Village Praxis: Why Glock? Insights From 170k Glock Rounds, Part 1 by Andy Rutledge

Publisher’s Note: Andy was kind enough to start this series on the fighting pistol for ZeroGov. I have owned and carried Glocks since 1991 and I have been sold on them.There is nothing close to the interoperability among models and the ability to downsize cheaper (now) .40 S&W models to 9mm [G23 > G19 and G22 > G17]. Like the AR platform, controls tend to be platform agnostic and the same training curve is available across the Glock spectrum for novice and expert shooters. Like the Toyota Landcruiser, their aesthetics come from the form following function in such a simple and elegant platform.

Chuck Taylor:

“Eighteen years and 250,000 rounds later, after immersion in both fresh and salt water dozens of times; being tossed into the sand, dust, snow, mud and grit; being presented from a holster and fired constantly in temperatures ranging from sub-zero to over 100 degrees; and even being left on the bottom of the ocean for six months, my conclusion is that the test Glock 17 is without a doubt a heck of a pistol.”

My time with a 1911 when I was on a Pacific Regional Navy Rifle and Pistol team cured me of any ambition to ever own a 1911. We will not solve that fight here nor do I care to. If you have a reliable 1911 and that is your fighting sidearm, there are legions of blogs and books that will assuage and entertain that confirmation bias. 

Skip, our Village Armorer, has also been rocking the Glock nearly as long as me and has built several of the 80% Glock lower builds with terrific results.

Enjoy. -BB

For the past handful of years, I’ve been training with my Glock pistols several days every week, firing up to 40,000 rounds a year through Glock pistols alone. Almost all of that has been with my carry gun, a Gen 4 Glock 19. Today I own several G19s and a couple of other Glock models. These constitute the entirety of my pistol collection; save for a couple of curiosities I’ve picked up over the years. All other pistols I sold because they held no purpose for me.

I did not start out owning and shooting Glocks, but I soon learned and amended the error of my ways. I’m not blind to other popular pistol models, however, as I have also spent the past few years putting a different pistol model through its paces every month in my capacity of writing firearms reviews for my local indoor gun range’s blog. In doing so, I’ve put hundreds and even thousands of rounds each through Walthers, Sig Sauers, Caniks, Tauruses, Kimbers, Rugers, Springfields, Smith & Wessons, CZs, FNs, Colts, Brownings, Sphinxes, Hudsons, H&Ks, Remingtons, and likely others; in most cases, several models from each of these manufacturers.

All of that is to say that I’ve not lived my shooting life in a unidimensional Glock box. I’ve spent copious time with other models, often in extended use and always with careful examination and deliberate or unconscious comparison. With few exceptions, Glock pistols are superior in many discrete, substantive measures and always superior in the overall comparison of substantive measures.

Note, however, that this evaluation is firmly couched in the context of a fighting gun. I do not care about a target gun or a competition gun or a range gun. I evaluate every feature and overall package exclusively in the context of a fighting tool that one carries all day every day in the course of normal, everyday activities in public and private. I have almost no regard for specialized pistols made for something other than the job of assuredly stopping violent people or animals so that I and those I love can escape their violent intent.

My G19 is the pistol I carry in public and private, the one I use in at-least-thrice-weekly training, the one I used in target competition, and the one I use in run-and-gun competition. It is the only pistol to which I entrust my life.

A little objectivity, please.

Now, many intelligent and discriminating folks won’t simply rely on someone’s experience and hard-won insights and take them at face value. I’m a stranger with a stranger’s opinion. Fair enough. Luckily, there are a great many others in the world who extol the virtues of Glock pistols and there are several objective measures that qualify a Glock pistol’s quality and explain its widespread popularity among responsible folks and experienced warriors who get to choose their own tools.

The primary reason that Glocks are the most popular choice among trained individuals whose lives depend on their guns is Glock’s incomparable reliability. There are no pistols on the planet that have taken as much abuse and grime and time between cleaning and lubing and still functioned perfectly as Glock pistols. In fact, they’re deliberately engineered to stay in the fight despite imperfect or even awful conditions.

I’ve seen top-tier instructors who have deliberately not cleaned or lubed their Glocks for many thousands of rounds just to see where the failure point would be. The lowest round count I’ve seen documented was 7000 rounds without cleaning or lube for a Glock 19, by instructor Kyle Defoor. He said that at near 7000 rounds it began to cycle a bit more slowly and get the occasional stovepipe (tried and failed to find that Instagram post from a few years back).

In my own near-170,000 rounds through Glock pistols, I have experienced zero—not one—malfunction in a G19, G17, G30, G30s, or G43 that was not due to a faulty aftermarket component or a part that I should have replaced thousands of rounds beforehand. The full extent of my Glocks’ malfunctions includes four instances:

  • two occasions of a stovepipe due to 1) an aftermarket recoil spring that quickly broke (only ever use Glock stock components) and 2) where my G19 recoil spring was long past its useful life and should have been replaced 2-3k rounds before,
  • a new, poorly cerakoted slide that had cerakote in the slide-rail channels, which occasionally prevented the proper loading of the first round of a magazine – until after about 400 rounds had been cycled,
  • a broken magazine-catch spring that I should have replaced about 10k rounds before.

That’s it. Not a single one of those had to do with a responsibly maintained Glock pistol failing to work—in ~170,000 rounds and none of them were the Glock’s fault.

Talk to any experienced professional firearms instructor and they’ll tell you that the pistol that seldom or never malfunctions in their classes is a Glock pistol. All others have a habit of regularly failing to function in some way. It all boils down to the components, the simplicity, and the engineering. Glocks work longer and when others won’t.

A Glock’s simplicity pays several dividends, both consequentially and aesthetically. As a man who requires my pistol to be a dead-reliable fighting tool, I don’t really care what it looks like. However, as a design professional, I like my tools to be elegant and minimalist. The aesthetics of both the architectural lines and the external-controls complement of the Glock pistol are indeed both elegant and minimalist. A Glock has everything that is needed and nothing that is not (like an external “safety” lever). I’ve always appreciated these characteristics that are particular to Glock and to no other model on the planet. Every other similar model (e.g. the CZ P-10C, the M&P 9MM Compact, etc.) all try much too hard to stylize the frame and the slide, and their external-controls complement is almost always far more obtrusive than that of a Glock pistol.

That beautiful simplicity is more substantive when you look inside. Glocks are very simple and easy to field strip, to fully disassemble, and to replace parts. Glock offers armorer classes to GSSF members, and while I highly recommend you take at least one, learning to perform maintenance and parts replacements on your Glock is quite easy with only a bit of practice and a few short minutes. And unlike virtually every other pistol model on earth, all Glock replacement components are very widely available and comparatively inexpensive. Simplicity is beautiful in all sorts of ways.

Regarding functional practicality, Glock pistols, especially G19s, possess among the best bore-axis to size to weight to capacity ratios of any pistol. Virtually every mid-sized pistol model made after the advent of the Glock 19 has tried to match or surpass this pistol on these measures and every one of them has failed to even match. Only recently have any of them approached the Glock 19 in these fundamental practical measures. Yet even these come up short as, for instance, the CZ P10C is larger and less concealable than the G19 and the REX Delta is fraught with reliability issues. Others simply can’t match the low bore axis or have less capacity and little to no aftermarket support.

Like any machinery, a pistol must be cared for and regularly maintained in order to continue to function properly. While Glock endures neglect better than any pistol on the planet, it behooves the owner to clean and replace all parts on an advisable schedule. Glock pistols are, not surprisingly, easier to care for and maintain than any other pistol. Stock OEM parts are, as mentioned before, widely available and inexpensively priced. As for ease of replacement, a single Glock Tool (or a simple punch) is all that is required to completely disassemble and reassemble the pistol, which can be done in seconds.

One aside about replacement parts: Only use Glock OEM parts. Never use another manufacturer’s parts as internal components in your Glock. I make this recommendation not because of some legal liability fallacy or purist fetish, but because every other manufacturer’s parts will either never function properly or will fail often and far sooner than a stock Glock part. Having tried dozens of options in my guns early on, not a single component managed to function for more than 2,000 rounds. Glock parts last, at the minimum, 5000 rounds (slide-stop spring and recoil spring) and most other parts last tens of thousands of rounds.

I keep a tacklebox that is for my Glock parts stocked with at least 3 of every Glock pistol part. When I use one, I order more. I keep 3 of each component not because they need replacing all the time (though I shoot a lot and replacement time comes due for me much faster than for most others), but because a) I don’t want to worry about not having what I need at any given moment, and b) because these parts are inexpensive enough that if a buddy or acquaintance at the range needs a quick replacement part, I can just give them what they need. Seriously, many of the components are $5 or less and the more expensive components are generally under $15 (not counting barrels and trigger sets). Getting parts and effecting replacement is easy day.

For those who like to accessorize their pistols, Glocks are the LEGOs of the pistol world. Most of the gun world’s manufactures offer accessories to change up or enhance what Glock provided. Now, as I mentioned earlier, I’m not fan of a pistol that’s setup to do anything other than be carried all day and reliably put holes in bad people. And while the Glock does this as well as can be done, there are some folks who like to visually or functionally enhance their pistols. For them, aftermarket producers provide Glock owners more options than those of any other pistol on the planet.

When it comes to the vital accessories, e.g. holsters, lights, etc.… no other pistol has as much market support as a Glock. Every holster maker makes Glock-model holsters and Glock models are always the soonest-to-market holsters when a new pistol is released that doesn’t fit an existing holster. Same goes for lights, iron sights (which is the one component that is a must-replace on any Glock), lasers and the like. The market takes care of Glock owners like no other owner group.


Despite the overwhelming and consequential benefits, Glock pistols do have some annoying shortcomings that must be addressed after purchase (sights!). So, there are lots of folks who have one or more complaints that explain why they don’t own or carry a Glock pistol. Very few of these complaints has even the slightest validity, as they almost always boil down to “out-of-the-box convenience.” There’s something to be said for out-of-the-box convenience. It makes some sense to purchase a pistol that has a smoother trigger, better-quality sights, fits your hand better, and has no finger grooves (if you care about that) out of the box as compared to a Glock. In the end, however, what you’re stuck with is a pistol that has these nicer qualities and is failure prone, insufficiently durable, and for which you cannot find parts or even disassemble the gun to get to what needs to be replaced without paying a professional armorer.

With a Glock, you may have to make those changes yourself to get the pistol you want. Sights are easy to replace, and I have yet to find any stock pistol of any model that has the sights I prefer on my EDC gun. So, in my opinion, every pistol out of the box will require augmentation and parts replacement.

The Glock trigger is just fine and the stock trigger can be greatly improved in 3 minutes by trading out the stock 5lb connector with a 3.5lb connector. Easy day.

The Gen 5 Glocks have no finger grooves. I love the finger grooves of the Gen 4, as they fit my hands perfectly. But if you can’t get a Gen 5, it takes only a few minutes to Dremmel off those finger grooves. If you’re worried about marring the grip of your new pistol, don’t. You’re going to want to stipple and, likely, contour the grip anyway, so do what’s right. Note that I’ll get into the details of modifications in the next article.

“Feels good in my hand” is not the measure of a pistol. Anyone who holds that as a valid criterion is missing the point and perhaps bargaining away their life. But there’s a difference between the grip being less than ergonomic and the grip being too large for proper trigger engagement. Those with smaller hands who want a double-stack pistol might have to choose another pistol brand simply because they can’t competently run a Glock. Fair enough. But I’d recommend going with a single-stack Glock rather than trading down to a potential brick in a time of need. But that’s me. I don’t compromise on my life.


So why Glock? That’s why. Yes, I’m biased—I’m biased because my Glocks have never let me down and I’m reasonably assured that they never will. In the event I must defend my life or the life of a loved one with my Glock, I am 100% confident in its ability to do its job. I train several days every week to ensure I’m as reliable as my pistol, should that horrible eventuality come to pass.

In my practical training each week; I draw and re-holster from/to concealment 100-300 times a session; drop it from chest height onto the ground/gravel dozens of times a session; throw it across the bay onto the ground on occasion; step on it while it’s on the ground; roll around the ground on it in my holster; and pound the living crap out of it with hundreds of tap-racks and reloads each session.

In that dynamic weekly training over the past few years I have failed many times. My Glock never has. I carry a Glock all day, every day. I won’t carry anything else.

43 thoughts on “Village Praxis: Why Glock? Insights From 170k Glock Rounds, Part 1 by Andy Rutledge”

  1. In before the commentariat goes full retard…

    Great article, Andy, and thanks for posting, Bill

    My findings mimic Andy’s. Except I do have a 17 with a 13lb aftermarket spring with 8-10k rounds of hard training, 6 or 8 classes, and many practice sessions with no ill affects

  2. Gaius Tacitus

    I sold all my Glocks. Glock has one edge over its competitiors (other than some being crap, like the M&P – Shield excepted, although it fits a fairly wide niche, it’s still a niche), that’s time in market. Oh yeah, there’s also the super aggressive marketing to the public and private sector (and marketing to the private through the public sector ). I’ve owned lots of Glocks (no “Gen” 5’s, I refuse to buy any more holsters). The Glock works – usually. Glock has a distressing habit of using its clients as unwitting and uncompensated beta testers (thanks for that brass in the face!). No “disrespect” intended to the author, I just can’t match my 25 years of experience with this product with half the bullshit I just read. The Glock is OK, it ain’t Perfection and never will be. It is an adequate self protection weapon, that’s all it needs to be. It is not, however, for me.

    1. Well, the special operations community chose it for a reason as well. And yes, I have “run with” the special operations community from time to time. I didn’t just read that they like Glocks.

  3. Gaius Tacitus

    Incomparable reliability? Incomparable reliability? Did Larry Vickers ghost write this puff piece? Comparing a 36 year old design that has gone through countless military acceptance tests and been tweaked for decades to a REX Delta (?) is laughable, they shouldn’t be mentioned in the same sentence. Do you know what a White Sound H.R.E.D. is? If you own a “gen” 4 Glock 19 you damn well should, the H.R.E.D. was the only way I could get 2 out of 3 Glock 19’s to work. I’m not a hater, I have used the weapon extensively and trained with it heavily, other than availability of parts and holsters its really nothing special. Even this long after 1983 the ergos still suck, damn. Final note, the handgun I’ve seen shrug off neglect and abuse and maintain reliability like no other and actually feels like a human hand was used somewhere in it’s design development is, oddly, the Beretta PX4, a basically moribund design – truly sad because it’s an excellent handgun. It’s just not what consumers want anymore. That last should make people howl. Lol.

  4. George Beltz

    This was a very good article that has been predictably not universally well received. I do not consider myself an expert. I retired from ICE after a number of years in the Border Patrol and was a firearms instructor for ICE and the Border Patrol. I am also a handgun aficionado and have owned and used many handguns with more than a few rounds at the range. My experience with handguns is that good quality ones usually perform if maintained properly.

    When I say perform I mean in a general sense. If you have a good quality handgun and you have it with you to protect yourself and loved ones and it has been maintained properly and you know how to use it, it will most likely work for you when you need it to fire all of its rounds in the magazine and another magazine or two. That is all it has to do in that context.

    However if I am going to go into harms way on purpose then my personal choice would be only one of two handguns. One would be the H&K USP compact, also the full sized USP. The other would be a Glock. I can shoot the H&K USP compact LEM trigger version better than the Glock. However the H&K is much more complicated to repair due to it’s complex hammer type lock work. The Glock is so simple to work on that it makes much more sense for most people over the H&K. Not to mention parts availability.

    Anyway that’s my story and I am sticking to it.

  5. Good article. Does the Glock walk on water to the stated degree? Yes and no. It is a machine after all and must be maintained. as the author notes. That said, I bought one of the first 500 ever imported into the US. It survived a lot of use and abuse (wish I had kept a round count!) It was still 100% when I gave it to a friend who is a Glock collector a year or so back. Yes, I do have other Glocks and shoot them regularly. No fan of gen 5 however. Had one for one month and sold it. Replaced with with a FN 509 which I am more and more thinking incorporates some real improvements Glock should have made on their gen 5 pistols.

  6. Pingback: Buppert: Why Glock? Part I | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  7. These articles about (insert subject here) cause me to snicker as I have (driven, shot, dated, etc) many varieties of (insert subject here) and know from experience there is nothing perfect of this world. I have for years carried a Kimber Pro Carry HD Stainless with 8 + 1. I have two 10 round Chip McCormick backup mags with me, everything in 45ACP. I shoot sub 2″ groups at 25 yards with it. I love everything about this piece but am humble enough to accept that someone will like something else better. Anyway, anytime some one insists something is the pinnacle I accept that they are a sphincter and move on.

    1. REMS:

      Curious to what exactly your training pace, round counts, classes, practice sessions look like in totality to make to support your post? 2″ Groups @ 25yd, is this bench rested? I’d like to see a video of the group if you can. Thanks!

  8. Johnny Paratrooper

    I think all guns are great.

    For defending yourself on-the-fly; the Glock is probably king.

    Also, I can make any gun malfunction.

    Cheap ammo, lack of cleaning, environmental effects… You name it.

    I know one malfunction the Glock has out of the box. The sights are off.

  9. I don’t own a Glock. Because I don’t want a Glook. I don’t own an AR 15. Because I hate them. I suppose it’s a nice cult if you are into that sort of thing. I like my steel. I like .45ACP . So another cult of the plastic gun wright up. MEH!

  10. I have several Glock pistols but my Glock 23 with a .357Sig and 9mm barrel is my “go to” edc. I agree with BB it doesn’t get much better than Glock.

  11. Liberty4Ever

    I’m a Glock fan and own several, for most of the reasons that were overstated in this article. However, it’s a bit fanboy-ish to state that you’ve shot the Glock extensively and it’s never failed…. other than the time the mag catch spring broke, but that wasn’t Glock’s fault because you should have known it was going to fail and replaced it before it did… oh, and that time the recoil spring broke, but that wasn’t the Glock’s fault because you should have known it was going to fail and replaced it before it did….

    Glock makes fine handguns. They’re reliable and they’re affordably priced. However, they are mechanical devices and like all machines they can fail. Despite their marketing, Glocks are a bit shy of perfection.

  12. I carry an H & K USP compact LEM at work because it is what is issued and required. I carry 9mm Glocks for every day carry and 10mm Glocks at my remote house.(Black bear territory)… The model of Glock depending on what size frame I can carry that day..(clothing,vehicle, etc.) I agree with your article absolutely.

    1. Stock Glock sights must be replaced (the polymer ones). I have my fave and others will surely have their fave. There is no stock gun that has sights I prefer. I always replace sights. My preference will not be anyone else’s preference so I don’t advocate a particular model except for me.

  13. I too carry a G19 about 95% of the time. I have a G43 that I don’t really like (too small and the trigger is crap) but I carry it every now and then when I REALLY don’t want it being seen. Its a Gen4. Really don’t like the Gen 5s. Miss the finger grooves, and apparently as a lefty I’ve gotten too used to being able to grip the pistol a little higher up than most, and every now and then when Im shooting the Gen 5 17 I have Ill very lightly touch and lefty slide release just enough to prevent the follower from locking the slide back. Frustrating, but Im not making changes to everything based on one gun Im probably gonna end up selling anyways.

    As far as modifications go, I have a 3.5 pound connector, and traded the trigger bar out for a Gen 3 model. Really makes a difference on a lot of guns, and if you aren’t swapping the mag release, you don’t need the bump on the Gen 4 trigger bar anyways.

    Also agree the sights are crap. I do love those Glock factory night sights. Not much reason to shop around, IMO. Although when buying a G26 for my wife, they didn’t have any more of them with the night sites, but they did have a set of Meprolight night sites in the store that the owner put on there and sold me the gun for the same price as they ones that come from glock with their night sites, which was nice since the meprolight sites are more expensive. I’d never owned or even looked at those before, but I’m a fan now.

    As an aside, this does come off a bit ‘fan-boy’-ish in some ways. I do love my glocks, but they are far from the only ultra reliable handguns out there. I own a couple sigs I also really like. And I’ve carried and abused and seen others abuse Sigs and Beretta’s for years at work and those things keep on working as well. I’m sure there are others, but those are the other two brands i have a lot of personal experience with. Would not hesitate to trust my life to either of those brands in a addition to the glock I now carry.

  14. I own a ton of 1911’s. A bunch of wheel guns. And one Glock. A G19. My daily companion, my best friend. For all the reasons you mention. Dawson Precision sights are mandatory. I should probably buy a couple more G19s

  15. Two Glocks here, a G21 and G30. Both .45acp, with the smaller allowing use with the larger’s magazines if wished. Not pretty, but reliable and durable – what you want a SHTF firearm to be. What has been a chore is finding a magazine pouch allowing good access yet secure – the cordura type flapped units aren’t completely useless, but damn – some are downright awful.

      1. Dale Fricke makes the best holsters and pouches for Glocks I have every used. Everyone in my shooting groups is using his stuff. Not cheap, but worth every penny. Comfortable and just the right amount of grip on the pistol and magazines.

        1. Thanks for the link. I’ll be ordering one of their Gideon holsters. I’m currently using a Blade Tech, which is a good holster. But it prints bad on a summer day.

          1. Enjoy! I have used the Archangel AIWB for years and my only problem with it is that it is not available for some of the other guns I use. 😉

          2. Bill, way to up and down through out the day for an appendix. I wish I could. So damn fast. I’ll cheat my ass off to get my gun in the fight. That’s the best I can do. Thanks again pal.

  16. So what do you suggest for a high quality reliable trigger replacement? I just replaced the mag release on my Glock 19 Gen 3 with a Tyrant Designs brand extended mag release. I was having issues being able to press the mag release without have to turn the pistol over and use two hands. I already replaced the sights with the GREAT XS 24/7 Big Dot too, the trigger is the only thing left. To be honest I’ve considered switching to a 17 because I feel like I don’t have as much of a grip on the 19, like my pink has nowhere to hold on to, but it could be in my head. I assume adding machined metal extensions to the mags would cause malfunctions, what do you say?

    1. Devin,
      Not sure why you want to replace your trigger, but the only replacement I can recommend is the McNally trigger. It is adjustable (but do not adjust it) and has what almost no other replacement trigger has: a polymer shoe. This polymer shoe & safety tab are essential, because aluminum shoes/tabs will destroy your frame, rendering your pistol useless in less than 20k rounds.

      Glock got this part right: metal touches metal, polymer touches polymer. When you replace a polymer part with metal, it abrades and deforms the polymer surface that it touches and will turn your $500 gun into a $500 brick. Be careful.

      1. OK, that makes sense. Well, I will leave it alone then. I like it otherwise, I’m just not sure about the grip length with my pinky feeling like it’s slipping off the end.

          1. Some recent training I did someone told me some people like to put thier index finger of their off hand on the front of the trigger guard, I’ve always just wrapper my off hand around my dominate hand. Well I gave it a try and I did REALLY well in that training, I was one point off from a perfect score when most were only getting half to 80%. My pinky was barely on the grip the entire time, so it most not be that important… But I’m a novice at best, so correct me if I’m wrong.

  17. Donn Gallahue

    The best gun in the world, is the one in your hand when hostilities ensue…that having been said, I carry a Glock

  18. Pingback: ZeroGov | Village Praxis: Why Glock: Recommended Modifications for a Fighting Gun, Part 2 by Andy Rutledge

  19. Silence DoGood

    You cherry-picked information from Chuck Taylor’s long-term torture test and omitted the fact that he not only experienced malfunctions and broken parts, he also wore out magazine springs and found out it extended magazine life appreciably if he loaded them a couple of rounds short.

    Which doesn’t detract from the extraordinary reliability he DID document, but it reeks of confirmation bias when you cite the ‘good’ from his test and omit the ‘bad.’

    1. I’m afraid I have never heard of Chuck Taylor and I didn’t cherry-pick anything from anything. Unless specifically noted otherwise, everything I mentioned here is from my experience. As mentioned, I have broken parts in my Glocks, but these are relatively few since I replace parts on an advisable schedule, as all of us should.

      Cynicism is not a bad thing, but needless insulting accusations do not reflect well on folk. Maybe strive to ask questions before exposing ignorance as the basis for your opinions. Cheers.

    2. Andy cherry-picked nothing, I noted Taylor’s article in my preamble and introduction to Andy’s article.



  20. Daniel Nelson

    Many thanks. This motivated me to finally learn how to take a Glock apart beyond a basic field strip and replace a dead spring. Turns out it isn’t that hard. Suggestions on better/best sources for the various springs and such?

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