The Glock 43 was one of the most anticipated pistols of the middle part of the decade, and has since firmly established itself as one of Glock’s most popular models.
A superb carry pistol for deep cover applications, Glock’s single stack 9mm has proven itself a worthy standard-bearer for all of the manufacturer’s hallmarks: reliability, simplicity, and ease of use.
But as nice as the Glock 43 is to carry on its own merits, carrying it will be far harder still without a good holster to do so with. Single-stack 9mm’s are seeing a major resurgence in recent years, and holster makers are doing their best to deliver goods that will enhance their already great carry characteristics.
Successful concealment of a handgun often hinges on the quality of the holster, so this is something that savvy shooters should pay close attention to.
In this article, we’ll be taking a brief look at one of the smallest Glock’s and its sureshot rise to popularity and also at some of the very best holsters for carrying this pint-sized powerhouse.
The Glock 43 – Single Stack Perfection?
Single stack 9mm’s are nothing new, and in fact have been around for quite some time, having become passé in the wake of ever greater capacity in modestly sized polymer guns around the mid to late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Firepower was the word of the era. But the single-stack concept was not dead, merely slumbering.
The time came around 2012-2013 when the shooting public began to grow full in the glut of high-capacity pistols. The shift back toward small, thin, light carry guns with modest payloads had begun.
Manufacturers like Ruger and Taurus moved quickly to capitalize. Some manufacturers like SIG Sauer had single stack pistols in the P225 and the concealed carry optimized P239 which were great shooting pistols with strong, if small followings.
Glock, for years, was content to rest on their haunches, the only “new” products they were releasing were better classed as improvement programs for their existing guns.
Fun fact: Glock fans had been clamoring for years for Glock to roll out a single stack, slim 9mm pistol for concealed carry. In essence, they wanted a gun akin to the single stack Model 36, only in 9mm, with correspondingly leaner proportions.
Glock stayed mute. Then at the 2014 SHOT Show, a big announcement: The Glock 42. A small, svelte single stack… .380?! Come on!
Still, the gun sold well and continues to sell well, being an excellent subcompact carry gun in all respects if one does not mind the slightly punier cartridge.
Of more importance: the Model 42 must have sold well enough to fully shake the cobwebs from Glock HQ’s ears, since the very next year in 2015 they debuted the Model 43, the Slimline 9 that fans had been clamoring for years.
Finally, it was here. It took them a while to get off their Austrian throne built from bricks of thousand-dollar bills, but Glock finally did it.
Characteristics of the Glock 43
The Glock 43 is not surprising, otherwise: it is Glock to the core. The 43 uses the same trigger system, same action and has the same safeties as all of its predecessors, and only differs from legacy guns in a few small ways.
First, and most obviously to the eagle-eyed, the 43 has a modest beavertail at the top of the backstrap to protect the shooting hand from overriding the back of the slide.
The magazine release is the newer Gen.4 style square button and the frame texturing is likewise Gen.4, being made up of a field of truncated pyramidal nubs. Not a bad texture for concealed carry, but still a tad slick in situations where hands are wet and emotions run hot.
Internally, there is not much new to see aside from the Gen.4 refinements to the fire control and the captive double recoil spring. If you are already comfortable with Glock pistols you will be right at home on this one, like slipping into a pair of your favorite sneakers.
Capacity is a modest six rounds plus one in the chamber, though this can be increased with extended magazine floorplates.
What cannot be understated is just how slick and slim this little pistol is: only a tiny scootch wider than an inch at its very widest point (the slide release lever), 6 ¼” long and 4 1/4” high, the 43 is much closer in dimension to its smaller cousin the 43 and its pudgy brother the 26 than it is the Model 19. This is one tiny nine!
The only gripes about this little gun are the ones typical of any box-stock Glock; standard sights are plastic and fragile, and the whole gun is slippery, even with the Gen.4 RTF2 texture.
The trigger is a mushy, indistinct 5 ½ – 6 lbs., but entirely serviceable and familiar to those already initiated to the ways of Glock handguns.
One should be aware, as with any small, light handgun, that potent ammo will produce brisk recoil, likely out of proportion with what you are used to on larger guns, so make sure you are prepared for that and practice with your chosen defensive ammo to acclimatize. The 43 is not the smallest 9mm in its class on the market, but it is still a seriously small, light gun.
Aside from these quibbles, I can recommend this Glock without reservation.
Carry of Single Stack Pistols
You may be asking yourself, “Why do I care about single stack guns? Why on earth do I want a 6 shot 9mm? We are talking revolver capacity here!” And right you are.
But concealed carry of handguns happens in two realms: on paper, and out in the world. On paper, the double-stack 26 or the larger 19 are obvious choices, right? Better capacity, only a little thicker or bigger. What’s not to like?
Well, out in the real world, believe it or not, there is a set of people who carry a gun for a living or just to protect themselves that are willing to give up capacity to keep dimensions lean and caliber modest, while sacrificing little or nothing in the way of shootability.
Ask yourself why Glock has also recently released the Model 48, a single stack 9mm of Glock 19 proportions.
If that is a stumper, the answer is because fractions count when you are concealing a gun. A quarter-inch here, a tenth there. It adds up, and in addition to the guns shape and other salient characteristics determines largely how concealable the gun is.
Remember, the width of the holster goes on top of that, both sides, as does a belt most probably. See where I am going with this?
You don’t want to let fractions pile up for no reason. For many shooters, no-fail concealment is actually more important than things like capacity or even caliber.
The reason why some switched-on shooters have clung to single-stack 9mm’s like the H&K P7, SIG’s P225 and P239 and now the G43 over the years is that they offer a unique blend of characteristics: they shoot like bigger guns, but conceal as well as a smaller one.
All they have to give up is a little ammo. Not something to be done lightly, but for stateside concealed carry most likely a fine trade.
There is nothing unusual or odd about carry of these pistols, including the Glock 43, but there is one commandment you should keep in mind: These guns are all almost to an example thin, and slick.
It is in your best interest to choose a holster that will help in this regard, not hinder. Choosing a big, bulky holster with a stacked belt loop or clip will largely defeat the purpose of going with a slick little gun like this.
Look for minimalist holsters, pancake holsters, IWB holsters with offset attachments and AIWB holsters with claws to keep the gun in tight to the body. Kydex is a sure winner here, since it is thinner than leather in most cases. Leather is not a deal-breaker so long as our other traits can be had.
The Best Glock 43 Holsters
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All of the holsters on this list are optimized for concealed carry, but are further chosen for their own intrinsic characteristics, namely that they will increase the size of the gun hardly at all, maximizing efficacy.
Raven Concealment Vanguard 2
RCS’s “non-holster” is a winner for carry of the Glock 43. The body-less trigger-covering device and is clip add virtually no bulk and hardly any width to the already thin Glock 43.
While it omits the ability to reholster without removing the unit from your waistline, this is less an issue than most people make it out to be.
Made from injection molded plastic, the Vanguard 2 affords a unique way to carry that gives up nothing in the way of adjustment; the full kit allows you to set the Vanguard 2 up as a tethered “static line” cover that will pop off when drawn, a simple click-on cover that can be pried off, or a proper “holster” with a tuckable strut and clip arrangement that is still adjustable for height and cant according to shooter preference.
The Vanguard 2 is one of the only ones of its kind, and like all RCS products made with the utmost care and backed by the best guarantee in the biz.
PHLSTER’s Skeleton holster is a study in minimalism, using absolutely no more material than necessary this holster adds very little to the overall bulk of the pistol while still being everything you’d desire in a kydex rig of any size.
Positive, crisp retention, adjustments for height and angle, and a mounting system that cams the grip of the gun inward to reduce printing. All made with the exacting precision and near-ruthless perfectionism that PHLSTER rigs are known for.
If you want a super low-profile holster with all the benefits of a proper IWB kydex rig, look no further. This superb offering is made even better by its price; just a hair over $50 bucks.
Dark Star Gear Hitchhiker
A multi-mode kydex holster for the Glock 43. Without the claw attachment, it is a slim, slick and well-fitted clip on IWB. With the claw, it is a slim, slick well-fitted AIWB holster.
Many holster makers try and fail to make a dual purpose IWB/AIWB holster option but fail due to unique differences in optimal carry geometry for the two body positions.
Many more shooters fail to understand that and shoehorn a standard IWB into the AIWB role, only to denounce the concept when their homebrew setup sucks. Dark Star has cracked the code.
Like all of Dark Star’s offerings, you can get this one in about a zillion color offerings, from the Usual Suspects (black, tan, gray) to the truly crazy (purple, green twill).
Whatever special snowflake itch is eating you up, Dark Star can scratch it and you’ll still have a dead-hard piece of kit at the end. Alternate attachments are available as options if you don’t like clips.
Milt Sparks Summer Special 2
Milt Sparks is a name synonymous with top-quality leather holsters, and arguably the most famous of this famous line is the Summer Special.
Easily ID’d by its rough-out leather construction, heavily reinforced mouth, and a generous sight track, the Summer Special 2 features an interchangeable belt loop attachment and high-rise shirt guard, aka flab tab.
Secure, tough and oh-so-easy to carry. Milt Sparks is a legend in leather for a reason. Pricey, but these holsters definitely warrant it.
The Glock 43 has been the answer to many Glock fans’ prayers: slim, slick, light and packing a seven-shot 9mm payload, in many ways, the G43 is the epitome of single stack carry guns today. But this compact wonder will not hide so well in just any holster.
Make sure you take the time to choose a holster solution that is as lean and low profile as it is, and you’ll have a carry system that virtually disappears.