By: Friedrich Seiltgen
Gaston Glock is known for designing one of the most recognizable firearms in the world. But what many people don’t know is that he didn’t start out as a gun designer.
Glock started his company in 1963 with his wife Helga producing curtain rods and knives, in addition to hand grenades, machine gun belts, and entrenching tools for the Austrian army. His firearms career started in 1981 when Glock overheard Austrian military commanders complaining they lacked a pistol that met their specifications. Glock told them he would build them one, and the commanders laughed in his face.
People who knew Herr Glock will tell you not to laugh at him, he takes it personally. Glock, by now in his 50s, apparently did take this slight personally, and took a year to design the polymer framed, recoil operated, semi-automatic Model 17 pistol, maintaining that his lack of firearms knowledge was an advantage.
In 1982, he applied for an Austrian patent for his model 17 pistol, and in 1983, he was awarded a contract for 25,000 pistols for the Austrian Army. In 1985, Glock opened a U.S. subsidiary in Smyrna, Georgia, and Glock now maintains the largest law enforcement firearms contract.
But Herr Glock’s journey to success has been far from smooth-sailing. His personal life could be the basis for a modern-day soap opera. Here are some interesting anecdotes about this fascinating man’s career:
During the 90s, Glock put some record labels on notice to stop using the Glock name in the gangster rap songs it was producing, and many complied.
In 1997, Glock sued Smith & Wesson for patent infringement for its “Sigma” pistol, aka the “Glock & Wesson.” The suit was settled out of court when S&W agreed to alter the Sigma and pay undisclosed damages to Glock.
In 1999, Glock’s longtime business associate Charles Ewert hired former French mercenary Jacques Pecheur to murder Glock in order to cover up his embezzlement of millions from the Glock Corporation! Ewert took him to a Luxembourg parking garage to look at a sports car, and a man came out of the shadows and attacked Glock.
Glock, who was always physically fit, swimming miles daily, managed to fend off the hitman even after being struck in the head with a hammer seven times! The hitman got 17 years in the slammer, and Ewert was sentenced to 20. Glock would later say that the attack was the best thing that ever happened to him. “Otherwise I would have gone on trusting Ewert,” he said.
In 2008, Glock suffered a stroke and ended up involved with his nurse who was 50 years his junior. By 2010, Glock allegedly locked his wife out of the house and fired all three of his children from the company. He divorced his wife in 2011, married his nurse Kathrin, and has been in litigation ever since.
Mrs. Glock filed a lawsuit in 2014 claiming that Glock had placed corporate assets into Shell companies and stolen the business that she and their children helped create. Herr Glock owns 99 percent of the company and has placed it into a trust that has an estimated worth of $2 billion.
In 2014, Herr Glock purchased a $15 million horse for his new wife Kathrin, hoping the horse would strike gold in the 2016 Olympics. It is rumored to be the highest price ever paid for a show horse. Kathrin is the CEO of the Glock Horse Performance Center in Austria. Oh yes, Glock makes horses also!
Glock currently has more than 50 pistol models in its product line and commands a 65 percent market share of handgun sales in the U.S. Herr Glock still pilots the corporate jet, and business is booming. He may be 89, but he doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.
Friedrich Seiltgen is a retired Master Police Officer with 20 years of service with the Orlando Police Department. He currently conducts training in Lone Wolf Terrorism, Firearms, First Aid, and Law Enforcement Vehicle Operations in Florida. His writing has appeared in The Counter Terrorist Magazine, Homeland Security Today and The Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Attribution: Ken Lunde, http://lundestudio.com