We have all seen the argument play out hundreds of times on various forms of social media, web sites, and even in person, one of the greatest gun arguments of all time the 1911 Vs Glock debates. The debate has raged for years with each side touting the accomplishments of their pistol and it’s service history. The 1911 fans will point to winning both World Wars, with the 1911, and slugging it out against communists for nearly 50 years after that. Second on that list of bragging will be the admitted genius of John M. Browning and his history of innovation and overall contribution to the gun community. The Glock fan boys will then counter the argument and tout the marvel of polymer technology and go on for hours about Gaston Glock and his safe action system and tenifer coatings. Then they will head directly into the debate of the perceived unreliability of the 1911. This school yard dance of “Mine’s better than yours” will go on for hours it seems. In the end it’s a ridiculous debate that really should never be started in the first place, and I will explain why I feel that it’s a giant waste of time and does a discredit to both pistols.
The Facts about the M1911
The facts that we know are indisputable, both pistols as famous as they are actually are not the first of their kinds. The M1911 was in fact the final step in the self-loading semi automatic pistol design that Colt had been working on since the 1890’s. The Colt Model 1907 pictured below was the final step in the evolution to what we recognize as the M1911. I say all that to prove a point, innovation often times comes by standing on the shoulders of past failures or successes. Progress is a normal part of human evolution.
The Facts about the Glock
Gaston Glock we all know started out by making accessories and field gear for the German Army, not by making pistols overnight. In fact Gaston Glock was over 50 before he ever designed his first pistol, a fact many forget. That being said Glock, being extremely well versed in polymer technology took a look at early polymer pistols like the Heckler & Koch VP70 and decided in the best interests of his wallet and his company, to stand on the shoulders of H&K and make a better pistol. This is over simplifying the events, but again Glock saw an idea, thought he could do it better, with more advanced technology and took a leap of faith. The results I would say paid off handsomely for the company over the last 30 years.
Why the Debate is Ridiculous
Now that we have established that both of the guns are in fact not the first their kinds lets quickly examine why the debate as a whole is ridiculous. In order to appreciate the greatness of each pistol you have to look at them independent of each other, which can be difficult if you are too emotionally invested in the argument. We will start with the elder statesman the M1911 and list why it was revolutionary for the early 20th century.
- Used a much larger and more powerful cartridge than other pistols at the time
- Used both a grip safety and a thumb safety
- Reliability that had not been seen in self-loading semi automatic pistols at the time
- Served in almost every conflict zone in the 20th century, 100 plus year service life
- Easy to use
- Can easily withstand severe conditions
- Designed in early 20th Century (Span of 1900-1911)
- Made of steel
- Design began 1979
- Uses striker fired system
- No external safeties
- Used by roughly 65% of Law Enforcement in the United States
- Originally used a smaller 9mm cartridge.
- Uses a double stack 15 rounds + magazine
- Can withstand an amazing amount of abuse
- Made of a combination of steel slide and barrel with polymer frame
Conclusions and Common Sense
This is where people get lost in the emotional side of the argument. Common sense and logic would dictate that it is nearly impossible to compare two weapons separated by 70+ years of technological advances and use the same criteria. If we were using the same debate against two other objects, say an airplane we would be comparing the Wright Flyer or the Fokker DR 1 Tri Plane to a modern jet fighter like the F-15 Eagle. It’s an absurd comparison and trying to make the debate could make you sound like an imbecile. It could be argued that without the one the other could very likely not exist. After all it was John Brownings assistant Dieodonne Saive that perfected the double stack magazine design that most modern firearms including the Glock series of pistols use. Interesting idea to contemplate isn’t it ?
In the early 20th century when metallurgy was evolving just as fast as the firearms industry it was a time of radical ideas and concepts being drawn out and tested, some with great success while other ideas were doomed from the start. The M1911 was a game changer and shortly after its release the semi automatic pistol market largely entered a stagnant state. A few exceptions like the Browning Hi Power and the Walther P38 were changes in concepts and amazing in their own rights, but not anywhere near the level of the 1911.
This is where the Glock and the M1911 are alike, in the late 1970’s the pistol market was relatively flat with the exception of revolvers. It could be argued that the Glock was in a way the M1911 of the last part of the 20th Century, it’s that important of a piece in the evolution of firearms. It’s not a “better” gun than the 1911, in a traditional sense of the word but it is most likely one of the best guns of its generation. Wether you love or hate the ergonomics or trigger of the Glock, there is no denying it helped change the tools of modern law enforcement around the globe. In simple terms, both pistols were amazing for the time period they were conceived.
In closing I want to say that while I understand that a good-natured ribbing between friends about guns, trucks, sports or whatever is just part of being a guy but the near constant Glock vs 1911 arguments aren’t realistic. I know this article won’t end the debate or make diehards stop doing what they do, but it hopefully will cast a light on how ridiculous the whole thing is to those of us watching who own both pistols and are adult enough to recognize their individual greatness in the grand scheme of hand gun evolution.
Just remember that the rest of the shooting community is watching when these debates rage on. If you have to tear down another weapon or thought process to support your own choices it looks like you aren’t secure in your selection. I know Ive been guilty of walking into these types of debates, sometimes it just happens, and usually afterwards when things relax I recognize the error of my ways. We want to know, are there any gun debates that your routinely find yourself engaging in ? If so what are they ? Remington vs Mossberg ?, Remington vs Winchester ? 9mm vs 45 ACP? There seem to be so many of them its hard to keep track of.