Thanks to Erik Nelson from Nelson Gunsmithing for helping with writing this article! I’ve been slammed the last few days and really wanted to get this one published.
Before diving into why the ultimate SHTF pistol is Glock, I need to clarify; I avoided Glock for the longest time and even hated Glock… mostly because they were so popular that I wrote them off as uninteresting. Hell, I had a Lionheart LH9 Compact in for T&E before I even thought about throwing money towards Glock. I maintain that I’m not a fan of them, but even I have to admit: you can get better guns, and you can get cheaper guns, but you can’t find a gun in Glock’s weight class that is better and cheaper.
Now that I have (hopefully) shown that I’m not a Glock “fanboy”, let’s dive into the definition I’m using for “Shit Hits The Fan”. I’m using the term as it’s traditionally meant; war time, a total breakdown of society, supply chains are non-existent, and you may have had to evacuate your home. This type of situation is where 9mm or .40S&W Glocks are going to become the premier fighting pistol of forces both good and bad.
Is It Reliable?
In a true SHTF situation (or TEOTWAWKI- The End Of The World As We Know It)– we’re not going to be able to find Slip2k and G96 at every corner shop. Guns are going to have to go a long time between thorough cleanings. We may have to improvise lubes or even run guns dry. The Glock brand was built on a reputation of rock-solid reliability under extremely austere conditions. This will be an aid for someone who might need to make a limited supply of real gun oil last for months or years.
Ammunition choices may also be limited. Anything from 115gr Winchester White Box to steel-cased 9mm to high-end hollowpoints. In such a scenario it pays to have a gun that can feed the widest possible array of ammunition. Glocks were built to activate hard milsurp primers and can even feed steel-cased ammunition.
With only 34 parts a Glock is one of the least mechanically complex designs on the market. And as Glock armorers know, it’s possible to force the gun into firing with a fair number of those parts broken or even removed entirely.
Is Parts Availability Important?
Contrary to popular opinion, yes and no.
Parts availability and abundance is important if you’re trying to arm a lot of people without the need to go out and continually scavenge firearms for people to use. The amount of Glock parts floating around in the world is astonishing, meaning it would be relatively easy to stock an armory with common parts for the pistols. A single Glock can be cannibalized to keep multiple guns up and running. The military standardizes firearms for that precise reason; it means armorers only need a small selection of tools and spare parts to keep the entire team operational. Swapping between 9/40 and .45/10mm is a fairly trivial task that only requires altering a few key components such as the barrel, recoil spring, and ejector.
Even between generations there is a large overlap of common parts and fitment. One spare Glock can be cannibalized to keep several others up and running. The internet is full of people voiding their warranties by swapping parts between their Glocks. We absolutely do not recommend this as a general practice, but if your Gen5 slide cracks while you’re on the run from radioactive super mutants, you might have to adopt some new operational paradigms.
Ease of Use
Glock safeties are all internal. The sole user-operated safety is the trigger tab. There are no grip safeties or thumb lever safeties. The end user doesn’t have to adopt a new manual of arms or spend countless hours dry-firing to develop the muscle memory for a safety mechanism. The stock sights are dead simple and easy to replace with basic tools if needed. Glocks are also standardized with minimal changes to the frame and slide between generations. The grip mechanics are the same for the G23 as the G17.
In short if you shoot one Glock, you’ve shot all Glocks. The grip angle, recoil motion, and trigger pull is going to be very consistent from gun to gun. And if you’re lucky enough to pick up a heavily modified or improved gun, you’ll still have a firm foundation in the basic grip and mechanics of using it.
Keeping it Simple
The best takeaway from a Glock is that it’s simple. It is simple to clean, simple to operate, simple to work on (so easy, all you need is a pen to take one completely apart). They’re tolerant of neglect and extreme environments. Replacement parts are easy to locate and simple to install. And Glocks are priced reasonably enough that keeping 2-3 used police trade-ins as backup guns won’t destroy your gun budget.
While you may hate Glocks, while I may have avoided Glocks, you can’t take away several key things from Glock. They’re robust, they’re stupid simple to work on, parts are abundant, and there’s a lot of interchangeability going on from gun to gun. If you’re looking for the a firearm specifically to put on a duty belt for SHTF or one to keep in your bug out bag, a 9mm or .40S&W Glock is going to be your best option. Sure, you might not love it, you might even hate it, but it will continue to run for you regardless of the environment, and you will be able to maintain it. For what they do and for what they cost, Glocks are definitely the best fit for your plan in a SHTF scenario.
As a final note, there’s a lot of holster commonality as well if you don’t run a weapon light (have fun finding CR123As in the wasteland!). A Glock 17/22 holster will accommodate a Glock 19/22, and some will even fit a Glock 26/27. This means your belt holster, should you choose the G17/22 length, would accommodate a total of six different guns, and two different calibers.