Glock 46: A Revolutionary Design Change

Except for the .22 rimfire Glock 44, all the pistols from the Austrian powerhouse Glock have shared the same fundamental mechanical system. They use the Browning tilting-barrel action, which has been long proven by many companies. With the Glock 46, however, they completely changed, and opted for a short recoil, rotating barrel design. The 46 also includes a couple other unique features for Glock, specifically intended to suit its intended role as a German police sidearm.

In Germany, each state is responsible for selecting and procuring police weapons, but they must follow the technical standards set out by the Federal-level government. The standard Glock models do not meet these requirements, and so Glock had to develop a new model if it wanted to compete for police contracts. Most substantially, pistol disassembly must not require pulling the trigger, as this is one of the most common causes of police NDs (and this goes back at least to the Luger, which got its own police safety modification in the 1920s). The gun must also meet minimum requirements for trigger pull weigh, distance, and total force to fire.

To meet these requirements, the Glock 46 has a longer tigger travel than other Glock models, made possible by slightly reshaping the trigger itself. It also has a novel striker disconnect in the back of the slide, which allows (and requires) the striker to be rendered completely inert for disassembly. In addition, a new disassembly lever requires the magazine to be removed before the slide can come off the gun. Put together, these features make the Glock 46 fully compliant with the Federal German police standards.

The rotating barrel system is not required by any other these Federal standards, and it remains a bit unclear why it was chosen. The action itself is distinct from the disassembly safety system, and either one can be incorporated into a design without the other.

Glock has thus far won one German police contract for the 46; that of Saxon-Anhalt. That agency purchased 8,600 Glock 46 pistols for their approximately 6,000 officers. It is extremely unlikely that we will see these pistol in the US, as Glock sells them only to police agencies and not to the civilian market in Europe or the US.

Thanks to Glock for giving me access to film this pistol at their booth at EnForceTac 2024!

Specific German police trigger pull requirements:

First shot:
Minimum pull weight: 30N / 6.7 lbf
Trigger pull distance 10-15mm / 0.4-0.6 in
Minimum value for “trigger work” (Trigger travel x trigger pull weight): 0.15J / 1.3 in-lb

Subsequent shots:
Minimum pull weight: 20N / 4.5 lbf for all following shots
Minimum reset distance: 4mm / 0.16 in
Minimum trigger travel after reset: 7mm / 0.28 in

Requirements for unlocking the action:
In locked systems, the trigger mechanism must be interrupted before the initiation of the unlocking takes place. The path of the moving weapon parts until the trigger mechanism is separated is allowed not be greater than 75% of the safety path.


  1. I would guess the decision not to do a general offering of the pistol is that it is so different from the rest of their pistols that the company did not want to spoil the perception of the “Glock Experience”. The pistol was designed to specs demanded by a specific customer that really don’t apply to to the general shooting audience and that made the gun a bit “clunky” in operation and disassembly. It is not the sleek, sexy thing that Glocks are supposed to be.

    • I’ve always found Glocks to be boxy, with an odd grip and a weird trigger. their balance is strange and gets stranger as the magazine is emptied, especially in the heavier calibers (.45 ACP and 10mm).

      Comparing a Glock 20 10mm side-by-side with a S&W 1006, the Smith finishes up far ahead in the sleekness department. (To this day, I regret buying the Glock instead of the Smith, both priced at $400…)

      Glock is becoming very much like Heckler & Koch. That is not intended as a compliment. See;

      clear ether


    • It will sell mostly at the expenses of other Glock models, forcing them to expand their supply and service chain for no real benefit.

    • i think the main Wesson is, that it is sodifferent from the other Glock pistols that it interrupts manufacturing. The other models are just shorter or junger etc, but essentially the same and identical how they go together. The 46 deviates from the pattern set by the 17 a lot.

  2. Ian, I am a retired police officer in NY, firearms instructor and Glock armeror. This pistol leaves me gobsmacked. I’ve worked with glocks from the hideous NY + to the NY and back through the factory trigger. I know police officers are primarily tested for integrity then physically fitness and lastly intelligence. I have worked with and trained some officers who are not that bright. However if you deliberately have to make a pistol that idiot proof it speaks volumes about what you assume the intelligence level and amount of training you expect from people who can legally walk the streets with a loaded gun
    I personally don’t believe that the common German police officer is a knuckle dragging Neanderthal, however it appears that enough decision makers in the German government may think that way. DAMN

    • Europe loves all powerful central governments. But I do get the impression that the German States do retain more autonomy than respective jurisdictions in other European countries. So the bean counters in Berlin have to make up extreme rules to show who is the boss. Thus, the central bureaucrats dumb-down police pistols, thinking the States aren’t smart enough to hire and train competent officers, since Berlin can’t run the whole show.

      • I take your point ,however not having enough first hand knowledge I can’t respond to that point. I’m sure central governments everywhere have multiple means of pulling the strings on local governments. My main concern is the pistol requirements are more appropriate for a Soviet style of army of conscripts, not trained professional law enforcement officers, who are expected to make life and death decisions in split second timing, all while helping someone’s lost grandmother get home from the market.

    • I believe the recent example of a police officer shooting and killing the blind and deaf cat sized pet dog that the officer claimed was dangerous is a perfect example of the average knuckle dragger that wears the badge. Kudos to the German government.

    • Integrity is now a distant second. Presently demographics seem to be destiny when it comes to police recruiting and promotion

    • A German police officer just got stabbed in the neck after she attacked an innocent man for restraining a knife attacker and the attacker she saved picked her as his next victim. German police are next level stupid

      • It is very interesting how whole tragic incident is present on youtube uncensored (that is a suprisingly good thing),
        and a great show of current german police inefficency and effeminacy. The blood of the policeman falls on this grave ineptitude, as well as his comrades who, at least 10 of them (and more then half a women!) just stood by few meters away doing nothing, not even pulling out a gun or billy club.

    • Jim Mattimore said:

      “I have worked with and trained some officers who are not that bright. However if you deliberately have to make a pistol that idiot proof it speaks volumes about what you assume the intelligence level and amount of training you expect from people who can legally walk the streets with a loaded gun (sic)”

      See, here is the thing: I don’t think you understand either the ideas behind the Glock, or the people you were set over to train.

      It’s not that they’re stupid; it’s that they’re not “gun people”. The majority of cops I know do not see themselves as “guys with guns”, they see themselves as cops, law enforcers. The guns aren’t even a secondary concern for most of them. It’s all costuming; part of the image. They don’t see the gun as something of separate importance the way the average “gun guy” does.

      Which is a failure of culture. I knew a bunch of Chicago PD cops, products of a similar system of training. The vast majority of them did not care to do any more than required for keeping their jobs. Proficiency? Fuhgeddaboudit… Other things are better uses of the time; the guns they carried barely got cleaned, let alone properly maintained.

      Outside of few rare exceptions that were all universally declaimed as “weird”, that was the mentality. Same one prevails in New York City, from what people who’ve been on that department tell me. The track record for NYPD cops shooting up entire neighborhoods and still missing the actual criminal is well-known and well-publicized. The majority of the department is not all that good with firearms, from observational fact.

      This being the case? The Glock is designed for that use-case, deliberately. It is a pistol designed for the lowest-common denominator, the guy who’s going to have the idea in his head that it’s a bit of costume that he’s going to have to wear to keep his job, and that if he ever has to use it, he’s going to be doing the bare minimum as safely as possible. Which is why the Glock is designed the way it is. In my opinion, the entire philosophy behind the Glock is meant more for the Austrian Army’s use-case, that of a conscript given limited training and who needs to be able to defend himself effectively in final exigency. As such, that’s why the Glock is basically meant to be a “carried loaded, drawn and fired in self-defense” pistol, not something waved around by a cop making a US-style threat display to cow the criminally-inclined. I don’t think the Glock should have ever been marketed to the US police forces, but here we are. In Europe, it’s a different deal: In their mentality, you draw a pistol, someone is getting shot. Period. Glock design features work in that environment. As such, they see the use of a pistol as a failure in police work, and if a cop has to draw down on someone, he screwed up somewhere along the line.

      A Glock-designed pistol is basically the firearms equivalent of one of those personal fire extinguishers or a Forest Service fire shelter; you carry it, ready to go, and only use it when you are confronted with a damn fire. And, since it’s meant to be carried and used by the lowest common-denominator sort of pistol shooter…? The heavy trigger and the rest of the features make perfect sense. If Glock and the Austrian Army could have made it work, I’m pretty sure that the damn things would be packaged as one-use disposables to be kept in sealed belt cases until the user was absolutely certain they had to shoot someone… It’s a tool meant to keep high-value military personnel alive in a close-combat situation, and that’s about it. As such, I think it’s a near-perfect design for that use-case.

      Less so for US police work, what with the lack of safety and other features. It could be made to work better with different cultural features, but since those are harder to change than not, well… Here we are. As a design, it’s exactly what the Austrian Army wanted, and so long as you understand what they were looking for…?

      The German police probably had similar ideas. It’s a much different mentality than that which suffuses the US firearms and police industries.

      And, I would point out that the usual person who goes into police training with firearms has generally got a set of cultural blinders on that prevents them from making clear observations about the people they’re training… It is damn hard to wrap your head around them not giving two flying f*cks about an issue that could result in them dying or killing others, but there you are: That’s the average cop, these days. Just like the average soldier; they just don’t give a rat’s ass about skill-at-arms or real proficiency. If you’re in either profession, and do? You’re the weirdo; the norm is that same knucklehead who does a five-mag dump into a dark alley because he thought he saw a muzzle flash…

      Off-hand? I’d say the Germans know their people fairly well. There are reasons that the Reichsrevolver was what it was, and some of those come down to us to the present day in the form of the Glock 46…

      • The problem is how heavy trigger do you need. The military and police standard was double action revolvers for centuries. NYPD found the Glock to light en went for a “New York trigger”. While striker fired pistol were not uncommen in early automatic pistols it dissapeared after WW II for military arms. There is reason for it.Watch: Thirteen failure to fire. That is less than 200 rounds between failures. That is why a Hi Power have 32 pound mainspring. In a war you can not choose your supplier. It may be Bulgarian ammo that was 50 years is storage. Glock is neither a military arm. Hammer is the wave of the future.

    • In Germany the shooting training has a far lower priority for the average policeperson than in your country. The probability to get into a firefight is much lower because of our very restrictive gun laws. Armed attacks typically are commited with knives. Ammunition is expensive and the average Streifenpolizist (patrolperson) fires 10-20 rounds a month on the range.
      With this low training level you don’t have to be a Neanderthal to be prone to negligent discharges.

  3. The German police wanted a gun with a super long, heavy trigger. But wait, my HK P7 has a trigger that’s beautiful. Seems they would rather “Stupid proof” the weapon instead of training the officer. Or as Col. Cooper once said, “No machine made by man is fool proof, but then again, fools shouldn’t operate machines.”

    • Incidentally the state of Saxony adopted the P7 for their police when it came out. Perhaps they are fond of innovation when they can afford it? I am still of the opinion that the P7 is the ideal carry pistol for a non-war environment. We forget how few shootings, and shootings by police, happen in Europe.

    • The idea (officially) was to improve qualification scores. I suspect we’re looking at another example of the classic institutional error of attempting to apply a technological “fix” to what is fundamentally a problem in training.

      A new design of service sidearm is almost always easier to “sell” to the purse-string holders than asking for more ammunition for more range practice time.

      Especially today, with the emphasis being on proper pronouns.

      clear ether


  4. Unlike traditional tilting barrel designs, rotating barrels uses the mass and motion of the barrel to absorb and reduce recoil effectively. When the gun is fired, the barrel rotates rather than tilts, spreading the recoil energy over a longer period and reducing the felt recoil.
    I wonder if the Glock 46 mechanism enhances shooting comfort and improves accuracy by maintaining the barrel’s alignment with the target during the recoil cycle.

  5. Since Steyr had a rotating barrel system in 1912, was there a reason that system did not become more commonly used? Was the specialized design for the barrel to rotate more expensive than the tilting barrel design?

    • the rotating barrel system is harder to manufacture, because you have to keep more tolerances in check. There is the ease of manufacture that made the modified Browning tilting barrel ubiquitous. For the tilting barrel you can use mosty straight cuts and fitments. For the rotary you have to make spiral cuts and fit those tightly together.

  6. Re: “extremely unlikely we will see these in the US”

    My G17 is an Austrian police or mil model that was grey-market imported. The serial # is an EPxxxxx series and it came with a Glock holster. Century imported a few thousand of these in 1999-2000

    Never say never.


  7. “(…)Glock 46, however, they completely changed, and opted for a short recoil, rotating barrel design. The 46 also includes a couple other unique features(…)”
    This reminded me about Obregon automatic pistol
    when seen from afar it might be mistaken for Ballester-Molina automatic pistol, but is different internally (also barrel rotation) and bit different in regards of user interface (has slide stop lever where user of Ballester-Molina would expect safety).

  8. Hmmm… market-targeting police with goal to replenish “their stake in the police market”, rotating barrel based on that of the Steyr 1912, long heavy terrible trigger pull, 15 round capacity… sound familiar? While watching this, I kept thinking of the Colt All American 2000 pistol, albeit and likely the Glock 46 going without the terrible accuracy the Colt provided.

  9. The reason for the different action is probably so that you can not switch parts between other Glock pistols. By replacing the frame all the safety features will be gone. Glock probably did some work rotary barrel pistol and found no or little improvement.The work was all ready done on the pistol and all you need to do is drop in the new safety features.

    The low bore axis argument do not hold for me(unless you can show the caculation for it). The barrel is part of the recoiling massa. In tne case of rotating barrel the barrel is lock longer to the slide than in the case of Browning tilting barrel. It is also the case with Berretta tilting block, which produce a “soft shooting” Beretta pistol. In the rearword recoil motion some of energy is taken by the movement of the barrel. In forward motion, after the chambering of the round you will also be extra massa to slow the forward movement. In principal the will be less backward and forward motion on the pistol, leading to quik follow uit shots.

    This lead us to the worst feather of the Glock pistol, it “safe trigger.” Fists of all why DA/SA ? Safety and speed. When New York police deparment adoped Glock, the amount of accidental discarges when up. The longer and/or heavy DA trigger pull service as safety. A DA trigger is faster to get in to action than SA action because you dont need to fiddel with a safety. On matter how hard you train, DA is faster.

    You dont bring a pistol to gun fight. When you need a pistol, you real need one. In case you need a pistol your engagment range will be short. A crisp trigger will be immaterial at short range. Who fired first will be important. For longer ranges you probable have more time to assess the situation and you can thumb back the trigger for crisp shot.

    Next is reliable ignition of the ammonition. In the Ian V.Hogg’s Encyclopedia of Modern Small Arms there is article on the USA airforce 1979 pistol test. What is interesting is high amount of failers to fire. The best preforming in failer to fire FN fast action and FN High Power. This is not unexpected in line with a 32 pound hamer spring. The worst preforming was the HK VP 70. In light of Hk VP 70 6 pound striker spring this is not unexpected. Die High Power had other wyse a dismal reliability record, mostly failure to feed or the eject. The question is, did the High power get it reputation for reliablity because it work reliable with hard primer ammunition ?

    The standerds set by pistol like Beretta 92 and SiG 226 is very high, in the region of 2000 rounds per failure. If you fired 500 rounds with a single failure, you are unlucky or you have unreliable pistol. The late 1980’s the FDI tested Glock 17. The Glock had dismal reliability record. Dont believe, me watch: With 5 pound striker spring, I can not see how the Glock could past the XM9 trial. The army tested the Glock in early 1990’s for conceal carry with slightly better results ( +-250 rounds between failers).This leave me with a question did the quility control (softer primers) on 9mm ammunition improved because 9mm became more popular or because people buy Glock pistols.

    Can you limp wrist a .45 1911 ? Apparently no. When you design a firearm you try to do most of work on recoil stroke. On a hamer fired pistol the firing mechanism is armed on recoil stroke. In Glock it is armed on return stroke. On short recoil pistol you want the following: A spring that is light to begin with and become stiffer as slide move back. A progressive spring. This progressive spings do exist for High Powers to improve reliablity. In case of hamer fire pistol the hamerspring act as progressive spring. The lever action of hamer get shorter as it move to the back. In other word the action of hamer spring get “stiffer” as side move back. The factory standard recoil spring for 1911 is 14 pounds. For Glock its 17 pounds because it have no recoil absorbing hamerspring. The .45 ACP have more energy than 9X19 mm (With +P loads it less so.). On the forward stroke the 17 pound spring must also arm a 5 pound hammerspring (17-5 = 12 pound vs. 14 pound). Limp wristing is not user error, it is not because light polimer frame. It is design error. The recoil spring is to strong on recoil stroke and to weak on return stroke. This lead to failer to eject or feed. In Austia trial the best pistol was the Beretta 92 pistol. The Glock was chosen because it was Austrian and must better than Steyr GB. The GB failed apparently over the du
    bble stack cross feed magazine.

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