TLDR: Glock handguns use three safety mechanisms, but none of them require a character to switch anything off. Disregard Glock safeties entirely when writing fiction.
In keeping with the recent theme of things that may or may not have safeties (knives, revolvers, etc.), let’s talk about Glock handguns. I (and probably some regulars of this blog) can remember reading novels and short stories where a character switched the safety off a Glock semi-automatic pistol. This is a boo-boo. Glocks don’t have safeties that switch off.
Maybe you’ve heard that tip before in lists of common gun mistakes writers make. The advice might’ve abbreviated this nugget down to “Glocks don’t have safeties.” That’s actually not true.
Yes, Glocks Have Safeties
Although they’re known for their simplicity, 99 percent of Glock handguns actually sport three safety mechanisms: trigger safety, firing pin safety and drop safety. Don’t worry if those sound foreign to you. You really only need to know one thing. See this tab in front of the trigger?
This is what’s known as a trigger safety. The tab prevents accidental discharges because the trigger must be pulled in a certain way (right in the center with rearward pressure) for the gun to fire. Deactivating that safety is as simple as pulling so the tab folds into the rest of the trigger, like this:
If that sounds a little like there isn’t a safety at all, you’re not alone. Some people are dead set against this type of set up. Others see no problem with it. From the standpoint of writing fiction, I don’t think this should prevent you from assigning Glocks to your characters. They became some of the most popular guns in the world for a reason. Just remember that when it comes to safeties on Glocks…
They Don’t Switch Off
Nope. There’s nothing to switch off. Nada. Zilch. Zero.
Characters Using Glocks
Technical jargon aside, it’s actually pretty easy to write about characters using Glocks. Forget about the safeties entirely. A character could pop a magazine (but not clip) into the pistol, “rack the slide” to load the first round into the chamber and pull the trigger until the ammunition is gone. Remember that because they’re semi-automatic pistols, Glocks will only fire one time per pull of the trigger. Fully automatic Glocks do exist, but I’ll save that for another day.
Why So Much Confusion About Glock Safeties?
Glocks never used safeties that switch off, so how did fiction get this area so wrong? There could be many reasons, but here’s my theory. Somewhere along the line, “Glock” became shorthand for “any modern, semi-automatic pistol.”
Glocks are certainly modern and use semi-auto actions, but they’re far from the only handguns fitting that description. Because some semi-auto pistols do use safeties that switch off, the feature somehow appropriated onto Glocks. The pop culture zeitgeist tends to do things like that.
Recommended Glock Models for Fiction
If you’re going to reference a Glock in a story, make it an actual Glock. Pick out a model from the Glock website so you write with something in mind. Some models I think are great for fiction are:
- Glock 22 (.40 caliber, good for police characters)
- Glock 41 (.45 caliber, good for characters needing to make windows inside of other characters)
- Glock 36 (.45 caliber, crime writer Laura Roberts chose this for a character, read about it here)
- Glock 17 (9mm, a true classic)
- Glock 19 (9mm, if it’s good enough for the Marines, it’s good enough for your characters)
Get the Book
The Writer’s Guide to Weapons: A Practical Reference for Using Firearms and Knives in Fiction (Writer’s Digest Books) comes with everything but the ammo. Pick up a print or digital copy from these fine retailers: