The G43 was by no means the first GLOCK I owned, but it was the first GLOCK I wanted to own.
Small, concealable, and controllable, the G43 makes an ideal everyday carry firearm. The width of the single stack grip makes it conceal well, laying flat against my belt or on my ankle inside my boot. The grip length, however, is a little short. I drill with this gun and the G42, regularly, and getting a solid grip on the pistol from concealment as is a challenge.
That challenge made me perk right up when I heard that GLOCK was giving the “X” treatment to the G43. Now I’d have the same short slide, thin format firearm I liked, but with a slightly longer grip, allowing me to quickly get a solid hold on the gun, and keep it there during longer strings of fire.
At the same time GLOCK announced the G43X, they also rolled out the extremely similar G48. Both pistols share the same frame and the same 10-round capacity. I was able to swap slides back and forth between the 43X and 48 frames with ease.
The big difference between the two new pistols? The G48’s silver slide is a whopping 20mm longer. That roughly 3/4″ in barrel length buys you a tiny amount of velocity gain over the 43X, but more importantly, buys you the same 3/4″ more sight radius. The GLOCK 48 is about 4oz heavier than the GLOCK 43X and the same height and length as a G19.
Although they are extremely similar, the G43X and G48 10-round magazines do not work in the G43. The slides on the 43 and the 43X or 48 are not compatible. You can swap nPVD coated slides between G43X and G48, but not G43 and G43X or G48.
[ED: Some owners have reported that they are, in fact, able to mount a G43 slide on a G43X or G48 frame. While that may be possible, JWT was unable to make that work. (See his comment below.) Your mileage may vary.]
The G43 and the new G43X and G48 are extremely similar in their grip size, but not quite. Some people say they can feel a difference. I can’t.
But when we’re talking measurable performance, is there any real difference. I set out with my PAC timer and some targets to find out.
After shooting each pistol, I can tell you I really like both of these guns. They carry and shoot very well. I would find either one of them a fine choice for most shooters.
Both of the new two-tone models I tried came with the same polymer sights, and that’s about the only thing I’d replace on these guns. Carry guns should have sights that are easy to see in low light, and these aren’t.
Beyond that, I wouldn’t change a thing. The new GLOCK triggers are a huge improvement over the GLOCKs I was shooting 20 years ago. If these were the triggers GLOCK had come out with back then, there would have never been a GLOCK aftermarket trigger industry.
I put 300 rounds of 115gr FMJ and 100 rounds of 147gr FMJ through each gun. I also used 50 rounds from a mixed bag of varying weights of hollow point ammunition in each pistol.
I had one first round failure to feed using a simple 115gr FMJ with the G48 where it didn’t quite go into battery at about round 100. I was not able to duplicate the error with the same round, or any other round. I lubed both guns with EWL SLIP 2000 prior to shooting and then never cleaned or disassembled the guns in any way until the shooting was complete.
I shot both guns in a variety of grips and positions. Other than that one odd FTF, I had no issues whatsoever. The guns ran great.
When it comes to precision, there was no discernible difference between five-round groups at the seven and ten yard line between the two Slimline pistols. None. I couldn’t measure any. I had to back the target up to 25 yards to start to measure any difference between the two guns. Even then, the difference was tiny.
Again, I’m very pleased with the performance of the Slimline Series GLOCKs. Shooting off bags at 25 yards, I was getting a lot of 2″ five-round groups with both the G48 and G43X. Considering the size of the guns, that’s impressive.
Using the same round, the Armscor 115gr FMJ, with the exact same set-up on bags, I averaged 2.5″ five-round groups at 25 yards over four shot strings from the G48’s marksman barrel. With the G43X it was 2.6″. And that was as much difference as I could wring out of them if I was using the same ammo.
When it comes to the simplest draw and fire drill, the difference in times between the G43X and G48 were so minuscule they were difficult to measure. I set up a target at 7 yards with an 8″ circle. When the timer went off, I drew from my KMFJ holster and fired 2 rounds into the circle. I did a few practice rounds and then did 5 rounds for record.
The average total time for the G43X was 1.57 seconds. The average time for the G48, 1.59 seconds. In this case, a couple hundredths of a second are meaningless. It makes sense the times are so close. After all, at that range and speed, all I’m seeing is the front sight, and the grip is the same between both guns.
I tried a series of drills with both guns. I tried single-hand draw and fire at various ranges, off-hand firing, picking the gun up off the ground with my left hand and firing, turning and firing, you name it. The results were the same.
The feel of the guns, and the performance of the guns were so similar that I had to start double checking which gun was in my hand when I wrote down the results. The timer and the targets just didn’t really show any difference for me.
At least not until I started backing up and started shooting longer strings. It was the full mag dump at 25 yards where I started seeing the first real difference between the performance of each pistol.
Drawing from concealment and firing the full 10 rounds with both hands standing at a 19″ silhouette at 25 yards, my time with the G48 was 6.46 seconds as an average over 5 shot strings. The G43X was 1.15 seconds slower. It felt a lot slower than that. Clearly, I struggled with both pistols.
Recovering the sight picture and keeping the sights in-line during the trigger pull was the challenge. This is where the slightly longer slide length and sight radius of the G48 held the advantage, or at least one that was enough to be obvious during shooting.
For me, the GLOCK 43X is the winner. That 3/4″ makes a tiny difference for me when carrying IWB. I like to carry with the top of the slide right on the back of my right hip. A longer slide tends to get bumped when I sit down, pressing the gun upward. With guns this small, that doesn’t really happen much with either of them.
The other big reason I’d stick with the 43X, my favorite holster, the KFMJ listed above, fits it perfectly.
The two new Slimline models are so similar that you really have to wonder what was going on in the design department at GLOCK. My guess is they started down the G48 path based on the proven success of the G43 in order to compete with the SIG SAUER P365. They were playing catch-up to the market.
Somebody noted they could just put the same frame on the G43. And then, in the sheer genius that remains GLOCK, Inc., they realized they could release both, give gun buyers a choice and capitalize on both the similarities and the differences. And sell the heck out of two almost identical pistols.
I like both of the new GLOCK Slimline pistols, with a solid preference for the GLOCK G43X. Of course, you could always get a magazine extension for your original G43. That leaves the shooter the ability to keep the handle short for deep concealment or a little longer to get a better grip around the gun and increase capacity.