Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Events & Timeline

I purchased a Glock 36 in June 2008 in California. I experienced failure-to-extract (FTE) malfunctions, but was too busy moving my family out of the state to do anything about it.

In January 2009 I shot 100 rounds and experienced 3 malfunctions. I called Glock and asked for directions on how to send the firearm to them to be fixed. The malfunction, as explained in my first letter to Glock on January 19 that accompanied the firearm to the Glock facility in Smyrna Georgia:
The spent casing does not fully exit the chamber, yet the slide comes all the way back and catches the next round and pushes it slightly forward. This results in a ‘total’ malfunction that I cannot clear by racking the slide. Each time I must remove the magazine first.
I received the firearm back on February 21st. The work order said the following:
Inspected. Replaced extractor, firing pin safety, spring and cleaned. Meets factory specs. Tested OK.
I fired 120 rounds that day at the range. 100 rounds of Remington UMC ammo and 20 rounds of Corbon JHP +P. I experienced three of the same malfunctions with the Remington ammunition (top three pictures at left). I then wrote the second letter to Glock on February 22 requesting a replacement.

Fred from Technical Services contacted me and sent a pre-paid shipping label to me to return the weapon. Fred said that he would fire 200 rounds through the firearm, and if he experienced any jams, he would arrange for a replacement. He asked for a detailed letter, and I shipped the weapon back on March 6 with the third letter.

I received the same weapon back six months later on August 12 with the statement "meets factory specs".

My son and I fired the weapon on August 13 with 50 rounds of Winchester White Box and 50 rounds of Blazer Brass, both 230g ball factory ammo. I had one malfunction with the Winchester ammo, and my 16 year-old son had the same malfunction with the Blazer Brass (bottom two photos at left).

I then filed a small claims suit against Glock at the Cobb County Municipal Court. The case was scheduled for November 23rd.

I was informed in the summons that I would not be allowed to present testimonials of other Glock 36 owners who also have defective weapons. I decided to bring this video of the malfunction to court instead:


Magistrate Court of Cobb County, State of Georgia. Case: 09-J-3477. November 23, 2009.

Corporate Counsel Carlos Guevara, armorer John N. and Jeneane were present from Glock.

Both parties agreed to mediation, but were unable to come to a settlement.

The case was presented in front of the judge. The pictures to the left and the letters to Glock were presented. The courtroom did not have a TV so we did not view the video.

The judge ruled in favor of the plaintiff on November 24th for a portion of the damages.

My Comments

By August, Glock had had my G36 longer than I did. During this period I met other G36 owners. Some had defective pistols with the same malfunction, and many others never had an issue. Also, I spoke with several members of Glock's Technical Services during this issue, and every single one was helpful and interested in making things right - up until the end.

It was the numerous delays, Glock's organizational arrogance, and the discovery that other G36 owners were experiencing the same malfunctions and indifference that pushed me to file the lawsuit.


I made 11 of the 15 total phone calls to get status during the last 6 months. Eight times I left a message - seven of which were not returned.

Arrogance of the Organization:

If it says "meets factory specs", then there is nothing to talk about.

In the numerous discussions with Glock it was said that either ammo, grip tightness and/or magazines could be the reason for the malfunctions.

  • Ammo. My G36 malfunctioned on three of the four brands fired. Remington UMC, Winchester White Box and Blazer Brass all had the exact same malfunction. The brand that did not jam was Corbon 230g +P. At over $1.50 per round, only 20 rounds of Corbon was tested.
  • Grip Tightness. Or "limp wristing" as others call it. The photos and the video clip above are proof this cannot be the cause. In this malfunction the slide goes back all the way.  By definition, a malfunction caused by a less-than tight grip would show the slide failing to go back all the way. A malfunction caused by "limp-wristing" can be cleared with a 'tap-rack' procedure, whereas this G36 malfunction cannot be cleared with a tap-rack as the slide is fully back. To explain it another way, grip tightness does not cause an extractor to let go of the spent casing before the casing has fully exited the chamber.
  • Magazines. I used new factory magazines. I now have a total of 14 between those I've purchased and the free magazines Glock shipped back to me with the gun.
  • Glock Website. If the G36 requires certain ammo or a different type of grip, why doesn't it say this on their website? Here are screen shots from August of the G36 main page, and the G36 technical page. It appears Glock is marketing these weapons the same as their other models - yet Glock Technical Services suggested I stay away from certain brands of ammo and modify my grip. One could also note that the same grip and 'bad' ammo resulted in a 97% success rate.
  • How Many Test Rounds? Call me picky here, but with everything else mentioned above, the number of rounds fired by Glock adds to my complaints of poor service. Did Glock fire 200 rounds as Fred promised on February 22? Or did they shoot 250 rounds as Jonathan said in his June 26 call? Or did Glock shoot 300 rounds through my G36 as Doug, the Technical Services Manager, said on July 13? Or, did Glock fire 350 rounds "without malfunctions" as Carlos Guevara's September 16 Response to Plaintiffs Statement of Claim states. Or, did Glock shoot 500 rounds as Carlos Guevara and Jonathan both stated in court? This was during the Spring/Summer of 2009 when I could not find .45 ACP ammo anywhere, and the rumors were that 50 rounds were priced at $30 or more when found. So Glock shot $300 in ammo, during an ammo shortage, to prove my G36 is functional when it is known that their cost of providing a replacement pistol is close to half that?

GlockTalk is an Internet Forum frequented by gun-enthusiasts. My G36 woes led to my joining GlockTalk. I discovered others who were experiencing the exact same malfunction and same frustrations with Glock. I prepared comments they had written in the forum, and in some cases their testimonials for this lawsuit. It was later that I learned the only witnesses allowed were those who attend in person.

Of all those owners of defective G36s I spoke with, only one had a favorable resolution. All the others either sold their G36s, took them back for a refund or trade, or tossed it into the back of their safe. Many tried to work with Glock but experienced the same "meets factory specs" disappointment. The one gentleman who resolved his G36 issue: he bought a 2nd G36 which has worked fine for him.

Others have suggested, and I tend to agree - Glock deserves a class-action suit over its continued production of a product with a high defect rate and its continued refusal to replace defective G36s. I'd rather Glock make it right for those with bad G36s than see lawyers make $$ off of an otherwise deeply respected and appreciated company.

Specifically, Glock should post a notice on their website that explains the specific G36 malfunction and the company's offer to replace defective G36s, including those out of warranty, with either a new G36 or a new Glock pistol of the consumer's choice. The resulting bruised corporate image and costly recall pales in comparison to the legal and public relations disaster that would be caused from the death of an off-duty police officer who, while under fire, had to remove a magazine, clear the action, replace the magazine, chamber a round, then get back into the fight.

The obvious current strategy at Glock is to wait-out those with problems and stick to the "meets factory specs" line. By the time I received my G36 back in August, I was out of the warranty coverage. How many G36 owners are willing to travel to Atlanta for a small claims case that they may or may not win, and if so, be awarded only a portion of their total G36-related costs? For example: the judgement did not include reimbursement for the night sites, magazines, G36-only holster, the Bladetech mag/flashlight carrier, the shipping expenses I paid, or my travel expenses. In the end, my total loss was equivilent to throwing the G36 in the trash the day I bought it.

After the case was heard, but before a judgement was rendered, Carlos Guevara told me he would replace my G36 with another model "regardless of the outcome of the case". He said it was Glock's way to "keep a good customer". This was a generous offer! I wrote him the next day to take him up on this offer and gave him my requested model and local FFL dealer's address. I will update this site with news of this transfer.

I decided to make the switch from 9mm to .45ACP in 2008. The main reason was that I owned all the 9mm pistols I ever wanted, yet I was ready to add to my collection. While buying 1911 model .45s was the goal, any switch to a new caliber meant my first purchase would be the ultra-reliable Glock brand followed later by some cool 1911's. I bought two Glock .45s: a Model 30SF in May 2008, then this Model 36 in June. Both were defective. The 30SF had a defective trigger bar that took Glock 12 weeks to replace in the summer of 2009. It now works perfect. I started buying 1911's in 2009 and currently have three, a Kimber, a Colt and a Sig, all of which work perfect.

The intent behind this site is not to smear my favorite gun maker, Glock, nor the many helpful and best-intentioned Glock employees I've come in contact with during this issue. Instead, like the lawsuit, this site was motivated by the 8-month timeline with no resolution, and by those with similar stories. I hope this information helps other G36 owners and those considering a G36 purchase.

My advice for buyers of new or used G36's:  Put 100 rounds through it before you pay.

UPDATE Dec. 2, 2009:

Corporate Counsel Carlos Guevara called me to ask me which option I wanted: the replacement gun or the award from the lawsuit. It turns out his offer to replace the gun "regardless of the outcome of the case" had some fine print. I could replace the gun with a new Glock pistol, OR get the award ordered by the judge. My mistake. When I told him that I'll take the check, he then said he'd send me a fedex slip for me to return the G36. I told him that was not part of the judge's order and that I will have to sell it to recover more of the damages.

UPDATE Dec. 11, 2009:

Check received.  323 days.

UPDATE Dec. 28, 2009:

G36 Sold to GlockTalk member John.  John intends to do a full analysis and investigation.  He is planning at least three phases: 1) validate the above malfunction with a couple shooters and same ammo, 2) expand number of shooters and test other brands of ammo, and 3) attempt to isolate the cause and fix. His full report will be posted below in coming weeks.  Thanks John!

Comments are enabled below.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Report #1

(Posted June 2, 2010 but dated November 23, 2009 to keep a top-down flow on this site.)

The wait is over!
Comments are enabled.

Since the last update:

I had the opportunity to meet John in April for breakfast and for an hour at the local range.  John is now my 'go to guy' for all things guns.  As you can see in his report, he is both detail-oriented and knows his firearms.  He installed night sites on my G30, and I ordered his "Mitt" IWB holster for the same gun.  

I've worn the Mitt for two weeks now and am impressed.  This G36 experience is just part of a bigger story of finding the right carry gun.  I've bounced between the G26 and one of my 4" 1911's for months, but have always wanted the Glock + .45ACP combo.  I've tried the G30 with an outside-waist-band holster but was too conscious of the weight and size.  I've also used a Crossbreed SuperTuck which is equally comfortable but is a bit more difficult to put on and take off.  

A gun belt should be paired with the Mitt to distribute the G30's weight.  I've been happy with the belts from Crossbreed and High Noon Holsters.

John didn't ask me for this plug.  He earned it with a great holster.  Send him a note if you think the Mitt is right for you - his contact info is at the top-left of this site.  The Mitt with free shipping: $35!

Updated Aug 23, 2013:

John's report was originally a PDF hosted by Adobe.  They dropped the link.  My apologies.

I've uploaded the file to Google Documents and updated the link above.  

Thanks to those who have visited and left comments.  I'm sorry to hear there are still some bad G36's floating around out there.  

Remember, my advice is not to avoid the G36, but to put 100 rounds through one before buying.  The seller who doesn't let you do that has a reason, and is saving you hundreds of dollars and a whole lot of grief.

To those compelled to leave anonymous criticisms, please review the site in full before typing.