By Paul Helinski
One of the biggest stories at SHOT Show for 2014 is a new single-stack .380ACP 6+1 from Glock called the Model 42. We were able to get a first look at the gun, and it is a lot of gun in a very small package. Most important, it is a Glock, and that carries a lot of weight with gun buyers in the market. Known for their ubiquitous “safe action” pistols, Glock is perhaps the biggest name in pistols in the gun world. The G42, at 13.6 ounces, 6 inches long tip to tail, 4 inches high from the top of the sight to the bottom of the magazine, and 13/16ths of an inch thick, is slightly bigger and heavier than the other micro .380s in the market, but small enough to be pocketed comfortably. The barrel is about 3 3/16ths or 3.2 inches long. The G42 handles much better than the tiniest of the pocket .380s, and we were able to shoot it into less than one-inch groups at 10 yards with Winchester range ammo. The only hiccup was that the G42 didn’t like Hornady Critical Defense, but that could be just because this is an early writer sample, and it is a brand new gun of course. The best carry gun is always going to be the gun you will actually carry and that you shoot well. A nice light, small and easy-shooting Glock .380 has been long awaited. We don’t have a projected MSRP for it yet, but as an everyday concealed-carry gun, this new Glock 42 should do very well.
This isn’t the first single stack for Glock. The G36 is a .45ACP six-shot that is slightly larger than this gun. What is interesting about the G42 is that until now Glock has not offered a .380 at all into the consumer market. The G25 and G28 are offered to law enforcement only for some reason, and as of this writing, the Glock website specifically says that “In the USA, the G28, and every GLOCK .380 Auto, is reserved for law enforcement agencies only.” So this is not only a new gun for Glock, it is also a new consumer caliber to support.
Testing the gun was somewhat confusing. Winchester range .380, the kind you used to be able to find at Walmart, ran perfectly in the G42. This is odd because the flat points on them have jammed a number of small semi-autos over the years. On the flip side though, usually we can rely on the 90 grain Hornady Critical Defense .380 to run in pretty much any gun, but the G42 just didn’t like it. We got stovepipe jams, and when the shell did eject properly, the action didn’t go into battery fully. All tiny guns are ammo-sensitive, but this one just didn’t make sense. How could it be an extractor or recoil spring issue when the cheap ammo works great and the expensive ammo doesn’t? I just ordered some (expensive) Remington Golden Saber to see how that runs in the gun. Its hollowpoint profile is a lot like the flat point Winchester range rounds.
Imagine my shock when I turned in my best-ever 10-yard rested group with a semi-auto pistol using the G42, and … you guessed it, those Winchester white box range rounds. Overall I shot about a box of 100 with the G42, and most of my groups were in the 1” range, with many of them under that, shooting a hot gun. Again, the Hornady Critical Defense didn’t do as well, though the 4” or so groups were more like what I usually shoot at 10 yards. Offhand I certainly couldn’t match my rested groups, but I found the G42 to be extremely manageable and easy to keep on target. Throughout my shooting, I noticed that the trigger pull was unusually heavy for a Glock. Later I measured it at almost 10 lbs., which proves that a heavy trigger pull, as long as it is smooth and doesn’t drag, is not necessarily a hindrance to good shooting. The final break on the trigger is difficult, but it is clean and doesn’t have any creep. If you use the pad of your index finger to pull the trigger, and not your knuckle, the pull is fine. Again, though, this is an early writer gun. Often they are rougher than the consumer production models.
There are no real surprises on the G42. The sights are plastic (ho hum). The six-round magazine is the standard Glock metal inside and plastic outside. Our test gun came with two, and we have no word as to whether extended magazine will be available. The grip as it is will be a two-finger grip for all but the smallest shooters, who may fit three. The takedown process is drop the mag, lock the slide back, pull down the takedown lever, release the slide and pull the trigger. The slide assembly slides off the front, and from there you can easily remove the dual-recoil spring and barrel for cleaning. One nice thing about Glocks is that you can virtually guarantee that there will be holsters available from pretty much everyone for the G42. This gun would be ideal for inside the waistband, in Thunderwear or other deep-conceal rigs, and of course in the pocket or purse inside of a Kydex holster. For many, the punch of the .380 cartridge is plenty, and the light weight and small frames of these micro guns are all they are willing to carry. If you have been looking for a .380 micro but didn’t feel comfortable with the cheesy and cheap feel of many of them, check out the Glock 42. It isn’t as tiny as some of the other .380s out there, but it is a Glock.