By Fredy Riehl, Editor AmmoLand
Smyrna, Georgia – -(Ammoland.com)- So I have always been something of a Glockaholic. Not that I don’t love 1911’s as well but for some reason I have owned and shot more GLOCKs than other brands of firearms.
So where is Mecca for a fan of GLOCK?
It is the GLOCK factory, duh, and I wrangled myself an invitation to be one of the first media to ever get a tour of GLOCK’s U.S. Arms factory in Smyrna, GA. Pretty exciting right?
Well it is also something of a big step for GLOCK as well, since they have traditionally been very guarded (read secretive) about letting media go behind the scenes and my visit, along with two other colleagues, started off a little tense. Our first stop was the Guard Booth just outside a big metal gate that surrounds the factory.
Remember this place has a lots and lots of guns. In fact they ship on average 100,000 firearms from this facility, each month. This place would be a gold mine for some ambitious gun runners but GLOCK is serious about business and is taking no chances.
After a quick pat down, no personal side arms allowed, and a going over of the rules, like no cell phones / cameras, a few signatures on the NDA and we were in.
Our tour guide for the main factory floor was GLOCK Executive Vice President Dr. Michael Jacquorie, he is one of the big dogs at GLOCK and reports directly to general management in GLOCK Austria. The Dr. has a great smile and was the only employee we saw dressed in a suit.
What a suit in a factory? When you see the factory is you will understand.
DR. Jacquorie, offered us a warm greeting and seemed generally excited to have “media” sticking their nose in the factory door.
GLOCK Factory First Impressions
My first thoughts on entering the factory was “man this place is clean“, my wife would love it! No sweaty guys in overalls, no smoke and fumes, not even any really loud noises. The whole place is very organized, very orderly, very hi tech.
On the day we arrive,GLOCK was in the middle of a production run for G42’s pistols.
DR. Jacquorie couldn’t wait to show us the place and we jumped right in with a short detour… Yeah, he wanted us to know that the exacting quality of GLOCK products started 1000’s of miles away with a secret recipe for “GLOCK steel” that is exclusive to them and comes delivered on a newly built loading dock just outside the factory door. Actually the entire factory is brand new in the last few years and built, like every thing else GLOCK, to their exacting standards.
Speaking of quality to say that the engineers at GLOCK and a little anal-retentive would be an understatement. 25% of the work of building guns in the factory is spent checking tolerances on tools, machines, barrels, slides, parts, steel, you name it they have a standard. They even have people checking the people doing the checking in a special isolated room, just for checking things.
He also made the point to explain in detail how GLOCK keeps enough raw materials, steel and small parts, on hand to run 6-9 months. Like any smart “Prepper” they can produce 600,000 guns, give or take, for half a year. Either to meet consumer demand or to weather an unforeseen supply line interruption.
The main manufacturing floor has well defined areas based on particular manufacturing jobs with specialized Austrian built CNC machines including one for steel slides and gun barrels (yeaup, they build their own machines and the tools that make them) . Another section has polymer extruders with robotic arms, another section is for heat treating, deburring, blueing, polishing and, you guest it, more testing.
On To Assembly
After all the 1000’s of individual parts are completed on the main manufacturing floor. They are transferred to the assembly building. At this point we said good bye to DR. Jacquorie and met up with our other host from GLOCK, Josh Dorsey, VP of Sales/Marketing.
Josh is a big guy, which was probably handy in his first career of twenty years as a U.S. Marine. Talking with him you pick up on his military experience in his “Marine accent” (that pace of speech, that guys making tough choices all have, when you hear it you know what I mean) as well as in his point of reference to many things. At first Josh seemed uncomfortable, and fell back on his GLOCK training. Explaining the “GLOCK Ethos” that was later obvious among all the employees, he just put a name to it. As well as highlighting the key to GLOCK’s many success. Those being the Simplicity Of Design and the intense Quality Standard of Glock product and employees. By the afternoon he was all smiles and casually relayed many funny work and family stories that we were all able to relate to over lunch.
This firearms assembly work space and shipping area is just off the same loading dock where we began the tour. The small number of employees in this room is deceptive, because they “Do Work” in this room, cranking out completed and tested guns, up to 3000 a day. Completing all the tedious ATF paper work as well as shipping them to 10,000’s of FFLs, Police and Military units across the USA,Canada and beyond.
New guns ready to ship, that is the final out come, but there is just one more stop on our tour.
So what is the end result of all this painstaking attention to detail over the smallest nuances of manufacturing, assembly and paperwork? Just five guys in a small office doing warranty and occasional trouble shooting or gun sight replacement. On a business that ships and average 1,200,000 guns a year!
But you could have asked any Glockaholic off the street and he would have told you that and saved you the long read.
End of Story, not yet… Just when we thought we has seen all we could see GLOCK executives want to show us something else… See “GLOCK G43 Single Stack 9mm Concealed Carry Pistol“