Glock 43X: Personal Protection Perfection

With all of the tiny, micro-compact pistols on the market that hold so many rounds, why would someone choose the Glock 43X? After all, it only holds ten rounds and isn’t really that small.

So what’s the allure of this pistol? I’m glad you asked because I’m sure going to tell you!

Glock 43

For years, people had been clamoring for a single stack, small Glock. The company did acquiesce with the Glock 43 in 9mm. It sports a single-stack, six-round magazine and is a relatively small pistol. Perhaps not quite a “pocket pistol”, as it is just a little large for most pockets. Still, the 43 conceals very well, is light, and offers a little more capacity than a wheelgun (6+1).

It’s a great pistol, though the grip is a little too small for a lot of shooters. But then it goes without saying that we often have to give up something to get something. And people wanted a little something more.

Glock 43X

In January 2019, Glock introduced the model 43X. It features a grip that is the same length as the Glock 19, with a Glock 43 slide. The Glock 43 slide can literally be placed onto a Glock 43X, and vice versa, as they are exactly the same.

Glock 43X, Spyderco, ammo, magazine, and Surefire Combat light.
The Glock 43X and the rest of my carry package—spare magazine (usually two), Spyderco Native, and Surefire Combat light. Speer Gold Dot hollow points work great in the 43X!

This is not the 1st time that Glock went with a full-size grip and a shorter slide; the 19X also went this route (with lots of success, I might add).

More about the grip in a moment. Let me rave about the slide here. A short slide, when coupled with a standard-length grip, is a thing of joy. Why? Because the short slide indexes faster than a long slide. It simply can be moved faster to engage targets. In a gunfight, speed is life.

Another attribute of a shorter slide is that it clears the holster faster on the draw. Granted, fractions of a second come from shaving off fractions of an inch. Again, speed can save lives.

Initially, slides of the 43X were only available in a silver finish. Since I got one of the early ones, my slide is silver. I’d rather have the black finish, but the silver works well enough.

Did Glock invent the short slide and longer grip concept?

Not at all. Colt did it back in the 1970s with their Combat Commander. They figured that retaining a full-sized grip while mating a shorter slide to the pistol would create something handier and more concealable. And they were right, as those pistols became instantly popular with shooters. I find it mildly humorous that some shooters have never heard of this concept before. It’s up to us older folks to educate the younger ones.

As mentioned, the handling is vastly improved. Indexing on targets is faster and the shorter slide clears the holster faster.

For a time, shooters were upset with Glock when they made their 19X with a long, Glock 17-length grip and a shorter Glock 19-length slide. They thought it should be the other way around, with a longer slide (they reasoned that a longer sight radius would help with long-range accuracy) and a shorter grip for enhanced concealment. Know what else has a longer sight radius? A rifle.

Sales proved that shooters really do prefer the shorter slide and longer grip! The Glock 19X has enjoyed thriving sales and the 43X seems to be doing quite well also. Apparently, when shooters get this type of pistol in their hand, the light bulb goes on. It’s one of those cases where the result is greater than the sum of the parts. They just handle so well!

Is the Glock 43X a pocket pistol?

Some of the micro compact pistols these days are being marketed as “pocket pistols.” And a few of them out there actually would function in such a role. Most, though, are a bit larger than would be practical to carry in a pocket. At least, as far as pants pockets are concerned. Coat pockets, being larger as they are, would be easier.

The Glock 43X never really claimed to be tiny enough to stick into a pocket. And I wouldn’t even attempt to force it into such a role.

I look at it as a fairly compact carry pistol. To me, it’s not even a sub-compact. It’s just a perfectly sized carry pistol with a very comfortable grip. It’s not pretending to be something that it’s not.

Technical Specifications

  • Slide Length: 6.06 inches.
  • Width: 1.10 inches.
  • Height: 5.04 inches.
  • Overall Length: 6.5 inches.
  • Weight: 16.4 ounces.
  • Magazine capacity: 10 rounds.
  • Barrel length: 3.41 inches.


The pistol comes equipped with standard Glock sights with the famous “goal post.” I happen to love the goalpost configuration because it shows up great in my eyesight. The only part I don’t like about the sights is that they are made from polymer instead of steel.

I elected to have a set of night sights installed, and went with Ameriglo. They are good sights and work well, being very durable.

Get A Grip!

The grip profile of the 43X is approximately one inch. That measurement, to me, means very little. Let me break it down in my own terms—this is one of the very best grips of any carry pistol that I’ve ever held in my hand. It is absolute perfection, as far as I’m concerned, and from a factory pistol, that’s saying quite a bit!

43X in the author's hand.
The 43X’s grip is just so perfect, it’s amazing! It manages to fill the hand, and yet is not overly large. All controls are easy to reach, given the smaller dimensions. The beavertail allows a nice, high grip on the frame, which adds to the control. Plus there’s plenty of room for the pinkie finger on this pistol.

These days, micro-compact pistols give us grips that are mostly compromises. Yes, they’re often very short. Yes, they often hold a bewildering volume of rounds. However, they are compromises in that they’re either too short and/or too fat. Something about them is not going to be “just right.” Many times, we find our pinkie finger hanging in space underneath the grip.

As a matter of fact, look at all the “micro” pistol models that came out within the past few years—they’re now making larger versions! Sig’s P365 now has larger versions, along with a few of the other makers. Grips are longer and the guns have become “XL” models. The trend seems to be going toward slightly larger pistols again.

The 43X grip is not a compromise, as they went “big” right away. Except that it’s not really big, it’s maybe medium at best. It’s not quite a single-stack magazine inside; more like a 1 1/2 stack. So, less than a full double-stack. That helps the magazine keep the grip slim, which is a major advantage of this pistol.

The Gen 5 type RTF (Rough Texture Finish) on the grip is also outstanding, giving good purchase while not being abrasive to the skin while carrying concealed. It’s constructed of tiny pyramids (we can’t really see that they’re pyramids, but Glock assures us that they are). I really love this texture.

There are no finger grooves on the grip either, it’s just straight. That is a huge advantage. Apparently, Glock received enough feedback about the finger grooves on other models in the past that they used to use that they removed them. I didn’t hate them, but I prefer the straight front strap.

A slight palm swell helps to really lock the grip into the shooter’s hand, which is yet another shining aspect of this grip.  There is also a beaver tail built in, which helps us to get a nice, high grip.

Truly, the grip is the heart of this pistol.

Drawing the Glock 43X

The longer grip really facilitates a speedy, secure draw. That’s the thing about having a full-sized grip, it really allows your hand to not only find the grip, but get a solid hold when drawing. With the smaller pistols, this can be a real challenge, and in an emergency, it costs time. It could potentially even cause the pistol to be dropped during the draw, which would be disastrous.

Drawing the Glock 43X from IWB holster
An advantage of a full-length grip is that it greatly facilitates a positive draw stroke. A solid grip on your pistol is vital.


The slide on the early 43X models is silver in color (they are now available in black). There are serrations in the usual place in back, but also forward on the slide, which helps in doing press checks.

Although my 43X is not so equipped, new models have a slot for fitting MOS sights. These sights seem to be all the rage in handguns at the moment, making this option popular with shooters.


The 3.41-inch barrel is a GMB (Glock Marksman Barrel). I’m not sure if it’s any more accurate than a standard Glock barrel, but the little pistol does shoot very accurately. Groups are usually around two inches at 15 yards. Recently, I tested the 43X out to 75 yards and I was getting hits on man-sized targets easily at that range. I’ve no doubt that I could get hits at least out to 100 yards, and possibly even farther. This little pistol can shoot!

75 yard target with the 43X.
At 75 yards, the Glock 43X can keep rounds on target. The pistol would actually work at even farther distances.


These days, so many of the micro pistols have round counts that are in the teens. In fact, we’ve gotten used to that. The 43X carries ten rounds in the factory magazines.

Two spare magazines and Speer ammunition.
Ten rounds are nothing to sneeze at, and carrying one or two spare magazines gives a decent amount of firepower. Glock magazines are incredibly durable, as well.

Shield Arms advertises 15-round metal magazines. However, the factory polymer magazine release should be switched out for a metal one because the magazines are metal. Personally, I don’t like switching out parts for my pistols like that, so I’ve elected to stay with the factory Glock magazines.

I’ve never had a single issue with any of the Glock factory magazines that I’ve used over the years. And some have been used very hard at various trainings I’ve attended. It’s not unheard of for magazines to be dropped on concrete floors, careening across the floor. Not one of them has ever been ruined by it. I have seen magazines from other major pistols destroyed by such activity, though. Glock magazines are just as durable as their pistols.

Are 10 rounds enough?

We’ve gotten spoiled with some of these high-round-count pistols these days. I like lots of rounds in a defensive firearm just as much as the next person. More is better.

That said, is 10+1 sufficient?

Some of us carry five-shot .38 snub-nosed revolvers every now and then for defense under certain circumstances. Not everyone, but enough people that it’s not uncommon. The 43X carries more than twice as many rounds. And spare magazines provide a fast, efficient way to reload should that become necessary.

While it’s true that many micro-pistols manage to carry close to 15 rounds, look at them. The grip is normally not as efficient as the 43X’s grip, in that it’s shorter and usually fatter. It’s just plain not as comfortable, nor does it offer sufficient purchase to make it a good shooter.

Yes, I know, many of us can manage to score hits with the tiny pistols at defensive distances, and that’s all well and fine. But there’s something to be said about having an honest-to-goodness combat handgun in our hands should the Moment Of Truth strike.

Such a thing equates to accuracy, speed, and control. Those are three damn important factors to have in our court if we are ever fighting for our life with a handgun. And the 43X grip supplies those things where other micro-pistols absolutely fall short.

Personally, I feel okay about carrying a pistol with a 10+1 capacity for defensive use. I carry at least one, but usually two, spare magazines. That gives me 31 rounds, just in case.

Firing Characteristics

Considering that the Glock 43X falls sort of into the mid-size range as far as auto pistols are concerned, I’d say that’s how it fires. It’s not a light, tiny pistol that’s hard to keep a grip on and has sharp recoil. It’s not like a large-sized pistol that soaks up most of the recoil, either. There’s a little muzzle flip, but it’s not bad at all. Certainly, it’s controllable and comfortable to shoot, even in rapid fire.


I have other, smaller pistols that I carry on occasion. However, I find myself carrying my Glock 43X the vast majority of the time. I like having something that’s sizeable enough to make me feel like I have a capable pistol in my hand. And this pistol accomplishes that.

Author holding the 43X.
The Glock 43X isn’t a tiny pistol, but it’s far from large. It has excellent shooting and carrying characteristics with very manageable recoil.

Glock 43x accuracy is plenty for self-defense, and then some. It will reach out to ranges that it doesn’t have any business reaching out to. There’s never such a thing as too much accuracy.

The comfort of the grip is something that never wears out with me. Every time I hold the pistol, I’m still amazed at how great it feels in the hand. I’m not alone in this—two other close family members also have the 43X, and a few friends have been turned onto it by me. Every one of them is as enamored with it as I am. Even female friends and family, who aren’t really “into” guns, like it a lot.

Glock hit a home run with their 43X. I can’t find anything not to like about it. Plus, it’s easy to maintain and it has the ridiculous Glock reliability going for it. What’s not to like?

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. He is a dedicated Christian and attributes any skills that he has to the glory of God.

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