In more than a quarter of a decade, police firearms training has seen the transition from revolvers to semi-automatic pistols at two different agencies. The second transition, moved our entire rural sheriff’s department to the GLOCK 31 in .357. Previously, we were allowing personally owned, departmentally approved weapons, although, some deputies were already carrying GLOCKs. The transition was nothing short of remarkable in terms of weapons handling and operational capability for those that had not experienced the GLOCK weapons system. For those deputies in particular, accuracy of fire, improvement of scores, safety and ease of handling all increased almost exponentially. Marginal performers became good to excellent performers.
With the GLOCK pistol system, we no longer had to worry about the shooter remembering to de-cock or engage the safety of their personally chosen pistols, they no longer had to deal with a heavy or long trigger pull, or worse yet, the transition from a long double-action first pull to a lighter and shorter single-action second pull. Beyond that, the .357 round used in the GLOCK 31 is ideal for our wide-open, flat, rural spaces. Many deputies selected the mini-GLOCK 33 as their backup or off-duty gun, especially since our agency furnishes their ammo.
The same attributes and advantages that make the GLOCK 31 an ideal duty weapon for deputies in my agency are endemic to all GLOCK weapons, regardless of chambering. Since the last thing you want to have to worry about in a gunfight is the operation of your pistol, GLOCK keeps it simple—point and pull the trigger. There is no manual safety to disengage (no need for it with GLOCK’s “Safe Action” trigger system). Another feature of the GLOCK system is its reliability and near-indestructibility. In my full-time position as Police Academy Commander and lead firearms instructor at a central Ohio community college, I make the selection of the training pistol for academy training. To best meet our particular training needs, I chose the GLOCK 19. The 9×19’s low recoil reduces the distraction of new shooters. It is also low cost, which is important since our cadets pay for their own ammo. The 5.5-pound “Safe Action” trigger pull works well for the new shooters with hand-strength issues (or for any shooter for that matter), something which was a major concern in the days of the 12-pound double-action revolver trigger pull—but was eventually not an issue once GLOCK came on the scene and became far and away the leading police duty pistol in the U.S.
Since our cadets have not yet been hired by an agency when they begin their training, and usually won’t know who they will be working for before their training is complete, the GLOCK 19 is an ideal training weapon due to its compact frame size, providing an opportunity to train up with a weapon ideal for both on and off-duty applications—which is also why the NYPD uses it. The flexibility of the basic platform makes working with it as a factory certified armorer easy. If we run across shooters with smaller hands and shorter thumbs for example, we can substitute a GLOCK extended magazine release or slide stop lever, thus accommodating the needs of that particular shooter and enhancing their operational capabilities. For those agencies that issue the Gen4 GLOCKs with the adjustable backstraps, even the individual officer can tailor their department-issued or personally owned GLOCK to their own needs, thus creating a “custom” gun without the custom cost and without permanently modifying the gun.
Some of these cadets will end up at small departments where they have to furnish their own weapon. I’ve found that their academy experience with the GLOCK 19 often causes them to purchase one for personal use once they leave the academy. One former cadet who didn’t select a GLOCK for his duty weapon when hired on an area department as a reserve accidently shot himself in the foot when he holstered his weapon during a string of fire—he forgot to de-cock it, something which wouldn’t have happened had he decided to stick with the GLOCK. One thing is certain—no matter where they end up working, it’s likely that the selected or issued weapon will be a GLOCK.