The Beretta APX

New entry into polymer framed striker-fired pistol market shows great promise.

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Sometimes it pays to be a little "late to the party" in terms of firearms development. As long as certain design aspects aren't patented, a manufacturer can let other companies do all the legwork in terms of development of various designs-seeing what works and what doesn't-and more importantly, see what the consumer market favors. Such is the case with Beretta's new APX.

Beretta has been heavily invested over the last 32 years in what is now known as the "traditional" double action/single action full size handguns and with good reason. Since 1985, the Beretta M9 and later M9A1 9mm pistols-which use the aforementioned DA/SA operating system- have been the official issue handgun of our armed forces. It has served well in combat and non-combat regions the world over, and has been more successful than the naysayers in 1985 predicted when it was adopted. The APX is Beretta's first departure from the DA/SA system in their lineup of full size pistols.

Striker fired pistols such as the APX do away with the traditional double action/single action trigger pull issue, making for more simplified operation. On this type of pistol, the trigger pull is much lighter (in the 6 lb. range) and much shorter in the course of travel than the DA/SA trigger of the M9 Beretta, which has a first shot trigger pull in the 12 lb. range. Usually an automatic safety is part of the trigger mechanism in striker fired pistols, and is disengaged automatically as the trigger finger makes full contact with the trigger. Most of the striker fired pistols utilize a safety lever in the center of the trigger including the Beretta APX. Smith and Wesson utilizes an articulating trigger design in their M&P.

Currently available in 9mm or .40 S&W, the Beretta APX is a full-sized pistol, with other variations yet to come. As mentioned previously, the frame is polymer with molded in checkering and serrations to enhance gripping ability. The actual internal metal chassis frame is serialized, which makes the chassis the actual "firearm". The polymer outer grip frame house can be removed and switched out with replacement variants adding to the APX's versatility. There is a molded in picatinny accessory rail up front for flashlight/laser use. Three interchangeable backstraps are included with each APX to tailor the grip to the individual user. The barrel is 4.25 inches in length, giving a bit better balance to the APX than a 5 inch barrel would. Basic sights are fixed three dot. Unloaded weight is 28.24 ounces and the trigger pull weight is 6 ounces. Even though it is a full-sized pistol designed for law enforcement and military use, the APX's size makes it great for home defense or concealed carry.

The slide and barrel are Nitride coated for rust resistance. The slides wide cocking serrations run the entire length of the slide, allowing the user to "press check" the APX at any point along the slide that suits them. It also gives the APX a very distinctive appearance.

The APX controls are fairly standard. There are two easily reached ambidextrous slide release levers. The teardrop shaped magazine release is reversible for left handed shooters. There is an easily accessed takedown latch on the left side for simple disassembly.

I test fired a rental Beretta APX's at the Vance Outdoors Alum Creek indoor range using SIG Sauer's 115 grain Elite Performance FMJ practice ammo rated at 1185 FPS at the muzzle, as well as their Elite Performance 124 grain V-Crown JHP defensive ammo rated at 1189 FPS.

The first thing I noticed about the APX was its ability to lock naturally on the target. Beretta did its homework in terms of the ergonomics of the grip-it literally melted into my hand. It is probably one of the very best polymer grip frames in terms of comfort and shoot ability in a very large field of competitors.

I found the APX's low bore axis contributed to the shoot ability as well, and helped to keep the APX on target in rapid fire strings. Recoil was light, and more of a mild push back rather than rising up. I was firing from a two hand standing position in the shooting stall, varying the distance from 20-30 feet. The trigger pull was smooth and easily managed. The 6 lb. pull weight puts the APX right in line with Glock or Smith and Wesson M&P Pistols. It was nice to note that the metal 17 round magazine was easy to load to capacity. This is something I haven't found to be the case lately in competing designs. The magazine dropped out easily when empty.

My best 6 shot group at 20 feet on a silhouette target measured two inches centered directly in the head using the 124 grain V-Crown load, which is what I imagine is the bullet weight the APX sights are regulated for. Groups with lighter weight SIG 115 grain Elite Performance FMJ bullet consistently landed an inch or so below the point of aim-at least for me. There were zero malfunctions with either load.

Beretta is the oldest firearms maker on the planet, in operation since 1526. I think this means that they produce quality products, and the APX is certainly among the best. The staff at the rental counter have also tried the Beretta APX, and I was told they all held a very favorable opinion of it. The 9mm APX is currently available at Vance's for $529.99. Two magazines are included. If you are interested, try one out at the Alum Creek rental counter before you buy.