Glock G42 semiauto subcompact in .380 Auto

Glock 42 
The Glock 42 .380 ACP or 9 mm Short, specifically designed as a concealed defensive carry

Fans of the Glock system had great expectations for the G42, the second Glock model with a single stack mag made by the Austrian gun maker to follow the G 36 .45. 

The mechanics of the gun are classic Glock, with the improvements made in the 4th series and some changes required due to the size of the automatic. 

Presented in 1982, this Glock was the first polymer-framed handgun with a striker-fired system, which had already been used in the past but without success in short arms. 

This model with its compact dimensions, but which we would be hard-pushed to call a back-up, has no manual safety. Unlike other .380 Autos, which use a blowback system, the Glock G42 uses the same tilt-barrel locking system found on a Browning, modified with all the relevant benefits.

Glock 42 
The muzzle of the G42: the tilt-barrel, an unmistakable sign of the modified Browning locking system

This handgun has been designed as a concealed carry, which is why it is called a slimline. 

The small 42 can be used not only as a backup, but also in particular situations as a primary handgun, when you need to keep a low profile and the need to conceal the gun is vital. For this it is ideal, considering its light weight and compact size. 

Designed for personal defense or as a back-up, autonomy is limited to just 6 shots plus one in the chamber making a total of 7 cartridges. 

Statistically speaking, this makes it a good choice for solving most problems you might encounter in terms of personal and home defense. If you think you will have big problems, then obviously you would choose a bigger gun.

Now in the 4th generation, the handgun has a telescopic recoil spring providing more recoil dampening than previous models. 

Due to the size, the grip does not have the side pieces found on other Gen4 handguns. 

Also consider that the G42, when used as a back-up, does not require any special training for those who know how to use a full size or compact Glock.

Glock 42 
The front sight with the white round reference mark is identical to the one used on most Glock handguns
Glock 42 
The rear sight has a white U reference mark. The sights are more than adequate for defensive purposes

Glock handguns, as well as being known for the limited number of component parts - just 33 (If it isn't there, it can't break in the words of Henry Ford) - has a short recoil–operated mechanism, a modified Browning system with the prismatic rear part of the barrel that locks the system, adapting to the eject port in the slide. Pulling back the slide moves the striker back slightly too. 

The trigger must be pulled to fully arm and subsequent release the striker. 

Note that the pre-armed striker does not have enough kinetic energy to fire the cartridge in the chamber accidentally. The compact G42 has some minor differences compared to its big sisters. 

The new slide lock is fitted with a spiral spring instead of a torsion spring. Other minor differences can be found in the striker safety plunger, the element that holds the trigger spring, and ejector spring guide.

Glock 42 
The wider part of the G42 frame above the grip provides space for the firing pin to move, keeping the overall width of the gun down

Glock handguns all use the same hammer mechanism. 

The trigger always requires the same pressure, unlike double/single action guns, so for the operator it is easier to learn and remember how to instinctively pull the trigger, preventing jerky movements of the gun while firing the first shots. 

Trigger pull can be adjusted on the Glock thanks to the many kits available on the market. 

The standard Glock trigger is designed for defense, so it is heavy enough to prevent a user in a stressful situation accidentally firing the gun. 

If you are used to a light trigger pull you will have to get used to the Glock system or use one of the various available kits to have a lighter pull. The trigger pull weight of the model we tested was 3.290 kg, just right for a back-up defensive weapon. 

Glock 42 
The Safe Action trigger on the G42 we tested has a trigger pull weight of around 3.290 g

Glock handguns have three automatic safety systems and no manual safety. There is an automatic safety on the striker, another on the trigger protecting it from lateral traction and especially from accidentally firing if the gun is dropped, and a third safety is actuated by the rear part of the trigger connecting lever which, when armed, stops the striker moving forwards. 

A handgun designed in this way can be safely carried with a cartridge in the chamber without needing a manual safety, so it is immediately ready to fire.

Glock 42 
The size of the Glock 42 makes it easy to use for people with small hands rather than someone with big hands who will probably miss the grip for their little finger and possibly part of their ring finger too

The sights on the Glock 42 are a miniature version of those on its big sisters. While it is obvious that a gun this size is not designed for target shooting, the well-proportioned sights are good enough to let you produce a good burst pattern on targets at greater ranges than you would usually find in a defensive situation.

Glock 42 
The controls on the G42 are identical to any other Glock, simplified for Backup carry training

The 9 x 17 mm caliber (.380 Auto, 9 mm short, 9 Browning and many other names) bullets used in the Glock offer good precision. Kinetic energy is approximately 25 kg/m and the cartridges are suitable for personal defense. 

The low kinetic energy of the 9 Short means lower penetration, making this caliber suitable for use in urban and residential environments, limiting collateral damage if the bullet hits targets offering low resistance like some parts of the body.

Glock 42 
The Glock G42 disassembled for cleaning

As mentioned above, the G42 is a miniature Glock designed as a concealed carry. 

The size makes it easy to use for people with small hands rather than someone with big hands who will probably miss grip for their little finger and possibly part of their ring finger too.

As it is so small, there is no room for a Picatinny rail due to the short dust cover. 

But to be honest, you will not miss it. The grip is a simplified version of that on its big sisters, without the molding for the fingers on the front. The knurled effect has been improved like other 4th generation models. All the controls are easy to reach. The slide lock lever is protected by a hood that prevents accidental activation when firing.

Glock 42 
The two 6-shot single stack .380 ACP magazines supplied with the handgun

With the Glock G42, as with all weapons and especially compact versions, you need to take time to adapt to the grip and trigger pull, which is quite a bit heavier than on other models. 

After training you will find the gun benefits from all the usual Glock features: short-stroke trigger, both when pulling the trigger and re-engaging, reduced recoil and muzzle rise, precision, reliability and ease-of-use. 

The handgun, considering the low recoil, is perfect for one-handed use, and considering the size of the G42, it should probably only be used this way to prevent the risk of leaving your other hand in front of the muzzle in a stressful situation.

Tests on the firing range

Glock 42 
Shooting the Glock G42 instinctively at a range of five meters. Even though it is very small in your hand, it is easy to handle also thanks to the modified Browning locking system

Apparently the first Glock G42s had some problems and were prone to jamming due to a weak cartridge feed. The model we tested with Geco ammo never gave us any trouble. What we do recommend is holding the gun tightly during your first shots. 

Glock 42 
Group at a range of 12 meters, rapid fire, using GECO cartridges with a 95-grain full metal jacket bullet
Glock 42 
Group pattern, again at a range of 12 meters, firing slowly while aiming carefully. Again with GECO FMJ ammo

As for any defensive handgun, before carrying the gun in a side holster it is a good idea to test the gun with its cartridges, including the magazine. We used 95-grain Geco FMJ cartridges to test the gun. 

The Glock G42 burst pattern at a range of 12 meters, well over that at which, statistically, armed engagements occur, is good considering the sight line of the gun. What is really surprising is the really low recoil, letting you get off all the shots in the mag in quick succession.

Glock 42
The semiautomatic Glock G42 caliber .380 ACP with GECO 95-grain FMJ cartridges and the target with the burst pattern at a range of 12 meters

Our opinion of the Glock G42 is absolutely positive; its strengths are the simple, time-tested mechanism, its reliability, precision, light weight and the fact that it is very easy to carry concealed. What is more, if used as a back-up with a full size Glock, you will not have to adapt to a different mechanism.

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For more information visit the Glock website

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Glock G42

Glock 42Franco Palamaro

€ 0.000,00
ManufacturerGlock Ges m.b.H.
Caliber.380 Auto

Locked-breech short recoil–operated mechanism, with a modified Browning system

Trigger system safe action striker-fired system    
Safeties automatic on striker, trigger and connecting lever 
Capacity 6 shots
Barrel 82.5 mm    

fixed front sight, selectable fixed or adjustable rear sight

Overall length

151 mm

Weight (empty) 390 grams

carbon steel slide, polymer frame


Two 6-shot magazines supplied

Price €514 (official price including VAT)