Thumb Safety Glock

Miles Vining at Forgotten Weapons has a picture of a rare gem: a thumb safety Glock pistol. Built as part of Austrian Government trials, who were uncomfortable with the notion of external-safetyless pistols. Ultimately, the Austrians chose a passive-only model and the rest is history.

The full story is below:

One of the more revolutionary and innovative features of the Glock series of handguns is in their signature slogan “GLOCK Safe Action”. This is based on the fact that although there is no external hand operated safety device, there are three internal ones: trigger safety, firing pin safety, and sear safety. This has paved the way in modern day handgun designs to put the responsibility of firearms handling upon the user and not on an arbitrary lever. There is also the tactical requirement of readily getting the gun into action. But was there ever even an experimental Glock made with an external safety? During the initial Austrian Army trials of 1982, the Army wasn’t used to the fact that a military weapon could be issued without an external safety. So the Army requested a trial pistol with one and sure enough, Glock produced one for them to examine. The conclusion was that it was not needed, but one of these pistols exists today in the National Firearms Center, Leeds, England. Formally known as the MoD Pattern room, the author found this external safety Glock in one of the handgun drawers. The pistol has a newer magazine with extended floorplate so the original magazine must have been mismatched.

The commentators indicate that Glock also delivered thumb safety models to the Tasmanian police. Check out the detailed discussions at Forgotten Weapons here.

Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • GD

  • karm42yn

    Wasn’t there a production Glock with thumb safety made for the Tasmanian police?

    • karm42yn

      Forget it. Found it. There isn’t one.

      • Fruitbat44

        Wikipedia mentions the Glock 17S with an external safety and talks about a limit number made for the Tasmanian Police, Israel and Pakistan and “perhaps several South American security forces.”
        Of course Wikipedia isn’t necessarily 100% accurate . . .

        • karm42yn

          I would imagine that they made a limited number of guns for testing and evaluation purposes. Who knows, maybe they kept a few afterwards and used them in the field.

  • dan citizen

    Neat. Again, TFB brings us fascinating stuff.

  • Adam aka eddie d.

    Cominolli Custom from Syracuse, NY has an external safety retrofit kit for the Glock.
    I thought it’s worth a mention as a fun fact, though I can’t see any reason why anyone would use one if the gun’s only used as a pistol.

    For use in conjuction with a carbine kit like the Hera Triarii it’d make sense though.
    The Triarii doesn’t cover the frame where the external safety would be.

    Here in Europe quite a few countries allow the use of pistol to carbine conversions
    without any additional paperwork, the classification still is “pistol”,
    so it’s a good option for recreational shooters that want a bit better reach (or simply more fun), also for armed security companies.
    They don’t have to fuss with obtaining carbines (and the needed licenses), ammo is cheap(er compared to rifle calibers), and a .45 or a modern 9mm load will still do the job.
    In my country a company imports the RONI G2 for the exact same reasons.
    Don’t know if this external safety would work with a RONI though.

  • David Knuth

    You could just get the kit to add one.

  • Joshua

    I have a picture add of the safety Glock made that was ambi, sent it in to Steve so fingers crossed everyone else will see it soon.

  • USMC03Vet

    Had a friend that could have used this. It might have stopped him from shooting a hole in his car.

    • stephen

      Gun Safety means Keeping your Booger Hooker off the Bang Switch

    • kingghidorah

      Ha, I was also in a car when an ’empty’ 17 went off through the heater core.

  • Alex

    The portuguese police contract Glock 19s have external safety switches. There were 40.000 plus of this pistols made and delivered.

    Photo here:

    Note also the “Força de Segurança” (Security Force) writing on the gun. Both the external safety and the whíte letters are seen by many here as silly polítical decisions.

    Greetings from Portugal

    • Mr Mxyzptlk

      Is it true that all of the frames were subsequently replaced with vanilla Glock 19 ones to get rid of the safety as it was so appalling done that it created a variety of reliability issues? I know that Glock got a contract to do the replacement, but I have no idea if it was actually completed.

      • Alex

        There were reliability issues but aparently they were solved without having to replace the frames. The issues concerned left handed users since the safety switch location made it prone to be unintentionaly activated. The pistols are in use with the same configuration seen in the photo and i have personaly shot one at the range – 200 shots – without any issues.

    • J.T.

      Looks like they had Glock use the safeties that the British tested on the 17.

      • Alex

        Yes, they are exactly the same.
        These pistols replaced an array of obsolet models still in use with both the portuguese national guard and the public security police, namely Walther P38’s 9mm pistols, PP,s, Star and Browning BDA in .32ACP caliber. The manual safety is just something portuguese authorities feel as mandatory in a country where firearms are, in a way, a taboo subject.

        The tendencie by more experienced police officers is of course to ignore the manual safety.

  • woodman

    Thats a terrible idea If you need a thumb safety you don’t know how to handle a pistol

  • Will

    “Glocks For Dummies!!!
    Quick write the book.
    (Very cool collectors Glock)

  • J.T.

    “The commentators indicate that Glock also delivered thumb safety models to the Tasmanian police.”

    Yep. Glock 17S. It came from the factory with a Cominolli safety kit installed.