Perhaps more than any other handgun introduction in 2014, this one caught the attention of concealed carry fans everywhere. In this Glock 42 review, Dick Jones gives his impression.
One of the hottest categories of handguns is that of the subcompact .380 semi-auto. These guns have been so popular there have been off-and-on ammo shortages for .380 ACP throughout recent years. It’s easy to see the reason for their popularity.
Many modern .380s are lightweight, easy to shoot, carry and conceal and they have good reputations for reliability. While no one will ever call it a heavy metal man stopper, recent advances in ammunition have brought the .380 cartridge into unprecedented viability as an extremely reasonable defense round.
This year at SHOT Show, Glock released the long awaited Glock 42 in .380 ACP. I think I can safely say it’s the largest departure from the standard Glock line I’ve seen, and I can’t imagine it shares any parts with anything else Glock makes.
It’s a true subcompact, though one of the largest of the popular .380 subcompacts. It has real sights, not a tiny representation of sights, and the dovetail-mounted sights have the familiar Glock-style white U and dot outlines for low light alignment.
The trigger of the G42 is also standard Glock fare, with the traditional center blade, relatively long first stage and reset. The trigger on my test gun broke cleanly at just over 8 pounds with only a little over-travel, and a little over-travel isn’t a bad thing on a defensive firearm. Magazine capacity is six plus one, about standard for this class of gun, and quite adequate, in my opinion, for a concealed carry gun.
Glock 42 Review
The G42 is a full-featured pistol with a proper magazine release, and the slide locks back on the last round. Some subcompact pistols have traded the slide lock for lighter weight, and this probably isn’t a good idea.
While most subcompacts are reliable, malfunctions in semi-auto pistols are inevitable. When they happen, clearing a gun without a slide lock can be challenging in perfect conditions and borderline impossible under stress.
Doing a fast reload worked just like it would with the G42’s big brothers except that everything was smaller. The magazine drops when the button is pressed, and the slide can be dropped with the release or with a pull and release.
I’ve recently reviewed several guns in this class, and I can say without hesitation that the Glock was certainly the easiest to shoot well, and it had the least recoil. It also had the best hand position of the subcompact .380s I’ve shot lately.
Even though the grip is about the same length as some of the other subcompacts, it feels longer. The Glock also clearly has the best sights of any of the guns in this category.
Glock 42 Accuracy?
The almost full-sized sights certainly were an aid in the excellent accuracy I found in the G42. At 10 yards, standing, my best group was just over an inch, center to center, with six of the 10 shots in a ragged hole less than ½-inch center to center. Most groups were less than 2 inches, but the little Glock is more than up to the job.
While the Glock 42 is larger than most guns in its class, this isn’t really bad news. The tiniest of the subcompact handguns can be difficult to operate, especially for women with low grip strength. The larger size of the G42 allows more purchase of both the gun hand and the slide hand, making it one of the easiest guns in its class to operate. At its widest point, the 42 is only .976 inches, and it weighs less than 14 ounces.
In the process of testing several brands and styles of ammunition, the Glock 42 did experience one malfunction with a full-metal jacket, economy line of ammunition. It was a double feed on the second round from a full magazine.
This happened when I was holding the gun normally, making me suspect the round, but I saw nothing unusual about it. One test I put every defensive semi-auto through is shooting with a limp wrist. I shoot with a very loose hold from both right and left hands. During the limp wrist test, the G42 cycled every time but in one session, the slide failed to lock back on the last round.
This is an excellent little gun that represents a worthwhile compromise in its class by sacrificing some of the lightweight properties and ability to be concealed like similar .380s, but in exchange the shooter gains much more accuracy and manageability.
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All gun choices involve compromise. Less weight is easier to carry but yields more recoil. More power means a bigger gun and problems hiding it. High magazine capacity means a gun with a much thicker imprint. Concealed carry guns don’t serve the same purpose as service pistols.
They’re for defensive use, and they’re often carried for a lifetime without a single use. When you buy a concealed carry gun, you want to carry it, knowing you can rely on it, but never having to use it. I think the little Glock 42 fills that bill nicely.
Capacity: 6 + 1
Barrel: 3¼ in.
Sights: Dovetailed rear
Slide: Steel matte black
Length: 5.93 in.
Height: 4.13 in.
Weight: 13.76 oz.
This article is an excerpt from the Summer 2014 issue of Modern Shooter magazine, presented by Gun Digest.