100,000-Round 9mm Torture Test
By Chuck Taylor
On four occasions since 1990, I've written articles about a continuing evaluation I've been conducting to ascertain the longevity of the Glock Model 17 9mm pistol. The first of these, appearing in the February, 1993, issue of Combat Handguns, contained my findings as to the weapon's performance and durability after 33,000 rounds fired. At this juncture, I stated:
- "I carried it in the rain, snow, dust and mud. I carried it when the temperatures were over 100 degrees and when they were 40 below.
- "I presented the gun more than 10,000 times from it's plastic slide holster, speed loaded it 2,000 times, performed over 5,000 tactical loads, shot it weak-handed in excess of 2,500 times and field-stripped it 250 times.
- "From the beginning, I resolved to grind it into the dirt, abuse it like no gun I ever had."
- "Why? To find out the truth about Glocks, for once and for all...
- "And I succeeded in doing just that. In a 30-month period, I fired 33,000 rounds, all factory loads, of every imaginable type made-- and it ate them all, almost without a single malfunction. I say 'almost' because on the 32,994th round, I finally had one-- a failure to feed! And this in spite of the fact that I cleaned the gun every 10,000 rounds whether it need it or not!
- "100 rounds short of the 5,000th shot, both factory-provided magazines ceased to hold the slide open after the last shot, although they both continued to function normally otherwise. At round number 11,000 a second set did the same and was replaced by another.
- "By the 500th holster presentation, the left side of the front site was so badly worn that a proper site picture was no longer possible. It was subsequently replaced with a steel version.
- "By round number 16,000, I could see steel through the finish-- but it never did rust, although it was exposed repeatedly to rain, snow, perspiration and even blood.
- "The trigger pull, originally 5.5 pounds, got smoother and a bit lighter, but it never did double or demonstrate a glitch of any kind.
- "And after all this, it still shoots into 3 inches at 25 meters, not much different than when it was new."
Impressed, to say the least, I was still determined to see the test though to the point where the gun failed. So, although the piece had passed the 33,000-round mark without significant negative results or breakage, I continued the test.
The months went by and the test continued. By the end of the summer, 1993, the gun had shot 50,000 rounds without a hitch. Among my additional observations published in Glock Autopistols 1995, were these:
"And now, after 50,000 rounds, nothing has really changed. It still:"Clearly, the Glock M-17 is a heck of a pistol and, as a survival instrument, is well worthy of our consideration. It is well-designed, well-made and capable of surviving a wide variety of environmental conditions. It will feed the entire spectrum of bullet shapes and functions reliably with virtually all power levels of 9mm ammunition. In addition, it resists corrosion magnificently and its design causes minimal wear on working parts, giving it an unbelievable long service life.
"Ugly? Maybe, maybe not! It depends on what's important to you-- cosmetics, or function. Regardless, it's my opinion that the Glock 17 is not only a winner, but may well be the world's best 9mm pistol. Obviously, only time will tell, but in the meantime, I've got 25,000 more rounds of 9mm ammunition to run through it to find out."
And the test continued. By February, 1995, the 25,000 rounds were expended, bringing the total to an unbelievable 75,000! Yet, the gun was still going strong, showing no indications whatsoever of impending failure. I replaced nothing-- no springs, firing pins, connectors or any other parts. In fact, viewed from the broad perspective, the gun had actually outlived it's magazines-- six two-mag sets at that point.
Truthfully, I had run out of things to do to the gun. Short of running over it with a car or freezing it into a solid block of ice-- both which I regarded as silly, since they fail to mirror real-world conditions and therefore prove nothing-- I had repeatedly exposed the gun to everything. In the July, 1995, issue of Combat Handguns and Summer, 1995, issue of Glockster, I said:
1. "Reliably get center-hits on a 18 x 30-inch steel silhouette target at 75 meters, knocking down five such silhouettes in under ten seconds.
- "After more than 70,000 holster presentations, I can detect no additional finish wear from that which appeared by 20,000 presentations.
- "The bore is still without corrosion or excessive wear; the piece still shoots inside the 9-ring of a 25-meter pistol target, using the offhand Weaver Stance. In fact, to determine if any deterioration of intrinsic accuracy had occured, I fired it from 35 meters in a Ransom Rest-- the worst groups were 2 inches!
- "As an example of its practical accuracy capability, I offer the following. With the test gun, I was able to perform the following:
2. "Take a whitetail deer with a single shot behind the shoulder at a laser-measured 70 meters.
3. "Successfully pass the ASAA Handgun Combat Master test with it, presenting it from concealed carry, shooting a score of at least 383 out of a possible 400."
My other observations at that time included:
- "Internal parts exhibited no real wear or deterioration.
- "The polycarbonate frame, though it had at one spot worn smooth from holster contact, appeared intact and without discernible deterioration.
- "After more than 50,000 speed loads and an equal number of tactical loads, the magazine well was scarred somewhat but still serviceable.
- "While the 56,103rd round blew a primer, the gun was undamaged. The resulting stoppage, a Type 3 (Feedway) was quickly cleared and the weapon returned to service.
- "The trigger remained at 5.1 pounds, a reduction from it's original poundage of only 0.4 pounds. It was still smooth and had a crisp let-off.
- "It was discovered that magazine service life could be dramatically increased by loading only 15, rather than the rated 17, rounds of ammunition. If a 'Plus-Two' floorplate is utilized, then-- and only then-- should a full 17 rounds be loaded. This prevents the follower spring from being fully compressed, thus causing it to soften and finally 'set', as the expression goes.
- "The Trijicon (tritium) sights installed early in the test were still completely serviceable."
It looked like the test was over. The pistol had survived an incredible 75,000 rounds and was completely intact. I had my desired data-base-- the Glock M-17 was irrefutably a terrific pistol. In fact, I was so impressed that I concluded my article in Combat Handguns with this statement:
"Pretty, it ain't, especially after all it's been through. On the other hand, beauty is said to be in the eye of the beholder, and to me, the Glock is a tool, not an objet d'art. This being the case, we must view it differently-- function, not aesthetics, is the prime criteria. Viewed from this perspective, there can be no doubt that the Glock M-17 looks mighty good indeed."
Well, I just couldn't leave it alone. My curiosity about just how long the gun could survive continued to be intense. So, from my stores, I broke out an additional 25,000 rounds of assorted 9mm ammo and continued the test.
And now, the fall of 1995, after having fired a total of 100,000 rounds of virtually all kinds of ammunition...
Nothing has changed! The gun looks the same, feels the same, functions the same as it did before. I've done everything within reason to this gun. I've carried it all over the world, quite literally in every environmental condition known to man-- the steaming jungles of Latin America, the windblown deserts of the southwestern U.S., the 40-below zero tundra of Alaska in the winter.
And it worked-- every time. In fact, since I discovered that loading 15, rather than the rated 17, rounds into the magazine prevented the follower spring from softening, I haven't had a single malfunction. Both magazines used in this last 25,000 portion of my test remain strong and completely serviceable. And, by way of confirmation, I replaced the old springs in the magazines that failed during the test with new ones from Glock, and they, too, function perfectly.
I am especially impressed by the lack of apparent finish wear, even after over 100,000 holster presentations. The gun looks exactly as it did at 20,000! I've actually worn out several holsters, finally selecting the M-D Labs "Thunderbolt" (which I codesigned with M-D honcho Kevin McClung) and matching mag carrier as the best. It's super-fast, yet secure and highly concealable, and being made of Kydex, it's by far the toughest rig now in existence.
The magazine well, although slightly scarred from in excess of 100,000 insertions, also remains entirely functional and looks much like it did in the early stages of the test.
Internal parts, too, look the same. I just can't find any discernible signs of deterioration. The piece shoots just as accurately as it did before and functions flawlessly.
So, in conclusion, the Model 17 9mm continues to defy wear, tear, corrosion and...well, me! I've thrown the whole book of tricks at this gun and yet, as this is written, it continues in service. Obviously, the Model 17 is a terrific handgun-- so terrific that I'd quite willingly bet my life on this one, even after all it's been through. What better recommendation can I give, eh?
Copyright 1995 by Harris Publications, Inc.