For the last three years I’ve been crying for a single-stack Glock 19. Even after the absolutely brilliant Smith & Wesson M&P Shield dropped, I was still looking at Glock like, “Where is it?” Instead, they released the .380 Glock 42 and dropped the mic like they just re-invented fire.
I said it before and I’ll say it again: The Glock 42 was like your sexually conservative girlfriend unconvincingly trying to talk dirty to you for the first time. But the 43? Now this is a gun that lives up to the hype in almost every conceivable way.
To my eyes this is the best-looking Glock in the entire lineup. Not in the testosterone-driven, badass-looking gun kind of way, but in that less menacing and unimposing style. The 43 manages to look refreshingly different from other models while still looking exactly like a Glock; it’s actually pretty weird. I really like the look, and the even proportions calmed my OCD. Most Glocks feel like cop guns, and the subcompacts felt like a cop’s off-duty gun. However, the 43 looks like a gun made for civilian life. Sitting next to an iPhone and a set of keys, it looks natural and at home.
When I finally felt the 43 in my hand, it felt like Glock left a G26 alone in a room with Anthony Bourdain and a fillet knife. The 43 is literally a Glock 26 sliced in half. There’s a toy-like quality to the 43 that’s rather entertaining. I don’t want to go so far as to say it feels fake, but it’s a fun-size gun to say the least. Guns like the Kahr PM9 are incredibly concealable, but they’re so small you wonder if an attacker would buy them as real. Yet the G43 still inspires confidence.Some micro handguns can feel handicapped and too small to be effective, but the 43 handles like a decent-sized gun.
The grip texture on the gun seems useless to me. I don’t feel that it improves my grip on the gun at all, but it’s possible I may be undervaluing the texture because its operation is indiscernible to me. It really doesn’t matter because the ergonomics on this gun are spot on … for its size.
Some micro handguns can feel handicapped and too small to be effective, but the 43 handles like a decent-sized gun. That is until you actually pick up a decent-sized gun: Then you end up feeling like that guy who was perfectly happy with his Dodge Challenger R/T until the SRT Hellcat pulled up next to his ass. Overall the 43 feels a lot bigger than it is, and I wish I could say the same about its capacity.
You don’t set the gold standard for capacity-to-size ratio in the industry and then completely ignore it with one of the most anticipated offerings since the M&P Shield. That’s like releasing a non-waterproof Apple Watch at a premium price with a horrible battery life—oh, wait. Sure, they’ll be scores of aftermarket extended magazines or extended base plates like the one I have from Taran Tactical, but come on: This habit is expensive enough without having to buy extras.
The 43 comes with two six-round magazines, with one magazine fitted with a “uselessly useful” pinky extension. Useless, in that it doesn’t increase my capacity but expands my printing profile when concealed; useful in that the pinky extension gives me more to hold on to. Granted, I can make the argument that the perceived benefit of a pinky extension is nothing more than a placebo effect. Watching Hickok45—who I’m convinced is a giant—shoot a Glock 26 out to 200 yards without a pinky extension essentially makes my case.
Why not just include a flush magazine along with an extended magazine? That would do the same job as the pinky extension while also giving me more rounds. That is, unless Glock and Taran Tactical are in cahoots together and Glock purposely didn’t add an extended magazine in order to drive sales for Taran’s base plates, which are admittedly kind of awesome—so much so that I used them the entire time.
Shooting the Glock 43
On paper, the 43 is just another micro 9 mm with subpar capacity. But then you shoot it and realize it defies the laws of physics by shooting way bigger than its size.
The 43 recoils like the 10-inch subwoofer in my truck. Standing outside with the volume at max, I can feel the truck working to keep the bass from spilling out. You know there’s something beating inside fighting to get out, but the truck’s insulation is just strong enough to keep it contained. With the 43 you feel the recoil, you know it’s there, but it doesn’t overwhelm you or make for an undesirable shooting experience. It’s a nice, tight boom.I couldn’t for the life of me understand how it could be so small but shoot so big. I ran this thing like a full-sized gun and never felt like I was being underserved.
The trigger is classic Glock, except not quite as good. It has a rather hard mushy take-up with a solid wall and a very deliberate and very loud break. It’s just a little rougher around the edges. During live fire the trigger’s very minor shortcomings were unnoticeable.
Shooting the 43 was just odd. I couldn’t for the life of me understand how it could be so small but shoot so big. I ran this thing like a full-sized gun and never felt like I was being underserved. It points magnificently and is incredibly balanced. Shooting fast wasn’t too much of a task. Its capacity was the real killjoy—right when you start to hit the sweet spot of speed it goes empty. Naturally its small size allows the gun to be maneuverable and easy to wield, so transitioning from target to target was laughably easy.
From the Draw
Drawing from concealment with the 43 was an exercise in faith. Sometimes trying to draw a small gun from concealment quickly is like threading a needle with a running start. Trying to get a purchase on that small grip at speed can really start to try your patience. Thankfully, with the 43, every time I felt I was going to get a shitty purchase on the draw, I ended up with a handful of Glock. I’m just going to throw in a “pause” for good measure for you undersexed comedians out there who giggled because you intentionally misread that.
There is no question that Glock was late to the party with the 43. While they were busy wringing every last sale they possibly could out of the 42, the rest of the world was playing with M&P Shields, Springfield XD-s, Walther PPSs and Kahr PM9s. But dammit, this gun is really good. The capacity-to-size ratio is a huge problem for me—I think six rounds in a gun this size with this type of pedigree is ridiculous. But when you add the +1 and +2 Taran Tactical base plates, the 43 is magnificent for its intended purposes. But so is the M&P Shield.
I’ve lived with my Shield for a good while and I love her. But now this home wrecker they call the Glock 43 has entered my life, and I’m faced with a huge question: Which gun comes with me when I leave the house?