, he never leaned into the free press, good or bad. When white supremacist Dylann Roof used a Glock to murder nine black parishioners in a bible study back in June 2015, Glock was unsurprisingly silent. Same when USMC Veteran Ian David Long chose Glock to kill 12 in a Thousand Oaks, CA bar in November 2018. Much the same, when stories of countless cops saving their lives or the lives of someone else with their service-issued Glock, he remained silent. As the Glock name helps countrymen retake their lands, he stayed silent as well.
Perhaps that’s why the Glock brand has been highly favored among the US Special Forces communities. These quiet professionals don’t talk much, they don’t make a large flash when they enter the room. Rather, they simply execute their mission, clean up, and carry on. Much the same, Glock came and changed the world of firearms, left his contributions, and carried on with his life in quiet.
Rest easy, Gaston Glock. You left a legacy that is only rivaled by Samuel Colt.