Portuguese Police Glock Safety Saga

A few years ago, in a classic case of government bureaucracy covering their ass, the Portuguese Police decided that one requirement of their future pistol is that it must have a manual external safety. They, of course, then choose the one gun which is the epitome of manual safety-less pistols, the Glock. Glock shipped them 42,000 Glock 19s with external thumb safeties, similar to the Glock 17 safety I blogged about recently, worth 13 million Euros.

Portuguese Police Glock 19. Photo from Portal das Curiosidades forum.

The police upper management then proceeded to tell the public how wonderful their new pistols were. The cops on the street must have been given a different gun because their pistols were having all sorts of problems. They had magazines randomly falling out of the guns, magazines refusing to drop out when the mag release was pressed, brass being ejected into the shooters face and just plain failing to cycle. The Portuguese IPSC community, where I believe Glocks are popular, were not at all surprised.

FORÇA DE SEGURANÇA translates to Security Force (Police force)

A few weeks ago the Portuguese media discovered that the police have signed a contract with Glock to retrofit all their pistols with normal, safety-less, Glock 19 frames. No doubt at a significant cost to the tax payer.

The government fears that the other pistol manufacturers such as HK, Beretta, Walther and Mannlicher, who were passed over in the search for the new pistol, will sue them for choosing a faulty pistol and for stipulating that a safety was a requirement, only to drop the requirement a few years later.

Many thanks to my anonymous Portuguese source for the links and translations he sent me.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • subby

    Doesn’t that mean Glock sucks at making glocks with safeties?

  • AB

    Reminds me of when I was pistol shopping and I was schooled on the Glock philosophy. A Glock’s primary safety is you do not carry with a round in the chamber. You only rack a round when you are going to fire as that will prevent you from accidentally shooting yourself in the ass-cheek when using a SOB holster.

    They oughta just have bought a slew of Beretta’s or 1911 clones. Sheesh, what a way to kill taxpayer dollars.

  • thomas

    Is it the external safety causing these problems? Did the British military Glocks suffer the same issues?

  • Tom

    Steve, I think you mean Glocks are the epitome of *manual safety-less* pistols. Glocks have a number of safeties built into the design, but simply lack a manual safety. I know, splitting hairs 🙂 That said, there are quality thumb safety kits out there which I would prefer over this goofy sliding safety we keep hearing about.

    @ AB: I disagree, though it is perfectly acceptable to carry a glock in condition 3 with the chamber empty. Glock pistols, when carried with a good holster which protects the trigger, are 100% safe to carry loaded.

    The three key safety features of a Glock are the trigger safety (which is mostly an anti-snag device), the firing pin block, and the drop safety which prevents the striker from falling when the gun takes a hit. I’ve seen demonstrations of some crazy things being done to a Glock and I have yet to see gravity or circumstance discharge one.

    • Tom, thanks – I have corrected the post. It was a typo.

  • Meltron

    Why would the Dortugeuse Government be afraid of firearm companies suing them for not buying their product? If so a lot of Police Departments in the US and abroad will be getting subpoenas up the ass.

  • Bandito762

    Seems like its just user error due to the close proximity of the safety to the release. Has someone shot one of these who can tell us how the safety works exactly?

  • cyclist

    C’mon guys . . . magazined drop unexpectedly because somebody trying to put the safety on pushed the mag release by mistake. Vice versa, pushing on the safety won’t release the mag if that is what you wanted. I can’t imagine the safety affecting the direction of brass ejection. They need some training instead of new frames.

  • Me

    I know of 5 local LEO’s here at a couple of agencies who have shot themselves in the ass or creased their leg, holstering a Glock. That and they just do not fit my hands comfortably, is why I would never own one.

  • Tom

    I didn’t knwo Glocks were safety-less. Wow, thats news to me. When did they start doing that? I have a Gen2 G19 and it has 3. I guess you have to remember not to aim the pistol and something you dont want to kill and PULL THE FREAKIN TRIGGER. Dumbasses.

  • anon

    “I know of 5 local LEO’s here at a couple of agencies who have shot themselves in the ass or creased their leg, holstering a Glock. That and they just do not fit my hands comfortably, is why I would never own one.”

    I would be more afraid of your local LEO’s.

  • jdun1911

    IMHO most cops shouldn’t carry a gun. Most aren’t capable of using a firearm. If you go to the range more the five times each year, you probably more trained then most cops in the nation.

    I find it amusing that cops lecture the general public about gun safety while at the same time the Chief of the Police shoot himself in the leg. You got cops lecturing school kids about gun safety and then immediately shoot himself/herself or blow a hole in the roof. It doesn’t matter if it is a Glock, Smith, Ruger, Sig, etc, it is the same sorry song.

    I can’t imagine the Portuguese cops are better trained then US and that not saying much. I’m sure police officers when in stress confuse the safety with the mag release. There is also two type of Glock mags, the drop free (popular in the USA) and not drop free (popular in Europe from what I understand).

    And remember folks, revolvers don’t have manual safety. In fact most handguns don’t have manual safety.

  • Paul

    The majority of police department in the U.S. use Glocks. Virtually all of them carry their guns chamber loaded. In IDPA, I’d say the most used gun is a Glock, and they surely do have the guns chamber loaded (and no accidents.)

    I suspect the Portuguese Police upper management might have had a hand in designing the safety (as the FBI once did with their 10mm Smiths and, of course, the FBI screwed that up to.)

    The Glock works fine without a manual safety. If you want the trigger harder to pull, just put in a NY-1 trigger and tell the cops the trigger is the ‘go’ button, and to keep their fingers off it till they want it to ‘go’ BANG.

  • subby

    So that means its not Glocks fault then and the Portuguese police are just more retarded than your average cop.

    Or maybe the design was inherently prone to ‘accidents’?

  • Carl

    So, central planners spending other people’s money have screwed up again. What else is new?

    Can’t use one of the world’s most successful pistols safely without adding extra features? You are doing it wrong.

    Have problems with shooting yourself in the butt while holstering? Guess what? You are doing it wrong.

    Need a ridiculously heavy trigger pull in order to avoid negligent discharges? Yep, you are doing it wrong.

    By the way, that video is a great example of how NOT to handle a firearm and how NOT to dis/assemble a Glock.

  • Typical example of gov’t failure.
    No matter what country it is the gov’t is filled with idiots.

  • Blackwater

    I’m pretty surprised that Glock wasn’t able to produce a reliable pistol with a safety.

  • M. Werner

    Our agency has been using the Glock M23 for about 15 years. We have had exactly one “accidental” discharge which was caused by sheer incompetence on the part of the officer (who was terminated).

    The pistols have been remarkably reliable and safe as well. The only way I can imagine one shooting oneself in the fundament with one of these is either incompetence or a poorly-designed holster. (or none at all)

  • Shadow

    First fo all, not all the portuguese police departments have chosen that type of Glocks.
    The ones who had to chose it, did not chose the first of the first photo. The external safety device it’s diferent, and is the reason of all problems. They were alerted of that before the demand, but some “experts” had more “peso” that the ones, also police experts, who had glocks on service long before them. If the device was the one on the first photo, the related problems didn’t hapen. In Macau, the Judiciary police, in portuguese times, had such type of Glock without problems.

  • shadow

    What happened with my comment. I think it was only tecnycal, and I’m availabe to talk about the issue. I think that is important that the Glocks fans get the right idea about the so called “Glock a la protuguese”, once the professionals who go on duty with it had no other solution. And this situation ocurred only in two of the several police departments operatin in Portugal; the biggest ones but only two. The other has their Glocks as they were built to work, and with no problems.

  • Headknocker

    I want one of those surplus frames with the safety as a collectors item..

    That “Safety” appears to be trigger block style..

    Also note that it’s a Gen3 Glock 19 not a Gen4

    Gary/Headknocker – Glock 17L