Lipsey's Glock P80

The Origin Of Everything
17

The new retro P80 GLOCK from Lipsey’s perfectly replicates the very
first Gen 1 GLOCK 17 that so took the world by storm.

There is currently a pervasive primal urge to possess trinkets indicative of a Quixotic romanticized past. This is likely either because 2020 is the most sucktastic year in all of human history or folks are just too young to remember the past was not all that awesome, either. Regardless, Lipsey’s has recently launched the ultimate retro gun.

The Lipsey’s GLOCK P80 is an authentic modern reproduction of the first plastic pistol that started it all. From its revolutionary polymer frame to its groundbreaking Safe Action striker-fired trigger system and rakish grip-to-frame angle, the P80 captures all that was righteous and wholesome about that first radical GLOCK handgun. To understand this uber-cool gun’s origins, however, we have to set the way-back meter to 1980.

No, this is not some sinister but cool 1980s-era Miami Vice supervillain, it is
just a middle-aged gun writer with maturity issues. And a circa 1980s grip technique!

Philosophy Of Greatness

Wouldn’t it be awesome to be the guy who invented something that truly changed the world? I’m not talking about silly stuff like the Pet Rock (Gary Dahl, 1975), Instagram (Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, 2010), or Paris Hilton (Rick and Kathy Hilton, 1981). I mean something that legitimately made a difference.

Thomas Crapper was a master plumber who worked in mid-19th century England. At the time of his death he held nine patents, mostly for toilet components. He developed the U-bend plumbing trap as well as the floating ballcock. Wouldn’t “The Floating Ballcocks” be an awesome name for an intramural sports team? There is an apocryphal tale that his name was the original source of the universal epithet “crap.” Regardless, the guy revolutionized the way the world poops. He died in 1910, appropriately enough, of colon cancer.

In 1958, a Taiwanese-Japanese man named Momofuku Ando invented Ramen Noodles. A poll taken in 2000 reported a preponderance of Japanese citizens believed Ramen Noodles to be the preeminent invention of the 20th century. The number of college students rescued from starvation by Momofuku’s delectable contrivance boggles the mind.

All this pales, however, when compared to the genius of Gaston Glock. The gun that bears his name changed the way the world made weapons. The details of how Gaston dreamt up his eponymous wonder are indeed fascinating.

My high-mileage Gen 1 GLOCK 17 is on the left. The new Lipsey’s GLOCK P80
is on the right. The only difference is my gun looks like it served in the Crimean War.

The wholesale price of the new retro GLOCK P80 is $15 more than a new-production
Gen 5. This covers the cool outer box that holds the trigger lock and similar stuff that
wasn’t required back in the 1980s.

Origin Story

In 1980 Gaston Glock was an engineer with extensive experience in industrial polymers. His company made things like combat knives and machinegun links for the Austrian military. Glock had never produced a firearm before and actually had very little experience with guns.

The story goes he was walking the halls of an Austrian Army facility and overheard a pair of officers talking about the upcoming handgun trials. The Austrian Army still used WWII-era Walther P38 pistols and was in dire need of replacements. As this initial contract would ultimately be for some 25,000 guns, all the major European arms manufacturers were taking part.

Glock gathered up examples of all the common combat handguns he could find and tore them apart. He drew from experts in military, law enforcement and sport shooting circles to assess what attributes the perfect military pistol might exhibit. He went from initial idea to working prototype in a mere three months.

Gaston ultimately named his new gun the GLOCK 17 as it represented the 17 th patent held by his company. He submitted several samples to the Austrian military trials, passed all of their abusive endurance tests and won the day. Along the way, he beat out eight different handguns from five established manufacturers.

The primary reason Glock’s pistol was so different was he held so few preconceptions. The use of polymer in the frame lowered the overall weight, mitigated felt recoil, and dropped the production costs precipitously. The gun operated via the short recoil system pioneered by the Browning Hi-Power, but most everything else was indeed fresh and new.

Those first Austrian pistols were serialized on the slides rather than the frames and were technically designated the Pistole 80 or P80. The similar Gen 1 GLOCK 17 hit U.S. shores in 1986 and was soon supplanted by the Gen 2 guns two years later. Original Gen 1 GLOCK 17s are subsequently tough to find.

Previously if you wanted a Gen 1 G17 of your own, you had to haunt the online gun auctions with both money and luck. I paid top dollar for my copy that is older than Britain’s Prince William and looks like it was carried operationally by the Apostle Peter. Nowadays, however, thanks to Lipsey’s and a three-year effort to convince GLOCK to make the gun, you can pick up your own NIB GLOCK P80 for essentially the same price as any other modern GLOCK pistol.

The cool minimalist frame treatment is identical between the original Gen 1 GLOCK and the new Lipsey’s P80 retro version.

The GLOCK P80

One of the most compelling attributes of the GLOCK pistol is its simplicity. The GLOCK 17 pistol has only 34 parts total. Unlike most every other handgun made before 1982, the P80 sported no external switches.

The P80 was not technically the world’s first polymer-framed pistol, nor did it pioneer the striker-fired trigger. The Heckler and Koch VP70 machine pistol featured both more than a decade earlier. However, as the trigger pull on the VP70 was measured in metric tons, that abortive rascal was just too much too soon.

The GLOCK 17 has evolved through five generations thus far. Minor changes to the frame stippling, grip design and recoil spring assembly define each generation. It is striking, however, how much the latest Gen 5 GLOCK 17 resembles the earliest 1982-vintage P80.

The Lipsey’s P80 has but a single set of gripping grooves cut into the rear aspect of the slide. The magazine catch is left side only. The slide stop is likewise present only on the left. As near as I can tell left-handed people weren’t actually invented until about 1985.

I write left-handed but shoot right-handed, so I don’t really have a dog in that fight. However, left-handed shooters must feel mightily put upon. They have been actively discriminated against ever since Al Gore invented the alphabet. Be strong, my persecuted brothers. Down with Righty!

The P80 frame eschews finger grooves and sports that cool retro minimalist pebbled stippling pattern. There is a cutout on the front of the frame as well as the back to facilitate gripping a sticky magazine. The very earliest mags did not drop free. Today’s are better. These mags leap out of the butt of this P80 GLOCK pistol like boiled okra amidst a stomach virus.

The captive recoil spring assembly consists of a single flat coil spring. The sights are the standard pedestrian plastic sort that have graced GLOCK pistols from the beginning. The steel bits are finished in the classic GLOCK ferritic nitrocarburizing, something else Gaston pioneered in the manufacture of firearms.

In addition to all the classic retro cool-guy stuff, the new Lipsey’s GLOCK P80 comes in a vintage plastic Tupperware container just like the originals. Once you have the gun stashed in your safe, you could always use the container to refrigerate your leftover meatloaf. It might leave your dinner tasting vaguely of ordnance, but the GLOCK box would indeed be thought-provoking in the fridge should you ever have houseguests.

Yep, the Lipsey’s P80 GLOCK shoots great. This is a pretty typical 12-meter group.

How Does She Run?

The Lipsey’s GLOCK P80 shoots great, just like every other GLOCK pistol you have ever fired. They are all the same. That’s the point. GLOCK handguns are the McDonalds of combat pistols. No matter what mischief you might be up to they never, ever change. This retro P80 will do any real-world thing a Gen 5 might.

The grip-to-frame angle is that raked 22-degree sort that seemed so weird the first time you hefted one of these revolutionary plastic pistols. This geometry mimics the P08 Parabellum Luger rather than the more traditional 18-degree cant of the American 1911. This either suits you or it doesn’t, but it does lower the bore access and better distribute recoil into the shooter’s arm.

The striker-fired trigger runs about 6.5 lbs. and will feel familiar to anybody who has ever fired a GLOCK pistol. With a trivial predictable take-up and a pleasant break, this trigger pull is the same from the first round to the last. There are purists out there who make great hay over the nuances of GLOCK triggers throughout their generational evolution. I’m not that smart. They all feel about the same to me.

The original Gen 1 G17 on the left is essentially identical to the Lipsey’s retro P80 version.
The new guide rod is captive, but that’s about it.

The Lipsey’s P80 comes in a cool “Tupperware”-style box, just like the originals.

Ruminations

I stripped the new Lipsey’s P80 down alongside my vintage Gen 1 G17 and pored over every bit. My old GLOCK has a small hole at the bottom rear of the grip that the new P80 doesn’t, but they look otherwise identical. All the parts I interchanged did so seamlessly.

Pawing over this spot-on rendition of the first P80 GLOCK 17 that started it all was indeed fascinating. This P80 would render superb service as a defensive handgun even today, some 38 years after its introduction. Sometimes something is just so awesome the passage of time enhances it. The new Lipsey’s GLOCK P80 is just such a remarkable thing.

For more info: Lipseys.com

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