With the Glock 17 made from only 33 parts, he revolutionized the gun business. Gaston Glock's plastic product, which was initially ridiculed, quickly became an international bestseller. Police units all over the world now rely on the self-loading pistol. But a Glock is also often used during mass shootings and other crimes.
The man behind the invention preferred a secluded life and was shy of the media and publicity. The entrepreneur has now died at the age of 94, as the company announced on its website.
Homemade in a garage
The triumph of Glock's product began in the early 1980s. Until then, the engineer had no experience with firearms. However, the tender for new equipment for the Austrian Armed Forces had appealed to Glock, who was keen to experiment. This is how the weapon with cult status was created independently in a garage in the small community of Deutsch-Wagram near Vienna.
The new pistol could hold three times as many cartridges as an average revolver. It was lighter, stronger, more efficient and cheaper. The military was thrilled.
The secret behind the weapons is also their recipe for success. "That's because we're small, so development was limited to two or three people. That's what made us move forward so quickly," said Glock in his only known TV interview on ORF in 1982. Neither information nor profits should are lost, which is why not only all weapons but also the production machines are manufactured by the company itself to this day.
The FBI and CIA also use Glocks
Initially seen as a toy in the USA, the Glock 17 soon found many fans. In addition to the police, the FBI and CIA also rely on the weapon. Business was in full swing right from the start. The Glock also plays a role in Hollywood films and rap lyrics. The demand in the weapons-loving USA quickly became so great that the Austrian had his own factory built there.
Even assassins, such as the Munich shooter in 2016, repeatedly used one of the 30 different versions of the pistol. “Weapons can provide security, but of course they can also take away security if they are in the wrong hands,” Glock told News magazine in 2011.
The inventor - a secretive phantom
The inventor and highly successful industrialist remained secret. Secrecy was the top priority. To this day, little is known about Glock's private life. He remained a phantom until his death, using all legal means to keep the public at a distance.
Glock was born in Vienna in 1929 into modest circumstances. At the age of 15, he is said to have been drafted into the Wehrmacht for a short time during the Second World War. He then graduated from a technical college and worked for companies that manufactured drills and car radiators. His relatively late breakthrough in his early 50s made him one of the richest Austrians. In 2021, “Forbes” estimated the family’s assets at 1.1 billion euros.
In 1999, an attempted assassination attempt on him in the vicinity of international arms deals in the underground car park of a Luxembourg office complex made headlines. A retired French Foreign Legion soldier is said to have tried to kill Glock with a hammer on behalf of a former business partner. Glock survived and the men received long prison sentences.
After two strokes, Glock, who had been living in a villa on Lake Wörthersee for a long time, withdrew even further. However, the War of the Roses with his wife and the mother of his three children kept the courts busy. His family felt they were being unfairly pushed out of the company. After almost half a century, Glock finally divorced his wife in 2011 to marry his girlfriend, 52 years his junior.
Since then, Kathrin Glock has repeatedly appeared alone in public as his new partner and took over the chairmanship of the supervisory board of Glock GmbH. In her equestrian sports center in Carinthia, she regularly hosted pompous parties with international star guests. The couple also donated a lot of money to animal welfare organizations and hospitals. Science and research, young inventors and social projects could also count on financial donations again and again.