By Trampas Swanson

When it comes to the topic of concealed carry, there is no one specific “type” of person who chooses to carry daily. Currently, there are over 16,000,000 legally licensed CCW permit holders in the US with vastly different backgrounds, race and preferred carry method. Equally as diverse are the firearms these proud second amendment supporters choose to carry. The facts, figures and arguments for and against full size, compact and sub-compact firearms could fill volumes of books in a library, with all having valid points. One company that has made a living catering to a wide spectrum of these gun owners by simply making one core product, just in different sizes and calibers – Glock.

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Don’t get me wrong, I am not a Glock-hater. If anything, I am a fan. I’ve carried various Glocks both in my former career as a Deputy Sheriff and SWAT sniper and currently as a gun writer and firearms instructor. In recent years, my daily carry rotates between a Glock 43, a SIG 365 (yes a SIG!) and a midsized Glock 19, all chambered in 9mm. For the summer months when pocket carry may be the only option, I will revert to carrying a Glock 42 chambered in .380 rather than to not carry anything at all. If you will notice, all but one of these guns are considered to be micro-compact frame sizes. As great as each has proven to be over time, they do come with their limitations in either magazine capacity or grip size.

Recently, I decided to test out two newly released pistols from Glock that fit the micro-compact category and see how they would shape up compared to my standard rotation of pistols. These pistols would be the 43X and 48, both chambered in 9mm and both offering 10 round magazines. Along with all the hype surrounding Glock’s January 2, 2019 announcement of their release, streams of table top reviews filled magazines and social media from so-called “experts” based on only what they thought the gun would be like.

After several people were allowed to shoot a very limited number of rounds through these two guns during SHOT Show’s Industry Day at the Range, even more loosely constructed reviews came pouring in. Again, none of those reviews give readers a full idea of what these new models would be like in day to day carry. Fortunately, over the past month, I have not only carried one or both guns, I have also had over two years of experience carrying the standard model 43 on a semi-weekly basis to give an educated report. This week, I start by looking at the first of these two pistols with the Glock model 43X.

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First Impressions

Soon after SHOT Show, I received notification from our FFL dealer, Legion Defense Industries that the Glocks were ready for pickup. When I opened the standard black plastic Glock box, the first thing I noticed about the G43X was the noticeably longer grip. Yet when I removed it from the box and held it next to my G43, the slight difference in width was what stood out. For those of you who may own a G43, you will notice on each side of the frame, there is a bulge near the top. This is designed to allow room for the slide stop on the left side and the trigger bow on the right. With the G43X, since the frame is slightly wider, the need for this bulge is no longer required. (Note: The G43X was designed to take the same magazines as the G48 released at the same time and will NOT interchange with the original model 43.)

Now realizing the G43X wasn’t going to just be an extended grip version of the original G43 design, I continued to look for any other differences. Not only was the grip longer on the G43X to allow for a ten round magazine but the slide was longer as well. The G43X was slightly extended by .24” according to the Glock specifications, although it is extremely hard to tell when holding them in your hand. I was eager to see if this would play a factor in accuracy once on the range.

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Another immediately noticeable change in the G43X was the presence of front slide serrations. Since Glock has started including these serrations on the front sections of their slides, it has been widely heralded by many shooters. Mostly it is for those who choose to constantly press check their slides to confirm there is a round in the chamber rather than trust the loaded chamber indicator. Regardless, the addition of these serrations does give the slide a balanced look.

One item featured on both the G43X and later in an upcoming review of the G48 is the silver covered nVPD finish on both pistols. Since the new release, this finish has gathered a lot of attention, some good, some bad. Since this finish can be applied in a wide range of colors, I could only wonder if the two-tone look was to simply further set the new models apart from the standard black 99% of all other Glocks before them have been.

 

While closely inspecting this new finish on the slide, I did notice how well the muzzle end of the slide and frame were beveled. I remember first shooting the Gen 5 pistols when they were released and how completely off the slide and frame were from matching at the muzzle. As small as this detail may seem, it plays in as a huge “X” factor when trying to reholster a small framed gun back into a concealed carry holster. This time around, it appears Glock got it right!

I have listed their factory specs below for direct comparison with my
G43, SIG P365 and Gen 4 G19. While it’s true, numbers never lie, the true test for the G43X would be in how it shoots. For that, I reached out to several fellow shooters both in and outside of the firearms industry to add their opinions on the G43X based on their experience and backgrounds.

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Model 43X Specs Compared to Glock 43

  • Glock 43X vs. Glock 43
  • Length 6.50” 6.26”
  • Height 5.04” 4.25”
  • Width 1.10” 1.06”
  • Weight 16.40 oz 16.23 oz
  • Capacity 10+1 6+1

Model 43X Specs Comparted to SIG 365

  • Glock 43x vs. Sig P365
  • Length 6.50” 5.80”
  • Height 5.04” 4.40”
  • Width 1.10” 1.00”
  • Weight 16.40 oz 17.8 oz
  • Capacity 10+1 10+1

Model 43X Specs Compared to Glock 19

  • Glock 43x vs. Glock 19 Gen 4
  • Length 6.50” 7.28”
  • Height 5.04” 5.04”
  • Weight 16.40 oz 21.16 oz.
  • Capacity 10+1 15+1

Range Time

Indoor Range

The first range session for the G43X would come in Orange Park, FL at an indoor gun range named On Target Sports. That morning, I met with fellow Swanson Media Group writers Clint Steele and Jerry Moody. Aside from both gentlemen being firearms instructors like me, Clint also carries the original G43 as his daily concealed carry weapon.

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As we each loaded up and took turns firing through 10 round magazines, I could feel a slight beavertail in the backstrap of the frame which seemed to fit the web of my hand nicely. I had never noticed this feature in any of the other Glocks prior to shooting the G43X. For this test session, we ran a mix of 115 and 124 grain ammunition in full metal jacket and hollow points from quality manufacturers such as Hornady, Remington, Winchester and Blazer Brass.

Takeaways from the first 200 rounds through the G43X were simple. The gun was stiff right out of the box as expected. It felt different from other Glocks we have all shot, including the original G43, and it seemed to handle recoil very well. The small Glock digested everything we threw at it while showing impressive accuracy at standard defensive distances of 3 to 7 yards.

Outdoor Range

The next week, I met Clint and Jerry out at our private training grounds affectionately known as “The Swamp” for another morning of putting the G43X through its paces. This time, we ran simple bulk FMJ ammunition ranging from 115 and 124 grain from Remington and Winchester for consistency. Most shots during this session were taken at 5 and 10 yards for both speed and accuracy.

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As we worked through another 200 rounds, I noticed the G43X was responsive right out the gate. The trigger seemed smoother and the action felt less “snappy” than noted during the last range visit. As Jerry ensured we captured the best camera angles and action, Clint and I sped up our strings of fire and worked through a several combat accuracy drills. The G43X held up well through the drills and continued to provide some impressive accuracy along the way. Clint pointed out that he felt like he had more control of the gun’s recoil due to the longer grip in relation to his hands. For me, the grip size didn’t seem to factor into shooting as much as I have smaller hands than Clint. I have always felt like I had a full purchase on the original G43 grip even with my high placement on the gun, so anything longer was just wasted in some regard.

Takeaways from the second session: The gun continued to function reliably as Glocks are world famous for doing regardless of ammo choices. I did notice my shots were slightly higher on target at 7 yards with 115 grain ammo over 124 grain rounds. Using the 124 grain loads, the sights were dead on with the point of aim / point of impact at the ten-yard mark. For the difference between impacts at 7 and 10 yards with either load, it would be important to keep in mind if shooting a golf ball sized target area.

Purple Power

The next range session would come a couple of weeks later as my wife, Candace and I would teach a class for The Well Armed Woman Shooting Chapters group. The night was broken into two educational parts. The first is an hour in the classroom discussing the function and specifications of both the model G43X and G48. The second part is range-based as we run drills with both pistols.

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As the ladies moved from one shooting lane with the G43X to the G48, I surveyed their opinions on the guns. Firearm experience among the ladies varied from relatively new shooters to weekend competition shooters with the average age of the group being around 50 years old. Most liked the overall size of the 43X for concealed carry, but felt it had a noticeable “snap” to the recoil over the model 48. Everyone agreed the 43X gave them complete control over the gun when shooting and enjoyed the slim dimensions of the grip. I believe some of the ladies were surprised the degree of accuracy they were able to achieve with the small Glocks. I was happy the myth about solid accuracy only coming from larger guns was shattered for them.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I enjoyed shooting the Glock 43X. Personally, I continued to go back to my original G43 during several additional range sessions to compare the two pistols. For some reason, I always ended up shooting slightly better with my G43 over the G43X. At first, I thought maybe it was simply familiarization with the G43, but it wasn’t until I started shooting the new G48 that I discovered it was a matter of balance in my hand. While the G43X may have a longer grip for those with bigger hands, the barrel isn’t proportionately longer in relation. While shooting the original G43 design for over two years, I have become used to the balance in barrel length to grip ratio. I tend to perform better with the original pistol due to this comfort.

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In comparison to the other carry guns in my daily rotation, I liked the trigger and grip length of the G43X over the SIG P365 when shooting. The P365 is slightly easier to conceal and offers a tapered width that anchors into the palm a bit more than the G43X. I do like the lower sight placement on the G43X, although the factory white outlined U shape would be the first thing to go if I owned it. A good set of Trijicon HD or Night Fision sights would still sit lower than the sights on the P365 and be much more effective than the factory offering from Glock.

Obviously, the G43X is smaller and easier to conceal than my Gen 4 Glock 19. On the other hand, the G43X gives up five rounds in comparison to G19 and doesn’t manage recoil quite as effectively as its larger counterpart. As Clint also regularly carries a version of the G19X, he added that the G43 is a great option for those looking for a small, reliable gun with a full grip to appendix carry. The pistol’s shorter slide won’t dig into the upper thigh when seated and the longer grip aids to quickly drawing the gun from the holster and onto target.

With all the senseless legislation currently being passed, the G43X is a good option under magazine capacity laws. In the next article, we will explore the second pistol in this Glock series, the G48. It’s a dangerous world out there folks, Train Hard and Continue the Fight!