July 2019

9mm Slimline Pistol Shootout: New Glocks & Mossberg Vie

Tested: The Glock 43X, Glock 48, and Mossberg’s MC1sc, all designed for concealed carry. Which is most easily concealed, reliable, accurate, and hard-hitting? We liked one in particular.

The growth of the concealable 9mm Luger handgun market continues to grow apace, with seemingly dozens of new models being introduced every year from makers all over the world. This suggests a vital and interested market because manufacturers wouldn’t be building guns for people who wouldn’t buy them. That includes Gun Tests readers, of course, who are always on the lookout for a better mousetrap. Here, we look at three new models from two manufacturers, Glock and Mossberg. Yep, you read that right. The well-known shotgun and rifle maker is dipping a toe into the sidearm market as well — and why not? Perhaps Mossberg has studied the pistol market long and hard and found holes in the function and form of the existing selections. Our range testing would find out.

 

 

Top is Mossberg’s new MC1sc subcompact, the first pistol introduced by Mossberg in nearly 90 years. The Mossberg is midway between the two Glock pistols mentioned below in weight. The grip frame is shorter than the Glock pistols tested and holds fewer cartridges in its magazines as a result. Middle: The Glock 48 isn’t a slim-line version of the Glock 19, but is instead a redesigned pistol that is only roughly the same dimensions. In length and height, it is similar to the Glock 19 9mm. But the Glock 48 is much thinner in both the slide and the grip frame. This results in a package that is considerably easier to conceal than the Glock 19. Bottom is the Glock 43X, whose grip and hand fit area are identical to the Glock 48. The Glock 43X is 2 ounces lighter than the Glock 48, 0.8 inch shorter and measures out at the same height, trigger span, and other elements.

 

Mossberg’s new-for-2019 MC1sc has those the “sc” trailing letters, which mean “subcompact,” the first pistol introduced by Mossberg in nearly 90 years. The Mossberg is small, light enough, and midway between the two Glock pistols mentioned below in weight. The grip frame is shorter than the Glock pistols tested and holds fewer cartridges in its magazines as a result. The grip frame is pebbled, but the texture isn’t aggressive. The texture style differs from the Glocks but accomplishes the same thing, offering a good grip without abrasion. The pistol uses the familiar striker-fired action. The MC1sc is supplied with two clear plastic magazines, one holding six cartridges and one holding seven. This makes the pistol competitive in capacity with the Glock 43 and Smith & Wesson Shield.

Next up was the Glock 43X PX435SL301AB, which comes with Ameriglo night sights. A standard Glock-night-sight-equipped pistol is $488. The pistol is similar in concept to the Glock 48. The Glock 43X is a Glock 43 with a longer grip that holds a 10-round magazine. The grip and hand fit area are identical to the Glock 48. However, each frame will not accept the other’s slide. Each slide features a nicely beveled edge that makes for easier re-holstering. Each also features the 0.75-inch longer grip compared to the Glock 43, and gets the capacity up past revolver-like numbers. The Glock 43X is 2 ounces lighter than the Glock 48, 0.8 inch shorter and measures out at the same height, trigger span, and other elements. The sight radius is almost 0.8 shorter.

The Glock 48 has been the subject of some misconception. The pistol isn’t a slim-line version of the Glock 19, but is instead a redesigned pistol that is only roughly the same dimensions, in a one-dimensional sense, as the Glock 19. In length and height, it is similar to the Glock 19 9mm. But the Glock 48 is much thinner in both the slide and the grip frame. This results in a package that is considerably easier to conceal than the Glock 19. The Glock 48 is based on the Glock 43 9mm, with the Glock 48 featuring a longer slide and higher grip frame. Our test model is the PA485SL301 variant.

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We fired a good array of 9mm ammunition to compare velocities and to see if the trio fed, chambered, fired, and ejected normally. Velocity results favored the Glock 48 and its longer barrel.

On the firing range, we used the Black Hills Ammunition 115-grain full-metal-jacket loading for combat-course testing. We fired 60 rounds of this load in each handgun. We also fired 20 rounds of the Black Hills Ammunition 125-grain Honey Badger in each 9mm pistol to check for function on the combat range. Moving to the benchrest for accuracy at 15 yards, we used three loads. These included the Black Hills Ammunition EXP 115-grain jacketed hollow point, the Speer Gold Dot 115-grain JHP, and the SIG Sauer Match Elite 147-grain. The SIG Elite  isn’t a full-power 147-grain load. It is designed to provide match-grade accuracy in 9mm pistols. As far as reliability, all these loads fed, chambered, fired, and ejected normally in all three pistols. None of the three pistols has interchangeable grip panels. They do not have light rails. There were no malfunctions of any type, save for shooter-induced slide-lock malfunctions and a few shooters who did not slap the Mossberg magazine home properly. Acclimation to the pistols and eliminating these errors was rapid. The three handguns were comfortable to fire. If one was most comfortable, and it was a close thing, it was the Mossberg. We like the superior grip and magazine capacity of the Glock 43X and Glock 48. While we like the Ameriglo sights of the Glock 43X best, night sights are optional on all three handguns. When firing off the benchrest, the pistols were accurate enough for personal defense and performed in a narrow spectrum. All were more accurate than expected. These new introductions are each viable choices for personal defense, but which one might suit you best? Here are details about each contestant.

 

Mossberg MC1sc 89001 9mm Luger, $365

GUN TESTS GRADE: A- (BEST BUY)

 

 

 

Action

Double action only

Overall Length

6.25 in.

Overall Height

4.2 in. with flush fit magazine

Maximum Width

1.03 in.

Weight Unloaded

19.0 oz.

Weight Loaded

23.0 oz

Barrel

3.4 in. long 416 stainless steel; 1:16 RH twist; Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) Coating

Magazine

6- and 7-round Clear-Count polymer; accepts Glock 43 magazines

Slide

Stainless steel w/ DLC Coating forward and rear serrations

Slide Retraction Effort

15.5 lbs.

Frame

Glass-reinforced polymer; reversible mag release

Frame Front Strap Height

1.75 in.

Frame Back Strap Height

2.7 in.

Grips

Surface pebbled and checkered; palm swell

Grip Thickness (max)

0.9 in.

Grip Circumference (max)

5.3 in.

Front Sight

Dovetail, single white dot

Rear Sight

Dovetail, snag-free profile; two white dots; windage drift adjustable

Trigger Pull Weight

5.6 lbs., flat-profile style w/blade safety

Trigger Span

2.8 in.

Safety

Hinged trigger; firing pin block

Warranty

1-year warranty

Website

Mossberg.com

Telephone

(203) 230-5300

 

We liked the Mossberg MC1 pistol. The Mossberg 9mm gave up little to the Glock designs in most regards. Reliability was never a question. While some of us did not like the takedown, as the senior rater noted, it was as safe as it gets. The sights were a bit tight and could have been wider for faster work on the targets, but in the combat-firing tests, the pistol turned in acceptable to good results. For those on a budget wishing to obtain quality, reliable protection, the Mossberg gets a high rating.

On the combat course, the majority of our shooters said the Mossberg MC1sc was the most comfortable to fire. We also saw rapid accurate fire was possible with the MC1 design. The gun ran cleanly, but we had some shooter errors, mainly a number of failures to fully seat the larger magazine when the slide was closed. This is a familiarity issue that can be resolved with proper training.

 

This was a recent price from ImpactGuns.com. The pistol is supplied with two clear-plastic magazines, one holding six cartridges and one holding seven. This makes the pistol competitive in capacity with the Glock 43 and Smith & Wesson Shield. Mossberg chose to make the pistol compatible with Glock 43 magazines. This allowed Mossberg to introduce a handgun with a readily available supply of magazines in the supply chain. Smart. Trigger compression is 5.5 pounds and is easy enough to manage. One of the raters tested a handgun of the same type on his own and that trigger measured 5.1 pounds.

 

Right and above: The Mossberg’s sights are OK, but they are not our favorite. We felt the Mossberg sights were a bit tight for all-round combat shooting. They can be replaced with SIG units.

 

 

As a new introduction, it is important to test the MC1sc against others similarly configured, but it suffers from less capacity than the two Glock pistols. Perhaps it would be more fair to compare it to the Glock 43. Just the same, the Mossberg was tested on its own merits against the Glock introductions and held its own in most particulars.

Above: Grip pebbling on the MC1sc is well done and helped get a firm grasp on the handle. The Mossberg had the shortest grip, but it felt good in the hand. This is the seven-round magazine, which has a larger basepad on it. The six-rounder is shown on the opposite page.

 

The pistol is available with a crossbolt safety (89002) as well as the standard version (89001) with no manual safety tested here. We cannot comment on the manual-safety version because we have not seen one. Here, the MC1sc uses the same safety lever in the trigger as the Glocks, to secure the action against lateral discharge and to prevent trigger movement if the pistol is dropped. The takedown is not very complicated and seems designed to address complaints concerning the Glock takedown. When field-stripping the Glock, the trigger is pressed during the takedown to release the striker. There have been accidental discharges with the Glock, true, as there have been with most handgun types. Making certain the handgun is unloaded and the hand isn’t in front of the muzzle at any time will prevent accidents.

The Mossberg is supplied with clear-plastic Clear-Count magazines with 6- and 7-round capacities.

 

The Mossberg MC1sc uses a more complicated breakdown procedure, in our opinion. The pistol is unloaded and the slide locked to the rear. The striker plate is removed by pressing it in and down, then the striker is simply pulled out. Be cautious as the striker is under spring pressure. After the rear plate and the striker are removed, the slide lock is released and the slide removed. The trigger must be forward to reassemble the piece. While some will like this takedown, we do not like it on several points.

Takedown involves removing the rear dust cover by pressing it in and then removing the striker.

 

First, all parts remain captive when the Glock is field stripped. With the MC1 system the back plate is removed and so is the striker. There is a chance of losing the parts in such an operation. We don’t like that. While the Glock system has been criticized, it presents no danger to the conscientious shooter. The MC1 will appeal to civilian shooters, while the Glock is a service pistol was one observation, which may not be completely fair, but then there is no full-size Mossberg 9mm pistol. We did not rate the pistol down based on the takedown, but we feel the MC1 take down isn’t superior to the Glock.

On the firing range, the MC1 proved reliable without any malfunctions. The pistol fed, chambered, fired, and ejected without any complaint. The dual wound recoil spring system clearly was doing its job as felt recoil was surprisingly light. Our shooters said the Mossberg 9mm is more comfortable to fire than either Glock, although with the 9mm this is a close thing. Such 19-ounce 9mm pistols do not kick much, but just the same, the MC1 was rated the most comfortable pistol to fire by three of four of the raters. The fourth could not discern any difference in the three handguns.

On the combat range, the pistol gave good results. We felt that the rear sight was a bit tight in relation to the front sight, but it worked well enough. During speed drills, the pistol was fast enough to reload. The pistol is supplied with two clear magazines, one six round and one seven round. The seven-round magazine demands more effort to properly seat when the slide is forward. A slap to the base pad did the job. The pistol did a good job in the combat course without complaint. The primary impression compared to the other pistols was that the Mossberg MC1 was comfortable to fire. Rapid accurate fire was possible with the MC1 design. There were no shooter errors or missteps, save for a number of failures to fully seat the larger magazine when the slide is closed. We addressed this by training. Glock 43 magazines fit the pistol without any type of problem or malfunction. We confirmed their reliability. The sights are also a smart move. Glock aftermarket sights are readily available. So are SIG types. The Mossberg accepts SIG-type sights, allowing the use of dovetailed front sights rather than screw on front sights. 

In firing from a solid benchrest position using a Bullshooters rest, the Mossberg MC1 proved accurate enough for any personal-defense chore. The sights are reasonably good for most chores, but in most areas, the Glock offers superior sights. The Mossberg pistol’s average groups were larger than the Glock 48 or the Glock 43X, but not by a large margin.

Our Team Said: While the Mossberg MC1sc is accurate enough and reliable, we did not like the takedown. We feel that modern handguns should have captive parts during disassembly. The sights were less than ideal and we rated the pistol down a half grade on this count. Even with this demerit, we think the low price of the MC1sc makes it a Best Buy for many shooters.

Glock 48 PA485SL301AB 9mm Luger, $488

Gun Tests grade: A

Best-shooting pistol in the test and the most powerful. More difficult to conceal than the others, though “difficult” is relative.

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Action

Double action only

Overall Length

7.28 in.

Overall Height

5.04 in.

Maximum Width

1.1 in.

Weight Unloaded

18.5 in.

Weight Loaded

22.9 oz.

Barrel Length

4.17 in.

Barrel

Steel

Magazine

10-round detachable box

Slide

Silver-color-finished steel

Slide Retraction Effort

13.8 lbs.

Frame

Polymer

Frame Front Strap Height

2.5 in.

Frame Back Strap Height

3.0 in.

Grips

Pebbled

Grip Thickness (max)

0.88 in.

Grip Circumference (max)

5.5 in.

Sights

White outline

Trigger Pull Weight

5.5 lbs.

Trigger Span Double Action

2.64 in.

Safety

Hinged trigger; firing pin block

Warranty

Limited 1-year warranty

Website

US.Glock.com

Telephone

(770) 433-8719

 

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Combat shooting included firing from speed rock and retention firing positions. The size and weight of the Glock 48 are practically ideal for concealed carry.

  

This was a recent price at BudsGunShop.com. The pistol is supplied with a silver-finish slide in the trademark Glock nPVD protective coating. The sights are standard Glock plastic white-outline sights. The grip frame isn’t pebbled as aggressively as some other Glock pistols, which makes sense for a concealed-carry handgun. The Glock 48 doesn’t feature grip inserts, and neither do the other two pistols tested. This handgun is a personal-defense handgun, not a service pistol, joining the Glock 43 9mm. While the Glock 19 is well balanced and is a very good all-round 9mm, the Glock 48 is much easier to conceal. By the same token, the G19 is easier to fire accurately than the G43. The barrel length, however, will get maximum performance out of the 9mm Luger cartridge. The pistol might be called a Glock 43 Long Slide version, but then the grip is lengthened as well. The trigger action is typical Glock, with a 5.6-pound trigger compression.

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Ten rounds is plenty for most battles, we feel.

 

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The Glock 48 concealed well in a quality Kydex holster. The smooth backing of the Tuck It concealment holster was comfortable during the test.

 

The Glock 48 features a lengthened grip (compared to the Glock 43 9mm) that holds a 10-round magazine. Ten rounds is a significant number of cartridges for personal defense, even compared to the generous 17-round capacity of the much larger Glock 17. The Glock 48 offers a good ammunition reserve compared to commonly carried 9mm slim-line pistols, such as the Smith & Wesson Shield and Glock 43 9mm. There is no penalty in a fat grip. The grip is the same width as the Glock 43, but longer. This grip fits small hands well and also accommodates taller hands with its longer vertical area.

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The Glock 48 and its standard Glock white-outline sights did well during the firing test. We prefer the Ameriglo sights on the 43X.

 

Firing offhand at targets at 5, 7, and 10 yards, the Glock 48 came on target quickly. The sights are well suited to fast, reactive shooting. Control is good. The 9mm isn’t a hard kicker, but lightweight pistols often kick more than larger handguns. The Glock 48 isn’t as comfortable as the Glock 19 as an example, but it is more pleasing to use than the Glock 43. Anyone who handles a Smith & Wesson Shield or Springfield XD-S 9mm well will have no problem with the Glock 48.

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We liked the forward cocking serrations on the Glocks. The Glock 48 field strips as easily as any other Glock.

 

Groups were tightly centered on the target with good control and practical accuracy. We fired with a combination of speed and accuracy firing and then recovering the sights as the trigger resets and then firing again. The Glock 48 responds well to a trained shooter. We rated it the best performer in combat shooting that included engaging a string of steel plates at 15 yards.  The best group was a tight 1.5 inches, excellent for a compact handgun, and in fact was the best of the test for the three handguns. As for velocity and energy, the Glock 48 led the way with more than 1200 fps in velocity from the Black Hills EXP load in the 48’s 4-inch barrel.

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The Glock 45 9mm, top, has more aggressive pebbling compared to the thinner Glock 48 on bottom (and the Glock 43X, not shown).

 

Our Team Said: The Glock 48 is the best-shooting pistol of the test. The pistol is accurate, easy to use well, and its barrel, at just over 4 inches long, develops the most velocity and energy of any of the handguns tested here. The G48 is a thin pistol that’s easily concealed, but it is not as svelte as the others.

 

 

Glock 43X Ameriglo Night Sights PX435SL301AB 9mm Luger, $542

Gun Tests grade: A (Our pick)

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We really liked the 43X. The firing grip is superior to the Glock 43 and allows better shooting with a minimum of compromise in concealment. The pistol offers 10 rounds in the magazine. While the Glock 48 was more accurate off the bench, the Glock 43X gives up little in this regard. We liked the night sights on this pistol, and we would prefer them as options on other handguns. We liked this pistol the best of the test.

Action

Double action only

Overall Length

6.5 in.

Overall Height

5.04 in.

Maximum Width

1.1 in.

Weight Unloaded

16.4 oz.

Weight Loaded

21.0 oz.

Barrel Length

3.41 in.

Barrel

Steel

Magazine

10-round detachable box

Slide

Silver-color-finished steel

Slide Retraction Effort

14.5 lbs.

Frame

Polymer

Frame Front Strap Height

2.5 in.

Frame Back Strap Height

3.0 in.

Grips

Pebbled

Grip Thickness (max)

0.88 in.

Grip Circumference (max)

5.5 in.

Sights

Ameriglo Night Sights

Trigger Pull Weight

5.6 lbs., Safe Action

Trigger Span

2.64 in.

Safety

Hinged trigger; firing pin block

Warranty

Limited 1-year warranty

Website

US.Glock.com

Telephone

(770) 433-8719

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The Glock 43X was delivered with Ameriglo night sights. These are high visibility sights worth their price.

 

This was a recent price from DKFirearms.com. In offhand fire, we ran the same 60 rounds of full-metal-jacketed ammunition through the 43X, loading our four magazines up for each firing string. Spare magazines are not available as of 2/28/19, but of course they will be soon. The Glock 43X is fast from a concealed carry holster. While such things are difficult to measure objectively, with four different raters it was agreed that the Glock 43X is faster from concealed carry than the other handguns. Our lone female rater preferred the 43X for draw from a high-riding holster. Getting on target is fast. The Glock 43X offers excellent hit ability. Speed to a first shot hit is equal to the Glock 48. Fast follow up and control is a bit different due to the shorter slide and sight radius and lighter weight.

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We kept the steel plates ringing with Ameriglo’s orange front dot, which offered a contrast on both white and black surfaces.

 

During the firing test two raters experienced an odd malfunction due to shooter error. The slide did not hold open on the last shot. This happened four times. The culprit, we believe, was the small Glock 43X frame and the raters riding the slide lock down with the thumb. Once we realized what the problem was, we fired an additional 40 cartridges to be certain we solved the problem by moving our grip. The problem was solved. For some reason even though the controls are identical, the Glock 48 exhibited this problem only once, and it was the first pistol we fired, not the second. If you decide to buy this pistol, be aware of this characteristic and check it for yourself.

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Ten rounds and 21 ounces are good numbers for a personal-defense handgun.

 

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The Glock 43X fits perfectly in Glock 43 holsters such as this IWB from 1791Gunleather.com.

 

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The Glock 43X, bottom, is much thinner than the Glock 45 9mm, top, and holds 10 rounds of ammunition compared to 17 in the G45’s magazine.

 

After the combat drill, the raters felt the Glock 43X was a good combat shooter with better results than the Glock 43 pistol previously tested. Compared to the Glock 48, we felt the larger Glock allowed greater speed in firing but the difference takes a skilled shooter to notice. And after all, the pistols are concealed carry designs. The Ameriglo night sights we paid a surcharge for are good for 24-hour use, but the standard Glock 48 sights were just as good for daylight shooting and perhaps had an edge in absolute accuracy in bright sunlight.

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Field-stripping and maintenance are simple with the Glock 43X.

 

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The dual recoil spring aided in controlling recoil.

 

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The Glock 48, top, was the best shooter from a rest. The Glock 43X, bottom, is fast from leather and also a good shooter. Speed to a first-shot hit is equal to the G48. Fast follow up and control is a bit different due to the 43X’s shorter slide, sight radius, and lighter weight.

 

In firing for accuracy from the Bullshooter’s pistol rest, the Glock 43X gave good results. The best group was 2.2 inches with the Black Hills 115-grain EXP load. Statistically, the average accuracy was fine, but accuracy results favored the Glock 48 overall.

Our Team Said: The Glock 43X is a viable handgun that stands on its own merits. This version is an improvement over the Glock 43, we believe. After the comparisons were done and the rate cards tallied up, the Glock 43X would be Our Pick of the three pistols tested.

Written and photographed by Gun Tests Staff, using evaluations from Gun Tests team testers.

Comments (3)

Good review I will keep my 26 w/night sight tho. Always enjoyed the your test mag very much! Will you be dripping your sub price? I am retired and on a limited income, and fixed.. Thanks again for your great reviews and your mag !!

Posted by: glock man | July 10, 2019 6:35 PM    Report this comment

Excellent, thorough review. I'd love to see a review of the Sig 365. Does it have striker drag/breakage problems? Did earlier versions have them?

Posted by: jfgallagher | July 5, 2019 3:14 PM    Report this comment

Great article. An interesting head-to-head test would be the 43x versus the Glock 26. Both are sub-compacts with 10 round capacity, but each achieves the capacity in a much different way.

Posted by: Kevinb | June 22, 2019 3:12 PM    Report this comment

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