I’ve said it before: I hate just about everything about GLOCK handguns. The trigger is terrible, the grip isn’t ergonomic and the takedown process is dangerous. But when the Glock 43 was announced, I knew I wanted to buy one. And so I did. More accurately, I Shanghai’d Dan Zimmerman’s G43 that he used in the review for my own nefarious purposes. I’ve been carrying it ever since, and now that I have some time with it under my belt I wanted to share my experiences and how it compares to my other concealed carry firearms . . .
The main reasons I liked the G43 were its compact size and slick design. I mean that quite literally: the slick and smooth design of the grip and slide were what drew me to the gun. The finger ridges present on the grip of recent versions of the G19 are nowhere to be seen, which is perfect for my meaty paws. And the fact that it is slimmer and smaller than the G19 means that I can carry it either in a holster on my hip, or I can slip it in my pocket for a quick carry option. The trigger is slightly better than the chunkier counterpart, closer to acceptable than previous designs but I’m happy to make some compromises.
That pocket carry option is vitally important to me. The day job is a gun free zone; whenever I roll into work I need to leave the firearm in my car. I suppose I could use a holster and carry my usual 1911 handgun and just leave it in the car when I head in to make some money. But removing a holster every time I get in and out of the car is a pain, and wearing an empty holster all day seems even more annoying. I wanted something that I could slide into my pocket for lunch breaks and such, and neither the Wilson Combat 1911 nor the Glock 19 was small enough to do that.
My interim solution: a cheap and crappy Charter Arms .38 Special revolver.
The Charter Arms revolver has served me well. The compact size of the gun means that it fits nicely into my pocket, and I’m able to carry it without much of an issue. The G43 is the exact same overall size as the Charter Arms revolver, which means that it similarly disappears into my pocket and doesn’t stick out at all.
On paper, the G43 is a better gun. The Glock carries seven rounds, while the Charter Arms only holds five. Reloading the G43 is fast and simple, while I’m pretty sure that even Jerry Miculek would have trouble getting rounds back in the Charter Arms in a hurry. And the 9mm round that the G43 fires zips along a full 400 feet per second faster than the larger and more cumbersome .38 Special cartridge. That’s all well and good, but the real benefit comes from the geometry and not the features.
The most annoying part of the Charter Arms revolver — and any pocket revolver, really — is the cylinder. The firearm is slim and slick at the muzzle and the grip, but the cylinder provides a distinctive bulge that is readily apparent in my pocket. With the G43, the firearm is a uniform thickness from stem to stern. This uniform design means that the gun doesn’t stick out as much and definitely doesn’t scream “GUN!” to the casual observer.
I’ve been carrying the G43 in a Sticky Holsters pocket holster for the last month or so (review pending) and I’ve loved it. The gun slides easily into my pocket, and practicing my draw on the range I’ve found it to be easier to produce in a hurry than the older revolver. In short, the gun is just plain better as a pocket carry gun.
Pocket carry is the Plan B of my concealed carry options, though. My preferred carry firearm has always been a Wilson Combat Bill Wilson Carry 1911 handgun, and the primary reason why I prefer that firearm is accuracy. I can hit a smaller target further away with that handgun than anything else I own. The sights are excellent, the trigger is perfect, and it feels amazing in my hand. It is without a doubt my favorite handgun.
But while it is perfect for shooting, it isn’t always perfect for carrying. Here in Texas the summers are fairly warm, and that means light t-shirts. Carrying a big chunky 1911 — even one as compact as this one — can lead to some accidental printing. This wasn’t a problem when I was a larger individual, but having lost over 70 pounds in the last few months I’ve noticed that the 1911 has been printing more and more. Open Carry is still six months away here in Texas, and in the meantime I needed something that I could more easily conceal.
Another concern was the safety. The 1911 handgun is fantastic for accuracy, but the manual safety needs to be disengaged before it can be used. I’ve been chiding Robert for his preference of striker fired handguns over manual safeties, but the man has a point — under stress, can you be sure that you can disengage that safety?
The Glock 43 is just ever so slightly smaller than the 1911, which is good for concealability. The beavertail of the 1911 is great for comfort while shooting but sticks out like a sore thumb while under my shirt. The G43 doesn’t have that problem and more easily disappears with the assistance of an Alien Gear IWB holster. In addition, the lack of a manual safety means that the gun is ready to go without any added fuss. Which I like.
Even with my new slimmer wardrobe the gun isn’t visible at all in the normal process of carrying. I carry it everywhere I go every single day, and even my girlfriend didn’t notice it until I jumped up on the strut of a Cessna 172 to check the fuel tanks and my shirt rode up a little too far. Carrying the gun is comfortable, and the polymer construction means that it is a lot lighter than the metal and wood 1911. I basically forget that it is even there, which is perfect.
One month in and I think I’ve found my ideal concealed carry handgun. It might not have the accuracy of the 1911, but the light weight and smaller footprint makes it easier to conceal. And it might not be as cost effective as the Charter Arms wheelgun, but the slick construction means it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. I like it, and I don’t think I’ll be going back anytime soon.