Most of the reviews I do here for Cheaper Than Dirt grow from a personal interest in the product, not from just “checking out” guns, sights, ammo or (you name it) that have been sent to me.
I like trying new things, to be sure, but I also think it’s a better service to you all to report on the ones I’ve had the most experience with, and, again, the ones I have the strongest personal interest in.
So here’s my take on the GLOCK 42 (with a Crimson Trace laser addition).
A Quick Backstory
The backstory of why I bought this gun is too much for the space here, but here’s the short version: I had a couple of run-ins locally in my very small town that were so unexpected, so out of place, that I realigned my ideas on what could be expected.
I decided the answer was “anything, anywhere.” Fortunately, nothing lasting happened, but it dang sure could have. Point is that, yes, I carried when I went somewhere that seemed warranted. Now I carry everywhere, even walking my dog on my own street.
I wanted a small gun because I’m a “shorts and T-shirt” sort of fellow, and I didn’t want to be a slave to concealment tactics. I also like the easy option of carrying at a moment’s notice—more about that in a bit.
G42 Design Breakdown
The G42 is GLOCK’s “little gun,” the smallest in the Austrian-maker’s extensive lineup, and it’s a .380 ACP with a six-round capacity single-stack magazine (comes with two). This one has a Crimson Trace LG-443 laser sight, actuated by the shooter’s grip.
This G42 is out there in the mix of a horde of .380s that range in frame sizes, action mechanisms, and, no doubt, functionality (as well as build-quality levels). It was this last element that eliminated the most of them as an option for me.
No kidding: if you’re carrying a gun as a protective measure, it best fire as many times as you pull the trigger.
I had first picked a Walther PK380 because the “shooter” in me preferred its slightly larger frame to better fit my slightly larger hands. But, then I realized that, for my overall needs, the smaller size was better.
Comparing the G42 then to a good many others, I found the GLOCK a better fit. This is important! Back to the importance of functionality: it also best give a good platform to direct your shots.
There are smaller guns, but the GLOCK didn’t get entirely swallowed up by my shooting grip. So, in a way of looking at it, which was what at least partly happened, this G42 was the smallest gun I could still shoot well.
It’s got that squarish “GLOCK brick” feel to it, which in the past I didn’t like in the bigger models. But in this one, it was welcome.
There’s not enough size in such small frames to get ergonomic perfection, but, as suggested, the G42 grip was substantial enough that I could get good trigger finger positioning and still feel a connection with the chassis.
G42 Function and Functionality
Having experienced a good number of subcompact handguns over many years, a GLOCK is easier than most to operate/manipulate in loading and unloading. It goes without saying, but I’ll still say it: GLOCK firearms are simple—all of them.
So, too, are most other modern striker-fired versions within its competition. Load it, holster it and there it is, ready to go. The GLOCK “safe action” is entirely trustworthy. Trigger trip weight is a little more than five pounds, and it’s predictably consistent in feel and behavior.
Get a firm hold on the gun and the trigger is not going to miss a shot for you.
Sights are the common “three-dot” and they’re good enough. I especially like the front sight size and appearance, but the doggone rear notches are never wide enough for me. That’s on virtually all of their handguns!
I think this comes from some sort of manufacturer-miscalculated attempt at providing a “finer” sight picture potential. The human eye centers objects better when there’s at least something to center, not more space. That’s a fact.
G42 Accuracy and Performance
Any defensive handgun’s accuracy is judged on how well and how quickly it can hit the center of a target, so it’s a combination of the gun and the shooter. No kidding: you are being judged more than the gun is!
I can tell you that this little GLOCK is capable of shooting a smaller shot group that most can muster. My one son, who is an outstanding competitive bullseye pistol shooter, can easily roll soda cans at 25 yards with it. Me, not so much. Tip: it’s mostly in triggering mechanics.
Recoil and rise are patently non-existent, and a dose of GLOCK engineering got the bore centerline down lower than many in this class of handguns, and that really helps. It’s easy to shoot well with.
It’s not at all intimidating, and that’s a huge factor in attaining competence, especially if this ends up being someone’s first handgun—and I know that small guns like this often do.
I’ve run over 500 rounds through mine, both low budget and premium. Zero malfunctions, nary a one.
I’m not at all a fan of lasers until I’m a huge fan of lasers. Lemme explain: I chose the Crimson Trace because there are circumstances, which are easily (and likely) feasible to encounter with a defensive use gun where the laser might save your life.
A laser can help land a good hit whether you can see anything associated with the sights or not. That’s incalculably important. Otherwise, no. I don’t like routine shooting with a laser. The laser dot is distracting, especially to a well-rehearsed shooter who’s learned to focus on the front sight.
However! There are also very beneficial training helps from a laser.
It’s “interesting”—which an esteemed colleague said is the word to use to describe something that either you really don’t know what else to say or you don’t want to speak the truth about—to watch someone shoot a laser-equipped handgun, where you watch the dot and then correlate its location with the report, and then the shot location.
Well, you can use the same sort of awareness to become a better shooter. I spend time using the laser in dry-firing on light switches. It’s a great confirmation exercise.
The Bottom Line
Not sure there truly is a bottom line, as there are too many good guns in this class. Do I think this GLOCK G42 is the best small handgun, best in this class? For me, yes, it turned out that way.
I can say with no reservations or hesitations that it’s a “real” gun, it’s a GLOCK and it works like a GLOCK (which is also to say that it indeed works). It’s a serious piece and provides serious peace. For me.
It’s also always there, wherever I am, wherever I need it to be. Combined with the Sticky holster, it can ride in my truck console, then go to my favored appendix placement for a walk, and then to my laptop bag.
Sure, I have a bigger gun—a whopping lot bigger gun—that I routinely carry on many occasions. (It’s stowed in a backpack that allows quick access.) This one, though, is for running errands, taking walks, being out and busy, and feeling confidently secure.
I don’t demean it because it’s “just” a .380 and I refuse to follow along with the “something is better than nothing” nonsense that often accompanies articles I’ve read written about these very small handguns. Nope. This is better than that! It will if you can.
Note: The Crimson Trace LG-443 laser adds about $200-300 (or more) to the cost and adds 5.6 oz to the weight.
What’s the smallest gun that you carry? Let us know in the comments below.