July 12, 2022
Gaston Glock deserves credit for introducing the polymer-framed, striker-fired pistol, and despite some initial misgivings about “plastic” guns, Glock pistols have proven to be reliable and accurate. Law enforcement agencies quickly adopted Glock pistols because they are affordable and extremely durable, and soon Glock began to dominate the concealed-carry market as well.
The overwhelming success of Glock’s pistol designs led other firearms manufacturers to release their own polymer-framed, striker-fired guns. Over time, brands like Springfield Armory, SIG Sauer, Ruger, and Smith & Wesson developed guns to compete with Glock. The Austrian company no longer claimed sole possession of the striker-fired pistol market.
So, how do Glock pistols compete in the crowded field of compact carry guns? Let’s look at one of the brand’s newest and most popular pistols, the G43X MOS, to see how it stacks up against today’s toughest competitors.
First, a lesson on Glock history and terminology. The Glock G43X utilizes the same alpha/numerical naming system that the company has utilized since its inception, which has nothing to do with caliber. Instead, the number assigned to each gun corresponds with Gaston Glock’s patent for that particular model. The design for the G43 (which predates the G43X) is Glock’s forty-third patent, for example. When the G43 was released, it was one of Glock’s Slimline models, which kept overall width under and inch to aid with concealment. However, the original G43 only held six rounds. To compete against subcompact semiautos with double-digit capacities, Glock would have to find a way to increase capacity.
The company accomplished that by adding just .75 inches to the G43’s magazine and grip, increasing capacity of 10 rounds. This new, higher-capacity version of the G43 was dubbed the G43X. Unlike the G43, the G43X uses a semi-staggered magazine. It is not a double stack, but the cartridges occupy alternating positions toward the left and right side of the magazine to maximize space. It is impressive that Glock has found a way to stuff four additional rounds in a magazine that is not all that much longer than the one found in the original G43.
Aside from magazine and grip length, the G43 and G43X share similar dimensions. Both come with 3.41-inch barrels, and both are between 1.06 and 1.10-inches wide. The weight of the G43 with a loaded magazine is 20.6 ounces, and the G43X weighs just over 23 ounces. That variation primarily boils down to the weight of the G43X’s four additional rounds. The Modular Optic System (MOS) version comes with a removable cover plate for adding reflex sights.
How does Glock stand up against rival guns from other manufacturers? Both the Springfield Armory Hellcat OSP and SIG Sauer P365 optics-ready pistols have a capacity that is greater than the Glock (11+1/13+1 extended for the Hellcat, 12+1 for the P365). The Springfield has a 3-inch barrel while the SIG barrel measures 3.1-inches, making these guns about 6-inches overall and about a .5-inch shorter than the Glock. Both the Springfield and the SIG weigh just under 18 ounces unloaded, so they’re lighter than the Austrian pistol, but only by about .5 ounce. However, both guns are more expensive than the G43X. Cost for the Springfield Armory Hellcat and SIG Sauer P365 hover around $600, while real-world pricing for the Glock is Between $500 and $530.
In terms of overall size, these guns are remarkably close. The Glock is slightly longer and heavier, but not much, and a bit of extra length and mass isn’t always a bad thing for a carry gun. The Glock’s sight radius is a bit longer, and that extra bit of weight will help mitigate recoil slightly.
G43X Accessory Options
One of the benefits of owning a Glock is the vast array of aftermarket options and accessories available for these pistols. Because Glock pistols are so popular, finding a holster for a G43X MOS is no issue. In this test, I carried it in Bianchi’s Shenandoah OWB/IWB holster. I upgraded the gun with accessories that I like on a carry pistol starting with a SIG Sauer ROMEOZero Elite red-dot sight. Glock guns come with basic sights, but there are plenty of options to upgrade those, too. In this case, I chose a set of XS Sights’s new R3D suppressor-height night sights with tritium and fiber optic illumination. These sights co-witness with the optic and offer two around-the-clock sighting systems for this pistol. G43X MOS pistols also feature a rail section that allows you to add lights and lasers.
Rounding out the test gun was a Hogue slip-on beavertail grip sleeve. These grips add about .2-inches to the overall width, but the soft-touch textured gripping surface, finger grooves, and extra surface area make the gun more comfortable to control and easier to shoot during long range sessions. The standard grip works great and manages muzzle rise well, and if I want to minimize width to prevent printing, I can slip the grip sleeve off the gun.
These are just a few of the many optional upgrades and accessories available to G43X MOS owners, but they make a compelling case for carrying this gun since there are so many options available. Finding the right holster for daily carry can be a chore, and odds are the new shooter will have to go through several models before they find the best fit.
Daily Carry and Range Time
I carried the G43X MOS for several weeks during testing, and its small footprint allows it to be easily concealed under light clothing. Unlike some of the lightest and smallest carry 9mm pistols on the market, the Glock does not feel like an unmanageable micro pistol. On the contrary, it handles and shoots like its larger G19 cousin with solid accuracy. That’s thanks in part to the Glock marksman barrel, which managed to keep groups under 2 inches at 15 yards with several different cartridges. Do you need that type of accuracy from a self-defense pistol? Not usually, but it’s nice to know your sidearm fires tight groups.
Off the bench, the Glock shines. During a variety of stationary and movement drills, the Glock was composed and performed flawlessly. The optics and sight upgrades help, but the stock G43X MOS offers a level of accuracy that many competing guns can’t match. No shock, this gun was completely reliable. The ammo ranged from 115-grain FMJ to 147-grain subsonic HP, and there wasn’t a single feeding issue. The Glock’s beefy, side-mounted extractor bites down on the case and ensures reliable feeding every time. The feed ramp is smooth, and the two provided magazines are easy to load and feed well.
The Glock safe action bladed trigger system has been around for some time, and it offers a relatively smooth take-up with an average break weight of about six pounds. You can upgrade if you like, but the stock trigger will suit most shooters. Like other slimline guns, the G43X MOS has a shortened trigger distance and a built-in beavertail that promotes a high handhold on the gun.
Like other Gen5 Glocks, the G43X MOS comes with front slide serrations. The controls are minimal, and there is a reversible slide stop that is reduced to eliminate snags while drawing and a takedown tab in the frame. Disassembly is simple and straightforward, so regular maintenance isn’t a major task. Carry guns are exposed to a lot of abuse. Perspiration can corrode a slide that isn’t protected, but Glock offers these guns with a nDLC coating that is tough enough to survive the rigors of everyday carry.
Is the G43X MOS a good carry gun? Absolutely, and it’s affordable given Glock’s impressive record of reliability. It can’t quite match some modern rivals in terms of capacity, but its close, and there’s no doubt that a G43X MOS should be on your short list of potential carry guns if you’re new to the market.
Glock G43X MOS Specs
- Type: Striker-fired, semiautomatic
- Caliber: 9mm Luger
- Capacity: 10+1 rds.
- Barrel: 3.41 in.
- Overall Length: 6.5 in.
- Width: 1.1 in.
- Height: 5.04 in.
- Weight: 18.55 oz. (unloaded)
- Finish: nDLC
- Sights: Glock, optics ready
- Trigger: 6 lbs.
- MSRP: $529.99
- Manufacturer: Glock inc., us.glock.com/en