Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Glock 42 Review - A Concealed Carry Gem - 2014 Wishlist Update

In the weeks leading up to the 2014 SHOT Show, the internet was buzzing with stories, theories, and conjectures about two new Glock models that would be making their debut appearances at the show.  After several weeks of wild speculation, more snippets of information were pieced together by the internet super-sleuths and it was ultimately determined that the G41 was a long slide 45 Auto and the G42 was a single stack 380 Auto.  As it turned out, the folks doing the detective work had done a fine job and the G42 was indeed a single stack 380 Auto that would become the smallest, lightest, and thinnest Glock pistol ever produced.  I added the G42 to my 2014 Wish List about two weeks before the SHOT Show started.

As reports started to funnel in from the 2014 SHOT Show, folks that actually had the chance to handle and shoot the G42 at Media Day seemed pleased with the new pistol.  Around the various gun forums, opinions were split.  Many liked the idea of a lighter and thinner carry with the smaller 380 caliber, while others wished for a pistol of similar dimensions chambered for the more powerful 9mm cartridge.

From my point of view, I was tickled to death to hear the news about the G42.  As a long time pocket gun fanatic, I remember the days back in 2007-2009 when 380 pocket pistols were selling faster than they could be produced.  New pocket-sized 380 pistols were constantly being introduced in the market.  Most suffered from reliability issues and tended to be fussy about the ammunition they would feed and fire reliably.  Many a firearm forum post lamented the fact that what we really needed was a Glock 380 that would bring the legendary Glock reliability to the pocket gun platform.

You may be wondering why it took Glock so long to launch their 380 pistol here in the USA, when they currently have two other 380 Auto models (G25 and G28) produced in their Austrian factory.  The short answer is the Gun Control Act of 1968 established a scoring system for imported firearms.  Based on the design, features, and caliber of a firearm a series of points are applied.  ATF Form 4590 details the scoring system as it currently stands.  Any Glock 380 pistol produced in Austria would not score enough points to allow it to be legally imported into the US for non-law enforcement sales.  Things changed when Glock established their Smyrna, Georgia production facility.  With a US production plant in operation, the import scoring system was no longer a hurdle that Glock had to deal with.

First Impressions:
The G42 ships with two magazines and usual Glock goodies.
I missed the first batch of G42s that hit our local stores right after SHOT.  I had a busy week at work and didn't have a chance to visit my local stores until the weekend.  By the weekend, the stores that did receive an initial shipment were out of stock and taking names for their waiting lists.  I watched the auction sites for a few weeks, but I never won anything I had a bid on.  Rather than pay a crazy auction price, I decided to wait it out and try to get my G42 at close to retail price.  As it turns out this was a smart move on my part as reports of problems with the initial shipments of G42s started to surface.  Duncan at has a detailed report of changes made between the January and March shipments of Glock 42s.  His excellent report can be found here.

In my opinion, one of the greatest inventions ever is the "Notify When Back In Stock" feature many retailers have added to their websites.  By being patient, eventually one of my NWBIS alerts hit my email with the good news that I could order my G42 for immediate shipment.  My G42 has a test fire date of March 26, 2014 and I have confirmed it has three of the four changes identified by Duncan in his article.  If I tore the gun apart, I'm sure it would also have the fourth modification.

While the G42 might be larger than other available single stack polymer 380 Autos, it does have the advantage of a longer barrel.  Having terminal tested more than my fair share of 380 Auto ammunition, it's nearly impossible to find a JHP load that will expand and still penetrate to greater than 12 inches in ballistics testing gel when fired from a barrel of 3 inches or less.  The 3.25 inch barrel of the Glock 42 may allow some of the marginal JHP loads to achieve that extra bit of velocity to hit the 12 inches or more penetration goal.  The accompanying table shows the results of my preliminary velocity testing with the Glock 42.  Overall velocities were 30 to 40 feet per second faster than you might expect from a 2.8 inch barrel.

The G42 is indeed the shortest, lightest, and thinnest Glock ever produced.  Magazine capacity is tied with the only other single stack Glock, the G36 in 45 Auto, that also features a six-round magazine.  At the moment, I found it impossible to find spare G42 magazines at retail price.  Available spare magazines are currently commanding a substantial premium from the sellers that have them in stock.  I hope this will correct as supply catches up with demand.

The field stripped G42 reveals no surprises.  It's a Glock.
Glock states the G42 shares the same 5.5 lb. trigger pull weight of the larger Glock pistols.  Using a digital trigger pull gauge, my trigger pull tests repeatedly measured 9 lbs. 1 oz.  My trigger finger agrees with the pull testing.  The trigger feels much heavier than 5.5 lbs.  As a point of reference, using the same trigger pull measuring protocol with a Glock 27 yielded a repeatable 6 lb. 10 oz. trigger pull weight.  It's not a horrible trigger pull, but it is worth noting that it is heavier than any other Glock I've previously shot.

Glock designates the G42 is a Slimline series pistol.  While lacking the interchangeable backstraps of the larger Gen4 pistols, it does share the same rough textured frame, dual recoil spring assembly, and enlarged reversible magazine catch of the other Gen4 pistols.  Since I was reviewing the pistol, I actually opened the manual and found it contained nothing specific about the G42 model, but did reference the G42.  If you are familiar with other Glock models, operating and maintaining the G42 yields no surprises.

Range Time:
As a fan of the smaller calibers, I was lucky enough to have a fairly wide variety of .380 Auto ammunition available to run through the G42.  Over several weeks I had the G42 out on the range many times.  Most of the time, I cleaned the pistol between range sessions.  Once, I intentionally neglected cleaning the pistol just to see if it would make a difference on the next trip to the range.  By the time I thought I had enough range video to complete the range portion of the review, I had run slightly less than 400 rounds through the pistol.  On the right you will find the list and round counts of the ammunition I used with the G42.

If you are interested in negative feedback on the performance of the pistol, the list is very short.  The only issue I experienced was occasional failure to lock the slide back after the last round was fired.  This only happened with some varieties of FMJ range fodder ammunition that was run through the pistol.

On the positive side, I had zero issues with feeding or extraction.  I've come to expect this reliability from Glock pistols and the G42 didn't disappoint.  As previously mentioned, some smaller pistols can be fussy about the ammo that allows them to run reliably.  This G42 ate everything it was fed with no complaints. 

7 Yard groups fired from a rest
As I was testing the velocity of some sample loads, I also shot for groups.  From a rest at 7 yards, the G42 was capable of groups under 1.5 inches as long as I did my part.  Holding at the bottom of the red bullseye, the rounds impacted very close to point of aim at this range.

Firing off-hand groups was a bit more challenging for me.  As you will see in the range video, I have a tendency to shoot a bit low and left with the G42.  It got better with practice, but I still have have more practicing in my future before I would declare myself proficient with the pistol.

Earlier in the review, I mentioned the trigger was on the heavy side.  I didn't mention that the trigger has a short reach and reset.  As I was reviewing my range videos, I noticed my trigger finger would migrate across the trigger face during a string of fire.  I would start out with the pad of my finger on the trigger and end up with the trigger resting near the distal joint.  I believe this is the root of my trigger control problem and I'll be working to correct this during future range visits.

The video has some highlights from my range trips as well as some additional commentary for the folks that don't read reviews.  It's fairly short and lacks the detail of the written review.  On the other hand, it does visually illustrate many of the points covered in the review.

I was really pleased with the lack of felt recoil and general comfort when shooting the G42 during my range sessions.  The only pain or fatigue I felt on the range came during my frequent breaks to reload the magazines.  It wasn't a difficult task, but the pistol was so much fun to shoot I think I spent much more time loading magazines than I did behind the trigger.

As a concealed carry pistol, the Glock 42 really shines.  With an actual fully loaded weight of 16.1 ounces, it fits my weight criteria for a pocket pistol.  It may not work with all pants pockets, but I know it will work with a few pairs in my wardrobe.  The slim width and short grip makes the G42 a great choice for in-waistband carry.  I've carried the G42 IWB appendix carry most frequently and it disappears under a tee shirt.

The Glock 42 should be very appealing to folks looking for a small pistol that isn't going to punish them with excessive felt recoil and trigger finger slap.  A more comfortable practice/training experience will hopefully lead to spending more time behind the trigger developing familiarity and skill with the pistol.  I know I'm looking forward to spending many more range hours with this concealed carry gem. 


  1. Great review; thanks, Bruce.

    (And nice Remora billfold - if I hadn't already invested in a Saddleback wallet, I'd be giving Alan a call . . . .)

    cheers, erich

    1. I second the positive feedback on Saddleback - great stuff and built to last!!!

  2. I managed to pick one up at the LGS and it had a strange way of seeming much smaller than the dimensions would indicate. Its a bit longer taller and wider than much of the competition (including the 9mm) offerings, but it just felt slender. I still don't like the fact that its 380, but I came away liking it.

  3. Bruce, nice review. Thinking of getting one for the wife.
    Question, is it +p rated? Most glocks are. I dont see any of the hot 380 rounds being tested. Do you plan on doing any testing on the hot 380 in gel?
    Would be interesting to see how they test relative to the good non +p loads with the longer barrel.

    1. Thanks for the comment on the review Mike.

      I'm not planning on being bleeding edge with 380 +P testing, but I will be trying out the usual suspects in the future in the hopes that the longer barrel improves performance over the 2.5 and 2.8 inch barrels..

      Since 380 +P isn't a SAMMI, CIP, or NATO classification, it's "no go" according to the manual that ships with the G42.

    2. I tried some of the Underwood +p 90gr xtp in mine. It has a little more recoil than standard rounds, but still considerably less recoil than target loads out of my g43. They are rated 1200 fps, but I was averaging just over 1100 fps at 10ft from my chrono. I didn't have any ballistic gel, but in water jugs it penetrated two full jugs and bounced off the third. The recovered bullet resembled the 115gr 9mm xtp.

  4. Hello bruce, great review. How does the 42 compare to the db9 size wise? I own one and really love it, i know you also like your 2 dbs. I was thinking about buying a 42 for my 17 year old daughter, all of her shooting so far has been in 22 caliber handguns. I would like to get carina (my daughter) into shooting a centerfire handgun that would fit her size wise and also recoil wise, so not to turn her off. I have an lcp and db9, but i think those would be poor choices for her starting off, What do you think about the 42 for her ? We thankyou for the review and advice in advance. Lou and carina

    1. Hey Lou. Thanks for the comment.

      The 42 is larger, in every dimension, as compared to the DB9. I also agree the LCP and DB9 wouldn't be great choices for new shooters. If you want to stay with 380 for recoil concerns, the G42 or Walther PK380 are my suggestions. I would pick the one that is most similar to the 22s she has been shooting.

  5. Bruce. I enjoyed your article. Thanks for the kind words and link to my article.


  6. Good review for anyone considering getting the Glock 42.

    As much as we all like getting the latest and greatest, you point out how sometimes there is a benefit to not being the first guy on the block with the new weapon.

    Anyone buying this Glock second hand should check to be sure they are getting a new-and-improved model (Thanks Duncan!)

  7. My ammunition compatibility issues were two-fold and in part opposite to this. Winchester whitebox 95 gr worked flawlessly. I never saw a failure to lock the slide (with many - about a dozen - varieties). However, Hornady Critical Defence and all other 85..90 gr bullets caused 100% FTE. In the same time, Hornady makes a 95 gr JHP, called "Hornady Custom", which worked just as fine as Winchester My wife sometimes has a false lock with Fioccis, usually by the end of a shooting session. Either she gets tired or the gun gets dirty.

  8. I have two Glock 42' with night sights..I have owned many 380's , including high end Berettas, SIGS and Orig Colts..and the round is more than capable of doing the job, regardless of what the arm chair operatives and wannabees think. Those who have been in harms way, know that this round has been used in Europe works, and the new ammo makes it even better. It seems only in America do we think we need a cannon to get the job done...12 yrs in DOD/DIA in the field has taught me better. For a discreet, easy to handle, slim, concealable , reliable and accurate would be hard pressed to do better than the new 42!!

  9. I rented several pocket guns at a range recently
    the G42
    a Kahr cm9
    a beretta pico (I think)
    the beretta would not even fire a single time.
    these are range rental guns, lot of miles and no cleaning, so proabably a good test of the gun.

    the glock 42 was very sweet, never failed to fire, even with the cheap, reload ammo they sell for the rental guns.
    Im looking for something to carry instead of a snubby .38 and the G42 moved to the top of the list.

    1. Just bought a Pico and a true cut above quality than most pocket pistols I have seen. First day shot a 100 rounds of mixed ammo to include inexpensive reloads. No failures and a really mild shooter. A true "Pocket" pistol. Before I would invest in a G42, I would seriously consider a small 9mm.