First Gear | All Dressed Up And Going (Almost) Anywhere

posted on February 14, 2016

We recognize we’re bending “First Gear” convention a little this week, but perhaps you’ll find it worthwhile all the same. Ta-da: a very dressed-up Glock 43! 

Not new, we recognize, and therefore not really a first look, but the diminutive single-stack, carry-friendly 9 mm has now been out long enough for an aftermarket to develop, and this certainly merits “First Gear” treatment. We think you’ll see why it’s become a go-to companion of a very welcome sort. 

Glock G43 

The pistol itself has been a superb performer. Despite a short operating stroke and dual spring recoil system, it’s been impressive with a wide range of bullets and loadings. Thumpy defensive hollow-points perturb point-of-aim surprisingly little, but that’s the point of the dual springs.These may seem like gun-guy (or -lady) minutiae, but what these traits uniformly translate into is very early confidence with the G43.

What’s amazing is how soft-shooting the 22-ounce (loaded) pistol is with “target” grade ammunition, especially in 147-grain weights. While it’s much tougher to find, the same effect is evident in light-bullet loadings like 90 and 95 grains. The ubiquitous 115s are more than satisfactory, too—we just detest them so thoroughly that we’d prefer to make no reference at all. 

These may seem like gun-guy (or -lady) minutiae, but what these traits uniformly translate into is very early confidence with the G43. Inexperienced shooters have that ultra-satisfying “wow” reaction when reliable hits appear at two-, three- and four-times-conventional defensive ranges, and more seasoned shooters just go buy one. Even “stock,” it’s that good. 

Contact Glock at 


As much as we love the stock configuration, we’ve been itching for years to send a Glock off to Robar and let them do their thing. It came back, as our friends across the pond might say, “a treat.” 

The short version of changes is a necessity, as there’s a lot going on. Inside, Robar NP3®-ed most of the metal parts. This high-lubricity coating makes all contact/wear surfaces super slick, with corresponding improvements in apparent trigger press weight and ease of cleaning. We sorta breathe heavily on the innards, and most of the remaining crud comes off. We say “remaining” because hardly anything sticks in the first place. Same thing with the barrel: Fouling wipes off for the most part. We lube the pistol as normal, but it hardly seems needed. 

Outside, however, are changes we liked even more. The tan frame is cosmetic, of course, but the grip stippling is emphatically not. We thought the original Gen4s were good to very good in the tactile sense, but Robar’s corrugation is noticeably better. Particularly for those with bigger hands and in the company of a pinky rest-equipped magazine (also stippled), those biggish mitts find great purchase on the G43. 

Another frame mod—that of trigger guard relief—we remain agnostic on. This is a gotta-have for some folks, and we approve in theory: The removal of material from the bottom of the guard gets your grip marginally “higher and deeper” in the gun. This is a good thing, as it allows closer alignment of the bore axis with the bones of the forearm. In turn, this gives better control of the pistol as the shot is prepped and made, and faster recovery afterwards, particularly if the first two “P”s are in order. We shot ours side-by-side with an unmodified G43, and the difference is below our threshold of detection (or too thoroughly disguised by the superb Robar stippling). This high-and-deep thing is already such a strong suit for the Glock design that perhaps we’re just numb to the difference. Suit yourself in this regard: Certainly, it isn’t wrong.

Contact Robar at 

Trijicon “HD” sights 

We’ve waxed lyrical about these on other pistols (notably here), but we’re glad to have an appropriate version on a small pistol. Everybody has experienced the effect of things that don’t scale well. 

We needn’t have worried.

The daylight performance of the HDs is what we view as a meaningful step forward. Previous designs that tried to commingle tritium-lamped nighttime performance had an uphill battle in multiple respects. Some struck a fair balance, but many more did not. Our main gripe was usually with the sleeves that are necessary to protect the 3H “lamps” during installation: Somewhere along the line, somebody thought these could be a suitable proxy for 3-dot tactical sights and made them bright white. 

This was fine until the white edges got dirtied up, and proved with the passage of time to be essentially impossible to clean. An originally ho-hum idea was now a bad one, with sight faces murkily, distractingly defaced. The lamps themselves were fine in the dark, but now you were practicing on a poor daytime sight picture for a different (though much superior) low-light version.

While the HDs don’t fix the day/night sight picture difference entirely, they compensate with superb presentations for each. Gone are the distracting lamp sleeves in the rear; added is a “U”-bottomed notch to excite the brain’s concentricity “bias” as it frames the bright greenish-yellow or orange dot on the front blade. Two keys here: The tritium lamp is a tiny speck in the center of the dot and proves no distraction (at least not for us), and the finish on the dot protects their color.  A quick swipe with a dry patch is all we ever need to clean it, and that only after a looooong practice session. 

The low-light sight picture is unalloyed Trijicon: Usefully obfuscated rear dots leave no doubt as which lamp should be centered on the target. 

We’ve run these as a competition sight as well, and they acquitted themselves very honorably (better than we did). If you can’t hit with HDs, we’re not sure we can help!

Contact Trijicon at: 

Vickers/Tango Down Tactical Slide Stop 

Larry Vickers is well known to Glock shooters—indeed, to most tactical shooters —and his aftermarket parts follow suit. Drawing on his experience in the U.S. Army (SFOD-Delta), he has a substantive string of successes in enhanced parts for nearly every Glock model. 

Slide stops have a peculiar place in pistol doctrine: There is a surprisingly massive cohort who urgently suggest (and we understand why) that they’re essentially unnecessary, or for “administrative” handling of a pistol only—cleaning, takedown, etc. They’re the “Who cares if the slide release is good, bad or indifferent; you should never use it in a gunfight anyway!” contingent. From the standpoint of not building small, precise manipulations into a gross motor undertaking (a gunfight), they have a point. 

We think, however, that this argument breaks down to some extent in two high-possibility circumstances: if you’re injured—trying to manipulate your firearm with only one hand—or with a smaller firearm. 

So when our G43 came back from Robar with one of Vickers’ “tactical” slide stops, we weren’t disappointed. It adds only trivial width to the pistol, but its slightly larger dimensions and protrusion makes slide locking and release dead easy. On a pistol the size of a G43 (or G42, for that matter), it’s the margin for sure, safe loading and unloading that we like best. You already have less to grab in terms of pistol, why add uncertainty with smallish controls? 

Vickers/Tango Down slide release at Brownells:


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