Glock 43 Vs. Smith And Wesson 642: Pocket Rocket Showdown

They only hold a few rounds. Carrying one or the other is going to be a compromise. In this day and age of little handguns that hold lots of rounds, why would someone bother to carry either the Glock 43 or the S&W 642?

Today we’ll break down the good, the bad, and the ugly of these two little handguns. Let’s first look at the technical specifications of the two competitors.

Glock 43, S&W 642.
Both the Glock 43 and the S&W 642 are similarly sized and very close in weight.

Glock 43

In 2015, Glock introduced the model 43. People wanted a single-stack Glock that would be more concealable than all the other Glocks. The single stack holds six 9mm rounds. As with every other Glock, this one is striker-fired.

The barrel length is 3.41 inches, with an overall length of 6.26 inches. Height is 4.25 inches including the magazine. The width of the G43 is 1.06 inches (the slide is .87 inches thick), and the weight is 16.23 ounces unloaded.

S&W 642 Airweight

Smith and Wesson’s model 642 is a lightweight alloy framed revolver with a stainless steel barrel and cylinder. It has an enclosed hammer to eliminate snagging. The design dates back to 1950 (when J-Frames were introduced).

The weight of the 642 is 14.4 ounces and barrel length is 1.88 inches. Capacity is five .38 caliber rounds (rated for +P use).

The frame and metal have a pleasing, matte silver finish that I find to be very attractive.

The Mission

Often, I’ll take either of these handguns when I’m out and about and my family is not with me. My mission, as always, is to avoid trouble. These small handguns with limited capacity allow me to break contact if I’m attacked and get out of Dodge.

These guns are not the first on my list if I’m out with family members. Why? Because let’s say we’re in a store and I’m checking out some items a few aisles away from my family and a problem arises. Maybe a mass shooter enters the store. I now have to work my way to my family, wherever they might be. During that process, I might need to confront one or more gunmen. Five or seven rounds are not going to be optimal for such an event; I’d prefer to have more rounds onboard than that.

Running into a convenience store for a few items is okay. Launching a rescue mission with such small handguns is another story.


I’ll admit to having somewhat of a soft spot in the nostalgia department. Sometimes one of the things I like about carrying a revolver is that old-school nostalgia. It’s just neat.

Conversely, the Glock isn’t exactly considered nostalgic by many people. However, if we think back to when it was first introduced in America (the 1980s), it’s sure not a spring chick. To me, the ’80s seem to be about 10 or 15 years ago. I have to remind myself that 1980 is 43 years ago as I write this article. Yikes! We’re getting old! So yeah, Glock could almost be considered to be nostalgic by some folks.


Historically, revolvers are legendary for their reliability. That’s not to say they are 100% and nothing can go wrong with them, but it’s kind of rare. Their reputation for reliability is well deserved.

S&W 642, Glock 43 on the range.
Both pistols were reliable on the range. In fact, it had just begun snowing and the author’s gear was getting soaked by melting snow!

Glocks are also considered to be some of the most reliable semi-autos on the market as well. They can hang with the best of them, compared to any other brand on the planet. It is rare, indeed to find a Glock that experiences regular stoppages.

In this department, I’d say these two handguns are running neck and neck. Both are superb choices if we’re after a reliable handgun.


Both of these handguns are seriously lightweight!

The Glock, coming in at 16.23 ounces is slightly edged out by the S&W, which weighs 14.4 ounces. Is that slight difference in weight going to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for anyone? It’s doubtful, but hey, I could be wrong. Will it shove me in one direction or another? Not a chance. I won’t notice the weight difference when carrying either one.

Suffice it to say that both are specifically geared toward giving us a very lightweight handgun to carry. I’ve carried both, and they’re both extremely comfortable during carry as far as weight is concerned.

To find a lighter pistol to carry, we’re going to have to take a serious step down in terms of size, caliber, and effectiveness.


Both handguns are similarly sized. The S&W J-Frame is a good bit thicker, given its cylinder circumference.

Obviously, the Glock is thinner and flatter, which to me, makes it easier and more comfortable to conceal and carry.

S&W 642 and Glock 43 side by side.
In a side-by-side comparison, the Glock is obviously flatter and thinner than the S&W. Nevertheless, the S&W is not difficult to conceal.

I carried the S&W 642 extensively on jobs as a delivery man, and it never let me down. Even when I had to bend over and pick up heavy materials, the little revolver wasn’t usually uncomfortable, despite its thickness. It’s small enough that it mostly stays out of the way. I say “mostly” because any weapon that we carry is, at one point or another, going to become a pain. Bending in half at the waist and picking up items off the floor, any pistol that is in our waistband is going to let its presence be known.

I carried the 642 AIWB (Appendix Inside The Waistband). At no point did anyone ever have an inkling that I was carrying a concealed handgun, which is exactly as I wanted it.

The Glock 43, with its flatter, thinner profile, is a real dream to carry. Its light weight and small grip add to the pleasure of carrying it. Like the 642, it seems to disappear into the waistline when carrying AIWB.

A bonus that the 642 enjoys is that it can be carried in a pocket in a pocket holster, and it virtually disappears. Or if it’s carried in a coat pocket, it can be fired from inside that pocket reliably because there’s no hammer to catch on the material. If there’s a threat, I can have the revolver pointed at it and the threat does not realize it.


As mentioned, the S&W 642 holds five shots, while the Glock 43 holds 6+1. Magazine extensions are available for the Glock 43, so capacity can be expanded somewhat for that pistol. However, I tend to strictly stick with Glock factory gear for my Glocks.

Obviously, the Glock 43 has an edge in the capacity department.


The .38 Special for the 642 is a long-accepted round for self-defense. Cops carried it on duty forever, and it performed adequately most of the time.

Speer has a round out in their Gold Dot lineup specifically made for short-barreled handguns (namely revolvers). It is 135 grain +P with a muzzle velocity of 860 feet per second. That’s what I carry in my 642, as it seems to be a solid performer.

The 9mm for the Glock 43 is an old standby, and I also like Speer Gold Dot for this round as well. The 124 grain loading is a nice weight with a muzzle velocity of 1,220 feet per second. 

Either of these calibers is good for self-defense, although the 9mm has a little more zip to it.

Speed/Ease Of Reloading

With the S&W 642, I carry two spare speed strips of five rounds each. They lay flat, so I can put them in a back pocket, which is convenient. However, loading a revolver with them is a fairly slow process, especially when the hands are trembling from the affects of adrenaline.

Revolver speed strip and Glock 43 magazine.
I reload the S&W via speed strips. The Glock 43, of course, uses magazines. The rounds can be seen here—on the left is a speed strip loaded with .38 Special and to the left of those is one round of 9mm. The ammo is all Speer Gold Dot hollow point.

The Glock 43, with its 6-round magazines, is the clear-cut winner in the reloading category. The little single-stack magazines are very slim and easily fit into a pocket. They’re super easy to perform a magazine change with if it’s ever needed.

Personally, I prefer the G43 magazines with the extended baseplate because it gives my pinkie finger a place to grasp, which really helps my ability to shoot the pistol well. 


Both pistols are adequate for defense in the accuracy department. I haven’t bench-rested them next to each other to split fractions of an inch to see which is more accurate, because that’s not what these guns are intended for.

At realistic distances (25 yards is stretching it), the Glock 43 is the winner for accuracy. It’s just easier and faster for me to shoot, probably because of the superior sights and trigger.

G43 Target.
The Glock 43 proved to have a definite edge in the accuracy department. Here, the sights needed to be adjusted. Once they were, groups were centered.


Speaking of the trigger, let’s compare.

The Glock 43’s trigger pull weighs in around six pounds. There is a long take-up, followed by a crisp break. Every pull of the trigger is consistent. I’m one of the odd people who happens to like the Glock trigger.

As for the S&W 642, the double-action-only trigger pull is around 12-14 pounds. I don’t have a scale to measure it, but that’s what other people have told me. And I can tell you that it is heavy! Extremely heavy! Thankfully, it is also fairly smooth. I have no doubt that the 642’s accuracy at distances suffers because of this heavy trigger pull.

In this department, the Glock 43 is the clear winner, it’s no contest.

Personal Preference — Conclusion

Here we are, at the end of the comparison. So which one wins?

Before I say that, I’ll say this: I like them both for what they are intended for. They are small, easily concealable, and easily carried handguns for personal defense.

For me, the Glock 43 is generally the winner. For its ease of carry (thinness and light weight), shootability, reloadability, and accuracy. It beats the S&W 642 in all of these departments.

With that said, I’m not completely retiring my 642. I still do enjoy carrying it on occasion. Why? Because I just do. And that’s a good enough reason for me.

Jim Davis served in the PA Dept. of Corrections for 16 ½ years as a corrections officer in the State Correctional Institute at Graterford and later at SCI Phoenix. He served on the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), several of those years as a sniper, and also the Fire Emergency Response Team (FERT). For 25 years, he was a professional instructor, teaching topics including Defensive Tactics, Riot Control and Tactical Operations, Immediate Responder, and cognitive programs as an adjunct instructor at the DOC Training Academy. He was then promoted to the title of corrections counselor, where he ran a caseload and facilitated cognitive therapy classes to inmates. His total service time was close to 29 years. He was involved in many violent encounters on duty, including incidents of fatalities.

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