The problem with a carry gun is carrying it. A hardcore gun aficionado might be fine about lugging around a full-size 1911 or big striker-fired handgun like the Glock 17, but most people aren’t. The truth is, a full-size gun is heavy and hard to hide. It will pull your pants down and by the end of the day it will make your back hurt.
The other end of the carry spectrum is comprised of the tiny, polymer frame micro .380 handguns. They are small, light and easy to carry, but many believe that the .380 is underpowered. The guns themselves are difficult to shoot under stressful conditions and it’s often hard to hit anything beyond powder-burn distance. What the world needed was something with the best of both worlds.
Then, in 2012, along came the S&W M&P Shield–a striker-fired, polymer-frame handgun that created such a brand new category of carry guns. The guns are smaller than a sub-compact but larger than a micro pistol. Most important, they are chambered for grown-up defensive cartridges like the 9mm and .40 S&W.
I am not sure what the category should be called. Neither is the gun industry, as nobody has settled on a decent acronym yet (and you are nothing in the gun industry today without an acronym. Maybe SM for Super-Micro? SSC for Sub-Sub-Compact? TLHTC, for The Little Handgun That Could? Well, maybe not that last one.).
Anyway, while I still carry full-size guns a lot, I find that I’m moving more and more into this unnamed category of handgun for my everyday carry. And Glock recently entered the category with its new G43, a single-stack 9mm that they call a “Sub-Compact Slimline.” While they are a bit late to the party, as always, they did it up Glock style. This gun looks like a miniature version of every other Glock, and like every other Glock, it runs like a champ.
This little 9mm has a six-round extended magazine and comes with a spare non-extended magazine that also holds six rounds. The gun is 6.26 long, 4.25 inches high, and is just over an inch thick. It weighs about 18 ounces empty and 22.4 ounces loaded, which makes it the smallest 9mm Glock, but not the smallest 9mm on the market.
The main compromise with the G43 is its six-round magazine capacity. The full size G17 holds 17 rounds in the magazine; the sub-compact double stack Glock G26 holds 10. Critics point out that the main competition of the G43, the S&W Shield, holds eight 9mm cartridges in the magazine. The Ruger LC9s holds seven. Glock built the brand on high-magazine capacity, but apparently lost focus of that with this handgun.
The slender grip is small and short and will fit even a small person’s hand. My wife has small hands and says this pistol fits her just fine. I have wide hands, and the extended magazine allows all of my fingers on the gun (barely), but the other non-extended magazine that comes with the gun leaves my pinky in limbo with no place to land. But I still find the gun easy enough to control, particularly with the extended magazine.
A lot of Glock shooters with big hands are familiar with its slide bite, which occurs when the slide hits the web of your hand when shooting. That will not only jam the gun, but also make a bloody mess of your hand. A beavertail on the grip of the G43 helps position your hand high to control recoil, but keeps it protected from the slide.
This is pretty much a Glock in every other way. Glock fans will recognize the unique 108-degree grip angle and the striker-fired trigger, although I will point out that the trigger is much harder to pull than the advertised 5.5 pounds. Mine measures two pounds more than that. The white outline rear and front white dot sights are traditional Glock plastic. There is a large magazine release in the grip. The mags are plastic with a stamped metal liner.
Glocks typically run without problems, and my G43 is no exception. The gun is so dependable that it’s boring. All factory ammo I fed it was ingested and expelled without drama.
It’s a very “shootable” handgun and I have spent quite a bit of time running drills and smacking around my MGM plate rack with the gun. As with any Glock, I have to adjust to the grip angle if I have been shooting other makes. But after a few magazines it starts to feel natural and I find that I can shoot this gun very well.
It’s easier to make fast and accurate hits with the G43 than with any of the 380 mini-guns I’ve shot. While doing defensive drills out to 15 yards, I find that it acts more like a large pistol than a micro, making fast and decisive hits relatively easy.
I didn’t do any formal testing of accuracy, as that’s not an important function of this class of gun. But I often start a training session by shooting slow fire at a one-inch square group from five yards. The goal is to put every shot on the paster, which makes the shooter focus on the fundamentals of sight alignment, grip, and trigger pull. This gun is as capable of keeping them all on the paster as any Glock I have tried.
The G43 is right on the outer edge of “pocket” size. It can be carried in a pocket holster, but it’s a little large even for a man’s bigger pockets. Most women will find it too large for a front-pants-pocket carry, but there are already lots of holsters on the market, in which it carries nicely.
The G43 is compact, light and easy to conceal. While the bulk and weight of a full-size gun can be a burden and a constant reminder, I often forget I am wearing a gun when I carry the G43.
This G43 will no doubt become a best seller in this category. The dealers I have talked with said they go out the door as fast as they get them, and it’s rare for a G43 to spend even one night in their shops. If you are looking for an easy-to-conceal carry gun, this little mini-Glock is pretty hard to beat.
GLOCK 43 SPECIFICATIONS
Action: Semi-auto, striker-fired Caliber: 9X19 MM
Magazine: Single stack, 6-round
Overall length: 6.26 inches
Width: 1.02 inches
Height: 4.25 inches
Weight: 17.95 oz. unloaded; 22.4 oz. loaded
Slide: Machined steel
Barrel: Length: 3.39 inches
Trigger Pull: 5.5 pounds (advertised), 7.5 pounds (author’s test gun)