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.
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.
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.