North Carolina's State Park Rangers Glock
North Carolina’s state park rangers rely on GLOCK 21 and GLOCK 22 pistols to protect the parks’ natural resources and visitors. Each ranger regularly trains in firearms safety and marksmanship and must successfully fire a qualification course each year.
(Photo by Charlie Peek Photo)

North Carolina is a diverse state with natural and cultural features that are appealing to residents and visitors alike. There are three main geographic regions in North Carolina: the Appalachian Highlands, the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain. Each of these regions has a different geological, ecological and cultural history. North Carolina’s state parks reflect that diversity. With 36 state parks, 19 state natural areas and four state recreation areas, the system of parks stretches from the highest sand dune on the East Coast at Jockey’s Ridge to Mount Mitchell, the highest mountain peak east of the Mississippi River. In between these points, the state’s park lands consist of forests, rivers, lakes and swamps that are the home to many different species of animal and plant life. North Carolina’s state park rangers protect these priceless resources while also protecting and educating people.

A staff of 208 park rangers and park superintendents, all of whom are commissioned law enforcement officers, serve and educate these visitors. As law enforcement officers, park rangers are required to train with and carry handguns. GLOCK pistols, namely the GLOCK 21 and GLOCK 22, are the standard-issue sidearms for North Carolina’s state park rangers.

State Park Sentinels

In North Carolina, state park rangers are considered multi-purpose specialists, performing tasks ranging from resource protection to education to public safety. Thus, park rangers need versatile pistols.

Known for its accuracy and light recoil, the GLOCK 21 is chambered in .45 AUTO and has a 13-round magazine capacity. The GLOCK 22 in .40 features a 15-round magazine and is one of the most popular law enforcement handguns in North Carolina. GLOCK SAFE ACTION pistols first entered service with North Carolina state park rangers in 1999, when they replaced the legacy .38 Special revolvers then in use. GLOCK pistols have proven to be easy to operate, particularly under stress, which makes instruction in their use easier. The ergonomic grip design allows for instinctive pointing and faster target acquisitions while accommodating shooters with different hand sizes. Following basic training, state park rangers must regularly train in firearms safety and marksmanship as well as successfully fire a qualification course each year.

GLOCK pistols have withstood the test of being carried by rangers in the outdoors, where they are commonly exposed to extreme environmental conditions. Rangers in the western part of the state, such as the Mount Mitchell State Park, regularly work in freezing conditions and snow during the winter, while rangers at parks such as Carolina Beach or Fort Macon State Park work in high temperatures in the summer and year-round salt air. Thanks to their advanced surface treatments and polymer frame material, GLOCKs are resistant to extreme climatic conditions as well as everyday exposure to rain, snow, perspiration, saltwater and dirt.

Reliable Backup

While crime in the state parks is relatively low, having state park rangers that are all qualified as sworn law enforcement officers has proven advantageous. Many state parks are located in remote, scarcely populated communities where local law enforcement resources are minimal. If a crime or a dangerous animal encounter were to happen, it might take local authorities an inordinate amount of time to respond to such an emergency. Other state parks are located in or near urban centers where the possibility of crime spilling over from outside the park is more likely. In all of these cases, it makes sense to have well trained and well equipped law enforcement personnel on staff. GLOCK pistols are therefore an essential tool for North Carolina state park rangers to have if needed.

North Carolina state parks are all about conservation, recreation and education. Each park offers free interpretive programs by state park rangers that explore the many environmental and cultural resources found across the state. Rangers are the backbone of North Carolina’s state parks system. They faithfully serve visitors, the community and protect precious resources with GLOCK pistols at their side.

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This article was published in the GLOCK AUTOPISTOLS 2016 magazine. To see the rest of the issue, please visit

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