A Firsthand Look at the Glock 43 Single-stack 9x19mm Pistol


It’s mea culpa time.

I like Glocks and always have. In fact, I own four of them. A 26, 31, 17, and 32 in case you’re wondering. Yeah, I have a thing for .357 SIG. But I have to admit that when I heard about the new Glock 42 and 43 models, I had a ho-hum reaction. “Late to the party” would be the phrase that summed up my pre-existing emotions about the whole deal.

The reason I’ve bought all those other Glocks over the years is simple: they work. All the time. You can carry them, sweat on them, drop them, abuse them, and rarely, if ever, clean them—and they will go bang when you want. But, I have to admit, I don’t really like shooting them. The blocky shape and rough edges make them far less “comfortable” to shoot than other guns like Smith & Wesson M&Ps, Sig Sauers, Berettas, and the like.

You might think of the Glock 43 (right) as a Glock 26 (lelft) slim.
You might think of the Glock 43 (right) as a Glock 26 (left) gone slim. Image by Tom McHale.

Yesterday, at a pre-NRA Annual Meeting launch party, I had the opportunity to really check out and shoot the new 9x19mm compact Glock 43. I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least. I actually like this new compact Glock better than any of my existing Glocks. Why? Glock has discovered curves. For a small 9x19mm pistol weighing just over one pound, it’s surprisingly pleasant to shoot.

From a size perspective, the new Glock 43 is kind of like a Glock 26 sliced in half longitudinally. The two models’ length and height are almost identical. But the 43’s width is dramatically reduced, owing to the single-stack magazine design. This makes the G43 a great option for concealed carry. Yes, it’s big enough to use in an inside-the-waistband or outside-the-waistband holster without being weird. But it’s small enough to make a great ankle or pocket carry gun. Jacket or cargo pockets (with the right holster) would be no problem, and with the right pants, front pocket carry is not out of the question either.

To get a bit more into the weeds on the specs, you can envision the size of the Glock 43 as a Glock 42 expanded just barely enough to fit a 9x19mm cartridge. The grip is a bit longer, as it needs to be to fit a 9mm Luger instead of a 9mm Kurz, or .380 ACP. The ejection port is also a bit longer as the brass flinging out is a tad longer than that of the .380 ACP. All of this results in a gun that is 8mm, or 5/16 inches longer than the Glock 42. It’s also ⅛ of an inch wider and 5/64 of an inch taller.

The controls are all Glock and you’ll be right at home if you’ve ever used other Glocks. The magazine release is reversible and the slide stop lever is just where you would expect. Takedown is the same. Pull the trigger on an empty gun, depress the two takedown slide levers, and move the slide assembly off the front of the frame. Inside there are no surprises. A captive dual recoil spring, just like other Generation 4 models, snaps into place as expected.

Like the Glock 42, and all other big-brother Glocks, the 43 has real sights, not dinky machined-into-the-slide sights. They’re standard Glock front dot with rear notch outlined by a square “U” shaped white line. All are dovetailed so you can install night sights or different sight options to your preference.

The Glock 43 comes with two magazines with six-round capacities. One has a flat base while the second had a finger hook on the bottom of the magazine. With my large-sized hands, I was able to get all three fingers on the grip when shooting with the “finger hook” magazine. When using the flat magazine, I could fit two fingers and had to curl my pinky under the base of the grip. Those with smaller hands might be able to get three fingers on with the flat magazine. Speaking of magazines, they drop freely and easily upon activation of the magazine release button.

The Glock 43 comes with two magazines - one with a flush base and the other with finger extension.
The Glock 43 comes with two six-round magazines—one with a flush base and the other with a finger extension. Image by Tom McHale.

Shooting the gun is what changed my opinion from “ho-hum, whatever” to “wow, this is a nice little gun.” With either two or three finger grip depending on the magazine, the gun was very comfortable to shoot with Winchester white box 115-grain practice ammo. Using a two-handed grip, recoil was simply not an issue. This is a gun that I would actually enjoy taking to the range to practice and plink, and that’s not something you’ll find with all compact 9x19mm handguns. The gun was big enough to get a proper grip and I did not have to resort to trigger finger contortions to shoot it. When I shoot tiny subcompacts, I have to resort to some pretty unusual trigger finger placement to shoot effectively, but that was not the case with eh Glock 43. The Glock 43 is not the smallest, and that’s just fine. A “shootable” compact 9x19mm is all about balancing size and recoil and I think Glock hit the nail on the head with this one.

The trigger was what I expected from a Glock. I estimate it had about ¼ of an inch takeup, followed by a fairly crisp break. The reset distance was about ⅛ of an inch and very crisp. If you’re into managing trigger reset when you shoot, you’ll like this one, as it’s positive and easy to feel.

The guts are exactly what you would expect from a Generation 4 Glock.
The guts are exactly what you would expect from a Generation 4 Glock. Image by Tom McHale.

I didn’t have other Glocks to compare side-by-side, but it seemed to me that the side grip texturing was more mild than usual. If I’m correct on this, I assume that’s on purpose to make this gun more friendly to the sensitive love-handle skin when carrying inside the waistband.

The Glock 43 is set to list for $589.

I found the Glock 43 easy to shoot. The low left flyer must have been from a shooter in the next lane...
I found the Glock 43 easy to shoot. The low-left flyer must have been from a shooter in the next lane… Image by Tom McHale.

The accessory manufacturers know this model is going to sell—you can tell by the speed at which complimentary products have been produced for the G43.

Crimson Trace already has already produced a red laser LaserGuard (LG-443) and is not far away from releasing a green laser version (LG-443G) of the same. These two models will fit both Glock 42 and Glock 43 handguns, owing to the similar sized frames. The MSRP for the LG-443 (red) is $229 and for LG-443G (green) is $299.

The Crimson Trace Laserguard for Glock 43
The Crimson Trace Laserguard for Glock 43. Image courtesy Crimson Trace.

Want light? LaserMax offers a Centerfire WeaponLight blasting about 115 lumens of light for over an hour. It mounts in front of the trigger guard and matches the look and feel of the Glock 43 frame. You can get one for $149 or less if you shop around.

TruGlo has also entered the Glock 43 aftermarket accessories race with TruGlo TFX sights for the new model. I love these as they rock day or night. Both front and rear sights have fiber optic tubes which collect light from above from artificial or sunlight conditions. There is a Tritium lamp behind each tube, so when it’s dark, the Tritium shines through the fiber optic tubes. Brilliant idea.

I’m glad I carved out the time to make this event. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by the Glock 43. My pre-existing expectations were not all that high given the late arrival of a single-stack 9x19mm Glock, but I have to admit, I think this one is a winner. I’d carry one.

Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon.

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