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)
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
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.