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Since the first Glock hit the market back in 1984, the company has established a reputation for quality and reliability—both key traits when considering any handgun. As more and more states allow their citizens to legally carry a handgun (open or concealed) in 2023, more and more people are interested in the Glock 43 vs. Glock 42 debate.
Will the two single-stack, striker-fired subcompact pistols measure up to each other? Let’s take a look.
Table of Contents
- 1 What’s the Difference Between Glock 42 & Glock 43?
- 2 Are There Similarities?
- 3 Comprehensive Comparison
- 3.1 Glock 42 & Glock 43 Pricing
- 3.2 Design & Ergonomics
- 3.3 Glock Ballistics
- 3.4 Accessories
- 3.5 Recoil
- 3.6 Size & Weight
- 3.7 Glock 42 vs 43 Trigger
- 3.8 Glock Pistol Safety
- 3.9 Sights
- 3.10 Ammunition
- 3.11 Accuracy
- 3.12 Capacity of Glock 42 & Glock 43
- 3.13 Stopping Power
- 3.14 Glock 42 Pros & Cons
- 3.15 Glock 43 Pros & Cons
- 4 Glock 42 or 43? Our Choice is…
What’s the Difference Between Glock 42 & Glock 43?
For starters, the G42 is a slightly slimmer and shorter pistol chambered in .380 ACP. The G43, on the other hand, is a slightly bigger handgun chambered in the larger 9mm caliber.
At first glance, you may fail to notice a number of differences between both firearms. But when compared side by side, you’ll see the G43 has a larger barrel length, a larger height and is just a tad larger overall.
Although both are made from the same high-strength, nylon-based polymer material, the G43 is a little heavier than its little brother.
- Caliber: .380 ACP Auto
- Barrel Length: 3.25 inch
- Overall Length: 5.94 inch
- Height (including magazine) : 4.13 inch
- Weight (with empty mag): 13.76 oz
- Weight (with loaded mag): 15.87 oz
- Trigger Distance: 2.40 inch
- Round Capacity: Standard – 6 / Optional – 6
- Caliber: 9 x 19 mm
- Barrel Length: 3.41 inch
- Overall Length: 6.26 inch
- Height (including magazine) : 4.25 inch
- Weight (with empty mag): 17.99 oz
- Weight (with loaded mag): 20.64 oz
- Trigger Distance: 2.56 inch
- Round Capacity: Standard – 6 / Optional – 6
Are There Similarities?
A number, actually. After the sub-compact 9mm Glock 42 successfully hit the market in 2014, the .380 Glock 43 was introduced the following year.
Both are extremely reliable, lighter than other comparable handguns, and very durable. Because there is a large (and often vocal) number of Glock customers worldwide, that has led to a huge number of after-market accessories being available for both models as well.
- Both are single-stack, striker-fired sub-compacts
- Both have a polymer frame, making them lightweight and durable
- Both come with three independent safeties (the Safe Action System)
- Both hold six rounds in the magazine
- Both are designed specifically for concealed carry
Read more: how single-stack, striker-fired sub-compacts work.
Glock 42 & Glock 43 Pricing
As of March 2023, the G42 retails for a little over $400 (depending on the retailer). The G43? Around $450 and that makes sense; its rounds are larger and more powerful, therefore necessitating a larger frame.
But both are harmless paperweights without ammunition, so that should factor into any decision you make if you’re comparing the two. On average, a box of .380 ACP ammo will cost a little more than a box of 9mm. Why? For one, the .380 ACP has surged in popularity over the past few years, to the point where demand often outweighs supply. The 9mm, on the other hand, is the world’s most popular military cartridge and a lot of manufacturers produce it. The more that’s produced, the lower the costs become.
Similar In-Depth Comparison: Glock 19 vs HK P2000
Design & Ergonomics
Both guns share the same frame (with the G42 simply being a scaled-down version). They’re not modular in nature, which means you can’t change out one back strap for another. And THAT means the best way to decide which one’s best for you is to physically grip one.
For the most part, both feel good in the hand. The primary difference for many shooters is their pinky placement. Most can comfortably rest their pinky finger on the magazine baseplate of the G42 when shooting, which makes recoil/second shots more manageable.
The G43? Because the distance from the trigger guard to the magazine baseplate is shorter than the same distance on the G42, many shooters find it difficult to grip without the pinky finger fighting for purchase. But remember Glock has one of the most extensive after-market accessory lines around. Replacing the magazine baseplate with a grip extension will increase both comfort and control.
We have personal experience with the Fab Defense Magazine Extender. In addition to improving grip, it adds 4 rounds for a total of 10 rounds in one clip.
Most single-stack Glock fans will attest to having little to no problems with feeding, ejecting, or firing the gun. Again, both are guns you can trust to work when you need them to.
When you load a Glock 43 with good 124-grain ammunition, you’ll get an average velocity of around 1,168 fps with roughly 376 ft.-lbs. of muzzle energy. That’s significantly more than a Glock 42 loaded with 90-grain ammunition. There you can expect an average velocity of 976 fps and muzzle energy of 190 ft. lbs.
If you’re looking for something with more destructive potential, the G43’s muzzle energy is far superior to the smaller G42. However, recent advancements in bullet manufacturing ensure the G42 is more than capable of stopping a threat.
As we’ve discussed, there’s no shortage of quality after-market Glock parts to choose from. That means you can customize your Glock 42 or 43 to fit almost any situation or desire.
Need a holster? There are countless options to choose from: Inside the Waistband (IWB), Outside the Waistband (OWB), pocket holsters, shoulder holsters and even ankle holsters. Almost all are available in either Kydex, leather or nylon.
You can buy magazine extensions to carry additional rounds. Or a threaded barrel that allows you to attach a suppressor. Or a new Hogue grip that feels better in the hand. You can even add a light, laser or red dot.
If you will be changing the factory-supplied sights, be sure to read this article.
This one comes down to basic physics. The heavier and faster the bullet, the more recoil it will generate. That said, the G43 generally has less felt recoil than the Glock 42. In fact, it’s actually a very soft shooter while the G42 is pretty snappy.
The reason is simple. Although the the G43 generates a lot more muzzle velocity, overall it’s a larger gun (in length, height, width and weight). This larger mass does a much better job of absorbing the recoil felt after every trigger pull.
But as it is with everything in life, practice makes perfect. The more you practice with either the Glock 43 or 42, the more comfortable you’ll become managing that recoil.
Size & Weight
When compared to other options out there, both the Glock 43 and 42 win in the size and weight category. They’re both fantastic firearms purposefully built for daily carry, so they’re smaller and lighter than many other options on the market.
That said, the G43 weighs around five ounces more (with a loaded magazine) than the G42. Part of this is due to its larger overall frame. It’s required so it can accommodate the larger, high-pressure 9mm rounds easier.
When you put both models side by side, you’ll immediately see the G42 is both shorter and thinner. Again, great for carrying but you may sacrifice a bit of control as a result.
Glock 42 vs 43 Trigger
The typical Glock trigger is reliable, durable, and very safe (which we’ll talk about later). For new gun owners, the Glock 42 and 43 are great straight out of the box. But a number of shooters claim the Glock trigger leaves a lot to be desired; it’s heavy and has a lot of creep (where the trigger literally moves and pauses before the actual break).
Testing has shown both models average around 6-7 pounds per trigger pull. That’s a fairly heavy trigger pull but understandable given both are designed for concealed carry. But installing a Glock Trigger Connector can reduce the trigger pull by over 2 pounds and provide a much shorter pull (which speeds up the firing process).
Glock Pistol Safety
A number of people wrongly believe a Glock pistol doesn’t have a safety. While it doesn’t have an external one in the conventional sense, it actually has three. The Glock Safe Action System includes three automatic, independently-operated mechanical safeties built into the fire control system of the pistol.
The first safety is the Trigger Safety. It’s a small lever incorporated into the trigger. To fire the pistol, the trigger safety and the trigger itself must be deliberately pulled at the same time.
The second safety is the Firing Pin Safety. This mechanically blocks the firing pin from moving forward in the ready-to-fire condition until the trigger is pulled rearward.
The final safety involves the Trigger Bar, which rests on the safety ramp within the trigger housing. As you pull the trigger, the Trigger Bar lowers and allows the release of the firing pin.
Both the G42 and G43 use the Safe Action System, making them safe and simple to use.
Both pistols come from the factory with the same type of sights. Standard Glock sights are made of plastic with a notched rear site and a white dot front sight. While the sights aren’t exactly bad, many shooters prefer to upgrade them.
Fortunately, there’s a wide selection of after-market sights to choose from (including night sights).
If you’re trying to decide if your next purchase should be a G42 or G43, there’s a good chance you’re looking for your next everyday carry (EDC) gun. With the G42 chambered in .380 ACP and the G43 firing a 9mm round, that should also factor into your decision.
Surprisingly enough, 9mm rounds are actually more affordable (in general) than .380 ACP ammunition. But as long as you’re using quality ammunition, both models are highly reliable and very trustworthy—two key qualities needed in any EDC gun.
When it comes to any subcompact pistol, you’re going to compromise a little accuracy for a smaller frame. That said, both the G42 and G43 are very accurate from a bench rest at 25 yards. Although the G42 packs less of a punch with its .380 ACP round, it’s actually easier to get back on target for a quick second shot due to its reduced recoil.
Capacity of Glock 42 & Glock 43
The G42 and G43 both use a standard magazine that holds six rounds (plus one in the chamber). For shooters wanting a little better control and one more round, you can purchase a magazine extension clip. This replaces the factory base plate providing one extra round of ammunition and a comfortable place to rest a pinky finger.
Keep in mind this can add ¾” of additional surface if you’re looking for the smallest carry frame possible, but we feel the added surface/round is worth it.
There’s something called the Hatcher Relative Stopping Power Index. It’s a formula used to assign a numerical figure to the wounding capabilities of a particular bullet or cartridge. Using it, the G43 holds the advantage with 45% stopping power compared to the G42’s 30%.
Here’s the deal: both the .380 ACP and 9mm fire the same 9mm-diameter bullet. The difference? The .380 ACP has a shorter overall case length. That means it holds less powder, resulting in less bullet penetration. If you’re judging both rounds by stopping power alone, the 9mm wins single-handedly.
However, cartridge technology has completely changed in recent years (especially in the realm of personal defense). Federal and Hornady in particular have pioneered new .380 ACP options that ensure the maximum amount of energy is transferred. In other words, anyone who doesn’t believe the .380 ACP round is an effective self-defense load hasn’t been paying attention.
If stopping power is what you’re after, we recommend checking out Remington 783 and 700 comparison article here.
Glock 42 Pros & Cons
Glock 43 Pros & Cons
Glock 42 or 43? Our Choice is…
If we’re forced to declare a winner between these two fantastic handguns, our choice would be the Glock 43. It simply has a lot to offer: better ballistics, more stopping power, and a thicker grip that just feels more comfortable in the hand.
But if you prioritize size, weight, and recoil for your next ECD, then a Glock 42 is the right one for you. Whichever choice you make, rest assured you’ll be getting a reliable handgun you can trust.