Before the arrival of the double-stack micro-compact pistol caused mass hysteria around the concealed carry world, there was the humble single stack, and the little Glock 43X has become one of the concealed carry kings even in the age of double stacks. While the prevalence of single stacks has died down a bit since the introduction of Sig Sauer’s P365, they have by no means disappeared. To that end, the G43X was the top-selling handgun on Guns.com last year.
If that’s a bit of a head-scratcher, you’re not alone. So, let’s dig in and review this concealed carry staple to find out why it remains so popular.
A Little History
If you look back several years, the reigning champ of concealed carry options was the Glock 26. Compact and capable, it held 10+1 rounds and could accept higher capacity mags from the Glock 19 and Glock 17 to bring that round count to 15+1 or 17+1 respectively. But contrary to Glock’s slogan, the G26 wasn’t exactly perfection. It was a bit snappy given the short barrel paired with the short grip, and many shooters found it tough to get a full-handed purchase on the gun.
In 2012, Smith & Wesson introduced the M&P Shield. While it wasn’t the first single stack 9mm to come to market, it was the pivotal model to usher in the new era of conceal carry pistols. Glock got on board in 2015 when they released the Glock 43 and, in doing so, took the market by storm. They even converted quite a few G26 owners. The G43 had almost the same barrel length, but its width was almost exactly 0.24 inches thinner than the G26. That thinness, combined with the G43’s slightly longer grip, made it easier to get a grip and definitely easier to conceal.
That difference in width is noticeable when carried inside the waistband. It has a less pronounced bulge for printing and, in my opinion from carrying it, it’s far more comfortable. That, in turn, shifted the market. Thus, the new standard to measure carry guns became the Glock 43. That is until Sig came along with their P365 that held 10+1 rounds, with the ability to go up to 12 rounds, in a package of roughly the same size as the G43. The balance of power shifted at that point, and manufacturers started chasing the P365.
The ‘X’ Factor
In January of 2019, Glock clawed its way back into the fight with the Glock 43X. It maintained the G43’s slide dimensions with a 6-inch length and 0.87-inch width, but it added 0.79 inches to the grip. That’s enough room for all but the meatiest of paws to get a full purchase on the gun from a draw, and it allows the shooter to really lock the pistol into their correct grip without having to make compromises with pinkies hanging off.
This increase also allowed Glock to tuck another four rounds into the magazine and put them on the level playing field with Sig’s 10+1 rounds. While 10-round magazines are great, 15 is even better, and a company called Shield Arms released one shortly after the launch of the G43X. Now, at 15+1, you’re fighting on Glock 19 territory.
The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same
Outside of the physical dimensions, the Glock 43X is a relatively standard affair for the Glock lineup. You get Glock’s Safe Action Trigger and the 3.41-inch Glock Marksman Barrel. The thin nature of the frame helps the G43X avoid feeling like a brick like some other Glocks. But that isn’t to say that picking up the G43X doesn’t have a strong feeling of familiarity.
For all its benefits, once you load the magazines up for some trigger time, the decreased width does concentrate the gun’s recoil into a smaller portion of the web of your hand. This isn’t a bad experience for a brief round of training, but it’s not the most pleasant gun to put a few hundred rounds through. It’s a defensive gun, and it does its job fantastically well for that purpose. It chewed up every round I put through it: 124-grain Sierra Outdoor Master hollow points, 115-grain Blazer Brass, and even 115-grain steel-cased TulAmmo.
The aftermarket has also fully supported this battle for concealed carry supremacy. From the Shield Arms magazines to aftermarket frames and barrels, you can truly make this a custom pistol and fit it to your specific wants and needs. The internet abounds with people questioning the relevance of the Glock 19 now that there is a pistol capable of carrying the same capacity with a similar barrel length in a thinner package. Time will tell how that argument holds up.
The Glock 43X is still the durable, dependable Glock many shooters have come to know and love. But its thin profile and higher capacity make it a versatile self-defense tool that rivals both the Sig P365 and the ever-popular Glock 19. Even in the age of micro-compact double-stack 9mm pistols, it’s clear to see how this little gun became the Guns.com best seller last year.