A small gun for big hands: Testing the Glock 42

I had a couple feeding problems but began to come to a realization: my hands were a huge part of the problem!

Glock recently introduced a couple of new models at Shot Show this year. Being a big, burly man, I picked up and instantly loved the G41. This full-sized .45 caliber is a blowing and going tack driver, a virtual fire-spitting dragon. However, the other model Glock released this year is a G42, a tiny, .380 single-stack. I wear an extra-large glove, and my hand is quite a bit bigger than the G42, but my curiosity got the better of me. 

5.11 Battle belt (Photo courtesy Sean Curtis)

Such a small weapon, if effective, could be concealed nearly anywhere! I don’t have the need for concealment at work, but as a backup the G42 could be great. Off duty, who wants to carry around the modern day equivalent to the Claymore sword? I resolved to learn more about the G42.

Glock was kind enough to send me one to try. Full disclosure: I am a certified Glock Armorer, but am otherwise not beholding to the company in any way. I had done some initial research and seen what some of the challenges were. People had reported some issues with feeding. 

Being a firearms instructor, I know to watch for people limp-wristing Glocks and the problems this causes (stovepipes, etc.) The doubled recoil spring present in the Generation 4 Glocks needs solid resistance to overcome this. The issue is easily corrected with training and I would like to point out that this is not the gun’s fault.

After Glock set me up I reached out to Jake Hodges at Hodges Custom Kydex (Miami, FL). I needed something to hold the G42 and Jake works wonders in his medium. He recently created a Kryptek set for my 5.11 Battle Belt. I was able to present and fire three rounds center mass, fifteen feet, in one second — the holster rocks. Jake sent me a carbon fiber In the Waistband Holster (IWB) to use with the G42 test. 

My initial concern when testing the G42 was how I could get my hands around it. I’m used to full-sized 1911s or similar. For the testing, I added one Pearce Grip extension to a magazine for a little extra purchase. This gave my pinky a place to hold on when firing the weapon. 

However, I kept one magazine stock so I could experience that “out of the box” feel. You can see how the grips changed between the two different images (below). 

The picture to the left shows the stock grip and magazine. The right shows the larger floorplate. (Photo courtesy Sean Curtis)

The picture to the left shows the stock grip and magazine. The right shows the larger floorplate. I was able to wrap my weapon hand pinky around this textured bit of goodness and let the G42 rip.

I also gathered a modest selection of different ammunition to see if I would experience any of the issues other people reported. Namely, I began with some HPR 100 grain TMJ. I also used some Winchester 95 grain FMJ, and finally, some Hornady Critical Defense 90 grain FTX. 

If you’re looking for a treatise on whether the .380 is a good defense round, you won’t find it here. I have reviewed a great deal of test information available on the internet that involved ballistic gel, chronographs measuring feet per second (FPS), penetration, and wound channeling. The modern .380 offers characteristics comparable to the 9mm as far as performance, with some argument toward a greater, tumbling, wound channel. I won’t sink into the debate but suffice to say, I would not want to be shot with one.

I loaded up two magazines and approached the line. With the camera firing rapidly, I squeezed off the first round. The trigger was all Glock. There was a slight bit of slack, solid resistance, then BAM! My finger let out the trigger until I felt the positive physical and audible indication of trigger reset and then back down.

"Click." Nothing. 

(Photo courtesy Sean Curtis)

I had my first failure to feed. This was nothing an Immediate Action Drill (IAD or Tap, rack, ready) wouldn’t resolve, but I wanted to understand the failure. As near as I can tell, the second round hit the feed ramp and went up for some reason, locking the weapon out of battery, making it unable to fire. I had field stripped, cleaned and oiled the weapon before testing. I briefly mused on the forward assist of the AR-15 before I cleared the jam and loaded up again.

I worked through the two boxes of HPR and did not care for the ammo. I had a couple feeding problems but began to come to a realization: my hands were a huge part of the problem! I would try to run the gun dry and force a combat reload. 

The magazine would not drop. I finally realized it was hanging up on the bottom portion of my hand that overlapped the magazine. With some grip adjustment and practice, I was able to run combat reloads with good efficiency and dump thirteen rounds down range at a rate that made me smile. Sticking the hot barrel down my waist inside my pants was another matter! With caution and practice, I learned this re-holster too. I moved through the HPR and switched to the Winchester ammo.

With the Winchester I had no failures at all. I worked on accuracy. For a small gun, the G42 was accurate I was able to create a large hole in the target at ten feet and maintained a two inch group out to twenty-five feet. I pushed out to fifty feet — well outside of the philosophy of use of such a weapon — and still had a four and a half inch group. The gun is accurate. Finally feeling like I was dialed in, I switched to the Hornady Critical Defense.

I am a fan of Hornady, but never moreso than today. When I loaded up the G42 with Hornady Critical Defense, the gun came alive. The recoil was sharp on firing, slightly more muzzle flip, but back down and ready for business in a hurry. The ammo worked the dual recoil springs and had them performing as they were designed, much better than the more languid performance of the other ammo. I ripped seven rounds downrange, reloaded like a Terminator, and finished another magazine. This was how it was supposed to be, I’d found the perfect combination.

One for the Stocking

(Photo courtesy Sean Curtis)

I learned a great deal about the G42. One of the main problems was the size of my hands. Anything from not dropping magazines to not fully seating magazines can be caused by this. Again, this is not the fault of the weapon, and with practice I was able to overcome all these issues. I really feel like this is a wonderful concealed carry option. 

However I must stress, do not mistakenly think you can buy this and tuck it in your pocket for a "just in case scenario." 

Take it out, run it hard, and learn about it. You may have to make important adjustments in order to cull maximum performance from the weapon. At a price point of roughly $419.00 (considerably less under Glock Blue Label) this superb little gun makes a good backup or concealed carry option.

Also, a heart-felt thanks to Steve and Ed Klen of Front Range Gun Club who totally took care of me for this test and evaluation. They provided me a complete range to myself for photography, provided targets, and even assisted with loaned equipment when I had a failure.

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