Roland Glock 43 : A No Joke Review of a Compressed Pistol

“If you take yourself too seriously, well, everyone will know the job is filled.” I thought on the words of Texas Black Rifle Company’s John W. Harrington and broke a smile while listening to him on the phone. “Josh, we tossed this thing together to get a rise out of people. It’s funny, but it works.”

I had my personal email blown open a few weeks back with a photo showing a Glock 43 all decked out and looking completely ridiculous next to a ‘Roland Special’ Glock 19. I occasionally take reader requests about ammunition or try my best to dispel myths about whatever thing is the hot topic of the day, but this was different. My correspondence was filled with general hate and confusion about the little pocket Glock dressed up like it was. I was interested and began making calls.

But first, a bit of non-serious history about this type of pistol.

The Roland Special emerged a couple years ago on some tactical sites that use terms like ‘running’ and ‘loadout’ and quickly became a mall ninja necessity. Nothing tells your life-size anime girl body pillows that you’re Tier 1 like a Roland Special. What the Roland Special boils down to is a Glock 19 with a threaded barrel, compensator, flashlight, and a slide-mounted red dot sight. Occasionally they featured flared mag wells and extended magazines. There is general speculation that the gun owes its name to a character from the Stephen King ‘The Dark Tower’ book series, named Roland, but I’ve not been fully able to confirm that.

My research into the Roland Special revealed that the entire concept was essentially the product of goofing off and it took on a life of its own in the pistol and tactical communities when the genre was typified by name and required features. Sure enough, the stories about how this type of gun was used by everyone from undercover cops to Navy SEALs began to trickle out and somehow validated the utility of the concept to imaginative end-users.

Red dot sights on carry guns have been around for a number of years, but the idea has only recently started taking off with the standard consumer. Companies that take themselves far, far too seriously have been tactically milling slides for a number of years in an effort to market to weekend gunfighters. These guys are a known joke, but if they have a hard time laughing when they are the punch line of the community. In the words of our president: “Sad!”

All these jokes bring us to the comical conversation I was having with J.W. Harrington. The Roland Special was a joke, much like the Roland ‘Detail’ his guys at TBRCi threw together. We all know that a joke has to work to be funny, and let me tell you, the Roland Detail is hilarious.

Roland Glock 43

We all know that a joke has to work to be funny, and let me tell you, the Roland Detail is hilarious.
We all know that a joke has to work to be funny, and let me tell you, the Roland Detail is hilarious.

Such a ridiculous thing shouldn’t work nearly as well as it does. I attribute the charming function to a variety of factors that stem from the quality of the parts that this thing is assembled from and how they work together.

The base gun is a Glock 43 with a standard trigger. I could’ve changed the trigger, but I left it stock as mine is pretty crisp as it is. I fitted the magazines with Taran Tactical Base Pad Extensions in both brown and blue and contacted Hogue to send me a HandAll BGS in FDE rubberized grip to help hold on to the slim frame.

To match the non-coherent color scheme, I reached out to Streamlight and they sent me a truly dazzling TLR-6 complete with both a light and laser in FDE.

I removed the rear sight from my existing set of XS BigDot sights and installed a tritium-enhanced version of the Dueck Defense RMR Mount. This is a fantastic, no-gunsmithing addition to any pistol that could benefit from a red dot sight. I of course mounted a Trijicon RMR RM04 dual-illuminated sight to the pistol. It wouldn’t be the same without one. The DD mount is a necessity as this pistol has a frame too narrow for milling the RMR into it like on a G19.

To finish out the Roland Glock 43 project and capture its essence, I received both a SilencerCo Threaded Barrel and TBRCi’s much-imitated, but never equaled, Micro Comp. These items finished out the Detail and I took my completed blaster to the range.

To finish out the Roland Glock 43 project and capture its essence, I received both a SilencerCo threaded barrel and TBRCi’s much-imitated, but never equaled, Micro Comp.
To finish out the Roland Glock 43 project and capture its essence, I received both a SilencerCo threaded barrel and TBRCi’s much-imitated, but never equaled, Micro Comp.

This thing may be a joke, but man, the Roland Glock 43 is funny accurate. When everything was zeroed, making hits out to fifty yards were easy and reliable. As it turns out, not taking this custom project so seriously resulted in a gun that was just plain fun, as I had really no expectations of how it would perform.

Texas Black Rifle Company TBRCi Micro Comp
Texas Black Rifle Company TBRCi Micro Comp

I ended up firing ten varieties of 9mm totaling 400 rounds through the pistol ranging from inexpensive ball to Tier .005 tactical loads. I noted that the Texas Black Rifle Company TBRCi Micro Comp has a noticeable impact on how this gun shoots. With the bare muzzle there is a significant amount of flip, most of which I attribute to the extra weight on the rear of the slide. With the comp installed, the gun barely moves in the hand. It really makes firing such a small gun with so many random features a dream. It isn’t the same thing as shooting a .22, but it is darn easy nonetheless. All loads functioned reliably and I had no hiccups in reliability. Thanks, Glock.

I opted to try some high velocity Lehigh Defense 70gr HERO loads in the Detail and found that I was breaking 1650fps at the muzzle over an Oehler 35P chronograph. I felt like I was really firing a Star Wars blaster instead of a handgun. Han Solo would’ve been proud. Due to the light bullet weight and excellent comp, I was able to make six hits out of nine on-board rounds at 100 yards on a 10” steel plate using this load. Firing it was just so much fun, mostly because I couldn’t believe what I was doing.

This is where it gets really interesting to me. The Roland concept may have started as a prank, but there is real utility to be squeezed out of this palm-sized precision pistol. That said, Roland Glock 43 isn’t a solution to any problem I know of, and it really isn’t asking a question at all. It just is what it is and it is fun to have around. The utility is up to you to find.

Is SEAL Team 6 going to take this out and start using it as a standard piece of equipment? Probably not. Will those who take themselves too seriously get their MultiCam panties in a knot over my assertion that this is a gag pistol? Sure. I sure like the thing and will in all likelihood keep it in Detail format for the foreseeable future. Perhaps I’ll shoot some competitions with it. Maybe I’ll carry it. The beauty of having a pistol that is considered a joke is that sometimes you’re laughing for reasons that surprise you.

Special Thanks to:

  • Glock

  • Texas Black Rifle Company
  • SilencerCo
  • Streamlight
  • Taran Tactical
  • Hogue
  • Dueck Defense
  • Trijicon
  • XS Sights
  • Hornady
  • Federal Ammunition
  • Lehigh Defense

About Josh Wayner:

Josh Wayner has been writing in the gun industry for five years. He is an active competition shooter with 14 medals from Camp Perry. In addition to firearms-related work, Josh enjoys working with animals and researching conservation projects in his home state of Michigan.

by Josh Wayner, -(