The Gadget: an additional safety device for Glock pistols

The Glock 17 burst upon the world pistol scene in the 80’s. Chunky, inelegant, having a polymer (“PLASTIC?!” the purists cried) frame, and…..lacking an external safety but for the tab on the trigger.  Naturally, everyone kept their boogerhook off of the bangswitch and everyone lived happily ever after, right?

Well, no.  Several lawsuits were filed by law enforcement personnel.  Many of these lawsuits were attempting to blame Glock for negligent discharges when disassembling the pistol in order to clean as one must pull the trigger in order to disassemble it.  Nonetheless, there were and inevitably will be more, lawsuits resulting from negligent discharges when attempting to reholster a Glock pistol.  Some examples are:

1. An FBI agent

2. Massachusetts officer shoots hole through pants reholstering

3. Officer Bill McMahan

4. Harlan County

So, do we have a mechanical problem with Glocks and other pistols that have the safety on the trigger or do we have a training problem?  Obviously, every pistol owner should take a training class that goes beyond the good Lieutenant Colonel’s Four Rules.  However, with full time law enforcement personnel experiencing negligent discharges from their issued Glocks they were trained to use, should we not expect negligent discharges from Glock owning citizens?  The answer is “yes” and aside from the very real (though not widespread) danger of negligently firing a Glock when reholstering, Glocks have many virtues:

  • fairly corrosion proof
  • Not difficult to learn how to use effectively
  • Not expensive
  • Extremely reliable and durable (please ponder the difference between the two)
  • A simple design, easy to clean and work on

So, some years ago a visionary met the engineer who could implement his vision.  No, I am not talking about the venerable Woz and Jobs but rather the shooting instructor “ToddG” and his student and friend Tom Jones.  ToddG had an wistful dream.  You see, ToddG is known far and wide for personally choosing to carry his pistol at the appendix position and inside his waist band, popularly known as “AIWB” (Appendix Inside Waist Band).  ToddG was in the middle of one of his famous fifty thousand rounds in six months pistol tests and the current test pistol was a Gen4 Glock 17.  ToddG had learned to enjoy the additional safety of reholstering his test HK P30 with his thumb on the hammer, thereby effectively negating any chance of a negligently discharged bullet hitting either his groin or his femoral artery.  ToddG wished aloud in Tom’s presence something along the lines of “I wish I could reholster a Glock like I did my P30.”

Sometimes, a spark like that is all you need.  Tom thought upon ToddG’s idea and went to the pen and napkin drawing room.  The next day he presented ToddG with his idea. After that day, he went to his workshop and thought, designed, and built what is now known as the Gadget Striker Control Device (for the sake of brevity, I will refer to it as the Gadget).

The Gadget is a safety device for Glock pistols.  It is two pieces of metal that replace the Glock’s slide cover plate.  It has one moving part.  Upon inspection of a Gadget installed Glock, the observer must carefully examine the pistol to ascertain what aftermarket part has been installed.  Should the Gadget have its lone moving part broken (this has not happened in four years of testing), the pistol will continue to function.  The Gadget is for all intents and purposes, aesthetically identical to the factory OEM slide cover plate.  Functionally, it is also corrosion proof and insofar as four years of testing by dozens of testers can rule out, idiot proof.  Maintenance is very nearly fool proof.  Apply one drop of lubricant (I used Slip2000 EWL) to each side of the lone moving part.  That is it. 

Installation of the Gadget is not an involved process.  Unload your Glock.  Do this again, four times.  Move to a room with no ammunition in it.  Retract the slide on your Glock, engage the slide stop.  Turn the weapon upside down on a flat surface, resting it upon its sights.  Take a smaller flathead screwdriver or a knife tip or a ballpoint pen tip and press the spacer sleeve (part #6 on this diagram forward, that is towards the end where the bullets come out.  Pushing towards the bottom of the slide with your other thumb, remove the slide cover plate.  Keeping the spacer sleeve depressed, slide the Gadget in until it covers the spacer sleeve and then you will have to depress the spring loaded bearing and slide the Gadget until it clicks firmly into place.  Cease pressure on the spacer sleeve, disengage the slide stop and allow the slide to go forward.  Rack the slide and inspect the chamber to assure yourself that no phantom rounds have been chambered.  Pointing the weapon in a safe direction, attempt to pull the trigger with your strong side thumb on the Gadget or where the slide cover plate was.  If you have installed the Gadget correctly, any pressure on the trigger will be instantly felt by your thumb that is resting against the Gadget.  Furthermore, your thumb’s pressure on the Gadget will easily overpower any pressure on the trigger.

The actual patent for the Gadget Striker Control Device illustrates the elegant simplicity of the design.  This is a schematic of the device itself.  Pictures being sometimes louder than words, click this link to see exactly how the device keeps the Glock’s striker from moving to the rear and thereby canceling out the firing process.

So what is it like in practice, having a Gadget equipped Glock?  Reassuring.  Once you teach yourself the nearly instinctive placement of the thumb upon the Gadget, muscle memory takes over.  Whether it be my Safariland GLS, my JM Custom AIWB, or my JM Custom IWB 3 holster, I always thumb the Gadget when reholstering.  It would take conscious effort not to do so.  I have been personally using a Gadget during training, some competition, and personal practice for nearly four years including one Vickers Tactical class.  The device has never malfunctioned for me nor any of the other dozens of people who were testing it.  It requires perhaps two drops of oil every few thousand rounds.  It develops a slight bit of surface wear and then stops wearing.  In my opinion, Glocks need at least two upgrades from the factory:  decent sights and a Gadget.

So, the inevitable outcry will be shrill.  “Glocks don’t need additional safeties!”  “THIS is my safety.”  “It’s just a trinket.”  “This is NO substitute for training.” (I absolutely agree with the last).  My personal favorite is “This will get you killed on the streets in a gun grab if your attacker grabs the rear of the slide and disables your Glock!”  This moronic argument completes ignores the existence of hammer fired pistols that can be disabled in an identical manner such as the HK P30, M1911A1, Sigs, the Browning Hi Power, and so on.  Watch Tom Givens put that silly argument to rest in this video where he demonstrates how you can disable a Glock without a Gadget.   And so, will the predictable phrases be uttered by those who have not used one of these devices nor even have seen one in person.  However, if you think you would like to be able to reholster a Glock in a completely safe manner using a simple device that will not break and that if used properly, will guarantee you will not say have a negligent discharge due to a drawstring on your jacket getting in the trigger guard.  Furthermore, the man when it comes to actual fighting with guns, ground fighting with guns, and training you how to deal with a gun grab; Craig Douglas AKA “SouthNarc” of ShivWorks has the following to say about the Gadget:

Todd gave me two gadgets a few years ago to put on two Glock 17 Sim guns to test this very issue. I ran them for a year and in that time had about 500 entangled gun fights with them in my coursework. I have yet to see the Gadget be the factor in a failure to fire. The vast majority of the time if it’s a failure to fire it’s the slide being pushed out of battery.

You may purchase a Gadget here at IndieGoGo.  The current Gadget has been tested on 9mm, 40, 45, and 10mm Glocks of all frame sizes.  The only Glocks that will not accept the current Gadget as-is are the 42/43. Specific decisions and plans regarding those models have not been finalized but it’s safe to assume that it’s being looked at seriously.


The Gadget installed in my Gen4 Glock 17
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This picture illustrates how the Gadget moves with the pistol’s striker if the striker is being engaged.  

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The Gadget uninstalled using the tip of my Joe Watson HITS knife.

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Clearly the Gadget does not have to be clean in order to function. My Glock gets a cleaning every few thousand rounds whether it needs or not.

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Step 1 achieved

Colt 1911 Rail Gun used to shoot Advanced Score

I should note that while I used my Colt 1911 Rail Gun to shoot the FAST Drill at the end of day 2 of the class, I used the Sig 1911 Tac Ops for the duration of class, firing over 1,000 rounds through the gun over the course of 2 days.  Now, here’s why I switched to the Colt for the FAST Drill.

On day 1, we shot FAST twice – my first run was a 5.44 (IIRC) but I dropped a head shot.  This was shooting from concealment with the Sig 1911 Tac Ops.  On the second run, I shot it in 7.00 exactly, because I bobbled the reload to an extreme degree.  During day 1 of the class, Todd pointed out that I was wasting a ton of motion on my draw from concealment, which is really something that I need to spend a ton of range time correcting.  Instead of trying to change my draw in midstream, when we shot the FAST on day 2 I decided to switch to the Galco M4X Matrix retention holster, which we’ll have a review of up this week.  The problem is that the M4x doesn’t fit the Sig 1911, so for 12 rounds of the class I switched to the Colt to shoot FAST on day 2.  Shooting an open top retention holster with no concealment adds a 0.50 second penalty to your run, but I’m confident in my open draw and reloads.  That confidence proved correct, turning in a 5.96 time that with the penalty put me at 6.46.  I have shot the drill MUCH faster in the past, but because I knew I needed a good run to get the pin (which was my goal for this class) I made the decision to shoot good hits and not worry about trying to rock the speed.

I’ll put up some more thoughts on the excellent Pistol-Training.Com class later this week, but for a full AAR you’ll have to check out an upcoming issue of Combat Handguns!

Glock Endurance Test

Todd from Pistol-Training.Com is running a Gen4 Glock 17 through his endurance test.  Previous guns included the S&W M&P, the HK P30, and the HK45.  The Gen4 Glocks have been the subject of all kinds of internet speculation, with reports of failures coming in from across the country.  In fact, I had issues myself with the one T&E Gen4  Glock 17 that I used.

Todd’s Gen4 Glock 17?  5 stoppages in the first 548 rounds.  Now, HK and M&P fanboys are likely rejoicing at this news, however early reports indicate that the issue with the Gen4 is partially related to the extractor.  Todd replaced the extractor on his Gen4 gun with a Gen3 model, and the gun then fired 300 trouble free rounds.  300 isn’t a lot, but it appears to be a step in the right direction.  This weekend, Todd will be out here in Gun Nuts Land teaching a Speed Kills/Get SOM class, and I’ll be there to report on the class…and on the Gen4 Glock.

New Pistol-Training.Com endurance gun

The latest gun that Todd Green at Pistol-Training.Com is going to subject to his endurance test is the Gen4 Glock 17.  What makes this test different from previous PT-Endurance tests is that Glock isn’t sponsoring, approving of, or involved in the test in any way.  Todd bought the gun at a local Maryland gun shop (aside: I didn’t know they had those in Maryland) and will be testing it independently of any input from Glock.

My own experience with the Gen4 17s was not positive, so I’m eager to see how this one runs.