Glock 18: The only select-fire pistol in family

US Navy SEAL firing his sidearm at the shooting range in Philippines
US Navy SEAL firing his sidearm at the shooting range in Philippines (Photo: XY)

The Glock 18 is a selective-fire variant of the legendary Glock 17 with an option of fully-automatic fire, which makes the Glock 18 a machine pistol. It means it will keep firing as long as you keep the trigger back. All other Glocks are semi-automatic, meaning they will fire one shot per trigger pull. Glock 18 is a reliable polymer-framed, short recoil-operated, locked-breech pistol with great tradition, one of the most popular service pistols in the world.


The pistol was developed by an Austrian Glock company headed by Gaston Glock. Some sources report that this pistol was designed to meet the requirements of the EKO Cobra, an Austrian counter-terrorist unit.

EKO Cobra is Austrian prime counter-terrorist unit
EKO Cobra is the Austrian prime counter-terrorist unit (Photo: Christian Mann)

Other sources claim that this pistol was designed to increase the appeal of the gun to military and police markets. It is worth noting that in the 1980s, weapons produced by Glock were little known and very unusual.


Production of the Glock 18 commenced in 1982. At the same time, other sources report that production began four years later, in 1986. At that time, the original Glock 17 was adopted by the Austrian army and police. This new and unusual pistol became one of the most popular handguns in the following years due to its advantages and aggressive marketing. The Glock 18 is one of the few automatic pistols that are currently produced.

It is worth mentioning that it is the only automatic pistol adopted by US Army. However, it is available only to specially trained military personnel. The US law enforcement SWAT teams also use it. It is also in service with some other countries.

Glock 17 most popular pistol among law enforcement and military users
A SWAT operator brandishing his Glock 17 (Photo: XY)

The Glock 18 is very light for an automatic pistol. At the time of its introduction, it was much more delicate than other automatic pistols. Glock achieved low weight by making 80% of parts, including the frame, out of polymer. The only metal parts are the barrel and trigger mechanism. Even though this pistol is made of polymer, it operates well within a temperature range from -40°C to +200°C.

Also, this rugged pistol does not rust. All metal parts are covered with rustproof coating. At the time of its introduction, this automatic pistol was considered a revolutionary design. Even though it incorporated previously known solutions. This pistol is simple in design and operation, reliable, lightweight, and inexpensive.

The Glock 18 is chambered for a 9×19 mm Parabellum round. This pistol has high muzzle energy and good penetration, even with 9×19 mm ammunition. The cyclic rate of fire is a whooping 1 200 rounds per minute. This pistol has a simple design with a minimum of parts. Even though it is similar to the Glock 17, parts have slightly different dimensions and are not interchangeable.

Glock 18
Glock 18 (Photo: Pew Pew Tactical)

The Glock 18 automatic pistol can be disassembled within a minute using just a pin or nail. Failures are rear. The original version of the Glock 18 had a barrel that stuck out of the end of the slide. However, increased length was a significant downside, so the barrel was shortened in later versions. A fire mode selector is mounted on the left side of the slide.

Firing modes

This pistol fires in semi-auto and full-auto modes. To switch between modes, there is a selector switch at the rear of the slide. This switch is not present on other Glock pistols. The Glock 18 is fed by a double-stack magazine that holds 17 rounds. The magazine is interchangeable with the Glock 17. Also, this pistol can be fed from a 31- or 33-round magazine. The fire rate is so high that you can empty the 33-round magazine in less than two seconds.

If you notice, there’s a little switch on the slide and the slide parts are intentionally designed not to fit on a Glock 17 or 19 frame.
Glock 18 side view (Photo: Reddit/Pistols)

If you notice, there’s a little switch on the slide, and the slide parts are intentionally designed not to fit on a Glock 17 or Glock 19 frame.

Selector switch on Glock 18
A selector switch on Glock 18 (Photo: XY)

Safety and sights

This pistol has no manual safeties. Instead, it uses a patented “safe action” trigger system. An automatic safety is built into the trigger. It blocks the trigger if it is not pulled correctly. It eliminates self-action or accidental shots. After each shot, the safety lock is reset and turned “on” until the trigger is pushed once more. Another automatic safety does not permit fire if the barrel is not fully locked.

The Glock 18 l has a fixed sight. The effective range is about 50 meters. This automatic pistol can be fitted with a detachable shoulder stock.


Glock 18C

It is an early model with barrel vents and a keyhole opening in the slide. It was designed to reduce the muzzle climb during an automatic fire with the help of escaping gas. The rate of fire in fully automatic mode is around 1,100–1,200 rounds per minute. Most of the other characteristics are equivalent to the Glock 17, although the slide, frame, and certain fire-control parts of the Glock 18 are not interchangeable with other Glock models.

Glock 18C with extended magazine
Glock 18C with extended magazine (Photo: XY)

In short, C stands for compensated, so it is the compensated version of Glock’s standard, full-size 9mm. The barrel and slide are ported to direct expanding gasses upward to help compensate for muzzle rise.


Genuine (factory-made), civilian legal Glock 18’s with transferable registrations don’t exist. If a pre-1986 transferable Glock 18 existed, it would run in the $20k range for its rarity.

The cheapest route for that would be to get a license as a dealer and manufacturer. Either order a Glock 18 from the Glock factory as a non-transferable (which means you can never sell it) “dealer-sample,” or you can legally modify and register a Glock 17 to full auto as a “manufactured dealers sample.”

Technical specifications

Country of origin:Austria
Manufacturer:Glock Ges.m.b.H. 
Caliber:9×19 mm
Weight (empty):624 g
Length:186 mm
Barrel length:~ 114 mm
Muzzle velocity:~ 360 m/s
Muzzle energy:~ 490 Joules
Cyclic rate of fire:1 200 rpm
Magazine capacity:17, 31, 33 rounds
Sighting range:50 m
Range of effective fire:50 m

1 Comment

  1. Your statement that “Glock achieved low weight by making 80% of parts, including the frame, out of polymer. The only metal parts are the barrel and trigger mechanism. ” This statement is incorrect. the slide is made of steel.

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