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Why the U.S. Navy SEALs Love the Glock 19

Glock 19
Glock 19. Image: YouTube Screenshot.

Why the Glock 19? Modern polymer materials combined with more consistent action and superior corrosion resistance simply performed better than SIG’s all-metal design.

Navy SEALSs and SIG: 

After the United States military shifted away from the iconic albeit somewhat aged M1911A1 to the more modern Beretta M9 in 1985, Navy SEALs decided to go in a different direction, opting to carry the SIG Sauer P226, which was dubbed Mk 25 in SEAL service.

One of the reasons U.S. Navy SEALs chose SIG’s pistol over Beretta’s was due to several malfunctions SEAL shooters experienced during training. Though the design shortcomings responsible for M9 malfunctions were subsequently fixed, the damage was done: the SEALs would adopt a sidearm no other branch had adopted: a SIG Sauer pistol.

And SIG’s design is a solid choice. A relatively high 15-round capacity magazine combined with an under-barrel accessory rail on a highly reliable platform. And, in addition to the full-size P226 design, SEALs were also able to field a compact version of the P226, the P229, which offered SIG’s reliability on a smaller, lighter platform

Enter the Glock 19

Although the SIG P226 served the Navy SEALs for several decades, by the mid-2010s, updated and superior pistol technology had already hit the market.

In particular, polymer-framed pistols provided a lighter sidearm platform when compared to heavier, all-metallic pistol designs. In addition, polymer-framed pistols could offer superior corrosion resistance. And although this particular aspect is an obvious advantage to all service members regardless of what environment they operate in, it is a particular advantage to U.S. Navy SEALs, given their close affinity for aquatic operations in corrosive saltwater.

In 2015, the U.S. Navy decided that the advantages offered by polymer designs were worth the switch. The chosen design? The Glock 19 pistol.

Though both SIG Sauer’s P226 and Glock share the same 9x19mm caliber, Glock’s pistol can ship with 17, 19, 24, 31, or 33 round extended capacity magazines. In addition, the Glock 19 weighs 855 grams with a loaded magazine, compared to the SIG 226’s 964-gram weight.

In addition to the weight and corrosion advantage offered by Glock’s polymer frame design, Glock’s design is striker-fired, as opposed to SIG’s hammer-fired design. Put simply, SIG’s design relies on an external hammer striking the pistol’s firing pin to ignite a cartridge’s primer. Once cocked, pulling the trigger releases the hammer, which hits the firing pin, which detonates the cartridge primer, causing the pistol to fire and the slide to move back, recocking the hammer rearward.

In contrast, Glock’s striker-fired design relies on an internal spring to release the firing pin when the trigger is pulled. Once the cartridge primer is struck, the pistol fires, causing the slide to move rearward, recocking the striker spring. The striker fire design offers a lighter, more consistent trigger pull when compared to hammer-fired designs.


Despite SIG’s excellent P226 and smaller P229 design, an all-metallic, hammer-fired design just couldn’t compete with a lighter, polymer design that offered a more consistent trigger pull and therefore increased accuracy — Glock eclipsed the advantages offered by SIG’s 1980s design.

Caleb Larson is a Defense Writer based in Europe. He holds a Master of Public Policy and covers U.S. and Russian security, European defense issues, and German politics and culture.

Written By

Caleb Larson is a multiformat journalist and defense writer based in Berlin but has spent most of 2022 reporting from Ukraine. He covers the intersection of conflict, security, and technology, with a focus on American foreign policy and European security. Follow him on Twitter @calebmlarson.



  1. Brian Foley

    January 9, 2021 at 11:33 am

    The SEALs love the Glock 19 because it’s a pistol and it shoots bullets. The SEALs love every pistol (except maybe the M9), they love the Mk25, they love the 1911a1….the SEALs love rocks that they can throw and kill bad guys with.

    • Joe Albert

      January 10, 2021 at 1:01 am


  2. MikeA

    January 9, 2021 at 2:13 pm

    The M9 had its issues, but if they wanted a superior polymer hybrid pistol, then they should have taken a look at the Barretta PX4 Storm. This is without a doubt the most accurate and reliable pistol I have ever shot.

    • Odin

      January 11, 2021 at 11:21 am

      The PX4 is a great pistol, mine is in .40 S&W. Still it is a hammer fired pistol. I actually prefer hammer fired over striker fired myself.

      The CX4 PPC in .40 is also a great light carbine, uses the same magazines as its little brother.

  3. Pavlos Xorofas

    January 9, 2021 at 9:03 pm

    Sounds like Mr. Larson knows very little about handguns and various brands thereof.

    • Earl T

      January 11, 2021 at 10:45 am

      My thought EXACTLY! I’m guessing Mr. Jorno-list wouldn’t know how to hold any kind of pistol and likely thinks such “tools of the trade” are “icky!”(echoing his ultra-lib mate (M or F)!)

    • Barry

      January 13, 2021 at 4:00 pm

      Why be condescending and insulting?

      Not necessary.

      If you disagree with something, just explain your opinion. Otherwise, none of us are any more informed by reading your post.

  4. Joe Albert

    January 10, 2021 at 1:00 am

    A striker fired pistol does NOT have a more consistent trigger pull than a hammer fired pistol. Having given Glock 2 chances (a 20 and a 22), I went back to 1911s. I never have any doubt when even my Series 80 Colt would fire. Both Glocks were always a mystery. There was no way of feeling when or where in the pull the thing would fire. However, there is no pistol of its size that is as light as an empty Glock, and they are reliable. .

    • Christopher

      January 10, 2021 at 1:32 pm

      When they say consistent I think they are referring to how many pounds of pull required to pull the trigger. The factory Glock trigger is approx. 5.5 ibs every trigger pull. The Sig 226 is DA/SA, meaning that the first pull of the trigger (hammer down) is double action and requires approx. 10ibs of pull and every subsequent shot is single action requiring approx. 4.5ibs of pull. Once the Sig is de-cocked it goes back to double action again.

      Many videos on YouTube will show this.

      • Clay

        January 11, 2021 at 12:20 pm

        Guess you never heard of a trigger job…

  5. Thomas Ritter

    January 10, 2021 at 4:43 pm

    The Glock 19 is a good choice,but it’s not because it’s newer. The Glock 19 is also 1980’s technology. It just took 25+ years for the military to catch on and learn that there are advantages to a polymer pistol!

  6. James B. Millard

    January 11, 2021 at 11:21 am

    “The striker fire design offers a lighter, more consistent trigger pull when compared to hammer-fired designs.” – have you ever fired a pistol? You think the the Glock trigger is lighter and more consistent than a 1911 single action trigger?

  7. Incompetent_Horse_Surgeon

    January 11, 2021 at 6:45 pm

    My mom taught me not to say anything if I didn’t have something nice to say, but damn even she would give me a pass when faced with such ignorance.

  8. CaptRebel

    July 19, 2021 at 3:34 pm

    But, the Glock is just so damned ugly….but then, so am I, and the gorgeous wife stays with me anyway, so there ya go. Like a good marriage, personal weapon choice is heavily infused with faith and trust in said choice. Carry whatever YOU believe in to protect you and yours in that terrible moment of need.

  9. Josh Ogden

    August 11, 2021 at 3:52 pm

    Definitely agree with others who think this sounds like it was written by someone who really doesnt know what they are talking about. the P226 and p229 have one of the best triggers out there. they are smooth as butter. with an SRT they have one of the most tactile and shortest resets on the planet. The consistency of the trigger is way better than a stock glock trigger. its smooth and predictable, unlike most any stock glock trigger i’ve tried. there is a reason everyone puts new triggers and sights on a glock as soon as they get one. Seals who carried the P226 and p229 continue to carry and use them after their service because the guns are as reliable, predictable, and accurate as you will find.

  10. GMG3

    January 22, 2022 at 2:30 pm

    Bullshit,SEALS carry whatever they want! The Navy buys guns on contract, that doesn’t mean an operator has to use it!

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