Beretta’s new APX 9mm Com­pact is a tough, carry-sized brute.

By Bob Camp­bell

In the firearms world, when you come up with a good prod­uct, the next step is usu­ally to in­tro­duce a smaller, hand­ier ver­sion of it.

That’s just what Beretta did. As a fol­low-up to the long-awaited APX ser­vice pis­tol that be­came avail­able in 2017, the com­pany has now in­tro­duced a com­pact model. So, what ex­actly is the APX?


The APX is a striker-fired, poly­mer-frame hand­gun with a mod­u­lar de­sign. Beretta isn’t the first to pro­duce this type of hand­gun by a few decades, and now the com­pany has jumped into a very chal­leng­ing and com­pet­i­tive mar­ket. The poly­mer frame ser­vice pis­tol mar­ket is a lu­cra­tive one. Beretta went all out to pro­duce a func­tional, re­li­able and ef­fec­tive hand­gun. Beretta en­joys brand loy­alty and this is an im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion, but any pis­tol must sur­vive on its own mer­its. The APX is de­signed to garner po­lice and mil­i­tary or­ders world­wide. Although it missed get­ting the big U.S. mil­i­tary con­tract, I sus­pect other agen­cies will adopt it. It is in­evitable, how­ever, that a ser­vice pis­tol be ac­com­pa­nied by a com­pact hand­gun suited more for civil­ian con­cealed carry use.


The new APX com­pact is that pis­tol. I came into this re­view with a clean slate as this is the first APX of any size that I have fired. The pis­tol is sup­plied with two 13-round mag­a­zines, two ex­tra grip in­serts, a hard-plas­tic box, a key lock and a well-writ­ten owner’s man­ual.

The pis­tol, with its 3.7-inch bar­rel, weighs in at 26.4 ounces, light enough but still heav­ier than some com­pacts. At first glance the slide seems out­sized for the frame, and this im­pres­sion never re­ally went away. The

slide is very dis­tinc­tive. It’s cov­ered front to back with grasp­ing grooves. The grooves, the best I can mea­sure, are 1.5 mm deep in the slide. They al­low you to rack the slide and con­trol it no mat­ter how dirty, grimy, wet or bloody your hands may be. My first thought was that it was over­board, as many poly­mer-frame hand­guns have no for­ward cock­ing ser­ra­tions at all.

Be­cause the pis­tol fea­tures a mod­u­lar chas­sis sim­i­lar in de­sign to the SIG P320 pis­tol, the chas­sis it­self is se­ri­al­ized. We will have to wait for other hous­ings to be­come avail­able to en­joy the full ad­van­tage of the mod­u­lar de­sign. Beretta is a gi­ant com­pany and these op­tions will be com­ing.

The frame de­sign is ex­cel­lent. The grip feels good in the hand, a far cry from the blocky poly­mer of many de­signs. The com­bi­na­tion of ser­ra­tions and check­er­ing or peb­bling makes for ex­cel­lent ad­he­sion. The frame fea­tures a square trig­ger guard and a rail for mount­ing lights or laser de­vices. The wrap-around grip in­serts are well de­signed. My hands are av­er­age to small and the pis­tol fit my hand well as is­sued. The grip straps are changed by use of a tab in the in­side of the grip frame. The process takes a minute more than most de­signs but it is very sta­ble.

There is noth­ing to fault in the frame’s de­sign, but in the hand the APX felt a bit slide heavy. The sights are all steel units. There is noth­ing to go wrong and break and the rear sight is a de­sign that al­lows rack­ing the slide us­ing the sight if need be. The rear sight is wide, at about 0.016 inch, so it is fast on tar­get com­bined with the bold front post. The front post is about 0.0145 inch.


The trig­ger ac­tion is typ­i­cal of striker-fired pis­tols. The striker is prepped as the slide is racked and the trig­ger ac­tion moves the striker to the rear and breaks the striker against the sear. The trig­ger break is 5.6 pounds, ideal for most uses. The trig­ger face seems flat­ter than the Glock and less curved than the CZ 10, per my ob­ser­va­tions. The safety lever pre­vents lat­eral dis­charge. Though the trig­ger is heav­ier than some, the break is very sharp. A crisp trig­ger break with a fast re­set is bet­ter than a slightly lighter trig­ger with a longer take up and re­set.

The re­versible mag­a­zine re­lease is pos­i­tive in op­er­a­tion and con­structed of steel. The am­bidex­trous slide lock is large and pos­i­tive in op­er­a­tion.

This is an improve­ment over many poly­mer-frame hand­guns. I found the slide lock worked well dur­ing speed drills. The steel mag­a­zine fea­tures a gen­er­ous base pad. The com­bi­na­tion of a ta­pered 13-round mag­a­zine and large mag­a­zine well make for rapid reloads.


How­ever, the mag­a­zine was very dif­fi­cult to load. You must de­press the fol­lower to al­low load­ing the car­tridges rather than sim­ply us­ing the car­tridge to de­press the fol­lower. The se­quence is eas­ier once the first cou­ple of car­tridges are loaded. You will need to use the speed loader.

The pis­tol fea­tures a striker re­lease but­ton that may be used dur­ing dis­as­sem­bly. True gun safety is be­tween the ears, but some do not like a hand­gun that re­quires the trig­ger to be pressed be­fore dis­as­sem­bly.

This but­ton re­leases ten­sion on the striker. A fea­ture car­ried over from the Beretta 92 is the fir­ing pin block. When the trig­ger is pressed, the fir­ing pin block moves in the top of the slide. This is in­ter­est­ing and is nei­ther a merit nor de­merit, but it works as de­signed. I have no con­cerns with the Beretta ac­tion, safety fea­tures, de­sign or man­u­fac­ture af­ter the fir­ing test. But there are sim­ply con­sid­er­a­tions.

As an ex­am­ple, to­day’s modern pis­tols are de­signed for easy han­dling and rack­ing of the slide. The Beretta APX 9mm com­pact is a bit stiff to rack. There is no other way for a com­pact 9mm with a heavy slide de­signed to ac­cept large quan­ti­ties of NATO stan­dard or +P+ am­mu­ni­tion. You must have a stiff re­coil spring.

Dis­as­sem­bly isn’t dif­fi­cult as far as the man­ual of arms goes. Re­move the mag­a­zine and be cer­tain the cham­ber isn’t loaded as you lock the slide to the rear. If de­sired you may de­press the de­cock­ing but­ton as you move the slide for­ward. A take­down lever is pressed in from right to left and ro­tated to al­low the slide to run off of the frame. The first cou­ple of times it was quite dif­fi­cult to press the take down lever. Even af­ter some use it is quite tight. Again, this is a ser­vice grade pis­tol and it is more about long term ser­vice and re­li­a­bil­ity than con­ve­nience.


Con­sid­er­ing the likely mar­ket—se­ri­ous shoot­ers that prac­tice of­ten—I elected


to fire at least 1,000 car­tridges in the APX 9mm. This isn’t chal­leng­ing as far as re­coil goes, but it was ac­com­plished over sev­eral range ses­sions.

The APX 9mm may find it­self in a 30,000-round agency test or per­haps a 228,000-round test such as the

Ohio State Pa­trol con­ducted a decade or so ago. Then we will know how it com­pares as far as break­ing ex­trac­tors or trig­ger springs. An ed­u­cated guess is it will do well. Among the loads tested were the Black Hills Am­mu­ni­tion 115-grain FMJ, Fed­eral Car­tridge Com­pany Syn­tech in both 115- and 124-grain FMJ, and the Brown­ing 147-grain FMJ dur­ing the ini­tial fir­ing.

The pis­tol per­formed well as far as re­li­able func­tion. The APX hasn’t failed to feed, cham­ber, fire or eject in fir­ing 1,160 rounds as of this writ­ing. Be­cause it feels a bit slide heavy, some shoot­ers might tend to fire low. I used my sup­port hand fore­fin­ger hard against the trig­ger guard, press­ing up and back. Us­ing the two hands to­gether and ap­ply­ing iso­met­ric ten­sion, I had a solid fir­ing grip and the pis­tol fired to the point of aim.

Be­cause I run a com­puter key­board not a jack­ham­mer, my hands are not hard­ened and at times the raspy grip stung a lit­tle. Af­ter a few mag­a­zines in rapid fire, the 9mm isn’t a soft kicker any­more and the long-term prac­tice—or a 300-round day at a shoot­ing school—might de­mand gloved hands. On the flip side of the coin, you are al­ways in con­trol. I found the pis­tol fast on tar­get. The sights are not only sturdy, but they al­low an ex­cel­lent sight pic­ture at mod­er­ate range.

Among the loads that were tested to­ward the end of the pro­gram were ser­vice grade loads. These in­cluded the Black Hills Am­mu­ni­tion 115-grain +P, the Black Hills Am­mu­ni­tion 124-grain JHP, the Fed­eral Car­tridge Com­pany 124-grain HST, the Fed­eral Car­tridge Com­pany 147-grain HST, the Go­rilla Am­mu­ni­tion 115-grain JHP, the Hor­nady 124-grain +P, the Hor­nady 135-grain Flex Lock, Winch­ester’s 115-grain Sil­ver­tip and the Winch­ester 127-grain SXT +P+. Fir­ing stan­dard pres­sure loads was pleas­ant, while +P and +P+ loads gave a stronger push but were not un­pleas­ant.


The pis­tol is clearly ser­vice grade in re­li­a­bil­ity and ac­cepts a wide range of bul­let weights and pres­sure lev­els. Like all qual­ity firearms, the Beretta APX com­pact prefers some loads, but all were ac­cept­ably ac­cu­rate. About mid­way into the test pro­gram, the trig­ger set­tled into 5.5 pounds and has re­mained there since. I like the trig­ger; the break and re­set are tight and re­set is rapid.


I care­fully cleaned and lu­bri­cated the pis­tol prior to test­ing for ac­cu­racy. The pis­tol was fired with three loads with which I have en­joyed good re­sults. Fir­ing five-shot groups at 20 yards, the Black Hills Am­mu­ni­tion 124-grain JHP went into 2.6 inches; the Fed­eral Car­tridge Com­pany 147-grain HST, 2.9 inches; and the Winch­ester 127-grain SXT +P+, 2.75 inches. This is ac­cu­rate enough for per­sonal de­fense. I fired these groups braced against the door frame of my Sil­ver­ado. Like most

9mm hand­guns, the Beretta APX Com­pact 9mm will cut a sin­gle ragged hole at 7 yards.


The Beretta gets a clean bill of health for re­li­a­bil­ity and ser­vice-grade ac­cu­racy. The APX Com­pact is good enough that some will pre­fer the piece over other sim­i­lar hand­guns. If is­sued the Beretta APX Com­pact 9mm, I would con­sider my­self wellarmed. The pis­tol needs to be shot and the shooter should groove into the pis­tol and learn how to get the most out of the piece, the same as any other hand­gun. This is a light kick­ing hand­gun that com­ple­ments a trained shooter. Beretta has given us an­other good hand­gun. CC


The APX fea­tures a min­i­mum of con­trols and a crisp trig­ger.

Grip in­serts of var­i­ous sizes are an ad­van­tage of modern poly­mer-frame hand­guns.

A strong re­coil spring and ad­vanced guide as­sem­bly makes for ex­cel­lent con­trol.

Durable and rugged sights may be used to rack the slide in an emer­gency.

The pis­tol fea­tures ex­cel­lent sights.

The pis­tol field stripped into ba­sic com­po­nents.

The Beretta APX and TruGlo com­bat light/laser are a good com­bi­na­tion.

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