Does your carry pistol limit what you do? Do you worry about exposing your gun to the elements? Is your carry preference too much of a burden for many activities? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you should consider the Glock 42. For me, I wanted a familiar handgun but in a small form factor that would be barely noticed when hiking, running, mountain biking, backcountry skiing, fishing, boating, and almost everything else. Of course if you rarely do any of the above, then a .45 strapped to your leg is fine. But for all those other activities, a Glock 42 is an excellent choice. And even more, the Glock 42 might just become your BBFF (Best Bugout Friends Forever).
I remember clearly when I heard that the next new Glock was a .380 instead of the highly anticipated single stack 9mm. Frankly, the .380 should have been a predictable release given the global reach of Glock and the .380-sized hole in Glock’s public lineup. I always figured that Glock could gut the 9mm market with a winning release just like Apple could dominate the tablet market if it dropped the price of an iPad Air to $199. But not this time. That came later.
For years I had a Ruger LCP. It’s a tiny polymer framed .380 of great reliability and limited accuracy. Plus it’s what I like to call a singularity. At the time it was alone in its detailed design meaning nothing else acted quite like it in both operation and takedown. But still it was a great gun. Some were close like Kel-Tec and historical Colts, but price and performance allowed the LCP to become the meme of its tiny slice of the gun market.
Glock is Knocking
The Glock 42 is like a miniature Glock. And when we say “Glock” we really mean the Glock 17, the 9mm that started it all. In case you were confused by Glock’s odd naming conventions where a 17 is 9mm and so is an 18 and 19, but a 20 is a 10mm and a 21 is a .45. But yet the Glock 40 is a 10mm, but there is no Glock 10 firearm. The reason is actually quite simple. Glaston Glock names each of his new patented inventions with a new ascending number. His first invention was the 1. His first pistol was the 17. His next the 18. Next the 19, then 20 and so on. And the next as-yet-unreleased Glock will be the 44. But don’t expect it to be in .44 magnum. My hope, now that you asked, is a .22LR. But I might be alone in that wish. Or not.
Although I am quite pleased with the 42, I’ve long thought the 26 was an excellent bug out gun due to its small size and big performance. And I still believe that. The issue is that the 42 is just such an excellent gun at half the weight. By following the playbook of the Glock 17, the 42 maintains all the forward thinking advantages of “Glock Perfection” but in a tiny (for Glock anyway) pistol. The robust but simple aspects of every Glock are alive and well in the 42. Just smaller. Yes, I am well versed in the 43, Glock’s single stack 9mm. It’s a great gun, but as one deeply involved with the G17, 19 and 26, the G43 is little more than a need for new 9mm mags. And if I’m going with new Glock mags, I am going with a new and smaller caliber.
Decades or more ago, the ballistics of handgun cartridges seemed to solidify in the collective conscious of mainstream gun-owning Americans, turning to concrete and changing at the pace of gun writer retirements and funerals. Unfortunately, all that old info is old news rivaled only its speed of obsolescence as are books about Windows software and Apple hardware. New gunpowder, new bullets, new primers, and new guns all have tipped the playing field in the direction of smaller cartridges. Even the flip-flopping FBI is sniffing around the 9mm again. No longer is there a search for rifle power in a EDC handgun. Sure in the old days where you needed a four-barrel carbed big-block 427 engine to be Boss Hog on the road, but now a Subaru STI could smoke the Chevy in every category except nostalgia. Same with carry pistols. Packing a big-block six-shooter, especially a single-action like the one Stallone carried behind his back in the Expendables makes no sense against real world threats, not just Mel Gibson with macho attitude but with terrorism on the rise, and active response training to mass shooter events as common as a training as how to use the new copy machine, packing real heat means more than big guns. Staying warm means carrying any gun and the mouse guns of yesterday have grown up into the mean dogs of today.
However the Glock 42 has another use for me. And one that larger guns just cannot fill. I love the outdoors. All of it. From the snowy mountains of Alaska to the stone deserts of Utah. From mountain bike trails of Montana to the canyon rivers of Wyoming, carrying a gun must be as convenient and versatile as carrying a pocket knife. I’ve run into hikers packing giant caliber revolvers strapped to their chests, but that’s not for me (and makes little sense in the big picture). I’m not scared of bears or mountain lions. Instead it is the wacko drug-crazed two-legged variety that cause me concern. When relaxing at the apex of a mountain bike ride, or scratching out a campsite near a high mountain lake, or just wandering through the woods towards a secret fishing hole, carrying a larger gun on the hip is often not an option worth considering. But slipping a Glock 42 into the side pocket of a Camelbak, or dropping a 42 next to my iPod for a mountain run makes more sense than trying to justify not carrying iron at all because of its weight, size and snag-potential.
You see, if you always want to be armed, then there are two avenues you can drive down. Either only travel on those roads where you can pack the sizable bore you need to feel comfortable. Or get a vehicle that will allow you to drive those roads less traveled. Far too many good folks never venture out beyond where their equipment and imagination lets them. What I’m here to tell you is that if staying armed is keeping you too close to home then get some lightweight firepower that frees you up to go fast and go light and go far. And of course go often.
Until now, I’ve opted to carry either my Glock 26 or my Ruger LCP backpacking, hiking, and just generally wandering around in the woods. I liked the capacity and umph of the 26, but not its weight. But the Ruger is a true mouse gun with mouse sights, mouse capacity, and a mouse feel. Popping off a round or two into a large aggressive animal will do little more than make the violent critter more identifiable to Fish and Game when they track it down after finding what’s left of my corpse. But if push comes to pull on a fellow man, I want to tip the situation in my favor and even the LCP can help.
Although the Glock 42 has the roughly the same ballistics as the LCP, the handling and dependability make it a better choice in my opinion. The Ruger LCP is a hidden hammer-fired machine while the Glock is, well a Glock meaning it's a striker-fired autopistol. And don’t get me started on the sights. Well, actually do get me to rant on them. Not the G42 sights which happen to be pretty much the same as every other stock Glock on this planet, but instead the sights, or lack thereof, on the LCP. Most shotguns have better sights than the LCP. In fact most sticks and stones have better sights than the LCP. Well, maybe an exaggeration, but not by much. The LCP is designed to be pointed, not aimed. The Glock 42 is decidedly one to aim.
Not So Terrible Twos
Now that we’ve got two years of Glock 42 under our collective belt, it is time to talk frankly about the .380 cartridge, this particular Glock pistol, and the so-called “mouse guns” in general.
The rough spots about the initial Glock 42 have been discussed to death online. But to review, the early runs of Glock 42s had specific failure to eject (FTE) and failure to feed (FTF) issues. The issues were real and almost immediately addressed (but not really admitted) by Glock. More recent copies of the Glock 42 rolling off the assembly line have upgrades to the magazines, internal parts, and some believe the polymer frame as well. A quick swing through the top internet hits on about “Glock 42 problems” make this particular pistol one to avoid, but pretty much every negative review is pre 2015. Later in 0-15, there is little but flowing Glock love around the mouse gun campfire.
Handguns are like pickup trucks; there are more opinions than actual models to have opinions about. Personally I am a six-cylinder Toyota Tacoma kind of guy. My friends drive F-150s or bigger, diesel Dodge Rams (note the oxymoron), and I got only one friend who drives a Chevy Avalanche. Whatever. But the reason I tell you this is that trucks like guns are a personal choice. We place our loyalties where we want, and base them on many factors including ones that don’t match the cold hard facts. But perceptions don’t have to match reality when reality is a rare commodity these days.
Actual studies have shown that most encounters where a gun is pulled in self defense involves holding and/or shooting the gun with only one hand. No perfect two-handed Weaver or isosceles stance, or aiming with any other perfect triangle of stability. Instead, the pistol is held out, arm bent and shaking, one hand gripping what it can of the gun. In fact, standing on one's feet is for the lucky. For many actually trigger pullers they are flat on their back, bruised, injured, some even near blinded by fist blows. And in all cases your heartrate will be redlined and your breathing will be anything but slow and steady.
Where a mouse gun comes in handy is it by being handy. It’s easier to shoot. Lighter in weight. And the low recoil keeps the pistol in the fight almost regardless of the injury, grip strength, or limited vision. Those with dreams of sending .454 Casull bullet after Casull bullet downrange with accuracy are dreamers whose heads are filled with the stay-on-targetness of video games. Sadly but truthfully, most law abiding citizens would be better off with a .22 than a .45. Of course proper and real-world training changes almost everything. But for those who handguns lean towards the just-in-case preparedness side like food storage and flint-and-steel fire starting, the smaller caliber mouse guns may actually be a better choice. And certainly the Glock 42 is a viable and excellent backup or or bug out gun.