Glock 42 Initial Review
I’ve been fortunate enough to handle and shoot the new Glock 42. I will say that I’m not a fan of what some people refer to as “pocket”, BUG or micro semi-autos. I’ve had most of the popular ones, and had enough experience with the others to know I don’t want them. Why do you ask? The simple answer is reliability and “shootability”. I would define shootability as the sum of the recoil, trigger operation and weight, control operation and to some extent accuracy. I like to practice with what I carry, especially something that’s ALWAYS with me. For me, to get what I consider to be acceptable reliability and shootability, my go-to little gun is a Smith & Wesson J-Frame (sans lock). With that, here are my thoughts broken up to an examination of the pistol and then shooting it.
The Pistol Examined:
For those that didn’t know, Glock has made a .380 for quite some time (Glock 25 & 28); just not anything available for the US commercial market due to import regulations. These two are identical in size to the Glock 19 (G25) and 26 (G28), and primarily for countries where civilians cannot have military calibers. Because these are a blowback vs locking design, the recoil is essentially the same as a 9mm. So if it has the size, weight and recoil of a 9mm, but inferior to a 9mm; why would you want one anyways? That said, there are a handful in civilian hands that came in for police departments and then sold off at auction or surplus. These few can command quite a premium on the open market. With the little history of the Glock .380s aside, while Glock owns the service pistol market, they have been noticeable absent in the small semi-auto arena.
Upon first seeing the pistol, you might think “Oh that’s cute”. By itself, the G42 is a small gun. I’ve always found the previously smallest Glock, the G26 to be a bit top heavy and thick. This pistol is neither. Simply put, it is a miniaturized Glock.
The grip isn’t so short and thin that it’s hard to hold on to or get a good grip, but is actually quite nice for someone with average sized hands. Others present all commented that it felt good in the hand. The frame is thin without being too thin. In the hand, the pistol balances very nicely. The slide/bore axis is still low in the hand like other Glocks. While manipulating the slide and controls, the pistol feels solid. The sample I was able to play with was brand new, but it seemed to feel more “solid” than even a 9mm Glock out of the box. Slide/barrel lockup was tight, I somewhat suspect due to the dual recoil spring assembly.
Being that it is a miniaturized Glock, anyone who owns a larger brother to the G42 would be able to recognize the controls, operation and construction. The materials and finish are like any other Glock. The slide lock, magazine release, trigger and takedown controls are all approximately the same size as a normal pistol; not half sized controls that you can barely operate (I’ll have to wait until I can get some more time with one to compare the true size of the controls.) I’ve been a fan of the Gen4 magazine release since release, and this one is no different. It’s easy to use and fast, but doesn’t drop the magazine unless you want it to. The trigger itself is a smooth faced trigger like a Glock 17/22 vs the serrated trigger of a Glock 19/23 and 26/27. Overall, there are only a handful of parts with commonality between the larger siblings…primarily springs.
The grip texture is patterned after the other Gen4 guns, but the texture doesn’t feel as aggressive as a Gen4 gun when gripped tightly. For comparison, I don’t think the Gen 4s are very aggressive in the hand like the RTF2 or 20 LPI checkering on a 1911… but they offer a nice compromise of texture to keep the pistol firmly in the hand without snagging clothing. Whether by design or accident, the Glock 42 has a very nicely checkered grip that keeps the pistol steady but doesn’t snag in the pocket or on a shirt.
Sights were of the usual Glock “sight channel fillers” design. It appeared that the front sight could be swapped with a normal Glock sight, and that the rear dovetail width was the same as a regular Glock. The slide is thinner, so I think this is going to have to be experimented with as the guns become available. I’m definitely going to try to see what I can do with some Warren Tactical Sights. The stock “sights” were shorter in height than normal stock sights on say a 9mm or .40 model.
I mentioned the G25/28 couldn’t be imported earlier. The 42 doesn’t have that problem as they have a small, state of Georgia proof mark on the barrel, slide and frame indicating these are manufactured in the good ole’ USA. The Glock facility in Smyrna, GA has grown exponentially in the last couple of years, and there are already certain other models that can be found as made in the USA in addition to Austria.
The magazine of the pistol is a single stack, 6rd magazine. The witness holes seem to indicate some stagger to the cartridges, but I didn’t look too closely at a loaded magazine to tell. The magazine loads very easily, and is sized for .380 only.
Shooting the Glock 42:
As the pistol I shot was a sales sample for a Glock employee, I got to hear a little of the philosophy behind the gun. Instead of just another .380 that was hard to shoot, had a bad trigger and had questionable reliability, Glock designed this to be a “shooters” .380. And boy did it shoot.
While the pistol is on the larger end of the .380 pocket pistol market, the ease of operation, low recoil, better trigger and accuracy make that little bit of increased size worth it. Aside from the much larger and heavier Beretta 84, I don’t believe there’s a nicer shooting .380 on the market.
After some reflection, the best comparison for recoil impulse would be to compare to a mild, 147gr match load out of a Glock 19. This is in quite the contrast to the LCP or even a J-frame with medium loads. The pistol is so smooth and pleasant, I would have no problems burning 500rds or more in a single day.
The pistol was flawless with Federal and Fiocchi ball ammo that was on-hand. Time will be the tell-all for this one as this is the single most important quality that should be considered for a defensive pistol. Unlike handling some other pistols that might make you think twice about trying to get several hundred rounds or more without issue, this one just operates like it would shoot anywhere, anytime in any condition… kinda like my faithful Glock 9mms. Whenever I can snag one, I plan to shoot the crap out of it and will report back.
The trigger pull and reset are identical to the Glock trigger people have come to know and love (or hate for some of you). Having a clean break in the 5-6lb range, with a very tactile and positive reset allows a shooter to run one of these fast and accurate with ease.
As for accuracy, I was able to clean the range plate rack without makeup shots many times over between 15-18 yards. With stock sights the pistol shoots a little high at about 20-25 yards, but with practice and some sight regulation this gun can easily pull off repeatable headshots at 20-25 yards if the shooter can do their part. In fact, most of the time everyone in attendance shot at 15-20 yards on 2/3 body plates and couldn’t seem to miss.
On shooting the pistol, it was a fun pistol to shoot. I often found myself wishing for some much larger magazines as it felt you just started having fun at 6 rounds. We had a diverse group of shooters try the pistol out, and everyone really enjoyed how the G42 shot. This is a pistol that you’d actually want to take to the range and have some fun with.
To sum things up, the ultimate question is if I had to spend my cash on it would I buy it. My answer is yes. I am an admitted Glock 9mm proselytizer and I was a little disappointed that this was not a 9mm. However, after actually seeing and more importantly shooting the 42, this is the one pistol that makes me consider a .380 for a back up pistol. The accuracy and operation of the pistol will make you think this pistol is much bigger than it actually is. Word on the street is these should go for around $399 on the civilian market and better for the blue label program. Make no mistake, this is a .380 that you can shoot and enjoy. I’d say Glock hit their objective of making a “shooter’s .380″. Instead of why should you buy it, I’d ask how couldn’t you?
In a pros vs cons approach to the J-frame:
Higher capacity (6+1 vs 5)
Much better trigger (even over an Apex kit in the 337)
Standardizing operation and training with full size brethren pistols
.38 special +P ballistics are better
Unproven reliability (until guns get rounds through them) – Most important question of all
Approximately the same size as the J-frame in a pocket
Aftermarket sight availability
Bonus Material: Picture Size Comparison to S&W J-frame
As I mentioned above, the S&W J-frame is my gold standard for a smaller pistol. I do buy my clothes around being able to at least pocket carry a J-frame. Time and rounds downrange through my own pistol will be the only way I’ll say that I’d replace my J-frame… but if I can’t fit it into a pocket, it defeats the purpose. Here are a few shots compared to the trusty J-frame. It did fit decently into the work type pants I had on, but it isn’t the pistol for someone who likes to wear tight jeans. Then again, most pistols aren’t.
Without a fixture, it was hard to capture a comparison with an iPhone, so I’ve got pictures of the G42 on top and the J-frame on top.