Glock 42 vs. 43

The popularity of concealed carry has greatly expanded the market offerings of the micro-compact pistol with really good, usable features. Prior to the S&W M&P Shield, most ultra-compacts were chambered for really low power rounds like .32 ACP, .25 ACP, or .22 LR. The M&P Shield (introduced in 2012) raised the bar as an ultra-concealable pistol, chambered in a duty cartridge, that was still really manageable to shoot. This class of single-stack, semi-auto pistols has displaced the J-Frame revolver as the go-to deep concealment gun.

Glock has two pistols that swing in the same weight class: the Glock 42 and the Glock 43. Both of these are micro-compact pistols, and the smallest Glocks. The Glock 42 is chambered in .380 ACP and the Glock 43 is chambered in 9mm Luger. Caliber is the primary difference, and both are single stack, subcompact pistols. Both of these Glock pistols have some advantages, and both are amply capable concealed carry pistols.

This post will compare these two pistols, first looking at their specifications, then comparing their performance and accuracy. Finally, we will offer our opinion on these two Glock pistols – is one better or worse? Read on and find out

Glock 42 vs. 43: Comparison of Specifications

Both of these semi-auto pistols are really, really similar. The differences are small, but may be meaningful to some. The Glock 42 was introduced in 2104, a year earlier than the Glock 43. Some of you may remember the kerfuffle this stirred up; many consumers thought Glock led with the .380 pistol, knowing most consumers wanted a 9mm version, but would settle, and then quickly followed with a Nine, selling twice as many pistols. Whether that was the case or not, the G42 wasn’t met with unalloyed joy, but it has certainly earned its place.

And so has the Glock 43. The G43 is an incredibly popular pistol, sharing many similarities with
the G42, but being chambered in a massively more capable caliber for defensive uses. 380 is a 9mm short and lacks the ballistic performance required.

Size and Weight: The Glock 42 is slightly smaller than the Glock 43, though the size difference is minimal. The overall length of the G42 is 5.94 inches while the Glock 43 is 6.26 inches. The height is also ever-so-slightly different. The G42 is 4.13 inches high while the Glock 43 is 4.25 inches high. That’s not a huge difference, but if size is a huge criterion for you, the 42 slightly edges out the 43. Since the power comparison is really apples-to-oranges anyway, we aren’t even going to wade into any differences in muzzle energy with the very modest added barrel length of the G43.

There is actually a much bigger difference with weight than the size comparison would indicate. The Glock 42 weights only 15.87 ounces loaded. The Glock 43 is quite a bit heavier at 20.64 ounces. That’s quite a big difference when we are talking guns that are already very small and light. The additional almost-five ounces of the Glock 43 may be a deal-breaker for deep-carry applications or other situations where light weight is paramount.

Magazine capacity: Magazine capacity is a tie with these pistols. Both old 6+1 rounds of ammunition in their flush-fit magazines. Neither can use the longer, 10+1 magazines from the Glock 43x, so both are limited to their (fairly low) factory capacity without an aftermarket magazine baseplate that stores a couple extra rounds.

Trigger, Safety, Ergonomics, and Grip: The functional characteristics of these two guns is virtually identical. Both feature the famous Glock Safe Action trigger. Both lack an external manual safety, though both are very safe to use. Both pistols have the same magazine release and a trigger listed a 24 Newtons (5.39 lbs), with all the grit and travel of any other Glock trigger. The ergonomics of these pistols is likewise very similar. Both have a shortened grip that will leave some pinkies dangling in thin air. The G43 may have a scant advantage here with its ever-so-slightly longer grip. The aforementioned magazine baseplates can function as grip extensions, providing a bit more grip surface to those who need it.

Glock 42 vs. 43: Comparison of Performance and Accuracy

Again, the performance and accuracy of these two pistols is really, really similar. Finding the differences is more a matter of teasing out the little things rather than pointing out big differences.

Accuracy and Precision: There is virtually no difference at all here. Which is to say, both of these will shoot quite well, plenty well for self-defense at typical distances. At five yards and in one should have no problem deliberately hitting small targets, or A-zone targets at speed. Both of these pistols will provide good accuracy out to the 20 or 25 yards, provided the shooter is up to the task. The one thing that may give the Glock 42 a slight edge is recoil.

Recoil and Control: There is a marked difference in the recoil between these two pistols. That’s not necessarily intuitive because, although the 9mm is more powerful, it also weighs several ounces more. Those additional ounces aren’t quite enough to dampen the 9mm recoil impulse to .380 levels. The .380-caliber Glock 42 is an extremely soft, pleasant shooter. The 9mm Glock 43 is quite a bit snappier. While not painful it does take more work to keep it on target during multiple-shot engagements, and perceptibly slows those same strings of fire.

Reliability and Durability: The reliability of both of these pistols is, in a word, legendary. Glocks are nothing if not reliable, and these two are no different. Both will run and run and run. One supposes (and this is only supposition) that the Glock 42, with its lower-pressure cartridge, may have a longer lifespan if the entire lifespan of these pistols is considered. Since both of these will last several human lifetimes when fired at typical rates, this is pretty much just an academic consideration, anyway.

Glock 42 vs. 43: Comparison of Concealed Carry Applications

Once again…minor differences. These two Glocks are about as close as two pistols get to each other but there are some differences.

The Glock 42 is the smaller, lighter option when holstered properly. This makes it better suited as a deep concealment piece, an “underwear” or “bathing suit” gun, or as a law enforcement officer’s backup gun. For unconventional carry, i.e. in an ankle holster, the G42 edges out the G43 all day. The Glock 42 may even fit into a pocket holster though it is on the large size for a pocket gun. Being too heavy for a pocket gun, the G43 is probably better suited to an inside the waistband holster where it's slim dimensions would go all but unnoticed. The reduced size and weight do add up to one of the most shootable, capable ultra-compacts out there.

The Glock 43 brings a lot to the table with its 9mm chambering. The 9mm cartridge is a potent one. It is also shared by the vast majority of gun owners’ primary carry guns, and law enforcement duty guns. This means the two can share ammo (but not magazines) if needed. It also means more power is brought to bear on the target in a self-defense situation. Since 9mm is also the darling of concealed carriers and law enforcement agencies, the best defensive ammunition in the world is constantly being developed for it.

Both of these guns would suffice for home defense, but better options are out there. Since neither is compatible with a weapon-mounted light, one-handed operation would be required to simultaneously use a handheld light. Again, either will do if you will do, but certainly neither is ideal for home protection.

Glock 42 vs. 43: Comparison of Price and Value

The price of both of these subcompact guns is very comparable. The price of magazines is practically identical. The G42 and G43 are served well by the aftermarket with parts, holsters, and other accessories. Both guns will last a lifetime if cared for, so cost of ownership is similar. There is one massive difference that will impact overall cost.

That cost is ammunition. Ammunition for the 9mm-chambered Glock 43 is the cheapest centerfire handgun ammunition. Period. Nine-millimeter is consistently the cheapest ammunition due to is popularity. The .380 ammunition for the G42, on the other hand, generally costs 25-40% more per round, significantly increasing the expense required to train and maintain proficiency. This should be a big consideration for you and factor into your cost because, while you can’t buy skill, you have to buy ammo to build skill.

How to Choose Between the Glock 42 and 43

When it comes down to choosing which is better, it will come down to your needs and the three big differences: size/weight, recoil, and caliber. The Glock 42 is smaller (albeit slightly) and lighter (by more than you’d think). If you need the smaller, lighter option, the compact size of the Glock 42 wins the day, all day. Though the size difference is small, it's there.

The Glock 42 also wins when it comes to recoil. It just recoils less than the 9mm Glock 43. This is a big consideration for new shooters, where 9mm’s added recoil may induce flinching and other bad habits. Once developed, these habits may be impossible to extinguish later on. The Glock 42 is also great for those with weak hand strength or arthritis. Not only does it recoil less, but the slide is also easier to operate. Cost is a consideration, though, and 9mm ammunition is cheaper by quite a bit. This allows more shooting for less money, but you have to balance that; if the recoil is inducing bad habits the extra ammo won’t be worth it.

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Both of these Glock handguns are outstanding concealed carry pistols. Both are accurate and reliable. Loaded with high-quality ammo like the Speer Gold Dot both would be effective fight-stoppers. The differences between the two are slight, but potentially important. Regardless of which you choose, either will have a Glock trigger. Which is to say, it could use some improvement. Be sure to check out the Overwatch Precision TAC Trigger. It will reduce travel, lighten the trigger by as much as a pound, give a crisp break, all without compromising safety one bit. And it’s available for the Glock 42 and 43, so that’s a difference you don’t have to worry about!