In this article, I will review the new Glock 43 Singlestack 9mm pistol. Through the course of the text and photos, I will provide an overview, discuss the Fit, Function, and Finances in regard to this model, and then conclude with a Range Report and personal observations.
Whether you love ’em, hate ’em, or have chosen to ignore them since their introduction in 1982, there is no doubt that Glock pistols have made their mark on the firearms and shooting industries. Designed in 1981 by Austrian engineer and polymer tool pioneer, Gaston Glock, the Austrian Army commissioned the 9mm Glock 17 in 1982. The venerable G17 was introduced into the U.S. in 1985 and its simple operation and extreme reliability immediately caught the attention of Law Enforcement and commercial markets.
However, it wasn’t until 1990 that the G17 gained near-instant fame when Bruce Willis (playing the role of John McClane in the second Die Hard movie) incited a myth when his character stated: “That punk pulled a Glock 7 on me. You know what that is? It’s a porcelain gun made in Germany. Doesn’t show up on your airport X-ray machines, here, and it cost more than you make in a month.” Although the dialogue is factually incorrect in nearly every account, it launched a legend. (there is no Glock 7, no parts are made of porcelain – the slide is steel while the frame and some small parts are polymer, it most certainly WILL show up in an X-ray machine, and even in 1990 dollars, it didn’t cost more than the other character made in a month)
Since the company’s founding in 1981, they produced their 5 millionth pistol in 2007 (source: https://us.glock.com/heritage/timeline) and it is estimated that Glocks dominate 65% of the U.S. Law Enforcement market (source: Sweeney, Patrick (2008). The Gun Digest Book of the Glock (2nd ed.). Iola, WI: Krause Publications).
Built on a foundation of extreme reliability, affordability, and superior function, Glock expanded their line of pistols to include a myriad of calibers, slide lengths, and frame sizes to accommodate a wider variety of law enforcement, military, recreational shooting, personal defense, and competition markets. Although it is a fine handgun for personal defense, concealed carriers often lamented the sheer width of even the “smallest” Glock models. Let’s call it what it is… the majority of the line-up can be best described as “boxy” and difficult to conceal.
A New Era?
During this year’s SHOT (Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade) Show, Glock unveiled the Glock 42… a Single-Stack (read: thinner) sub compact handgun chambered in .380 auto. Many flocked to the new offering with abounding joy while others decried the marginally performing .380 auto designation while crying: “if they only made it in 9mm!”
Well… the shooting world waited 27 years for a single-stack Glock, so the mixed emotions stemming from the Glock 42 turned into rapturous joy a few short weeks later in mid-April when Glock unveiled the G43 at the NRA Annual Meeting held in Nashville, Tennessee. Finally, the shooting community had its Glock single-stack sub-compact chambered in 9mm!
Introducing the Glock 43
Even though the sub-compact carry-pistol (or pocket pistol) market left little room for another entry, the Glock 43’s introduction was heralded with fanfare and eager anticipation. For weeks after its introduction in Nashville, gunshops around the country were flooded with requests and inquiries: “so… when WILL you get one in stock?” In most cases, they departed through the front door of the shops within hours of hitting the receiving dock. A few internet entrepreneurs on Gunbroker and Gunsamerica were taking advantage of the flurry of activity by charging premium prices exceeding the $600.00 range.
Although I’m generally lukewarm to Glocks and use either a customized 9mm Glock 34 for competitions or the G17 and G19 for instruction, I was also caught-up in the excitement about the new single-stack offering. I managed to purchase a Blue Box (military and law enforcement sale) for a little over 4 bills and I’m impressed with its fit and function.
By the numbers, the Glock 43 has an overall length of 6.26 inches, barrel length of 3.39 inches, height of 4.25 inches, and width of 1.02 inches… all with an unloaded weight of just under 18 ounces. All other features of the Glock 43 remain both similar and true to the original design… including the plastic “front dot” and “rear U-notch” sights.
The traditional Safe Action trigger initially measured a little over 7 pounds using a wheeler trigger-pull scale. However, after firing 500 rounds and conducting a thorough cleaning, the same scale measured closer to the advertised 5.5 pounds. Trigger travel and positive re-set are similar to other Glock models.
The pistol ships in the standard hard case with a gun lock, polymer cleaning rod and brush, magazine speed loader, and two magazines. Both magazines can hold 6 cartridges, but one is flush and the other has a finger extension.
Taking a closer look
The Glock 43 both functions and breaks-down in a manner nearly identical to the flagship G17. Also, the internal parts are NEARLY identical. The two most notable differences can be found in the dimensions and shape of the safety plunger and the tip of the striker. The photos below depict the visual differences.
You’ll notice that the Striker Safety Plunger is no longer completely round. The new Striker Safety Plunger is uni-directional and it appears that the cut-out depicted in the photo mates with the corresponding cut-out near the tip of the Striker.
You’ll also notice that the Striker tip is roughly the same length, but is thicker and rounded compared to the Glock 19 Striker. I could not find any documentation from Glock explaining the engineering design changes, but I did stumble across an article on Guns.com chronicling chipped Strikers in Florida’s Palm Beach Sheriff Department. They concluded that faulty ammunition caused the Striker damage. However, I believe we can assume that the “thicker and rounder” Striker tip may have been introduced to ward-off these problems.
Fit, Function, and Finances
FIT – As with all other sub-compact carry-pistols, there is a trade-off between conceal-ability and grip size. This is especially true for shooters with large hands. While my “little finger” makes no contact with the front strap of the pistol while the flush magazine is inserted, the magazine with the finger extension provides some relief and surface contact. It took a considerable amount of dry-firing and live-firing to get used to the small frame.
While we are on the topic of fit, however, I want to highlight a MAJOR design improvement incorporated into the Glock 43. Until recently, Glock models of all sizes included only a modest “beavertail,” which is the area at the top of the backstrap just under the rear of the slide. Shooters with larger hands could easily “overgrip” the Glock, especially when drawing from the holster, and get “bitten” by the slide during recoil. At first, aftermarket “beavertail extensions” were available through numerous distributors. Eventually, Glock included these extended beavertails in their later Generation 4 offerings. However, the Glock 43 incorporated a more generous beavertail into the frame design. This design improvement not only prevents “slide bite” for shooters with larger hands, it also greatly assists in recoil management for shooters of all hand sizes by optimizing leverage during recoil.
Function – When I first purchased this pistol, I took it directly to the range and fired 300 rounds of American Eagle 115gr Full Metal Jacket ammunition. After only conducting a thorough inspection, I purposely took it to the range and fired it without cleaning it in order to test its “out of the box” reliability. I’m pleased to report that there were no misfires or malfunctions in this first volley of rounds. The recoil is a bit “snappy,” but this is to be expected of a sub-18 ounce polymer framed handgun. However, the recoil was both comfortable and manageable. I conducted a thorough cleaning and found no evidence of excessive wear or brass shavings. On my next range trip, I fired 200 rounds of the same ammunition and focused on controlled pairs and target transitions. This confirmed the observation I made earlier… that the re-designed beavertail greatly assists in recoil management and follow-up shots. Otherwise, it functions exactly as expected and lives up to the fine Glock reputation.
Finances – The MSRP for the Glock 43 is $580 and most retailers are holding close to this price since the demand remains high. Meanwhile, many local gunshops are selling them in the low $500 range. In the next few months, I imagine that the prices will settle around $450.00.
As stated earlier, the first 500 rounds were fired without a hitch. Additionally, the trigger pull smoothed-out from a stiff 7lbs to a more reasonable 5.5lbs. The recoil is very manageable and the target transitions are fast due to the quick cycling of the action and the light weight. On my 3rd trip to the range, I felt comfortable enough to conduct some accuracy tests with the 115gr FMJ American Eagle ammunition.
For my standard tests, I fired five single-shot drills from the ready position to a standing two-handed grip firing each shot in a 2 second time-limit, measured on a PACT timer. Starting at 10 feet, I increased the distance by 5 feet for each set of shots. As you can see in the photo on the left, the Glock 43 firing range ammunition is capable of producing respectable groups out to 30 feet… certainly more than enough for personal defense scenarios.
Keep in mind that this Glock, like all others with the factory “dot and U” sights, shoot “high” and require a “Six O’Clock” hold. For these groups, I started off placing the front sight under the inner diamond on the target. You can see that at 20 feet, off-setting the front sight to the bottom of the inner diamond wasn’t enough and the group trended high. For the 25 foot and 30 foot targets, I placed the front sight closer to the bottom of the outer diamond.
At 22.5 yards (the farthest the target carrier would go that night), I fired five shots from the standing two-handed position with no time limit. As you can see, I lost a considerable amount of accuracy. I attribute this to a combination of the short barrel, short sight plane, and my discomfort with not shooting “point of aim” (putting the front sight in the middle of the target) like I do with all my other pistols. For shot number 1, I placed the front sight at the bottom of the black (7 ring) and it impacted high in the 5-ring. For shots 2 and 3, I placed the front sight at the bottom of the 5 ring. It was only in shots 4 and 5 that I figured out that I needed to split the difference and place the front sight between the 5 and 7 rings in the bottom-center of the target. I also noticed a tendency to pull the shot string to the right which is most likely due to “over-gripping” the small frame.
As an added test, I decided to push myself and the gun in a drill that required multiple follow-up shots and target transitions. At a distance of 21 feet, I attempted to place one shot in five different 2.5 inch circles in a time-limit of 7 seconds. I repeated this drill 6 times and alternated between clockwise and counter-clockwise directions. I was impressed with the small pistol’s handling and ability to conduct the multi-shot target transitions. Again, this is clearly more than adequate for personal defense scenarios.
- Light, thin, and concealable
- Point-and-Click ease of use
- Generous beavertail enhances comfort and recoil control
- Great for shooters with smaller hands who have difficulty gripping the wider “double-stack” Glock models
- Traditional Glock “out of the box” reliability
- A very reasonable price tag
- Adequate accuracy out to 30 feet
- Those awful, plastic, dot-U notch sights that require a 6 O’Clock hold
- It lacks an active thumb safety, which I prefer
- Magazine capacity limited to 6 rounds
- I’m not impressed with the plastic recoil spring/recoil spring guide assembly. It may be only in my pistol, but it doesn’t even fit well. The assembly literally falls out of the slide during disassembly
- Below-average accuracy beyond 30 feet compared to the 9mm sub-compact Sig 938
- Consumer inventories remain low
Overall, I’m impressed with the single-stack sub-compact Glock 43 and it is a welcome addition to my collection. Although I prefer a handgun with an active thumb safety for concealed carry, I would consider the Glock 43 to be a decent personal defense gun. However, would replace the awful sights with a good set of tritium night sights zeroed to point-of-aim/point-of-impact and would replace the plastic recoil spring guide with an all-steel or tungsten assembly.
What are your impressions of the Glock 43? What is your favorite handgun for concealed carry? Sound-off in the comments below or shoot me an e-mail!
Thank you for taking the time to read this review. Until next time, stay safe and shoot straight!
– Howard Hall
Disclaimer: I have no personal or professional connections to Glock or its affiliates and I was not compensated in any way by them for this review. I purchased the pistol through a military and law enforcement retailer. The observations and opinions expressed are mine alone provided for your information only.