Written by: Clay Smith
A few weeks ago, I wrote a quick review of the Glock 42. The gun I shot actually belonged to my friend Clay.
Clay is a long time instructor at TDI and a good friend. His review of the little Glock pistol was much better than mine, so I asked him if I could publish it here for you folks. He kindly agreed. I’ll let Clay take it from here…
My good friend Greg Ellifritz wrote up a brief review about the Glock 42 (my gun actually) a couple of weeks ago. http://www.activeresponsetraining.net/shooting-the-glock-42
Greg is very knowledgeable regarding tactics and personal defense, so if you have not yet, I highly recommend that you check out some of his articles. For those who may be interested in a more detailed product review though, I thought I would share my observations thus far in an effort to help you make an informed decision as to whether this particular gun may serve a need for you.
First, let me state that I totally agree with Greg’s overall policy of not buying a new firearm design during the first year or so that it is on the market, as there are typically still bugs that will not be discovered/corrected until after the product is “in the field” for a while. That said, if there are no early adopters, then how are you good people supposed to find out about those bugs before you buy? Thus, I decided to take one for the team, and picked up my Glock 42 in late February of this year.
At first glance, it basically looks like Glock took their standard pistol design and shrunk it in the dryer. For anyone already familiar with Glock pistols, the 42 has all the usual controls in all the normal places. Unlike so many of the other “pocket pistols” out there, they did not deviate from the basic ergonomics / manual of arms of the rest of their pistol line, and they did not add (or remove) any safeties/controls/etc. The Glock 42 handles and operates just like every other pistol in the Glock lineup.
The magazine catch is of the Gen4 variety, and is reversible for left-handed shooters, just like the rest of the Gen4 line. The trigger also feels basically the same as any other Glock (perhaps a tiny bit heavier, but not significantly different). The gun comes from the factory with grip texturing that appears to me to be a slightly less aggressive version of the normal Gen4 texturing. My guess is that Glock toned down the factory Gen4 texturing on the 42 a bit because they knew people would be carrying it in their pants pockets, and they wanted to avoid complaints about the texturing chewing up peoples’ clothes. Also, unlike the rest of Glock’s current product line, the 42 does not have molded finger grooves on the grip. The factory sights are Glock’s standard plastic factory sights (white dot front, white “U” notch rear).
Internally, the recoil spring assembly is a dual spring Gen4 style system (although the subcompact guns always had dual recoil spring assemblies anyway, so nothing new there). That is where the parts similarity with the rest of the line ends though. The basic internal operation of the pistol is the same as other Glock pistols. It is still a striker fired, “Safe Action” design, and the interaction of the parts (trigger bar, firing pin safety, drop safety, cruciform, firing pin) is still the same. In order to fit the system into this much smaller package though, Glock had to redesign almost all of the internal parts, so for the armorers out there, once you tear apart the frame, you will notice these changes. For the average end user though, these redesigned parts should have no effect. The field stripping and general maintenance procedures for the pistol are identical to the rest of the Glock line.
In the hand, the Glock 42 should feel very familiar to anyone already accustomed to Glock pistols. It is significantly smaller and skinnier than anything else in their lineup, but other than that, it feels and points basically the same as their other pistols. Also, as mentioned above, the operation of the pistol is identical to all other Glock pistols. Felt recoil is minimal, and even though it is small, the gun is actually very controllable and pleasant to shoot. Functional accuracy is also very good. I say “functional accuracy” because I don’t have the equipment to clamp the thing into a rest and test true mechanical accuracy. In working with the 42 on the range though, I was able to shoot it just as accurately as I do any of my other Glock pistols, and consistent 25 yard hits on reasonable size targets (half size silhouettes) are not a problem.
For the record, prior to taking this particular gun to the range, I treated it exactly the same as I have any other new Glock pistol. I did not clean it (Glock actually advises to leave the factory grease on their guns to help the parts break in). I simply field stripped it, applied a small amount of lube (Slip 2000 EWL) to the factory specified lubrication points, loaded it up, and started shooting. To date, I have a little over 500 rounds through the gun, and the mechanical operation of the pistol has been boringly reliable. Factory ammunition types have included PMC, Remington, Winchester, Hornady, Fiocci, and Cor-Bon. Ammunition also included both standard round-nose and flat point type target loads, and hollow-point type defensive loads (Cor-Bon hollow-points and Hornady Critical Defense). There have been no issues with any of it thus far. I also have intentionally tried to induce malfunctions by firing the gun from various compromised grip positions as well, and again, no issues thus far. I understand that 500 rounds through an individual gun does not say anything definitive for the model overall, so please take it with a grain of salt, but this particular pistol has certainly made it through its initial break in period with flying colors. As I get the chance to shoot it more, I plan to provide additional updates along the way.
Ok, fair warning, for anyone that was just looking for the mechanical details and doesn’t care about my personal opinions of the gun, feel free to stop reading here. . .
As anyone I’ve met over the years up at TDI already knows, I will freely admit my bias in favor of Glock pistols. While aesthetically ugly, I find them to be reliable, easy to shoot, and inexpensive. This is why my normal daily carry gun is a Glock 19. So please be aware that my personal observations are coming to you through that filter.
Personally, I find the Glock 42 to be a fun shooting little blaster. It handles/points/shoots just like any other pistol in the Glock lineup, so there is immediate familiarity if you are already accustomed to running Glock pistols. Unlike pretty much every other “pocket pistol” design out there, Glock was smart enough to. . .
1) Not add extra (unnecessary) controls to the gun. (Why do manufacturers think that just because they are making a smaller version of a gun design that already has perfectly acceptable safety features, they need to add extra external safeties?)
2) Not remove any of the normal controls from the gun. (Why do manufacturers think that small guns don’t require standard controls, such as a slide stop lever?)
3) Not use a totally different trigger mechanism that is way heavier and harder to shoot accurately than their normal line of pistols. (Why do manufacturers think that putting a heavy, long, double action trigger into a gun that is already more difficult to shoot because it is small is a good idea?)
I also offer my opinion on some of the common concerns that have been raised regarding the Glock 42:
“It is Bigger Than You Think.” Yes and no. In Greg’s review (see link above), he provided some great side by side pictures of my Glock 42 and his Smith & Wesson Shield (with the flush fit mag). If you look at those pictures, you will see that in terms of absolute size, the Shield really isn’t much bigger than the Glock 42. However, I have also included some photos of the Glock 42 next to another popular “pocket pistol”, the Smith & Wesson BodyGuard .380.
The BodyGuard is a little smaller, but again, you will probably see that there isn’t much difference in size between those two either. Pictures don’t entirely do it justice though. If you can (they are still a bit hard to find in stores), I recommend handling a Glock 42 if possible. Subjectively, it “feels” much smaller than something like the Shield. Absolute dimensions are only slightly smaller, but it is also significantly lighter (about 13oz vs. about 20oz), and the bore axis is lower, so it sits further down in the hand. In my opinion, the Glock 42 is just as big as it needs to be in order for most shooters to be able to treat it like a “normal” pistol, and no bigger. I am 6’ 2” with pretty good size hands, and I can still get a normal, two-handed, thumbs forward grip on the gun without having worry about adjusting my grip to keep from blowing the end of my support hand thumb off (like I have to do with other “pocket pistols” such as the BodyGuard, the Ruger LCP, etc.).
“But I Wanted a 9mm!” Agreed. If Glock ever manages to put out the same size/weight package as a 9mm, I absolutely will buy one. This one also leads into the question of “Well, why don’t I just get a Smith & Wesson Shield, it is only a little bigger, just as easy to shoot, and it is a 9mm?” I think the Shield is a great gun, but to my thinking, it is a tool with a different purpose. I think the Shield is a fantastic option as a primary pistol for someone with smaller hands (who doesn’t find a double-stack gun comfortable), or for someone who is just looking for something that is a bit flatter and more concealable than most standard double-stack auto-pistols. I also think the Shield makes a good potential backup gun for law enforcement, since they don’t really care all that much about concealment. In contrast, I see the Glock 42 filling a few specific purposes:
1) Backup gun for “normal” non-LE concealed carry. If you are like me, you want your pistol(s) to be truly concealed, and you want to be able to wear normal looking clothes. In my world, that means there is only room for one primary pistol (typically a Glock 19) on my belt, and the only realistic option for a backup gun (if I carry one) is a pants pocket. The Glock 42 fills that role. The Shield is simply too heavy/bulky for this purpose.
2) Deep concealment piece. For those occasions where discretion is absolutely mandatory, and you can’t get away with anything bigger, the Glock 42 fills this role nicely as well. It is also significantly better shooting that anything else of similar size/weight (S&W BodyGuard, Ruger LCP, Kahr .380, etc.)
3) Recoil sensitive shooters. For those that especially recoil sensitive, the Glock 42 gives them an option that is a little softer than a 9mm, but still handles and operates like a “normal” gun.
4) For those that simply won’t carry anything bigger than what they can put in a pocket. Ok, these are the dirty little secret that most folks in the Tactical Training circles don’t want to talk about. These are the people who refuse to adopt the idea of carrying a gun as a lifestyle change, and simply want something they can stick in their pocket rather than “dressing around their gun”. I can already hear the howls of derision from the folks I normally associate with, since people like that are not truly serious about their own personal defense. True enough, but I would hazard to bet that this type of person actually represents the large majority of “concealed carriers” out there. This is where I think Glock is really onto something with this particular pistol. It gives people like this a real pistol that is actually fun to shoot (so they will hopefully practice more with it), but is still small and light enough to carry in a pocket. Personally, I think Glock will sell a lot of guns in this market, and it will at least give these people something that they may actually enjoy enough to work with. As mentioned above, I personally would love it if Glock can shoehorn 9mm into the same size/weight package (and I suspect that is on their agenda), but understand that this same gun in a 9mm will not be nearly as much fun to shoot for the average owner. It would be great for dedicated shooters who are willing to put up with the extra recoil, but it is likely to be just unpleasant enough to make the casual user less likely to shoot it on a regular basis.
So, in summary, I think the Glock 42 is a very interesting pistol. What you basically end up with is a much skinnier, .380 caliber version of a Glock 26 that weighs about the same as the other polymer “pocket pistols” currently on the market, but handles like any other Glock, and has the felt recoil of a cap pistol. Ultimately, I do truly hope that Glock will eventually produce the same pistol in a 9mm. When/if that day comes, I absolutely will buy one. In the mean-time though, my recommendation is to not let the “perfect” be the enemy of the “pretty darn good.” I recommend checking out the Glock 42. If you can find occasion to shoot one, I think you will find that you end up liking it a lot more than you might think. I did.