Glock’s .380 is a slim and concealable pocket pistol.
By Steve Tracy
Police officers who carry a Glock pistol on their hip every day seem to like them. A lot. They really, really like them a whole lot. It’s not uncommon to talk with a fellow officer and hear, “I had one of the first Glock 17 9mm pistols. Then I bought a third gen and then a .40 and I’ve got a Glock 19 for off-duty and a baby Glock for deep concealment. I’ve also got a G34 for competition.”
I’ve overheard some of them disparage the .380 ACP cartridge and it made me wonder if it was simply because Glock didn’t offer a .380 chambered pistol. At the January 2014 SHOT Show range day, R. Lee Ermey was shooting the brand-new Glock Model 42 chambered for the .380 ACP. Ermey didn’t miss the steel targets he was shooting at and neither did I when it was my turn. The G42 impressed and I was eager to get my hands on one for an extended trip to the range.
Glocks are popular because they have a reputation for reliability, accuracy, simplicity, and value for your dollar. As other manufacturers have brought forth tiny, polymer-frame .380 pistols, it would seem natural for Glock to bring their own competition to the market. Presenting a .380 with the same attributes of their larger guns would seem likely to be a winner.
The Walther PPK and S&W J-Frame are the standards by which other off-duty compact pistols are judged when it comes to size. The Glock 42 compares very closely to the Walther PPK. Overall length is 5.94 to 6.1-inch G42 vs. PPK. Height is 4.13 to 3.8 inches. The G42 is slightly smaller than the PPK in length and height and its .94-inch width is thinner than the PPK’s 1-inch-thick grip. The sight radius on the Glock is 4.92 inches, slightly longer than the PPK pistol’s 4.2-inch radius.
The G42 is slightly smaller in all aspects than the classic PPK. The real difference is in weight. The polymer framed Glock weights just 13.76 ounces vs. the PPK’s 22.4 ounces. That’s a big difference when it comes to pocket carry.
The G42’s magazine capacity is six rounds, the same as the PPK. It’s also the same as the Ruger LCP and the S&W Bodyguard. Both of those pistols are smaller overall in every dimension than the new Glock .380 pistol. However, they’re both double action only, hammer fired guns. Glock retains their striker-fired trigger with its relatively short pull in the G42.
The G42 functions just like previous larger iterations in bigger calibers. This is advantageous for those who already carry a Glock pistol. It’s why police officers own several. The training and manual of arms is consistent with the G42. The rectangular magazine release button is reversible for left-handed shooters. It drops empty magazines free as long as you don’t have large hands that interfere with gravity’s desire to pull the empty mag to the ground. My big hand prevented the magazine from falling free every time, a common problem that exists when I handle smaller handguns. I have to shake the gun to rattle the magazine away from the meat of my palm.
The G42 thankfully did away with front-strap finger grooves. Standard Glock pistol finger grooves don’t line up with my big mitts. Instead, they dig into the center of my fingers during recoil. My personal G23 had them removed by Cold Bore Custom. The G42 felt just about perfect in my hands. The Rough Textured Frame (RTF)’s square raised stippling is not overly aggressive.
Standard Glock Features
A fellow competitive shooter purchased a G42 and loaned it for testing. He added a set of Tru-Glo TFO green sights. These steel sights combine Tritium with fiber optic tubes for outstanding sight visibility in darkness, low light, or bright light. The G42 comes with Glock’s standard polymer white outline rear and white-dot front sights. He also added a Pearce Grip polymer extension in place of the factory magazine bottom. This piece adds a little more grip area to the length of the pistol, a greatly appreciated addition for those with large hands.
The trigger pull on the G42 measured 6 pounds, 3 ounces on a Lyman digital-trigger pull gauge. For an off-duty pocket pistol, this is an acceptable weight and it felt identical to other full-size Glock pistols. There is considerable take-up as your index finger presses the trigger and disengages the Safe-Action tab in the middle. This prevents the gun from firing unless the trigger is deliberately pulled. Careful dry fire confirmed no over travel once the striker was released.
Glock kept their G42 as similar to their extensive line of larger caliber pistols as possible. There is no additional manual safety added to this .380 handgun. It functions the same as all other Glocks. Despite the Safe-Action trigger, I would not drop this pistol in my front right pocket without a pocket holster to cover the trigger. I would certainly never, ever carry keys, a mini-penlight, or even coins in the same pocket as this pistol. Many have seen the video where a police officer’s stray plastic jacket tightening device worked its way into the trigger guard of a duty Glock pistol and it went off. Even coins in your pocket could wedge their way via Mr. Murphy’s laws and cause a negligent discharge. Choose a good pocket holster for pocket carry of the G42.
The large extractor is moved slightly to the right when a cartridge is loaded and is designed to act as a loaded chamber indicator. Seeing or feeling it tactilely is possible, but the difference between loaded and unloaded is not very much. A press check is preferable and there is enough space to the right rear of the chamber to see a loaded round through the ejection port.
The overall look and feel of the G42 is smooth. Nothing protrudes to catch on clothing and the slide stop (which does function as a release as well, no matter if the magazine is loaded or not) and magazine release are positioned tight in with the frame. The grip tang extends well so as to prevent slide bite (the Walther PPK was notorious for causing bleeding railroad tracks on the web of shooters’ hands until recent versions extended it). Retracting the slide requires little force, despite the captured multiple spring recoil guide. Slide serrations are not very deep, but they still work fine.
The G42’s barrel is 3.25 inches in length and features Glock’s hexagonal rifling (this means you should only shoot jacketed bullets, not pure lead bullets to prevent “leading” in the bore, which could build up and cause problems). The Glock’s barrel length will offer a bit more velocity, with excellent carry rounds like Hornady’s Critical Defense, than the Ruger or S&W pistols with their shorter 2.75-inch barrels. The tradeoff is measured in carry size. The Ruger and S&W fit in my outside vest carrier’s breast pocket. The G42 is too big to fit.
Loading the G42 magazine with six rounds was not difficult and the sixth round was pressed in as easily as the first. The magazine is standard Glock, being made of polymer with a steel inner sleeve. Chambering a round and then topping off the magazine functioned every time, making the G42 a seven-shot carry gun.
Under the mild kick of the short recoil operated, locked breech barrel system, the gun performed without fail with six makes of ammunition (three hollowpoint and three full metal jacket). Due to the tilting barrel action instead of the Walther’s fixed barrel, the G42’s felt recoil was seriously mild. Since there is much more grip area compared to smaller .380 pistols, it’s easier to hold on to and shoot well.
The Pearce Grip extended magazine bottom helped greatly with holding the grip. The lack of finger grooves, like original Gen 1 full-size Glocks, was very comfortable. The TruGlo sights shine like beacons no matter whether they’re in sunlight, indoor light, low light, or complete darkness. They’re also big and easy to see and line up.
The trigger guard is shaped just like Glock’s full-size pistols and it’s large enough to accommodate a gloved hand. The trigger on the new Glock .380 feels and shoots better than the number that came up on the electronic scale. The reset is very good and the break is crisp. I recently fired a Bersa Thunderer .380 with a lightweight alloy frame weighing 5.3 ounces more than the G42. The fixed barrel, lightweight Thunderer was brutal to shoot compared to the PPK (where the steel frame helps tame recoil) and its recent memory made the Glock .380 feel almost soft.
Made in the USA
Gallery of Guns (www.galleryofguns.com) lists the MSRP of the G42 at $480. However, Ray O’Herron Company (an Illinois police supplier: www.oherron.com) has it in their current catalog with a law enforcement price on department letterhead at $319. For this price, the new .380 is competitive with other pistols firing the same cartridge.
The left side of the G42’s matte black slide bears three very important letters: USA. The newest Glock is made at the Austrian manufacturer’s Smyrna, Ga. factory right here in the United States. On their website, Glock states, “years of requests…prompted extensive research and development to bring the Glock customer the G42.”
Law enforcement officers are definitely a large part of Glock’s customer base. The G42 is a smart choice that Glock fans have wanted for a long time as an off-duty or backup gun. Whether you carry a Glock on your duty belt or not, the new .380 is an accurate and reliable pistol. PM
Steve Tracy is a 26-year police veteran with 24 years of experience as a firearms instructor. He is also an instructor for tactical rifles, use of force, less-than-lethal force and scenario-based training. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. The G42 is a smart choice for off-duty or backup use, even if an officer doesn’t carry a full-size Glock on duty. But for those who already pack a Glock, their new .380 retains the same manual-of-arms.
2. The Walther PPK is the closest in size to the G42 (clockwise from upper left). The S&W 2-inch Snubnose revolver, and S&W Bodyguard .380 compare in size to Glock’s new .380 pistol.
3. The Model 42 field strips just like its larger brethren.
4. The .380 is “Made in the USA.”
5. The Glock 42 is slightly thinner than the classic Walther PPK.
6. Six-round magazine drops free when the release button is pushed, as long as your hands aren’t too big to interfere with it falling free.
7. Laserlyte’s red laser for the G42 attaches quick and easy at the front of the trigger guard. Ambidextrous controls turn the sighting device on with ease.