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By Charlie Gao, The National Interest
Glock GmbH is criticized by some for being one of the least innovative companies in the gun industry. The basic design of a Glock pistol has changed very little from the original Generation 1 Glock: the majority of changes through the generations are slight changes to the trigger layout and the addition of rails and other ergonomic features. This has led some to say that Glock cannot innovate.
However, the Glock 46 stands as a stark counterpoint to those who say so. Utilizing a rotating barrel system and a redesigned striker system, the Glock 46 is a total rethinking of the Glock design, different in almost every way.
(This first appeared earlier in June 2019.)
The rotating barrel likely makes the Glock 46 softer shooting than its tilting barrel counterparts. Other pistols with rotating barrels, such as Beretta’s Px4, Grand Power’s K100, and Archon/Arsenal’s Stryk B all are known for their pleasant recoil. It also provides some accuracy benefits. Glock’s approach to the rotating barrel appears to address some concerns leveled at other pistols with rotating barrels, which can be difficult to field strip. Glock’s barrel appears to put two camming pins on the barrel itself, as opposed to the Px4 which places a camming surface on the barrel itself. The change in the placement of the rotating parts could make the Glock 46’s field strip simpler than some of its rotating barrel competition.
The striker is also significantly redesigned, with a new backplate on the rear of the slide. Apparently, the striker can be removed from the pistol by rotating a lever on the back plate and pulling the mechanism out, eliminating the need to drop the striker by pulling the trigger when disassembling the pistol. As many of Glock’s competitors (including the H&K VP9 and Sig P320) have advertised their ability to disassemble without pulling the trigger, Glock finally appears to have caught up and revised one of their pistols to do the same.
The Glock 46 also features a manual safety, likely to fulfill departmental requirements, and a revised grip. The safety is likely optional, as early prototypes of the Glock 46 were shown without it. The 46 has a significantly extended beavertail, which probably eliminates complaints of “Glock bite” that some shooters experience with other Glock pistols. The backstrap system is similarly revised to work with the new beavertail.
For all its advanced features, the Glock 46 has only been adopted by one agency, the state police of Saxony-Anhalt, replacing SIG P225s. Other recent Glock adopters appear to have opted for more traditional Glocks. However, for future contracts, the innovative Glock 46 could be Glock’s answer to an increasingly competitive polymer pistol market.
Charlie Gao studied political and computer science at Grinnell College and is a frequent commentator on defense and national security issues.