Guns & Ammo’s Garry James has compiled a list of The Ten Most Influential Handguns of All Time. They are the Wheellock, Colt Paterson; Deane, Adams and Dean; No. 1 Smith & Wesson, No. 3 Smith & Wesson, Luger, Colt 1911 Government Model, Smith & Wesson .357, Browning High-Power and the Walther P.38. While it’s hard to argue with any of James’ choices, the gun writer positioned the Glock 17 as the “extra credit” gun. Number 11 out of 10. I reckon the Glock deserves a place in the top ten. [I just received an advance copy of Glock, The Rise of America’s Gun. My review next week.] Do you agree that Gaston’s Glock should occupy a more elevated spot onto James list? If so, which handgun would you demote?

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41 Responses to Question of the Day: Is the Glock 17 One of the Ten Most Influential Handguns of All Time?

  1. While I loathe the Glock with a passion, I do agree It is one of the most influential handguns ever made. Look at all new handguns rolling out of the factories, about 75% have something akin to a Glock; Sigmas, XDs, M&Ps, and countless others. I think It’s safe to say that the Glock has changed the firearms industry.

  2. What a stupid list. This piece makes several of my lists:

    Ten Most Self-Indulgent Gun Writers
    Ten Best Gun Features to Pull Out of Your Ass When You Can’t Think of Anything Original to Write About
    Ten Relatively Harmless Ways to Waste a Saturday Morning

    Three S&Ws made it and the Glock is #11? I’m a Smith lover and a Glock hater and even I can’t swallow that.

  3. Yes, the Glock is a great gun. Many newer guns now resemble it in form and function.
    It has fewer parts than most semiautos which means less to go wrong. It is simple to use, simple to maintain, it takes a beating, and you can change the trigger pull and feel fairly easy ( heavier, lighter, longer). It is easier to train people to shoot consistently due to the same trigger pull each and every time. The are tons of add ons for it if you want to customize a gun. And, they make a great single stack .45 for every day carry that actually fits in your waistband.

  4. Of course the Glock 17 is among the top ten ten most influential handguns. That pistol is the reason why there are so many plastic guns sold today, and the reason why Glock owns a huge percentage of the civilian handgun market. But why is the wheel-lock on the list? It wasn’t the first handgun taken into battle, it didn’t work very well to begin with, it was far outclassed by the flintlock that replaced it and the wheel-lock was an evolutionary dead end.

    • Ralph:

      Am curious, what “first handgun taken into battle” you are referring to. If you are speaking about hand-cannons, those took two hands to fire, and were basically longarms. Actually wheellocks, when properly constructed and tuned, work very well. Wheellock hunting rifles were used well into the flintlock era, and preferred by many because of their faster ignition. Yes, they generally stopped making wheellock pistols when flintlocks became pre-eminent, but that’s all part of the evolutionary process; one thing leads to another, etc. Also, what many people seem to be missing about the list, and what is specifically mentioned in the intro, is the guns were listed chronologically, not by merit. The Glock was at the end, simply because it was the most recent to appear.

        • There were no practical matchlock handguns, for the simple reason that it took two hands to manage the gun and the burning match cord. Keeping a match cord, lit, trimmed and ready to go was not conducive to one-hand guns nor fast work afoot or mounted. Try it sometime, you’ll see. The Japanese made some, but they appeared later than the wheellock and were something of an aberration.

        • Nope, matchlocks were made before wheel-locks, and your thinking of a hand gonne, I’m talking about a matchlock, that uses a simple trigger mechanism that held a slow match in a clamp that, when the trigger was depressed, lowered the match cord into the flash pan. While they are rare, match-lock pistols were made to be used from horseback.

        • The ones you are referring to sound like the Japanese pistols, to me. If you can find a reference to, or picture of one, earlier than a wheellock, either European or Asian, I would be very interested learn about it. That’s what we’re here for–to swap knowledge.

        • Read the wikipedia page on the matchlock, then the one on the wheel-lock. Long story short, the first dated illustration of the matchlock dates to 1475, and the wheel-lock was developed around 1500. Not by much, but the ML has been around longer than the WL, but the former was much more prevalent because of the difficulty of manufacturing the latter.

  5. People hate glock in exactly the same manner that people raised on big, american iron hated imports.

    It is totally irrational, but so rooted in the id/ego of the person that they are practically myopic. There are a a large number of people who try them out and find that they dislike the grip angle or still against the aesthetics of the product, but they are in the minority.

    • That “minority” of people who dislike the Glock grip/ergonomics have sure done a great job of creating a huge aftermarket for grip reductions and replacement frames. I guess 49.9% is technically a minority.

      • I’ll bet well less than $1million in annual sales for the aftermarket frames and plastic weld framework within the entire industry.

        It is very visible in the internet world, but a very small cottage industry. Million + glocks sold and likely less than 10,000 with frame modifications. Nowhere near 49.9%

        • One would guess that most people that don’t like Glock grip and ergonomincs don’t buy one in the first place.

  6. While not a Glock fan I would have to agree that Glock has influenced the handgun world. I’ve shot several and done well with them. I just didn’t care for how they fit my hand.

    A wheellock? Really? That’s probably the only one on the list I’d question.

  7. The Luger. It wasn’t the first or only semi-auto at the time. The advantages of semi-autos were obvious, and the technology would have been adopted regardless of whether or not the Luger existed. Mechanically, it was a dead end. Nobody uses the toggle bolt action, while nearly everyone copied Browning’s short recoil action.

    Glock wasn’t the first polymer pistol either, but it was the first popular polymer pistol, and the effect on the market has been long-lasting.

    • While I agree that the toggle bolt is really nothing more than a novelty today, you have to give the Luger credit for the cartridge that bears its name. Whether you love or hate the 9mm “LUGER”, it is probably the most popular centerfire handgun cartridge in the world. JMB used it for his Hi Power and Glock used it for the Glock 17. Just like the S&W .357, this gun is important because a very important cartridge was developed around it. Otherwise, take the S&W off the list for being just another DA revolver.

      As for the Glock 17, it should be in the top 10. I can’t remember the last time I saw a cop carrying a steel framed pistol. If the US Military ever replaces the M9, it is clear that the replacement will be polymer. Glock lit that fire.

      I’d take the P38 off to make room for the Glock.

    • Many Japanese are fascinated by violence and the tools of the trade. People are naturally curious about those things which are denied to them.

      • “Many Japanese are fascinated by violence and the tools of the trade. People are naturally curious about those things which are denied to them.”

        You’re right on both counts! I’ve lived here about 15 years, and the fact that I’m denied them makes me lust after them more and more. I look forward to moving back and reestablishing my own little collection (which won’t include a Glock, though I agree it belongs on the list due to its influence). Todd F.

        Todd F.

  8. I can’t disagree with S&W and the 1911 on there, but the Luger and P38 are dumb choices. How were these handguns influential, again? Are there dozens of modern Luger and P38 repros on the market today? Were they widely used outside of Germany and a few other European nations?

    I would have personally chosen the Walther PP and by extension Makarov instead.

  9. Not a Glock fan (at all) but even I would put the Gen 1-3 Glock 9mm’s in the top 10 (probably 10th). The Gen 2-3 Glock .45’s would come in around 11th. Both have proven themselves to be game changers. The Glock .40’s and the Gen 4’s would come in around 379th right after the original S&W Sigma but before the Lorcin 9mm.

    • They are talking gun designs and not calibers.

      How in the world could one say a design should be in the top 10 only to put the same gun in the bottom of the list due to a different caliber!?!

      That is why these lists are crap. People are way too subjective and emotional….doesn’t work with a list.

      • Like this: Because the Glock in 9mm is a fine handgun. The Glock in .40 is a POS. So there you go.

        The only person I see getting emotional here is you.

        • Um….OK. you do know the difference in the two right? There are 3 parts that are different.

          I suppose if I were on the schoolyard I am supposed to respond “I know you are, but what am I?”

  10. People love to hate Glocks, and by extension every inexpensive, rugged, ugly, reliable, durable polymer pistol. Gotta justify those $800 1911s and $1k Smiths somehow. (Not to mention those $3k Wilsons 🙂 /jab )

    • I happily traded in my Glock 22 (full size 40 cal) for my Ruger SP101 357 wheel gun that costs less. The following month I bought my Ruger SR9C which is based on Glock’s internal firing mechanism and trigger system. I don’t hate Glock and appreciate what they have contributed to pistol development. The specifics of their design and features are simply wrong for me.

  11. Add Glock, demote the High-Power-and me a JMB cultist.
    You anti-wheellock folks should realize that its true significance is that it was the first gun that could be carried concealed.

  12. I strongly dislike the Glock. It’s a personal subjective decision based mostly on its ergonomics and safety features. Yet the Glock’s contribution’s in terms of its internal design and use of materials has been obviously influential. Its relatively recent introduction to our current era may preclude our ability to be objective in its inclusion/exclusion.

    The only thing I’m really hot for about Glock is Mrs. Glock who looks like a blond haired Russian beauty. Oops, I think I’m committing a sin by lusting after elder Mr. Glock’s young wife who is on the other side of the planet. The Orthodox are right in this case that a woman should not be photographed.

  13. Vote the Glock in. And if they had a category for ugly, it might be number one. Except for the Croatian XD which is even uglier. Great but ugly. Nice combo.

  14. The Colt 1911 does it for me .45 acp . A 9mm hollow point may or may not expand but a .45 won’t get smaller.

  15. the break top revolver can go. The “ejecting all cartridges at once” feature can be covered elsewhere. The “reducing pistol weight by 40%” feature belongs in there because pistols in the future are going to look more like Glocks than they will 1911’s and revolvers. The Glock 17 gen 1 should be at least #10 on that list. Who knows, a future list might feature the FN five seven, but that revolution hasn’t born fruit yet.

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