My GLOCK 43 ain’t no barbecue gun, that’s for sure. That’s okay. Pretty wasn’t something I was looking for when I bought it. I didn’t want something with high sentimental value. I wanted something that I could walk away from if it was seized as evidence after a defensive gun use. I didn’t want to sweat it if it shows some holster wear, or a few scratches from regular range trips . . .
I wanted something that I could detail-strip down to the very last part without taking a week-long armorer’s course. The caliber couldn’t be smaller than 9x19mm, and it had to be small enough to carry comfortably and discreetly when I worked in a professional office where wearing a blazer or vest all day long in the summer would not be practical.
I wanted something that I was decent with in the field. This meant that it had to fit my hand right without too much fiddling. The trigger didn’t have to be 1911-esque, but it at least had to be something I’d like practicing with. That meant it had to have a hard break and a crisp reset. Oh, and no “double action/single action” crunchentickers. I only wanted to train on one trigger pull, thank you very much.
The road I took to getting a GLOCK-brand GLOCK 43 was a bit long and twisty. I tried and carried a variety of guns over the years, but something kept pulling me back to Gaston.
Maybe it was destiny. Before I’d even taken the step of buying a gun, I’d taken a day-long basic handgun class sponsored by the FIRE Institute in Pittsburgh, and Tony, the course administrator, was kind enough to let me borrow a GLOCK 19. (My friend Rob, who took the class with me, was loaned a 1911. Some guys get all the luck, eh?) Considering that I hadn’t as much as touched a gun in years, and almost all of my experience with handguns up to that point had been with revolvers, I was pretty pleased with how well it worked. I had the feeling that I should just get a GLOCK.
Of course, with all those years of higher education under my belt, I knew better than to trust a mere ‘feeling’ — right? So ‘objectively’ looking at the situation, I decided my first pistol would be something that I could pocket carry. I chose a Kahr MK9.
Why the Kahr? Well, there was no way I was going to pocket carry a GLOCK 19 or even a 26 without radically changing my wardrobe, and I didn’t feel like buying pants a size bigger to carry them IWB, so they were quickly crossed off the list. Other handguns got nixed for similar reasons. I was planning on carrying this pistol, I didn’t want something that just sat in a night stand. The Kahr seemed to fit the bill. A local gun store had one in stock, so I went out one fine Thursday evening and took it home with me.
It was a nice little gun, and its pocketability helped me acclimate myself to the idea of, you know, actually walking around out in public while not feeling that I was broadcasting to everyone that I had a gun. (A feeling common to a lot of first-time concealed carriers, I hear.) I seemed to do okay with it when I shot it at static paper targets at my own pace. I was happy with it. For a while.
Alas, reality intruded. One of the conditions that my (hitherto anti-gun) wife insisted on when I announced that I was buying a gun was that, being inexperienced in such things, we needed to take a serious training course. So we signed up for another class hosted through the FIRE Institute — Randy Cain’s Tactical Handgun 101. There’s nothing like an intensive three day course to get to know a gun, and after that course, I discovered that the Kahr just wasn’t working for me. Because of its small grip, small barrel, and extra-looong trigger, I found that I was sacrificing a lot of speed for accuracy when doing drills. Far more than I’d done at the one-day course with the GLOCK. My wife, armed with her own GLOCK 19 and paucity of firearms experience had…well, let’s dial “O” for “outshot” me at that course. (This turned out to not be a fluke – she outshoots me regularly in an apples-to-apples situation. But I digress….)
I’d also noticed that while the MK9 was technically pocketable, hauling around a pound and a half of steel and lead in a pants pocket all day long gets uncomfortable. The Kahr had migrated to an over-the-waistband holster on my belt on those times when I could wear a jacket or untucked shirt. It was more comfortable and more easily drawn….but it also removed the primary reason for carrying such a small gun in the first place. If I could accommodate a baby Kahr on the belt, surely I could reasonably accommodate something a little larger. I had the feeling that I should just get a GLOCK.
Naturally, I pushed those feelings aside when I saw and handled a 9mm Springfield EMP at the local gun store. Oh my god – the gun looked awesome, felt awesome, had an awesome trigger, awesome sights, yes, take my money, please! You sure that’s enough? I did some internet searching, read a few reviews that warned that the gun may not be bulletproof in its reliability, and promptly disregarded them.
I loved that little EMP so much that the fact that it was basically broken on day one (jamming every second or third round fired) and required a two week trip back to the Springfield factory for a laundry list of repairs and tweaks didn’t deter me. It seemed to work just fine after it came back, and it became my everyday carry gun for most of a year. It even survived another FIRE Institute three day handgun course, where it performed like a champ, and I did very well, indeed. I figured I’d found the RIGHT gun.
Until it started jamming. Again. For no clear reason. I debated sending it back, but my trust had been pretty much broken. I had the feeling that I should just get a GLOCK.
Naturally, I rejected those feelings and traded in the EMP for a Colt Commander XSE. I loved the 9mm 1911, so maybe a .45 1911 would be better, right? Same 1911 manual of arms, this time a “MAN-sized” caliber, the way God and John Moses Browning intended. Right?
The Colt had a few minor hiccups out of the box, but nothing too severe. I was dead-on accurate with it, just like with the Springfield…but it didn’t fit right for me. I may be in the minority here, but the Colt just didn’t fit my hand right. I had all kinds of weird joint pain in my thumb when I fired it. (And no, it wasn’t because the .45 was ‘too much’ — I may be a 98-pound weakling, but I can handle the .45 ACP, .44 magnum, and .357 magnum just fine, thanks. Something about this particular gun just didn’t fit my hand correctly.) I asked some folks with gray hair about it, and the consensus was that I really ought to take it to a gunsmith, maybe have some work done on it, and have it perfectly fitted. Someone offered the opinion that the 1911 would indeed be the perfect platform for me, once I had sunk another $1,000.00 into it.
While I’m hardly an indigent, at this point, the ‘feeling’ about ‘maybe trying a GLOCK’ started soaking into my higher brain functions. The turning point came when my wife – who’d only owned two guns, both GLOCKs, asked: “Hey, is there some reason you don’t want to just get a GLOCK?”
Confronted with that question, I realized that I didn’t have an answer beyond: “but…it’s an ugly brick…and everyone has one!” Which is really no argument at all. I realized that I’d been going about the process all wrong. I was looking for something that was cool to carry, while losing sight of what was important: a reliable tack-driver that I could use, abuse, modify as I saw fit, and (ultimately) replace without batting an eyelash. A conservation I’d had with firearms trainer Giles Stock on the subject of guns loomed large in my mind. Paraphrasing, it went something like this:
Giles: What kind of tools do you have in your garage?
JKP: I don’t know…the usual stuff. Some hammers, drills, wrenches. A jack and some ramps for my cars. I just bought a DeWalt impact wrench.
Giles: Did you buy the DeWalt because it looked nice?
JKP: No, of course not!
Giles: Do you care if it gets scratched?
JKP: Not as long as it keeps working.
Giles: If the wrench broke, would you think twice about throwing it away and replacing it?
Giles: So why are you thinking about this gun any differently from your impact wrench It’s just a tool. It’s for self-defense. Get one that works. If you want something pretty, you can get a toy later.
He had a point. I’d been spending too much time sweating details and losing sight of the bigger picture.
So I sold the 1911, and picked up two guns with the proceeds: an OD green GLOCK 17 and an early Gen 3 GLOCK 19. I then spent a week at in the Arizona desert at Gunsite Academy with the 17 getting used to it. I wasn’t as good a shot as it as I had been with the EMP, but I became a pretty good shot with it, and I had a lot more confidence in the platform as well as what I could do with it. Some practice at home confirmed that these skills also transferred over to the 19. No, it wasn’t as cool as the 1911, but they worked, they carried lots of ammo (probably more than I’d need in any likely threat scenario,) and with a little help from a fellow Gunsite student and a bunch of You Tube videos, I learned how to disassemble both of completely and reassemble them.
I carried both, although I favored the 19 just due to comfort. At this point, I had a job with a tech startup whose dress code can be summed up with the phrase, “Please don’t embarrass us too much.” Dressing around the gun turned out to be pretty easy, since an untucked shirt covered up whatever GLOCK happened to be on my hip. For a good many years, I carried either the 17 or the 19, and all was good.
Things changed a bit last year, when I took a job with a more traditional firm, whose dress code involved tucked shirts and actually, you know, looking like a professional. I kept carrying the GLOCK 19 (perfectly in compliance with company policy) up to the point where a friendly coworker (we’ll call him John) let me know discreetly that he had ‘made’ me during a private conversation.
I think his exact words were: “What the hell are you carrying in your pants? Are you actually packing heat? For real?”
Concealed means concealed, after all, and clearly my current setup wasn’t quite optimized for a button down shirt environment. I decided to reassess my carry setup, and in the meantime, out of an abundance of discretion, I started carrying my “for ultra-concealment purposes only” Kahr P380 for the next month.
This was…sub-optimal for the long term. The effectiveness of the .380ACP round for self-defense purposes is debatable, I’d practiced only intermittently with the baby Kahr, and when I did, I found speed and accuracy to be a problem with it for the same reasons I had with the MK9. Its primary reason for existence was its concealability. I decided that I was going to need another tool — something a little slimmer than the G19 but still packing a decent round. If only GLOCK made a single-stack pistol.
Then, GLOCK released the 9mm GLOCK 43.
It turned out that the GLOCK 43 was almost perfect for what I wanted. The GLOCK manual of arms that I liked, the ease of field- or detail-stripping, the low maintenance, all in a single-stack, easy to hold, easy to conceal frame. I could even pocket carry if I needed to (though I have done so only a couple of times so far.) What was not to like?
Well, the magazine capacity for one. Only six rounds. But after getting a few +2 extensions from Ghost and Taran Tactical, and a few +1 extensions from Pearce, that got better. The Pearce +1 extensions are $9.00-ish online and almost identical in size to the GLOCK magazines with the factory pinky extensions. When you buy some extra magazines, just get the flat ones — they’re cheaper than the factory OEM mags that come with the pinky extensions. Note that there’s virtually no size difference between the 6 round OEM mags and the Pearce +1 mags:
I’ve now had a bit of experience with the GLOCK 43. It works, but it isn’t perfect. Since it never lives in my pocket, it could stand to have a longer barrel and a longer grip. There are plenty of other options out there that are worth looking at from Springfield, S&W, even a few descended from John Moses Browning’s magnum opus. I plan on giving them all a try. But for now, the GLOCK 43 suits me: a very concealable pistol with the ergonomics and manual of arms that I’ve trained with for years, which I already know how to strip down to the very last piece and reassemble, chambered for a round of which I (ahem) have a bit of a stockpile, for a price tag under $500.
For all of those reasons, when I venture out beyond the wire for some time to come, it’ll be a GLOCK that comes with me.