Beretta has a reputation for making fine hammer-fired DA/SA pistols, like the PX4 Storm, the battlefield-tested M9, and the full-size 92 series. The new for 2017 Beretta APX design is a major departure from these other pistols. The APX is their first striker-fired full-sized gun that uses a system where the breech is locked by the breech block which is cammed into the slide, instead of a M9-style tilting lock block and locked-breech short recoil system. It uses a removable, serialized chassis frame and can be modified with replaceable grip frames and allows reconfiguration.
It seems to me that Beretta has aimed this durable gun at the tactical-duty target market. One of the features of this Beretta full-size gun is a loaded chamber indicator which is a small pin protrusion from the rear of the slide which indicates the chamber is loaded. (Remember, this is no substitution for following the safety rule of treating every gun like it is loaded.) I remembered a major self-defense related factor about this pin protrusion and will share that with you here later. Some models from other manufacturers also have various types and locations of loaded chamber indicators.
Probably the one single feature that stands out for this gun is easily recognizable by you. What is it? Well, I noticed right away this special, very unique feature for this Beretta pistol… the large, prominent front and rear slide serrations. It seems folks have told me they either love them or hate them. Certainly, this is a subjective personal opinion because “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” as Margaret Hungerford first said in her book The Duchess.
Still another unique feature is the Striker Activation Button on the right side of the frame that can be pushed (one option) when disassembling it to deactivate the striker to prevent accidental discharge. So, the trigger does not have to be pressed for field stripping it. Given all the many other polymer, striker-fired guns now, what really distinguishes the APX from the others and are there worthwhile key features to justify purchasing it? What about its reliability, accuracy, engineering, and ergonomics?
I wanted to shoot and evaluate this new for 2017 APX for myself and give you my opinions to help you. Is this a possible carry pistol? My recent book, “Concealed Carry & Handgun Essentials,” ranks my Top 21 Concealed Carry guns, so I wanted to see how this new for 2017 APX compared, even though it is a full-sized gun. Some readers, students, and the website founder here asked me for an in-depth review of it and I want to offer my opinions after shooting and handling it. I wanted to thoroughly analyze the APX against my criteria and was looking for special features that were unique or made the gun stand out from the pack, while being accurate and reliable.
Please know that I am not on the Beretta or any manufacturer’s payroll, have not been paid by them or any manufacturer for this article, my opinions, nor influenced to say certain things about this or any gun. I want to be honest and straight-forward with my opinions and ideas the way I see the pistol to sincerely help folks. I wanted to know:
- How accurate it is out of the box, without modifications?
- What about the trigger press?
- Is the trigger smooth and crisp, as well as light and short?
- Is it a reliable gun?
- Does it have a short reset distance for follow-up shots?
- Does it feel comfortable in my hand and could I easily handle the recoil and muzzle flip?
- What about its sights– anything unusual and helpful about them?
- What sight picture works best with this gun?
- Are there any different desirable key features for this particular gun?
- Are there any issues or concerns that would prevent me from carrying this gun?
- Are there holsters readily available now for this new APX?
- What are the options for the colored interchangeable frames?
- Is this a gun I would carry myself and do I recommend it for concealed carry or anything?
To begin, I want to give you the specifications and features for the Beretta APX. Then I want to give you my 10 criteria that I use to evaluate all guns. When you are evaluating your carry guns, determine your goal, purpose, and own criteria, being certain to compare apples with apples and not with oranges, so to speak. Finally, I want to give you my analysis for each of my criteria and present my final recommendation to purchase or not and for what use. As always, set your own criteria, identify your purpose, do your own research, compare this gun’s attributes against your criteria, and check my data and information with yours, and shoot it yourself before you buy this or any gun.
I wondered if there were available holsters and accessories for the new APX? I found several belt, paddle, shoulder, and other holsters in leather, kydex, and hybrid for OWB and IWB offered by manufacturers like Blackhawk, Safariland, and Beretta themselves. The Beretta Model #E01205 above fits it great and is a technopolymer lightweight belt holster with low high and paddle options. As folks become more aware of the gun, even more holster options will be available. There are 3 interchangeable colored frames each available for $50. in Flat Dark earth (FDE), Olive Drab, and Wolf Grey colors, plus the standard and included black. Each extra colored frame comes with matching colored backstraps included. Below are the FDE and Wolf Grey colored frames and backstraps. I like the looks of the Grey frame with the Black slide and would think about adding a black backstrap with it for something different (see below.)
Criteria and Considerations
Here are just 10 of my criteria and factors I use for evaluating any handgun, so I will use them for the Beretta APX. In addition to my criteria, there are other subjective features that may be appealing for some, like a certain style, mag release location, action, caliber, appearance, number of mags included, type of sights/modifications, bore axis, rail, grip angle, non-porting or porting, included extras like a holster and pouch, customer service, etc. So, I combined these into my last Miscellaneous criterion. I must admit that ALL gun-choice decisions involve tradeoffs, but I really want ALL of my criteria to be met. I assigned a total possible point score of 10 points for each of my 10 criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. You can certainly add your own additional criteria and preferences or subtract any of mine.
Beretta APX 9mm Range Test
I was anxious to shoot the APX and ended up shooting only about 200 total 9mm rounds of various high-quality Federal Train & Protect 115 grain Versatile HP (1180 fps Muzzle Velocity, 356 ft lbs Muzzle Energy), Sig Sauer V-Crown 115 grain JHP (1185 fps Muzzle Velocity, 359 ft lbs Muzzle Energy), Sig Sauer Elite Performance 115 grain FMJ (1185 fps Muzzle Velocity, 359 fl lbs Muzzle Energy), and Federal Premium 124 grain JHP Hyda-Shok (1120 fps Muzzle Velocity, 345 ft lbs Muzzle Energy) ammo. Shooting all of this premium ammo really gave me a feel for how the APX could handle different ammo grains and types. Usually I shoot 500 rounds over a couple of days to decide if I want to carry the gun or not, but I had the information I needed after shooting about 200 rounds. I will shoot more to confirm my initial evaluations.
Below are my evaluations for each of my 10 criteria for my concealed carry purpose. As an old codger with not the best eyesight for this slightly above average shooter, I wanted to put the gun through its paces and check it thoroughly for malfunctions and performance with different quality JHP and FMJ ammo. Thanks to Federal and Sig Sauer for providing the rounds to test and evaluate the new APX full-size 9mm pistol.
Without any doubt, the APX has very good ergonomics. It was very comfortable in my hand, loved the grip angle, the lower bore axis, and the texturing on the front, back, and side straps was great for a solid purchase. It felt good also, with just the right amount of aggressive texturing. And I could easily reach all the controls. I did discover that I had to press the too-small, flush-fit slide release lever straight down and firmly to release the slide. However, the gun was fitted very tightly and just felt solid and quality in my hands. But for me and my medium-sized hands, the slide release lever was too flat, too flush to the slide, and too small. The slide release should protrude a little more from the slide and be larger in my opinion. But, after some more break-in time and practice, it will be easier for me to operate the slide release. On the other hand, for me the takedown lever was too large and unnecessarily so. I would rather have a larger slide release and a smaller takedown lever. Usually in self-defense situations, you need to be able to quickly locate and easily operate the slide release, but have more time when you are disassembling and cleaning your gun. So, you have more time to locate and operate the takedown lever.
This gun was heavy and durable, but it is foremostly a full-size duty gun. Its low bore axis allowed me to get a deep grip on it. All the mags did drop freely for me and my medium-sized hands. The slide of this new gun was solid and stiff but easy enough for me to rack. The felt recoil and muzzle rise of this 9mm were mild and manageable for me. Probably, milder than some other 9mm striker-fired polymer guns I have shot recently. I was glad the gun did not have a magazine disconnect and it fired even when the mag was out. Be careful– Safety First Always! Below, I will present more opinions for each of my criteria after my range testing of the APX.
I found that the APX pistol was accurate, but not as accurate as I wanted for me. Maybe I did not do my part, but I believe I did. Its short reset, great feel in my hand, and long sight radius helped me, but not as much as I expected. It was reliable for me with only the 200 rounds I fired and I did not have any malfunctions or stoppages with any of the FMJ or JHP ammo I fired. It is a solid full-size and heavy gun and I would not personally consider it for my concealed carry. But there are other uses for this fine gun.
My first 17 rounds fired slow fire at 10 yards hit in the black and were not great but acceptable for this Mr. MaGoo’s myopic, hyperopic, and presbyopic aging vision. I had some trouble with my 7 yard shots as well, but I do have an appointment with my eye guy soon. Overall, my accuracy was acceptable, given my condition and abilities, but shoot it for yourself to make your own decisions, based on your abilities, condition, and proficiency. Below are my first 17 slow-fire hits on my target at 10 yards with the new APX. Not as accurate and precise as I wanted. A little too widely dispersed and low for me, but these first shots were using the Center-Mass sight picture (Point of Aim = Point of Impact), rather than the necessary Cover-Up hold for this particular gun. Most manufacturers zero their pistols and sight pictures vary, so know your specific gun. So, generally, if the manufacturer zeros the gun for a 6 O’Clock hold and you use a Center Mass, it will shoot high. Sig Sauer production duty/combat pistols are setup to use a “combat” sight picture where the front sight completely covers the bullseye of the target, for example. Sight pictures vary by manufacturers and models, but most now seem to use the Center Mass Sight Picture. Follow what your Owner’s Manual says or call the manufacturer and learn the model’s sight picture.
Range Test Results for each of my 10 Criteria:
1. Accuracy and Reliability – Score: 9
The accuracy of the new APX was acceptable for me at distances of 7, 10, and 15 yards, but not great, especially at 20-25 yards. If only this aging codger and his blurry eyes could do his part better I thought. My several groups at each of the distances averaged about 3-3.50 inches for the first time firing it. My hits were consistently 2-3 inches lower than usual. I was holding the gun firmly, slowly pressing the trigger straight back, not pushing the gun, not flinching, and not limp-wristing. This mediocre performance bothered me and this was not close to my best accuracy and precision results. I am not offering excuses, but I think the gun had something to do with it, considering my accuracy with other striker-fired 9mm polymers in the last few months. But, near the end of the range testing I made a serendipitous (but foolishly late) discovery: my initial Center-Mass Sight Picture (Point of Aim=Point of Impact) I usually use for closer targets was not the proper one to use for this specific gun and longer distances. So, I switched to the Cover-Up Sight Picture (aligned sights at the top of the bullseye) and that brought my hits up. I moved my aiming point up to the top of the bullseye to completely cover it up with the front sight. How could I forget to check its sight picture before shooting it? I immediately went to the Owner’s Manual, but unfortunately there was no mention of proper sight picture there. Some manuals give a suggested sight picture for the gun, but some do not. Lesson learned. The almost 6.5 pound trigger press, with a little takeup and a short reset, combined with the comfortable feel in my hand with the just-right grip texturing and grip angle, to help my accuracy and I did enjoy shooting it. But, I expected accuracy to be better. At least the gun and I were consistent, since the reliability was there over the 200 rounds I fired with FMJ and JHP ammo. I had no malfunctions or stoppages at all. I used my Modified-Isosceles Stance, a two-handed grip, and the cover-up sight picture. I shot mostly Federal Hydra-Shok, Federal Train & Protect, and Sig Sauer V-Crown JHP and FMJ ammo. The gun was not picky and digested it all. The almost flat trigger on the APX was nice and the trigger safety did not protrude and was not a hindrance.
2. Trigger Press – Score: 10
The trigger press averaged 6.2 pounds with 8 readings from my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge before my range test and 6.0 pounds after the range test and some break-in time. This met my criteria and expectations, but I do prefer my soft and short single-action pistol presses. The APX’s steel serialized chassis helped stability. By no means was this an unacceptable press, but I just prefer a lighter press and practice mostly with the single actions. This APX press should improve to a softer one after more rounds down range. I prefer that my carry guns have a max. of 6.5 pounds press or less, so this certainly met that standard. But, is this a carry gun? More and my recommendation below about this. Of course, this is my personal preference and yours may be different, but the actual press was certainly acceptable for the APX and it was smooth and crisp..
3. Trigger – Score: 9
The trigger had minimal creep and no stacking, along with a tactile and audible click. It had a consistent and short reset. I really liked the positive and short 3mm reset and crisp trigger. But, the trigger was not comparable to my PPQ M2 trigger and the recent CZ P-10 C trigger I just reviewed, and other fine triggers. But, it had very little grit and the reset was good, consistent, and recognizable. Certainly above average. The trigger face has no serrations and is nice and flat, which felt very good and allowed fast follow-up shots. As you can see above, it had a very large trigger guard to help when wearing gloves.
4. Barrel Length – Score: 9
The 4.25-inch cold hammer-forged barrel appeared strong and tough, handled well and seemed like a full-size gun that it is. When combined with the gun’s 28.24 ounce weight, I expected more help controlling the muzzle flip and the felt recoil. I did seem to feel the recoil just a slight more with the APX than with some other similar striker-fired DAO over 4-inch barreled guns. But, no concern. There was a tight fit between the barrel & slide.
5. Sights – Score: 9
The front sight dot was larger than the rear sight dots which helped me find the front sight quickly. They were not luminescent nor tritium nor night sights, but were made of steel, not plastic. I would prefer night sights and tritium. These were better than some other stock sights I have recently reviewed. They are drift adjustable, front and rear. These sights were certainly acceptable to me and I liked them. I would, however, prefer night sights (available as an option) as standard.
6. Proper Gun Weight – Score: 8
The overall 28.24 ounce unloaded weight was acceptable for my criterion and it felt solid in my hand. Added weight to a light polymer gun helps hold it steady and helps to mitigate the recoil and muzzle flip. But it is a heavy full-size duty gun and in my opinion not compact nor light enough for my concealed carry handgun. But, certainly acceptable for a home defense gun consideration and fun plinking.
7. Caliber – Score: 10
I prefer the 9mm caliber, used with appropriate ammo with the right ballistics and grain weight. So, it was easy and comfortable for me to shoot the 9mm Caliber. Felt recoil was relatively low and easy for me to control. It digested the various weights of 9mm ammo easily without a single malfunction or stoppage.
8. Capacity – Score: 9
There were three magazines included with the package sent for my review and I believe this was a Law Enforcement/Military Special which does include the 3 mags. Usually, I think the standard is to include 2 mags. In any event, I always want 3 mags to be included, to save from having additional expenditures and as a minimal necessity. The cost of an extra 17-round mag is about $33., based on what I found now online. The standard capacity of 17 is great, but this is a full-size gun. The mags were high quality, had witness holes, and their spring was strong and made it a little difficult to load rounds. My medium-sized hands were comfortable with exchanging the mags and they dropped free and quickly dropped.
9. Ergonomics – Score: 9
Overall, the ergonomics of the APX were fine. I really like its low bore axis and grip angle. The grip had just-right aggressive texturing for a firm and very comfortable grip with no abrasions from the texturing. There are 3 interchangeable backstraps (S-M-L) included for fit customization. They are easy to change by pushing the backstrap retainer to the right, then down, and removing it and replacing the backstrap. Also, the frames are interchangeable and easy to replace by lifting the chassis out and depressing the Striker Deactivation Button. The trigger guard is large and squared for gloved-hands use. The triangular-shaped mag release button is large, was easy to access for quick mag release, and while not ambidextrous it is reversible. The slide stop is ambidextrous. The mags were solidly made of steel, looked good, and had witness holes to indicate if 17 rounds were loaded. Just wish there was a standard of 3 mags included, but 3 are shipped with the LE/Military package. There are large, aggressive, over-sized, easy to use, cocking serrations on the front and rear of the slide. Some do not prefer their looks, but for me that is not an issue and they work great to easily rack the slide and do a press check. I wonder if the aggressive and large serrations will chew up the holster? The felt recoil by me was manageable, but slightly more than some recent striker-fired guns. There is a nice indentation space at the bottom of the frame to help you easily grasp the mag and pull it out in case of malfunction.
10. Miscellaneous – Score: 10
As always before shooting any new gun, I disassembled, lubed and cleaned, and re-assembled the APX before I shot it. (This is a good practice, not only for gun familiarity but to prevent possible problems. I remember years ago not doing this and I had all kinds of jams from the machining residues, metal shavings, or grit held in place by their heavy grease.) I did not have to press the trigger to disassemble it and it was easy and quick to field strip. (Remember, do your SAFETY check to ensure any gun is unloaded before disassembly.) I found I had to press the right-side take-down button very hard so I could then rotate the left-side take-down lever down to disassemble it. Hopefully, it will loosen some over time. Changing the backstrap was also a hassle and more involved than it should be. I did get the hang of it after awhile though. This is a newly-designed striker-fired duty gun for Beretta. It is very durable, solidly-built, and a tightly-fitted gun. Its modularity offers the adaptability advantage. Its price is reasonable, includes three interchangeable backstraps with tool, brush, cleaning rod, a high-quality hard lockable case (one of the best), owner’s manual, loader, and lock.The third mag is a bonus for the LE/Military package. There are several nice features for this solid gun. It has a striker block safety, trigger drop safety, a rear loaded chamber indicator, a striker deactivation button, and no manual safety. There is not a magazine disconnect safety. This gun is very competitively priced if you shop for it. There is a one-year limited warranty for the original purchaser for defects in materials or workmanship, but a total of 3 years if the original purchaser registers it with Beretta.
Total Points = 92 out of 100 Possible.
I certainly recommend this handgun for consideration as your home defense gun, your fun range gun, and even for your consideration as your concealed carry gun. But for me as a full-size duty gun, it is too heavy and not compact enough for concealed carry. Its accuracy, reliability, and ergonomics are fine for me, so I would use it as a home defense gun and fun range shooting. It is reliable. I like the low bore axis and the trigger press is decent. It has very little takeup with a short reset. The grip angle is fine for me and the it has 3 interchangeable backstraps to fit different-sized hands. The large, squared trigger guard is practical for use with gloved hands. The metal 3-dot combat-style sights are nice, but I would prefer that night sights be a standard offering. There are holsters already available for the gun and Beretta makes a very nice holster for it and colored frames. I was somewhat disappointed with its accuracy out of the box, but my center-mass hold contributed some to that and you should use a Cover-Up Sight Picture when shooting it. I found that the APX pistol was accurate, but not as accurate as I wanted. Its short reset, great feel in my hand, and long sight radius helped me, but not as much as I expected. The grip mildly-aggressive grip texturing was comfortable. This test gun had no malfunctions or stoppages with any of the 200 rounds of ammo I shot. The third magazine included was a nice bonus and they did regularly drop freely. I like the large, aggressive, and prominent cocking serrations because they really did help with racking the slide and press checks. Some do not like them, but to me it is an aesthetic matter and not a performance matter. Understand that these are just my opinions and ideas, so handle and shoot it for yourself. I hope this review of the APX full-size 9mm has helped you gain some information you did not previously have. Consider that these are just my opinions with limited live-range fire and shooting myself only about 200 rounds of ammo. Like always, I recommend that you shoot any handgun yourself before you purchase it. Decide on your criteria, how you will primarily use the gun, and what features are important to you and you are willing to pay for ahead of your range time. Then critically evaluate the gun YOURSELF per your criteria and purpose, with standard drills (several mentioned in my book), with various ammo types and brands, over an extended break-in period of about 500 rounds. Remember, Safety First Always.
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Federal American Eagle, Train & Protect & Hydra-Shok Ammo
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Sig Sauer Elite V-Crown & Performance JHP-FMJ Ammo
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Photos by Author.
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2017 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at [email protected].