Turbocharging Your Back-Up Gun: Amping Up the Glock 43


It began as furtive whispers at the SHOT Show and hushed conversations in the back corners of gun shops across our storied land. “I hear Glock is making a single-stack carry gun. Do you think it’s really true?” was the gist. We diehard gun nerds were veritably apoplectic with anticipation.

The Glock is as much a phenomenon as a handgun. The name would have seemed nonsensical in the 1970s, not unlike fahrvergnugen or Schwarzenegger. Nowadays, that blocky plastic handgun is a ubiquitous feature any place people tend to shoot each other. This lightweight, uber-reliable smoke pole has set the industry standard for rugged functionality. With no extraneous switches one need only point and click to get the job done. The thing even runs underwater.

For all its undeniable Teutonic charm, however, those early Glock pistols were bulky contrivances. The G17 was a service pistol designed to ride on your hip or thigh in a proper holster. As thick as a good-sized banana and about as long, Gaston’s early efforts were just not terribly concealable. Then in 2015 Glock released the slim, single-stack 9mm G43, and the earth moved just a little bit.

The Full Monty from TangoDown includes an extended magazine release, an improved slide release lever, an upgraded back plate for the slide and an extended magazine upgrade kit.

Pertinent Particulars

Compared to previous full-sized Glocks the G43 was positively anorexic. The gun is just over an inch wide at the slide release, while the slide remains even skinnier. At a tad over 6 inches long and 4 inches high the G43 seemed destined for every Law Enforcement ankle holster in the country. Considering 65% of America’s cops pack Glock service pistols it seemed a natural fit. For all its way-cool awesomonium, however, there still remains a place or two wherein the gleaming G43 might well yet be improved upon.

The first issue was magazine capacity. Where most of the competition packed seven rounds or more into their compact little grips, Glock issued the G43 with six. New math tells us that this is the same capacity as such storied six-gun back-ups as the venerable Smith J-frame. Additionally, while the G43 was clearly designed for concealment, this meant that the slide release seemed a bit small, particularly for those of us with big monkey mitts. The stock Glock sights hardly set the world ablaze as well.

While the HK VP70 was technically first to the party, it was Glock that really weaponized polymer for use in handgun frames. However, despite several decades of experience, that original G43 grip could still be made “grippier.” As is always the case with American consumer goods, capitalism cranked up its inimitable engine and aftermarket widgets expanded to fill the subsequent void.

The TangoDown Extended magazine upgrade consists of a new bulbous floor plate, a replacement magazine spring and a new spring retainer plate.

TangoDown and Larry Vickers

Terrorists are Tangoes in today’s military vernacular. TangoDown is grunt-speak for, “Don’t fret about that Bad Guy any more.” The company that adopted the name is renowned for their well-reasoned combat gear. The singular inspiration behind their Glock stuff is Larry Vickers.

Larry is a bit of an institution in the modern world of armed combat. A career veteran of SFOD-Delta, Larry took part in Operation Acid Gambit, the Delta Force operation to rescue Kurt Muse from his Panamanian prison. He also served during Desert Storm and trained the guys who captured Saddam Hussein and killed his two reprobate sons. In addition, Larry helped design the HK416, the premiere combat rifle among the world’s Tier 1 Special Operators. Larry’s operational experience tempers the gear he helps conjure up for your working guns.

Once upgraded the G43 looks about the same but runs faster and better. The laser-etched grip enhancements from DSP Laser follow the gun’s contours and leave the logos and switches unmolested.

Morphological Details

The new magazine release sticks out just far enough for quick and easy manipulation without being bulky enough to catch on stuff. The difference is not stark, but it is significant. Swapping out the catch requires a little body English, but it’s not hard.

The extended slide release is comparably well-reasoned and a bit easier to install. The thumb finds this appendage incrementally quicker and easier than is the case with the standard component, but the design is such that it still does not snag on things. The end result rides comfortably underneath your right thumb for quicker activation.

The replacement rear plate is just neat as can be. This device incorporates nifty little ears that compliment the gun’s existing slide gripping grooves. Like the rest of this gear, it hits the Goldilocks spot. The ears are just big enough to grab without being so bulky as to slow the draw or hang on anything. You can swap this piece out with nothing more than a ballpoint pen.

Arguably the most critical upgrade is the extended magazine floorplate. This kit consists of a bulbous finger rest floorplate along with a replacement magazine spring. It likewise can be installed with nothing more than the aforementioned ballpoint pen. Once in place the extended magazine makes the gun much easier to grip and offers another pair of rounds on tap. I have seen quite a few live shootings with the 9mm. Those two spare rounds could come in real handy if your opponent is large, exceptionally motivated, stoned or accompanied by like-minded pals.

It took me maybe 20 minutes to swap all this stuff out. Any three-thumbed ape can pull it off with a little patience and a punch. If you don’t already speak Glock fluently there is always the miracle of YouTube.

The TangoDown back plate is easily installed and includes nifty little ears to enhance your purchase when sweaty or rushed.

Beauty is Only Skin Deep and Seeing in the Dark

Lots of folks have offered to take your raw Glock frame and make it into something grippier. Many to most of those operations leave your gun looking like it was heartlessly abused by a rabid kindergartener wielding a soldering iron. In DSP Laser we find something way better. Inspired, designed and controlled by humans, this upgrade is executed by very precise machines.

To unleash DSP Laser on your Glock is to have the surface festooned with perfectly replicated interlocking arrow shapes. They can do the sides of the grips as well as the front and back straps. The etchings are just deep enough to be effective without being excessive. Also, if I can wax sophomoric for a moment, the resulting effect looks just crazy cool. Once DSP Laser gets done with your frame you will think you have a whole new gun.

XS Sights offers their esteemed DXW Big Dot replacement sights for the G43. These well conceived night sights include an unobtrusive V-notch rear component along with a massive Tritium-infused front dot, both of which are snag-free and indestructible. Installation is utterly painless, and the radioactive combination leaves your favorite pocket Glock nicely night-capable.

The TangoDown back plate is easily installed and includes nifty little ears to enhance your purchase when sweaty or rushed.


The Glock 43 is a respectable heater right out of the box. Small, well-reasoned, reliable and handy, this ubiquitous single-stack 9mm carry gun rode for years in my favorite Wilderness Tactical ankle rig as I wandered about my little world. The gun is lightweight and powerful. However, after unleashing TangoDown, DSP Laser and XS Sights on it my G43 becomes so much more.

The replacement back plate puts the gun into action faster even when sweaty or rushed. The extended magazine release drops your empties more readily, while the enhanced slide release closes the action faster and easier on a fresh mag. The differences in these cases are nuances, but nuances are important in the world of armed combat.

Two spare rounds on board bring your overall capacity to 17, presuming you pack a spare. The surface treatment from DSP Laser locks the gun into your grip way better than it ever was not thusly adorned. The brilliant glowing front dot from XS Sights puts the gun on target quickly day or night. The synergistic end result enhances speed as well as confidence in the weapon. All the while it retains the modest dimensions and superb carry-ability for which the G43 is justifiably renowned. These well-reasoned upgrades leave your back-up gun running as nicely as your primary.

The TangoDown enhanced slide release is incrementally more accessible than the stock version without being so big as to catch on stuff.

The extended magazine does make the gun a bit tougher to hide on your ankle. However, if this is your mission you can always pack the pistol with a flush fit mag and then keep the extended spare on your belt. With Gaston Glock’s inimitable raw material as a starting point, this tricked-out mini-Glock becomes the Ultimate Fighting Machine. Quite literally nothing I have found in its class runs better.

A pocket-sized defensive gun is like a parachute. In a perfect world you will never even touch it for real. However, if ever you must, then that tiny cell phone-sized gun will become the absolute center of your universe. I wouldn’t cut corners on a cardiac pacemaker, climbing rope or medication for my kids. When it comes to a combat pistol I might actually use to defend my person and my family, I want it done up right. I let TangoDown, DSP Laser and XS Sights maximize my favorite pocket Glock and then pack it with the best expanding ammunition money can buy. I subsequently feel fully prepared to cope with whatever unpleasantness life might throw at me.

Once installed these various upgraded components maximize the Glock 43 handgun.