Since the announcement of the release of the new Glock Model 42 (G42) in .380ACP, I’ve seen both positive and negative comments about it. It seems as if we, in the firearms industry, have found another “you either love it or hate it” design. I remember the same sentiments rolling through the industry when the Glock Model 17 (G17) 9mm was released. “It’s too blocky.” “There’s no safety (from the ignorant).” “It’s plastic (from the more ignorant).” Then there were those who loved the capacity, the same trigger pull every time (even if they increased the weight of it) and the rugged durable performance. Since the Beretta 92F and the S&W double stack 9mms were the “standards” at the time, they were what the G17 often was compared to. Remembering that I wondered, what would the G42 be compared to?
Sure, there are several contemporary .380ACP designs, but what’s the most “mature” .380ACP design? The one I settled on was the Walther PPK. Having been around since 1931 (83 years!) and being very well known as the preferred weapon of James Bond, I felt like the PPK had been well vetted and accepted as a reliable, well designed .380ACP handgun. So I set out to compare the PPK to the G42 to see how the new comer (G42) would stack up.
First up, the specifications so we have a basis for discussion:
13.4 / 6.1
3.8” / 4.3”
Now, let’s mark off the ones that are either the same or so close as to not make much of a difference.
Caliber, same. Capacity, same. Barrel Length, close enough (.2” won’t matter in the long run). Width, .16” can be measured, but won’t really be felt. You can argue the difference in “printing” if you’re carrying concealed under a garment, but honestly? If that .16” makes a difference, the problem is YOU and what you’ve chosen to wear; not the gun. Overall length is .26” difference. That’s a quarter inch. It may or may not make a difference in ease of concealment, but I’m not going to argue it. With a gun this small, what difference does a quarter inch make? Again, if that quarter inch matters THAT much in your concealment ease or effort, the problem is you, not the gun.
The table shows two heights for the PPK because the shorter is the 6+1 version while the longer is the 7+1 version. For the extra round you had a half inch of length. The G42 measurement is with a 6-round magazine. As of this writing I can’t find a +1 floorplate (though they are inevitably coming) and I expect it will add close to that half inch. Measuring the 6 round capacity of each, the PPK comes up .33” shorter – a full third of an inch. That’s not going to rock my world but it is noticeable and significant. The question is, is that good or bad? For all the people I know who complain about having no place to put their pinky when shooting guns this size, having a grip that 1/3” shorter might be a bad thing. But if you’re arguing concealability, the 1/3” is a good thing. I feel like the difference is entirely subjective and can be argued either way.
So what’s that leave? Trigger pull and sight radius.
The PPK trigger pull shows two different weights: 13.4 pounds and 6.1 pounds. Why? Duh. It’s a double action / single action weapon. The first shot is double action and will require that 13.4 pounds of pressure. The single action shots that follow will be 6.1 pound pulls. The G42 shows only one trigger weight: 5.5 pounds. The same standard trigger pull as Glock has for all of its other handgun designs. The striker-fired “safe action” system permits for that same trigger pull every shot, no matter if it’s the first shot or the last. I like that. I haven’t found any educated and experienced shooter who DOESN’T like that… but opinions vary.
Sight radius: to me, this is a significant item. The PPK shows a 4.2” sight radius – that’s the distance between the rear sight and the front sight. It’s how far you have to line up your sights for proper sight alignment which grows into proper sight picture which (hopefully) you deliver hits into using good basic marksmanship skills such as breath control, trigger press and follow up. As a general rule, the longer the sight radius, the easier it is to be accurate with the handgun. That said, the G42 sight radius is published as 4.92”. That nearly 3/4" longer than the sight radius on the PPK. Does that three quarters of an inch really matter that much? Maybe; maybe not. I know people who would argue both ways. What no one can argue (logically) is that a longer sight radius is, in general, always better than a shorter sight radius. Combine the longer sight radius with a lighter trigger pull that is the same weight every time and (to me) you get a gun that makes it easier to deliver accurate shots with.
The above comparison doesn’t even include weight (the G42 is 7 ounces or almost a half-pound lighter, both pistols being unloaded). The above comparison doesn’t even include a discussion about safeties (the G42 has three; the PPK has one).
When I take all of it into consideration, my determination is this: While I’d absolutely love to have a Walther PPK in my collection, properly stored in my gun safe, the Glock Model 42 is the one I’d rather have on my person day in and day out as defensive firearm. No, I’m not saying it’s the handgun I’d want above all others as a defensive sidearm. Anyone who has read my writing over the past decade+ knows that I’m a huge fan of the .45ACP and I dearly love my 1911 (I just wish it wasn’t so heavy). That said, if I’m looking for a pocket gun; a gun I can easily tuck away and carry comfortably; a gun that allows me to dress much more comfortably and still manage effective concealment… the Glock 42 would be my choice over the Walther PPK. And I think that says a lot when you realize that the PPK is indeed a very successful 83 year old design while the Glock primary system design is just now pushing 30 years and the .380ACP single stack Model 42 is brand new.