Compact 9mm Glock 43
When we first tested the Glock 43 Subcompact Slimline G43 two years ago, it earned a B+ in our evaluation In that evaluation, we noticed that the slide was narrow and nicely beveled. Glock did not simply stick a Glock 19 slide on a slim frame. The locked-breech operating system and trigger action are preserved. Anyone owning a Glock of any size or frame will be able to use this handgun in the same manner because the action is identical to all other Glock pistols.
Accurate enough for personal defense, reliable, and fast handling, the Glock performed well. It isn’t as accurate or as light kicking as the larger pistols, but neither is it inaccurate or a hard kicker.
The Glock 43 single-column magazine thin-frame version of the proven Glock 9mm handgun has proven very popular, even outperforming the Glock 26 9mm in sales, according to our gun-shop contacts. The Model 43 is light enough at 18 ounces. The grip frame fits most hands well. With the extended magazine in place, the grip was good for all but the largest hands, while with the flush-fit 6-round magazine in place, the small finger hung over. The other handguns, in contrast, offered a full firing grip with either type of magazine. The pistol is supplied with one flush-fit and one extended magazine, although the capacity is the same with either magazine. (Measurements in the specification box for each pistol reflect overall height and strap measurements with the extended magazine in place.)
The trigger action breaks at exactly the specified 5.5 pounds, one-tenth of a pound lighter than a Glock 43 carried by a rater. The pistol features a flat magazine release that isn’t likely to be inadvertently struck. The smaller the handgun the more likely of a problem in handling the slide lock or magazine release. The Glock flat magazine release is a good design. The slide lock is buried by a protecting swell in the grip frame. We like this a lot. When firing small-frame handguns with an appreciable kick, the thumb sometimes rides into the slide lock and locks the slide to the rear during a firing string. This isn’t going to occur with the Glock. Yet, with practice, the magazine release could be quickly manipulated.
The sights are standard Glock white-outline rear and white dot front. There are no forward cocking serrations. The rear serrations are adequate, and the slide isn’t difficult to rack. The grips are lightly pebbled, the simplest treatment of the four pistols tested. Overall, the pistol cannot be faulted on simplicity or function.
We tested the pistol with four types of ammunition. During the offhand-firing evaluation stage on the combat course, we used Blazer 115-grain FMJs ($10.99/50 rounds Brownells.com). For the accuracy evaluation, we used the American Eagle Syntech 115-grain round, the Black Hills Ammunition 115-grain +P ammo, and the Hornady 147-grain XTP. We also fired the Black Hills +P load during the offhand-firing evaluation. We felt that it was important to confirm reliability and control with a range of bullet weights and with a +P loading. We were surprised to find that the Black Hills Ammunition +P load averaged 1200 fps from the short-barrel 9mm handguns and delivered 360 or more foot-pounds of energy. This load gives the shooter confidence in the stopping potential of the 9mm handguns. However, this load was more controllable in the heavier guns and demands practice to master.
We began the firing evaluation with the Blazer FMJ loads. Drawing from a D. M. Bullard crossdraw holster, we fired at silhouette targets at 5, 7, and 10 yards. (As an aside, we found this holster is a good choice, especially when moving on the range and setting up targets and moving tools and notebooks. The handgun is out of the way when holstered.) The Glock gave acceptable results. However, toward the end of the firing test, the short grip began to slip in the hand and recoil was more noticeable. We fired a magazine of the +P loading in all pistols to evaluate recoil. The Glock 43 did not sting the hand or twist uncomfortably in recoil, but it would take an experienced shooter to control +P loads in this handgun. Firing from the benchrest, we found the Glock was consistent in accuracy, with five-shot groups averaging 3 inches on average at 15 yards, making it the least-accurate pistol tested. It was controllable, but the other pistols were easier to shoot well, our testers said.
Our Team Said: If you need a truly compact handgun from these four, the Glock 43 is the lightest handgun tested and the most compact. It is the only pistol that might be acceptable for pocket carry, given large pockets.