And why they love Glocks today.
A History of the Army's Long Courtship with Glock Guns
JSSAP’s first run of testing occurred in 1977, before the Glock existed.
While the Glock pistol has long been a favorite of American police departments, taking up to 75 percent of the police handgun market, by some figures, it has seen far less use in the U.S. military. While Glocks are now used by almost every elite unit in the military, it wasn’t like that for most of the 1990s and 2000s.
So why was adoption of the Glock initially slow? How did it overcome those barriers? Why has it replaced 1911s, Sigs and Berettas as the sidearm of elite units?
Despite being designed for an Austrian military contract, the first official adopters of the Glock in the United States were police agencies. While guns were acquired by the Department of Defense and other national entities for tests, the Glock was not adopted by the U.S. military.
(This first appeared in January 2019.)
The most likely reason for the military’s reluctance to adopt the Glock in the late 1980s was that the U.S. military already transitioned to a 9mm semiautomatic pistol from the Colt 1911 a few years before. Starting in the 1970s, the U.S. military attempted to consolidate its inventory of handguns (over twenty were used before then) in the Joint Service Small Arms Program (JSSAP).
JSSAP’s first run of testing occurred in 1977, before the Glock existed. The trials were won by the Beretta 92 but results were inconclusive. The program was restarted under army management as the XM9 handgun program.
The Glock was invited to compete during the XM9 trials in 1983, but the company was just tooling up for its Austrian Army contract and thus could not provide the requisite amount of testing pistols nor material support. The Beretta 92 won again and was adopted as the M9.