By Austin Knudsen
Years ago, I wrote an article here about the five handguns I couldn’t live without. The list included a Smith & Wesson model 17 .22LR, a Smith & Wesson Model 686 .357 magnum, a S&W 1911SC .45 ACP lightweight bobtail commander, a Ruger Blackhawk .45 Colt, and a GLOCK 19 9mm.
Several of the reader comments on that article expressed shock that this obvious revolver-and-1911 Fudd (I’m in my early 40s) included the GLOCK 19 on my list. I may be a traditionalist, but I’m also down with some combat Tupperware.
As the guy who is in charge of the Montana Law Enforcement Academy, I spend as much time on the firing range with cadets — and their various agencies’ issued firearms — as I can. And GLOCK is by far the most-issued sidearm by Montana law enforcement agencies. There is a reason for that: GLOCKs work.
Things change over time, and now I need to update my list. So I have to admit: I haven’t carried or shot my GLOCK 19 for almost four years now. My once happily monogamous relationship with my dependable, albeit somewhat chunky, don’t-leave-home-without-it G19 has been wrecked by a younger, skinnier, sexier model: the GLOCK 48.
Introduced in 2019, the GLOCK 48 and the G43x were GLOCK’s “Slimline” models produced to compete with other manufacturers’ sub- or micro-compact 9mms like SIG’s red-hot P365, Smith & Wesson’s Shield line, and the Springfield Armory Hellcat.
The Glock 48 has nearly the same height, slide length and barrel length as the G19. The 48 and the 43x (they have the exact same frame) are 0.16” thinner than the GLOCK 19. That doesn’t sound like much, but the difference in feel is like night and day.
When introduced, many of us handled the 48/43x and agreed…they felt great in the hand and were going to be a dream to carry, especially compared to the relatively chunkier G19. There was just one problem with Glock’s new Slimline guns…they only held 10 rounds in a single stack magazine. WTAF, GLOCK?
SIG’s P365 set the 2018 SHOT Show on fire because it was a genuine subcompact sized 9mm pistol that held 12+1 rounds. Remember, this was at a time when 6+1 or 7+1 single stack 9mm subcompacts were all the rage.
So a year later, GLOCK rolls out the 48 and 43x, both clearly aimed as direct competition with the 12+1 round SIG P365…but holding two fewer rounds. That left a lot of us GLOCK guys scratching our collective heads and resigning ourselves to still carrying our G19s.
But necessity is the mother of invention, and along came Seth Berglee and Brandon Zeider, two Montana boys with a bright idea. What if you eliminated GLOCK’s proprietary plastic outer sheathing from the 48/43x magazine body and make a steel magazine body with those some outside dimensions? How many 9mm rounds could you cram into a magazine like magazine?
After lots of engineering, trial, and error, their answer was 15 rounds…in a magazine with the same footprint as the factory mag. Thus, Shield Arms and the S15 magazines were born. With Shield Arms’ S15 magazine, your GLOCK 48 or 43x is now a 15+1, slim, trim, compact carry pistol. Back in 2019, Seth convinced me buy a GLOCK 48 and some of their early S15s and field test them.
Full disclosure: I’m openly biased toward Shield Arms and their products. I have no ownership interest in the company at all, but I’ve been close friends with co-owner Seth Berglee for more than a decade, and even served in the Montana House of Representatives with him. Seth introduced me to his business partner Brandon Zeider, and we quickly hit it off and have since become a good friends.
I did some initial pro bono legal work for them and even helped them incorporate Shield Arms back when it was just the two of them working out of Brandon’s barn.
Fast forward to today. Shield Arms has long outgrown my meager legal abilities and at the time of this writing, is about to completely move their 42 employees into their new state-of-the-art, 30,000 square foot manufacturing and retail space outside of Bigfork, Montana, nestled in northwest Montana’s beautiful Swan Valley.
Most of Shield Arms’ meteoric success can be attributed to the S15 magazine. I recall SHOT Show 2020, when the S15 had just gone into production. Shield Arms’ first magazine body manufacturer was big-timing them, and wouldn’t dedicate large scale production to such a small, new company, particularly one owned by a couple of Montana bumpkins.
While frustrating at the time, the result was actually great for Shield Arms. Demand was high, but supply was low. Everybody wanted S15 magazines, but no one could get them. During my first 10 minutes on the 2020 SHOT Show floor, I witnessed two guys stealthily conducting what looked like a drug deal. I stopped to watch and realized they were negotiating over a new-in-the-package S15 mag. That’s when I first realized that Shield Arms had a hit on their hands.
After struggling through COVID supply chain problems (as everyone did), some manufacturing hiccups, and a few design tweaks here and there, the S15 drought is over and these great magazines are readily available.
The result: the GLOCK 48 or 43x, when paired with Shield’s S15, is now the best concealed carry pistol option out there. Period. You now have what’s essentially a skinnier, lighter, easier-to-carry GLOCK 19. Even better, Shield Arms offers a +5 magazine extension for the S15. That gives you 20 rounds of rock ‘n roll for your spare magazine, if you are so inclined. [Note: Shield’s +5 magazine extensions are also available for full-size GLOCK, CZ P10, and soon-to-be other makes and models.]
I’ve used Shield’s +5 extensions not only on my S15s, but also on factory GLOCK 17 magazines. I’ve used +5 mag extensions from other manufacturers over the years, and after much use and abuse, I’m convinced that Shield Arms’ design is the best on the market.
A note: Shield Arms highly recommends replacing your GLOCK 48/43x factory magazine catch with Shield’s replacement steel magazine catch, as the S15’s steel body will eventually wear out the factory plastic mag catch and cause magazine seating malfunctions.
I’ve also added Shield’s Premium magazine well to my Glock 48. Shield has offered for some time a smaller, less obtrusive magazine well for the 48/43x, but recently added the larger “Premium” magwell.
Seth with Shield asked me to beta test it for him about a year ago, and I’ve been using it ever since. I was initially reluctant. The Premium is larger than their standard magwell, and I was concerned adding it to the butt of my G48 would make the pistol print more under a jacket or concealment garment. And I must confess, it does.
However, the G48 is a smaller pistol, and I’ve found that the Premium magwell’s larger front pinky “sweep” locks the gun in my hand better during recoil and gives me better follow-up control, especially during rapid strings of fire. So, to me the juice is worth the squeeze. Your mileage may vary.
I’ve been carrying and shooting the hell out of my GLOCK 48 for nearly four years now. It’s been my almost everyday carry gun, except when I occasionally get to feeling sorry for my commander 1911.But even the lightweight commander can’t hold a candle to how beautifully the G48 carries.
I’ve shot a number of combat pistol classes with my G48, and even one SWAT pistol class, right alongside law enforcement professionals who running full size guns. I ran my G48 hard in those classes.
I figure at this point, I’ve easily put 5,000 rounds (likely more) through my 48 and my assorted generations 1, 2, and 3 S15s, including a couple generation 1 S15s with Shield’s +5 extensions. In all of that shooting, the only malfunction I experienced was at a class where one bum reloaded 9mm round jammed in the chamber due to a bulged case. Otherwise, my S15s run like champs and keep my GLOCK 48 going and going.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve never actually sat down at a bench and accuracy tested loads through my 48 on paper, but it has gobbled up every type of assorted ammo I’ve thrown at it, and I can easily clear a plate rack with it at 25 yards.
Shield Arms of Bigfork, Montana has hit a home run with their 15+1 9mm S15 magazines for the GLOCK 48/43x. I own nearly a dozen of them, in Gens 1, 2 and 3. I run them in my G48 and my wife runs them in her G43x. They just keep working.
They turn a ho-hum pistol model that some say GLOCK fumbled, into what many professionals consider THE best concealed carry pistol option on the market today. Word is that the 48/43x is now GLOCK’s most popular line, and the company recently had to add a third production line at the factory to meet demand. To a large extent, they have Shield Arms to thank for that.
Most people don’t know that Shield Arms doesn’t just make magazines. This little company keeps expanding and doing really cool things. They recently unveiled the Z9 magazine, a 9-round steel magazine for the G43 (normally a 6+1 single-stack subcompact). Shield also offers the SA-15, a wicked cool AR line featuring Shield’s proprietary integral folding stock (as in it’s not an additional folding stock adapter part), and even offer a stripped folding lower receiver for your own AR build.
Shield sells all kinds of small parts, from mag wells to mag extensions to barrels and slides. They recently expanded into the knife market as Shield Knife and Tool (formerly Norden Knives) and currently offer two models: 1) the Ascent, a svelte little drop point fixed blade with G10 handles and a kydex horizontal carry belt sheath; and the Nimrod, a longer thinner boning-style fixed blade.
I’ve been using and carrying the Ascent in the field (and even EDC sometimes- it’s not too big) for a few seasons now, and I love it. Additional knife models are coming from Shield Knife and Tool; stay tuned…I’ve seen some badass prototypes.
Shield Arms also recently expanded into the soft goods market, and is offering their Mountain Partisan rifle slings, a man-satchel called the Bang Bag, and one of my favorites, their ratchet-buckle Apogee belt, made of a shape-retaining rubberish synthetic material for carrying a gun every day. I’ve been using this belt daily almost three years now, carrying a pistol and spare magazine on it with everything from jeans to a full suit, and I LOVE this belt.
As I stated above, I’m openly biased toward Shield Arms. Brandon Zeider and Seth Berglee are dear friends who are passionate about the Second Amendment, freedom, and this country. They also take amazing care of their employees, and have a number of innovative retention/incentive programs to keep their employees coming to work with a smile.
By the time you read this, Shield Arms will be very close to completing its move into its new, state-of-the-art manufacturing and retail space, along Montana Highway 83 just east of Bigfork. The new retail space will even have a fancy coffee shop, so you can enjoy a cup of Shield Arms’ signature roasted joe whilst you peruse the firearm and accessory shop. Look out, Disney. This might be the new happiest place on Earth, at least for gun nerds like me.
Austin Knudsen is the Attorney General of Montana.
The P365 is only 10 rounds flush. The P365xl(which I have) is 12 rounds flush.
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:::SIG P365X Macro has entered the chat::: to once again dunk all over the G19
Yeah sig did take the lead in that regard……….I do wonder if the internal magazine increase for this idea can be applied to other glock models especially in larger calibers and what kind of increase (if any) could be seen. But then I remember I am in NY and we are still waiting for the courts to rule on the CCIA at the circuit level let alone get through the district level of the SAFE act challenge.
you are the wind beneath my wings.
Austin is the real deal. An Attorney General who is a shooter, is very pro 2A and is not afraid to tell big Blue states and cities to pound sand regarding their “catch and release” programs.
Best part is that he is MY Attorney General…you other States can only try and find one as good.
Montana under Republican leadership has a budget surplus and will be returning up to $1,250 per tax-payer who filed a return in 21 – 22. Beat that if you can ya Blue State Politicos.
The Democrat minority in the State Legislature fought long and hard arguing for the Legislature to piss away the surplus on their favorite “entitlement” programs.
Wish the hell the people of Montana would stop voting for that dem turd Tester
Tester’s last two election cycles he had the dubious distinction of receiving the most K-Street Lobbyist monies of any Congress Critter running for re-election those years.
…in other words….
Jon Tester is the best paid political prostitute in D.C….he does “it” for the “Dark Money” that keeps getting him elected. When the DNC says “JUMP” his only response is “how high…Master”.
Gluck is the best can do? Get our more. Does Mr Knudsen also have training wheels on his bike?
I’m a fan of the G19, but also the G43. And also the Springfield Hellcat, which is even better.
I’m all for the G48 if someone wants it, but adding all the goodies shown in the article above (such as the flared magwell and extended mag base) kinda defeats the author’s statement that the OEM G48 is a “younger, skinnier, sexier model” that replaces the G19. No longer skinnier or sexier after adding the doo-dads. More like a G19 now, so what’s the point?
The only doodads on mine are the metal mag catches and the shield mags. I blew off the 48 and 43x for years until my wife wanted them. Then I fell in love. Even if they only had the factory 10s I would love them. ETS makes extendis that don’t require a mag carch change.
I know two people with Hellcats and I think I would need an aftermarket trigger and a comp to carry them. Sonthe doodads thing applies there too.
The Glock 23 9mm conversion has been retired, and I am going to sell the 3 non C&R/non milsurps/non leosurps/non glocks sometime this year.
I have told my wife the only non collectible hand guns I would buy in the future are more 43x/48s or a 42x and .380 48 counterpart if Glock ever did that. Note that I left myself the option of still buying collectibles 😉
As far as buying handguns for defensive carry, these are it for us.
As always I am not a lawyer, I do not play one on TV, I did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, and your mileage may vary 😉
Fun fact: Palmetto state armory is making their own Glock 43x clone.
But perhaps the most interesting thing about it is the fact that it comes with PSA made 15 round mags that are metal but over molded with polymer; which means they’ll work with your Glock 48/43x but you don’t need to swap out the magazine release.
They’ve yet to announce a price point, but I’d love to see a comparison between the PSA and Shield arms offerings.
Interesting. Will they work if you have the shield arms catch? Well, I know what I’ll be doing with my spare time today. Looking at PSA porn 😉
I’ve been lusting an after PSA AKV for a while now.
Which model is that?
The AKV? It’s the 9mm AK that shares Scorpion mags.
No, sorry, my response was to Eugene’s “Fun fact: Palmetto state armory is making their own Glock 43x clone.” Getting polymer double-stack magazines into a magwell designed for polymer 1.5-stack mags (and capable of accepting steel doublestack mags) seems too good to be true; I wanted to research it myself, but couldn’t find it on their website.
Sorry, my mistake.
The only thing I could find were threads on Glock Talk and Arfcom. The arfcom thread is the most comprehensive. I have not made it through the whole thing but so far it sounds like this began in January of 2022 and the timeline is off track.
According to this reddit thread they showed one at Shot Show
Off to the you toobs to look for that
Thanks! I share the ARFCOM commenters’ skepticism, and would add that I don’t see the point.
Commonality with Glock mags: Good
More capacity through applying proven tech / exploiting the extra room available due to Glock mags’ bulk: Good
Doing something that’s still aftermarket, AND on a less-proven technical foundation than Shield: Why?
This seems to be the most comprehensive run down early in the search results
Shield Arms has several years and generations head start. Then again PSA has plenty of experience. Really the guns are G43x/48 for those who want that in a cheaper package.
Honestly I expected Pmag to come up with something. ETS did a 19 rounder but it’s extended.
The mags I like, but I have a bunch of Shield Arms mags already. So I think I will stick with that.
The good news is that after market parts and accessories will be available and there will be a wider selection of them.
Thanks for the link!
Making a cheaper G48 is a great goal, but I still don’t get the mags. Polymer of adequate strength is a little less expensive IF you’re Glock cranking them out by the millions, but??
“Shield Arms’ first magazine body manufacturer was big-timing them, and wouldn’t dedicate large scale production to such a small, new company, particularly one owned by a couple of Montana bumpkins. . . . the S15 drought is over and these great magazines are readily available.”
Not sure how you define “readily”; I’m not one of those guys who thinks the stocking preference of one yokel at my LGS define the market, but Midway and Brownell’s seem like reasonable benchmarks for mainstream availability. The former doesn’t even list any, and the latter is out of stock across the board (not sure how long). Not knocking you or Shield; I agree with everything else you’re saying.
Free idea for Shield or anyone else who’s interested: mag parameters are largely similar for similar cartridges and stack configuration, but the little details can make huge differences in feed reliability. Making stamping dies to adapt one model’s feedlips to another is a bit beyond me as a home smith, but should be well within the capabilities of any manufacturer with a good CNC setup and laser scanner (or even calipers and patience).
While I have an extreme affinity for Smith and Wesson Third generation pistols as carry guns, I’m not to proud to carry a Glock 17 with a few 33 round magazines as a vehicle backup. This commonsensical gun reform is motivated by the experience of hearing the announcement on the radio of the Rodney King verdict as I was waiting for a traffick light at the intersection of Martin Luther King and Killingsworth.
Oh please 🙄 🤦♂️
Can Shield do the mag treatment on the G19 and increase its carry load without increasing its bulk?
Asking for a friend.
The G19 has enough room for two staggered columns (actually a little more, because it can fully double-stack .40). To the best of my knowledge, there are no “triple-stack” mags, and increasing capacity beyond double (without increasing length) requires a quad configuration (two merging double-stacks) like a Suomi coffin mag or CP33.
Wasn’t sure on the .40/357 sig offerings (would include 10mm as well sadly) what about 45acp (and derivatives)?
Sorry, I’m not sure what you mean.
While the 10/40/357 sig magazines would not benefit in any increased magazine volume as they are already double stacked and I am not sure any slimline versions of these exist for glock, would the 45acp variants be able to benefit from a higher capacity with more room inside the magazine to allow for a more favorable stacking pattern?
The principle I noted applies to all double-stack mags; (again TTBOMK) they can’t gain capacity without length until and unless they become quad-stacks (obviously impossible for most cartridges in a mag-in-grip pistol). .45 Glocks fully double-stack already.
I know this isn’t always the case in other pistols, but a good rule of thumb is to compare mag capacity to a 1911: a 9mm 1911 has two more rounds than a .45, and a .40 or 10 has one more. A G21 has two fewer rounds in a flush-fit mag than a G20 (or 4 fewer than a G17) , indicating it’s a full double-stack. A G37 only has 10 because it’s semi-staggering .45GAP in a .40-width frame.
Gotcha didn’t realize most 45 acp using glocks were fully double stacked. And I do not see any call for developing 45gap products further and I am near a few agencies that still use it. So 9mm in narrow frames will be the only realistic glock to make use of this but the advantage does negate the cheap magazine feature of the product. Thank you you probably saved a day or two of researching specs and fiddling around.
No problem! I don’t think the cost is a huge issue. Buy one or two Strikes for when they matter, and bring a bunch of Glocks (or even aftermarket cheapies) to the range where they don’t.
I do not shoot handguns with the often seen thumbs extended, parallel with the slide. By force of habit my thumbs sorta bend Isshinryu style…works for me.
As for Glocks one needs an accountant to keep up with the model numbers.
Should I have to deal with the could be anywhere perp on the run I’ll call shannon watts for advice…Not.
But Nahtzeez and Jim Crow, amirite?
Now please cram 10rnds in to G43.
They gave you 9+1 already.
It all sounds like keeping-up-with-the-the-Jones’s to me.
I’m very happy with my ruger p89 with a 17 +1 cap. When I go lite it’s a keltec 32. Althrough Diamond Back now has a 3 inch 9 shot 22lr sidewinder revolver. With a birdshead grip. Nine is better than six in the Barkeep from Heritage.
I’m good with my 10mm G29 with G20 mags and plus two floorplates…
Do you know the difference between factory mags and aftermarket mags?
There is a reason they are on Gen 3. Lots and lots of problems.
OEM mags work great in my 43x and 48, every single time. If I ever has to use one of them in a DGU we shall see it 10 rounds is enough.
I have s15 mags, and I believe a youtuber has pointed out that the issue with the glock oem mag catch is that the mag spring can get caught in the catch and wear it… also potentially hanging it and causing an ftf. However, I run with a Shield Arms metal mag catch and haven’t noticed a problem… your mileage may vary.