When the Austrian Army adopted the revolutionary Glock 17 as its official duty pistol in 1982, it created quite a stir. Glock set a worldwide standard that other manufacturers have long worked to emulate.
Drop That Glock Mag (or Not)
The original Austrian military specs for the Glock required that the empty pistol magazines wouldn’t drop free. This was a practical solution to magazines getting lost during battle … especially in a country with a lot of snow. When the Glock 17 came to our shores and was embraced by civilian and law enforcement users who were used to free-falling magazines, Glock updated to allow for rapid “American-style” reloading.
All Glock models have had free-falling magazines for the majority of years that they have been available here. Yet a problem with “sticking” magazines has seemed to persist, as reported by several users. I have never personally experienced this issue during my 28 years of running Glock pistols of various calibers and sizes, but I’ve seen it happen. Because it never happened to me, it took me a while to figure out the issue.
Non-Firearms-Specific Cleaning or Maintenance Products? Just Say ‘No!’
I knew I had to address the sticking magazine issue when I saw another publication recommend a solution that I know — as a Glock Armorer of many years — Glock would never recommend.
The author of this particular piece recommended that Glock users wax the interior of the polymer magazine well and the exterior of the polymer magazine body with automotive paste wax, then buff it out after the wax had dried to a pasty consistency. According to the author, the magazine would then drop free.
For the record, NEVER introduce any non-firearms-specific cleaning or maintenance substance into the interior area of ANY handgun. It is asking for trouble.
My police academy firearms program has used Glock 19s as its primary training arms for the past 25 years. During this time, I would occasionally see a cadet botch a reload, with the empty magazine appearing to “stick.” The cadet would reach up with a free hand and pull the magazine to clear it. I would go over to check his or her gun, reinserting the empty magazine, and every time I hit the release, the magazine popped clear — forcefully. I attributed it to “just one of those things.”
The Glock Magazine Release
It took a while, but I finally figured out why magazines were sticking for a few users but dropping clear for others. It has to do with hand size and the relative position of the Glock magazine release on the right side of the pistol frame.
I have medium-sized hands. In order for me to hit the Glock magazine release button with my thumb, I have to rotate my right hand slightly clockwise so that my right thumb is over the button. Because of this rotation, my right middle finger automatically moves out, slightly away from the right side of the frame — away from the opposing end of the magazine release — allowing the magazine to drop free.
The Glock magazine release button is actually a single L-shaped piece that runs from the left side of the frame to the right. The distal portion is directly in line with the Glock trigger guard. Pushing in on the button on the left side of the frame causes the distal L-shaped portion to protrude out on the right side of the frame — right where the middle finger of the shooting hand is.
Here you can see the movement to hit the magazine release required of a person with medium hands. Turning the pistol slightly in the hand removes the middle-finger pressure on the frame, allowing the magazine to drop clear.
If you have a larger-sized hand, your shooting-hand thumb can reach the button without having to twist your hand away from the frame. So your middle finger, which is holding the pistol in place, is inadvertently pushing back against the release. It’s like trying to push open a door while someone is holding it closed on the other side. Thus, the magazine doesn’t fully unlatch and hangs up, requiring the free hand to yank it out.
The Solution to a Sticking Glock Magazine…
The positioning and operation of the release on a 1911, Beretta 92 or the SIG series of pistols does not seem to cause a similar issue because of the position and style of the release. This is NOT a Glock design flaw though. It’s just a characteristic of the Glock series of pistols you should understand. All firearms of any kind have idiosyncrasies.
The solution to sticking Glock magazines is easy and just requires practice and understanding to fix. If you remove the pressure of your middle finger from the Glock frame, all of your magazines will drop free and clear — no paste wax required.
About Scott W. Wagner
Scott W. Wagner has been a law enforcement officer since 1980, working undercover in liquor and narcotics investigations and as a member, sniper and assistant team leader of a SWAT team. He currently works as a patrol sergeant. He is a police firearms instructor, certified to train revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun. Scott also works as a criminal justice professor and police academy commander.