Compact 9mm Glock Showdown: Glock 26 vs Glock 43
When it comes to a subcompact Glock, the eternal debate seems to be Glock 26 vs Glock 43. Each is a very popular CCW pistol, and each has a lot to offer the person who carries it which has led to both becoming a very popular CCW gun.
But which is better? That's a bit harder to nail down. The differences between the two are rather slight on paper, but in the real world can add up to some fairly significant differences.
Magazine Capacity Or Easy Concealment
The Glock 26 holds 10+1 rounds of 9x19, in a compact double-stack magazine. Granted, it can actually hold more; what a lot of people like to do with the 26 is to carry a full-size magazine in a mag carrier as a backup. If shooting starts, and they empty the first magazine, a 15-round magazine from the 19 or a full 17-round magazine (from the 17) can be inserted into the pistol. If a person puts a sleeve on the magazine, it will create a full-size grip to boot. The 43 holds 6+1 rounds of same.
Additionally, aftermarket magazine extensions and floorplates can add an extra round or two and a bit more space for the pinky. They're available for the 43 too.
The 43, however, is smaller than the 26, which is already a small gun and was bestowed with the moniker "Baby Glock" upon its release in the 1990s. That has made it instantly successful as a CCW pistol. While the 26 is easily concealed, the 43 is even better suited to deep concealment. In a good IWB holster, it disappears but unlike the 26 it is also suited to pocket carry, though pocket carry is really not recommended with the light trigger of a Glock unless you do so with a pocket holster.
BUT WAIT...NOW THERE'S A Glock 43X!
Just when we thought it was settled...the Glock 43X comes along. The Glock 43X throws a further monkey wrench in the works because it's a Glock 43 with more capacity. In fact, it has the same capacity as the Glock 26, at 10+1 with Glock's new Slim 01 magazine.
Getting those 4 more rounds on board does come at a cost, though not too much in the grand scheme of things. The frame is widened by about 1 cm, just under 1.2 inches. The grip is also extended, to 5.04 inches, though it's the same shape and palmswell as the 43. Unloaded weight, however, is almost unchanged, as the 43X weighs isn't even 0.2 ounces heavier than the 43.
The slide and barrel length is unchanged, as it is actually a standard Glock 43 slide that rides on the frame though it gets a silver NVD finish. It is not, as Glock told me at SHOT Show, stainless.
So, the grip is about the same size as a Glock 19, but is thinner than the Glock 26, though capacity is the same as the latter. Does that mean it's less concealable? On the right person...maybe. But having handled and shot the 43X...frankly, if you can't conceal it, chances are pretty good that you're the problem not the gun.
If anything, the 43X is actually an improvement. It's more comfortable in the hand and you get a better grip on it than the 43. As we know, a good tight grip leads to better shooting, which we noted in our Glock 43X review.
Glock 43 vs Glock 26 Dimensions (Also vs Glock 43X)
Just how different are the Glock 43 vs Glock 26 dimensions on paper? Not quite as different as chalk and cheese, but there's enough of a divergence to make a bit of a difference in the real world.
The 26 has a 3.42-inch barrel, the 43's barrel is 3.39 inches. Not much difference there, but the overall lengths are 6.41 inches for the 26 compared to 6.26 inches of the 43. Not much difference, but 0.2 inches can make a difference between not printing and starting to print at the top of the slide.
The 26 is a bit wider and heavier, at 1.18 inches wide and weighing 21.7 ounces unloaded. The 43, meanwhile is a hair over 1 inch wide and just under 18 ounces unloaded.
So...what's the difference? The 26 is slightly longer, slightly wider and slightly heavier, but not by a lot. Granted, those margins can make a difference. For the person that demands the deepest of concealment, and depending on the body type of the person carrying, these attributes can make a difference so make sure you take that into account.
|Glock 26||Glock 43||Glock 43X|
|Barrel Length||3.42 inches||3.39 inches||3.39 inches|
|Overall Length||6.41 inches||6.26 inches||6.26 inches|
|Width||1.18 inches||1 inch||1.1 inch|
|Height||4.17 inches||4.25 inches||5.04 inches|
|Weight||19.4 oz||16.23 oz||16.4 oz|
Shooting the Glock 26 vs Glock 43...And the Glock 43X
The on-paper measurements will also come into play when shooting the Glock 26 vs Glock 43. However, both of these guns are noted for shooting far easier than the compact size would suggest is the case. A truth of shooting of course is that the smaller the gun, the nastier it generally gets to shoot; smaller pistols, after all, lack the mass required to soak up recoil and get back on target faster.
Felt recoil is totally subjective though. Some shooters can find a tiny gun to be perfectly acceptable to shoot and others will swear it's the worst gun they've ever shot. Some shooters have found the 26 to be balanced enough between shootability and compact dimensions and others think the 43 is the better-shooting tiny Glock due to the slightly longer grip.
The 43X, on the other hand, is darn near perfect. You get a full grip in width, length and depth, but it's narrower than that of the 26, which is actually quite pleasant. Dare one say it...it's almost 1911-esque. The palmswell of the 43X fills the lower palm a bit better than the 43 does.
That said, the shorter grip has also led to a thriving aftermarket, including grip extensions for both these models. Some shooters eschew this and adapt to shooting with only two or three fingers on the grip in lieu of extending the grip at all. Whether that's acceptable to you is your decision. One advantage the 26 has here is that it can accept Glock 19 and Glock 17 magazines, should you prefer a full-size or compact magazine as a backup (helps at the range!) or if you'd prefer to carry with a G19 magazine with a grip sleeve, which is a popular practice with the Glock 26.
In the end, which is best? All are solid choices. The best bet is to get to a gun range that lets you rent one or both of them. Whichever you shoot best is the handgun to choose. As to the concealment issue, there are some people for whom even the 26 would be large enough to print on. If you wonder if you are such a person, hold a 26. If you think "I would have a hard time concealing this" then you're probably right.
If you asked me, it's the 43X in a walk, but what I like and what you like are going to be different things.
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About The Author
Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.