Monday, February 20, 2012

Books: GLOCK - The Rise of America's Gun

By the time I started shooting, GLOCKs were so entrenched in America's gun culture that they were...well, boring. Most cops carry them, most competition shooters use them, and nearly every gun owner has shot them at one time or another. There was apparently a time, however, when GLOCKs were mysterious, the forbidden fruit, the "cool" gun. "GLOCK: The Rise of America's Gun," by Paul Barrett, is a story of how we got from there to here.

The book starts at the beginning, in the pre-polymer days when revolvers ruled the roost, and it follows Gaston Glock and his gun from obscurity to worldwide dominance. It's startling how Glock goes from cobbling together protoyptes to be test-fired in his basement to making enough pistols to supply entire armies - an underdog story fit for Hollywood. There's even material showing how the GLOCK pistol has penetrated pop culture: everyone from rappers to Arnold Schwarzenegger have extolled the virtues of "The Drastic Plastic."

"GLOCK" is well-researched and accurate; I didn't notice anything that was incorrect factually, though the conclusions to be drawn from those facts are subject to debate. For people with only a casual interest in guns, the book is interesting purely from a business and marketing perspective. Though faced with enormous commercial disadvantages ("not invented here" syndrome, the uncertainty of a new design, millions of perfectly functional handguns already riding in holsters), GLOCK succeeded through a combination of a great product, business savvy, and smart marketing. Bringing in buxom blonde stripper Sharon Dillon to promote the G20? Genius:

There won't be any earthshattering revelations here for gun enthusiasts. If you read (or are) one of the gunbloggers on my blogroll, for instance, you're probably very familiar with everything GLOCK: "limpwristing," "Gen 4 recoil springs," "WML frame flex," "I'm the only one professional enough," etc. Shooters are fairly well-informed in the age of the Internet, and most of the book will be old hat for them (I've seen Gaston's deposition testimony excerpted on gun forums, for heaven's sake).

"GLOCK" is neutral on politics, though Mr. Barrett does seem to support some gun control proposals toward the end (restricting private sales, for instance). It's tepid advocacy, though, and almost serves as tacit acknowledgement that gunnies have won, and that "Combat Tupperware" is here to stay.


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