Improving upon the Glock 43
By Mitch Hardin
What defines the perfect small, concealable pistol? Either as a backup for a police officer, something that won’t print in a business casual attire, or just light clothes on a hot, sunny day. That is a question which has been debated for decades and I’m sure will go on for just as long. The answer to that question is left up to us, as individuals to determine what works best for us. I’ve searched long and hard for the right concealable, small pistol before choosing the Glock 43. It’s always a beautiful thing when we have so many choices.
For most of my adult life, it’s been a small S&W J Frame. That school of thought was imparted upon me by the “old timers” who trained me when I was a young Deputy Sheriff. Their reasoning, it’s pretty simple actually, a revolver rarely jams. Back “in the day” it was a great solution. What about if carried not only as a backup, but as an everyday carry piece (EDC)? And what about the advances in the firearms industry?
The market has been flooded with “micro pistols,” and small, concealable full-size caliber handguns. As a Military Veteran, a Deputy Sheriff, a guy who worked at a gun shop, a firearms instructor, and as an avid shooter, I’ve shot a wide variety of the market’s offering of small, concealable handguns. What I chose was the Glock 43.
There are a multitude of reasons that make up my decision to commit to a Glock 43. It’s very easy to operate and it’s easily serviceable at the owner level. I strongly encourage everyone who owns a Glock to attend Glock’s official armorer’s course. Actually, I’ve encouraged students and my fellow officers alike to take an armorers class. Or, at least become intimately familiar with every type of weapon that they own. This will help in diagnosing problems with your chosen weapon should they arise. A bad guy isn’t going to wait for you to call a gunsmith to find out why your chosen firearm went down in the middle of a gunfight. You should be very familiar with your weapons – your life just may depend upon it.
I prefer to have most all of my pistols from the same manufacturer. All of the controls, the way I grip it, and the way it points for me, all are consistent. One won’t have to consciously think of where certain controls are based upon a different make/model of handgun. This helps when muscle memory comes into play. Plus, some of them share parts commonality, so that is a bonus.
Now, to call the Glock 43 “perfect” is not the word that I’d use to describe it. It’s a great start though. When I brought my Glock 43 home, I knew that there were changes in store for it. On my defensive handguns, I like to keep the sights, trigger pull, and other related changes consistent. My next step was to purchase the aftermarket items needed to transform this new pistol into my version of the perfect subcompact EDC, or as the old timers used to call it, a “pocket rocket.” It was about that time I think I heard my debit card crying.
The first thing to be changed was the grip angle. Why Glock doesn’t factory cut away some of the excess material under the trigger guard is beyond me. Several of their competitors are now doing just that. A “trigger undercut,” as it is referred to, is a must have, as it changes the dynamics of your grip. This gives you more control over the pistol you’re shooting.
There are several companies out there that offer these services to their customers, along with a wide range of other custom work. It can get a bit pricey though, depending upon whom you use. You can actually do this modification yourself with the proper tools, right in your own man cave.
I started by making sure my Glock 43 was unloaded, and that there was no ammunition around my work area. Then I disassembled it by separating the slide from the receiver. Just set the slide assembly off to the side as it’s not needed for this. Next is assembling the tools that I would need. They include a pair of nitrile gloves, safety glasses, my cordless Dremel, a Dremel 120 grit ½” sanding band (part #432), 150 grit sandpaper, P400 wet sanding paper, P800 wet sanding paper, a Dremel felt polishing cone (part #422), Dremel Polishing Compound (part #421) and finally, some Frog Lube. You can substitute the lube, but Frog Lube is what I mainly use for my firearms.
This project may sound complicated, and even intimidating, but it’s really not. You just have to have a steady hand, some patience, and a lot of courage. Start off visualizing the area that you want to cut. Then start slowly with the sanding band and no higher than #3 or #4 for the speed of the Dremel. You’re only using the sanding band to make the initial cut of the shape that you want. Next, use 150 grit sandpaper to shape the undercut. Then use the P400 and P800 wet sanding papers to get rid of striation and cutting marks. Finally, use the felt polishing cone and compound to clean it up a bit. It may look a bit chalky colored when you’re done, so rubbing some Frog Lube on it returns it back to a deep black color.
It’s really as simple as that. Just take your time, and check your progress after every few swipes of the sandpaper. Remember, you can always reshape it or take more off, but you can’t add more back on. Give it the shape that you want, clean it up, and then you will have a much nicer grip on your Glock 43. For me, the hardest part was getting up the courage to take a Dremel to my Glock. But, the results are great and it feels like a whole new pistol when I shoot it. If you do it right, it will look like it was done at the factory. My total time spent on this was approximately 90 minutes.
Once I was done with the trigger undercut, I disassembled the receiver and removed the trigger components. Next was adding the Ghost Edge 3.5lb connector. Before doing this on the Glock 43, I strongly recommend having a Glock Certified Armorer do this, or at least someone who knows how to properly disassemble a Glock. The 43 is a bit different than the rest of the line of Glocks. You almost need a third hand to accomplish this task. Make sure that you pay attention to how you took it apart so you can put it back together the same way. What works for me is taking a few pictures to reference when reassembling.
On to the Talon Grip (rubberized) install. While leaving the backing on the grip tape, fit it over the receiver where it’s going to go. Once you have a good idea of how you want it, prep the receiver by wiping down the grip area really good with rubbing alcohol. I used a Porter Cable heat gun to warm up the receiver as well as to dry off the rubbing alcohol. Then peel the backing and follow the directions. You can use a hair dryer to heat it up if that is all you have. I didn’t want to risk ruining my wife’s and catching a beating, so I bought my own tool.
Then I added a Vickers Tactical extended magazine catch and extended slide stop, both made by Tango Down. These aftermarket items are a must have with my defensive carry Glocks. The Vickers Tactical magazine catch is rounded and has no real edges. That feels much better to me when getting the proper grip. The Vickers Tactical extended slide stop greatly aids in sending the slide home after a reload. This will help you get back on target quicker.
The only thing left was to add the sights. I chose the Ameriglo “Hackathorn” edition night sights. I run them now on most of my pistols. There have been many different companies’ night sights in my spare parts bin at some point. I like the blacked out serrated rear sight with the front dayglow orange circle, and green tritium insert. These sights are clean, rounded, and don’t catch on clothing. That bright orange circle is great for getting you on target quickly. The “Hackathorn” edition night sights from Ameriglo are a great choice for an EDC or defense oriented handgun. If you don’t know who Ken Hackathorn is, use your Google-Fu to search for his name. The guy is a legend and one of the best instructors out there.
With the Pearce Grip +1 extension on the magazines, it was time to hit the range. I usually shoot at steel, but I shot at a paper target to show you how it prints at 10 yards. I noticed tighter shot groups with my newly “improved” Glock 43. The trigger undercut really does make it feel like a different pistol rather than the way it felt out of the box. I feel like I have better control over it now. My shots were centrally located in one nice, small cluster. It’s surprisingly fun to shoot, unlike many other subcompacts on the market.
There are several reasons why a person would want a small, concealable pistol of this size. The deciding factor for me was just how small it really is while also being chambered in 9mm. Having this pistol now, my S&W J Frame is going to be feeling awfully left out.
All that is left is for you to do is hit the range as often as you can so you can familiarize yourself with your new Glock 43. I strongly encourage everyone who purchases any new pistol to shoot it often and practice drawing from the holster before carrying it out in public as an EDC. Attending a training class would be another great avenue to help familiarize oneself with their new pistol. The NRA offers great classes, as do other well vetted instructors. Enjoy your new Glock 43 – I’m certain that you will love it. I know that mine is quickly becoming an instant favorite.
Be safe and stay frosty!