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Preventative Maintenance and Detail Stripping for Glocks

April 16, 2010

The Glock design has a well-earned reputation for mechanical reliability and dirt tolerance. Just Google “Glock Torture Test”, and you will see what the design is capable of. That does not, however, mean that your particular Glock can’t break or that it never needs to be cleaned. The design may be pure utter genius in its simplicity, but it is still man-made and anything man-made can break. A Glock that has never had an original part break, or that has never malfunctioned due to not being cleaned, just hasn’t been fired enough yet.

For example, I have broken my Glock 19 twice. Both times, the trigger spring broke. Granted, it will still fire if you know what to do, but are you willing to bet your life and the life of your family on you remembering that in time?

During the February IDPA match at my local club, the firing pin on a 2nd generation Glock 23 broke. The firing pin is basically a stainless steel nail, but it still broke. To be more specific: the part of the firing pin that protrudes from the breechface to strike the primer had broken off. That gun was about as useful as a short club until the firing pin was replaced. Randy Harris told me he has experienced the same problem.

During the March IDPA club match, the recoil spring guide rod in a Glock 34 broke (see picture below). The gun still functioned fine, but it just emphasizes the point that even Glock parts are subject to breakage. The only way to guarantee they will not break is to never use your Glock.

During the first day of the Close Range Gunfighting course I took in Chattanooga, I experienced two failure to extract malfunctions that could not be remedied with the usual malfunction drills. I had never seen this before. The empty case was basically wedged under the extractor and wouldn’t budge because it was slightly above the ejector. Luckily, Randy Harris was offering a Glock Armorer course on the evening of day 1 of the CRG course. After detail stripping the slide, I found a large amount of carbon around the extractor on the inside the slide which impeded movement of the extractor. I removed most of it and experienced no problems on day 2 of the course.

Based on this experience, I think that, if you are going to practice with your Glock as regularly as you should, it is probably a good idea to detail strip your Glock at least once a year to ensure reliability. Clean everything, and replace the recoil spring and trigger spring. Your total annual maintenance cost would still be less than $10. Use snap caps for dry fire practice, or make sure your firing pin is still protruding from the breechface every time you are done with dry fire practice.

If you want to learn how to detail strip your Glock from an actual Glock-certified armorer like Randy Harris, take a Glock armorer course offered by Suarez International when you get the chance. You won’t become a Glock-certified armorer, but you are spared 4 hours of Glock Kool Aid and you will be able to maintain your Glock for many trouble-free years. If you can’t make it to an actual armorer course, consider the Glock Armorer DVD.

If you’re the kind of person who insists on running everything until it breaks, or who doesn’t know how to (or want to) detail strip a Glock, the only way to get the same reliability is by buying a spare Glock. Set it up exactly like your first one (same sights, trigger, etc). Make sure it works with your carry ammo, and only fire it when it’s time to change out your carry ammo. Practice with your original Glock, and carry your spare. Compared to that, a $75 course or $20 DVD and less than $10 annual maintenance cost seems like a pretty good deal, doesn’t it? Besides, there is something to be said for knowing everything there is to know about a tool that you are relying on to protect your life and the lives of your loved ones.

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