There are many subcompact 9mm handguns now for concealed carry. Most shooters want a slim, very lightweight, small, accurate, reliable, and highly concealable gun to carry. One that can be easily carried in the pocket or inside (IWB) or outside (OWB) the waistband. Small enough for carry, perhaps IWB at the Appendix position (AIWB), for ease of concealing and fast draw. (Be especially careful reholstering if AIWB carry.) They also demand a gun that has excellent sights, so they can get on target quickly in rapid fire self-defense encounters. I know with my aging eyes I want to be able to quickly pickup the front sight. So for me a larger front sight or one with a bright outline that pops right out or a fiber optic front are a huge help to complement night sights.
There has been a strong demand for a single-stack 9mm gun that meets these requirements. In the past, some considered Glock to be the manufacturer of bulky, wide and larger gripped, but reliable handguns. Now Glock has recognized the need to add a slim, lightweight, subcompact single-stack 9mm to their inventory and they call it the Glock 43 (G43.)
Will this G43 meet all the concealed carry demands? How does it compare to the current single-stack subcompact competition? Does it really have the hard trigger press some say?
I’ll help you here with my answers, but it is your final call of course. Some folks have said to me they wish the plastic sights on the Glocks were better and that quality night sight for all lighting conditions would be a big advantage. Glock has offered standard 3-dot outline night sights for a while, but just very recently added a BOLD series sight sights with a bright orange outline that surrounds a green tritium insert. It is available now on some new Gen 5 models and some limited editions. XS Sights has also in the last few weeks added similar new sight sights to their Big Dot line. Glock will send me soon their new BOLD night sights on the Glock 17 Gen 5 they are sending me for my review. Stay tuned.
So now I want to review the G43 and Glock was nice enough to send me one to review. Also, I want to review the G43 now with the XS DXT Big Dot Sight Sights (DXT), Model #GL-0003S-5. And I appreciate XS Sights adding the DXT sights to the G43 slide. Will this combination meet my concealed carry needs? I want to identify for myself the G43 and the DXT strengths, weaknesses, and shoot and evaluate both of them for myself. I hope my criteria for the pistol and for the sights, analysis, and opinions help you to make your own decisions.
First, I will give you my 10 criteria for evaluating the Glock 43 pistol. Then, I will present Chart #1 which lists the G43’s specifications and features. Next, comes Chart #2 comparing the G43 to 9 other current, single stack sub-compact 9mm pistols. Afterwards, I will show Chart #3 which gives my sights criteria. Then Chart #4 presents the features and benefits of the XS DXT Big Dot NS.
To help you, I will then evaluate the G43 against my criteria factor by factor and then give you my recommendations about the G43 and also for the DXT Big Dot night sights. In my recent book, “Concealed Carry & Handgun Essentials,” I thoroughly analyze, compare, and rank my Top 21 Concealed Carry guns, including both compact and subcompact 9mm guns, and the G43 is one of the 21 guns. How does it specifically compare? Well, I want to give you some information here in this review, so you can compare and evaluate it yourself among your top choices. I must give you my disclaimer that I am not on the Glock or XS payrolls, have not been paid by them or any manufacturer for this article, for my opinions, nor influenced to say certain things about this or any gun or product. You should know that I previously bought this gun for one of my subcompact 9mm concealed carry guns and own almost all of the 21 key comparison concealed carry guns. I want to share with you my personal G43 and DXT Big Dot Night Sights test and evaluation opinions. Read on to find if I do I recommend the G43 and/or the DXT sights for your concealed carry consideration?
I wondered if there were available custom holsters for the Glock 43 with the DXT Night Sights for the various carry methods I use? I carry the G43 in my front pocket, IWB, and OWB. But, mostly in my pocket and OWB. I found three fine holsters for the G43… a very concealable and durable front pocket kydex holster made by Alabama Holster, a very functional and comfortable OWB Leather Wing hybrid holster made by Blackpoint Tactical Holsters, and a very handy and budget-priced nylon sticky pocket holster made by Clinger Holsters. The thin .060 kydex pocket holster from Alabama Holster does help to mask the outline of the gun well in the pocket, keeps it in an upright, ready position, is comfortable with rounded edges, and costs about $40. The Blackpoint Tactical Holsters Leather Wing OWB holster is a fine leather-kydex hybrid. The leather naturally curves to your body and is flexible, comfortable, with good retention, and functions great for concealment. It comes in several colors, is canted, has nice options, and includes a sweat guard for about $85 or so. Also, I discovered the new Comfort Cling mulit-purpose nylon sticky pocket holster from Clinger Holsters for only $20. It is a clipless holster that is sticky, clings where you stick it, promoted as non-slip, and can be used with many different gun models. I conservatively use no-clip tacky holsters only for pocket carry of subcompact small guns, not in the waistband, since they rely on friction for retention. Here are images of the 3 holsters.
Criteria and Considerations
Here are just 10 of my criteria and factors I use for evaluating any handgun, so I will use them for the G43. In addition to my criteria, there are other subjective features that may be appealing for some, like a certain style, mag release location, action, caliber, appearance, number of mags included, type of sights/modifications, bore axis, rail, grip angle, non-porting or porting, included extras like a holster and pouch, customer service, etc. So, I combined these into my last Miscellaneous criterion. I must admit that ALL gun-choice decisions involve tradeoffs, but I really want ALL of my criteria to be met. I assigned a total possible point score of 10 points for each of my 10 criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. You can certainly add your own additional criteria and preferences or subtract any of mine.
Here are comparison specifications for some current Single Stack Sub-Compact Carry 9mms.
Here are some of my Sight Criteria and some of the things I look for in close-encounter nights sights.
Recognize that there are several features, characteristics, pros and cons, and personal criteria to include and consider and you make your own tradeoffs according to your priorities, preferences, defined needs, and use.
Glock 43 9mm Range Test
At the range with the G43, I shot about 250 rounds for the range field test. I shot various high-quality Sig Sauer V-Crown 115 grain JHP (1185 fps Muzzle Velocity, 359 ft lbs Muzzle Energy), Sig Sauer Elite Performance 115 grain FMJ (1185 fps Muzzle Velocity, 359 fl lbs Muzzle Energy), and Sig Sauer V-Crown 124 grain JHP (1165 fps Muzzle Velocity, 374 ft lbs Muzzle Energy) ammo. Shooting all of this JHP and FMJ ammo really confirmed for me how the G43 could handle different bullet weights and ammo types. Usually I shoot 500 rounds over a couple of days to decide if I want to carry the gun or not, but I had the information I needed after shooting about 250 rounds. I will shoot more to confirm my initial evaluations. Below are my evaluations for each of my 10 criteria for my concealed carry purpose. I put the gun through its paces and checked it thoroughly for malfunctions and performance with different types of JHP and FMJ ammo. Thanks to Sig Sauer for providing their rounds to test and evaluate this Glock 43 subcompact 9mm pistol.
When I first handled this gun, I was impressed by the way it felt so slim and good in my hands. Especially, as compared to my bigger Glock 19, Generation 3. The 43 was small as a single stack subcompact, but felt real solid in my hand. This gun’s nitron-coated slide and black, hardcoat anodized frame seemed durable and certainly looked nice. The grip was comfortable and nice for both my wife and me. But, could this small, slim, short-barreled gun shoot well and could I handle the felt recoil which I anticipated to be snappy and very robust from this small gun. Its performance, my felt recoil, and my handling it at the range will tell the results.
I was expecting snappy, heavy felt recoil from this subcompact 3.39 inch barreled handgun, but I was pleasantly surprised at the range. I could handle the felt recoil very well and so could my wife after awhile. I believe its well-designed ergonomics and the beavertail help to offset the felt recoil and muzzle flip. Its locked-breech, as opposed to the older blowbacks, seems to help the recoil.
This gun is well designed with fine utilitarian ergonomics. It has a nice grip angle (a different angle than other Glocks & not as steep an angle), a deep beavertail, and comfortable grips without finger grooves. There are also no finger grooves on the new Gen 5 which I will review next week. This G43 Gen 4 texturing on the grip is comfortable and grippy enough. It did not have a manual safety nor did it have a magazine safety. It can be fired without a magazine in place. You cannot use factory mags from other Glocks with the 43, since it is a single stack mag design. I like that the magazine release button is enlarged for easy and quick operation. In the hard case, there are two mags: a flush-fitting 6 round and a 6-round extended mag. I’m not certain why they did not make the extended mag hold an extra round for 7 total, but they did not. I like a 7 rounder mag with the extra round on single stack concealed carry guns (see my comparison Chart #2 above.) However, my pinky finger did not dangle with the extended 6-round mag and I had a solid and comfortable 3-finger grip, but without the extra round. There is no picatinny accessory rail. At first it was a little hard to rack the slide, but after about 200 rounds, it began to get easier and smoother. I have no problem whatsoever racking the slide now.
Initially, the G43 trigger was a little disappointing to me. It had some creep, was stiff, was just a little gritty, and had a very hard trigger press. I was anxious to return home and measure the trigger press after the range session and break-in. But, this improved some (a very little) after firing about 200 rounds or so with this new gun. Overall, I am really impressed with the G43, even though I usually prefer single action only guns or striker-fired single action ones. This striker-fired double action only G43 had a hard but smooth trigger press after several rounds. It felt so great in my hands, looked very good, and was very reliable with decent accuracy, but I had trouble controlling the trigger, since it had such a heavy press. With 10 trigger press trials as measured by my Lyman Trigger Pull gauge, the G43 averaged just a little less than 7.5 pounds trigger press. That falls within the range listed on the Glock site as being between 5.5 and 7.5 pounds. But, I wanted it to be closer to 5.5 to 6.0 pounds. Of course, it is not completely broken in yet, so the press will hopefully improve. For pocket carry without a manual safety, the slightly heavy trigger may be fine, but I hope it improves a lot to get in to near 6.5 pounds. The trigger safety was not a problem for me.
This gun was easy to takedown. With the gun’s muzzle pointed in a safe direction, pull the slide back about 1/8 inch, push down both takedown/slidelock levers on both sides at the same time, and then push the slide forward and remove it. Very easy and with the G43 you DO have to press the trigger to disassemble it. One important thing to note is when the G43 is disassembled, you should NOT manually pull the firing pin to the rear of the slide and allow it to snap forward, since this could damage the firing pin and the firing pin safety. Also, when cleaning it, do NOT put cleaner or lubricant inside the firing pin channel, since it could cause contaminations of ammo primers and failure to fire.
Given my aging eyes, I did not like the G43’s standard plastic sights with the small u-notch rear sight and white front dot. I do like tritium and fiber optic sights, especially for concealed carry handguns. There are several quality sights out there, like XS, Trijicon, Ameriglo, Heinie, TruGlo, Meprolight, HiViz, etc. XS Sights asked me to review these DXT Big Dots now, as well as their new for (about September) 2017 XS F8 Night Sight system. This was a a great opportunity to try their tritium (front & rear) DXT Big Dot night sights with this gun for my troubled old eyes. So I sent in my G43 slide to XS to add the DXT sights for this review. As you can see from my above 12 target hits rapid fire with mag change at the closeup 5 yards, they all hit in a nice small group. This happened consistently at 5, 7, and 10 yards with the G43. My aging peepers really liked the quick pickup of the large white big dot and the green tritium in the middle. My accuracy was fine at close distances of 5 and 7 yards, but with the DXT sights it was about the same as my usual hits at 10-15 yards, but worse beyond that. Not much long distance advantage. Seems they work fine up close and for tactical distances, but not so much help for ME at longer distances. But the major DXT advantages are being able to quickly get on the front sight and target in both day and night use. Great for tactical distance self defense. My hits at 20 yards and beyond were not as good as my close combat point shooting hits. Not sure why but it may be the large front sight covers and obstructs the small target at long distances and impedes sight picture. But remember, your gear will do IF you will do. Practice. At distance when aiming, place the top of the front big dot (not the center of the big dot) on the target as your sight picture where you want the hit (point of impact.) With the features and benefits in my above Chart #4 in mind and compared to my above Sight Criteria in Chart #3, I field tested the DXT sights on the G43. At the end are my evaluations and recommendation for the DXT Big Dots night sights.
The G43 was very reliable for the 250 rounds I fired and I did not have a single failure or feeding issue; not one malfunction or stoppage. The two mags did drop freely for me. I recognize that the G43 is a subcompact, lightweight, short-barrelled gun for closeup self-defense encounters and not a precision target gun at distances, nor duty gun, nor a competition gun. So, I did not expect it to perform like my other long-barreled, very heavy, compact and full-sized guns. But, I was surprised it had decent accuracy and how well it handled and performed. I found the G43 to be accurate enough for closeup, combat tactical encounters. Its reset was short and very identifiable. The trigger was longer and harder than I prefer, but acceptable, especially for safe pocket carry. The felt recoil and muzzle rise of this subcompact 9mm were surprisingly manageable for me. My first rounds fired up close with the G43 were very acceptable for me, given this small, subcompact concealed carry gun with a short sight radius. It would make an excellent Backup Gun (BUG) and for some a very good primary carry gun. Its slim size makes it very concealable and it is comfortable in the hands.
Range Test Results for each of my 10 Criteria:
1. Accuracy and Reliability – Score: 9
The accuracy of the G43 was very acceptable for me at distances of 3, 5, 7, and 10 yards, given my aging eyesight and average shooting skills. My rapid-fire groups at the closeup distances of 3, 5, and 7 yards averaged from 2.5 to 3 inches, even though it is not designed to be a high-precision tack driver. For accuracy, the 7.5 pound DAO trigger press was longer and harder than I wanted and than I am use to with my full-size and compact single-action 1911s and my striker-fired single-action guns. I prefer the press to be in the ballpark of 4.5 to 6.0 pounds for my carry guns. Remember this G43 is lightweight at about 18 ounces unloaded with a short sight radius, which also affects accuracy. But, it was comfortable and the recoil was controllable for me. I used my Modified-Isosceles Stance, a two-handed grip, and mostly the center-mass sight picture. I shot mostly premium Sig Sauer V-Crown JHP and FMJ ammo of various weights. The gun was not picky and digested it all. The nice beavertail allowed me to grip the gun high on the backstrap to help control it.
2. Trigger Press – Score: 8
The trigger press averaged 7.5 pounds with 12 readings on my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge. For me, I wanted it to be less, since I am use to shooting my 1911 single-action and striker-fired semis with lighter presses. A harder trigger press requires more pressure to be exerted, which usually causes more movement, and can influence accurate hits. I did notice after firing about 250 rounds, the trigger was a little softer. So, it will probably improve some. Personally, I will probably use this gun primarily as a BUG, so this is fine for that purpose. The hard trigger press, however, was smooth and crisp.
3. Trigger – Score: 9
The trigger had a small amount of creep and gritiness. But, it did have a consistent, positive, and short reset. The grit did get better after firing several rounds. The curved trigger face does have nice serrations, which felt very good and allowed fast follow-up shots.
4. Barrel Length – Score: 10
The 3.39-inch Barrel with the subcompact’s almost 21 ounce loaded weight and 5.2″ sight radius were fine for me, given that this is a closeup-concealed carry gun which needs to be small, lightweight, and very concealable. It is! I was able to control the recoil and muzzle flip, but the felt recoil was a little more than my wife and I both wanted. Not bad really, but just more than we wanted. It was manageable for me. The hammer-forged steel barrel was durable, had a tight fit, had a durable tenifer coating, and performed well.
5. Sights – Score: 9
The standard polymer sights worked, but were not what I wanted on my concealed carry gun. I wanted tritium night sights and the new XS Big Dot DXT night sights were very good, especially up close. MSRP=$142. I changed out the standard sights to the XS sight system and they worked very well for bad-breath, combat shooting. I had no trouble seeing the XS tritium front and rear green sights during any lighting condition, including daytime, at dusk, or at nighttime. I am color blind and I could easily see the green color. I conducted my usual test of putting the gun in my completely dark closet and I could see the front and rear sights very clearly, after just a minute of light exposure. This was better than some other sights I have reviewed. These sights surpassed my expectations and I was very pleased with their performance.
6. Proper Gun Weight – Score: 9
The overall 18 ounce unloaded weight was very light, but the ergonomics, grip, and beavetail more than offset the lightweight to help performance. The weight was just right for concealed carry. This gun is perfect for carry, given its lightweight, slim profile, rounded edges, and ergonomics. This is a great gun for pocket carry and as a BUG, if you change the standard sights and are patient with the trigger. It is similar to other subcompact single stack 9s in the market now, so personal preference and how you shoot it will be the primary determining factors. I will probably carry it as a BUG.
7. Caliber – Score: 10
It was easy, comfortable, and natural for me to shoot the 9mm caliber. I strongly prefer the 9mm caliber, used with appropriate ammo with the right ballistics and grain weight, for concealed carry. The 9mm G43 is a nice lightweight and quality carry gun. The felt recoil is tolerable and controllable. As you can see from my previous comparison Chart #2 of several single-stack 9mms, it is very comparable in dimensions to the other 9mms.
8. Capacity – Score: 8
A concern I have is that only two single-stack magazines were included. This is always a concern for me for any gun. While there were two magazines included, both 6 rounders, a third was not included. While there was a 6-round extended mag with a pinky extension included, it did not add another round. Only 6 rounds total on each of the mags, including the extended mag. I want 3 mags to be included, to save from having additional expenditures and as a minimal necessity. The extra mag usually costs at least $30. The standard capacity of 6 for the extended mag is not acceptable for me. It should be 7 rounds for the extended mag. Wish a third magazine with an extended base for 7 rounds was included. The mags were nice quality with witness holes. My medium-sized hands were comfortable with the mags.
9. Ergonomics – Score: 10
Overall, the ergonomics of the G43 subcompact were excellent. I really like its changed grip from other Glocks and the way it feels in my hands. It did not slip in my hands and my grip was firm and very comfortable. The G43’s lightweight, overall small size, and rounded corners really help its concealability. This is a reliable gun and I did not have any malfunctions. The slide lock lever and mag release button were all easy to quickly locate and operate. There are no front serrations which is fine with me. ALL mags did drop freely and quickly. The ergonomic features helped minimize my felt recoil.
10. Miscellaneous – Score: 10
As always before shooting any new gun, I disassembled, lubed, cleaned, and re-assembled the G43 before I shot it. I did have to press the trigger to disassemble it which is not a real problem, just first remove the mag and do your safety check. I like that it was very easy and quick to take apart. (Remember, do your SAFETY check to ensure any gun is unloaded before disassembly.) At first, I had trouble with the recoil spring assembly becoming unseated when I removed the slide, so it was just a little difficult to get back on. After more shooting, it became smoother. The price of the gun is reasonable for the quality and features you get. It comes with a hard lockable case, owner’s manual, cable lock, brush, plastic rod, loader, and two mags. It does not include accessories like some have, e.g. a holster, mag pouch, … or the third mag. There are several nice features for this quality subcompact, striker-fired double action only gun. It has a firing pin block safety, trigger safety, and no grip safety. There is not a magazine disconnect safety, so it will fire with the mag out. There is a Limited Warranty for one year for the original owner.
Total Points = 92 out of 100 Possible.
I certainly RECOMMEND this G43 handgun for consideration as a concealed carry gun and/or a backup gun (BUG.) Its reliability, lightweight 18 ounces, narrow width of 1.02 inches, quality build, smooth and crisp (although heavy) trigger press, no external safety, and small footprint and slim profile for concealed carry, comfortable grip, and overall ergonomics are fine for me. While the trigger press is a little harder and longer than I prefer in my triggers, it certainly is acceptable and I must practice with it. For a short-barreled, small gun, the recoil is very manageable. There are several fine custom holsters available for the gun. My wife really likes this G43 and it fits her hands nicely. I will probably lose this gun to her. I hope this review of the Glock 43 subcompact 9mm pistol has helped you gain some information you did not previously have. Consider that these are just my opinions with limited live-range fire and shooting only about 250 rounds of ammo. Like always, I recommend that you shoot any handgun yourself before you purchase it. Decide on your criteria, how you will primarily use the gun, and what features are important to you and you are willing to pay for ahead of your range time. Then critically evaluate the gun YOURSELF per your criteria and purpose, with standard drills (several mentioned in my book), with various ammo types and brands, over an extended break-in period of about 500 rounds. Remember, Safety First Always!
Smyrna, GA 30082
Fort Worth, TX 76105
Sig Sauer Elite V-Crown & Performance JHP-FMJ Ammo
Newington, NH 03801
Alpharetta, GA 30004
Silverhill, AL 36576
Van Buren, AR 72956
Photos by Author.
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2017 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at [email protected].