G42 Sub Compact GLOCK

Glock 42 Subcompact Slimline 380 ACP

Worries about this GLOCK being too big just weren’t supported in our daily carry experiences.

Glock g42 380

Many concealed-carry customers pooh-pooh pistols chambered in 380 ACP as being under powered for self defense, but they may well be in the vocal minority, because sales of 380-chambered handguns and ammunition continues apace, with more of the smallish sidearms finding their way into pockets and purses than ever before. It can be argued, in fact, that Glock kept seeing its rivals sell so many inexpensive-to-make pocket pistols that the Austrians were forced into the U.S. 380 ACP market with the G42 just so they could grab a slice of the ever-growing pocket-pistol pie.

Worries about this Glock being too big just weren’t supported in our daily carry experiences.  With a Viridian green laser on it, we’d bump up the grade to an A- and probably buy it.

The Glock 42 came in a plastic pistol case that contained a cable lock, manual, cleaning brush, and Glock patch and window sticker. In the case were two 6-round polymer magazines. The front sight was a black polymer front blade screwed into the top of the slide. The rear sight was also black polymer with a white squared U-shape framing the front-sight white dot. The rear sight was drift adjustable for windage. The frame and slide had marks designating that the gun was made in Georgia. Safeties include a firing pin safety and drop safety, as well as the lever in the Safe Action Trigger, but no conventional safety. The G42 is a single-action semi-auto that’s striker fired. The extractor serves as a loaded-chamber indicator. When the chamber is loaded, the extractor pivots out from the slide. The slide is black stainless steel with six rear serrations. The frame is, of course, black polymer, and the grip had a Gen4-like texture, but not as aggressive as on other Glocks. Warranty is a limited one-year agreement.

Our Team Said: The Glock’s accessory package was the best, in our view, if we set aside the SIG’s laser for now and deal with it in the sights section. However, the SIG was a close second for the excellent holster that allowed open, load, and carry use out of the box. Only the Glock came with more than one magazine.

Our shooters had some disagree-ments about the operations of the tested guns. In early handling, women and men with compromised grip strength vetoed the Kahr, grading its 19-pound slide retraction effort as an F. (Basically, this is a measure of the recoil spring strength, along with the slide’s slickness, texture, and slide height.) The Glock at 15 pounds bothered some women, and the Colt was stiff as well, but not as bad at 14 pounds. The SIG at 9 pounds of slide retraction effort with broad, easy-to-grasp serrations was the winner in this crucial area.

Assessing the controls was next, and our testers agreed that the Kahr and the Glock were brain-dead simple to operate. Neither had external controls other than the magazine release to fuss with, a marked contrast from the single-action SIG and Colt pistols with one-side and ambi safety levers, respectively.


Here we're chronographing the SIG with Winchester ball ammo. Gloves helped with the grip on these short-frame pistols.

We expected the single-action handguns to easily beat the DAs, but that wasn’t the case. The SIG’s single-action break weight averaged out to be 8.0 pounds, but its break range was from 6.8 pounds to 8.8 pounds, depending on where the trigger finger met the shoe. At the bottom of the shoe, where the finger dragged on the guard, the break weight was lower. In the middle of the shoe, the break weight was higher. The inconsistency was irritating, of course. The Colt’s trigger-pull weight was marginally lighter at 7.5 pounds, but it had a spongy and indistinct break point. Still, they were better than the Kahr’s double-action break, which came at 6.4 pounds. Trigger travel to break on the Kahr was 0.65 inches, a long, gooey mess wherein the initial pull on the trigger didn’t require much effort, but then a second stage readying the action to fire occurred near the back of the trigger guard. The Glock likewise had its trademark take-up, but it broke consistently at 7.9 pounds.

Our Team Said: We had some early malfunctions with all four, mainly failures to feed the blockish Winchester rounds, but those issues worked themselves out. The Glock could be used and understood by most shooters immediately, and it had the best trigger in this test. Before buying one, however, all women and many men should check to see if they can operate its slide.

Sights & Accuracy
This was another area in which our testers disagreed. The function of these firearms are as portable, carry-anywhere self-defense guns, and their sights aren’t made to win matches. How much aiming does a concealed-carrier have to do with a bad guy 15 feet away? The Glock sights were much better, in our opinion, and the lasers made us able to shoot them on par with much bigger guns. We  added a Viridian Green Laser, just announced for the Glock 42, to our test gun. Viridian’s R5-G42 Reactor is the first green laser for the G42, and this model automatically ignites instantly when drawn from a supplied leather and polymer holster. Additional holster options are available from many holster manufacturers.

Unquestionably, the lasers helped our shooters’ accuracy. Shooting Winchester 95-grain FMJs, the average group size with a laser was 1.2 inches for the Glock and 1.8 inches for the SIG, noticeably better than we could do with the open sights (1.7 and 3.0 inches, respectively.) We saw the same group-size decrease with the Prvi Partizan 94-grain FMJs, with the Glock at a laser-aided 1.2 inches compared to open sights at 3.7 inches, and on the SIG, 1.8 inches with the factory laser and a whopping 4.0 inches with open sights. The trend continued with Hornady Critical Defense 90-grain FTEs, with the Glock and laser/open sights at 1.7/3.3 inches and the SIG at 1.6/2.8 inches.

Looking at only the open-sights results, the Glock was the most accurate with the Winchester fodder, 1.7 inches, followed by the Kahr (1.8), Colt (2.2) and SIG (3.0). With the Partizan, the Kahr led at 2.3 inches, followed by the Colt (2.5), Glock (3.7), and SIG (4.0). With Hornady rounds, the Kahr was again most accurate at 2.5 inches, followed by the SIG (2.8), Glock (3.3), and Colt (3.7). The SIG’s night sights didn’t seem to contribute much in getting rounds on target.

Glock G42 Viridian

The thumb of this woman’s hand is elevated here to show contouring on the grip — this isn’t a firing grip. but you can see how the slightly taller frame accommodates about two-and-a-half fingers. also, notice the Viridian Green laser on the front. It took about 5 minutes to install and vastly improved accuracy.

Glock G42 380 ACP Pearce Grip Extension.jpg

If you install a $10 Pearce Grip extension, three fingers can hold the gun.

Glock G42 Field Stripped

Takedown is the standard Glock process.


gun tests reviews

Originally Published November 2014

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