Glock changed the game in the 1980s when Gaston Glock patented the Glock 17, an extremely light-weight, striker-fired pistol with a polymer frame. Not a lot has honestly changed from that monumental design, but the scale has definitely changed over time and with different models.
Table of Contents
The Glock 19 is perhaps the most popular concealed carry and tactical handgun in existence today. It’s a compact 9mm that holds 15 rounds of ammunition, but this explanation is probably unnecessary because my guess is that you, dear reader, own one already. And you should. It’s versatility allows for you to carry it concealed in any position (though I would discourage you from using an ankle holster with a G19), but you can also slap a Surefire X-300 on it and use it for tactical purposes.
Unfortunately, it’s not for everyone. Some men and many women find the blocky Glock grip to be too fat. My own wife, all 5’2” 115lb of her, can’t get a good enough purchase with her index finger AND maintain an acceptable grip with a straight wrist. This leads to limp wristing which leads to malfunctions, which can lead to really bad things happening.
If you try and go smaller with the diminutive G26, you get a different issue. Now people with large hands can’t get more than 2 fingers on the grip without the aid of a different magazine extension. For small handed folks, they still have the same old problem of having a fat grip with the additional issue of a shortened grip.
Something else to consider is that many subcompact handguns are in a smaller, anemic caliber like .32 automatic or .380. I have a Walther PPK/S and it’s a fine gun for more than one reason. It’s a cool historical gun that functions well and it’s small enough I can wear it in more formal attire, a la our favorite MI6 officer. The problem is that I’m not a fan of .380. I feel a lot more comfortable carrying a 9mm, but I hate the grip on a G26 and often a G19 is a tad too big.
Enter the G43x and the G48.
The Glock 43x and Glock 48 are intriguing submissions to solving the problem of grip sizes for all shooters. Essentially, the G48 is a single-stack Glock 19. Same height and length, but the G48 has a slimmer profile by shaving off almost 1/6” (or 4mm, if you please). The G43x takes it a step further by trimming off about ¾’’ from the length of the G19 and G48 while retaining the slimmer slide profile.
Here are the specs in black and white, straight from Glock:
|Glock 19||Glock 48||Glock 43x|
|Width (at widest point)||1.26”||1.10”||1.10”|
|Height (with mag)||5.04”||5.04”||5.04”|
|Weight (with empty mag)||23.63 oz||20.74 oz||18.7 oz|
Look and Feel
The changes are quite obvious when you see a Glock 19 and a G43x side by side. I’ve always thought Glocks in general were fat and ugly, but completely utilitarian at the same time. Once I went to the range and saw it next to the newer slimline Glocks, it looked gargantuan. Think Lena Dunham walking down the runway stuffed into a… never mind. Please don’t think about that and please continue to read. I’m sorry. Anyways, the G43x looks drop dead sexy. When I picked it up, my pinky finger still barely hangs on just like my G19, but I can grip it so much tighter with just one hand (that’s what she said).
I handed the G43x to my wife and she instantly smiled. She brought her support hand up and could actually get a correct master’s grip. As you can see on the spec sheets above, that’s because Glock was able to reduce the length between the back strap and the front of the trigger significantly. My wife generally carries a STI 2011 Guardian and she’s an excellent shot with it. However, the STI is a beast compared to this G43x. The G48 is very similar in that it points well and feels extremely light in the hand.
With the Gen 5 Glocks, they have finally given us slide serrations at the muzzle end of the slide straight from the factory. Both the G43x and G48 has these slide serrations, boring and angular but supremely functional. My wife is a small human being and she needs all the purchase she can get to rack the slide on these smaller pistols, not to mention that I almost exclusively use the front slide serrations to both check and charge my pistols if available. The front end of the slide is also rounded off quite a bit, which will no doubt help with holstering, particularly in leather holsters.
First Range Experience
I’m lucky in that I have a range fairly close to my house that allows you to rent a decent variety of pistols before you decide on what to purchase. I took my wife to the range and we rented both the G43x and G48, shooting them next to my wife’s STI Guardian. This was purely a familiarization range trip so we could decide which was right for us, so we only shot about 150 rounds out of each pistol.
G48 and G43x
Neither one of us could really tell much of a difference between the two pistols. The only difference between the G48 and G43x is that the G43x has a shorter slide/ barrel length by 0.79”. If I’m shooting without a red dot on a pistol, I generally prefer for as long a sight radius as I can get. I shoot a 5” STI Marauder for competition and that extra sight radius helps me line up longer shots, but I haven’t really tried a course of fire with a shorter gun to see if it really does make a difference or if all the “muh sight radius” is internet science. Either way, neither of us could tell the difference in practical application of both pistols. Both pistols shot very well with zero malfunctions.
The trigger was pure Glock, a little spongey but very predictable. It’s not bad and I know it’ll get better and better the more time it’s fired. If you’ve ever shot a Glock, you’ll know what these triggers feel like.
After the range, my wife and I turned in the pistols and talked about which one she liked on the way home. We both agreed that the G43x would be our best choice. This is going to be a carry pistol for her, so she really valued how short the G43x was without compromising accuracy or reliability. She settled on the shorter G43x, so that’s what she got. I was thrilled, because I find that even the venerable G19 is a bit too long for me when I’m wearing it appendix and sitting down. The muzzle still pokes me a bit in my upper quad, but the shorter G43x is much more comfortable. More on that later.
The Blue Label price for it at my local gun store was $399, pretty excellent value if you ask me for what you’re getting: a reliable sub-compact handgun with 10 rounds of 9mm from the most popular handgun manufacturer in the world.
All of the initial versions I saw online and even the ones we test fired featured a brushed stainless steel side and black frame. The one we picked up was actually all black, just like every other OEM Glock you’ve ever seen.
This is an important one and up for infinite debate: what sights you use on your Glock. Night sights, all-black steel, fiber optic combination, or keep it stock with the plastic OEM sights? Personally, I started off years ago thinking tritium night sights were the heat. “I can shoot in the dark! These things are boss!” As I’ve matured, I’ve exclusively shifted to a fiber optic rod on the front and a blacked out rear for virtually all of my heavy use pistols. My comp gun, my duty pistols, and my carry guns all have this set up. I got mine from Dawson Precision, which I personally think are the best in the business. They have a sight calculator right on their website that lets you determine the best height for you and if you’re impact is high or low, they’ll send you a replacement front sight post to get you on target for free. Here’s the sight set I use on the G43x here. The sights come with an aluminum tool to help you unscrew the Glock front sight post, an aluminum drift punch to remove and install your new rear sight, an Allen key to tighten the set screw on your rear sight, and extra fiber optic rods in red and green when it’s time to replace the old ones or you prefer a different color. The rear sight might require some fitment, so if you want you can always take your slide and sights in to your local gun store for a quick installation and an opportunity to peruse their wares.
I find that the acquisition is much faster with fiber optics and the contrast with the red dot and black rear is excellent. My wife obviously likes this set up, so she was happier than I was to install them.
This is probably the crux of the blog since the blog is about a concealed carry pistol. I’m greatly looking forward to this since I can carry it appendix AND sit down at the same time. Whenever I’ve tried this in the past with either my G19 or Wilson CQB Commander 1911, the muzzle digs into the crease between my junk and my quad. It’s a big enough deal that I either carry at the 5 o’clock or I put my holster on after I’ve arrived where I’m going. That still doesn’t solve the problem of carrying appendix if I need to sit down at wherever I’m going anyway. Not to mention that carrying appendix will almost certainly give you the fastest inside the waistband draw, it also gives you the fastest draw when you’re seated in a vehicle.
I use a Safariland Model 100 Professional whenever my wife isn’t using it. I’ll say this, you definitely notice the weight difference between a fully loaded G19 with 15+1 rounds of 9mm and a G43x with 10 rounds of 9mm. My normal carry ammo is Speer Gold Dot 124gr +P 9mm. My Glock 19 weighed 30 ounces fully loaded, while the G43x weighs only 27 ounces. It may not seem huge, but you’re essentially saving 10% of your total weight.
Where the G43x REALLY shines is, once again, its lack of girth. It tucks right inside your waistband and is extremely comfortable. The grip is long enough to get a good purchase on for your draw, while the muzzle is short enough to allow multiple carry options.
Pro tip: When you’re having to drive around and you’re concerned with muggers, terrorists, or Afghan Local Police and you might have to use your pistol, try this: sit down in your seat and buckle in. Next, you need to pull your shirt or jacket (whatever your concealment garment is) over the top of the waist belt on your selt belt. This allows you to just pull your jacket up, draw your smoke wagon, and go to work. Thanks, Wyatt.
Concealment for the Ladies
Since this gun is primarily for my wife, this presents somewhat of a different dilemma. She rarely wears a belt when she wears jeans and she generally wears yoga pants anyway. She’s active and teaches fitness classes at our local gym so I’m not complaining about the looks, but yoga pants aren’t exactly great for IWB carry.
Conceal Carry in Yoga Pants
Enter Alexo, a company specifically designed for women to carry concealed pistols in yoga pants. What they’ve done is sew three reinforced elastic pockets into the waistline of the pants. There’s also a separate pocket sized for a smartphone on the side of the right thigh. When you feel the elastic pockets, they feel exactly like Blue Force Gear Ten Speed pouches. I use one of these 3-mag shingles on my plate carrier for work and they’re great for storing random things in need of retention that you can still get out quickly, anything from explosive breaching initiating systems to flashbangs. The elastic is quite durable, but will eventually wear out over time with heavy use.
My wife loves these pants and it allows her to carry her G43x on walks or even jogging. The G43x and Alexo pants are a perfect fit, but Alexo does warn to only use items that are 23oz or less, but my wife hasn’t had any retention issues whatsoever.
Conceal Carry in a Purse
The other unconventional concealment method I recommend for ladies is a concealed carry purse. I got my wife a Gun Tot’n Mamas handbag to store her STI Guardian when she’s out and about without me. The purse is pretty robust with a reinforcement wire in the straps to keep muggers from cutting the strap with a knife and sprinting off with the goods… including your wife’s gat piece. The version I got my wife has a side compartment lined in female Velcro that zips open and comes with a small universal holster that velcros to the inner pocket. It works well enough for my wife to have a pistol with her, but it’s less than ideal when you need to protect yourself quickly. Galco also has a line of lady’s handbags that you can see here for alternative ideas.
So we’ve had the G43x for a while now and here’s what I’ll say: it’s been everything we wanted in a concealed carry, sub-compact handgun. Between the two of us, my wife and I have put over 700 rounds through it. We haven’t had any issues through a variety of ammo, everything from flat nose to round nose, bullet weights from 115 – 147gr, and remanufactured bulk ammo to top of the line defense ammunition. I will say that I haven’t shot any steel or aluminum cased ammo out of it. I don’t shoot anything other than brass cased rounds because, from my experience, brass is the most reliable type of ammo. Ammo that I won’t shoot out of my Wilson Combat 9mm (basically any ammo with a short overall length) was eaten right up by the little G43x.
I’d highly recommend the G43x to anyone from a small woman to a full grown man. It truly is a subcompact handgun for everyone. If you think 10+1 isn’t enough ammo for you, you can always carry a spare magazine or pick up one of these 15 round magazines from Shield Arms. Somehow, Shield Arms managed to make a steel magazine fit into a standard G43x and G48. Everywhere I’ve looked, they’ve been out of stock, but I’ll look forward to getting my hands on one as soon as I can.
Why carry a .380 when you can carry a 9mm?