Last year when the British Ministry of Defence signed a £9m contract with Austria’s Glock to provide the armed forces with 25,000 new side-arms and holsters, nobody could have been surprised by the choice. The highly-regarded Glock pistols are used by military and police in 50 countries including the US, Canada, Germany and Britain.
For this latest tender, the ministry put seven different firearms through trials over two years and declared the Glock “the best of the bunch.”
But until now, even with 2,500,000 pistols manufactured since 1982, none of the “best of the bunch” has been pink.
That may be about to change.
On July 7 an American website, thefirearmblog.com, ran a picture of a “Tiffany blue” Glock under the headline: “Is Glock considering new colours?”
It reported that Glock had sent out a survey a few weeks earlier asking participants if they’d consider purchasing a Glock in different frame colours.
More, Glock asked customers: “If you were to purchase a pistol as a gift for a female family member or friend, which frame colour would you choose?”
Illustrated choices that followed were black, pink, purple, Tiffany blue, flat dark earth, desert sand, OD green, or sniper (that’s more like it) gray.
However, some Austrians aren’t so sure they want their most famous bit of military kit to go Barbie.
Austria’s Der Standard newspaper in particular is not happy with the prospect.
Next to a photograph of a Glock in a “proper” colour – braun-oliver, an army drab – the paper said that self-defence was a “valid purpose” for a firearm, but now Glock was offering a lifestyle object or fashion statement.
It questioned whether pink and purple pistols could be mistaken for toy guns. “Police officers are trained to make the distinction [between real firearms and toys] even in an emergency.” This would be “undermined by real guns in bright colours.”
Der Standard made an attempt to find out whether the survey was produced by Glock’s Austrian headquarters or by one of their international offices but was unsuccessful when Glock declined to make a statement.
The company was founded by as a garage metal shop in 1962 by Gaston Glock, a radiator engineer. In 1980 the Austrian army put out a tender for a new sidearm to replace the Walther P38 handgun. Glock had no experience of firearm design, but he had extensive experience of advanced synthetic polymers. He and his design team produced the winning pistol, the Glock 17, within one year.
“That I knew nothing was to my advantage,” he later said.
The company is now worth £1.8bn.
Gaston Glock is aged 85 and married for the second time to a woman 51 years his junior. His family is among the 20 wealthiest in Austria.
In 1999, he was the victim of attempted murder by a business associate who had hired a hit man. The would-be assassin slammed a rubber mallet into Glock’s skull, but the 73-year-old Glock started pounding the man’s face with his fists until the thug finally collapsed.