Glock 42 Review: A Good Self Defense Pistol?

by Daniel Young

August 15, 2022

1 comments

4.8
(5)

Out of all of the guns in the vast Glock lineup, the Glock 42 is the smallest. So, is it a novelty or a serious contender?

In this review, we’ll look further into this and see if it can make the cut.

Glock 42 Specs

  • Caliber .380 Auto
  • Capacity 6+1
  • Barrel Length 3.25 inches
  • Action Semiautomatic, Striker-Fired

Glock 42 Background

Glock pistols started out as full-size duty firearms. Compact models followed shortly thereafter, and subcompacts joined the lineup as well. But single stack subcompact models took a very long time to appear. The Glock 17 was the first production model, and each successive variant has a higher model number. It was not until the 36 in .45 ACP model that there was a single stack, but it is still somewhat comparable to the model 19 in size. The Glock 42 was the next and by far the smallest.

The ultra-compact .380 market has some established names like the Ruger LCP and LCP II and the KelTec P3AT. Those guns push the limits of how small a semiautomatic pistol can be. Others, like the Colt Mustang and Sig P238, are still small but not shockingly so. The Glock 42 falls between those two groups in both size and price. In doing so, it hits a special niche where it is still large enough to shoot well but is small enough to be a pocket pistol.

Glock 42 Features

Glock 42 Features
1 Grip still works for larger hands
2 Just big enough to handle well
3 Excellent size for concealed use

Glock 42 Review – Our Take

Small guns generally shoot worse than large guns, and large guns are generally harder to conceal than small guns. While the G42 clearly prioritizes concealability it is still a pleasant gun to shoot. Tiny guns tend to be very snappy and painful to shoot even when chambered in light calibers. The G42 is just big enough to remain comfortable. It is about the perfect Goldilocks size as far as micro pistols are concerned. 

These tradeoffs between large guns and small guns carry over to accuracy as well, with large guns generally being more accurate than small guns. The Glock 42 is not made to be a match target pistol. It is a pistol that’s meant to ride in a pocket or on an ankle rather than a range bag. In its intended role it is more than accurate enough. It is easy to put rounds on paper where you want them. It is not difficult to do so quickly. You will, however, have an easier time at extended ranges with guns that are easier to hold on to. 

The Glock 42 is at the upper end of pricing for micro .380 pistols with a usual price between $415-450. Only metal frame options like the Sig Sauer P238 (which are more expensive to produce) come in at higher prices. It is still cheaper than most full-size options, but you could have multiple LCPs for the price of one G42. Why would you want multiple LCPs? I have no idea. But the price difference is worth mentioning. Also, at this price point, magazines with additional capacity should really be included.

Glocks are known for reliability. Their entire identity as a brand is built on the kind of boring reliability you want in a fighting pistol. However, full-size pistols are generally more reliable than their subcompact versions. The G42 is still very reliable by industry standards but it is more ammunition sensitive than other models in the Glock lineup. This is not to say that it is a jam machine, but it will not operate 100% on all ammunition no matter how poor of quality it is. It is a good idea to keep track of what practice ammo your G42 likes, and to test your defensive hollow point ammunition to make absolutely sure it works before you trust it with your life.

Many debates have been had over the adequacy of .380 ACP as a defensive round. It is a step down from 9mm, which at one time was considered inadequate for carrying. Over the last 20 years that sentiment has changed and it is now the standard carry round thanks to better performance in hollow point ammunition. Those improvements have benefitted the .380 but it still remains a lighter round and can struggle to meet some testing standards. But while it may not be the best defensive caliber in the world, it is absolutely better to have a .380 you actually carry rather than a 9mm or .45 ACP left at home.

One weakness of the G42 is the capacity of 6+1. That is barely an upgrade over a J-frame .38 revolver. However, spare magazines are quite small and can easily be carried. Magazine extensions are also available to add an additional round or two. Two magazines are included in the hard case, each holding six rounds. The magazine pictured has a flush base pad, while one has a pinky extender. The extended pinky rest does not increase capacity.

Another weak point is the sights. Glocks are usually sold with cheap plastic sights that need to be replaced. The plastic sights get worn down by holstering and unholstering which can change the point of impact when shooting. They also are not up to the task of one-handed manipulations, such as hooking the rear sight on a boot to cock the pistol. Upgrading to metal sights is a very good idea, and night sights with tritium are an even better idea for a defensive pistol.

The control layout is the same as other Glocks, with no manual safety being present. An internal drop safety and firing pin safety, along with a trigger safety, make for a gun that is safe to carry on a loaded chamber provided that the trigger is securely covered. The magazine release and slide release are situated for use by right-handed shooters, but the magazine release can be flipped for lefties.

All things considered, the Glock 42 is a great option in its genre. It is just big enough to be shot well but is still tiny. And while the price is probably higher than it should be, it is not enough of an issue to drive potential purchasers away.

Glock 42 Pros and Cons

  • Easy to carry
  • Big enough to shoot well
  • .380 is mediocre
  • Low capacity

Report Card

Shootability

Limited capacity is a handicap

B
Reliability

Some ammunition sensitivity, but better than most of the market

B+
Ergonomics

Those with huge hands might struggle, but it is best in class for a micro .380

A
Value

Pricing should be lower to compete in this class

C+
Glock 42 Final Grade

Our Grade

B+

Reviewed by Daniel Young

Reader’s Grade

B+

Based on 17 Reviews

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Glock 42 Ammo

Range Rounds

PMC Bronze 380 Auto FMJ

Working Ammunition

Sig Sauer Elite Performance 380 Auto

Glock 42 Starter Pack

So, you’re planning on picking up a Glock 42? If so, you’re going to need more than just the gun to make it safely go bang. You’re going to need proper protections, extra mags, and something to clean it with at the end of a long day at the range. Here are our recommendations:

  • Gun Cleaning Kit: Otis All Caliber Elite Range Box on Amazon or build your own personalized cleaning kit with premium components.
  • Shooting Glasses: All it takes is one piece of rogue hot brass, and you’ll learn the importance of shooting glasses. But not all glasses are built the same. See our recommendations for the Best Shooting Glasses.
  • Hearing Protection: Firing a gun without wearing proper ear pro can be very dangerous and detrimental to your hearing. Find out the best hearing protection for you in our full-length review.
  • Storage: Check out our article on the Best Biometric Gun Safes
  • Targets – If you’re wanting a great resource for shooting practice or zeroing your optics on your optics rifle or pistol, download our FREE Sighting in Targets below.

Glock 42 Accessories

Below we have our top picks of the accessories we recommend for the Glock 42 to make it even better than it currently is.

Glock 42 Accessories

Trijicon HD XR Sights
  • Material – Steel
  • Illuminated
  • Tritium night sights
Check Price
Raven Vanguard Holster
  • Durable, form-fitting, comfortable Kydex polymer material
  • Belt hooks fits belts up to 1.5” wide
  • Fully ambidextrous
Check Price
Pearce +1 Extender
  • Blend with the contours and texture of the handgun
  • High Impact Polymer
Check Price
Glock 42 Magazine
  • For Glock 42 in .380 ACP
  • 380 ACP
  • Steel and polymer construction
Check Price

Glock 42 Maintenance

A reliable handgun requires regular maintenance and cleaning. We’ve found a great video on breaking down and cleaning your Glock. Check it out below!

Glock 42 Documents

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About Daniel Young

Daniel is an attorney and lifelong gun nerd. His Instagram account, @fromtheguncounter, grew out of his work at a gun store and shooting range. He can usually be found in the hills with a rifle when he's not working.

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1 COMMENTS

  1. I own a Glock 23, 21, & 35. When I can’t carry a fullsize, I carry a Glock 42. I have a Stream light light/ laser combo on it and a Pearce +2 grip on it, making it a 9 shit. With Premium ammo like Underwood +p, it’s a very capable pistol! Definitely a higher performance than a similar 5 shot SW 642 for the size & weight!

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