[Review] Glock 43: Ultimate Concealed Carry Gun

Glock guns. Love them or really not like them (don’t like the h*** word – too much of that in the world today). The shooting world is bifurcated when it comes to this company’s guns. Some shooters will buy only Glocks – I know a few of them. Others would not buy one if it were the only gun in the store. Why such a divide? I’ve looked into this situation before in some of my other Glock reviews, links below. Suffice it to say that some folks put a high value on Gaston’s famous pistol while others, not so much. They feel “blocky” to some with smaller hands. They are too simplistic for others. There is no thumb safety for yet other shooters. They are overpriced, some say. Or, if you’re on the other side of the track, they are just about the best all-around handgun going. Not too much gray area with these guns. Something that many can agree on, though, is that the M43 is a good little concealed-carry gun.

The Glock 43 9mm pistol took the shooting world somewhat by surprise when it appeared in April, 2015. Boldly and loudly hyped by Glock, this was the first single-stack 9mm that the company made. Demand for such a gun was high among Glockophiles. Many were disappointed, if I remember correctly, that Glock introduced the M42 .380 before the 9mm version was brought out. At any rate, it was a good seller and remains so to this day, although I would imagine that the double-stack 43X has cut into its sales a bit. Many folks would rather have 10 rounds in a flush-fit 43X magazine as opposed to the 43’s standard 6 rounds, given the choice, even if the grip is a touch wider. At least there are extended magazines for the 43, one of which is pictured herein.

BONUS OFFER: Get your 500 Page Ammo Comparison Handbook (worth $43) for FREE right into your inbox

History And Other Things

Glock is a company with an interesting backstory. This Austrian company has grown, from a small manufacturer of household items, to being one of the largest pistol manufacturers in the world. It is estimated that 65% of law enforcement agencies in the U.S. use Glock pistols and its worldwide share is not inconsiderable. The guns are definitely popular – the company’s history makes an interesting read.

Before we get on with the M43 before us, you might be interested to read my other Glock pistol reviews – here are the links to them…

OK. So now we know where the company came from and how a Gen 3 gun is different from, say, a Gen 4. All this is basic knowledge needed in order to discuss Glock guns with any understanding of terms, generations, etc. What about the model gun before us now? Why did Glock decide to come out with their first single-stack subcompact 9mm? In a word, demand.

Enter The Subcompacts

Small 9mm guns were becoming the rage back a few years ago and it seems that just about every gun manufacturer on the face of this Big Blue Ball we live on was coming out with a new, improved carry gun.

I remember that I owned a Kahr CW-9 long about then – talk about your ultimate thin 9! I carried it in a pants pocket. My friends who carried a gun were all buying S&W Shields, Springfield Armory XDSs, Ruger LCP9s, and similar guns. I distinctly remember that my friends who were Glockophiles were feeling a bit left out – we talked about it. They said that they had heard “Glock is coming out with a brand-new single-stack 9”. They were bummed that the company had brought out a .380 before they introduced the 9mm. Finally, when the gun was released, they were happy. I remember one law enforcement friend who had carried a Beretta subcompact as a backup buying a new Glock 43 and never looking back. It seems that many police officers picked up the 6-shot 9mm as a backup to their M17 or M22 duty weapons. The only problem was that the 43 could not use the 17’s magazines, unlike other 9mms that Glock built. Double-stack mags don’t fit so well in single-stack mag wells. But, with enough mags on your person, that was not an issue. So now our Glock owners were happy.

Pocket Rocket?

The 43 was the first service-caliber Glock able to be carried in a pants pocket. I know some guys who do this. Weighing in at 20 ounces or so loaded and only being four and a quarter inches high, it fit in a pocket holster. (Don’t ever carry a pocket gun in just your pocket – it goes in a holster). Speaking of height, this might be a good time to mention specifications. Here you go…

Specs

Length:6.26”
Height:4.25”
Width:1.06”, widest point, measured
Weight, empty:15.6 oz. (all weights are measurements I took)
Weight w/loaded 6-round mag:19.6 oz.
Weight w/loaded 7-round mag:20.1 oz.
Barrel:3.41”
Capacity:6 rounds, single-stack flush-fit magazine; 7-round +1 available
Trigger pull, average:5 lbs., 6 oz.
MSRP:$529
“Real-World Price”:$460

So we see that our “little” 9 really is that – a little 9mm. I mentioned above how other Glock 9mm mags will not work in this gun, as they are double-stack but that’s not a deal breaker…just carry a spare or two and you’re good to go. Another question I get asked every now and then when I see shooter friends who know I write these reviews and figure I ought to know about Glock generations is “what generation is the 43?”, to which I answer “its own.” The 43 is technically a Gen 4. but, to take a quick look at it, it looks like a Gen 5 with no finger grooves. But, there is no Gen 5 ambidextrous slide stop/release and no nDLC finish, but there is the Marksman barrel. So, it was the forerunner of the Gen 5 guns. It is one of the more popular Glocks out there and they sell a lot of them. At least my friends who own them really like them, no matter what generation they are.

Photo Gallery

Here are some photos I took of the 43 – I didn’t take a whole lot of them because once you’ve seen one Glock, you’ve pretty well seen them all…

Glock 43 left

Glock 43 right

Glock 43 field stripped

Glock 43 barrel recoil spring
Note dual-captured recoil spring

Glock 43 barrel engraving

Glock 43 slide branding

Glock 43 slide underside

Note the beveled striker block – this helps the slide reciprocate a bit easier because of its beveled edges. Some other makers have adopted a similar block.

Glock 43 frame

Glock 43 grip mag release
Note the enlarged Gen 4 mag release
Glock 43 sight picture
The usual sight picture
Glock 43 magazines
And last but not least, the standard 6-round magazine and a +1 version

Those who would carry a 43 concealed might want to practice with it regularly. Or, I could re-phrase that to say that anyone who carries any gun concealed needs to practice with it regularly, of course. My point is that smaller guns take a bit more practice drawing and shooting than larger ones – at least in my experience. I’ve carried both and sometimes have had a bit more trouble getting my hand on the grip of a subcompact auto than I had getting a grip on some of its larger brethren. This is, of course, the conundrum…smaller guns are more easily concealed than larger ones but are harder to grab, draw and shoot well at times. Some people just shoot larger guns better because they can get all their fingers on the grip and the longer sight radius helps aid accuracy. There is also the feeling that larger guns tend to exhibit less felt recoil than their smaller cousins due to their increased weight. At any rate, if you can draw and shoot a 6-round 9mm easily, the 43 is a good candidate for concealed carry … to paraphrase the Beatles, all you need is not love but practice. And, I know that some of you just love to practice – don’t we all!

Read also: Our CCW insurance guide

Recoil Revisited

One last factor that you might need to overcome is recoil. I mentioned it above but I wanted to spend a moment on it. When you shoot a 19-ounce 9mm with target loads, it’s not a big deal. But, switch to your carry load of choice and all of a sudden that little hunk of plastic and metal develops a personality all its own, sometimes not so nice. Some small guns can just be “snappy”, to use the current word of choice. Now, 9mm tends not to be as aggressive on the back end as, say, a .40 S&W or .45 ACP, but 9mm defense loads can still be a handful – especially if you are recoil-sensitive. I have found that starting out shooting my favorite 9mm target handload of 4.8 grains of Long Shot powder under a Lee 124-grain cast round nose, sparked by a Fiocchi SP primer is a good way to start acclimating to recoil. Gradually moving to factory FMJ rounds and then to full-bore defense loads has worked in the past for myself and others. I am not particularly recoil-sensitive but it seems the older I get, the more it bothers me. So, I’m always up for an easy-on-the-wrist load. I’ll touch more on my actual experience with this gun and recoil when I shoot it (below).

Shooting The 43

I braved the weather in my wild back yard – a cold front is moving in and it’s a bit nippy out there – but my desire to shoot this little guy overcame my reticence. I shot my above-mentioned handload that is usually fairy accurate in whatever gun it’s shot in and also the excellent Fiocchi 124-grain JHP. I’ve had good luck with that load as well.

My handload disappointed with this gun which was a bit of a surprise but the Fiocchi did alright. Here are the targets…

target shot with handload
Handload

Vertical stringing is evident, although you usually see this more with rifles than with handguns. At any rate, all the holes are on the paper… it just didn’t like my load. And, yes, it is a cast bullet load. I shot many cast bullets through my Glock 30 in .45 ACP – as long as you clean the barrel regularly, you should have no problem. I cannot “officially” sanction use of lead bullets due to Glock’s policy but hard-cast bullets tend not to be the culprit…do not ever shoot plain-lead swaged bullets in any poly-rifled-barrel gun. Those bullets will strip lead off and make a mess that can quickly lead to a possible over-pressure situation. For that matter, the same thing can happen in a conventionally-rifled barrel. Avoid plain-lead bullets if you can unless you are shooting very mild target loads, and never shoot them in a stock Glock barrel. I’m just saying…shoot hard-cast, then clean it. Only you can decide which type of bullet you’ll put through your Glock.

target shot with JHP
JHP

In terms of the actual shooting experience, it went pretty well to the “script” I wrote above. My target-level handload was fairly pleasant to shoot, with not a lot of recoil. The JHP load was a different story. It kicked pretty hard and lifted the gun off the bag with each shot. Now, I shoot full-bore .44 Magnum loads and am used to recoil – I am only making a subjective comparison between the two 9mm loads. You could tell that you were touching off something a bit stronger than a 1000 f.p.s. target load when I put the Fiocchi downrange. Looking at the target, it looks like I got two groups… one in the center of the target and the other a bit low-left. That was interesting, to say the least. I used a hold that put the front sight just under the small black box and shot at about 20 yards from a bag.

I often tell myself that, in order to carry an effective load, it’s going to have to kick a bit on the back end. This load bears that out. An effective JHP needs at least some decent velocity if it’s going to expand at all, and that will generate some recoil. Of course, you can always go the light-bullet route… I tried the NovX 65-grain load and found that it was very effective, hitting 1600 fps out of a short barrel. I don’t want to get into the “light-fast-bullet-vs-heavy-slow-bullet” discussion – everyone has their own opinion on that matter. Suffice it to say that there are many loads out there – try several and settle on what works for you. Just be ready for the gun to kick some if you use a mainstream defense load.

Conclusion

Would I carry a Glock 43? Of course – why not? It is very concealable, is well-built, comes with at least 6-round magazines and seven-, eight- and ten-rounders are out there. What’s not to like? Well, for me, it was a bit on the “skinny” side – just over an inch wide. Given the lack of grip texturing that Glock applies (or doesn’t apply) to their guns, the gun shifted fairly dramatically in my hand when I shot it. I was talking to my good friend Duane, who is my local FFL for gun deliveries, about the 43 vs. the 43x. He says he sells more of the “x” variety than the original because it gives one just a bit wider grip to hold on to. Plus, there’s the advantage of the 10-round capacity. The G26 has a 10-round capacity, too, but the 43x is just a bit smaller. Another advantage is that the 43x shows some Gen 5 features that a pre-Gen 5 26 won’t have. You can buy a Gen 5 M26, but if you don’t, you obviously won’t have that generations’ feature set. Of course, to some people generation doesn’t matter. You are the final arbiter of that decision.

I like the other aspects of the 43. It is easy to carry, and is obviously a Glock so you get all the goodies connected with the brand. I would carry it IWB, most likely. It can be toted around in a pocket but I think it might make more sense to put it on your belt, on the inside. A quick perusal of the Glock Store site shows a +2 and a +4 extended magazine for this gun, so capacity should not be an issue. You, dear reader, must decide if the 19-ounce weight of the stock 43 is enough to offset the recoil generated by some fairly brisk-shooting defense loads. If you are of the opinion “carry much, shoot seldom” then this gun should be perfect – just don’t forget to practice with it.

If you own one of these or a 43x, let’s hear from you below. As always, keep ‘em in the black and stay safe!

Written by Mike

Mike has been a shooter, bullet caster and reloader for over 40 years. Never one to be satisfied with the status quo, he is often found at his reloading bench concocting yet another load. With a target range in his backyard and after 40 years of shooting, his knowledge of firearms and reloading is fairly extensive. He is married, with four sons and daughters-law and 9-and-counting grandkids.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
10 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments