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Glock 42, Still The Best .380 Self Defense Pistol?

glock 42 review

Could this be the ultimate .380 for EDC? One writer thinks so.

Glock 42 Review

Is this the ultimate .380 concealed carry gun?

A few years back, before the advent of the Glock 43 and later the Sig Sauer P365 that would later steal my heart and occupy my IWB holster. A friend and I enjoyed an after-class beverage with an instructor, Jerod Johnson. He's earned my respect by delivering dynamic, memorable learning experiences. Johnson, of STA Training Group in Arizona, is a former Marine scout sniper and industry insider.

In other words, not the first person you might expect to sing the praises of a little .380. I was somewhat surprised, then, when he produced one from his concealment holster, saying, “the Glock 42 is the best concealed carry gun there is.”

Surprised and slightly relieved better describes my reaction, seeing as how I was also concealing a Glock 42 at the time. Johnson gave his reasons for liking this little gun and backs it up by shooting it as well as any full-size pistol. Reflecting on his statement in 2018, I pondered whether this logic still holds. I believe it does, at least for the .380 ACP class, and in one way, it’s still true overall.

The G42 has been reviewed to death online and print. So this post is more of a personal approach to a review. The technical details are available elsewhere. Here, I’ll examine the elements of why I think the “best-concealed carry gun” claim is still mostly valid.

Glock 42 Trigger

Manufacturers have a penchant for putting lousy triggers on 380s. In an outright insult to many concealed carriers, they assume your finger will be on the trigger when the sights aren’t on target and you’ve not decided to shoot. To compensate for your assumed negligence, they outfit these guns with very long or heavy trigger pulls and a reset that goes back out to full extension.

In doing so, they make accurate shots much, much harder to make. Rapidity and accuracy are a near-impossibility for most shooters with such a trigger. When statistics show that one round only stops the attack 23 percent of the time, whereas two rounds increase the likelihood of success to more than 60 percent, a good trigger is necessary.

glock 42, 43, 19 and 17

Bonus advantage: if you can handle one Glock, you can handle ‘em all.  L-R: Glock 42, 43, 19, and 17.

Glock Simple operation

The Glock 42 operates like a real gun which is to say—you can dry fire it. It has a slide lock lever and goes to slide-lock on an empty mag. The G42 has an adjustable rear sight and, as stated above, has a 5.5-pound trigger with a decent reset.

Stacked onto the simplicity factor is the absence of safety levers that require a conscious operation. Furthermore, mechanical measures do not supplant responsibility for safe gun handling and storage!

It’s a significant advantage to dry fire the gun you conceal without fussing around with fake magazines or other features that, like a heavy, long trigger, imply distrust or stupidity on the part of the operator. One essential way to become more competent is to dry fire. The many .380s on the market that don’t permit this hinder their owner's practice.

Slim .380 concealment

glock 42 holster .380

Many custom holster options exist for the G42. This one by Yetitac is an excellent way to carry it OWB and under a jacket.

Compared to other .380s, the tiny Glock is about the same in terms of concealability. Made-for-concealment firearms like the Taurus curve even have it beat here. But, for the reasons previously mentioned, I still find myself reaching for the G42 on days when the G43 or Sig P365 are a little too prominent under the clothing du jour.

Accessory-friendly

Unlike the usual wait-a-year-and-see, the accessory side of the industry responded immediately to the G42’s release with complimentary gear. Blade-Tech was the first I noticed to release a Kydex holster customized for the gun.

Not long after the US release of the Glock 42, Streamlight rolled out an innovative and excellent product, the TLR-6 laser/light combo, just for the G42. It attaches to the trigger guard without impeding operation or safety, is full of options, and adds little to the gun’s profile.

What’s more, the company charged less than $100 for this new model while mysteriously charging more for later models to fit other guns. I’ve used this light for several years and save for one corroded battery, and it’s functioned without fail.

Truglo also makes and still makes an array of sights for this gun. I chose a three-dot tritium setup.

glock 42 tritium night sights .380

This Glock 42 carries Truglo tritium sights and a Streamlight TLR-6 light/laser for low-light accuracy and target ID.

On the downside, Glock doesn’t make, nor have I found aftermarket extended magazines that function as desired. Both brands I’ve tried purport to increase capacity to 8+1, and both fail to feed when stuffed full. The most I can increase capacity is by one round.

The test of time

Since the Glock 42's advent, the industry has rolled out more guns that meet most or all of the traits described here. Unfortunately, most are 9mm. Those wanting the reduced weight and recoil of .380 can now find a superior trigger and greater than 6+1 capacity but difficult concealment in the Browning 1911-380. Ruger overhauled its LCP to make a more shootable, concealment-friendly LCP II, with a vastly improved trigger and a plethora of interfering safety devices.

.380 vs 45 acp

The Browning 1911-.380 offers a better trigger and two more rounds of capacity, not to mention better looks, but is tough to conceal.

Here are my gripes with the Glock 42 because it isn’t perfect.

It could use an even better trigger with a lighter break. Glock should produce an extended magazine and improve capacity. But it is a reliable shooter that remains alone in its class for .380 carry by the safe and competent gun handler.

.380 Glock 42 specs

Overall length:  5.94 inches

Slide length:  5.75 inches

Barrel length:  3.25 inches

Overall width:  0.98 inches

Slide width:  0.83 inches

Height, with a flush magazine:  4.13 inches

Weight, sans mag:  12.17 ounces

Trigger travel: 2.4 inches

Average market price:  $350-475

I bought this G42 at market price with my own money.

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33 Responses to Glock 42, Still The Best .380 Self Defense Pistol?

  1. Ronald Walters October 8, 2019 at 12:47 am #

    Just purchased a Glock 42, 380. I also have a Glock 17 and 43. As concealed firearms go, you can’t beat its size. You can literally put it in your front pocket where it will fit quite wonderfully. It cannot be seen because of its size. But it also has some power to it. Shooing 380 rounds does not put you at a disadvantage. It’s a powerful bullet. I love it.

    • john perry June 29, 2020 at 4:54 pm #

      Hey..can do head shots at 20 ft..no problem. Get the tridium sights..so cool at nite

      • PETER HOBMAN March 16, 2021 at 9:14 pm #

        My Bersa Firestorm 380 will put 7 shots in your eye socket at 30 feet!

        • Walter Knight January 16, 2022 at 9:12 pm #

          That is a tall tale. Shoot straight, be safe, pray.

    • Jose October 16, 2020 at 2:37 pm #

      The .380 SCCY CPX3 is shorter in length but a bit taller than the Glock but the SCCY has 10+1 capacity!

      • Dan January 9, 2021 at 4:23 pm #

        I got one a few months ago for my wife. Questionable quality, and the trigger pull is miles long. Horrible horrible trigger. Just ordered her a 42 in purple, lol.

  2. Marilyn Jones October 19, 2019 at 6:01 am #

    I’ve read comments about the gun failing to feed or stove piping. What do you know about this?

    • john perry June 29, 2020 at 4:47 pm #

      Great pistol..bought special ammo that will do 1/2 inch at 13 inches..thats enough..milwaukee police..retired

      • Jose October 16, 2020 at 2:38 pm #

        You mean 13 yds, correct?

    • john perry June 29, 2020 at 4:49 pm #

      Shot over 500 rounds..if u hold it rite no problems..practice yur grip

      • Jay N. Robbins September 5, 2021 at 11:54 pm #

        I have been carrying my G42 in a fitted horsehide Kramer pocket holster for two years. It’s as large and bulky a gun I wish to carry all day. It’s neither large nor bulky but unless I have a gunfight scheduled, I don’t want to carry anything bigger all day.

        I am an old revolver guy. Reserve Deputy in Dade County Florida back in the day. I carried a stainless J-Frame S&W 60 for decades after hours. The miniature Glock reminds me of my revolver: fires every time, absolutely accurate at combat range, manageable recoil and not hard to conceal.

        • Walter Knight January 16, 2022 at 9:16 pm #

          Jay what ammo are you using. Shoot straight, stay safe, pray.

    • Canfield January 20, 2021 at 11:53 pm #

      With factory 95 grain ammo neber had a problem. With reloads, nothing but problems.

    • B kriv September 27, 2021 at 3:36 pm #

      Just bought a new g42, mfg date june 2021. Me and 2 other shooters, three trips to the range. Went through 400 rounds. Constant jams, ftf,fte,stovepopes, failure to fire,(trigger loaded, no bang no slide movement, think slide never returned weapon to battery, some what is called jam attempted due to double feed.
      I cleared all jams, no one was thumbing slide, no limpwristing.
      All experienced, talked to glock.
      Made no changes, stored slide locked back an mags loaded to try to manipulate spring tension.
      Sent to glock came back no reporr came with it, cslled glock, armorer did not report anything, said loaded 9 mags shot all no failures.
      We took gun to range and it worked flawlessly for 120 various rounds all types and different quality new ammo.
      IT FELT LIKE A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT GUN.
      I recalled glock asked for a supervisor. Told him if u think i am going. To believe youns did nothing, that would be a very far fetched unlikely situation.
      He read armors report, she did not report anything, disassembled an reassembled, found nothing.
      His answer is it must hav been a stacking of tolerances that then balanced out when she reassembled the gun.
      I told him i do not believe that.
      Told him i worked in a machine shop for 25 years, and with the malfunctions i was experiencing would not apply. They are all stamped steel,then final alighnment in an inspection gague, only serious machining would be the single locking lug, that locks into ejection port (and that is not a rocket science cut),
      The barrel porting of the barrel throat, of which this model has no barrel porting an breech size.
      YOU B THE JUDGE nothing done, however it works perfect upon warranty return, with same original shooters ,who were conscious of operator errors in first place. My opinion, something waz replaced an glock wants to keep it quiet to avoid return expence (because it does not cause malfunctions in all the 42 pistols.
      And or armoror checked some parts in an inspection jig, made a minor more conforming bend, and or adjusted something like the extractor.
      Be careful now with the honest Q C of this company

      • Jeff Daniels May 24, 2022 at 7:52 am #

        “Youins”

    • Ken January 9, 2022 at 11:08 am #

      Mines never failed to fire or jammed..had it for 10 plus years..

      • Dan Wenzel February 9, 2022 at 8:32 pm #

        The Glock 42 hasnt been out for 10 years, it was introduced early 2014.

      • GEO DUBOIS April 12, 2022 at 1:03 pm #

        um no way….not that long in productionLIAR

  3. Ed Blondell October 30, 2019 at 8:22 pm #

    I bought a Glock 42 in 2016 and had about one round each magazine that would not feed. I called Glock and they said the magazine was the problem. The magazines that came with the gun had a 2 on the bottom, floorplate. I sent them back to Glock and they sent me two magazines that had a 3 on the bottom and they shot great. I usually like a 9mm but the 42 is so easy to conceal it’s my favorite carry gun. It’s comfortable to shoot and reliable. I have about 800 rounds through it without a problem since I replaced the magazines that came with the gun.

  4. john perry June 29, 2020 at 4:50 pm #

    First mags were a problem..i bought the 2 round extention..now a nine shot..no problems

    • Frank August 5, 2020 at 5:36 pm #

      Where did you find a 2 round extension for your yoout G42 mags??????

      I was able to find a 1 round addition for the mags but have never seen a 2 round

  5. David July 2, 2021 at 4:49 pm #

    G42 is OK P238 is better New Ruger LCP Max might be king if it’s reliable. Ruger autos have been hit or miss in quality lately.

    • Mike August 11, 2021 at 8:42 am #

      I agree. I have bee comparing the LCP Max and will be handling one shortly. Looks like I may be purchasing one before long. While I am fairly certain (from reviews) that the G42 may be more accurate at longer distances, mostly due to the barrel length, the Max offers 10-12+1 rounds. I expect to see a change in king of the road before too long…The Ruger auto reliability may have an impact. Could you give details?
      Thanks,
      Mike

  6. Carole Wyatt July 20, 2021 at 9:34 pm #

    I have G19. Love it but to big to conceal. I’m interested in G42, however, I have questions. Is it possible to put Holosun circle dot laser on. What front sigh is standard? Can Backstrap be changed to fit my hand? Does Glocj make an extended mag for 42?

  7. B Sadanand July 25, 2021 at 7:14 am #

    I presently live in India, India is also not so peaceful as you people may assume, there r many things go without anyones knowledge, chiefly due to political upheavels & other things so I want to buy a small firearm for self protection, will your company sell me such concealed firearm for self defense? I also have applied for a local license to retain a gun for genuine cause, we also have faced situations like 9/11 so this request is quite serious. I am a Senior Citizen & my child lives in other city in India. Please send me proper answer at earliest without fuss.

  8. Marin Velcev August 18, 2021 at 1:05 pm #

    I was very surprised by recoil of Glock 42, which is very pleasant and much better than most of other .380 ACP mouse pistols. It is recoil operated pistol as any other Glock. Most of other .380 mouse pistols are blow-back operated.The other, even bigger positive surprise is accuracy. To about 15 meters it is as accurate as Glock 17 or Glock 26. Trigger is OK for people adjusted to bigger Glocks. I am quite amazed by this pistol.

  9. Dave January 5, 2022 at 1:45 pm #

    I’ve fallen in love with the size of this gun. It fits neatly in the center console of my car while in its holster. It is easy to carry and makes almost no imprint on my shirt even with an OWB holster. However, I’ve discovered that it doesn’t like all types of ammo and it did not like +1 or +2 magazine extensions. Anybody who is considering using it as an EDC should spend a fair amount of time at the range validating that the combo of ammo and any mods work reliably.

  10. Anthony Colca February 6, 2022 at 9:27 pm #

    The glock 42 shoots as good as a large one any of them g17 36 19 that is what impressed me most .380 are not accurate and are not made very well glocks are made to shoot good and stand up to sustained fire granted the gun probably won’t be used in sustained gunfire but I want the quality there.definitely the best .380 out there

  11. JD March 11, 2022 at 11:44 am #

    my glock 42 is a piece of junk it jams stove pipes ftf glock junk made in the usa

    • Phil May 13, 2022 at 7:02 pm #

      Stove piping is usually a result of a weak grip on the gun (limp wristing). My wife had the same problem. She worked on her grip, no more stove piping.

  12. JD March 12, 2022 at 6:44 pm #

    The best 380 is not a Glock the most reliable and concealable I have in my collection is a Taurus 738 my Glock 42 jams all the time what a piece of junk, the taurus 738 is very reliable and very accurate for a close range pistol belly gun. And its made in the USA Also.

  13. Kevin Fisher June 25, 2022 at 9:13 pm #

    Have had my Glock 42 for awhile. I put in a tungsten guide rod, changed the connector, and the plunger spring. Trigger pull is 4 lbs and the gun shoots like a dream with all ammo.

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