I've recently acquired both a GLOCK 43 and and M&P Shield 9mm. I had two very extended range sessions with both pistols. First I wanted to vet the pistols for usage and reliability, as well as see how the two pistols compared to one another. Also, after my initial (separate) outings with each, I determined I didn't like either guns trigger (physical trigger, not to be confused with the trigger pull). On the M&P I disliked the hinge, especially since my higher trigger placement tends to catch the safety notch on trigger pull. On the G43, it was just painful to shoot more than 50 rounds, as the trigger safety doesn't completely recess into the trigger itself. So to alleviate the issue with both, I bought Apex Tactical triggers for each of them.
Anyway, two range sessions and 700+ of various ammo later, I've gotten a quick familiarity with both pistols. I've formed opinions
based on my
experiences. I was debating on doing a range report, but a few people asked, so I'll do my best.
First the guns. The GLOCK 43 was purchased new by me. I also ordered an additional 3 magazines and one TTI +1 base pad. As stated the trigger was replaced with an Apex trigger. (Note: There are issues with installing this trigger with regard to field stripping and reassembling, discussed in another thread
.) The internals were left completely untouched. The only other modification is the rear sight was adjusted / moved to the right to adjust the point of aim.
The M&P Shield was purchased used from a friend. The friend had made no modifications to the gun as far as I know. As stated, I replaced the physical trigger with an Apex flat trigger, specifically made for the Shield. No internal modifications were made to the trigger assembly. When I got the gun, one of the white dots in the rear sight had come off. I scraped the other white out of the rear. Those are the only modification made to The Shield. I also picked up an additional 7 and 8 round magazine for this gun.
Where to start? I guess the first thing I'll mention is reliability. The Shield was completely reliable through the 350 plus rounds that were put through it. Ejection was reliable and pretty consistent. The GLOCK suffered a couple of feed issues on the first round, but this was only with the TTI magazine extension loaded to 7+1. After two incidents with one magazine, and one incident using the extension on a different magazine, I took the TTI out of the mix. It should be noted the GLOCK was 100% reliable when using completely stock magazines. Ejections was not quite as nice as with the M&P, some round dribbling out in front of me, but there were no rounds thrown back at me. Barring the aftermarket magazine part, both guns operated 100% throughout the range sessions. (Side note, both guns started the session with rounds through them, and were not cleaned in between either.)
The next point I'll touch on is accuracy. I shot all strings freestyle, freestanding, with no bench rest, sand bags etc. Shooting was mostly done at the 10 yard, 50 foot line and 25 yard line. I used a 4" shoot N see bullseye at the 10 yard and an IDPA target at the 25 yard line. At the 50 foot mark, I used a combination of both. Taking all this into consideration, I found the GLOCK to be more consistently accurate. What does that mean? Well, when switching different lots of ammo, I typically got more consistent and tighter groups with the G43. The M&P I didn't get as tight of groups with some ammo. On the other hand, there was one load where the M&P got a much tighter group than any of my groups with the GLOCK. Several strings with each, confirmed to me that this was not a fluke. That being said, both guns were able to keep all rounds in the A Zone / Down Zero of the target at 25 yards when I did my part, with all the ammo on hand. That is certainly more than adequate given what these guns were designed for.
So how did they compare with regards to recoil? Well, this was one area that surprised me. Despite the Shield being a little bit bigger and a little bit heavier, I actually fell the G43 handled the recoil just a little bit better. This could likely be due to the lower bore axis. With a thumbs straight forward grip, you pretty much have your thumbs next to the slide on the G43, where the thumbs are just below the slide on the Shield. I did comparisons with both the flush fit and extended magazines. One of the things with the flush fit magazines, the G43 was a perfect fit for a two finger hold. On the other hand, the Shield had just enough to kind of get that third finger on, but not quite, causing me to adjust a bit while firing. Of course, this is relevant only to my hand size. On a side note, I'm thinking the G43 would really benefit even further from a GAP floor plate.
One area where that slightly longer grip helped the Shield is on magazine ejection. The G43 would catch on my hand when ejecting, so I'd either have to manually extract it or be very conscious about getting my hand out of the way. The Shield always ejected without issue. It should be noted, both guns ejected positively when the hand did not interfere, so this is more an ergonomics consideration, not a mechanical issue (as I've read early G43s had this as an issue). Speaking of the magazines, the GLOCK magazines were a bit easier to load than the Shield magazines. The lips on the Shield magazines seemed to drag when inserting a round, and the last round was a little tighter going in than the GLOCK. On the other hand, I find it a big bonus that the Shield offers factory 7 and 8 round magazines. I know there are a lot of aftermarket options for the GLOCK, I'm a bit gun shy after the issue with the +1 magazine I had tried. I think it would be a big boost to the GLOCK to offer an 8 round magazine option for the G43 (not that they actually need to boost the sales... but it would be nice).
Doing reload drills with each gun, as stated I had to be a little more conscious when ejecting the G43 magazine. On the other hand, the slide lock reload on the GLOCK was without issue. The slide release, for me
, is just about perfect on the G43. It's placed well and small enough to be out of the way when not utilizing it, and big enough to use it during a slide lock reload. The Shield was a different matter. While it to was located well enough out of the way, I found it very difficult to manipulate during a slide lock reload. It took a lot of effort to release the slide with the slide stop, at least on my sample. I think with this gun, I'd be much better off using the sling shot technique. However, I practice using the slide stop on all my other guns. This was the one thing that really stood out between the guns for me.
Trigger pulls: Well, I'm not sure this is a proper comparison considering I did replace the trigger on both guns. Both guns have a shorter and crisper trigger pull than they did before. I'm assuming leverage is involved. My G43 trigger was better than several other G43s I've handled in the past. The G43 averaged about 7 lb 1 oz prior to the trigger replacement. Afterwards, it measured 7 lb 10 oz. The Shield measures an average of 6 lb 10 oz with the Apex trigger installed. Unfortunately, I didn't measure it before the trigger installation. Both triggers are pretty good for a gun of this type. I'd give the slight edge to the Shield on this one, but considering the trigger replacement in both. As always, YMMV. Either way, it's really close.
Closing thoughts, well I really like both of these guns. They are both very reliable (sans aftermarket magazine parts). Also, they are both quite accurate for what they are. The Shield adds a bit of versatility with the 7 and 8 round magazine options. It also has, IMO, better sights. On the hand, the GLOCK is noticeably smaller in the grip. I think the G43 is going to be at the end of the spectrum in grip length for a pocket gun, and it's already a tad longer than my P938 which I currently use for pocket carry. The Shield I think will be too long for that role, for me.
If I was to pick a winner, and it would be close, I'm going to have to say the G43. There are a few people making +1 and +2 options for it, and many seem to be having good luck with them. Even though I didn't have luck at first, there are still options. Also, there is hope the GLOCK will offer a factory 7 or (better yet) 8 round magazine. Even though I'm not fond of Glock sights, in some way that's a benefit as it (almost) forces you to get the sights you want. I wouldn't consider replacing the factory night sights on my P938, even if there might be something better. I know, it's kind of a psychological thing, I guess. So getting better sights and a working extended mag would offset some of the Shield advantages. The slide lock thing with the Shield is the one issue that stood out for me. Not being as familiar with the M&P series of pistol, I don't know if there are any options to alleviate that. :dunno: If so, that would narrow the gap as well in the other direction.
Anyway, just one picture for now to show what they look like with the triggers installed.
Again, this is one man's attempt at an objective opinion, with a single sample of each out of thousands pistols made. YMMV. Thanks for reading.