The Glock 42 has been around for nearly a decade, and many claim it’s still the best .380 self-defense pistol. It’s no surprise considering Glock has been manufacturing dependable firearms for many years.

In the years since the release of the G42, the concealed carry pistol market has exploded with so many choices it can make your head spin. The majority of these are 9mm, leaving out the .380 shooters. Let’s examine why the G42 is still a fantastic option for concealed carry.

Table of Contents

First Impressions
Customizing the G42
Hitting the Range
Accessories Included
Pros and Cons
Final Thoughts

First Impressions


Glock G42
The Glock 42 is a small .380 caliber pistol that feels like it was made for concealed carry. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/

If you’re familiar with one Glock, you’re familiar with them all. My two primary carry pistols are the Glock 43 and 48 MOS, so this felt immediately comfortable. When I received the gun, I spent some time dry firing, and it didn’t take long to start picking up the sights quickly. I have to say, the G42 just feels good in the hands. Even for those unfamiliar with Glock, I’d bet they would say the same.

The G42 is a small and lightweight gun. It’s not tiny like most .380 pocket pistols, but it’s smaller than I expected, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The barrel length is 3.25 inches and the overall length is 5.94 inches. This makes it roughly half an inch shorter than my G43, but otherwise, they feel similar in size.

Glock G42
The pinky extension makes the G42 look larger than the G43, but it’s slightly smaller. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/

Small pistols get a bad rap for having terrible grips, but this one feels nice. It’s slim yet curved on the back and rounded on the front. I found it to be comfortable to handle and shoot. I have small hands, so I don’t usually struggle with small guns, but I do prefer a contoured grip, and the G42 delivers. If you have large hands, you might not be able to get a full grip, but the pinky extension on the Glock magazines helps.

The texturing on the grip is the standard “raised square” pattern Glock uses on the front, rear, and sides. It’s not aggressive like other pistols I own, so it won’t hurt your hands or destroy your t-shirts if you carry it inside the waistband. Utility-wise I’d say it falls somewhere between good and needs improvement. I consider it a medium texture—just enough to give you some grip but not enough when your hands are wet or sweaty. 

Customizing the G42


Glock G42
Both the charging handle and the mag release show the vast amount of aftermarket support for Glocks. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/

This particular Glock 42 is Certified Used from the Vault. It’s in great shape and comes with some aftermarket features.

First is the charging handle by Recover Tactical, which aids in racking the slide. I’ve never had any issue racking slides, but Glocks can be pretty stiff when they’re new. This feature would be helpful for someone with limited hand strength. I like that it’s not a permanent modification and only takes a few minutes to install or remove. If I were to keep this gun, I’d remove the charging handle because it does add slight bulk, and that’s a factor I consider for a concealed carry gun.

Second, this G42 has an extended magazine release by NDZ Performance. I have the same one on my G43, making it easier and faster to drop the magazine–especially with small hands. It’s currently set up for a left-handed shooter but can easily be switched.

Glock G42
The TLR-6 fits like a glove. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/

A Streamlight TLR-6 weapon-mounted laser/light which is made specifically for the G42 rounds out the list of accessories. It attaches to the trigger guard, as there is no accessory rail with the G42, without getting in the way of any controls. The fact that Streamlight still made a laser for this gun despite it not having an accessory rail just shows how much pull Glock has in the aftermarket industry and how immensely popular these guns are. 

My favorite upgrade is the Trijicon night sights. The rear and front sight have a bright white outline with a green tritium center, making them fast to pick up. Glock factory sights are made of plastic and notoriously easy to damage. Trijicon sights are much more durable and secure due to being screwed on instead of staked like the Glock factory sights. 



Glock G42
Getting extra mags included feels like Christmas morning. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/

Caliber: .380 ACP
Capacity: 6+1
Action: Double-Action Only (DAO)
Length: 5.94 inches
Barrel Length: 3.25 inches
Height: 4.13 inches
Width: 0.98 inches
Weight: 12.17 ounces

Hitting the Range


.380 ACP ammo
I went through 175 rounds of ammo over a few sessions. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/

Believe it or not, this is the first .380 ACP gun I’ve ever shot. When I first started shooting pistols 15 years ago, I learned on a Glock 19 9mm and have shot that caliber ever since. I was surprised at the difference in recoil compared to 9mm. It’s a lot less than my G43 and feels much less snappy.

The trigger is rough, which is to be expected on a Glock. There wasn’t much take-up on this G42, and the reset was very crisp. With a 5.5lb trigger pull, it feels heavy for such a small pistol, but it’s not a deal breaker if you practice. It took me a few magazines before I shot some decent groups. The front sight settles back on target nicely since there isn’t much recoil, but the heavy trigger leaves some room for error in accuracy. 

Glock G42
The G42 is an excellent option for new and experienced shooters. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/

I felt like I could shoot it all day because my hands didn’t feel beat up after 100 rounds. I even joked with my husband that if I’d shot .380 initially, I probably wouldn’t have switched to 9mm.

Related: .380 ACP vs 9mm for Self-Defense Ammo: What’s the Real Difference?

Over a few range sessions, I put 150 rounds of PMC Bronze 90 grain FMJ through the G42. I experienced three failures to feed, which I suspect was the ammo, but it also could have been the Glock magazines with Strike Industries +2 extenders. 

Accessories Included

One of the great things about getting a Certified Used Gun from the Vault is that it usually will come with extra goodies. If you’re looking to get into concealed carry or add another option, this bundle has everything you need and shows how there are endless customization options for Glock pistols.

This G42 came with 6 magazines! Three 6-round factory mags with Glock pinky extensions and three 6-round factory mags with Strike Industries +2 extensions.

Glock G42
Three included holsters mean you can start carrying right away. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/

And three Kydex holsters, including one for inside the waistband, outside the waistband, and a Flashbang bra holster. All said, this is a perfect package for someone looking to pick up a gun and start carrying it right away. 

Pros and Cons

One thing I love about Glocks is that they’re simple. You don’t need to be a gunsmith to operate, disassemble or clean them. If you’re familiar with any Glock, you’re familiar with the G42. And, if you’re brand new, a Glock is a fantastic starting point.

•    Simple to operate
•    Proven quality track record
•    Slim profile conceals easily
•    Reliable for everyday carry
•    Low recoil
•    Tons of available accessories

•    Glock triggers leave a lot to be desired
•    No factory magazines larger than 6 rounds
•    Grip may be too small for some


Final Thoughts

I enjoyed shooting this G42 and can see why so many people have raved about it over the years. The light recoil, accuracy, and dependability make it a great self-defense pistol. And the slim profile is easily hidden on even the smallest framed shooter. The G42 is a solid option for concealed carry.

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