GLOCK G42: A Remarkable Handgun

By Bob Campbell published on in Handgun Ammunition, Handguns, Reviews

For most of my life I have carried what some refer to as big guns. The Chief’s Special is a backup. The Commander .45 is a carry gun. And I am familiar with practically every light pistol made in the past century, from the Harrington and Richardson SLP to the Walther PP Super. Some work better than others. Very few have service-gun reliability.

The very nice, slick SIG P230 is a great handgun, and there are not many others I trust.

GLOCK 42 Right Profile

The GLOCK’s well-designed cocking serrations are easy to grasp.

And frankly, compared to the current crop of compact 9mm handguns, the P230 is not that small.

Enter the GLOCK G42, a long-awaited and much heralded pistol. The GLOCK G42 is a slim, light and reliable .380 ACP pistol. To its credit, GLOCK did not attempt to build a pistol that stuffs 10 rounds into the frame.

There really is not anything quite like it.

The GLOCK G42 bears a resemblance to the Generation 4 GLOCK, with the same grip texture and magazine release, although it does not have the light rail or interchangeable back strap.

Features of the GLOCK G42

The pistol is a fresh design, building on proven GLOCK principles. The G42 is a 6-plus-1 capacity pistol, thin, very thin, with a 0.95-inch frame and 0.825-inch slide. The pistol is only 4.25 inches tall and just short of 6 inches long and weighs 12 ounces unloaded. While some pistols pretend to be pocket pistols, the GLOCK G42 .380 ACP is a true pocket pistol.

An important difference between the GLOCK 42 and the other .380 pistols is that the G42 is not a blowback pistol. In these handguns, the slide blows to the rear off of a fixed barrel. The locked breech is the stronger system and is seldom used in pistols of this size and weight. An advantage of that operating mechanism is recoil and pressure are controlled more efficiently.

The pistol features dual recoil springs in the modern spring-within-a-spring GLOCK design. Another advantage of locked-breech design is that handloaders may load the cartridge a bit hotter. I do not wish to contribute to the delinquency of handloaders, but another locked breech .380 ACP pistol, once very popular, was the Star S Model.This was a strong locked-breech with which I experimented a few decades ago. However, .380 ACP ammunition has improved somewhat in the past decade, as I discovered while testing the G42.

GLOCK 42 profile view

The G42 is small enough to carry comfortably but large enough for proper hand purchase.

The pistol features a six-round magazine and comes with two magazines (supplying a pistol with only one magazine is ridiculous). The pistol’s trigger action, sights and appearance are typical GLOCK, and it feels good in the hand. I have never thought the GLOCK has a natural point; this pistol is an exception. Another exception is that it is made in America. Imports, exports and tariffs are heady political discussions, and the bottom line is that GLOCK has given a lot of good folks in Georgia honest work. I like that.

The pistol operates in the same way as every other GLOCK. When you rack the slide, the trigger partially cocks, or is “prepped” in GLOCK parlance. The striker partially draws to the rear, and a long press of the trigger completes the job of cocking and releasing the striker, resulting in a 6-pound trigger compression. In my experience, the GLOCK trigger action may run from 5 to 6 pounds. The G42, however, feels lighter, which may be a result of the leverage of the small handgun. The RCBS registering trigger compression gauge does not lie.

The mechanics of the pistol are similar to the full-size GLOCK, with slight differences, such as the springs in the takedown lever and the slide stop’s design. That is understandable when the pistol is downsized to this degree.

Firing the GLOCK G42

GLOCK 42 Magazines, Loaded

GLOCK G42 magazines hold 6 rounds of .380 ACP ammunition.

After initial familiarization, I fired the G42. I had on hand no less than six types of .380 ACP ammunition. Considering the present ammunition shortage, that is a goodly amount.

I had:

  • Three types from Fiocchi, one ball load and one using a standard JHP.
  • The Extrema line, using the XTP bullet.
  • The CORBON DPX load, using the all-copper X bullet.
  • The new Winchester Defense load, using the PDX bullet.
  • The Hornady Critical Defense loading.

I will remove the suspense—there were no failures to feed, chamber, fire or eject.

The G42 is very comfortable to fire. In my experience, small guns are less reliable than larger pistols. There is simply a more crowded platform that invites the fingers to interfere with the slide stop or trigger. The GLOCK platform is businesslike and manageable, even in this small pistol, and the G42 is never uncomfortable to fire. There was little difference between firing the hottest loads and the mildest ones. There was more push and more muzzle flip with the CORBON loading, yet nothing uncomfortable.

In my mind, that is the rationale for the light .380 ACP pistol; it is lighter than the 9mm and should kick less. I do not mind mastering a hard-kicking big bore, although when carrying a light caliber, the recoil should be light as well. The bottom line is that the pistol should be reliable. The GLOCK G42 meets all of those criteria.

Ammunition Performance

GLOCK 42, CORBON DPX Ammunition and ProChrono

Velocity results with CORBON were good.

Ammunition performance was an eye opener. As an example, the CORBON 80-grain DPX load averaged 1070 fps. That is impressive because the G42 barrel is a stubby 3.25 inches. The CORBON loading breaks right at 200-foot-pounds of energy. The heavier bullet loads exhibited respectable velocity. A defense load must demonstrate a balance between expansion and penetration. None of those loads fundamentally change my mind about the .380 ACP, and they do make the most of the caliber.

I found it interesting that the G42 is accurate enough to invite recreational shooting. Small sticks and the usual range bric-a-brac were easily addressed to 15 yards. It is accurate enough to serve for pests and reptiles at a reasonable range. The G42 is fast from concealed carry and comes on target quickly. I find it the best-handling and most accurate .380 ACP in my recent experience.

GLOCK has a winner in the G42.

Ammunition Test Results

Load Velocity 15 yard group
 Fiocchi 95-gr. FMJ  902 fps  2.5 inches
 Fiocchi 90-gr. JHP  908 fps  2.65 inches
 Fiocchi 90-gr Extrema  870 fps  2.0 inches
 CORBON 80-gr. DPX  1070 fps  2.75 inches
 Hornady 90-gr Critical Defense  881 fps  2.25 inches
 Winchester 95-gr. Defense  915 fps   2. 6 inches

 

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Do you have a GLOCK G42? What do you think of it? Or, if not, do you plan to check it out? Share in the comments section.

Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooter’s Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.

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Comments (43)

  • glenn swearingen

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    THIS GUN SHOOTS AWESOME. NEED SOMEONE TO DEVELOP EXTENDED MAG. FOR PINKY FINGER. THEN IT WOULD BE PERFECT

    Reply

  • Bob Barlow

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    I bought one back in January. All I can say is WOW! I have shot at 50 yards into a burn barrel that needed air holes, all 7 rounds hit the barrel and punched through! I will try my 100 yard gong…hope to hear that familiar sound! the bullets used were FMJ out of a standard Winchester 100 round pack from Walmart.

    Reply

  • Phil

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    If it works for the people at Glock and not for you, then it is something on your end. The Glock rep told me in person that 100% of the jamming issues they had investigated were limp wristing and I see it all the time. I shoot 44 mag an 45 Colt +P and 400 Corbon have learned to use a very strong hold. I have no problem with my G42 or PF9 and other people do have those problems. It will also vary by how fast your ammo moves down the tube so one brand may fail with a limp wrist and the other may not. I also have my students wear gloves just to see if that changes the rate of jamming, if it does, then it is your holding technique. Hope this helps.

    Reply

  • GunDick

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    Armorer had one; I bought one too. Replaces a very nice Bersa Thunder .380 CC. Very accurate, relatively soft recoil, no slide bite for me. Got extensions (no adnl rounds added) from Pearce and NDZ, both really helped my medium handed grip. Easy to conceal, easy action, trigger pull excellent for my old hands. 350 rds so far: second mag fired was shot by friend who “followed” the slide causing two jams, cleared, showed him correct action, no jams for anyone trying it or me since. Light, but solid. Easy to take down and clean. Price is excellent. I’m an old ICBM jock. Only negative so far is very hard to get extra mags (comes with 2, so not critical; expensive online). Mags are staggered; between single and double stack size. Pachmayr grip glove makes it even a little nicer (same size as Kel Tec P32 works).

    Reply

  • Jim

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    I bought a 42 on Saturday 5/17/14. Since first handling one in January, it has grown on me. I have a Steyr C40-A1; it’s trigger is superb and has easy to handle recoil. The 42 trigger felt much the same, recoil reports indicate a more manageable gun than a Kahr 380, and it’s size is about the same as a p238, another good shooter. Those points finally sold me on the 42–that and the fact that right now they are almost impossible to find. Now to shoot it. Oh, and accessories are available–grip extension and night sights and soon a trigger guard laser.

    Reply

  • KC

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    As a Glock owner (Models 36, 32 and 29) and former LEO carrying the Model 22 and 27 I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one. After putting myself on five waiting lists in town I finally got the call that mine was in from one of the local gunshops. Absolutely worth the wait. Right now I am using it as a training pistol for folks with little or no experience with firearms but won’t hesitate to carry it when one of my other handguns won’t quite work with my choice of clothing. (I live in FL and shorts and t’s are my norm). I own other .380′s (Sig 232, Mauser HsC, Ruger LCP) and this is by far my favorite. Thanks to the folks at Glock for finally bringing us one stateside! Highly recommend it! Oh and invest in the Pearce mag extensions. Makes it that much more comfortable.

    Reply

  • Joe

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    I own glock 26and 19 fired many rounds with no problem also have glock42 sent back two times for jam and eject problem s glock says it s fine they tested they were very nice but they said it s me I am beginning to think it is does anyone else have this going on thanks joe

    Reply

  • Gene DeBarr

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    Joe,

    I have had numerous Glocks and my wife and I both shoot modle 19′s in a steel league as well as teach with them. Never had a problem. I purchased a new 42 and have had NOTHING but problems, and yes, the same as you, jambs, stove pipes, etc. This has happened with all types of personal def. ammo. I’m also a Glock Armorer and feel that the problems are the recoil spring and the barrel not being throated properly. I have a new Colt Mustang XSP 380 and it runs like a clock using the same factory ammos that would not function in the Glock. The Colt has the feed ramp polished to the extent that it looks chrome plated and is heavily throated.

    Reply

    • Phil

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      Gene, your comment is like the one Joe gave a few days ago. Joe sent his gun back 2 times, and both times Glock says it was fine. As I said in my earlier comment, 99% of the time the problem when only some shooters have it is limp wristing. It is truly common with the little plastic guns. They are dainty and you dont get all your fingers on the grip. I suggest you wear leather shooting gloves or weight lifitng gloves that do not have much give in them and hold it very tightly. I too shoot model 19s and have carried them as a LEO and personal arm since 1990. The hold is totally different from the model 42. You gotta hold em tight….again, the Glock rep I met with told me in April that 100% of the problems they had received about the gun were limp wristing. Mine has been 100% with everything you throw at it. I have not polished anything, just bought it for the novelty of having a mini-Glock. I can get it to fail with a dainty grip, but I can also get full size guns to fail with a dainty grip. FWIW. Best of luck.

      Reply

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