Family Feud: Glock 19 vs. Glock 43

All rise! The Court of Public Opinion is now in session! On the docket this morning is the case of Glock 43 vs. Glock 19.

Much like any heated courtroom battle, the arguments over which gun is “the best” can play out with all the furor of a well-scripted television drama. In today’s case, deciding between the Glock 43 vs. the Glock 19 is a battle between members of the same family. Rest easy, though, there are no losers in this family feud.

The Glock 19

Glock 19 pistol

Glock 19 is the Ford F-150 of pistols.

The Glock 19 is a perennial favorite in the defensive shooting community. It’s not the first gun I ever purchased, but it is one that I’ve carried for more than 25 years. It’s easy for me to understand why it appeals to a large number of gun owners. The gun is compact enough for concealed carry, yet large enough for military and law enforcement use. Likewise, the gun is an ideal pistol for home defense. I’ve used mine as a home defense weapon, for personal protection outside the home, and as my duty gun as a deputy sheriff.

Chambered in 9mm, the Glock 19 stacks 15 rounds in a flush-fitting magazine and is compatible with mags that hold more if needed. While light compared to metal frame handguns, the pistol has enough mass to keep recoil mild. Since the gun is so popular, there are many accessories available for it.

Perhaps the best aspect of the Glock 19 is its stellar reputation for reliability. It is a reputation built on millions of hours of range time and thousands of real-world encounters in the hands of armed citizens, police officers, and US Army Special Forces. While no machine is perfect, the G19 has a demonstrable history of performing under pressure.

So, the Glock 19 sounds like the perfect defensive pistol. It does everything. So, there’s no need to continue this article, right? Not exactly.  Next we’ll compare the smaller Glock 43 vs. the Glock 19 to see what it has to offer.

The Glock 43

Glock 43

Very small and very Compact. Very Glock

Even though the G19 is an excellent weapon, it is not perfect for all situations. It is not particularly thin, nor is it small enough to slip into a pocket. It is simply too big and bulky for many people to conceal comfortably on their person. If you need something small to carry, the Glock 19 may be a non-starter.

Enter the single-stack Glock 43 pistol.

A 9mm handgun that functions in a manner very similar to the older Glock 19, the G43 is much thinner, shorter, and lighter. It will not serve as a primary sidearm for a police officer or Navy SEAL, but it can serve as the go-to weapon for a soccer mom or shopkeeper. For many people, size matters and that’s where the Glock 43 shines.

Size Comparison
Glock 19
Glock 43
Overall Length
7.36"
6.26"
Barrel Length
4.02"
3.41"
Height (including magazine)
5.04"
4.25"
Width
1.26"
1.06"
Weight (including unloaded magazine)
23.63 oz
17.99 oz
Sight Radius
6.02"
5.24"
Capacity
15+1
6+1

How much smaller is the Glock 43 vs. the Glock 19? It is more than 1” shorter in length and about 0.2” thinner. It also weighs just under 18 oz (unloaded), making it more than 5.5 oz lighter. Those measurements may not seem like a lot, but when you hold the two guns in your hands you can immediately feel that the differences are more than academic. The G43 is substantially smaller and easier to conceal.

Of course, the Glock 43’s smaller size requires compromises elsewhere. One of the most significant is in capacity. By selecting a Glock 43 over a Glock 19, you give up nine rounds of ammunition. The smaller gun can only stack six rounds in each magazine. While that is probably enough for most deadly force encounters, there is no guarantee that you will not need more if you are violently attacked.

Another compromise is in potential accuracy. It is highly likely that both guns are more accurate than you and I can shoot. However, the ergonomics of each may influence how well we shoot. The larger gun has a longer sight radius, which allows for more precise shooting. Additionally, the larger pistol can allow for a better grip on the gun. A solid grip can also enhance your ability to put rounds where you intend.

Range Comparison

Glock 19 vs Glock 43Shooting the Glock 43 and the Glock 19 side-by-side at the range helps to clarify the size differences between the two pistols. Put simply, the larger G19 is more comfortable to shoot, has less recoil, produces more bullet velocity, and allows a shooter to make smaller groups.

As I suggested earlier in this article, the Glock 19’s larger size means that nearly every shooter can wrap both hands around the pistol for a stable, two-handed grip. This grip coverage contributes to a feeling of better control and less perceived recoil. Additionally, the weight of the gun, along with the increased mass of the slide assembly, helps to reduce the muzzle rise and felt recoil impulse.

In addition to the control gained by a good grip, the G19’s longer sight radius allows for an improvement in accuracy for many shooters. From the perspective of ‘which gun is easier to pick up and shoot accurately,’ the Glock 19 beats the Glock 43 easily. But that’s not the whole story.

The point of the Glock 43 is to provide a reliable means of defense when a larger gun is not a reasonable option. Within that parameter, the G43 offers exceptional performance.

While smaller than the Glock 19, the Glock 43 is still large enough to achieve a secure grip and exert control over it. Felt recoil and muzzle flip are increased in the Glock 43 vs. the Glock 19, but they are neither harsh nor unmanageable for the experienced shooter. Likewise, while group sizes will likely be larger, they should still all be within the size of a human torso.

Glock 19 - 9mm LoadsVelocity Accuracy
Federal HST 124 gr JHP +P1.1167 fps1.18"
Hornady Critical Defense 115 gr FTX1,120 fps1.23"
SIG SAUER V-Crown 124 gr JHP1,063 fps1.40"
Glock 19 - 9mm LoadsVelocity Accuracy
Federal HST 124 gr JHP +P1,120 fps1.78"
Hornady Critical Defense 115 gr FTX1,074 fps1.61"
SIG SAUER V-Crown 124 gr JHP982 fps1.97"

Note: Velocity is an average of five shots, measured by a chronograph 9’ in front of the muzzle. Velocity measurements are in feet per second. Accuracy is listed in inches for a five-shot group at 7 yards shot off-hand. 

There are significant differences in the velocities of defensive ammunition when shot from both guns. What impact those may have on any given defensive shooting situation is impossible to predict. However, velocity is a tool used by load development teams to ensure the expansion of the bullet. If the bullet velocity slows too much, the projectile may not reliably expand when striking the target. This is always a concern with small pistols and not exclusive to the G43.

Glock 19 or Glock 43: Which is Best for You?

size comparison

When you stack the pistols on top of each other, it’s clear the Glock 43 has the Glock 19 beat when it comes to size – When it comes to capacity? Not so much…

While both pistols are excellent performers, each tends to fill a different role. The Glock 43 is clearly suited for concealed carry – especially when a larger gun would be impracticable. Although I find it easy to shoot, it does require an elevated degree of skill to shoot when compared to a full-size pistol like the Glock 19. But for its role as a concealment pistol, it is hard to beat.

For a more general purpose pistol that can fill various roles, the Glock 19 is the superior choice. The G19 can be carried concealed, yet it is large enough for shooting competitions, law enforcement duty carry, and home defense. It offers more than double the capacity of the G43 with an improved sight radius and faster bullet velocities. However, it will not be suitable for all concealment roles.

Which pistol is right for you is a decision only you can make. If your primary need is a small pistol for personal protection outside of the home, the Glock 43 might be the best choice. For most other circumstances, the Glock 19 might be the better choice.