A debate as old as Ford versus Chevy

Submitted photoLarry Case, left, with a 1911 pistol, squares off with Woodrow Brogan IV, who is using a Glock. One of the great debates among gun enthusiasts for years has centered on which of these sidearms is better.

Some people like to argue. You know this is true and you know people who do it. Maybe you are one of them.

I personally know some whom I have told I would go out in the woods, find them a tree stump and bring it to them so that they could argue with it. You know the type. Back in the day the “motor head” car crowd loved to argue about the merits of Fords and Chevys. I guess it is still going on today.

I have always thought that some people in the gun world can be very opinionated. One of the most talked about, discussed, cussed and fought over gun topics is the 1911-style pistols compared to the Glock. The gun world has beat this dead horse until it is mostly dust.

For a quick review, the semi-automatic pistol that became known as the 1911 is the brain child of John Moses Browning, a gun-inventing genius who gave us dozens of well-known firearms, including the Browning A-5 shotgun. The 1911 was conceived by Browning and included in the testing as the military was looking for a more substantial sidearm for our troops and was chambered in the .45 ACP.

The weapon carried at the time, the .38 revolver, was considered not adequate by the soldiers engaged in combat with the Moro tribesmen in the Philippines (for more on this, see “Thoughts on Mr. Browning’s Pistol” at my website, www.gunsandcornbread.com). The 1911 .45 was the issued sidearm for our military through two world wars and the Korean and Vietnam wars, and some specialized units still use it today.

The Glock pistol has quite a different background. The inventor, Austrian Gaston Glock, had never engineered a firearm prior to 1980 when the Austrian military announced it was seeking designs for a new sidearm to replace the Walther P-38 handguns. Glock quickly assembled a team of firearms experts and soon delivered the Glock 17, which beat out several other pistol companies in the subsequent testing, including Sig Sauer, Heckler and Koch, FN and Berretta. The Glock became the issued sidearm for the Austrian military; many other countries would follow.

The Glock pistol was very revolutionary at the time, being a striker-fired pistol — not hammer-fired like the 1911 — which means there is an internal mechanism to “strike” the round of ammunition to make it fire, different from the hammer and firing pin system of the 1911. The Glock does not have an external hammer (like the 1911) and many believe this makes the weapon better for concealed carry as it is less likely to get snagged on clothing.

More than that aspect, however, what really caused the Glock to raise eyebrows and the 1911 fans to gnash their teeth was the Glock 17 is not an all-metal gun. The slide on the Glock pistols is metal; the frame, however, is a high-strength nylon-based polymer. To the old school 1911 followers, this was heresy.

Volumes have been written in magazines and websites by loyal 1911 followers condemning the Glock for being a plastic (which it is not) gun that is a piece of junk. This issue has paid the rent for more than one gun writer. Then there is the issue of the safeties on these guns. Oh, yes, that is another good one.

Browning’s design for the 1911 included two safeties which must be disengaged for the weapon to fire. One is the grip safety which is deactivated when the shooter grasps the weapon and the other is a manual thumb safety which is pressed downward with the thumb by a right-handed shooter. The 1911 loyalists insist this makes the pistol safe to handle, while Glock advocates say this makes the 1911 too complicated, with too many buttons to push and too many things to go wrong in high stress situations.

The Glock pistol has built-in safety features to its trigger and inner mechanism — indeed, the company named it the “Safe Action Trigger.” Have there been accidental or negligent (they are different) discharges with a Glock pistol? Absolutely. Has the same thing happened with 1911-style guns? You bet! You will find that most of the time when a firearm goes off when it shouldn’t, it is the fault of the shooter, not the gun.

Where do I land on all this? You are going to say I am riding the fence, but I like both. When my department converted to the Glock for a duty gun, I was one of the old heads that griped about it. I said this gun is really ugly (another thing the 1911 fans say about the Glock), it’s made of plastic and it’s just a cheaply made piece of junk. I then watched as our officers took the Glock to the range and shot better than I had seen them shoot before.

I like the Glock because it goes bang every time I pick it up and pull the trigger. Only speaking for myself, this is job No. 1 that any handgun must accomplish before I will have anything to do with it. For a self-defense handgun, I also prefer no manual safeties to worry about when things get real.

Right about now the 1911 devotees are ripping the paper and spilling coffee. Guys, I understand. I have owned and shot 1911 pistols and they are great guns. As with many things in life, this issue is a matter of personal preference. If you like the 1911 Colt .45 ACP, carry it in good health. If you would rather pack a Glock pistol with 18 rounds in it, more power to you.

Now that we have that over with, let’s argue about something important, like what is the best caliber to deer hunt with or if your Uncle Ed really did see a mountain lion last week.

Email: larryocase3@gmail.com

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