After a (mostly) glowing review of the Sig P365 XL, I’m taking a look at its closest competitor: the Glock 48. The G48 (along with the G43X) is threatening to take the place of the G19 as the Goldilocks go-to mid-sized Glock. The availability of 15-round aftermarket magazines from Shield Arms has made it an even more viable option for many Glock fans. But does the G48 really deserve to take over the title of the “do everything” Glock? As always, the answer is complicated.
Details in the video below, or scroll down to read the full transcript.
I really like the Sig P365 XL. So naturally, a lot of people asked me “What about the Glock 48? Or the 43X?” They’re kind of like the Sig. They’re in that not single stack, but not exactly double stack category. Are they any good?
Yes. Yes, they are.
Glock 48 and Glock 43X: The Basics
Glock launched the 48 alongside the 43X in January of 2019. The two guns share the same frame, but the 48 is longer. The 43X has the same barrel and slide as the original 43. It’s a 3.41-inch barrel. The 48 has a 4.17-inch barrel – that’s actually just a hair longer than the Glock 19.
Both guns feed from a 10-round magazine. But a company called Shield Arms has received considerable attention for their aftermarket 15-round magazines for these guns. All Glock factory magazines are polymer with a metal sleeve inside. The Shield Arms magazine has a simple one-piece metal body. By eliminating that plastic outer layer, there’s room in the magazine for 5 additional rounds without extending the length.
These magazines have been in short supply lately and we weren’t able to get one to test until the last minute. From what I understand, if you want these things to run reliably, you really need to install the Shield Arms aluminum magazine release. Apparently, it also helps if you get the optional +10% power magazine springs. When they’re in stock, you can buy five Shield mags, the mag release, and the springs for $225 which averages out to $45 per magazine. So… still cheaper than buying P365 mags from Sig.
A lot of Glock fans have been looking at the combo of the 15-round Shield Arms mags with the 48 or 43X as essentially a replacement for their Glock 19. I’ve even heard some of them go so far as to say the G19 is now obsolete. I don’t know if I agree with that, but it’s definitely an interesting development.
At the range, I can’t tell a whole lot of difference between the 48 and the 43X when I’m shooting them. The 48 weighs two ounces more — it’s 25.8 ounces loaded versus 23.7 ounces. There is a slight difference in felt recoil but to me, it’s barely distinguishable. I’ve shot some drills with both guns and the times are almost identical.
Even so, given the choice between the two, I would go with the 48, and that’s the one I’m going to focus on for this review. But most of what I’m going to say could also apply to the 43X.
The longer sight radius makes the Glock 48 a little easier to shoot accurately at longer range. It’s also easier to carry in the appendix position. The longer the barrel, the more the butt of the gun will be levered back in toward your body so it doesn’t print. A very short barrel almost always causes the gun to tip out and away from the waistband. I’ve found that up to about four and a half inches or so, a little extra barrel length doesn’t make any difference in terms of how comfortable the gun is to carry. It’s certainly not any harder to conceal inside the waistband. Since the frame is identical and they shoot pretty much the same, to me, it just makes more sense to carry the 48 over the 43X.
Of course, you can always just use a shorter gun along with an oversized holster and get most of the same benefit of a longer gun. For example, I’ve been trying out this Phlster Pro Series holster. It’s made to accommodate the 48, but it will also fit the 43X or even the original 43. This one is open on the bottom so you could even use something like an aftermarket threaded barrel for the 48 and it’ll still fit if you’re into that kind of thing.
We’ve actually had this 48 for a while now. I picked it up shortly after they came out last year. I’ve been shooting it off and on since then. I’ve run not quite 1000 rounds through it. No malfunctions, which isn’t really a surprise. I’ve been running it pretty much stock with only a couple of very minor mods. I swapped out the factory plastic Glock sights for a set of Ameriglo i-dot Pro sights. This set was labeled as being compatible with the 42, 43, and 43X. They do more or less work with the 48, but my groups are a couple of inches high at 25 yards.
I’ve also got a Striker Control Device in place of the backplate. I did a whole video on that last year if you want all the details. Basically, when you pull the trigger, the backplate swings outward as the striker presses against it. If you pin that in place with your thumb, it prevents the gun from being discharged. It’s really nice to have when you’re reholstering. Thumbing the hammer has been standard practice for DA/SA guns for decades and I think it’s really awesome to have that option on the Glocks as well.
Glock 48 Size Comparison
Viewing it from the side, the G48 actually looks a lot like a G19, but when you carry them, or even just handle them, the slimness of the 48 is really apparent.
You guys seemed to like the size comparison graphics from last time, so let’s try that again.
Here’s the G19 and I’ll shade that green so it’s easier to tell them apart. And here’s the G48 overlaid in blue. Again, I’ve got them lined up by the grip tang. The overall length is basically the same — about a tenth of an inch difference. The overall height is identical. The 48 has a slightly shorter trigger reach and the grip is a little shorter from front to back.
If I throw the 43X in there, you can see the difference in slide length — a little more than three quarters of an inch.
And just for fun, let’s add the Glock 43 in red. Same slide as the 43X but a much shorter grip.
Let’s look at them from the back. The 48 and the 43X look identical from this angle, so I’m just showing the 48 in between the 19 and the 43. Measuring the grips without the mag well, the 19 is a little more than 30% wider than the 48. The 43 and the 48 are the same width at the slide, but obviously the 48 is slightly wider at the grip to accommodate the thicker magazine. Let’s go ahead and add the P365 XL from last time. About the same width as the 48, but a little shorter.
And now let’s go back to the side view. Looking at the 48 next to the P365 XL, this should give you an idea of just how much smaller the Sig feels in the hand. For concealed carry, it’s really this part here [circled in red] that I’m most concerned about.
The top of the slide and the bottom of the grip are the parts of the gun that are most likely to print. Personally, I tend to have a lot more trouble concealing that bottom corner of the grip. The Sig isn’t just shorter than the 48 — it swoops in here toward the bottom where the 48 actually bulges out. And then on top of that, the Glock magazine basepad adds a bit more length.
This little corner here might not seem like a big deal. A lot of you would never notice the difference one way or another if you were to carry these guns. But, you know, I don’t have a whole lot of real estate on my belt. There’s not much room down there to conceal anything. So for me, this extra bit of grip is the difference between whether I can or can’t conceal the gun with minimal effort under just a t-shirt.
So all of you guys who asked me why I prefer the P365 XL to the Glock 48 or the 43X — that’s it right there. The way I’ve heard it put is that the Glock 48 feels like a small version of a big gun and the P365 XL feels like a big version of a small gun. That’s in terms of handling and carrying them. At the range, I think they meet somewhere in the middle and couldn’t say that one is inherently much easier to shoot than the other.
Glock 48 at the Range
But I think the question more people have is whether the 48 shoots more like a Glock 19 or like a Glock 43. At first I wasn’t really sure, so I had to put it on the timer. Just like last time, I shot a couple of drills to try and quantify the difference in performance between these guns. I did the Bill Drill — six shots to the body — and the Failure Drill — two to the body, one to the head. Both at seven yards from concealment. I shot both drills four times each with the 19, 48, and the 43.
Bear in mind here, I don’t shoot Glocks particularly well. I have to spend a lot of dedicated practice time shooting Glocks exclusively before I get accustomed to the trigger and the ergonomics. And that’s not something I’ve done in a while. I’m not saying there is anything objectively wrong with Glocks, they’re just not a natural fit for me. So I’m only comparing Glocks with other Glocks here. I’m not pulling in my other drill times from the guns I shot in the last video.
Okay, so here are my results. I averaged the best three out of four runs for each gun. I also added a quarter second penalty for any shots that landed outside the A-zone. The 43 was clearly the slowest with both drills and it had a slower draw and slower split times. The 19 was faster than the 48 but only by about a tenth of a second on both drills.
Just like last time, there is a lot more going on here than the numbers might suggest. It would be easy to jump to the conclusion that there is not a significant difference between shooting the 19 and the 48. But I wouldn’t say that’s necessarily true. With the 19, I basically just did a couple of warm-up runs and then shot the drills. I didn’t have to think much about it.
With the 48, after my first warm-up run, I’m thinking, “I’m really going to have to pay attention to what I’m doing here or this isn’t going to go well.” That long, slim grip feels really nice in the hand and the gun is not drastically lighter than the 19. But your feelings will lie to you! The moment I slacked off on grip pressure even a little bit or got sloppy with the trigger, this gun started misbehaving. I had to really concentrate on my technique in order to shoot these drills.
Now, I know for some people, it’s the opposite. They actually find that they shoot the 48 a little better than the 19. Or maybe their performance with the two is equal. I think it really just comes down to how the gun fits in your hand. But like I was saying, you can’t rely on what it feels like when you pick it up. The 48 feels better to me than the 19. I don’t shoot it better.
For me, part of the problem is that the shorter trigger reach on the 48 positions my finger so that I tend to steer the gun to the left a little bit when I press the trigger if I’m not careful. That’s a problem a lot of people seem to have with Glocks. There’s also less surface area on the grip for me to clamp down on in order to counteract a bad trigger press.
An aftermarket trigger with a different shape might fix that right up for me. Or maybe a few thousand rounds of dedicated practice with the 48. The point is that there is no simple answer as to how well the 48 is going to work as a replacement for the 19 for everybody. I think it certainly has potential. If I were trying to choose between the two, I would seriously consider the 48 just because I think it’s quite a bit easier to conceal.
I have my doubts as to whether guns like the Glock 48 and the Sig P365 will ultimately lead to the demise of the double stack compact pistol as we know it. But I think it will be interesting to see what happens with this concept as it evolves. It’s always good to have options and I think we’re going to see a lot more of these slim pistols with double-digit ammo capacity in the future.