Gun Tests: Glock 41 & 42
By Todd Burgreen, GUNS Magazine
Glock made noteworthy introductions to their product line-up at the latest SHOT Show. The two new Glock handguns are on opposite sides of the use spectrum — the Glock 41 (G41) is a long slide .45 ACP and Glock 42 (G42) a compact .380 ACP. The G41 is a dual-purpose, full-size weapon equally at home in duty/service roles or in competition formats. The G42 is an ideal concealed carry candidate.
After erupting on the scene in the early 1980’s with the Glock 17 (G17), Glock pistols quickly evolved into the benchmark for personal defense, law enforcement and military handguns. Glock handguns are ultra reliable, accurate, tough and simple to operate — all at a competitive market price. A review of personal defense handgun market makes it clear the Glock is the design standard the others are still chasing. Many detractors would have you believe that Glock has grown complacent by not introducing any new designs departing significantly from the template laid by G17’s arrival in 1982. In fact, Glock handguns are into their Fourth Generation (Gen4) of refinement.
Manufacturer and price range serves as no guarantee a handgun is able to perform immediately after purchase. Yes, many deficiencies are quickly remedied by “breaking” in a pistol by use or making slight adjustments to various parts. I contend this does not have to be accepted. A Glock is one of the few handguns you can count on being ready to go straight out of the box. Glock’s solid performance over the years is sometimes neglected or taken for granted, particularly by gun publications. I believe this stems from the constant focus on the newest product introductions. The G41 and G42 allow for renewed focus on what Glock offers in terms of performance.
The Glock 41 and Glock 42 cover both ends of the handgun sphere with the G41 being a full-size weapon and G42 an ideal concealed carry design.
The prior Gen4 reference is important due to the G41 benefitting greatly from the associated design tweaks. The G41 comes with four interchangeable backstraps allowing a user to adjust to the feel they want. I suspect the increasing amount of competitors offering the ability to change grip sizes was making too many inroads into both the law enforcement and civilian markets for Glock not to offer something similar. Grips are changed via removing a single pin on the backstrap — install the grip desired and reinstall the pin. As do all 4th Gen Glocks, the G41 allows for medium and large grips to fit over the existing grip. Two grips featuring extended beavertails are also included with the G41. The Gen4 G41 comes with a rough textured pattern on the frame for better shooter grip on the handgun. The magazine catch on the Gen4 Glock is enlarged and reversible, requiring no additional parts to do so. Fourth Generation Glocks come with three magazines configured with the cutout catches on either side of the magazine body. All previous Glock magazines will work with the 4th Generation Glock as long as the magazine catch is configured on the frames left side.
Internal changes associated with the Gen4 G41 center around the dual recoil spring. The double spring is similar to what was initially introduced on the “mini” G26/G27. Glock literature points to the dual recoil spring assembly reducing recoil impulse and increases life cycle of the pistol by limiting wear due to firing cycle. The spring is a dual compression type with the captured springs operating at different rates. Though no formally tested recoil dampening rate reports have been published, subjective estimates from 10-30 percent have been bantered about. The dual recoil spring is expected to have a longer service life compared to the single spring design found in earlier generation Glocks.
The G41 joins other specialized Tactical/Practical “long slide” Glocks such as the G34 (9mm) and G35 (.40 S&W). The Glock Tactical/Practical family tree extends back to the hard to find G17L (9mm) and G24 (.40 S&W). The G34 and G35 were born from the need to shorten the slide of the G17L/24. The G34/35 slide was shortened to fit size-constraint rules imposed by certain competitive shooting sanctioning bodies. In general, the dimensions follow the classic 1911 pistol’s outline. With the G34/G35 introduction G17L and G24 production was throttled back. Glock’s reasoning, as efficient as their handguns, was there was no need to continue importing the G17L’s and G24’s in the same quantity with the G34/G35’s introduction.
The G42 surprised with its ability to place shots with accuracy equal to a full-size handgun. This can be attributed to Glock design, quality construction, sights and good trigger pull.
The G41 proved an accurate performer allowing its user to place .45 ACP rounds where intended. This group was fired offhand from 15 yards.
Let’s review what sets the Glock 41 apart from other Glock handguns outside of the Tactical/Practical category. This is an instance where size does matter. The G41’s 5.3″ barrel is the most obvious departure, giving the G41 an overall length of 8.9″ and sight radius of nearly 7.6″. For comparison’s sake, a full-size 1911 has a sight radius of 6.8″. The G41’s longer sight radius is more conducive to accurate shot placement at distance.
With the G41, a proficient shooter will find it possible to accurately engage targets at 50 yards and any intended targets out to 100 yards had better seek cover. Proven Glock ergonomics combined with the slide’s long track during recoil and manageable .45 ACP muzzle signature allows for a very stable sight picture no matter how many or how rapid rounds are fired. It’s not hard to fathom why select elite special operation units choose the Tactical/Practical “long slide” G34/35 Glocks with the G41 sure to follow the same path. The G41, equipped with a tactical laser/light on its forward rail, is a lethal CQB weapon in trained hands.
A loaded G41 magazine with one in the chamber adds up to 14 rounds of potent .45 ACP firepower in a package similar in size to the classic 1911. For me, the G41 represents the quintessential balance of size, weight, capacity and cartridge potency. As mentioned earlier, the G41’s frame is a Gen4 type, meaning it is not as large as the previous Gen3 G20 (10mm)/21 (.45 ACP) frame that proved such a handful — no pun intended — for anyone without extra large hands. Basic grip size is smaller with the 4th Gen Glocks due to reducing the backstrap “hump” pioneered on the previously introduced Short Frame (SF) 3rd Generation Glocks. This aids shooters with smaller hands by reducing the circumference of the grip frame. Needless to say this is a significant improvement in my opinion.
Another nuance discovered with the Gen4 G41 was its slimmer slide resembles a G17 compared to a G20/21, allowing for its use in a wider range of holsters. This is significant with G17 holsters more easily available than G20/21 holsters. The G41’s slimmer slide contributes to it weighing less than a G21. The G41 weighs 27 oz. empty — this is a couple ounces less than the G21, despite its shorter slide.
Unusual firing positions found within Echo Valley Training Center’s “Jungle Walk” range helped to give shooters a better appreciation of the G41.
I test fired the G41 .45 ACP extensively using Winchester, Black Hills, Hornady and Wolf ammunition. Loads fired ranged from 185-grain to 230-grain JHP and FMJ bullets. Brass and steel cases were also tested in the G41. Approximately 450 rounds were fired while compiling this article. No malfunctions were experienced. After the G41 sights were verified at 25 yards, testing consisted of monotonous hammering of steel plate racks and popper targets at 7, 15 and 25 yards. Man-sized steel targets were sporadically engaged at 50 and 100 yards as well. I rarely bench test pistols for accuracy due to reliability and quick engagement of targets being more paramount in a combat handgun. However, my curiosity got the better of me with the G41 and I fired 25-yard groups supported by a Champion tripod rest. Winchester and Black Hills Ammunition generated 3″ groups at 25 yards. From a more practical perspective in terms of handgun performance, I was pleasantly surprised by firing a 100-percent rating over a 60-round law enforcement proficiency test I frequently use to gauge my skill level with different handguns. The test is timed fire from the holster at various ranges stretching from 5 yards back to 30 yards. Needless to say I was pleased with the G41’s performance.
Regardless of caliber, both Glocks digested a variety of ammo without a hiccup.
It seems the G42 has been garnering the bulk of the attention between the two latest Glock introductions in the gun media. The G42 is a sure response to the US concealed carry market continuing to expand and generate firearm sales. All civilian practitioners of concealed carry desire the most potent handgun they can handle proficiently while discreetly transporting in their daily activities. Unfortunately, constraints caused by weather, clothing or social environment can preclude this at times, forcing a compromise in terms of size and caliber. One of the reasons I am so fond of the cooler months is the ability to layer clothes in a way allowing the return to shoulder holsters and belt holsters containing full-sized handguns. While a .380 ACP Glock model has been around for some time in the form of the G25, it has been taboo for US consumers due to import regulations. The G25 is a relatively large handgun — think G19 for comparison — considering the .380 ACP chambering. The G25 was designed for consumer markets where civilians can’t own military caliber firearms. The G42 is a much more appropriately sized concealed carry weapon.
With the G42, Glock has created a slim (petite even), compact polymer handgun chambered in .380 ACP with dimensions lending it to pocket, ankle or other deep cover methods of concealed carry. The G42 utilizes the proven Glock Safe Action trigger system in a package measuring 5.9″ in length, 0.94″ in width, 4.1″ in height, weighing 13.7 oz. empty and 14.3 oz. loaded.
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The G42 magazine holds six .380 ACP cartridges, giving it a total capacity of seven with the round chambered and the magazine topped off. Two magazines are supplied with the G42. Glock’s reputation for quality products will immediately attract attention in comparison to other compact .380 ACP handguns on the market. The G42 is blessed with a set of sights capable of accurate fire past bad breath distances combined with a trigger and overall “feel” that also delivers performance. Glock, through savvy design, was able to duplicate the ergonomics and natural pointability of their larger models in the small G42 package.
As most readers can probably relate, finding .380 ACP of any flavor at your favorite gun shop is still a tough task. I was fortunate to have a sizable stock already on hand and I was able to augment the ammo with the latest premium loads for Winchester and Hornady.
The G41 and G42 expand on Glock’s appeal and utility by filling in what had been two voids in their product lineup.
.380 ACP ammunition has benefitted greatly from recent advances in bullet and propellant technology. Many new defensive loads feature propellants designed to minimize muzzle flash while maximizing velocity. The bullets loaded are the result of much research into what a bullet designed for personal defense should consist of. Everything from designing a profile to ensure reliable feeding to a jacket guaranteeing proper expansion (no matter the medium passed through when striking its intended target) has been researched in detail.
Premium defensive loads from Winchester PDX1 95-grain, Hornady Critical Defense 90-grain and Black Hills 90-grain JHP were available for range testing and familiarization. The G42 handled JHP profile bullets with equal aplomb as FMJ. Testing consisted of normal protocol establishing reliability first, then getting into combat accuracy and handling. Several magazines’ worth of ammunition was spent engaging plate racks and man-sized steel targets. No malfunctions were encountered with nearly 300 rounds fired in total. As stated earlier, the G42’s sights are a vast improvement compared to other sub-compacts on the market. Accurate fire was easily achieved at distances normally reserved for full-size handguns. The G42’s ergonomic design allowed for minimal felt recoil and ease of getting multiple shots
Holster companies have been quick to get on board with the new Glock G42. My primary method of carry for the G42 varied between belt holster, pocket and inside the waistband. Flexibility is the key in practicing diligent concealed carry. Good examples of this type of holster are available from Galco and DeSantis. The DeSantis Pocket Tuk pocket holster can also be used as an IWB holster by mounting a provided belt clip. A Galco Pocket Protector holster is another very viable candidate. The DeSantis Mini Scabbard belt holster was also used, as was a Galco Stow-N-Go IWB. The important point is to practice with whatever method is to be used for your daily carry.
After reliability was verified, I began manipulating the G42 as it would be if responding to a personal defense situation. More of a point shooting or flash sight picture was utilized along with 1-handed firing grip while moving off the line of attack. I found this to be a more realistic way of analyzing what the G42 brings to the table for user’s considering using it in the role it was designed for — concealed carry personal defense. The Glock Safe Action trigger combined with Glock ergonomics produced superior accuracy in terms of personal defense to what, I had found with other polymer semi’s or snubby revolvers. This was combined with faster times in producing solid hits at ranges that were measured in yards versus feet.
The similar design heritage between the G41 and G42 is clear when both are field stripped. This is an important part of Glock’s success and appeal.
The G42 is perfectly suited to find its way into several roles as a personal defense handgun. The G42 will definitely find a niche as a back-up gun, especially with the numerous other Glock handguns afield. Many will find the handy nature of the G42 making it indispensable and not being able to leave the house without it even when a larger weapon is also carried. Others will find it their primary carry weapon by default, especially in summer months or under social conditions when discovery of a concealed carry weapon is untenable.
The reliability and accuracy of the G42 lead me to believe the G42 should be considered by anyone considering a concealed carry handgun. Ultimately, always having a weapon with you is more important than the full-sized weapon you leave at home because you did not feel like dressing around your handgun on any given day. The G42 is a good balance of size to firepower for the practitioner of concealed carry.
It is best to think of the Glock lineup of handguns as a “system” of different models tailored to handle different situations. This system is typified by the two most recent additions — the mini G42 and full-sized G41, each serve a purpose by filling a niche for its owner. Every Glock shares a lineage back to the first Glock, the G17. The Glock “secret” to success is minimal operating controls, relentless reliability and to paraphrase a famous political advertisement, “It’s the trigger, stupid.”
While the grip size may change between the G41 and G42, the position of the slide and magazine releases will instantly be familiar. An illustration of the Glock system would be the similar trigger pull and weight found on both the G41 and G42. Simplicity should not be confused as lack of refinement. As my experience and knowledge has expanded, Glock reliability and solid performance has become more entrenched in my mind as the standard.
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