In the last segment of the Rule One Gun Roundup, I talked a bit about the Ruger LCP and what I found to be it’s strengths and weaknesses. The LCP’s incredible market success thankfully prompted other makers to get in on the sub-compact market. Glock is the most recent entry into the market with their first (at least in my opinion, anyway) truly subcompact pistol…the Glock 42. Glock does actually manufacture another pistol chambered in .380 ACP, but it’s the same size as a Glock 26 and because of that it doesn’t have enough “points” to be imported into the United States according to the BATFE’s interpretation of the 1968 Gun Control Act. It’s probably worth noting here that a number of compact pistols made over the years like the real Walther PPK can’t be imported into the United States because of the ridiculous “sporting purposes” clause of the GCA that regulates import. Domestic manufacture, on the other hand, is wide open. This is one reason why most manufacturers have established manufacturing facilities here in the United States.
A lot of people had been eagerly anticipating a single stack offering from Glock, preferably in 9mm. The Glock 42 was something of a let down to those hoping for a 9mm but that didn’t seem to hinder sales any…they couldn’t keep the Glock .380’s in stock for months. One of the big problems with little guns is reliability and the Glock name attached to a .380 is guaranteed to make at least a chunk of the market believe the gun will be reliable.
Initially I was less than impressed by the Glock 42 when I finally got to handle one in person. Some months later I encountered a situation where I needed something better than my Ruger LCP to hand to someone in case of emergency and I ended up buying the Glock 42 because it fit the size niche I needed and I figured it had the best chance of being reliable out of the box of any of the semi-auto Rule One Guns.
One of the things that I liked best about the G42 when I picked it up was that while it came with the usual crappy Glock slot-filler sights, those could be replaced with real grown-up sights. Shortly after acquiring the pistol I ordered a set of Trijicon HD sights for the pistol and installed them in a few minutes. I should mention that I bought a sight pusher and front sight tool for Glock pistols a number of years ago. I’ve installed sights on dozens of Glocks to this point and it’s always been a piece of cake. Just remember to use blue Loctite on the threads for the screw in the front sight.
The controls of the Glock 42 are instantly familiar to anyone who is familiar with Glock pistols while being tucked up to the gun enough to keep them from interfered with by the grip…mostly. I have larger than average hands and I find that I often neuter the slide lock mechanism on the Glock 42 when I take a business-like grip on the gun. I have that problem with a lot of pistols due to my anatomy so I don’t really hold it against the littlest Glock. The magazine release is easily accessible and yet not so prominent that I run the risk of dropping the magazine when I really grip the pistol.
The Glock 42 uses a traditional Browning-style lockup with a captured dual recoil spring arrangement that looks like a miniature version of what you find inside the larger 4th generation Glock pistols. This means that felt recoil is minimized so the little pistol is quite pleasant to shoot.
My Glock 42 has been reliable. I’ve fired just shy of 1,000 rounds through the pistol so far, a combination of various FMJ ammunition and a few boxes of defensive loadings like the 102 grain Golden Saber and the 90 grain Hornady FTX, without experiencing any stoppages or malfunctions. With my Ruger LCP I have the feeling that the little pistol is meant to be carried far more than it is meant to be fired and after a while I started to worry about how long it will keep going before something breaks. I don’t have any such concerns with the Glock 42. If Glock wanted to give me 50,000 rounds of .380 to put through the little pistol (I won’t turn down free ammo!) I have no doubts that the major components would survive that round count intact.
The only real beef I have with the Glock 42 is accuracy. I’m not referring to inherent mechanical accuracy as that is more than sufficient for a weapon of this type. It’s more about my ability to shoot the pistol well on demand. A few weeks ago, for instance, I had unfettered access to a plate rack and a couple of hundred rounds of .380 ACP. I decided I would have some fun with the little Glock on some steel at roughly 20 yards. Trouble is that I had a dickens of a time actually hitting the plates. With the pistol being so small and my hands being so big, my usual manner of gripping a small pistol and working the trigger was causing a last-moment disruption of the sights just as the shot broke, pushing consistently left enough to miss the plates entirely. When I resorted to very deliberate slow fire I could hit the plates, but the instant I picked up the pace it was flying dirt just to the left with every shot. I’ve found the same tendency present when I’ve put the pistol in other people’s hands, too.
Through experimentation with my grip and trigger finger placement with the G42 I think I’ve figured out a way to minimize the problem, but it’s very different to my usual techniques and if I’m placed under some level of stress (like a timer) the modifications do not show up as a default response yet.
It could be fairly argued that I’m expecting a lot out of such a small handgun, but I would also point out that the bad guy you have to shoot isn’t going to cut you any slack because of the weapon you’re using. Shot placement is always critical with a handgun but it becomes even more so when you’re dealing with weaker calibers like the .380 ACP that exhibit a poor track record of penetration and unreliable expansion. It’s also fair to acknowledge that what I’m experiencing and seeing with the pistol might not be what everyone gets when they are behind the trigger.
The pricepoint for the Glock 42 is higher than, say, the Ruger LCP but I think you get a good bit more capability for that extra cost…and don’t forget to figure in the cost of putting new sights on the gun when considering it. Even with the need to put real sights on the gun, it’s still a very attractive price for a very attractive package. Reliable, light, thin, pleasant to shoot, and even though I have to work harder than usual to get my accuracy standards out of the pistol it’s still easier to shoot accurately than the LCP due to better sights and a better trigger. If you’re in the market for a Rule One Gun the Glock 42 is a pistol that should be on your short list.