As the great philosopher Jimmy Buffett once said, “Indecision may or may not be my problem.”
True words, especially when talking about concealed carry handguns. We can’t seem to make up our minds about what we want to carry. Is bigger better? Or does size not matter as long as you have the skills?
Back in the days when cordless landlines were a hot commodity, the rage was to carry so-called Wonder-nines: pistols with double-stack magazines and a whopping 15 or so rounds at the ready. Those were, and still are, comparatively large-end heavy, although the advent of polymer frames made a big dent in the weight specs. As the number of concealed carriers went from zero to somewhere approaching 20 million, manufacturers clued in to the basic human want for convenience and started to produce smaller and smaller carry pistols. KelTecs, Ruger LCPs and the like sold in the trillions (maybe that’s a slight exaggeration) because they are effortless to conceal and carry. In the red-ink column, those guns are harder to shoot well, especially under stress, and have limited capacity.
The Glock 43X is almost identical to the new Glock 48. The 48 barrel and slide is just a hair longer. (Photo by Tom McHale)
More recently, we seem to be following the pendulum back to the middle. As a shining example, consider the Glock 43X. The latest in the Glock Slimline series, this nifty little pistol finds the perfect carry balance point, at least in my opinion. Like many others, I went through the same big-to-tiny carry evolution. My first carry gun was a Beretta 92 full-sized model (not exactly a diminutive pistol). A year or so later, I figured that smaller is easier and followed the crowd into the KelTec and LCP craze (that was until I figured out that I was not nearly as confident shooting a micro-gun as I was with something more hand-filling). As a fun exercise to illustrate this point, try shooting a Steel Challenge course with a compact or full-sized gun, then do it again with a subcompact. Anyway, the Glock 43X sways just enough to the larger side of the spectrum to make it easy to shoot well. So, with all that said, let’s take a closer look at the Glock 43X from a concealed carry perspective.
The Glock 43 makes a fine carry pistol. It’s easy to conceal — owing to its thin 1.06-inch width, short barrel and short grip. However, for me, the grip is the downside. It’s a two-finger affair, and its short height limits standard capacity to six in the magazine.
The Glock 43X shares the same 3.41-inch barrel and only adds .04 inches to overall width. This provides a full-height grip surface that allows most anyone to get all fingers in place without use of a pinky or magazine extension. Overall dimensions are 6.5 inches long and 5.04 inches tall. That makes all the difference to me for shooting performance.
The grip texture is mild, so carrying inside the waistband won’t cause undue skin abrasion. (Photo by Tom McHale)
Except for weight and the taller profile of the 43X (5.04 inches compared to 4.25 inches for the 43), the two pistols are practically identical. The 43X, with its taller magazine, adds just .71 ounces to the 43’s 17.99-ounce weight with an empty magazine. Of course, when you add the four additional 9mm cartridges in the 43X, you’ll see a 3-plus-ounce increase in loaded weight.
While I can’t quite put my finger on the specifics, the 43X has a very un-Glock-like grip. For me, that means it fits the hand perfectly. I’ve always found Glock grips too rectangular for my taste. Sure, I can shoot them, and would have no problem doing so on a daily basis, but given the choice, I’ll always go for a more rounded profile. That gives me more hand-to-grip contact and better overall control. The 43X has a grip that just fits. The single-stack design allows a little more contour on the exterior of the grip.
The other ergonomic benefit is that the “medium-ish” size means you don’t have to resort to hand and finger contortions to press the trigger. Many guns are simply too small for me, so I have to make a deliberate effort to withdraw my finger from the trigger guard to get a first joint or pad placement. With the 43X, my trigger finger rests naturally on the first joint, which is fine with me. On larger guns, I generally prefer a pad placement. I’ve noticed no ill effects using the crease placement with this pistol though.
Glock 43X Specs
The Glock 43X height allows use of a 10-round single-stack magazine, so carry capacity is 11. The pistol ships with two magazines and the standard Glock magazine-loading tool.
The 43X comes with a two-tone finish and includes front cocking serrations. (Photo by Tom McHale)
The 43X varies from tradition in its appearance. It is currently only available in a two-tone configuration with a black polymer frame and brushed stainless-steel slide. Cocking serrations are on both front and back of that slide, so if you’re into press checks, you’re all set with this pistol. There’s no rail up front, and that aids the ease of carry and concealment. The dust cover forward of the trigger guard is well-rounded and slim for easy IWB carry.
The controls are standard Glock, as is the safe-action design. The magazine release is generously sized. With my large hands, I can activate it without changing my firing grip. The first joint of my thumb falls on the button, and that works just fine.
|Length||Slide Length||Width||Slide Width||Height (with Mag)||Trigger Distance||Weight (Empty Mag)|
|6.5 inches||6.06 inches||1.10 inches||0.87 inches||5.04 inches||2.64 inches||18.70 ounces|
Shooting the 43X
This Glock was easy to shoot well. To rule out the “me factor,” I asked my range officer buddy and a few friends to burn some ammo. All reported the same results: low recoil and easy shooting. The trigger is a bit heavier than standard Glocks at 6 pounds (according to my spring scale). I measured that weight from the center of the trigger itself. Pulling a bit farther down reduced the measured weight by about a pound.
I tested the 43X with a variety of traditional self-defense ammo, including Federal HST 124 grain, SIG Sauer V-Crown 124 grain, SIG Sauer 365 V-Crown 115 grain and Hornady American Gunner XTP 115 grain. All functioned flawlessly, and the 3.41-inch barrel generated average velocities ranging from a low of 1,080.3 feet per second for the SIG 365 to a high of 1,117 for the 124-grain SIG V-Crown. I also tested a couple of specialty loads: DoubleTap’s Lead Free 77 grain and the Inceptor ARX 74 grain. Both are light for caliber and left the muzzle at 1,361 and 1,448.3 feet per second. For fun, I also shot plenty of two practice loads: SIG Sauer FMJ 115 grain and American Eagle Syntech 115 grain. As with the hollow-points, both of these ran without a hitch.
I did some sandbag accuracy testing with the same ammo from 15 yards and measured average five-shot group size. All of the defensive loads printed groups well under 2 inches, with the best of the day coming from the Hornady offering at just 0.87 inches. The Federal HST and SIG V-Crown measured 1.73 and 1.62 inches.
The Glock 43X is ideal for inside-the-waistband (IWB) carry. Its rounded contours make it feel slimmer than the 1.06-inch width indicated in the specs. I spent some time with this pistol carried in a Tulster IWB/AIWB holster. The Tulster is an all-Kydex minimalist design with a single large belt clip. The Kydex shell keeps the profile thin to complement the Glock 43X’s small proportions. This holster is designed to work as a traditional inside-the-waistband model, or you can use it for appendix carry. I gave appendix carry a go with the Tulster and Glock 43X combination, and it’s quite workable. Being a more traditional guy, I did spend more time with this rig tucked into the 3:30 carry position on my hip. Whatever your placement preference, this combination is easy to carry and conceal, yet the full-height grip allows you to effortlessly get a proper firing grip at the start of the draw.
I paired the Glock 43X with this Tulster Kydex IWB/AIWB holster. The minimalist design was perfect for this slim pistol. (Photo by Tom McHale)
That same grip-size benefit rules out the Glock 43X for ankle carry, at least for most people. Sure, you can do it, but the grip will likely extend too far back and hinder proper concealment.
The Bottom Line
After spending some time with the Glock 43X, I can say this is an ideal carry pistol. It offers the benefits of light weight, slim profile and easy concealment. Those are attributes shared by quite a few pistols. What’s more unique in this case is the handling. With this model, Glock has found the perfect balance, in my opinion, between portability and ease of shooting. It’s a pistol you’ll want to take to the range for an afternoon of plinking. More importantly, its ease of handling provides the confidence you’ll want should you ever have to use it in a less recreational situation.