Glock 42 Review

Glock 42 .380 ACP pistol

Written by Be a Blogger for a Day Contest Winner, Ron Horner.

When I was growing up, my dad would tell me about getting my “all-around education.” He wasn’t referring to reading, writing and arithmetic. He was letting me know that everyday experiences would teach me valuable lessons that would be useful to help me make decisions in the future.

I can recall a few of the lessons I have learned in the many years I’ve been on this earth.

Lesson # 1

Politicians sometimes—okay…maybe more—bend, twist and manipulate facts in order to achieve a goal.

Lesson #2

Used car salesmen sometimes—just see Lesson #1.

Lesson #3

Sometimes big things do come in small packages.

I have been in law enforcement for more years than I care to count. In the beginning, I was a reserve officer. When I decided to make it my career, I was hired on as a patrolman. Eventually, I served as a field-training officer before strapping on a detective’s badge 11 years ago.

It’s a small gun. Under one inch in width, under one pound loaded. 

During my career, I’ve carried numerous sidearms. I still have a soft spot for my .357 Magnum stainless revolver. It’s like an old friend that you can count on no matter what. When I pick up it up, a flood of memories come rushing back. One such memory is my reluctance when the “plastic handguns” arrived. That was a time when I hated to see the changes taking place in handguns. I have adjusted pretty well since those days, considering a Glock 22 is now my primary duty weapon and I work in a profession where most of the young officers have never even fired a revolver.

Until recently, I have held on to a little nostalgia with a .38 snubnose worn out of sight, just in case. It’s nice to know that I have another option should a bad situation arise. The .38 has been a constant companion for so long that most of the time I forget it’s even there. However, I decided to give the Glock 42 a spin through my daily routine.

The first time I got my hands on the 42 was just outside Memphis, TN at a police training facility. A Glock representative let me take a test drive. At first glance, I could tell it was definitely a Glock. It is thin and lightweight. The stippling on the grip and the oversized magazine release whispers Gen 4. It feels familiar, for an old gumshoe like me, familiar is a good thing.

Now don’t get me wrong, being a competitor and reloader since I was 13, I know my way around firearms. But as bad as I hate to admit it, I imagine my eyesight and reflexes are not quite what they used to be years ago. If I need to use a backup or off-duty weapon, I want it to be second nature. That’s exactly what I got with the 42. It runs just like its big brothers and sisters. It was like meeting an old friend. Due to time constraints, I was only able fire two magazines. All of the rounds were fired offhand from the 10-yard line and grouped around 1.5 inches. My initial assessment was positive, and I wanted to know more.

Until a few weeks ago, work got in the way of a reunion with the 42. I baled out of the truck with the enthusiasm of a kindergartener at a candy store, but my legs quickly reminded me how long it has been since kindergarten. When I unboxed the little handful, all those familiar features were apparent again. I certainly appreciate a good set of night sights, however, the stock Glock sights are functional and do their job well. The single-stack design makes it compact and concealable. The 42 does not have removable backstraps. However, the grip was comfortable. Pocket carry was no problem and after loading with some FMJ rounds, I fit the 42 in a Blackhawk! pocket holster, and it fit nicely in the front pocket of jeans.

Close up of a man pointing a Glock 42 down range
The single-stack design makes it compact and concealable.

I kept everything between seven to 10 yards on this outing, and the accuracy was a carbon copy of my first session. All shots stayed within approximately 1.5 inches. Considering the intended use as a backup weapon, I’m impressed. Even groupings with my .38 snubnose could not match that.

The pistol came with two magazines, and I added a Pierce magazine extension to one of them. I knew the extension would certainly give a more confident grip, but I was not sure it would be worth the added bulk. I used both magazines throughout the session and they both ran flawlessly. When the training ammunition was gone, I loaded Hornady Critical Defense rounds and once again, the pistol ran like a champ.

I have owned some .380s that were smaller, but they were not comfortable to shoot. Recoil in the 42 is very manageable. I’ve had blood drawn on more than one occasion by a little .380 that would tear up my middle finger quicker than Hillary can take out an email server.

A man shooting the Glock 42
The 42 does not have removable backstraps. However, the grip is comfortable.

Before finishing up, I swapped to ankle carry. I have used ankle carry for years and I am well aware of the size limit for this mode of carry. If you exceed that limit, at the end of the day it feels like a brick is tied to your ankle with barbed wire. Riding in a Galco ankle glove, I forgot the 42 was there. Now, I can say that on the ankle I would recommend no magazine extension. With the extension, I noticed snugness to the fit of the pants leg when I went to unholster. It was imperceptible until unholstering, so there were no issues about concealment.

There may be an occasion in the future when those nostalgic feelings tell me to dust off that snubnose and partner up again for a day, but no doubt, my 42 will be my constant little companion hidden out of sight.

Oh, I almost forgot. Hey, Dad, Lesson #3 I learned at the range today. I expect big things from my little 42.

Do you have a Glock 42? What do you think of it? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Ron Horner is a police detective in the state of Mississippi. He has served as a reserve officer, patrolman and field-training officer. The knowledge and experience he has attained aids him in training and educating officers. He was introduced to shooting sports at an early age and was competing in rifle and pistol matches when he was 13 years old. He divided his time between reloading, training and competitions. When he is not writing, he continues to enjoy participating in all shooting and reloading activities.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (38)

  1. IB Mikey had a good point about my assessment on recoil. The 42 gives good control and follow up shots. R Fischer had the same concerns that I had when evaluating the .380 round. I believe that Monty and M Reyna are spot on about shot placement. The .380 is a capable round if the operator does his part. Ammunition is not the same as it was 20-30 years ago. Thanks everyone for some great comments!

  2. thanks, that is the info I am looking for… lots of articles about throwing away the 380 and going to a 9mm but it appears that the 380 can do the job just fine..

    1. I had a snub nose 38. I shot it a lot before I got rid of it. The factor that made the decision easy for me was the fact that I shot at a 55 Gallon metal barrel and the bullet only made a dent. It did not penetrate. That was 20 years ago. Lots of improvements in ammo
      Since then. Today’s 380 ammo will penetrate that 55 gallon barrel, so as I’ve said many time before it’s not always about the size of the caliber but it is always about bullet placement.

  3. Having shot 3 different Glocks and checking out the 42 in store… the size, everything- I had to have it. So I bought it, used it maybe once, and it shot well the first couple rounds. I loved it when it did, but now my pistol is having problems which include failure to feed, failure to eject, and the slide won’t stay open after the last round has been fired through. The slide release protrudes and doesn’t appear to be aligned after the last round. Apparently, Glock DOES have some defective 42’s out there that need to be sent in to be fixed and replace some parts. However, it’s been over a month and I can’t get anybody to call or e-mail me back about fixing it. Since then, I’ve been carrying around my Ruger LC380. Best little gun I’ve ever owned for what it’s worth. After Glock fixes what’s wrong- if that ever happens- I’m upgrading to a Sig P238 and never using Glock again.


  5. I have a Glo k 42 and I find it to be a fantastic shooter.
    Hit bullseyes and head shots consistently out to 15 yards off hand.
    Very manageable recoil for accurate second or third shots.
    I carry this little Gem in my pocket very comfortably. I feel extremely
    Comfortable carrying it for self defense as I can hit accurately what I aim at. It’s not always about caliber size but it’s always about bullet placement

  6. Long time glock fan bought and sold a 42 very recently would only feed hornady critical defense. Had every type of malfunction at high frequency.Never seen anything like it in a glock. Was realy nice to shoot – when it cycled. Would be a freat bug and great for training new shootrrs. Guess I just got a bad one. Would try one again if they make some changes.

  7. I have a G42 and as long as I shoot factory ammo it is flawless. Not the same with reloads; jammed every other shot (stove pipe). Anybody with same problem.

  8. My heavy hitter is a Lama .45, but I have to say I absollutely love my Glock 42. It is my pocket carry weapon of choice.

  9. I bought a G42 and I must say it is a sweet shooting little gun.The recoil system is great.I let my daughter shoot and she said I want one.

    1. I have a 42, the first one at both my clubs. I shoot factory reloads & Horn. C Defense Never a problem! Not 1. AS FOR .380, shoot a 2 x 4 at 6 ft. and see the two inch exit hole!

  10. The Glock 42 is not a newly designed Glock or a newly designed handgun. The Glock 42 is an addition to an already successful pistol line. Glock has stayed on the straight path with their line up. The design is the same, familiar, tested, and trustworthy design I have shot for years. While the caliber is new, the gun shoots well, is easy to carry. For all you .380 discounters, remember, a well placed shot from any caliber can result in death. The thing to remember is can you control your shots well enough tonplace those hits. .380 combined with the Glock 42 gives you a great package of protection. While some may run to the Glock 43, it’s worth giving the Glock 42 a chance! Shoot well everyone and remember, the best gun to have is the one you have with you today!

  11. I am “dyed in the plastic” Glock Guy. Had a chance to shoot the little 42 when they first came out. The Glock guys were at the local Glock Perfection dealer at LHC AZ., Only got to shoot two mags, but I really liked that pistol! It would be perfect for the wife. But they had non for purchase. While waiting for the shop to get some, I caught wind of the impending 43…I’m glad I waited. Not because the 42 isn’t a great pistol, but I don’t have to start buying ANOTHER caliber of ammo.

    We’ve (my wife and I) put close to 500 rounds thru the 43. Not one issue, my guess is the same for a 42.

    As a matter of fact, most Glock guys have to practice clearing a jam, just because it doesn’t happen!

  12. I have a Glock 42 and am concerned about the power/penatration of the 380 cal round.. in various articles people with 9mm give less then good cmments regarding the stopping power of the 380 in the Glock.. I would like to hear from a policeman regarding what he/she thinks about the stopping power of the 380 round in the glock 42.

  13. You are spot on with the Glock 42 review only i think you understated recoil and how comfortable it is to fire. I have a multitude of small or ” back up” .380 pistols and none are as controllable in the recoil department. I carried a pistol in Law Enforcement for thirty years and would have felt quite well protected when carrying the G 42 as a back up or holster weapon when engaged in administrative duties.

  14. Have a 42 I bought for my wife. We have shot about 400 rounds thru it. She had a few “stove pipes” with it. That worked out fine as she had to learn how to clear them (learning). She was limp wristing it. After explaining that to her… she was fine. I put 100 rounds thru it with zero problems. These were hollow points. She’s still skittish carrying it, so I do. I forget it’s there. Oh…with a crimson trace I can take out the bulls eye completely…VERY accurate.

  15. Glock is not the weapon of the future.there are a lot better weapons out there.I don’t hate them it’s just not the choice for me. Remember a used car sales man will try and put you in anything to make a deal same as a firearm

  16. I guess you could call me a glockfan boy.I own 12 Glocks from 380 to 10 millimeter and love their dependability and ease of cleaning.My use of them is mostly sporting and personal protection .I will always consider Block my # 1 choice.My 42 shoots like a dream also.

  17. I have 4 Glocks, a17 first gen, 2-26 and the 42. I have no problems with any of them. I’ve put at least 300 rounds thru the 42 without any problems. I must be extremely lucky!!

  18. I”m retired Military and Law Enforcement and a weapons enthusiast and shooter. I’ve reluctantly tried the plastic guns, (glock, Springfield XD, ect) but always had my trusty 1911 within reach. I just didn’t like the plastic guns; however, a friend let me shoot his Glock 380 Mdl 42, and I fell in love. Even though it’s considered a plastic Gun, it was so light weight, recoil was less than all the other 380”s I’ve shot, and accuracy was the best I’ve ever seen out of a short barrel. I’ve put over 500 rounds thru it with not a single malfunction. It fits in my pocket and don’t even know it’s there. I still don’t like plastic guns, but my Mod 42, is the exception and I carry it everyday.

  19. I am a little older lady who has off and on experience over the years with pistols & rifles. Got back into it about 3 years ago and Glock was my pistol of choice. Have a 19 Gen 4 and have had my G42 almost a year now. Love it. Also added the Pierce Mag extensions. Easier to hold. Very comfortable to wear in a Flashbang holster all day long. Thanks for a great review!

  20. I bought my Glock 42 in February 2015. I love it. The striker fire system was the big selling point for me (as so many of the little pocket pistols have a noxiously long double action trigger). I’ve had some trigger work done it. Since I got this pistol 4 months I’ve put over 2000 rounds through it. If this pistol ever jammed or not cycled it’s always been the ammo’s fault, not the pistol’s. The Glock 42 is one of several handguns that I conceal carry, it’s the most pleasurable. The ammo that I carry in it is the Hornady Critical Defense round.

  21. Excellent article. I definitely agree with the sentient of an, “old friend.” “I’ve had blood drawn on more than one occasion by a little .380 that would tear up my middle finger quicker than Hillary can take out an email server.” Hilarious. Keep up the good work Ron.

    1. I do not have a gen 4 but the gen3’s I have used all have the same probem – the triger safety irritates the shooting finger and if you shoot more than 30 or so rounds you feel it for quite a few hours. This of course can be resolved by a good third party after market trigger mechanism with wider trigger shoe and safety. Wonder why Glock hasn’t/didn’t think of that. oh well. Anyway, with the third party after market trigger kit, Glock do not irritate the trigger finger. But this is not just a problem with Glocks, it seems to be a problem with any striker fired pistol using the same or similar trigger safety system.

  22. Funny how the people who don’t like Glocks are always the first to comment on Glock articles…

    To the author: Right there with ya brother. Same background and experience as you, same conclusions as you reached. Except that I just upgraded my G42 for a G43.

    Be safe!

  23. Jam o matic. Brother got one and we took it to the range very 3 to 4 shot it jam. Sometime after one. We send it back to glock and did some work to. He just got it back and we are waiting to get to the range with it. I read some reviews on it and anyone i read same issue and i reading the same with the Glock 43

    1. I have a 43. Have put about 150 rounds through it so far, of half dozen different gr. weights and makes without any malfunctions what so ever…maybe you got a lemon or something else is going on…

    2. Pablo I bought one for my wife. We took it to the range and shot after shot it continuously jammed. The gunsmith at the range said my wife was probably riding the trigger so I took a squeeze only to find the same thing happen with me. So I went back and got him, he looked at the new gun chambered a couple of rounds and said it feeding okay. I told him to take it inside and shoot it and boy did he shoot it, click after click after shot then click. After we got home, I called Glock and they asked me to send the weapon in. After about four weeks, the weapon was returned and they basically replaced every internal part on the inside of the gun! Why would this be when it is a new gun. We are still waiting to take it back to the range and see the results.

    3. Thanks Teddy. This gun works better with personal defence loads or hollow points but when you use regular target loads jams all the time. Stephen as I said I was hearing problem with 43’s but i only tried the 42’s. Even the gun shop where we bought the G42 from said there all 42’S are coming back for same issue. Some jam issues with 43’s

    4. Pablo that’s what she was shooting at first, hollow tips, then I decided to get the full metal jackets and the same thing happened. We are just awaiting another test run to see if Glock fixed this problem!

    5. I have the 43, and haven’t had one problem with it, it goes bang every time and eats what I feed it, I think what ever problem they had with the 42 helped them make the 43 just right, every one I know that has the 43 has had the same experience that I have, they got this one right from the get go…I prefer the 9mm over the 380, I have 380.s and do carry them as an extra hide out gun from time to time , the 43 isn’t that much bigger than the 42 and carries like it’s not even aboard, I couldn’t ask for more..

  24. I think Glocks are overrated and i have held better balanced,less malfunction,easier to clean, and stay clean.the recoil is less than desirable to take your second shot.Just not a Glock fan. Not that there is anything wrong with a Glock.

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