Everyone seems to be looking for the “perfect” pistol these days. With no shortage of “experts” telling you what perfection is, and masterful marketing describing its definition, it’s no wonder many believe it exists. After decades of using, deploying, buying, selling, and testing firearms perfect pistols don’t exist, never have, never will. But, it is possible for a pistol to be perfectly suited to one or more tasks, or individuals. Every pistol has its strengths and weakness, making perfection individually dependent. What’s perfect for one person and what they do may be completely ill-suited to someone else.
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Carry and concealment pistols are generally pretty useless on a hog hunt. Competition pistols excellent on the range are less than perfect for daily carry, in some cases more liability than an asset. Home defense handguns may be all but impossible to conceal. It’s nothing more than a combination of what an individual thinks they need, and what they need it for. Perspective is not just a thing — it is everything when it comes to deciding what is perfectly suited for the task at hand.
No single task is better served today than pistols carried for protection or duty use, or both. My “list” of excellent first choices for a carry pistol has gone from two to five in just the last year. My expectations for a pistol that may save your life are few, but easier to claim than prove. Many a popular pistol has proven incapable of the reliability necessary, or durability required. They need to be simple, easy to carry, have sights you can see use under stress, a trigger you can depend on, and be completely reliable under any condition you may encounter using self-defense ammunition. Most of those are easy to meet — it’s the last one that seems to trip up some very popular pistols. Many shoot great, carry well, but just won’t hold up under stress. The Army’s MHS (Modular Handgun System) has resulted in a few more with some pretty rigorous reliability requirements, one of those is the Beretta APX, available for purchase at GunBroker.com.
Beretta’s APX is a “commander” sized striker fired pistol using a 4.25″ barrel available in 9mm or 40 Smith and Wesson. This has been the preferred size and barrel length for multipurpose handguns for decades. Long enough for usable terminal ballistics in any caliber, short enough for comfortable concealed carry. Many use a pistol this size for duty, off duty, and concealed carry. If you are looking for one semiauto pistol to do most everything this is about the perfect size.
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Using polymer grip frames and an internal trigger mechanism the APX is easy to service and allows for complete modularity. Frames have three different grip straps to fit most hands and can be changed in a couple minutes. Texturing on the grip keeps it under control no matter the conditions. An oversized trigger guard allows for use with winter gloves. The Guard is flat on the front with no serrations making it perfect for tactical lights attached to its lower rail. Cut high, the finger grooves are less pronounced fitting more hands. Cuts in the grip let you pull on the magazine when needed.
Using a flat trigger provides an excellent feel at 6 lbs. Short and crisp reset allows for fast return shots and controlled repeat shots. Aggressive serrations on the slide make manipulation under any condition possible. The ambidextrous slide release (yes it is both a stop and release) is easy to reach and operate with either hand on both sides. The Magazine release is slightly extended and can be reversed if needed. Magazine capacity is 17 rounds with 21 round 9mm versions available both are steel with polymer base plates. Standard sights are luminescent white dots, tritium versions are available, and both have a ledge for unconventional slide manipulation. There is even a threaded barrel available for suppressor use. Each pistol ships in a plastic case with two magazines.
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Testing And More Testing of the Beretta APX Pistol:
This has become one of my most thoroughly tested pistols. It has been carried concealed, used to teach at Gunsite, tested with lights, lasers, and suppressors. Original sights were carried for months — the tritium sights were recently installed. For this test only the front tritium sight, the rear luminescent sight was blacked out using a marker. Surefire’s new XH-15 polymer weapons light was used primarily, along with their Masterfire holster. On the range, my Simply Rugged Holsters rig was used consisting of a nicely stamped basket weave holster, double magazine pouch, and belt. Concealed carry was with my Raven Concealment Phantom. My original black frame was swapped out for an FDE (Flat Dark Earth) version. Liberty Suppressors Centurion was used with the threaded barrel. It has run well on several pistols and is plenty quiet without turning your pistol into a large piece of 2×4.
Like most everyone testing the APX, it runs, and runs, and runs some more. Short of purposely inducing a malfunction it has run everything it has been fed. A dozen or more self-defense loads ranging from 115-grain +P to 147-grains, and practice loads by the thousands. It has handled everything under the harshest conditions I am willing to demonstrate. It has been tossed in the dirt, silt and mud — picked up and fired. Carried in a chest rig while firing a rifle from prone — inside, outside, and around cars, barricades, obstacles, and from makeshift positions. Short of contrived torture testing it has been tested in harsher conditions that most would ever see. The only condition missed so far has been snow. It’s easily as or more reliable than any polymer striker fired pistol I ever used or tested.
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Accuracy with the APX has been solid. Designed as a combat/carry pistol it is no target pistol, but excellent nonetheless. The best group measured was a bit less than 2″ at 25 yards with Remington 115-grain HTP using a rest bag on the hood of my truck. Practical grouping from offhand at 15 yards was all less than 4″, getting closer on the move with rapid fire it was about the same. When I took my time at 7-10 yards I was rewarded with ragged holes. Staying on the 6″ round steel at 30 yards was pretty easy even from off hand with 8 out of 10 being the norm. Practical fighting on steel from inside, outside, and around the vehicle put everything inside 10″ at 10-15 yards, most inside 8″. Soft shooting it’s very easy to get fast splits and stay on target. As a practical fighting pistol, it just does not get any better. A big part of accuracy is the trigger. This pistol measured 5.7 lbs. consistently, but it feels like other triggers with a 4.5 lbs. pull. Once the slack is taken up it is flat with a short reset, more 1911 like than typical polymer. It may be too wide for some, but it is about perfect for me, and flat triggers have always been my favorite.
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Attaching the Surefire light and Liberty Suppressor it was softer to shoot and the factory sights lined up at just the top of the suppressor. It allowed me to aim as if the suppressor was not there. Functioning was just as flawless with no malfunctions. Equipped with both the light and suppressor it fit perfectly in the Masterfire holster.
The first frame swap took me less than three minutes, all with nothing more than a punch. Changing straps is just as easy having done so in the field with a ballpoint pen. My large hands appreciate the bigger strap — most will find the medium about perfect.
The slide “serrations” on the APX are nothing like I’ve seen on most pistols. Extending evenly along the slide they are easily the most useful seen to date on a factory pistol. Cosmetic they are not — in fact often criticized aesthetically they work perfectly. Either hand, wet, dry, gloved, covered in muck anywhere you grip the slide you can manipulate it. I was even able to run the locked slide against the corner of a wall, not the sights, just the slide.
Yep, the slide release works as both a stop and release. Beretta makes a point of it in fact. Many will operate a pistol that way, a number of shooters ignore the manufacturer’s statements to the contrary, myself included. Years running a 1911 made it a habit, and that was another solid point for me. Transitioning from my 1911’s required no change in manual of operation. Inserting the magazine and pressing the release with my off hand thumb is the norm, and this pistol works just fine that way without violating the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Bottom Line on the Beretta APX Pistol
No pistol I have used or tested has done the job of carry, concealment, or deployment better than the APX, while it has surpassed many. Boring reliability, solid accuracy, capable modularity, and well thought out ergonomics make it a workhorse. Unlike many test pistols, this one seems to end up on or near me all the time. Why, because it works, it fits, and I can depend on it. If you are looking for a carry pistol or one used for duty or self-defense applications the Beretta APX should be at the top of your list.
Specifications of the Beretta APX Pistol
- Action: Striker Fired
- Caliber: 9mm (40 S&W available)
- Barrel Length: 4.25″
- OAL: 5.6″
- Width: 1.3″
- Weight: 28.24 oz. (unloaded)
- MSRP: $575.00
|Ammunition||Velocity (fps)||Group (inches)|
|Remington 115 Grain +P HTP||1,244||1.8|
|Federal HST 124 Grain||1,140||2|
|Winchester Defender 124 Grain||1,087||2.17|
Groups fired from a rest bag using the hood of my truck. Distance of 25 yards, 3 five shot groups for comparison. Velocity in Feet Per Second (FPS) measured with a “Chrony” chronograph over three five shot groups.
For more information please visit: www.beretta.com