Glock 43: Little Bigger Gun, Huge Hit

posted on April 14, 2015

Three weeks ago, we had the opportunity to presage Glock’s new 9 mm for you. Based on our experience with its modest-sized predecessor (the .380 ACP G42), we thought it was likely to be a show-stopper. “Exercise Your Freedom,” therefore makes a small departure.

Relative to our predictions about the G43, we have the (slightly guilty) fun of suggesting we were right. We’re fairly certain you’ll forgive us when you shoot a G43.

Glock debuted the pistol at NRA Annual Meetings (April 10-12 in Nashville, Tenn.). We were fortunate enough to be able to fire it at a Glock-sponsored event at The Nashville Armory. And no, we did not receive a pistol for attending. Dammit. A review pistol was waiting for us when we returned, somewhat bleary-eyed, from the friendly confines of the Volunteer State, so we set straight to work on your behalf.

Let’s review the bidding: The 9 mm single-stack G43 is only trivially larger than the G42—slightly less than a third of an inch longer, a tenth of an inch taller, a fifteenth of an inch wider and five ounces heavier (loaded, 6 + 1). It’s so close, in fact, that many accoutrements available for the G42 will work right now on a G43. (These happily include two of our favorite “adds”: Trijicon HD sights and a Remora IWB holster.)

Here, a little context: Most everyone knows that many .380 ACPs were blowback designs. This means only the mass of the slide and a spring retard the action from doing its work for case ejection, reloading and dissipation of recoil energy. Correspondingly, this has made many .380s what we call “bucky,” especially in comparison to delivered energy downrange. The G42 takes most of the edge off this abruptness by running from a locked breech. It’s the same amount of energy (you can’t cheat Saint Isaac [Newton]), but it mechanically spreads it out over more time. The net result is a much more controllable—and pleasant-shooting—pocket pistol.

You could rightly say “so what,” especially if you know that the operating pressures of 9 mm mean they simply must operate from a locked breech in order to be safe. Well, here’s the payoff: Lots of people bought a G42 during the last year. Irrespective of the quality of their rationale(s) for doing so, they’ve nevertheless been acclimating to the ergonomics of that pistol for some time. 

Now, along comes the G43. You may grumble a little, and even besmirch Glock for a cheesy marketing scheme—making you buy a 42 first. But if you’re fair-minded, we think most will discover what we have: The pistols are so nearly identical that all you must now account for is the increased recoil, and the slightly increased dimensions and slide mass make this astonishingly easy. It’s a brilliant coup, we’d argue.

It allowed us to pick up the pistol and go straight to work. After a very few experimental shots at a 5-yard, half-scale target, we found three shot failure-to-stop drills very natural, precise and speedy from low ready. Once at the range with our sample, the good performance of the G43 continued. We had slightly under 50 percent success at 35 yards on 8-in. plates, and at traditional distances (11 yards), it wasn’t difficult to “clean” the rack at speed. We tried 115-, 124- and 147-grain loadings, all with 100-percent functioning. 

The G43 comes with a pair of magazines. The finger rest version was our tactile favorite, but the flat-bottomed alternate chops down that butt dimension and is better for hiding the pistol in a carry role. It’s cool that Glock includes one of each so an informed decision can be made about what to get later on.

We spent some time considering and testing carry options for the G43, and found—once again—that our G42 efforts were a good investment: At kidney, hip or appendix, its 22.4 loaded ounces were essentially indistinguishable from the G42. Both, we find, are virtually invisible.

Two remaining things occur to us in the context of Exercising Your Freedom. One is that Glock has moved the bar yet again. The G43 is small and powerful, yet eminently shootable. Test a few competing pistols, and you’ll see why this is no mean feat. 

The other sequitur is in a different sense of Exercising Your Freedom, but an even more important one: train, train, train. The G43, however remarkable, is not responsible for each and every shot.

You are.


Frank Miniter
Frank Miniter

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