By Will Dabbs, MD, GUNS Magazine
Photos By Takashi Sata
One of the most remarkable aspects of the Information Age has been the tidal wave of legislation allowing law-abiding Americans to carry guns for personal protection. Nowadays it’s at least theoretically possible to carry a handgun legally in all 50 states. Rarely does a day go by the news doesn’t sport a story or two of law-abiding Americans having used a concealed firearm to thwart some crime or other. We live in heady days indeed.
Capitalism being what it is, when a new market emerges then providers of goods and services pony up to meet those needs. In the case of concealed carry guns, we wanted a whole new animal. The ideal piece would be slim and compact and devoid of sharp edges plus lightweight enough to tote underneath a pair of shorts and a T-shirt without arousing interest. This hypothetical handgun would yet remain sufficiently powerful to convince even the most ardent evildoer to find constructive outlets for his energies elsewhere. Most everybody thought up something new to fill this need with the results ranging from superb to wretched with everything in between. As is typically the case, the folks at GLOCK waited until they had come up with something they were totally satisfied with before unveiling it.
High Recognition Factor
Beyond its simple utility, the GLOCK has become a ubiquitous icon. Sixty-five percent of American cops fill their holsters with one, It is a staple in movies and a fixture in rap music. When the Delta Boys dragged Saddam Hussein out of his hole in the ground, they were packing one. If I may flirt with heresy, the GLOCK enjoys more widespread distribution and public recognition than even John Moses Browning’s revered 1911. When Gaston Glock first unleashed the G17 pistol on the world in 1982, he fundamentally deconstructed conventional handgun design.
All the company’s handguns exhibit certain common characteristics and the new G43 is no exception. There is the classic blocky utilitarian slide along with an archetypal graphite black hue. Slide grooves are simple and square. The grip has a sharp rake (not unlike Georg Luger’s classic P08). This attribute keeps the line of recoil low and in line with the shooter’s wrist and arm. The trigger incorporates a blade safety in its face to compliment a veritable cornucopia of internal safety devices giving the system its “Safe Action” moniker.
On Gen4 models the magazine button is slightly oversized, easily reversible and in the expected spot. The slide release is unilateral on the left. The weapon strips just like every other GLOCK. Clear the gun, point it in a safe direction, and pull the trigger. Ease the slide back a bit, pull down on the disassembly tabs, and you’re done. The guide rod is polymer and the Gen4 recoil spring gobbles up recoil in a manner which seems to defy the laws of physics. It is only when you first look at the new gun from the top that you really appreciate that something is indeed
The slide on the G43 is about 1/8″ slimmer than a typical full-sized 9mm GLOCK. This may not seem like much but it makes an extraordinary difference in the way the gun packs, feels and runs. It is as though you left a double-stack 9mm G26 on a railroad track and let a train run over it.
In fact, everything about the G43 is petite and compact. The entire gun will fit in the palm of my hand and it appears at a glance strikingly similar to its .380 predecessor, the G42. The frame is too thin for a Picatinny rail so you’ll have to tote a separate flashlight.
Unlike many contemporary polymer pistols, there are no interchangeable backstraps. GLOCK engineers instead designed the gun to fit the average set of human hands and called it good. In their defense my hands are big and my daughter’s are tiny and we both managed the gun with comparable comfort.
The grips are liberally festooned with tiny bumps the company refers to as “cubids.” These little dots make the gun easy to grip when sweaty or rushed. If you ever have to use the gun for real and you are not sweating profusely, then something is seriously wrong with you.
The sights are polymer with white highlights. Although some may turn up their noses at this arrangement, you’ll not be cycling a pocket gun through a holster enough to grind them down and every other plastic piece of the gun is about indestructible. If the sights seriously offend your sensibilities there will undoubtedly be legions of companies standing by to provide aftermarket steel/tritium replacements. The frame has a generous beavertail to insulate your tender flesh from the reciprocating slide.
The stubby grip is so short it leaves your fifth finger dangling in the breeze, but the gun comes with two magazines, one of which sports a handy pinky groove in its extended baseplate. Each magazine is of a single-stack geometry and carries six rounds. The frame has a generous beavertail to insulate your tender flesh from the reciprocating slide.
Close To Religion
We humans harbor strong opinions about lots of stuff. There are patriotic loyalties, political proclivities, familial affections, sports addictions and sentiments aplenty as to the very nature of God Himself. However, most of these pursuits pale in comparison to the fervor with which we committed gun nerds espouse opinions on the mechanical attributes of our utility guns.
If you were a revolver disciple you would have already skimmed on to the next article. As you apparently are still curious enough to proceed this means you are of the autoloader clan. Many of us gravitate towards automatic handguns for their promised blessings of high-capacity along with a svelte body image. However, we should never be lighting off rounds indiscriminately and with the spare mag in tow the G43 still gives you 13 high-velocity opportunities to get yourself out of a bind. However, the real theological nuances are most obvious when you start pondering how to tote the gun.
The G43 sports the same monotonously predictable 5.5-lbs. trigger pull as every other stock GLOCK. The trigger is the same from the first round to the last and arguably strikes the optimal balance between crispness and safety. Where most producers of pocket pistols intentionally trash their triggers to make them longer, stiffer, and subsequently safer for deep concealed carry, GLOCK came right out and made a concealed carry pistol with a trigger that shoots easily and very well. As such, prospective G43 owners needs to ask themselves whether they are comfortable enough with their skills to pack a piece in deep cover with a round up the pipe and no manual external safeties.
Galco has produced quality carry gear since 1969 and their selection of options is adequate enough to induce fashion overload in the likes of Paris Hilton. Leather with finishes aplenty, Kydex, exotic skins and steerhide are formed into IWB, OWB, Yaqui slides, shoulder rigs, and deep-cover carry rigs to fit a bewildering array of models. Their KingTuk concealment holster even has an awesome name. In short, Galco can hide the G43 most anywhere on your anatomy.
The G43 runs just like any other GLOCK but it’s smaller. Recoil is snappy, particularly with fast +P loads (which run just fine in this little gun, by the way), but not at all unpleasant. Unlike most concealed carry guns, an afternoon on the range with the G43 is actually fun.
The pistol ate everything I could find to feed it without a hiccup. It shoots right side up, upside down, sideways, lubed, dry, clean and dirty.
The little gun shoots well with the stubby magazine and even better with the finger-groove version. I could keep my rounds in a pie plate at 20 meters all day long without serious effort. By loading a live round and a dummy, I could “limp-wrist” the gun to failure but not without getting stupid with it. So long as you even tepidly hang on to the piece, it will shoot and cycle every single time. The nice trigger makes the G43 shoot as well as something much bulkier and my .380 Walther PPK exhibits markedly nastier recoil.
The G43 is a nice tiny pistol with a really nice trigger. It is monotonously reliable and drops your rounds right where you want them every single time. The G43 feels like a .380 in both geometry and function, yet launches a serious round capable of getting the job done.
The G43 runs just like its bigger brethren while remaining compact enough to ride comfortably in the front pocket of a pair of jeans. If you subscribe to the GLOCK denomination of tactical handgun theology and are savvy enough to carry an utterly reliable defensive pistol with a proper trigger and no external manual safeties, then the G43 will fill the bill.
Sight radius 5.2″
Barrel length 3.9″
(unloaded/loaded) 17.95/22.36 oz.
Magazine capacity 6 rounds
Rifling Right hand/hexagonal, 1:9 .84
Trigger pull 5.5 lbs.
Trigger travel 0.49″