The new Beretta APX 9mm handgun is a hot seller, and it’s the subject of our review in this article. No other handgun has fit my hand better than the grand old Browning Hi-Power 9mm pistol, and I’m not alone in this feeling, either. I’ve heard the same thing over and over again from folks who own a Hi-Power. Well, all of that changed the moment I picked-up the new Beretta APX 9mm handgun. I have never, and I mean never, had a handgun feel so good in my hand, no exceptions! I just had to get that out of the way at the onset of this review.
SurvivalBlog First to Review U.S. Military Adopted SIG Sauer P320 9mm
As many readers know, the U.S. Army, and now all the other military services, have adopted the SIG Sauer P320 9mm handgun. SurvivalBlog was the first to review this outstanding handgun. We often get the jump on others with new product reviews. I own the SIG P320 Compact model and love it. The competition for a new U.S. military service handgun had many competitors. However, in the end, the SIG was the winner. Needless to say, there were sour grapes from some other competitors, and the usual lawsuits were filed, though they have been dismissed. Beretta modified their outstanding current military issue handgun and called it the Model 93A3. I don’t understand Beretta’s thinking. It really wasn’t a “modular” handgun, and that is what the U.S. Army was looking for. Though there’s nothing wrong with the new Model 93A3.
Beretta’s APX Might Have Beat SIG Sauer P320
Now, if Beretta had entered the APX in the competition, it may have well beat out the SIG Sauer P320. I kid you not. It is “that” good of a 9mm handgun. However, the APX wasn’t manufactured in time to enter the testing, which is too bad. It would have been an outstanding contender against all comers. I’m sure of it. BTW, the APX is also available in .40 S&W. However, since the FBI switched from the .40 caliber and back to 9mm because of improved bullet designs and stopping power, numerous law enforcement agencies are doing the same and dumping the .40 S&W. Now everyone is looking at the APX in 9mm over the .40 S&W.
Beretta APX Barrel and Frame
The APX has a 4.25-inch barrel, which is a nice length for duty carry. There is the polymer black frame, and the slide is also black with slide grasping grooves from the front to the back of the frame on both sides. This is another outstanding feature that I love. The magazines (and you get two) hold 17 rounds, and this is my only source of contention. The magazines are extremely difficult to fully load with 17 rounds, even with the outstanding Butler Creek ASAP magazine loader. That last round is a bear to get into the magazine. The slide has the three dot system, and the front white dot is a little bit larger than the two white dots on the rear sight. The system is very fast to pick up under stress. Of course, as is the trend, the APX is striker-fired. The unloaded gun weighs in a 28.24 ounces, which is about par compared to other polymer framed handguns.
There is a button you can press with a pointed object or tool on the right side of the frame that deactivates the striker, so you can safely disassemble the APX without pulling the trigger. However, it is a little bit of pain to do this. So, I simply racked the slide to make sure the chamber is empty and then pull the trigger to deactivate the striker. Then, I press the slide release button, which is stout, on the right side of the frame and turn the take-down lever on the opposite of the frame. The slide then comes off. It’s easier done than said but very Beretta Model 92 in design.
APX Grip and Backstraps
The grip frame can be replaced. You can do that by removing the serialized chassis from inside the frame, very much like that of the SIG Sauer P320. So, the chassis is actually the “firearm”, because it carries the serial number. There is an ambidextrous slide release/stop on either side of the frame. Also, there is a trigger stop lever built into the trigger itself, so there is no trigger over-travel when the gun is fired, in theory, making the gun a bit more accurate. You can also change out the backstraps. Several backstraps come with the gun, however it is tedious to change them out, and I don’t see people swapping out the backstraps on a regular basis.
The backstrap on my sample, which I purchased out of my own funds, fit my hand perfectly. The magazine release is switchable from side to side, so it’s not ambidextrous, but it’s easy to change from one side to the other. The frame has the Picatinny-style rail for installing lights and/or lasers, too. The texturing on the frame is also perfect. It grips you but isn’t overly aggressive, which is another outstanding feature I like on the APX. The front of the trigger guard is squared off without serrations on it; they’re not needed. No one wraps the finger of their off-hand around the trigger guard these days. (It was very popular at one time, for some reason.)
The above is quite a lot of features on the new Beretta APX 9mm handgun, and there isn’t anything I would do away with. However, I would sure love it if the 17-rd mags were a little easier to load. I rarely have to use a magazine loader, as I have been loading hi-cap mags for many years with just my hands. But the last round is difficult to get into the APX mags. Even after I loaded them and let them sit for several weeks and emptied the mags. Then, during target practice when I went to reload them, nope, I still found it hard to get that last round into the mag. Yet, the mags easily seat when loading them into the APX.
Outstanding “Slim” Grip Double Stack Handgun
The girth around the grip of the APX makes it hard to believe that this is a double-stack 17-rd magazine. I have single-stack handguns that are thicker around than the APX. The 1911 handgun comes to mind, as do several other single-stack handguns that hold fewer rounds but are thicker around the grip area than the APX. I don’t know how Beretta pulled this feat of magic off, but they did. It’s outstanding!
I’ve had to limit the length of time I can stand to do much shooting while I’m still slowly, very slowly now, recovering from hip replacement surgery. Therefore, the APX was tested over half a dozen shooting sessions. I used a rolled-up sleeping bag, as is my norm, over the hood of my pickup truck for accuracy testing at 25 yards. Combat shooting was done standing, two-handed at the targets.
I always have an outstanding selection of 9mm ammo on hand, thanks to the very nice folks at Black Hills Ammuniton and Buffalo Bore Ammunition. Many readers ask why I use their ammo almost exclusively. There is a very good reason. I do a lot of shooting, and I simply can’t afford to purchase all the ammo I use in my firearms articles. Jeff Hoffman at Black Hills and Tim Sundles at Buffalo Bore keep me well supplied in their products. Black Hills was the very first company to send me their products to test when I first started writing about firearms, and they have continued to keep me well supplied. And, to be sure, neither ammo company have ever asked me to promote their products or change the results of my shooting tests, ever! These are outstanding companies, and I’m happy to report my findings with their ammo in my shooting tests.
From Buffalo Bore, I had their 147-gr Subsonic JHP ammo, 147-gr FMJ FN, 147-gr Hard Cast FN Outdoorsman +P, 115-gr Barnes TAC XP all-copper hollow point +P+, 124-gr FMJ FN +P+ Penetrator round, and 115-gr JHP +P+. From Black Hills, I had their 115-gr JHP +P, 124-gr JHP +P, 115-gr EXP HP (Extra Power), 124-gr JHP, 125-gr HoneyBadger, and their 115-gr Barnes TAC XP all-copper hollow point +P! So, the APX had an outstanding variety of 9mm run through it, and there was not a single hint of a malfunction or any sort, ever! I sometimes have friends who are more than willing to help me do some testing when the ammo is free. However, with the APX, I was stingy. I didn’t want anyone else shooting this gun or the ammo. Sorry, guys!
I really liked the trigger pull on the APX. Since it is striker-fired, it is a bit “different”, I guess one could say. It is crisp, for the most part and broke at 6-lbs, unlike a Glock that has a spongy feel to it before it breaks. The large ejection port assured me that empty brass would have no problems ejecting from the gun when it was fired. The slide, while very squarish in shape, is easy to grasp, thanks to those grasping grooves running the length of it. It’s a very nice touch.
As mentioned, I was out for a number of shooting sessions. On some days, I was on my game more than other days, so bear with me on the accuracy portion of my testing. The APX was extremely accurate, if I did my part. On one day, the Buffalo Bore 147-gr Hard Cast FN Outdoorsman +P load was the accuracy winner. On another outing the Black Hills 124-gr JHP was the winner, and on another day, another load was the winner. It wasn’t one type of brand of ammo over another. It was me either being on my game or not.
The winning accuracy loads were all right about 2.50 inches at 25 yards, and some were a little larger but not much, while some had a tiny bit smaller groups. I think the gun can get groups down there at 2-inches, if I really get on my game. What’s not to like about the APX? I really liked the Black Hills 125-gr HoneyBadger load. It is subsonic with very little recoil, and it is a solid, all-copper bullet (not FMJ) with three grooves milled into. This load will really penetrate and do a tremendous about of damage. It is the future of self-defense loads, I believe.
Of course, being a new handgun, holsters are a little bit hard to find, but they are out there. I used a Blackhawk Products generic ballistic Nylon pancake holster when I carried the APX. I try to carry a handgun for a couple weeks, as part of my testing process. This holster allows the gun to ride high and tight against the body. The APX is a little bit larger than the Glock 19 but a little bit smaller than the Glock 17.
APX Costs A Little Less Than The SIG P320
The APX costs a little bit less than the Sig P320 does. The APX that I picked up was only $499 and worth every red cent. Check one out. You’ll end up buying one!
The switch to 9mm was originally a sop to the NATO Europeans who had adopted our 5.56mm rifle cartridge, our 155mm artillery round, and the 7.62mm machinegun round. We adopted their 9mm handgun round with the Beretta to show it wasn’t all American everyday. I didn’t agree with the change then (1985) and don’t agree with it now. reducing the size and weight of the pistol round was intended to allow better marksmanship for smaller soldiers (euphemism for women). So the ten percent of the Army who couldn’t handle the .45 caused a reduction in effectiveness for all pistol shooters, rather than adopting a 9mm for women. Logistics was the cry, don’t carry two pistol caliber ammunition lines. But we already carried two. As a Company Commander in 1981, my aviators had a .38 SPL with six inch barrel and my Counterintelligence Agents had snub nosed .38 SPL. Plus the normal .45.
Always with the “9mm’ ain’t got the stopping power, etc. Enough already. I ain’t never seen or HEARD of anyone volunteer to be shot by a 9mm, and the loads and logistics have changed, and it’s always been a matter of bullet placement on the target, any caliber. People have taken down deer with .22 LR. I took down VC and NVA in the ‘Nam with a 5.56 mm that everyone, I mean everyone, told me was no good. That last VC I took out with a head shot would agree that it’s shot placement that matters, but he is unavailable for comment. If the womens in the service are reticent about picking up their guns because it has hard recoil, they’ll be less liable to use them. I’m not crazy about female soldiers, but we should at least arm them with something they are quick to use, and the men could arm themselves with something more robust if they want. It ain’t rocket science to arm oneself off the record, even in uniform.
Agree 150,000%. I’m from a different generation, but I sure didn’t see any Taliban in A-Stan volunteering to take a 5.56 to center mass, and I’m willing to wager none of the self-important people on these forums would either. If so, just how willing would they be to take a .22 to the face? Getting shot is getting shot, and no matter which way you cut it, it sucks to be on the wrong end of the 2 way range. So let’s please dispense once and for all with that nonsense.
Pat: You said the Remington R51 pistol was the best fitting pistol in your hand-did you lie???
This one unlike the Remington R51 pistol works. It does not matter how good it fits if it does not work.
Remington corrected the malfunctions of the original R51 pistol with a second generation version. There is a good write up and cover photo of the R51 pistol in the October American Rifleman magazine. This pistol is based on a design by an American that John Browning said was the best firearms designer of all time!
I have an R51 pistol that works just fine. Now admittedly it took about 50 or so rounds to get it that way. I also had a Glock 36 in .45ACP that malfunctioned consistently. I got rid of it. Many have said you should not totally trust any semi auto pistol until you run about 200 rounds minimum thru them. That seems to be good advice. Plus practice is good.
I totally disliked the M92, carried one for a long time, saw many issues with it,but I really like the P320/M17 and own the P250 which is a cousin an it is accurate and works every time . With some of the newer rounds the military will be allowed to use I think the 9mm is OK. Beretta should have put this new one up for the testing.
Have any rumors been leaked if Beretta is going to offer an updated full size APX in .9mm (Gen2)? I want to order one but don’t want to get stuck with a Gen 1 if a Gen 2 is on the way. Thanks!