3 Apr 12

At a Pistol Course two weeks ago, a student on the firing-line indicated that he was having problems with his G17. I asked him to holster the pistol and step off the line. Normally, in this circumstance, students are expected to instantly transition to backup pistols and then finish the exercise. However, this was a Basic Class, and backup pistols had not been discussed yet!

When my student subsequently removed the pistol from his holster, the slide fell forward, nearly off the frame. I noticed right away that the slide-stop bar was missing. We later recovered it at the spot on the line where he had been shooting.

The slide-stop bar had fallen out of his pistol, because the slide-stop spring had broken into two pieces and was thus unable to hold the slide-stop bar in place.

We work with hundreds of Glock pistols every year, and this is the first time I’ve seen a slide-stop spring break catastrophically, abruptly rendering the pistol unusable.

Glocks enjoy a well-earned reputation for not breaking, but there are still small parts and pins, any one of which can break. In most cases, the pistol is still useable. At least, you can limp along with it. However, in the case of a broken slide-stop spring, the pistol is instantly out of service.

The one Glock part I’ve seen break more then once is the trigger-return spring. Accordingly, I have NY/1 triggers on all my Glocks, and I recommend them for all Glocks employed in serious roles. The NY/1 trigger modification completely displaces the conventional trigger-return spring, and I’ve never seen a NY trigger break!

In any event, one of my instructors, who is also a Glock Armorer, had a replacement slide-stop spring in his kit, and my student was thus back up and running in less than five minutes. His G17 ran normally for the rest of the Course.

In subsequently talking with friends at Glock, I learned that, while not unheard-of, broken slide-stop springs are still rare. They don’t need replacing on a regular bases, as is the case with recoil springs, but do need to be regularly inspected for cracks and other signs of excessive wear. They are not interchangeable among calibers, so armorers need to stock all sizes. They cost $1.00/copy, so replacing a worn one should be an easy decision.

And, if you’re wondering if there is a point lurking in all this, here it is:

I recommend Glocks, right readily! I also recommend XDs, M&Ps, SIGs, Kahrs, PX4s, and a few others. But, catastrophic failure of a one-dollar part can render any of them instantly useless, at a most inconvenient moment!

Which is precisely why all of us need to practice “Defense in Depth.”

Backup guns, blades, impact weapons, and CQB training need to always be in place, trained-in, and ready for you to rely upon, when main-guns fail. It must be an integral component of every Operator’s repertoire.

“… I guess that’s your concern. We live and learn.”

From “Ballerina,” written in 1947 by Sidney Russell and Carl Sigman. Most famous rendition was Nat King Cole’s from 1958