Confession time friends. Though I am a big fan of Glock and have an absolute gaggle of them in various calibers, I’ve never owned one of the new slimline models. Nor reviewed one. That isn’t to say I haven’t shot them. I have several friends that opted for the G43 when it came out, which means I have thrown plenty of range rounds. The 43 just… didn’t really do it for me.
Now I know that a slim, single-stack 9mm was absolutely what the Glock audience clamored for. For years. And Glock did succeed in making a tiny, thin pistol that was still Combat Tupperware at heart. But I had two complaints about the original, that are highly personal. A lot of that had to do with timing, not the gun itself.
First of all, the original 43 was small. Now that sounds like a stupid complaint about a CCW pistol, I know. But for my preferences, it was in fact just not enough. One could make the argument that it would do a better job of deep concealment that way, and I get it. But for my usual needs, I can get away with just a bit bigger. Which is also easier to handle and shoot, while staying below the G-19 size threshold.
The second issue I had with the 43 comes from that bump in size and capacity. If I wanted a gun just a tiny bit bigger, I could find one with a matching capacity, but in 45 ACP. At the risk of committing heresy to the modern caliber thinkers, I will always choose the bigger bullet if the number of bullets has to be the same. I don’t dislike 9mm, but I expect to get a few more in the pipe as the trade-off. Bullet to bullet matched, I’m going with the ashtray.
Which brings us to the 43X. X, in Glock speak, is a new series of guns that I call hybrids. The hybrid part meaning a shorter slide, with a longer grip. One of my favorite new guns is the 19X, which is basically a G19 slide melded with a G17 grip. The G43X retains the slim, short 3.41-inch barrel of the 43, but extends the grip by 3/4ths of an inch.
And it is a critical 3/4ths of an inch. That difference feels remarkable in the hand. I can get all my fingers on the grip, as well as more support hand palm, which enhances shoot ability by a huge margin. This also increases capacity from 6 to 10 in the magazine, a margin that makes me more comfortable going down to 9mm. Plus, the aftermarket loves Glock. Our friends at Gun Mag Warehouse sent over the ETS 19 rounders, which solves a lot of problems on the reload.
Feeling one at the gun store was enough to engage my curiosity, and I’m glad it did. The 43X puts Glock back on the table for my CCW needs, and then it just gets better. The 43X has a built in beavertail to the frame, to prevent “ Glock bite” if you have bear paws. This is an option via backstrap replacement on other Gen 5 Glocks, and a design change I like a lot. On the subcompacts, it is an outstanding idea to just be built in.
My test 43X shipped with the Ameriglo Bold sights from the factory, which I highly recommend. The sight features a tritium center, which does the job of night shooting. But new for this generation of sight is a super bright orange outer ring, for daily light visibility. The Ameriglo’s easily compete with fiber optic fronts for rapid daytime acquisition, while keeping a night option onboard. This is an excellent development in sights, and I could not be more happy Glock offers it as a factory option.
The second defining feature of the G43X has to be its trigger. I shoot Glocks all the time, and I was present for the first media event introducing the Gen 5 guns. While the Gen 5 family has supposedly a better factory trigger, the improvement on the full-size guns is marginal. Yes, it is better than Gen 4 or 3 out of the box. But not that much better. Something really changed with the slimline guns. The 43X trigger feels like a Gen 3 with a LOT of work done to it, and that is a high compliment. I would dare call it the best out of the box trigger in a Glock to date. By a long shot.
A lot of 43X reviews advertise the overall width at 1 inch, which is not exactly true. The slide is only .87 inches wide, while the frame does flair out a bit to 1.06 inches. That is not a huge margin, but it does make the 43X feel extremely thin while carrying. Don’t write this off as “just as thin” as competitors. To get one that “feels” as small, you would have to go down to a Kel—Tec PF9.
And that reflected in carrying. Using both an IWB and OWB from Crucial Concealment, I found the 43X to be remarkably comfortable. I have often reflected that width matters in CCW, and grip length is largely negligible. The 43X fits that bill. It is almost unnoticeable in the waist band, and the grip disappears even under a t-shirt. Point Glock, all around.
Shooting the 43X is where the money really gets made. Especially if you carry a full size Glock for duty or competition. Despite carrying a different CCW brand for the last 7 years, I found myself instantly indexing the 43X. It points and shoots like a Glock, because it is a Glock. Which is very hard to argue with. After one range session, I found myself questioning my personal choice in carry. Which is about the highest praise I can give.
It ran flawlessly. It says Glock on the side, is that really a surprise? Moving on then.
Okay, let’s talk about the elephant in the room, the 10 round capacity. Now all things being equal, I would have to ding the 43X here for only 10. Because it is competing with the P365XL at 12 rounds, and the Springfield Armory Hellcat at 13. Now is +2 or +3 enough to really matter, in a CCW confrontation? Probably not. But it is less bullets, and I’m not gonna ignore that reality. So while 10 is probably plenty, I would have to rate the 43X at like 4.5 stars out of 5.
The aftermarket fixed the problem. In probably the greatest non factory move of all time, a company called Shield Arms stepped into the breech for Glock. Shield Arms manages to up the capacity to 15, in a flush fit magazine. What is this witchcraft? Glad you asked.
The big change is the magazine material. Glock builds magazines one way, polymer over steel. Which we really can’t fault, because Glock mags are tough as nails. Glock mags are so good, almost every Pistol Caliber Carbine on Earth is built to use them. But, it does take real estate to craft them this way. Polymer is thick at the appropriate rigidness, which eats up space in the magwell.
So Shield Arms essentially pirated the architecture of a P365 or Hellcat magazine and built it for the Glock. The all-steel magazine is thinner than the factory model and allows something like a 1.5 stack. Not a true double stack, but similar to how Sig crammed 12 into the P365 magazine. And for the 43X, it is game changing.
With the Shield Arms add on (and recommended Shield Arms steel magazine release), the 43X actually passes its competitors in capacity. Flush fit, the 43X overall length is very close to either the P365 with a 12 rounder, or the Hellcat with 13. But the 43X now has a capacity of 15.
Oh, you wanted more? Good. Shield Arms also makes a baseplate for their magazine that bumps capacity to 20. Which is an insane amount of bullets for a gun this size. I was skeptical, but the Shield Arms magazines run flawlessly.
Which makes the 43X a serious contender for best CCW gun of all time. Even at 10 rounds, from the factory, the 43X is pretty damn good. But boosted with Shield Arms mags? This is a package that is very hard to beat.