Equipment Review: The Glock 43

I’m on record here on the blog as being against the early-adopter philosophy, particularly when it comes to mechanical devices.  Thus, when the Glock 43 was released in mid-2015, I did not run out and purchase one.  Fresh in my mind were some of the issues with the Generation 4 Glocks—especially in 9mm (how many of our readers suffered “brass to the face” issues?).  Knowing that Glock tends to value its reputation and provide quick fixes to issues with its products, I decided to wait a bit.

Along those same lines, I really did not envisage a role for the Glock 43 to immediately fill.  My Glock 19 and 26 covered my primary concealed carry needs, with a Ruger LCP covering my non-permissive environment (NPE) requirements.

After the release of the Glock 43, the only criticism I consistently read about (mechanically) was its rather heavy trigger as compared with its larger 9mm brethren.  My understanding is that Glock made this a little lighter/smoother with a different connector, though some still complain about it (based on production date, mine has the original one).  Other criticisms were about its size (some wanted one the exact size of the .380 ACP Glock 42, others wanted one with the profile of a Glock 19 but thinner, etc.)—you can’t please everyone—and its capacity, which is 6+1.  With the trigger issues supposedly somewhat improved and the aftermarket addressing magazine capacity, I started to casually look at the Glock 43, renting one at the range and putting a box of ammunition through it.  I liked it, but did not feel the need to immediately purchase one.

As luck would have it, about one year ago a member of a local firearms forum put his Glock 43 up for sale.  I ogled it online but could not bring myself to purchase it.  Incredibly, despite its low price ($430, I believe), there were no takers.  When the seller dropped the price to $415 and threw in a third magazine, I immediately contacted him and made the deal.  The pistol was basically new; the seller said he fired three magazines (18 rounds) total through it, as he had purchased two Glock 43s—he was keeping one–and basically just test-fired it.  The inside of the pistol was pristine, without a mark on the barrel and the inside still covered in that copper-colored anti-seize lubricant Glock uses at the factory.  The seller even covered the transfer fee at a local FFL! 

In Use

It has taken me a while to put the obligatory 500 rounds through this pistol, as I have been focused on other things.  However, now that my round count through this Glock has reached that number, I feel like I can give my overall impressions.

In terms of reliability, I have yet to have any sort of malfunction with the Glock 43.  I have shot several magazines worth of Speer Gold Dot 124 grain +P, with the rest being a combination of Sellier and Bellot, Fiocchi, Blazer Brass, and Freedom Munitions 124 grain FMJ, and then a few brands (Winchester and Blazer Brass) of 115 grain FMJ.  To date, I have not tried any steel or aluminum-cased ammunition.

In the accuracy department, our followers on Facebook have seen this photo illustrating that I have successfully passed Dot Torture at 3 yards:

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I also regularly shoot a form of walk-back drill, where I shoot 5 round groups at a 3×5 card, trying to keep all my shots on the card as I move back.  To date, my best result has been keeping all shots on at 15 yards, which for me is quite good and about on par with how I shoot with my other Glocks.  I have shot out to 25 yards with the 43 on several occasions and still struggle a bit, but I do with all of my pistols.  I have seen photographic evidence from Kyle Defoor putting up ten-shot group numbers in the 90s on a B-8 repair center, so the pistol is certainly capable.

I have seen some people online complain of excessive recoil with this little pistol.  For sure, the smaller and thinner frame and lighter weight will result in a stronger and/or different recoil impulse than something like a Glock 19.  However, I consider myself at least a little recoil sensitive (for example, I hate shooting .40 S&W Glocks), and I don’t find the recoil of the Glock 43 at all objectionable. 

In the area of fit and finish, I have no real issues with the Glock 43.  Mine has the “greyer” colored slide so common on the Generation 4 (and some later Generation 3) Glocks (not the more Teflon-esque, “frying pan” finish of some of the earlier models), and it does show some scratches/scuffs and “wear”, but the finish seems quite durable and is a non-issue.  I like the grip qualities of this pistol, with the lack of finger grooves of its larger brothers and the small bumps all over the grip to improve purchase.  I also like the Generation 4-style magazine release, which is easy for me to reach with my firing hand (right) thumb.

Finally, we must address concealability, since that is really what this pistol is all about.  If one visits the Glock website and looks up the various dimensions of the Glock 43 and compares them with other Glock models, one may find that there really is not that much difference between it and the Glock 26.  The 43 is narrower by only about 4mm, and is lighter in weight by about 4 ounces (per the official Glock website).  However, the nature of the Glock line of handguns is such that there really isn’t that much difference between “adjacent” models (Glock 26 vs, Glock 19, Glock 19 vs. Glock 17, etc.).  Indeed, some recommend “skipping” models if purchasing several Glocks (for example, buying the 43, 19 and 34, skipping over the 26 and 17). 

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Glock 26, top, with Glock 43 below

I have found that the Glock 43, despite what the numbers say, conceals much easier than any of the double-stack models.  It is so light that it is hardly noticeable, and though only marginally thinner than the Glock 26, those few millimeters seem to make a big difference.  Having said that, the Glock 43 remains for me a belt-mounted option.  Unless you have huge pockets AND, unlike me, have no hang-ups about carrying a striker-fired pistol in your pocket, the Glock 43 is probably still best carried in a “traditional” manner.  I am exploring some deeper-concealment options for the 43, but that will be for a separate article.  To date, I have only seriously carried it AIWB in a kydex holster designed as such.

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Width comparison: Glock 43, left, with Glock 26 to the right.

Aftermarket Modifications

I am not against modifications if they improve my overall performance/usability, but I tend to prefer a “less is more” approach.  Accordingly, to date my modifications have included new sights, a new slide-lock/release, and addressing the magazine capacity issues.

For sights, I have put on the same type of sights all of my other Glocks currently wear, the Ameriglo I-Dot Pros.  As outlined in my article here, I like the bright orange dot, the “dot the i” night sight picture, and price!  Ameriglo makes sights specifically for the Glock 42 and 43 (i.e., the sights they make for the larger Glocks will not fit).  With the short sight radius of the Glock 43, the front sight takes up more of the rear sight notch than the I Dot Pros on my other Glocks, but overall the sight picture is virtually identical, allowing for consistency in training and practice.  These sights generally run around $80.00.

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Glock 43 with Ameriglo I Dot Pro sights and grip tape on top of the slide

When possible, I prefer to use the slide-stop/release lever to release the slide and chamber a round on my reloads, and on this little pistol I was finding the lever a little tough to find at times.  Therefore, just like with the sights, I decided to use the same parts that I use in my other Glocks, installing a Vickers/Tango-Down Slide Stop lever.  On the Glock 43, this installs slightly differently (only two pins in this pistol as opposed to three in other Generation 3 and 4 Glocks), but a quick YouTube video watched and I was all set.  I installed this part around 200 rounds ago and have had no hiccups (and with this pistol, you do a lot of reloads!).  These can usually be found for around $25.00.

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To address the capacity issue, I have so far tried two different magazine extensions:  the Pearce +1 and the Vickers/Tango Down +2.  I have two of each and all have worked flawlessly to date.  I like the Pearce for carry purposes, as it does not add any more bulk than the +0 extension that comes on one of the magazines that is included with each Glock 43 from the factory.  It has the same grip texture as the pistol grip itself, so it looks and feels great and affords a great position for the firing hand pinky.  It installs easily and utilizes the original magazine spring.  I have had good luck with Pearce extensions on my Glock 26 and also on a Glock 30 that I used to own, so I was happy when Pearce joined the party with this model.  These extensions can be found for under $10.00 each.

 

The Vickers/Tango Down +2 extensions are a bit longer than the Pearce, but they turn the standard 6 round magazine into an 8 rounder.  This extension includes a replacement magazine spring to account for the greater length of the magazine with the extension added.  One curious thing about the extension is that it is only held on by the sides of the magazine and by the insert below the spring inside the magazine.  There is nothing to protrude through the little hole in the bottom of the extension.  After installation, I thought I had done something wrong, but confirmed and re-confirmed that I had assembled it correctly, and now have two magazines so equipped.  I do not think I would ever carry my Glock 43 with these magazines as primaries (doing so would defeat the fine concealment aspects of this pistol), but they make great reloads, and are also very cost-effective:  you get the extended base, insert, and new spring for under $15.00!

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I should note that I have kept two of my magazines with the flush-fit baseplate for better concealment, when needed.  I would say I most often carry it with the Pearce +1, and it is the way my firing hand feels most comfortable.  Firing it with the flush-fit 6 round magazine must be done in the same manner as the Glock 26 with its flush-fit 10 round magazine, curling the firing hand pinkie underneath the magazine for stability. 

One other note:  Elite Tactical Systems Group (ETS)—whose double-stack magazines I reviewed here, and John here—has started to manufacture extended magazines for the Glock 43 with advertised capacities of 9 and 12 rounds.  I have seen some early reviews online, and some are already swearing by them while others are swearing AT them!   As our own experience with ETS magazines has been mixed, for now I will stick with my “I am not an early-adopter” mentality and let others be the beta-testers.

The only other modification I have made to my Glock 43 was the addition of non-skid tape on the top of the slide, as outlined in this article.  On these shorter guns (Glock 43, Glock 26, etc.), I find this a handy addition that costs almost nothing.

Criticisms

My only gripe about the Glock 43 is with Glock itself.  How can they provide these pistols with two magazines, one of which has a pinkie rest extension but that does not increase the capacity???  They should have borrowed the idea from Smith and Wesson with their M&P Shield and included a flush-fit   magazine and then included an extended magazine holding one additional round.  Having to drop extra money on aftermarket parts (even if only $10 for a Pearce extension, which actually ends up being smaller than the Glock magazine with its +0 extension) is just ridiculous.

Final Thoughts

Considering I bought the Glock 43 more on a whim rather than to fill any perceived role, I have come to really like this little pistol.  It is just a little peppy but easy to handle (I’m still getting used to its narrow grip), and I have so far found it plenty accurate.  While I find it much more comforting to carry my Glock 19 or 26 and have 16, 13, or 11 rounds on tap, I typically carry the Glock 43 in a 7+1 configuration (with the Pearce extension), which is nothing to sneeze at.  Indeed, it holds several more rounds than a J frame, Ruger LCR, Colt Detective Special, etc., firearms that many people still rely on for personal self-defense.  I will also add that in recent months I have seen the likes of Kyle Defoor, Paul Howe, John “Shrek” McPhee, and Jeff Gonzales using/carrying/testing the Glock 43 and having good success with it.  While I do not see it replacing my double-stack models, it is definitely a pistol which can have a role in my carry rotation, particularly when small size and light weight are of primary importance.  In summation, I believe Glock has hit a grand slam with the Glock 43.

As always, thanks for reading.  I hope you find this review in some way useful.  If so, please continue to share us with like-minded folk out there.   Let us know any questions or comments you may have by writing to us below or on our Facebook page.

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