Sunday, October 16, 2016

Guns: Glock 43 review - Single-stack (im)Perfection

Introduction - Better late than never

If you only go by company marketing, you'd think the Glock 43 was the first slim 9mm pistol ever made, instead of one of the last entrants in a field occupied by essentially every other major handgun company in the world, including S&W, Ruger, Beretta, SIG, and Walther:

That said, I did pick up a Glock 43 shortly after launch, and have been shooting and carrying it for over a year now. Is this the single-stack 9mm the Glock faithful have been waiting for, or a missed opportunity that's too little, too late?

First Impressions - This small, and no smaller

To its credit, the G43 is about as small as an imported handgun can get under the Gun Control Act. Unfortunately, that is still larger than some of the competition, including the Ruger LC9s and the Kahr CM9:

The Glock 43 is noticeably shorter and lighter than the S&W M&P Shield, though the Shield carries one more round:

You can think of the 43 as a 25% to 30% thinner version of the G26:

Range Report - Yup, it's a Glock

The G43 arguably has the highest power-to-size ratio of any Glock pistol, but it's still pretty controllable with regular range ammo. The gun exhibited good accuracy at 10 yards:

Things get a bit more interesting with the hot stuff. Though reliability across all loads was perfect, the gun was pretty snappy with Federal 147 gr. HST +P, to the point where I was pulling and pushing shots in 15 round strings:

Compared to the Glock 26, the 43 exhibits roughly the same accuracy at 15 yards, but it takes a lot more concentration from the shooter - the trigger is slightly heavier, the grip is less comfy, and the gun itself is lighter. Here's a head-to-head comparison at 15 yards:

UMC 115 gr. JHP (the bargain pack stuff) at 15 yards:

Aguila FMJ range ammo at 15 yards:

Concealment and Carry - Old pros and old cons

In terms of raw shooting performance, the Glock 43 is above-average in the class. It does have, however, all the typical Glock problems, including absolutely awful plastic "sights." In this pic, you can see how the top corner of the rear sight was deformed from a one-handed rack on the edge of the range bench - not confidence-inspiring, regardless of what Glock's commercials tell you:

Another drawback is the capacity - again, all of the G43's competitors offer factory 7 and/or 8-round magazines, but the only way to do so with the Glock is to go with aftermarket extended baseplates from folks like Pearce and Taran Tactical:

When taking into account the money needed for extended baseplates and new Trijicon HD sights, the G43 is not a terribly great value.

Still, once it's set up correctly, the Glock 43 is a very easy-to-carry firearm. It disappears in an IWB holster, like this one from Blackpoint Tactical:


The Glock 43 presents a challenging question for a reviewer: do you rate a pistol by how it performs out of the box, or do you take into account what it could be? I really like the gun overall for its reliability and shootability, and do carry it regularly, but it's simply not squared away out of the box. If you can deal with these shortcomings, the Glock 43 is a good option, but thankfully, it's not the only option.


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