Beretta APX Compact: A True ‘Working’ Pistol

Dave Bahde, GetZone.com Contributor

beretta apx
Beretta's compact retains all the features of the full size I while shortening the grip and inch and barrel a tad under half an inch.

The Beretta APX is one of my favorite polymer pistols. It’s a true “working” pistol, simple, light, accurate and completely reliable. Designed for use in the harshest conditions it has never failed in over a year’s testing in classes, training, articles, and practice time. Often the pistol chosen for when it “must” work, it has backed up more than a few test pistols at events. Rolling in the snow, mud, muck, dust, dirt — you name it — this pistol has always worked. Trigger “feel” is always subjective, but the APX is one of my favorite out of the box striker fired triggers — Flat, straight, with not too much take up it feels just fine to me with no need to swap out for an aftermarket. Duty ready it fits most police department policies and has garnered traction in that community. It just needed a smaller sibling for off-duty or concealed carry, the compact APX fits that bill perfectly.

Beretta APX Compact

Berettas compact APX keeps the proven trigger, ambidextrous controls and slide serrations from its full-sized brother. Bore axis remains low providing muzzle control, less felt recoil and increased accuracy potential. Serialized chassis accepts different grip frames and includes different sized grip straps. Barrel length is shortened to 3.7″, grip frame is shaved by an inch compared to the full-sized frame, half an inch shorter than the Centurion. Magazine capacity in 9mm is 13+ 1 and full sized, Centurion, and 20 round magazines will work. Controls are the same; grip frame has no finger grooves but the same checkering pattern. Light rail is shorter by one rail. Sights all steel using a white dot configuration, front dot is noticeably larger. Take down and assembly is identical.

Related Stories: Beretta APX Pistol: Modular, Durable And Exceptionally Reliable

beretta apx
Compared to the full sized grip the difference is noticeable, especially when using IWB holsters.

Range Time

Most are aware I am no fan of smaller pistols. I completely understand their need, desirability, and popularity, just not my preference. They conceal better, can carry more easily (especially appendix carry) and tend to print less. On the other hand many have more felt recoil, won’t allow a complete grip and lower capacity. Beretta’s APX compact is no exception outside recoil, this may be the softest shooting compact tested in a long time. Even without my entire hand on the grip, it was perfectly controllable and accurate. Rapid-fire strings were no issue suffering no loss in accuracy potential over the full sized APX. Even with some rather warm 9mm +P it was very comfortable to shoot. Dreading a long day of testing on compacts is the norm, which was not the case with the APX Compact. Function, control, and reliability were excellent. Throw in a full sized or 21 round magazine and it’s even better. All of them ran perfectly making it a perfect secondary pistol for duty or tactical team use.

beretta apx
Replaceable grip straps allow you to fit the APX to your hand adding to control and accuracy potential.

The best group using the supplied magazines measured about 1.5″ inches at 15 yards using an old target box as a bench and bag as a rest with Hornady 135- grain +P Critical Duty.  Using full sized magazines grouping at 25 yards match my full-size testing. Overall accuracy was about the same, altered mostly by the shorter grip and my pinky hanging out the bottom. Standing at 25 yards I was able to put 12 of 13 rounds on a 10″ steel. Felt Recoil is so minimal it’s pretty easy to get hits on target. Used at 5-10 yards it kept everything in a fist-sized hole centered on the target.

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beretta apx
Hornady’s Critical Duty was the most accurate from this pistol, not an uncommon accuracy using this proven ammunition.

Slides are not interchangeable between the full sized and Compact or Centurion. Upon close examination, the compact slide is dimensionally different. Height measured from the top of the slide to the bottom of the return spring lug is 1.48″, the full size 1.35″. Top of the slide to the bottom of rail on the compact measures 1.63″, the full size 1.54″. Its only importance pertains to holster fit, as the compact doesn’t just drop into custom Kydex. It fit in my Raven Concealment and could be used, but would not lock in place. Nothing a heat gun won’t fix, but your full size will be loose. May not be an issue for duty rigs like the Safariland ALS, or leather holsters did not have any to try. Certainly did nothing to affect operation just a good thing to know. Serialized chassis/ trigger modules look to be identical.

beretta apx
Slide dimensions are marginally different, and the 3.6″ barrel is suited to AIWB carry.

Concealed Carry

Loosing .30″ on the slide length is not a big deal unless you are carrying IWB Appendix carry. Not something I do often, but my colleagues that do tell me it can be important depending on how they carry. Cutting the grip by an inch makes a pretty big difference all the way around. Using appendix carry it makes it much easier to avoid printing if you carry it more towards the hip. Typical hip carry also conceals better with less printing or hooking on your cover garment. Raven Concealment provided a couple of their excellent holsters while attending the original media event. The compact did not lock in place but remained tight and carried well. Their close to the hip design holds it tight to your side and the grip difference was pretty noticeable. I had no issues accessing the grip on the draw, it printed less at the grip and did not hook on my clothing. Even with the standard magazine, it wasn’t bad, certainly no worse than the standard model. My general practice with this setup is to use the flush fit magazine in the pistol and the largest one I am willing to carry as a spare. Use the 21 round magazines and you have 35 rounds at hand, 21 total with the standard 17 round magazine, plenty for most situations.

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beretta apx
Using the supplied magazine provides a flush fit perfect for concealed carry.
beretta apx
All APX magazines will fit and function in the compact, this full sized magazine provide extra ammunition and room for your entire hand.

Final Thoughts

Sights are the same used on the standard pistol, steel with white dots, the rear offers a ledge for unconventional slide manipulation. Beretta offers tritium and adjustable sights on their website. Trijicon offers their HD sights with either a Yellow (which looks green) or Orange front sight. Installing these on my full sized APX was a chore, to say the least. Beretta is serious about the original sights staying put so you will need a heavy duty sight pusher. If not take it to someone who does it will be worth every penny!

beretta apx
Using a flat trigger the APX provides one of the smoothest factory striker fired triggers on the market.

Compact pistols are not everyone’s cup of tea, but any manufacturer selling a full sized polymer combat pistol is all but obligated to offer something shorter. Beretta’s compact is true to most every design out there, a barrel in the 3.5″ range (3.7″ in this case) and an increasingly shorter grip. Their Centurion removes half an inch, this compact an inch on the grip meets the needs of most concealed carry or off duty needs. Magazines are interchangeable, a consideration for most carrying a secondary pistol. Matching the controls, sights and the like makes for a simple transition from the full sized duty rig or self-defense pistol. Available in 9mm and 40 caliber Beretta has produced a rugged fighting pistol matching its full size in a more compact size that is perfectly suited to either task.

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beretta apx
One of the most comfortable compacts to shoot the APX compact lends itself to accuracy and smooth operation.

Specifications:

  • Action: Striker Fired
  • Caliber: 9mm test (40 S&W available)
  • Barrel Length: 3.7″
  • OAL: 6.97″
  • Width: 1.3″
  • Weight: 26.4 oz. (9mm) 27.2 oz. (40 Cal)
  • Capacity: 9mm (13+1) 40 Cal (10+1)
  • MSRP: $575.00
Ammunition Velocity (fps)    Group
Remington 115-Grain +P HTP1,244 1.80″
Federal HST 124-Grain1,1402.00″
Winchester Defender 124-Grain1,0872.17″
Hornady 115-Grain Critical Defense1,1501.65″
Hornady 135-Grain +P Critical Duty1,1001.50″

 

Groups fired from a bag (rest) using a large wooden box as a rest. A distance of 15 yards, 3 five shot groups for comparison. Velocity in Feet Per Second (FPS) measured with a “Chrony” chronograph over three five shot groups