Glock Model 42 in Perspective

Glock Model 42 is a great choice when paired with modern defensive ammunition. Photo: author

Glock Model 42 is a great choice when paired with modern defensive ammunition. Photo: author

Like the majority of those reading this, I did not have the opportunity to attend the SHOT (Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade) Show this year. And although not among the throngs of vendors, industry insiders, media types and hangers-on who descended on the Las Vegas Strip like some sort of Old Testament plague, I was still looking forward to seeing some of the new products hitting the shelves. Chief amongst these was the long-anticipated and much-debated Glock Model 42 pistol.

For those who didn’t know or may have forgotten, the rumors started late last summer and, by the time we finished our Christmas shopping, it was official: Glock was introducing a couple of new handguns — and one of them was tantalizingly referred to as being the smallest pistol Glock had yet produced.

As SHOT Show anticipation reached a fever pitch, Glock dropped the veil of secrecy and confirmed that the new little pistol was a demure single-stack offering chambered in .380 ACP and christened the Model 42. That’s when the screaming started.

Stills taken from video show Glock 42 firing, at full recoil, and recovering. This is one of the mildest .380 pistols author has ever fired. Courtesy author

Stills taken from video show Glock 42 firing, at full recoil, and recovering. This is one of the mildest .380 pistols author has ever fired. Courtesy author

Not a 9mm????

Many Glock enthusiasts were taken completely by surprise: The new gun was here and it was not a compact, single-stack 9mm! I admit I was among those who had honestly expected, if not demanded, that Glock come up with a product that would take on the likes of the well-established Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, the slick little Beretta Nano, Springfield Armory XD-S, Walther PPS and the Kahr series, among others. Simply put, the gun-buying public had clearly demonstrated a ravenous appetite for 9mm defensive carry-type pistols that were just slightly bigger than pocket sized.


glock-g42-video-3-938x1024 After all, the midget .380 pocket rocket craze was over, wasn’t it? Guns like the Kel-Tec P3AT, Ruger LCP, Taurus TCP and SIG P238 were now in plentiful supply. And with all the subtlety of a New Year’s Day hangover, we saw the allure of a defensive gun that could disappear in a shirt pocket fade away, leaving the door wide open for the golden age of the compact 9mm carry gun.

Filling a Void

So why did Glock produce the Model 42? Simple: it fills a very real void in the available concealed carry/self-defense handgun market — and there really isn’t anything else like it.

The needs that the G42 meets are twofold: first, legions of people have a legitimate desire to exercise their rights and give themselves access to a good means of self-defense. Nothing new about that, nor about the fact that many of these folks for one reason or another can’t reasonably handle a big, full-size/full-power pistol. The industry has made many attempts over the years to address the concerns of those upon whom age or infirmity have made our first-line defense guns all but impossible to use.

The problem has always been that guns intended to serve such a market have fallen short. For every advantage, there has always been an equal or greater drawback. Need low recoil? You also get inadequate energy or (worse) unreliable rimfire ammunition.

Difficulty racking a slide? Here’s a revolver. Oh, wait. The double-action trigger is as obnoxious as the slide ever was. The list goes on and on.

But wait, you might be thinking, any number of guns do a pretty good job of balancing size and power and can be used by the recoil-sensitive or otherwise physically disadvantaged. Very true, but then we have to consider the second part of the equation — complexity of use.

Reliability and Simplicity

What has the G42 really brought to the party, and why do I welcome it with open arms? It’s not that it’s the first pistol on the market to combine light weight, small size, good ergonomics, reasonable caliber and manageable recoil. The Glock G42 is the first pistol to offer all of that plus the reliability and intuitive simplicity of the modern striker-fired system of operation.

The truth is that almost any goofy arrangement of manual safety, decocking lever, and double-to-single-and-back-again trigger action can be run reasonably well, given enough training and practice. But the majority of users who are not of the “gun enthusiast” bent are not going to dedicate the needed resources to reach that level of competency. Those who are of reduced physical capacity are high on the list of those who can’t or won’t train that often or that well.

What we’ve traditionally been left with are people at a lower level of experience having to “make do,” and anyone who has been involved in the public-sector training business knows what that means: recklessly thumb-cocked hammers, ignored safeties, and ancient handguns stoked with inadequate ammunition.

But the Glock G42 has turned the page on all that. It is a reliable and mild-mannered defensive pistol that is well suited to concealed carry or home protection for those who don’t have the option of a larger/heavier/stronger weapon. Its size and shape make it far more pleasant to shoot than its pocket-sized contemporaries. Its short trigger reach and stroke make it far easier to shoot than a double-action revolver. And its proven striker-fired system makes it both easy to learn and train with — and more importantly, it is more likely to be used correctly under stress.

While Waiting for a Glock 9mm…

I too am eagerly awaiting the arrival of a slim and compact 9mm from Glock. Speaking of which, I do remember that firms like Kel-Tec, Ruger, and SIG Sauer have all released small 9mm carry pistols that have done very well in the marketplace. And each of those guns was simply a slightly up-engineered version of a successful .380 caliber platform. I’m hopeful that Glock will follow suit.

But in the meantime, I think they’ve got a real winner here. Big enough for comfort, small enough for carry, and simple enough for anyone, the new Glock G42 is the only game in town.

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16 Responses to “Glock Model 42 in Perspective”

  1. John

    Bought the g42 last August and have put around 500 rounds thru it with absolutely no problems . Fits my hand well with the extended magazine and super accurate . My daughter and 14 year old granddaughter love it as well . Great pistol highly recommended !

  2. John R

    Purchased my Glock 42 and ran Hornady Tap, critical defense, Winchester white box and Remington 88 grain HTP trhough it. All but the Remington HTP had problems with stove piping, not ejecting etc. I bought several hundred rounds of Remington and shot 300 through the gun with no problem. Definitely touchy about the ammo it likes.

  3. Respekt

    I've had the G42 for about for months now. LOVE it. It's my ccw and I'm glad I didn't go with bodyguard or lcp as 1.I dont have tiny hands 2. I'm used to the glock feel. I have owned a G23 , which was the go to for many years, have a G22 for the house, and a G19 for normal carry. I've put roughly 500 rounds through the G42 ... I did experience a small issue with some less the good quality ammo I ran through it when I first purchased. After that issue I read up and switched to Winchester and fiocchi for target and hornady for carry. Again None issues since the switch VERY HAPPY.

  4. Richard M. Wilkens

    I have never had a problem with my glock 42 which I got in April and have carried it appendix ever since. I also have a glock 26 for home defense which is situated next to my chair. Never a problem with with weapon, that is why they call them golcks.

  5. Jerry Bailey

    Fifth paragraph down should read "when pistol pointed down and slide lowered slowly the shell usually pushes firing pin back out of the way. (not firing pin pushes shell). In the sixth paragraph I consider it a good thing when nice slick layer of copper from the shell coats a small part of the extractor. Eleventh paragraph down should read that the slide, when pulled back and released, will outrun the striker when pointed down, thereby no inappropriate contact between the firing pin and cartridge shell (obviously by design).

  6. Jerry Bailey

    I think glock will make an upgrade in the Model 42 next year. Not a big deal but to avoid confusion. The returning slide is about “three sixteenths inch” open when the unlocked (and floating) firing pin gets kicked back. (When pistol pointed downward only, and empty, so you can watch it work). Unfortunately the rear of the cartridge leaves the magazine when it is about “one half inch” open. And if an overly gentle person is trying not to loudly chamber a round (riding the slide) the top of the head of the cartridge will hit the firing pin. That is only if the pistol is pointed downward so gravity has the firing pin down. If the pistol is pointed upward there is no problem because the firing pin (the striker) is again responding to gravity and staying back, in this case away from the breech face. So again, after cleaning you will be loading your house gun, or carry gun. If you point the pistol at the floor and gently lower the slide it will either lock open with the shell stuck under the firing pin, or more likely you will just feel a bump as it pushes the shell out of the way. And you will probably worry (as I did) that the pistol is not feeding smoothly. All my glocks need to cycle normal speed. If no other reason the extractor spring is relatively strong and the point where the extractor first meets the cartridge groove is not polished. It does seem to get covered with brass, from the shell, after firing several times. (Normal break in perhaps). And (like in most pistols) the more shells that are in the magazine, and the stronger the magazine spring, the more momentum the shells will exert when they all move up one place pushing the top shell under the extractor. Those of us that learned to baby our handguns back in revolver days listened when the trainers told us not to slam the revolving cylinders closed with a flip of the wrist like in Hollywood gangster movies. Now we are told to pull the slide back and let it fly (as is normal for it when shooting). Abuse is when you let the slide fly/slam closed with no ammunition in the magazine, sending it crashing into the breach face. Yes there are target shooters that dry fire over a thousand times a week. Some of them let the slide fly with an empty magazine. Most probably only half cock the slide enough to reset the trigger, and lower the slide the rest of the way. I have only owned my glock 42 about two weeks and not fired it yet. I already love it almost as much as my glock 17, and more than my glock model 22. It is light, it is the right size for me right now, and I do not need a magazine loading tool to put a few rounds in it. Most people are probably like me in aiming a handgun at the floor for the first dry fire. Or when cycling the first round from magazine into chamber. I was raised on a wood floor with dirt under it and feel pretty safe about it. Fortunately the glock 42 slide will outrun gravity when you point it down to cycle it. Too bad Glock did not put a model 42 manual in the box, and explain the new parts. But they have been so nice to me in the past I will sorta give them a pass this time. Most people will not need more than the model 17 manual that comes with, this pistol, and probably all glock pistols. I went through a lot of distress trying to find the “bump” when first chambering my new pistol. Both of my new magazines are higher than average at front. And one of my magazines was not as smooth as the other. Thumb a round out of it and the case mouth hit’s the elevated metal end of that magazine firmly. Yup, I polished it excessively prior to finding/reading about the floating firing pin jams, and watching mine lock up when chambered slowly. But I learned a lot and it will have been cheap at the price, if I need to buy a new magazine. Almost every time I buy a new pistol I learn something valuable about evaluating the next purchase. Don’t buy it during the first year. Don’t buy it if no spare parts are available yet. Don’t buy it if no manual with an exploded parts diagram of the pistol you are buying. But I am not getting any younger and wanted one of these really bad. And they really stand behind their products. And on and on it goes.

  7. Andreas

    3 weeks ago I finally got my 42 and I really like it. What is even more important is that my wife can handle the gun pretty well and she likes it. Yes I figured out that mostly the slide doesn't lock back after the last round and I have to find a way to fix this problem. Otherwise I had not a single failure with feeding or stovepiping. I shot PMC, HPR and Fed Hydra. I like it a lot and so does my wife and I would recommend it to anybody who is looking for a very concealable gun with light recoil.

  8. David

    I looked at the G42. It was smaller than my SA XD subcompact 40 3"-but not by much. I needed a defensive pistol that could be concealed in shorts and T-shirts for the summer. Thus the Ruger LCP

  9. Jim Balog

    I had an early Glock 42. I must say I was totally underwhelmed and dissapointed by it's failures to feed with every type of ammo used ! It went back to Glock, and after its return I could not wait to get rid of it! I went back to my old standby a Ruger LCP with Galloway precision trigger.

  10. Gene814

    I have shot Fed American Eagle & Fiocci in my G42. I experienced no malfunctions. Great gun, but not a pocket gun like my Ruger LCP or Diamondback DB380.