Port side of Bowie Glock 43
Port side of Bowie G43. Grip angle has been reduced to 1911 grip angle and received 360-degree hand stippling. Sights are AmeriGlo and slide has been finished in gray Cerakote. Slide’s edges have been melted and forward cocking serrations added. Trigger guard has been rounded and stippled. Forward frame stippling serves as trigger finger rest when at the ready.

In my evaluation of the stock Glock 43 (SLIMMED DOWN CARRY PISTOL: Glock 43 Compact, January 2016 S.W.A.T.), I declared it “good to go out of the box.” It had traditional Glock reliability and was plenty accurate within its envelope of intended use. Considered to be “perfection” by Glock’s progenitor, it came close, but at a minimum needed some trigger work and better sights.

DAVID BOWIE

As most gun enthusiasts are aware, a cottage custom gun industry has sprung up around the part-plastic phenoms. Literally dozens of Glock Meisters specialize in upgrading and improving these very popular pieces. Much of the work is practical, while some is cosmetic.

I wanted the latest Glock iteration to remain above all a fighting pistol in a serious caliber, albeit a small one. Therefore, I turned to former police SWAT commander and current SWAT operator David Bowie.

Bowie-G43-parked-in-very-slick-Blackhawk-ARC-IWB-holster,-showing-grip-reduction-and-stippling-and-Bowie-medallion
Bowie G43 parked in very slick Blackhawk ARC IWB holster, showing grip reduction and stippling and Bowie medallion. Grip angle is approximately same as 1911.

Bowie has become one of the country’s go-to guys for practical and cosmetic custom work on polymer-based pistols. And yes, he is a distant cousin of the famous fighting man, Jim Bowie. Dave is super busy, and after a several-week wait, the little nine arrived.

DETAILED WORK

The custom package was both attractive and practical. Most noticeable on the slim-line series pistol was the painstaking 360-degree hand stippling on the grip—which has been slimmed and cut to a natural-pointing 1911 grip angle—and on the rounded and undercut trigger guard, magazine release, and forward port and starboard trigger finger rests.

The stippling resembles lizard skin and reduces grip slippage and gun twist in the hand. This is important, because there is not much to hold onto when grasping the gun. Stippling also includes the pinky rest magazine base pad. Besides all that attention to detail, Bowie goes even further.

Uniquely, Bowie cuts away the dominant hand pinky rest base pad and reduces the gun’s butt printing when worn under a garment. At its base are bilateral magazine well cutouts for manual extraction of defiant magazines.

The slide stop is radiused to reduce the chance of inadvertent engagement by the thumb during recoil and locking back the slide on a live round.

Bowie-custom-G43-(left)-and-stock-G43
Bowie custom G43 (left) and stock G43. Custom G43 has grip reduction and stippling, rounded trigger guard, magazine removal cutouts, and slide treatment.

Its slide has been refinished in a subdued gray Cerakote, all edges rounded and melted, with forward cocking serrations that match the rear set. With the plastic and metal trimming, the piece was logically lightened, and sans magazine now weighs exactly one pound—two ounces less than the original. If this is a concern because it may translate into more recoil, a Glockstore tungsten guide rod/recoil spring will make up the difference.

AmeriGlo’s bright and long-lasting luminous steel Tritium sights were installed, with the rear sight appropriately shaped for emergency and one-handed cycling.

The barrel’s feed ramp is polished to a jewel-like finish. Trigger work added a Ghost connector with overtravel reduction and reduced weight to 4.5 to 5 pounds. The trigger has some take-up before it hits the sear’s wall. Continued pressure passes through a bit of creep before it suddenly breaks. Reset is very short.

For this type of handgun and the threat envelope it was designed to operate in, this trigger is fine and a great improvement over the stock gun’s heavy 6.5- to 7-pound trigger pull.

Top-Shot-William-Bethards-fires-Bowie-G43-one-handed--
Top Shot William Bethards fires Bowie G43 one-handed. G43 shoots like a larger pistol and is thus more comfortable to handle and fire one-handed.

GLOCK TRIGGERS

I prefer triggers with reduced take-up and an extremely crisp break so I can extend the combat range of most firearms. I wanted to make head shots at 25 yards with the G43. To help me realize this goal, Jeff Wilson of Glock Triggers came to my assistance and sent me his new G43 Carry Trigger System.

The triggers are available in two configurations: stock travel and reduced pre-travel. The new GTX connector has a reduced shoulder angle and is electrolysis nickel-plated for a much smoother and lighter pull than OEM trigger. I received the trigger with reduced take-up with a five-pound pull.

Applying pressure, there is just a scintilla of movement before you encounter resistance. It breaks cleanly and without warning and has a short and positive reset. All springs are OEM for reliable ignition and proper functioning. I have been using Glock Triggers for years and they not only make the pistol more shootable, they have never failed me.

SNAGMAG

To complete customization, a pocket Snagmag was included to discreetly carry a spare magazine, which consists of Glockstore’s eight-round base pad and magazine.

With return shipping, the above customization on your pistol costs $851.63.

BOWIE-TACTICAL-MODIFICATIONS--
BOWIE TACTICAL MODIFICATIONS

GLOCKSTORE PLUS TWO BASE PADS

One of the biggest drawbacks that small guns have is limited capacity, and the G43 is no exception. Many criminals and especially terrorists act in groups, and a six- to seven-shot pistol may require fast reloading more than once to stay in the fight. Citizens carrying these guns must make each shot count, and do not have a suppressive or hosing fire capability.

But Lenny Magill, CEO of The Glockstore, has increased the Glock 43’s firepower from sextet to octet by offering plus-two rounds black and stainless aluminum base pads. This nine-round potential is equivalent to typical 9x19mm 1911s.

HOLSTERS

This pistol was specifically designed as a concealment piece, so I only looked at IWB scabbards. DARA Holsters and Gear offers hand-crafted scabbards made of .093-inch Boltaron/Kydex that provide mirror-image friction gun fit. A rust-resistant Melonite-finished hardened-steel tension screw that reaches a very high Rockwell hardness of 70 is adjustable for holster tension.

Cant angle for the AIWB (Appendix Inside the Waistband carry) is fixed, and the holster’s interior is smoothly finished to facilitate a glitch-free draw. A grease guard protects the shirt from staining but can interfere with the thumb’s depth of penetration behind the gun, slowing the establishment of a full firing grip even with the butt situated high above the belt’s top. It carries a lifetime warranty.

Blackhawk introduced the ARC (Appendix Reversible Carry) IWB at the 2014 SHOT Show and it became popular immediately. The polymer injection-molded rig is adjustable for right- or left-handed draw and includes two cant and ride height-adjustable belt clips for 1.5- to 1.75-inch belts.

Friction fit, it also has a passive retention detent and tension screw. Both exterior and interior finishes are smooth (smooth is fast) for drama-free operation. Top Shot: All Stars finalist William Bethards liked the ARC. It was so comfortable, he forgot he had it on. Its muzzle end is well rounded and almost closed. It does not dig into the leg or lower stomach in the kidney draw position. The gun’s butt hovers just at belt top, but a quick firing grip can be had with the thumb penetrating deep behind the Glock.

William-Bethards-engages-targets-for-accuracy-at-ten-yards
William Bethards engages targets for accuracy at ten yards. The more you shoot the little Glock, the more you will like it.
Unique-Bowie-cut-to-pinky-rest-magazine-base-pad-to-reduce-strong-side-printing
Unique Bowie cut to pinky rest magazine base pad to reduce strong-side printing. Grip cut outs for emergency magazine extraction, grip stippling, and undercut trigger guard are visible.

Although it is concealable and very quick, I am not 100% sold on the one o’clock or kidney draw position. It was very popular with some USPA/IPSC Unlimited competitors and offers good economy of motion. But any muzzling of your precious anatomy is not good and violates all safety principles. Its acceptance appears to hinge on who is advocating it.

A similar crotch concealed carry was employed sans holster by the Filipino terrorist Sparrow assassination units. With a totally concealed cocked and unlocked 1911 (grip safeties were taped down), terrorists could make head shots from seven yards in one second or less.

SHOOTS LIKE A LARGER PISTOL

Regardless of how you carry the piece, it is a challenge to shoot well and is not an appropriate firearm for beginning shooters. Get trained. That said, the more I shot the gun, the more its recoil became less distracting. The G43 is all Glock and shoots like a larger pistol.

To determine if the improved trigger and better sights had anything to do with the Glock 43’s accuracy, we shot three different loads at 10 and 25 yards, standing off hand. Atlantic Marksmen MEN 74-grain ARX Polycase round punched out a 0.85-inch ten-yard group, which eclipsed Winchester 147-grain JHP’s cluster of 0.89-inch from the first article. At 25 yards, the lightweight round delivered a very acceptable 3.24-inch pattern.

The new FBI load, Speer GDHP 147-grain G2 JHP, produced an excellent 1.71-inch group at the extended range. Also, at 75 feet SIG Sauer 125-grain JHP dropped into a 2.49-inch triangle. It was a cold and windy day, but Bethards delivered excellent performance with the short sight radius G43 even with limited familiarity with it.

Bowie-G43-fieldstripped,-with-reduced-grip-angle,-360-degree-stippling,-two-six-round-magazines,-and-dual-recoil-spring-guide-rod
Bowie G43 fieldstripped, with reduced grip angle, 360-degree stippling, two six-round magazines, and dual recoil spring/guide rod. Dual recoil spring greatly tames recoil.

CONCLUSIONS

This is the pistol for deep cover. You get Glock’s reliability in a serious caliber in a very small package. It is indeed good to go out of the box, but can be improved upon.

The more I shoot the Glock 43, the less consequential its recoil has become. Going to the degree that I did was simply motivated by my desire to have a superior shooting example of the breed, as well as owning a highly personalized firearm.

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