Review: Glock 43 (G43) 9mm – Mousegun “Perfection”?

Is it too much to ask from a mouse gun to be at least 9mm, reliable, and shootable? Based on various other offerings on the market, it could be argued that the combination of the three was a tall order. Various weapons in .380 were good, but 9mm was a beast that the form factor had a hard time dealing with.

Then came the Smith and Wesson Shield. The Shield was (and still is) a runaway hit. Many complimented the trigger, the near perfect balance of size and carry, along with the reliability. It was the first pocket pistol that I knew that people actually enjoyed and wanted to shoot.

With almost five years as the undisputed market leader, Glock finally gave Gaston a glass of something and got their G42 .380 out on the market. The 42 was a success by itself, but the people wanted the 9mm, and they wanted it badly. With the success of the G42, the G43 followed in short order ready to stand upon the reputation of the Glock name.

So, is the Glock 43 worthy of the Glock name and a competitor to the Shield? Or, is it just another single-stack 9mm in a now flooded market that has the Glock name on it?

Author’s Note: Many of the photos of the G43 shown in this review are of its latest configuration. However, hundreds of rounds went downrange in the stock configuration. I will have future articles on my personal updates and upgrades at a later time. 

Handling the G43:

True to Glock form, the G43 arrives in the now standard Glock hard-sided case. Emblazoned with Glock’s logo on the outside on the sides and latches, the cases are huge improvements over the “Tupperware” of old. In it contains the usual requirements of spent shells, child lock, cleaning rod, cleaning brush, mag loading tool (with Gen 4 texture!) and manual. The handgun itself comes with two magazines, both 6 round capacity. One includes a pinky shelf.

Picking up the gun, anyone familiar with a Glock will feel a bit at home and a bit uneasy. The handgun is small, a true mouse gun. At only 6″ long and about 4.25″ tall, it’s certainly smaller than the standard double-stack Glocks, but with the drastically thinner and shortened grip, it feels diminutive. It has the generally well-received Gen 4 texturing, but without the pinky finger on and with my 50th percentile hand wrapping all the way around, I wasn’t sure how well this little guy could be controlled.

The controls are through and through Glock, with a focus on the Gen 4 architecture. The slide stop is on the left, though one would argue its now just a true slide stop. Its placement and small size are not conducive to a release. The magazine release is square and reversible for those shooting lefty. Everything else is just “Glock” from the feel of the polymer frame to the dull finish on the barrel and slide. The extractor doubles as a loaded chamber indicator and the sights are those cruddy Glock stock options. Annoyingly, this “modern” handgun lacks a Picatinny rail or any rail of any kind.

The handgun is slightly different from those previous Gen 3 and Gen 4 options, most of those changes relatively minor and internal. Gone is the locking block pin, instead, there is only a single pin for the trigger, slide release, and locking block. The firing pin safety geometry has been changed from an omnidirectional turned part to a unidirectional MiM part. And finally, the trigger return spring moves to a “NY” style. Combined, they are minor but yet notable if only for Glocks’ general insistence on keeping everything the same.

Its more of the same and from Glock, that can be and usually is a good thing.

 

Shooting the G43:

Heading out to the range for the first time, I was generally ambivalent to the platform. I personally picked it up as an EDC gun as I was having to tuck in my shirt at the office. While a G19 can be tucked well, I found that it generally was a bit too long in the grip for thin office attire like button-downs and khakis. So, I only cared that it was shootable and usable. For me, the fun guns are usually quite a bit bigger.

Set up at the range, I proceeded to load the two magazines to capacity, insert the pinky-extension magazine, and rack the action. The stronger recoil spring is noticeable. With the smaller serrated section to grab onto, lighter slide, and small grip the G43 does require a bit more manhandling to function. None of this should be taken as it was too difficult, but those with weaker musculature may want to test the gun at the shop prior to brining it home.

Getting on target at 10 yards, the stock Glock sights rear their ugly head. The G43 still uses the same standard plastic not-fantastic setup across the Glock line-up. Normally usable on the larger handguns, I had a major issue with the G43 – the front post was too wide for the rear notch. Trying to get “equal height, equal light” is difficult when one can get no light. Thus, I was forced to use the white dot in the rear white “U” and immediately hated it.

Combined with the stock trigger, putting rounds through the stock Glock was a chore. The trigger, while marginally better feel with the new spring and firing pin safety is still just as creepy and gritty as the various other models – just now combined with a slim grip and sights. Frankly, I didn’t enjoy my first range session. But, I did notice one thing – the gun shot well.

While harder to rack the slide, the heavier spring does wonders to help tame the little beast as it spits fire and lead downrange. Yes, the trigger was annoying, but ignoring everything pre-shot the G43 is a true plastic fantastic. The texture helps one grip and the hump on the back normally bemoan actually keeps the gun planted when it rips rounds. I was pleasantly surprised given the unenjoyable presentation thus far.

The G43 ate nearly everything I threw at it – sans the Winchester USA Forged 9mm. It choked a bit on those ones with various failure to extract and failure to eject. All other brass and steel-cased ammo ran without an issue.

In the accuracy department, I was shooting the stock handgun about 3 – 4″ at 10 yards, which is quite a bit larger than I can do with full-size handguns but I figure that this is not a precision gun. In its stock form, its a get out of dodge gun. I would not call it a headshot hostage situation firearm.

Later on, I would shrink this grouping down about 50% using aftermarket sights, longer magazine, and a new trigger. The gun is capable of better mechanical accuracy but is hampered by its size, sights, etc. More on that in future articles. 

I also quickly gained an appreciation for the pink extension magazine. With only three fingers on the gun and only two really gripping it, it likes to buck the hand’s flesh. There’s just not enough leverage on it to keep it truly tame. However, adding the pinky grip greatly stabilizes the weapon to the point it almost might be enjoyable to shoot if the sights and trigger were worth a darn. Still, I do not understand why Glock could not make that a factory 7 round magazine and not just a puny extension. (Fortunately, the aftermarket has solved that issue)

The Good:

  • Its a Glock. Reliability, simplicity of use, and aftermarket support are all there.
  • Recoil is better than most mouseguns. Give the spring system credit where it is due.
  • The “Gen 4” texturing is nearly perfect. Grippy yet comfortable to shoot/ carry.
  • For once, the Glock hump on the grip is well appreciated. It helps with the recoil management of the little gun.
  • Built-in beavertail! No more slide bite!
  • Takes work to get accuracy from it with the size, but with practice more than enough for EDC.
  • No finger grooves!

The Bad:

  • Its a Glock. Has Glock sights, trigger, and all the other quirks thereunto pertaining.
  • Definitely, certainly, absolutely, needs aftermarket sights.
  • Why anything these days does not have a Picatinny or accessory mounting rail is beyond me…
  • $529 retail price point is equal to that of higher capacity compact and full-size handguns. At this price point, there are many other options for the money.

The Notable:

  • Completely and totally utilitarian. No aesthetic embellishments here.
  • Glock opted for the standard magazine capacity to NOT have an extension for the pinky finger. Yet, they include an extension on one magazine that does not improve capacity?
  • Glock has changed up a few components in this one including firing pin safety. Will take time for the aftermarket to catch up.

Final Thoughts:

To the simultaneous amazement and derision of the firearms community, Glock continues to use the slogan “Perfection”. I think it’s safe to say the Glock, while an absolutely plastic fantastic piece of engineering and shooting performance is not “perfection.” Numerous nit-picks are possible in the design such as the “grip angle” lack of forward serrations, completely mediocre trigger, only tolerable sights, etc.

However, if Glock stated “Closest to Perfection” they are likely on the right track. As much as I always want to put Glock down amongst the fray of competing handguns, they always rise to the top for its simplicity, reliability, and ease of customizing. Yes, other handguns each have their benefits, but few can even approach the Glock when looked at the total package (although many are getting very close – I’m looking at you Smith & Wesson).

So how does the G43 fit into this paradigm? I’d say it fits nearly perfectly. I have some complaints on the mouse gun (stock sights, lack of rail), but its benefits outweigh the detractions. Just like all Glocks, simplicity, reliability, customization, and support are all there. Sure, it’s not the most elegant shooter out there, but it gets the job done with utter consistency. Just know if you really enjoy shooting, some upgrades may be a must on this one.

When looking for an EDC option, what more can one ask for? (OK, we can ask for aesthetic cues, forward serrations, a rail, etc…)? For in that scenario fraught with danger, adrenalin, and uncertainty, it’s good to know the gun on my hip is going to perform (closer to) “Perfection.” The G43 is a solid handgun, true and through Glock, and excellent carry choice.



Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • Daniel

    I’ve got one. Love it. It is not a “mousegun” however. Far from it. And street price is closer to $400.

    • Delta Papa

      With the $15 Glock instant rebate last fall, the street price here in OK was $335.

  • USMC03Vet

    I’ll take a Springfield XD-S over the Glock 43 any day.

    • Jarrad

      Why?

      • Art out West

        The XD-S is a nice little gun, and has a reputation for being very shootable (but a hair bigger and heavier I think). I recently bought a Shield, and looked very carefully at the XD-S, G43, and LC9S. They are all pretty good little guns.
        But, I don’t think they are “mouse guns”.

      • USMC03Vet

        better sights, better features, better grip, better capacity,

        Better question why do Glock buyers buy Glocks if they have to spend even more money to get features they want?

        • JustJoshinYaPal

          What, like a grip safety? *snickers*

        • Tim

          Honestly for me, it was the reliability of the brand.

          I have had issues with other brands in the past.

  • JSIII

    I would not call the Glock 43 a mouse gun, nor would I the LC9S or Shield.

    The 42 one could argue is getting into that territory.

    • Art out West

      That is what I thought as well. To me, a “mouse gun” has to be smaller than the Shield/G43/LC9. I also don’t categorize J-Frame or LCR revolvers as “mouse guns”.
      I think of a “mouse gun” as being very small, and generally in a wimpy caliber 22lr/25/32 (and .380 is the max). 9/40/.38sp aren’t mouse gun calibers.
      The LCP/TCP/P3AT/NAA revolvers/Beretta Bobcat etc. are mouse guns.
      The single stack 9s, and snub nosed revolvers are just “small highly compact carry guns”.
      I pocket carry my 642, and P3AT, but my Shield only pocket carries well in certain pants.

      • int19h

        There are 9mm mouseguns – Kel-Tec PF9 and Diamondback DB9. Weight and size comparable to e.g. Ruger LCP, which is definitely a mousegun.

        But, yes, a mousegun is a category below subcompact. G43 is a subcompact.

      • Robert Kruckman

        Art: U hit it, I have a G 42 and would rather shoot it, but have the pants prob. I use to carry a P3AT, SON borrowed it. Now I almost always carry my Rug. LCP later ed. I am seriously thinking about a LCPII. I also load the Rug.ARX. From what I have seen these are devistating

    • FightFireJay

      It’s also NOT a “G43” it’s simply a “43” or “Glock 43” or even a “Glock, Model 43”.

      Would the author call a Winchester 30-30 a “W94”?

      • Robert Kruckman

        GET A LIFE!!!!!!

  • Bill

    The G43 is a flat J Frame. One has largely replaced my 642 as my BUG/cycling/sometimes off-duty-when-I’m-feeling-optimistic-about-society gun.

  • valorius

    I would not even dream of carrying a gun that small without either a true DAO trigger or a manual safety.

    • FightFireJay

      The Glock 43 IS a “true” DAO. The striker MUST be pressed to the rear by the trigger bar before it can be released to travel forward. It’s a “pre-staged” DAO, if you will, like S&W model 59 DAO guns, so it doesn’t get restrike. But it is a true DAO.

      • valorius

        No it’s not.

  • valorius

    The only true mousegun in 9mm is the Diamondback Arms DB9. That thing is TINY, and it has a true DAO trigger that for my money makes it a lot safer to carry.
    Sadly, the pistol has a reputation for having a lot of problems.

    • Indianasteve

      I have a db9. It is certainly a handful to shoot. At just slightly bigger than my lcp, but in 9mm, it kicks like a mule. When I 1st bought it I had nothing but trouble with it. I couldn’t shoot a mag without 2 or 3 ftf’s or ejects. After about 700-800 rounds the rear slide rail broke. I sent it back and 12 weeks later I got it back repaired. Since then I have put about 300 more rounds through it without a single problem. It shoots even if I don’t clean it. However, with all the trouble I had in the past, I am a little hesitant to trust it as a carry piece. I hope some day I can because I do really like the gun

      • valorius

        I’m in the same boat. I REALLY wish i could trust a DB9 because it is really in a class all by itself when it comes to caliber/weight/size.

        Is yours a first or second gen gun?

    • int19h

      I would argue that Kel-Tec PF9 should also qualify.

      • valorius

        Have you ever held a DB9? It’s gotta be 30% smaller than any other 9mm on the market.

        • int19h

          DB9:
          Length: 5.60”
          Height: 4.00”
          Width: 0.80”
          Weight (unloaded): 11 oz

          PF9:
          Length: 5.85″
          Height: 4.3″
          Width: 0.88″
          Weight (unloaded): 12.7 oz

          So, no, not 30% smaller.

          Crucially, both of these guns were intentionally designed as pocket mouseguns. DB9 pushed the envelope a bit further (but at the cost of reliability – not that PF9 has a perfect track record, but it’s definitely better than DB9).

          • valorius

            Yeah i guess 30% is a bit much, but it is significantly and noticeably smaller.

          • int19h

            Well, according to these numbers, DB9 is 13% lighter, 9% thinner, 4% shorter horizontally, and 7% shorter vertically than PF9.

            In comparison, PF9 is 30% lighter, 14% thinner, 7% shorter horizontally, and the same vertically as G43. If you look at other subcompact 9mm guns, like Ruger LC9, you get similar figures

            In short, PF9 is closer to DB9 than it is to G43 or LC9. So it makes more sense to say that PF9 and DB9 are in one category (mouse gun), and G43 and LC9 are in a different one (subcompact).

            A simpler rule of thumb is whether it’s below or above 15oz…

            But, again, ultimately it’s about the intent of the design. G43 is not really designed for pocket carry. DB9 and PF9 are. That’s what makes them both “mouse guns”, in my opinion.

          • valorius

            Fair enough.

            I can say i had a Kahr PM9 and it was just a whole world different than carrying my Ruger LCP with crimson trace, but when i shot and handled a DB9 i was thoroughly impressed at how close it was to my LCP in size and weight.

  • lucusloc

    “It was the first pocket pistol that I knew that people actually enjoyed and wanted to shoot.”

    Ummm, Kahr PM9? Everyone who has shot mine wants one. . .

    Dimensionally it is far smaller than the G43 as well, making it easier to carry.

  • Madison J Coleman

    I think you meant to add BETTER; at this price point, there are BETTER options for the money.

  • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

    I owned a shield and a family member owns a G43. Having shot both side by side I prefer the G43. In fact the only single stack 9 that I dont prefer the G43 to is the Kahr. As much as I love to say negatives about Glocks to ruffle the fanboys feathers, this is still the truth.

    My only complaint about the G43 is how its not much smaller in any dimension than a G26. This goes back to both how the G43 is slightly wider than most single stack 9s (at 1.02″) and how the G26 is a bit narrower than most double stack subcompacts (at 1.18″). Youre losing 4 rounds to trim .16″ in width. I would say in most cases its not worth it.

    • Holdfast_II

      At the widest point, sure, but the G43 has a much thinner grip – and the grip is what is hardest to conceal.

      For me the size and weight differences mean I can put the 43 into a pocket holster and drop it in a pocket no problem. There’s no way to do that with a G26.

  • Glock 26 more better 🙂

    • Tim

      It definitely has more finger grooves, ammo, weight and more girth.

      The ammo is the only plus for me, but to each, their own.

  • Holdfast_II

    Regarding customizing the M&P – sure, there are a bunch of good parts out there, but they tend to be pricier than the equivalent Glock upgrades, and upgrading an M&P is just not as easy as working on a Glock. I mean – roll pins, really? ’nuff said.

  • Raptor Fred

    The capabilities of a modified G43 is light years beyond that of the Smith J frame that has been the traditional CCW staple. A red dot enhances the capabilities significantly. Two examples. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/03e517113a4af817f8039b193c6f6eaed59771f6601e226db68e1ba01e53c627.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5d5a4d96b3f5d5c153a3abe685bd8790860f8cbee3cbf8ec05095bc6322b1723.jpg

  • Ryan L

    The shield, pps, xds, Glock 43 are single stack 9s not mouse guns. I’d venture to say they almost always ride on a belt either iwb or owb. I have a 938 from sig, with the six rounder it’s maybe pocketable but oflty heavy for it. I shoot it as good or better with the six rounder. It always makes me chuckle when I see folks put grip extensions on these smaller single stack nines. Why buy a small gun only to give it a grip as long as as Glock 19? For me it’s the back bottom corner of the grip that prints not the thickness.per see. Just give it a few hundred rounds with the smaller mag – you’ll get used to it pretty quick.

    • ShooterPatBob

      You can carry with a flush-fit magazine and use the extended as backup.

  • pablo4twenty

    I got mine for $419 free shipping no tax via GB a couple of months ago and was very happy with that price. Had some slide cuts and some stippling done to personalize it. Hyve plus 1 mag extensions, Hyve trigger and mag release with a Meprolight Fiber-Tritium green sight.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/78c34307d9346fb2caacd16a3457dfe4116e8b26f037f2b0e0c073c0f0f76951.jpg

    • Giolli Joker

      How is the Meprolight sight? Did you test it for accuracy? It seems to me that it relies on an extremely short line of sight…

      • pablo4twenty

        I drifted it for windage using a bore laser but never got a chance to shoot it outside because it got so hot here so quickly and frankly at the indoor range it’s too dim to really see well. Let’s just say head size shots past 5 yards are not consistent. Had I known how dim it was indoors I probably would not have got it.

  • Giolli Joker

    “Why anything these days does not have a Picatinny or accessory mounting rail is beyond me…”
    Options are surely nice, but an unused rail on a carry gun imho looks more ike snagging points than an advantage.

  • Hoplopfheil

    Mouse gun? No. Maybe a sewer rat gun.

    A Ruger LCP is a mouse gun.

  • T Rex

    Upon arrival at GT Distributors to pick up the Glock 43 I’d ordered when the new pistol came out, I was disappointed when I realized the 43 was nothing more than a single stack 26 and noticeably larger than my Kahr CM9. Glock missed an opportunity to corner the pocket 9 market. There’s no reason Glock couldn’t have engineered the 43 to Kahr PM9/CM9 dimensions. Unless you live in a State like the Peoples Republic of New Jersey with severe magazine capacity restrictions, I don’t understand why anyone would want a 6+1 Glock 43 instead of a marginally wider and slightly shorter 10+1 Glock 26 that accepts a 15 or 17 rd Glock mag to be carried as a second.

  • Old Gringo

    I own a pile of 9mms and carried them in the military, law enforcement, and ccw. I own 3 of the single stack one. I have a 43 in my pocket now. All the single stacks followed the keltec pf9, the smallest at .3 ounces. The ruger lc9s has the best trigger of them all. The 43 has the plain 5.5 ounce trigger of blocks. Not great, but mine will do as well at 25 yards as my block 19. It is not a full size gun, it is a pocket gun compromise. Recoil is no big deal as this author suggests. You can shoot this guy all day long. Also, some small guns are not reliable with the cheap Russian stuff. The flock goes thru everything. I also have the 43 which does not shoot as well for me but eats everything u put in it. Lastly, none of them will get to 1911 accuracy, but my g 19 gen 1 is 26 years old and to day has never had a single failure, even with a suppressor on it. Early model 17s were tested to nearly 200,000 rounds without a mechanical failure. If u can’t get buy with the g43 as an all purpose gun, you really need professional training. Oh yea, I have been NRA and star certified as an instructor for more this 30 years, so this is not my first rodeo. Buy it and just consider it like a craftsman tool of years ago, does what is is supposed to and never wears out. Imho

  • Inidaho

    I l

  • Inidaho

    The g43? I have big hands, have tried extensions, yes it shoots down range, eats all kinds of ammo. Bottom line is I cant train with it, therefore I cant carry it. I carry a sig p226sao most of the time, but there are times i need something more concealable. Then i resort to my g19. My wife also gave up on her g43. I wish we could go to our gun store and shoot every brand, and find the perfect carry. However we dont live in that world. I appreciate the comments and will continue to read and maybe seek out a smaller carry.