Quite possibly the most anticipated firearm of SHOT Show 2014 and perhaps the whole year, is the Glock 42 .380 auto. Of course the number 1 comment about the pistol is what it isn't - a 9mm single stack pistol. Glock claims "Years of requests across market groups for a super-concealable, reliable single-stack .380 GLOCK pistol prompted extensive research and development to bring the GLOCK customer the G42." I would question if the majority of those customer requests were indeed for the .380 chambering. Despite the caliber controversy, the handgun itself is a new generation in the Glock family tree. The frame has been reduced, simplified, and altered in minute ways, making the G42 Glock's answer to the pocket pistol market, which has seen a flare up in the last 5-6 years as other manufacturers have released offerings in single stack, slimmer framed pistols that are better suited for concealed carry.
I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a G42 from a buddy at local gun shop High Mountain Hunting Supply. The loaner came with limited ammo, and literally every source in town had sold out of .380 auto except for costly self defense flavors. While my range time was somewhat brief due to ammo availability, I was able to really embrace the size and shape of the gun. I found not only the frame to be pleasingly slimmer than every other Glock I've held, but the contours of the back and frontstraps to be more comfortable. The G42's trigger doesn't have the ridges on the trigger like other Glocks, and the blade is also narrower. Thats about where the positives stop for me, as everything else about the G42 I found unsatisfactory.
The trigger was a beast, feeling closer to 8-10lbs than the advertised 5.5lbs. It was stubborn, requiring much more pressure to achieve the break. I cannot say if this can be said for every G42 or just this one, but it was very unpleasant and made accurate shot placement difficult. The recoil itself felt about how it should with round nose 90 gr rounds. I did have some feeding issues, but again with limited ammo for the session I wasn't able to diagnose whether it was a magazine issue, an ammo issue, or a gun issue. In reading other internet review, it seems the feeding issues aren't uncommon. Most armchair Glock experts will snap "You're just limpwristing" or "You're thumbs are touching the slide, interfering with recoil." I suspect it's the dual recoil springs (sound familiar, Gen 4 owners?) or ammo, or a combination of both.
I brought along a G26 Gen3 for comparison as the previous flagship subcompact of Glock. The 42 is skinnier in the width department at 24 mm / 0.94 inches, but is still slightly wider than a Keltec P3AT or Ruger LCP. The grip of the 42 is about the same length of the grip on the 26, which still may leave the pinky finger hanging out in the wind for fellow medium-size mitted shooters. The barrel is 3.25" , and the capacity is only 6 rounds with the standard factory magazines, which is fairly common with pocket pistols of it's class. The frame's concave thumb recesses have been redesigned as a simple small ledge instead, and I found that with the smaller frame it made sense and still felt like I was able to get a good purchase every time.
With the trigger and feeding issues with the G42, I was still able to shoot better with the G26. But that can be chalked up to time spent behind the trigger.
All in all, I think the Glock 42 is a good concept that should have been tested and developed further to iron out some of the issues that many others are claiming. Perhaps pressure was high from the sales/marketing departments for a 2014 SHOT Show release, leading to the questionable "perfection" of this model. Regardless, the G42 will fit a niche that seems to be growing each year as CCW permit holders increase and the market shifts to more comfortable single stack CCW-centric models. The buzz has brought .380auto shortage, becoming just as scarce as .22lr at this time in my area, I still would prefer to hold out for a single stack 9mm personally. However for the time being, the G42 is hard to pass up, and I would encourage everyone to try it on for size. Just beware of its shortcomings, lower your expectations for the initial performance and maybe, just maybe, the one you take home will work like it should.
Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points
Claim to Fame: Made in the USA, the G42 is the smallest pistol GLOCK has ever introduced, making it ideal for pocket carry and shooters with smaller hands.
Target Market: Concealed Carry, Range Shooting, Law Enforcement Backup weapon.
FNBs (features & benefits of this product):
- It's a Glock!
- Gen 4 Grip Texture, but not as aggressive/raised
- Dual Recoil Spring
- Subtle design changes in grip and trigger
- Same internal safety features standard in Glock pistols
- Same Tenifer finish
- Skinnier than previous Glock subcompacts in slide and frame width, grip depth and width
What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?: Good ol'd Glock Black
What others are saying?:
- "I bought a G42 and have had nothing but problems. When firing Federal FMJ 95 grain, 980 FPS the slide locks to the rear on the second round as if the mag is empty. When firing JHP, the extractor fails to remove the spent casing from the chamber. I sent it back to Glock and they very quickly sent it back with a note that it was within factory specs. I took it to the range and experienced the same issues. I just sent it back for a second time and will see if they actually corrected the problem this time." User comment on The Gun Writer
- "This gun is a failure. A 380 in this small of a package is designed strictly for defense. A defensive gun that will NOT shoot defensive ammo is a failure. That is an inarguable fact... To the guys having problems with the gun, it's NOT you, it's the gun. I too have had the same problems. BS on the your limp wristing it, you're a newbie, it's the aftermarket magazine (there aren't any right now sport). The likes of Jerry Miculek, Hickok45, et al, are having the same problems that you are. Glock needs to cut there losses and recall them and fix the problem. I have 6 other Glocks, the 42 was my 7th. It went back to Glock for repair twice. They are sending me a different model entirely, a 26 to be exact. Glock failed on this one I'm sorry to say. Good luck to you guys having problems. Again gents, it's not you." User comment on The Gun Writer
- "Great little gun. Recoil is... nonexistent!!!!! Kicks way less than my previous .380 (Bersa). Not small enough to call it a micro, but tiny anyways and easy to conceal (not to mention that it's super lightweight). Took it to the range after a good cleaning and it proved to be very accurate. Reliability is outstanding as well. I shot 200 rounds of Aguila HPs, had no malfunctions whatsoever and many groups consisted of all shots touching (7 yds)." Budsgunshop.com review
I need it now! Availability: Local Gunshops or Online Dealers
- The smaller length of the .380 cartridge allows for a shorter grip depth, which lets the shooter's hands wrap around the gun further and absorb recoil much better than with other 9mm Glocks.
- More easily concealed when carrying in pocket, bag, IWB holster, belly band, or baked goods.
- Pretty much the G19's little brother
- The aggressiveness/height of the Gen 4 grip texture was subtly reduced on the G42, without sacrificing friction.
- High demand means if you don't like it, someone out there will take it off your hands for you.
Feeding issues widely reported, possibly related to dual recoil spring or ammo.
- It doesn't go "bang" as reliable as the existing tried and true Glocks are known for.
Score: 7.0 Good