The ways of Glock are mysterious. Glock began with the 17, a duty-sized 9mm handgun with 17 round magazine capacity. That has led many to think Glock’s numbering scheme is related to the magazine capacity of its pistols. Rather, the Glock 17 was Glock’s 17th patent. While H&K actually produced a polymer framed production handgun, the VP-70 some decade before the Glock 17 (my article on the G17 is available here), that unusual handgun was never intended for the mass market, and actually had a detachable shoulder stock that enabled three round burst–automatic–fire. It’s an interesting historical sidelight that Remington introduced the Nylon 66, a .22LR rifle with a polymer receiver and stock, long before either H&K or Glock. However, Glock was the pioneer in marketing a workable, mass manufactured, polymer, striker-fired handgun.
Glock racked up a number of additional firsts. The mid-sized 19 remains a mainstay of the handgun market today, and the compact 26–AK “Baby Glock”–made in response to the Clinton Gun Ban which limited magazine size to 10 rounds, also remains a standard (my article on the G26 is available here). The G26 is the handgun I carried daily nearly 15 years, however, Mrs. Manor fell in love with the Glock 43, and I found myself intrigued with the little pistol as well. I am, however, getting ahead of myself.
Glock tends to ignore some market trends. Virtually every major manufacturer, for example, has one or more handguns in .22LR that closely resemble their full sized 9mm or .40 S&W models. The wisdom of this should be obvious. One can practice with much cheaper .22LR ammunition on a handgun of the same dimensions and with essentially the same trigger and other controls as their more powerful handguns. To date, Glock has resisted producing a .22LR handgun, though I’m sure they’d sell every one they made, and then some. NOTE: As 2020 dawns, Glock has produced its first .22LR handgun, the G44, which has a steel and polymer slide.
Other manufacturers, such as Smith and Wesson with its Bodyguard, and Ruger with its LCP and LCPII, have produced excellent and reliable little polymer-framed handguns in .380 ACP that are true pocket pistols, while being large enough to reasonably fit most hands and prevent excessive recoil. The market for these handguns remains strong. My article on the Bodyguard is available here). However, Glock has steadfastly refused to market such a gun, introducing instead the Glock 42 in .380 ACP. While the 42 is a small Glock, the smallest Glock has made, Glock has apparently decided no handgun shall leave its factory without looking exactly like every other Glock. The 42 holds only six rounds, just like the Bodyguard and LCP and LCP II, but is markedly larger than either of those guns, measuring 5.94” long, 4.13” high, .94” wide, with a 3.25” barrel (longer than the Bodyguard or LCPs), and weighing 17.29 ounces loaded, which is heavier than the Bodyguard or LCPs. It is sometimes referred to as a pocket pistol, but it requires a substantial pocket indeed.
For many years, perhaps more than a decade, shooters have longed for a single stack, truly compact Glock in 9mm, so many were surprised when Glock produced the 42 in .380 before the 43 in 9mm. The 42 is indeed a well made and reliable little handgun, but it fits no clearly discernible marketing niche. This marketing decision seems even odder when one compares the 42 and 43. Both have single stack magazines of six round capacity, and the 43 is only slightly larger in dimensions than the 42, yet fires a far more capable cartridge. Loaded, the 42 weighs 17.29 oz, while the 43 weighs only 5.07 ounces more at 22.36 oz. As I said: the ways of Glock are mysterious.
With its supplied magazine finger rest, I can wrap all my fingers comfortably around the 43’s grip. Those with truly large hands, however, may not be so fortunate. The grip fits Mrs. Manor well. Due to its size and intended purpose–concealment–the 43 and 42 do not have replaceable backstraps like many larger Generation 4 Glocks. Without the finger rest, it would be necessary to curl the little finger under the magazine baseplate, which I must do with my Bodyguard.
Like all Glocks, the 43 is a striker fired pistol. It has no exposed or internal hammer. Think of a striker as a large, heavily spring loaded firing pin that takes the place of a smaller firing pin and hammer in more traditional pistols. Due to its unique three-safety system, Glocks have no external safety lever, leaving no controls on the right side of their pistols, and only a magazine release and slide stop on the left. Also like all Glocks, the trigger is factory set at 5.5 pounds, with a travel of just a fraction under a half-inch.
The 43 also has the unique Glock feature of “catching the link.” The first round fired requires a complete pull of the trigger, but if one holds the trigger back as the slide fully cycles, and then gently allows it to move forward until one feels and hears a click, the trigger resets and requires a much shorter pull. This potentially enhances long-range accuracy, though one must repeat this procedure to catch the link for each subsequent shot. If one does not, the trigger fully resets forward, returning to 5.5 pounds and just under a half inch of travel.
The six-round magazines are made in the standard Glock manner, with a metal internal liner sheathed in black polymer. This helps to make the magazines damage resistant, an important factor as magazines are usually the weakest link for semiautomatic pistols. Five holes, conveniently numbered–the sixth cartridge is visible in the feed lips–are drilled in the back of the magazine for reference, also standard Glock practice. Glock magazines fall free of the magazine well when the magazine release is pressed, though empty new magazines might be a little hesitant until they’ve been broken in.
Take-down for cleaning is also Glock standard. The process begins with pulling the trigger. Then one retracts the slide about ¼”, and holding it there, pulls down simultaneously on the serrated release levers recessed in the frame on both sides above the trigger guard. Holding them down, the slide easily slips forward off the slide rails and frame. Reassembly is in reverse order, but it is not necessary to hold down the release levers.
Some have suggested Glock’s take-down system is inherently dangerous because some shooters have experienced negligent discharges when pulling their triggers. In such cases, the fault lies with the shooter, not the Glock design. Basic safety practice for any semiautomatic pistol prior to cleaning, or to handing it to another to examine, requires removing the magazine, cycling the slide at least three times–to remove any chambered round–and locking the slide back and inspecting the chamber visually, and with the tip of a finger, to ensure no cartridge is chambered. Even with a slide in battery, Glock extractors protrude beyond the slide if a round is chambered, providing a visual and tactile indicator. Of course, one never points a firearm at anything they don’t intend to destroy. Muzzle control is paramount. If one merely follows the most basic semiautomatic safety procedures, negligent discharges can be avoided.
Recoil impulse of the Glock 17 is famously mild. Glock polymer frames actually somewhat attenuate recoil that would otherwise be passed on to the shooter. It is very difficult, however, to quantify this effect. Felt recoil is largely subjective. Glocks tend to have less than some other designs because the bore axis relative to the hand is quite low. Felt recoil depends on the cartridge, the shooter’s grip, strength and experience, and other factors. That said, recoil in the 26, and the 43, feel the same to me, slightly sharper than the 17, which is much larger and heavier, but easily controlled and not at all unpleasant. Mrs. Manor is not particularly recoil sensitive, and the 43’s recoil is unremarkable to her.
I’ll not produce photos of ½” three shot groups. Most Glocks are not competition pistols. Their accuracy is more than adequate at all reasonable handgun ranges–25 yards and closer–and of course, better shots produce better overall accuracy. What does this mean? 3″-4” groups, perhaps somewhat better, depending on individual weapons, shooters and ammunition, at 25 yards. Fortunately, or unfortunately, most gunfights take place not much beyond arms length.
As you can see in a previous photo, gentle readers, I’ve equipped my Glocks with at least a laser sight, and in the case of the 17 and 43, flashlights as well. I close the Crimson Trace model LL-803 Laserguard Pro for our 43s. The units feature the usually excellent Crimson Trace laser, as well as a 150 lumen LED flashlight. They weigh little, attach solidly to the trigger guard, and CT claims they maintain zero after battery changes. I’ve yet to try this, but I change batteries every year, even though it’s usually not necessary. However, the unit fits so snugly and precisely on the trigger guard, I suspect it will maintain zero. The controls are simple indeed. The activation switch is on the front of the grip, and falls under the second finger. One can turn it on and off with a slight relaxation of tension of finger pressure. It’s quick and easy to learn.
The unit has three modes: laser only, laser and light, light only. One changes the modes by holding down the mode button. This cycles through the modes. To choose one, merely release the button when that mode is activated. Sighting in the laser is quick and easy, and the adjustments are positive and produce corresponding movement on the target. Rather than a standard little allen wrench, CT provides an allen wrench with a large orange plastic tab, which is easy to manipulate and helps keep the wrench from getting lost.
One problem with choosing laser sights is the handgun no longer fits most factory holsters. Crimson Trace addresses this with a slick Bladetech, inside-the-waistband holster, for a nominal price. They also offer other holsters, and a variety of more generic holsters that will fit such weapons are readily available.
But what happens if the battery dies? Simply transition to the factory sights. In bright daylight, red laser dots may be difficult to see at 15 yards and more. In shade, indoors, or in lower light, this is not an issue, but one should always be competent with laser and factory sights. Interestingly, CT has a free replacement batteries for life policy for those that purchase units directly from them.
I tend to carry the 43 in a pocket holster I made for it. It’s nothing more than a cordura pouch with a bit of polyester fill sandwiched beneath two layers. Notice the line sewed into the holster to raise the muzzle so the baseplate of the magazine doesn’t activate the laser/light button. The handgun, and a spare magazine, slip neatly into the side pockets of cargo pants–I tend to favor BDUs–but the pouch is a bit too big for other standard sized pants pockets. The pouch also works well for purses, other types of carrying bags, and even the seat bag on my trike when I take rides. The slight padding keeps the weapon from imprinting, and I’ve not found anyone, including police officers, to pay the slightest attention to it. Neither the 42 or 43 are true pocket pistols, but they do work with this application. UPDATE: I discovered there was sufficient flex in the pouch to allow the magazine to activate the laser switch, draining the battery, so I added additional padding to the area of the magazine to stiffen the pouch, and carry two magazines in my off side pocket in a very small, nylon pouch.
The light and laser combination work well in low light, as the photo below indicates. It was taken at about 10 yards. There are certainly brighter tactical lights in the 500-600 lumen range available, but the 150 lumen LED in the unit is adequate for common handgun ranges. A much brighter light might tend to wash out the laser dot. Keep in mind the human eye and the camera see things differently. The flashlight beam, while not narrowly focused, is adequate to illuminate a person head to foot at 15-20 yards, and is brighter than the photo reveals. The laser dot is also more coherent and brilliant than the photo would suggest.
Final Thoughts: A long time in coming, the Glock 43 fills a well- established market segment for single stack, light weight, slender concealment handguns. Like all Glocks I’ve owned, it is entirely reliable, does exactly what it should right out of the neat polymer carrying case, is easy to clean, and more or less indestructible, though I am easy on handguns and take good care of them. Glocks are not the be all and end all of handguns. No single brand or model is perfect for everyone. Indeed, I’ve owned, and own, Smiths, Rugers, Walthers, Brownings, Colts, and others, and been satisfied with them.
If you’re looking for a handgun in this market segment, the 43 is an excellent choice, and the Laserguard Pro is a pretty neat choice as well.