Pat Cascio’s Product Review: GLOCK 43 9mm Subcompact

Back in 1987, while living in Colorado Springs, CO, I used to haunt Longs Drugs. It was a huge drug store chain that carried a pretty good selection of handguns, and plenty of ammo was available, too. I only recall purchasing a couple of firearms from them. The first one was a new GLOCK 17 9mm with a 17-rd magazine, which was unheard of, for the most part, back then. Most 9mm handguns had a 15-rd capacity, and then there was that “plastic” frame. Everyone back then just knew that you could sneak a plastic framed handgun on a plane. WRONG!!! However, to this day, the ill-informed politicians still tout the “GLOCK 7”, even though there is no such model, as a gun used by hijackers to take over a plane. They often refer to the “GLOCK 7” as a ceramic handgun. WOW! I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t much care to fire any gun made out of ceramic material; it would blow up in your hand.

I was totally impressed with my new GLOCK 17. It never missed a beat and would fire any kind of 9mm ammo you could feed it. I often carried the GLOCK 17 during my many treks into the Rocky Mountains, panning for gold, which was a waste of time but fun, or just out hiking. I had a lot of confidence in that “plastic” handgun. The only thing I didn’t care for was that the magazines didn’t fall free from the gun, though that’s something GLOCK has long since corrected. I don’t recall what I ever did with that GLOCK 17. I probably traded it for something else. It’s too bad since first generation GLOCK 17s command a mighty good price these days. It easily would go for double or triple what they retailed for back then.

Many people thought that Gaston Glock, the designer of the GLOCK 17, came out with the first polymer handgun. Such is not the case. H&K was way ahead of Glock in this respect. Then we had many gun writers back then doing torture testing on the GLOCK 17, trying their best to destroy it. For sure, any gun, or any product, can be destroyed if you work at it. The GLOCK 17 was run over by cars and trucks, as well as dropped (unloaded) out of helicopters that were several hundred feet off the ground. These types of tests prove nothing. About the worst that happened was the plastic front sight broke off the guns, and GLOCK still puts plastic front and rear sights on their handguns. Then came the 5,000 and 10,000 round torture tests. Again, this proved nothing. Who fires that many rounds in one shooting session? The GLOCKs held up!

While working for the late Col. Rex Applegate from 1990-1993, I had the opportunity to work with Col. Applegate, the late Chuck Karwan, Tommy Campbell (who was at one time S&W’s top shooter), Wiley Clapp, and some others on the very first video that Paladin Press produced called “Manstoppers“, and we tested just about every double-action handgun available at the time, including the yet-to-be-introduced GLOCK 27. That prototype GLOCK had a lot of feeding problems because a proper magazine wasn’t yet in production, and we were using a modified GLOCK 26 magazine. So, my history with GLOCKs goes back quite a ways.


I’m not sure how many different makes or models of GLOCKs are on the market these days; however, they range from subcompacts to long slide target models and everything in between. To be sure, GLOCK said they would NEVER produce a single stack version of their guns, EVER! Well, GLOCK ate those words when they came out with the Model 42– a single-stack, .380 ACP super-compact handgun. I tried one and didn’t like it. It was too small for my hand.


Earlier this year, GLOCK came out with a single-stack 9mm subcompact pistol. I handled one but waited a few months before purchasing one. GLOCK was a little late coming to the subcompact 9mm single stack game. However, the wait was worth it, in my humble opinion. A quick look at the GLOCK 43 shows a little single-stack, 9mm handgun that only weighs slightly under 18-oz with a 3.40-inch barrel and a black polymer frame. The slide is also black with a white dot front sight. It’s still plastic, and a white outline rear sight is also still plastic. The gun comes with two 6-rd magazines– one with a flat floor plate and the other with a pinky catcher extended floor plate, which I much prefer. The GLOCK 43 is of the 4th Generation design. It has nice “checkering” on the grip, and there is also an slightly extended tang, so you don’t get bit by the slide moving back and forth. There is also the large and reversible magazine catch, which is my one complaint. It’s too big. It doesn’t need to be “that” big on such a small handgun, and many others have said the same thing.


I have to admit that I love the way the GLOCK 43 fits my average-sized hands. It fits much better than many other subcompact 9mm handguns do. While a subcompact 9mm handgun with a 6-rd mag, one in the chamber, another 6-rd mag on the belt for a fast reload, should be more than enough ammo to get you out of a jam, I believe GLOCK could squeeze in one more round in those mags. Yeah, I know, one more round doesn’t sound like much, but when lead starts flying, you’ll realize that you don’t ever have enough ammo. I’ve never heard anyone complain about having too much ammo on hand in a gun fight or in combat. The good news is that there is one company making a pinky catcher extended magazine bottom for the GLOCK 43 that holds one more round. However, for the life of me, I can’t find that maker after reading about it on the ‘net. So, there is an option, for adding one more round in your mags if you want to. Of course, it extends the overall height of the gun a bit but not so much to really matter when properly concealing it.

I had a great selection of various 9mm on-hand for testing in the little GLOCK 43. From Black Hills Ammunition I had their 115-gr JHP +P, 124-gr JHP +P, 115-gr FMJ and their 115-gr Barnes TAC-XP all-copper hollow point, +P load. From 100_6130href=””>Buffalo Bore Ammunition, I had their 147-gr Standard Pressure Sub Sonic JHP load, 147-gr Outdoorsman Hard Cast +P, 115-gr Barnes TAC-XP all-copper hollow point +P+ and 124-gr FMJ FN +P+ load. Now, to be sure, many compact and subcompact 9mm pistols won’t function 100% of the time with +P and +P+ loads. There aren’t any gun makers that I’m aware of that recommend you shoot +P+ loads in their guns. It’s just one of those lawyer liability things, ya know.

In more than 300-rds of shooting, I had zero malfunctions with any of the above ammo. I was more than a little impressed that the GLOCK 43 didn’t have any problems with the +P+ loads. I would have bet good money that it would have malfunctioned with those loads. I thought the slide would be moving too fast back and forth and it wouldn’t allow the magazine spring to feed the next round up there fast enough. My fears were unfounded. I will say though, shooting +P and +P+ loads in this little GLOCK really let me know I had something powerful there. I wouldn’t recommend a steady diet of +P or +P+ loads though this gun. Getting a little practice here and there, so you know the gun will function with those loads, if that’s what you want to carry for self-defense, is more than enough. Extended shooting with hotter loads, shortens the life of any handgun – keep that in mind!

I did my accuracy testing at 15 yards, standing, two-handed with no rest of any sort. If I did my part, I could get three-inch groups with the Black Hills 124-gr JHP +P load, and that would be my preferred carry load for self-defense work. The Buffalo Bore 147-gr JHP Subsonic load was biting on the heels of the Black Hills load in the accuracy department. All other loads were still under four inches at 15 yards, if I did my part. I did find myself flinching after a while with the +P and +P+ loads. It was my bad, not the gun or the ammo; it was just me! As an aside, I’ve had full-sized 9mm handguns that wouldn’t handle +P+ load reliably, so this was quite the feat for the GLOCK 43!


I carried the GLOCK 43 for several weeks, in a Blackhawk belt slide holster, which was the only thing I could find that would properly fit the little GLOCK 43, and it held the GLOCK high and tight to my body for outstanding concealment. I’ve used this holster on many different sized handguns, and it is one of the few “generic” ballistic Nylon holsters that actually can give you a very good fit, rather than a sloppy one, with various handguns, big and small!