Guns and Gear

Off the Shelf: Modernizing the Glock 43

When European manufacturers set their sights on American markets, there’s a lot they have to overcome — like making guns in Europe.

In an effort to reduce access to small, inexpensive handguns (commonly called “Saturday Night Specials”) the Gun Control Act of 1968 restricted imports using a point system. These points assigned value to characteristics such as caliber and barrel length to determine “sporting purposes.” Through this system they essentially banned small-caliber, foreign-made compact pistols from store shelves.

An unintentional, positive consequence was U.S. manufacturers filling this gap, which only broadened during the first modern CCW revolution in the 1990s. Companies like KelTec produced polymer, pocketable, single-stack shooters like the P-32 and P-3AT and sold every one they made.

The likes of Glock, who came to dominate the market of the double-stack plastic fantastic, couldn’t touch this sector — not until they began generating guns in Georgia. 2014 saw the release of the Glock 42, a pistol that was “almost perfect” for carry, with the exception that it was .380ACP rather than 9mm. The G43 came the following March, essentially the same 6+1 pistol but chambered in 9mm — and what everybody originally wanted.

The G43 sat on top of the pile until 2018 when SIG shook up everything with the stagger-stack P365, nearly doubling capability through capacity.

In the time since the P365, there have been N+1 new stagger-stack nines, with all manner of companies tossing their hats into the ring. And while the size/capability ratio shifted in their favor, some still find need for slimness. And if you fall into that camp, perhaps you find yourself considering cleaning the cobwebs off and donning that G43. Or maybe you’ve picked one up and are looking to give it a little extra.

OPTICS

The largest leap for concealed carry handguns in the 21st century is the ability to attach a durable and reliable dot sight. While one could put a G43X MOS slide on their G43, most buying into that system will go whole hog, frame and all. But there are some swank options available.

If you want to retain your slick-top OEM slide, you have a number of choices. Like the G43 itself, the Leupold DeltaPoint Micro made compromises for size, but importantly drops right into the rear dovetail with no further modification. This is a decent “between” selection, especially helpful for those who aren’t quite sure if they want to totally hop on the dot train.

The Meprolight microRDS Glock mounting adapter is a unique solution, allowing you to rapidly attach or detach a dot sight to the rear sight itself. It has a Picatinny-like interface, giving you the ability to decide whether or not you want to dot on a given day.

Of course, you can also have your OEM slide cut and milled, typically for an RMSc footprint.

For additional function and aesthetics, it may be worth your while to replace your entire slide. Here we went with the Strike Industries LITESLIDE. As the name implies, the LITESLIDE is about 50 grams lighter than OEM, which Strike Industries says helps reduce recoil. Functionally, we found it better balances the weight of an optic. And so you don’t have to rob Peter to pay Paul, Strike Industries sells a slide completion kit for all your small parts and pieces.

As shipped, any RMSc-footprint optic can be directly mounted to the LITESLIDE. However, Strike took the opportunity to incorporate their own plate system, too. It’s essentially their Glock GUM mount that fits right in the optic cut. This is particularly useful for those who have a spare RMR or other “large” pistol optic laying around.

BARREL

Of all the upgrades, this one is needed the least — there’s nothing inherently wrong with the OEM barrel and Glock has a good reputation here for a reason. But, of course, we had to have a threaded barrel, if only to occasionally get our James Bond on to run a suppressor (not as stupid as you think; see CONCEALMENT Issue 27). Aside from silencers, a threaded barrel will give you a negligible increase in velocity, as well as allow for other attachments like brakes and compensators if that’s how you want to roll (see CONCEALMENT Issue 5).

You can also add a little bling and pizzazz with an aftermarket barrel. Companies like Faxon and Blacklist offer G43 barrels with a bevy of finishes and fluting.

TRIGGER

Glock triggers have never inspired poetry, and the G43 is no exception. It’s unfortunate, but some aftermarket triggers and parts make it unsafe. Like don’t-dare-drop-it unsafe. The rule of thumb is that the smaller the striker gun, the larger the risk. The safest and most fun modification to perform on a subcompact trigger is simply shooting the hell out of it, but if you’re pressed for time and ammunition, the next best thing is polishing the contact points on the trigger bar.

There was some extra effort taken with the I.T.T.S. Trigger from Tyrant CNC. It’s a trigger shoe replacement that has a fast reset but doesn’t replace any internals. Installation is via a set screw (purple Loctite 222 would be our recommendation) instead of a pin. Note that you’ll have to pop the OEM shoe off to install.

MAGAZINE CAPACITY

The number-one complaint, by a large margin, is the magazine capacity, and indeed was the reason for the seismic shift in the first place. It’s not really that the G43 doesn’t have enough rounds (the recent resurgence of revolvers counters that claim), but that other guns with a similar form factor carry more. A total of seven rounds when one is in the pipe is two more than a typical CCW revolver and is far faster and easier to reload when you run dry.

Still, more rounds on tap are never a bad thing, and you have some choices with the G43.

Magazine extensions and longer mags give a little extra love, which is especially welcomed with a spare. MagGuts sells a kit to replace your factory spring and follower with a slimmer flatwire setup, providing +1 without an extension or two extra in the same footprint as a traditional +1. Take note that install may require some light filing of internal flashing for the full benefit.

Elite Tactical Systems produces extended G43 magazines with capacities of 7, 9, and 12. The baseplates are dimensionally the same as OEM, so yes, you can put a +3 on the bottom of that 12 rounder. And yes, it’s quite comical.

Those who can’t get a full grip on a G43 will have a harder time controlling recoil (see John Correia’s piece “Making Pocket-Sized Pistols Suck Less” in CONCEALMENT Issue 20), so a magazine extension can serve an additional purpose aside from simply holding more ammo.

The Tyrant CNC +3 seen in this article may seem a little large when in the holster, but it’s excellent as a spare or on the range.

Of course, there’s another option, but you’ll have to invest in new magazines: buy a G43X/G48 frame for that G43 slide.

LOOSE ROUNDS

All of these modifications make the G43 a bit more useful and shootable, but at the end of the day you’ll have to decide if it’s worth the extra effort. Even if you’re the type to carry a Glock 19 complete with a weapon-mounted light and optic, there are times when something more svelte makes sense.

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