Glock 42 Review
Is this the ultimate 380 concealment gun?
It was 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 were enjoying an after-class beverage with an instructor, Jerod Johnson, who’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 G42 at the time. Johnson gave his own 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 both online and in print, so this 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.
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 made the decision to shoot. To compensate for your assumed negligence, they outfit these guns with very long and/or heavy trigger pulls, and a reset that goes all the way 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 on the gun that’s carried to save lives is a necessity.
The 42 operates like a real gun which is to say—you can dry fire it, it has a slide lock lever and goes to lockback on an empty mag, it has an adjustable rear sight, and, as stated above, has a 5.5-pound trigger with a decent reset.
This is a personal preference, but stacked onto the simplicity factor is the absence of safety levers or buttons that require conscious operation—and inevitably get in the way sometime between drawing and firing during any serious practice. Mechanical measures do not supplant responsibility for safe gun handling and storage!
It’s a big advantage to be able 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 are a disservice to their owners, as are other features that delay a counterattack.
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.
Unlike the usual wait-a-year-and-see, the accessory side of the industry responded immediately to the G42’s release with complementary 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 G42, 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 now for several years, and save for one corroded battery, it’s functioned without fail.
Truglo also made, and still makes a smorgasbord of sights for this gun. I chose a three-dot tritium setup.
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 advent of the 42, the industry has rolled out more guns that meet most or all of the traits described here, but mostly in 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.
The Glock 42 isn’t perfect. It could use an even better trigger with a lighter break. Glock could 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.
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 flush magazine: 4.13 inches
Weight, sans mag: 12.17 ounces
Trigger travel: 2.4 inches
Average market price: $350-475
My own Glock 42 was obtained at market price with my own money.