In 2015 Glock introduced the single stack, Glock 43, 9mm handgun. Since Glock came into existence they have always been thought of as a high capacity, no frills, but insanely capable and reliable handgun. Trends come and go, and as more states became a bit more conceal carry friendly, and at the same time, more people felt the need to carry, slimmer built single stack handguns found their niche.
Shooters familiar with the Glock platform will find the 43 no different in terms of controls. More importantly however, shooters will appreciate the same build quality with the same torture tests to ensure reliability that have been a Glock trademark since inception.
The Glock 43 at first glance has the appearance and feel of a .380. The design is recognizable to just about anyone as a Glock, but the slimmer build lends to the thought of a smaller caliber, and they do in fact make a version in .380 as well in their Glock 42 model. That said, the 43 fits the bill for some conceal carry shooters who want the lighter weight, more slim footprint that it offers. Let’s be honest; throwing a Glock 17 in an AIWB holster is not only miserable to conceal, it is not very practical or comfortable. While many consumers were fans of the other compact 9mm that Glock offered, the model 26, and appreciated the higher magazine capacity, many jumped ship quickly to the chance at a slimmer model for carry.
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|Weight (Empty Mag)||17.99 oz|
|Weight (Full Mag)||20.64 oz|
The overall length of the Glock 43 is 6.26 inches. This measurement is from barrel tip to the bottom of the polymer grip. This makes the handgun seem much larger than it really is. At 4.25 inches in height, and with a barrel length of 3.41 inches, it is obvious it was designed for conceal carry.
Even with a loaded magazine it tips the scales at a fraction of what most carry firearms weigh in at. At 20.64 ounces loaded, the “fantastic plastic” polymer pistol is hardly noticeable in most holsters. While part of the lack of weight is obviously from the poly frame, part of it is from the lack of ammo capacity. With a 6 round magazine you wouldn’t expect it to have a lot of heft.
Not surprisingly, the Glock 43 is not exactly feature rich. All the Glock line is built for reliability and combat accuracy, not frills. It is a simple thing. If you want frills, you should probably look elsewhere. That is by no means a rap on the Glock, that is just how it has always been.
Gen 5 Options
Recent years has seen a slight shift in Glock with backstraps to add and subtract off the beavertail grip to help with sizing, and the magazine release on the Glock 43 is bigger than initial Glocks of years past and even on a deep carry pistol, most shooters appreciate the reliable release. The fact that it is reversible for lefties is a nice bonus.
Take down for disassembly of the Glock 43 is the same as it has always been and the weapon comes apart for basic cleaning into a few major components. Drop the magazine, clear the chamber, ensure that the chamber is in fact empty, dry fire in a safe place and direction to place the trigger in the rearward position, and pull the slide back just enough to allow the takedown levers on each side to be depressed and the slide and barrel will come off as one.
I have always ran my Glocks much more on the dry side of things, and certainly do not use as much oil as I do on my Sigs that seem to run better with a little more lubrication. Light lubrication with something like Lucas gun oil has worked well for me in this respect, even in sub-zero temperatures.
The sights on the Glock 43 are typical of the Glock family, with the square, white outline, or “U” shape rear with the single white dot on the front. Simple, effective, easy to see in daylight hours, and even in low light, the sights are at least adequate.
If night sights are needed, they are a quick, fairly inexpensive install with a few gunsmithing tools. While I am a fan of tritium sights for certain, or at least the front dot being tritium, it is not the end of the world. With more and more shooters going to some sort of reflex sight system, you could opt for the slightly larger 43X MOS and have that option.
The grip of the Glock 43 is lightly stippled and while it is aggressive enough texture to enhance grip it isn’t so much that it wears heavily on clothing or is uncomfortable to hold or abrasive while shooting.
I have average sized hands, and the shorter grip is difficult to grip properly on drawing, and my pinky finger dangles precariously no matter how hard I try to mash them all on the grip at the same time. While the extension on the magazine rather than the flush fit helps a little, it is still a narrow, short grip and obviously that can affect both speed and accuracy when shooting. Placing the support hand into a proper position is a bit of a task as well, simply due to the narrow grip. Your shooting hand takes so much of the real estate, it is just hard to get that support hand where you could or would with a larger pistol. Is that an issue? Not at all! It is just how it is when you have a smaller framed pistol. It is a carry pistol, not a competitive or combat handgun.
The Glock 43 tabbed trigger or “Safe Action System” is likely the most recognized trigger on the planet. Glock describes the system as a three-part safety, starting with the internal safety tab inside the trigger itself. It is a “fully automatic safety system consisting of three passive, independently operating, mechanical safeties.” All three safeties disengage as the trigger is pulled and automatically re-engage when the trigger is released.
What this does for the shooter is give a consistent trigger pull from one shot to the next. The trigger on the G43 is no different really than any other Glock trigger. There is some mushy, gritty take up, followed by a fairly clean break, and just a touch of over travel and the reset is short. With a handgun with no manual safety, the longer, heavier trigger pull is common if not outright expected in a striker fired pistol.
While I have not measured the pull weight, it feels a bit heavier than literally any of the dozens of Glocks I have owned and shot over the years. A few hundred rounds into it, the trigger did seem to smooth out a bit as many triggers will. If there is anything on a Glock that I wish would change, it would be the trigger. It just doesn’t feel and break as clean as any of the Sig line. Am I being picky? Perhaps, but the trigger is obviously an integral part of the shooting equation.
The Glock 43 comes with two, 6 round magazines, one a flush fit, and one with a slight pinky extension. There are aftermarket magazines available to add to the lower capacity without a lot of length added to the grip. It is important to note that the Glock 43 and Glock 43x are NOT interchangeable with their magazines. Magazines for either are easy to find, which is one positive of the entire Glock line. While I have read reviews of magazines hanging up when inserting or when dropping, I have never experienced that. The mags fall free with no issues.
Also of note, loading the magazines in the G43 are easy on the fingers. I have never bothered with a loader to assist. While this may seem like no big deal, go shoot several hundred rounds at the range and tell me if it is a big deal or not.
Cost varies somewhat of course, but a quick internet search shows the G43 can be found for as little as $450 on sale. This fits it squarely in the market place as an inexpensive (not cheap) firearm. With average price closer to the $500 MSRP, there are a lot of options from various manufacturers in and around this price range, and honestly, I think the G43 just fits better from a marketing perspective at that lower, $450 – $475 price range.
Having owned the Glock 43 for a few years now, and having shot and carried it often, what I am about to say won’t be a surprise to anyone who is a Glock fan. As with any of the Glock line, they are virtually indestructible. I have all but beat on it and to date, I have not had a single malfunction with it with any ammo. Not only have I not been able to cause a failure in it, I can’t even manage to get some light scratches or a touch of surface rust.
Once a year or so, especially with my competition pistols, I tear them apart and run them through a sonic cleaner and they come out looking like new. I have only bothered one time with the G43 because despite it being used as a carry gun and being in and out of drastically different and varying temperatures, it looks like the day I purchased it. Living in Minnesota and carrying in the summer heat and humidity and then going to the opposite end of the spectrum, dealing with temperatures pushing -30 below, you learn that you have to deal with firearms a bit differently than the rest of the world does in order to have them perform and retain their finish.
When it comes to testing and accuracy, I have run FMJ’s as light as 115 grains all the way to 147 grain hollow points. Everything fed properly and was reliable in ejection as well. Accuracy was sufficient. Keep in mind when I say sufficient, I mean at self-defense ranges, from anywhere from 3 to 15 yards or so, it was capable of dinner plate or better accuracy and groups even while running it at speed. Slowing it down and shooting X’s was not only possible but, occurred frequently. Remember, this is a carry gun. A very small, very light, very concealable, CARRY gun.
It is more than accurate enough for defensive purposes, and while I wouldn’t dream of shooting it in Defensive Pistol League, the accuracy I have observed is better than some of the competitors. I have found it to be far more accurate than the Ruger LC 9 as well as the Smith & Wesson Shield EZ. In fact, of the similar handguns I have ran, the only thing that hands down beats the Glock time and time again is the Sig Sauer P365. That could be a bit of a problem when you consider the P365 comes standard with insanely good night sights and magazine capacity of 10, 12 and even 15 rounds, the comparison is going to get made.
The recoil on the smaller frame makes it not miserable by any means, but a bit snappy, and that does cause a shooter to be cognizant of it. This is way more noticeable in the cold when shooting without gloves. It isn’t brutal by any means, but, you know you are shooting a smaller framed weapon for certain.
The Glock 43 is a carry gun, and a great one at that. Easily fit and comfortable in just about any holster configuration you could want, it is so slim and light, with the right holster, you could literally forget you had it on you. While some people struggle with IWB options without upsizing their pants to accommodate the extra width, most G43 owners can easily fit AIWB or IWB holsters with no issues.
My personal main use of the Glock 43 is for running or biking and it is mostly combined with a belly band style holster under a T-Shirt. My main carry gun is a Sig P365 and since it is slightly heavier and since sweat from runs and bike rides are more likely to make contact with steel, I just sleep better at night being more rough on the Glock than I do my regular EDC, the P365.
While the any pistol could be a home defense firearm, and the Glock 43 is no different, personal preference for me is more of a combat or full size, higher capacity, easier to handle firearm, such as the Glock 19 or Sig P320 with night sights and or a light mounted. Again, it is not to say that the G 43 isn’t up to the task, it is just a preference. With no rail to mount a light, the G43 is out (for me anyway) as a nightstand weapon.
Pros / Cons
- Reliable and accurate
- Slim & Lightweight
- Easy to find parts & accessories
- Feels like every other Glock
- No fancy features
- Low bullet capacity
- Polymer iron sights
If you did more than skimming of this article so far, you already know where I am going with this. The Glock 43 is a great carry gun, and one worth considering at your local shop. On the pro side of the fence, it is like any other Glock, reliable to a fault, accurate and inexpensive. On the con side of the fence, it is like any other Glock, in that it is “just a pistol.” Nothing fancy. If you are a fan of the KISS (Keep it simple stupid) principle, then you don’t need or want fancy. In a carry gun, I want to know it is going to work no matter what. That is what the Glock line does. They just work.
Again on the pro side of the equation, the slim design, and light weight is tough to beat, more so if deep concealment or a less than ideal wardrobe is called for. In life though, many times a positive comes with a negative and that is the case here as well. There are some serious capacity issues at play here. As discussed, there are similar sized weapons with a higher capacity. If you are a Glock consumer, and nothing else fits the bill, you can jump rather easily to the G48 or the venerable G19 and fix your capacity issues. Yes, that means giving up what makes the Glock 43 so great- size and weight. Pick your poison.
With a brand that is recognized the world over, finding parts, accessories, holsters, magazines etc. is simple. There is a plethora of holster options because, well, it is a Glock and if you are a holster maker and you ignore Glock models, your business model needs to be rethought.
On the pro side, if you are familiar with Glock at all, this will feel right at home. Aside from the fact that it is drastically thinner, and that does make the grip a bit different, everything else is just, well, “Glock.” With that familiar feel though, again comes a bit of a con. With the heavier felt recoil, shooters, myself included tend to really get tired of prolonged shooting of it, with pressure on the middle finger from the trigger guard digging in and tenderizing anything it comes in contact with. It is not unmanageable by any means, in fact, I think it is something you should expect in a pistol this size and weight.
My last “con” when it comes to the Glock 43 is the standard sights. Given enough time in and out of the holster the sights can get a bit worn to the point of rounded. I would prefer steel or tritium, rather than the polymer version offered. I know several people that replaced theirs and then after the fact said “ For the added expense, I could have just as well bought the Sig P365 and had night sights from the start.” While night sights are not a deal breaker for me personally, the more rugged built steel would just be a better option, and it is one that Glock often gets beat up for on reviews yet hasn’t made the switch.
The Glock 43 is a winner despite the few downsides to it. If you were going to purchase one pistol for all your needs this probably is not the one you are looking for. This handgun for sure fits a specific target market. If you already own something like the Glock 19 and simply want something easier to conceal and noticeably lighter this is what you are looking for. Within the Glock line up there are similar options and enough variety that if this isn’t fitting your needs something else will.
In warmer temperatures with shorts and T-shirts, the lightweight, slim design is tough to beat. The durable finish on the slide is so good you almost have to try to scratch it and cause any rust. Like any other product made by Glock they are work horses that function in the worst environments and conditions even when they are not taken care of the best by their owners. Unlike many platforms, it really does not seem to matter what you throw in it for ammunition, it will feed and eject it flawlessly with just basic, minimal maintenance.
All of this said, I probably sound like a Glock fanboy. Absolutely nothing could be further from the truth. I am very partial to the Sig Sauer line ups, and vastly prefer hammer fired weapons such as the Sig P229. But, practical is practical, and I can’t deny the fact that the Glock just works and that for what this was built for, it is tough to beat. For EDC, I do prefer my Sig P365. But when I want something that I can carry more easily and less noticeably when running or biking, the G43 gets the nod. While my safe holds far more Sigs, it will never be without two specific Glocks; a Glock 19 and a Glock 43.
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Mark Brendemuehl is a lifelong hunter and shooter of rifles, shotguns and handguns. He competes in defensive pistol leagues and regularly shoots rifle at long range. As a professional photographer, if he isn’t looking through a rifle scope, he is probably looking through a camera lens.