Lightning Gun Review: Glock G42 .380acp

    The G42 was loaned to me by a faithful employee of my local range, Hillside Shooting Sports in Roanoke, IN. Thanks, Rocky!

    I love gun shop guys, especially the ones at my local shop. Just about every time I walk in they have something new for me to try, get my hands on, or put rounds through. The other day was no exception. After chatting with the employees for a bit, Rocky mentioned he had a brand new G42 and wanted to go shooting. I happily obliged.

    Glock undisputably showed up late to the pocket pistol party with the G42. Demand for easily concealable models has been constantly high, with numerous manufacturers having released, refined, and re-released models in the time it took Glock to get the G42 to the civilian market.


    For years, the .380 pistols have been manufactured in Europe and were only available to law enforcement. .380 sub-combact pistols were not available to civilians as they were not considered “for sporting use” required by US import law. Even now, the .380 G25 and G28 compact and subcompact models, respectively, are only available to LE since they are made overseas. The G42 is wholly made in the USA, thus now available for civilian shooters.



    Shooting was done indoors at Hillside’s brand-new $1 Million+ indoor range. (A pleasure in and of itself!) 

    The first thing I noticed with the G42 is that it is really light. I shoot a G22 (.40) in competition and am typically used to having a hefty handgun. At a bare 13.76 oz. empty, the G42 feels like a featherweight. After inserting a magazine, it still comes under a full pound around 14.5 oz. depending on the weight of the ammunition.

    The second feature I honed in on was the short grip. Glock opted for a 6+1 single-stack system, which is great for concealment, but annoying for those with big hands. My pinky finger reached past the magazine and wrapped underneath the pistol. Initially, this was disconcerting, but after a few shots and trading technique tips with Rocky, I realized that the finger was more annoying than practically related to my shooting. My wife with small hands, hand complete purchase and control of the pistol.

    IMG_20140531_152314-MOTION (1)

    Pinky folded under the magazine. It felt unnatural to not fold it under without a magazine extension.


    Grip using a Vickers' Tactical extension pad was more comfortable, even if my pinky was about to come off.

    Grip using a Vickers’ Tactical extension pad was more comfortable, even if my pinky was about to come off.

    Loaded up with PMC Bronze .380, I set a splatter target at 7 yards and pulled the handgun up to shooting position. The first shot  surprised me; the trigger felt significantly lighter than my other Glocks. I expected the typical “usable” pull and instead got something that felt like it already had a 3.5lbs connector installed. If I had to compare it to anything, it would be the stock pull of the G34/35 practical/tactical models. Reset was overly tactile with nice auditory reinforcement that the pistol was primed for another shot.

    **Note, other reviews have reported heavier, grittier triggers. Some pull gauges have reported as high as 9.5 pounds. 

    The first shot went straight into the red center. The next shots however were low. After concentrating on the sights, there was a reason that my first shot was high. I had lined the sights up like my full-size models, looking for the full white dot within the uprights. Lining up the sights flat across, the pistol was shooting about 2″ low.

    Target w Circles

    My target after 50 rounds. The yellow circles indicate groupings I shot trying to get rough groupings. I aimed for the top “7”, side “8”, and bottom “7”. Each group is about 2-2.5″. The blue larger circle is a rapid fire string. The lower left and lower right flyers are my fault. Hits in the top of the red were after I compensated for the low sights.

    Accuracy was acceptable. Using PMC Bronze I was getting about 2-2.5″ offhand at 7 yards. Considering this pistol is likely to be used in close-encounters, 2″ in anticipated engagement ranges is more than enough. Those with steadier hands would likely wring better shot placement out of the G42.

    Subjectively, the recoil felt in line with what a G19 would have with +P ammo, but better distributed.  It was predictable, slightly snappy, and easily manageable. With a smaller surface area to disperse the force of the shot, the pistol took full advantage of the larger palm swell. Most of the recoil felt as if it were going through the meat there versus the pinch into the web of your hand common to larger models. I dare say it was almost comfortable.

    Magazines drop free when the button is released, assuming you have your finger out of the way. Reloading is typical “Glock”. The magazines slide in and click in place affirmatively. As always, watch the front lip of the magazines which can get caught on the front bevel of the mag-well.

    On the magazines, it should be noted that they are equally small. Those who have larger pockets may find that finding a magazine can be tricky. In one instance, the magazine rotated around 180-degrees in my pocket after moving a few feet. I nearly inserted it floor plate first. I would recommend that someone seriously considering this for personal defense not pocket-carry the magazines.

    Close Look & Field Strip (Courtesy of Glock):

    The Good:

    • Its small, but not diminutive like other .380 pistols. My large hands (Size 10 or 11 gloves) found the pistol easy to handle.
    • Single stack magazines loaded and shot flawlessly.
    • The texturing on the grip strikes a good balance to hold steady without cutting into your hand during aggressive shooting.
    • The trigger felt much lighter than my stock Gen 4 22 & 23. Weight & pull felt like G34/35 tactical/practical models.
    • Holster manufacturers now have many options for G42 shooters.

    The Notable:

    • The stock Glock sights work, but having the front dot split in half is unlike the full-size pistols. Those used to seeing the full circle in the “U” will need to retrain or they will be shooting high.
    • Those with larger hands will have their pinky slide underneath the magazine in a normal shooting grip. Aftermarket extensions are available, but know the finger will get in the way of magazines dropping free if you do not train to move it.
    • Magazines are not compatible with any other Glock models.
    • Gen4-size magazine release and dual-coil recoil spring.

    The Bad:

    • Its not diminutive, making it on the top end of what most would consider a “pocket pistol”; a market the G42 is clearly meant for.
    • The pistol only comes with two magazines. Very few are available through normal outlets (yet).
    • Compared to other pocket .380’s, its expensive. Compared to other Glocks, its a bargain.
    • Magazines are so small they can rotate around in standard pockets.

    Final Thoughts:

    I don’t think the dead horse has been beaten enough: the pistol is a “Glock” for all their positives and negatives. The pistol is, depending on your aesthetic standards, beautifully 80’s square, or hopelessly outdated. Its a polymer frame, psuedo-ambi-dexterous, passive safety pocket-rocket.

    With an an MSRP of $480, its an aggressively-priced Glock, but on the high end for competing .380 pistols. Now, copies of the G42 are in-stock or available to most dealers. GunBroker has pistols selling in the ~$400 range consistently.

    So, should you buy it?

    Yes, assuming you want a .380 and a Glock. Those who dislike Glock pistols will find this more of the same and those looking for full 9mm will find it lacking. But, for those who have an open mind to the Glock and .380 platforms and want something light, easy to shoot, and concealable will find this an excellent fit on the hip and in the hand.



    • Manufacturer: Glock;
    • Model: G42
    • Action: Single-Action, ~5.5Lbs
    • Caliber: .380 ACP – Black
    • Slide: Gas Nitrate
    • Frame: Textured Polymer – Black
    • Sights: Fixed (Glock Front White Dot, Dovetail Rear Glock “U”)
    • Barrel Length: 3.25”
    • Overall Length: 5.94”
    • Height: 4.13”(With Magazine)
    • Width: 0.94”
    • Weight: 13.8 ozs. (With Unloaded Magazine)
    • Capacity: 6+1 Rounds
    • Twist: 1:9.84” RH, Hexagonal
    • Accessories: Two 6-Round Magazines, Hard Case, Cleaning Brush, Manual, Lock
    • Suggested Retail Price: $480


    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.