I attended my first Glock armorer’s course around ten years ago. While I have owned a variety of pistols over the years and I appreciated them all for any number of reasons, I kept returning to the Glock for its constant reliable functionality. I sat in a classroom and learned how to disassemble one beyond the basic field strip. I marveled at just how few parts one pistol was comprised of. The overall simplicity and interchangeability appealed to me on a deep level. I love gadgets in general, and one that a simpleton such as myself could fully take apart and put back together without outside help only served to increase my affection.
I try to keep my own counsel and champion whatever gun an individual person can afford, operate safely and effectively and is right for that person. I am fortunate in that I have had a life of exposure and training on all sorts of firearms. There are revolvers and semi-automatics that I have adored. Some for their beauty, some for their history, some because they combined multiple traits. Returning to Mr. Glock’s creation, two things stood out for me: 1) in thousands upon thousands of fired shots in training with assorted models and calibers, I never suffered a malfunction except the ones purposefully induced. 2) Simplicity… no, elegant simplicity. I was in awe that it comprised of so few parts.
Yet in that classroom so many years ago there was one element of disassembly that I always had trouble with. In the firing pin spring assembly lurked two teeny tiny black polymer half-moon cups. While the spring remains under tension these little critters restrain that beastly coil. To fully disassemble this assembly, an armorer must draw that spring back under further tension to release those cups from around the pin assembly. I would use the actual pistol slide and reverse the assembly to get those things loose. Perhaps because of my weakling grip or fidgety fingers, it almost always went wrong.
I do not make it a regular habit of a complete tear-down, usually once or twice a year or after some high-volume practice. To be clear, a field strip and clean will almost always suffice. Yet as a novice gadgeteer, I do enjoy the process… with one exception. Inevitably, almost without fail, each time I would embark on this endeavor at least one of those teeny tiny half-moon critters would shoot out of my control and across whichever room I was in. I am unashamed to admit I spent many hours on hands and knees searching my floors… moving furniture, even a refrigerator once.
Hence an idea was born. A seed was planted that took many years to grow into something more than just a rare problem.
In late 2015 my son mentioned to me the technology of 3D printing. He was fascinated by this and to foment his interests in science and technology I took him to tour a factory of a maker of such devices in our home state. We drove to the Lulzbot factory in Loveland, CO spending more time on the road than the actual tour requires. I found it pretty darned fascinating and wondered what would I make if I had such a device at my disposal.
Later I started reusing a free software program called Sketchup I had played with extensively in the previous years. Instead of drawing up a tile remodel for a bathroom or creating mock-ups of a dream home I started toying with this idea in my head of a tool that would help me take apart one of my favorite gadgets, the Glock.
Over months, dozens if not near three-digits worth of iterations were rendered. I always began with the desire to have something to solve the flying cups problem. How do I restrain that spring to free those buggers without launching them into a hands-knees search? I wanted such a tool to retain the basic simplicity of the OEM tool, and maybe make the magazine floor plate removal a bit easier? Throw into the mix a want to have something to get into those rail cuts in the slide? Getting my hands on the latest Gen4 with the back-strap options I also thought I’d have something polymer rather than metal to pry that thing loose.
I had other ideas in mind at times, a cleaning brush? A means to hang onto the cleaning rod and bore brush? On and my mind came up with other additions. I did get a 3D printer. At one point, I believed I had the “TOOL”. It is amazing what happens when you start seeing something made into a real-life thing you can hold. My ultimate tool or the closest reasonable facsimile thereof wound up being the size of a softball. Back to the drawing board, or the laptop screen.
I had to whittle down my list. It must have a feature to assist in the firing pin assembly, it must have a punch to be used in the same fashions as the factory tool. It had to be functional with all present models of Glock. It had to be handy in size, fitting easily into your pocket, your range bag, or your web-gear. I got to keep the mag-plate features, the back-strap pry, and the slide rail “probe”.
I am supremely fortunate in that I have a friend, a former car-partner, a brother, who saw something in me and this process. I am also fortunate in his ability to find complete strangers and make into them friends. Eventually, I settled onto a prototype. We made quite a few on the 3D printer. He made some contacts with some wonderful folks who were willing to try it out and give feedback.
It was and remains very important to me that if I offer something to the world as a solution, or improvement or whatever, that it works reliably. I needed to know with some measure of exterior reassurance that I was offering something of tangible value to a user. The feedback was invaluable. I was shown some early mistakes that were corrected, and I became able to understand that for real robustness we would need to change from an additive manufacturing model, “AKA 3D printing” to injection molding.
As much as I had an “idea”, it could not be borne into the world without Rob. His insights and abilities have been amazing. Other than the idea itself I had only two requirements: we would always make it here in America and it would be guaranteed for life. If it breaks, it gets replaced. Period.
My sincerest wish and hope for you, the end-user, is that the Glock Operator’s Tool makes your adventures with your particular Glock easier, simpler, and if at all possible even more enjoyable than it already is.