The GLOCK 43X is a solid performer right out of the box. Here are some considerations and upgrades that may help you take this sleek wonder to the next level.
by Bob Campbell
Among the most successful pistols for GLOCK has been the GLOCK 43. The GLOCK 43 was the long-awaited Slimline 9mm. Compact, light, portable, and easily concealed, the GLOCK 43 gave us seven shots with GLOCK reliability. But the pistol was too small for some of us to shoot well. The GLOCK 43X solved that problem neatly. By extending the grip, we now have ten rounds and a firing grip that makes for a much better fit and feel for most hands.
The GLOCK 48 is also a good gun with its longer slide and barrel. All of what we discuss here with the GLOCK 43X may apply to the GLOCK 48. I simply like the shorter 43X for speed and carry comfort. When I cannot carry a larger pistol such as the GLOCK 19, the GLOCK 43X is more than a reasonable compromise.
At typical combat distances, the GLOCK 43X is a capable handgun. You aren’t helpless to 25 yards or a little more if you have practiced. That said, there are several upgrades that will make the GLOCK 43X an even better handgun. There is room for personal preference in sights. Holsters are subjective, but be certain you choose well. If you handload, you may wish to invest in a quality aftermarket barrel. Combat lights are important. And there is more…
Shield Arms Magazines
My research indicates that five or six shots is cutting it short in a defensive encounter. If you are an inner-city pharmacist or jeweler or work in another at-risk occupation, you probably should have a high-capacity pistol on your hip. Ten shots are usually more than enough. But then folks have drowned in a creek with an average three-foot depth. If you can have fifteen shots in the GLOCK 43X without an unwieldy, protruding magazine and ensure reliability, why not?
GLOCK magazines are steel with a polymer casing. After a considerable testing and evaluation, I find the Shield Arms conversion magazines a viable upgrade for those wishing to have greater magazine capacity. Magazine capacity isn’t everything, but in this case, it seems well worthwhile to upgrade the pistol. I have confirmed reliability over the past few months with more than six hundred cartridges fired in a total of six magazines without any drawbacks. This includes +P loads that generate greater slide velocity and may challenge the ability of the magazine to keep up the feed cycle. My friend A.P. has fired another four hundred rounds in his GLOCK using two magazines without issue.
When fully loaded, these magazines require a firm slam to seat if the slide is down. The proper way to load all high-capacity pistol magazines is to load three rounds and then slap the magazine on a boot heel or tabletop and seat the cartridges fully to the rear before continuing. Next, I lock the slide back, slap the magazine home, and drop the slide for a combat load. The Shield Arms magazines have strong magazine springs, but they are not difficult to load to capacity. These magazines may not be essential, but they are a good idea. A gun load and a spare magazine is now thirty rounds at ready. Be certain to change the original polymer magazine catch for the Shield Arms steel unit. GLOCK 43X magazines will function in the modified pistol.
I am an accuracy nut who intends to squeeze the nth degree of accuracy from any handgun. It isn’t a fool’s game with the compact 43X. Far from it. Those who deploy this pistol and practice and train find a surprisingly accurate handgun. GLOCK’s polygonal rifled barrel is fine. It isn’t going to wear out and accuracy is good.
A Faxon Firearm match-grade barrel is even more accurate. The unit is well made of good material. It is a slightly tighter fit than the original barrel, but the true value is in the rifling. The rifling is not only precise, but also hosts conventional type rifling that allows the use of lead bullets. I recommend these barrels for anyone interested in improving accuracy potential but especially for those who handload.
Talon Grips advertises “no more slippery grips.” I agree. The GLOCK grip is fine for most uses; however, for extreme cases when the palms are wet from perspiration or cold, a Talon grip offer a considerable edge. They do not increase the grip span dimensionally and provide the shooter with a consistent gripping surface.
The grips are less than .5mm thick. There are different textures available. I don’t recommend their coarsest grit for carry use. I applied the Pro Grip to one of my 43X test mules, and I like it a lot. It is an improvement that is inexpensive and something you may not realize you needed until you have it.
Factory GLOCK sights are OK for most uses (and I am damning them with faint praise). The optional GLOCK night sights are utilitarian…not bad. There are better sights. It depends on personal preference. None of the sights tested compromise holster fit, although some are more compact than others. Brightness, accuracy, and speed of target acquisition are important.
A simple three dot steel sight set like the Ameriglo offers a sharp sight picture for accurate shooting. They have an acceptable night sight picture and have proven to be durable.
TRUGLO offers several options — both fiber optic and tritium, and they even combine the two. When you combine fiber optics with tritium, you have a superior sight picture for day and night use. The TFO TRUGLO is a great sight set. Tritium Pro and TFX TRUGLO sights are other recommended options.
Among the best designed sights is the Wilson Combat Battle Sight. The sight offers a superb sight picture that allows for accurate shooting, and you can use it to pull back the slide on a heavy belt or boot heel, which tactical trainers tell us can be vital. This is another skill that you don’t realize is important until you need it! I added a tritium insert rear Battle Sight with a fiber optic front post to one of the 43X pistols. The result is a fast-handling sight that is well worth its price.
XS Sights offers several types of sights. These sights are formidable additions to any personal defense handgun. I have used the R3D extensively. This sight features three dots: two in the rear and one in the front — a standard configuration. For duty and service use, I like the R3D. The latest type I have used is the F8. The F8 uses a single tritium dot in the rear, which is aligned under the front sight. This sight offers brilliantly fast on-target-acquisition and good accuracy potential.
The DXT2 are the big dot front sights by XS. By applying the express sight concept to pistol sights, XS Sights created a very fast combination. The DXT2 is at its best for home defense. For greater accuracy, I prefer the F8.
Streamlight TLR 6
The G43X doesn’t feature a light rail. No problem there. Streamlight offers a 100-lumen light with a combination red or green laser. Hunting down a holster isn’t that difficult and adding the compact 2.3-inch-long combat light is an upgrade for many uses. The light is securely mounted, not easy on and off, but offers real utility.
A concealed carry holster must feature a balance of speed and retention. The holster must hold the pistol securely during day-to-day travel or work, but the handgun must be presented at an angle to be instantly available. The GLOCK 43X is well suited to inside-the-waistband carry, appendix carry, strong side, or crossdraw carry.
Crossbreed’s The Reckoning system features a high degree of adjustment, which is important in concealed carry. The backing is of a sturdy yet comfortable premium leather. The holster features adjustable tension and belt loop attachments. It is adjustable for the height of the ride below or above the belt, and for the draw angle. This is among a very few holsters suitable for inside-the-waistband, tuckable, or appendix carry.
The Wilson Combat Precision Ultra Appendix is a specialized, negative-angle appendix holster. Rather than using a claw or foot to prevent roll out — the butt rolling over the holster — the Precision Ultra Appendix design pulls the butt toward the body. The two robust belt clips take a strong bite out of the belt, keeping the holster secure. There are four points of retention. The holster features a cocking ledge on the face of the holster for use with the Wilson Combat Battle Sight or similar sights. This is a well-designed holster that is well worth its price.
Female shooters have struggled with choosing a purse holster for many years. Off-body carry isn’t ideal, and neither is pocket carry, but plenty of my brothers and sisters ascribe to these! The Purse Defender from CrossBreed Holsters offers good retention combined with an angled mounting plate. Available in small and normal sizes, and sized for model-specific pistols, the holster may be adjusted for the correct draw angle. I would say that for briefcase or valise carry, this is a good choice worth exploring.
Fiocchi offers excellent choices in 9mm Luger ammunition. Fiocchi’s Shooting Dynamics loads are designed for reliable function, a clean powder burn, and good accuracy. Accuracy is often match-grade in the right pistol. The loads are strong enough to reliably cycle the action and strike to the same point of aim as 115-grain service loads. For personal defense, the 115-grain Extrema is among my favorites. While the 124-grain is also an acceptable choice, the faster 115-grain loading may offer more consistent expansion. These loads are not the fastest on the market, but they do offer a good balance of expansion, penetration, and excellent control.
The GLOCK 43X is among the best-balanced, all-around concealed carry handguns available. With excellent reliability, good accuracy, and a host of respectable upgrades, this pistol is a viable choice for life-saving duty.
What I Like
- The pistol is long on reliability. The 43X is light, accurate enough for defense use, and with a handful of modifications, a superior defensive pistol.
What I Don’t Like
- The pistol isn’t quite as docile as the GLOCK 19 and other larger pistols, but this is a reasonable trade off.
What I Would Change
- The sights and the gripping surface.
- The GLOCK 43X compares favorably to the SIG P365XL and similar-size handguns.