I wasn’t exactly impressed when GLOCK released the G43X and the G48 series pistols. I never doubted they were well-made, reliable guns that shot true and provided great concealed carry firearm options. GLOCK does GLOCK things, and they do them well.
The thing is, we now live in the age of the SIG P365 (and the Hellcat, the Shield Plus and the MAX-9), and the slimline GLOCKs were released after the P365. They were larger than P365 and nowhere near as efficient in their capacity.
Luckily, a company called Shield Arms saw the potential in the GLOCK 43X/48 and developed the S-15 magazines.
What we have in our hands here is the second generation S15 magazines. These have a mag catch on both sides to embrace ambidexterity. The Gen2 mags also feature smaller mag catch windows and improved magazine and baseplate geometry.
I don’t have a Gen1 magazine to compare them to, but these feel solid and well made. Since GLOCKs allow you to reverse the magazine catch, the new ambi magazine windows are a nice touch.
The S-15 Turns It Up
The S-15 takes the already good GLOCK 43X and 48 pistols and turns them up to 11. Or, well, maybe up to 15 is more accurate. The S-15 ditches GLOCK’s traditional polymer-coated magazines with metal on the inside and goes for an all-metal design. Shaving off that polymer opened up enough room to allow the S-15 to fit 15 rounds instead of 10 in a flush-fitting magazine.
This takes your GLOCK 43X and G48 and puts it in the same sphere of compact pistols (think G19) with incredibly efficient magazines. The Slimline GLOCKS are more P365 XL-sized, but having a G19 capacity in the uber-thin Glock 48 is a big plu.
The S-15 magazines are all metal outside of the baseplate. The baseplate features a dot matrix for marking. The $40 price tag puts them right in line price-wise with SIG P365 and Hellcat 15-round magazines.
If 15 rounds just aren’t enough for your GLOCK 43X or 48, then Shield makes +5 round extensions to turn things up to 20. I could see a longer mag being easily carried as a spare and allowing concealed carriers to pack 36 rounds in a subcompact handgun between two S-15 magazines.
The S-15 really opens things up and makes it possible for you to pack a healthy amount of firepower in some very easy-to-carry guns.
But Do They Work?
I ordered two of the Shield S-15 magazines and approached with caution. Bad magazines can make the most reliable weapon a frustrating failure. These could be a finicky gimmick.
Upon loading them, I was surprised at how easy it was to jam 15 rounds of 9mm into the S-15. After loading the Hellcat and SIG P365 15-round magazines, I expected serious resistance past round number 12.
Yet there I was, thumbs un-sore, ready to shoot. With a range pack of Winchester White Box, I went to the range and started getting my weekly practice in. A few drills, some longer range shooting, and, of course, reload drills.
I hit the ground running with both mags fully loaded, but fired the majority of 300 rounds through a single magazine.
The second magazine was loaded with a single round for reloads, and that’s was it after the initial 15 rounds. Speaking of reloads, I shoot on a Florida sandhill. Imagine fine white beach sand, but water nowhere nearby. It’s a great location for testing the sand resistance of guns and gear. When I reloaded, I let it hit the deck and splash and play in the sand.
Reload after reload proved that sand seemingly couldn’t shut ‘em down. Sure, the follower gritted along as the magazines were loaded, but they never failed. At the end of my shooting, I loaded them to capacity and let those steel targets have it. The magazines fed the rounds they fired and ejected with the press of the trigger.
There’s Gotta Be Downsides
There are, of course, downsides. Obviously, the S-15 mags cost more than OEM GLOCK magazines. The real downside, though, is that they’re metal and your GLOCK’s mag catch is polymer. These metal magazines will cause accelerated wear and tear on that polymer mag catch.
Shield Arms admits this and advises you to use a metal mag catch in your pistol. Specifically, they advise that you to use their steel magazine catch. This prevents accelerated wear and tear.
The standard steel mag catch costs $26.99, so you have to add that in your purchase price if you plan to run S-15 mags. It’s certainly an investment-based situation, and you have to determine if it’s right for you.
Two mags, plus the magazine catch, comes up to a little over a hundred bucks, which is close to 25% of the cost of the pistol itself for the increased capacity.
While the S-15 magazines have a relatively high cost of investment, I can’t help but think I need them for my G43X to be viable in the age of the P365 and the rest. It’s a real shame GLOCK couldn’t (or wouldn’t) consider the same idea.
The Shield magazines take the G43X and G48 series Slimline pistols to new heights and makes the G19 less of a prom queen and more or less a has-been for many buyers. I think the mags are well worth the cost, and helping an American-owned business is a nice side benefit.