BERETTA APX

MOD­U­LAR AND VERY RUGGEDLY BUILT, THE APX IS A DUTY PIS­TOL THAT, WITH A PULL­OUT CHAS­SIS, IS DE­SIGNED TO EVOLVE FOR FU­TURE DE­MANDS.

Gun World - - Contents - By Andy Mas­si­m­il­ian

Mod­u­lar and ruggedly built, the APX is a duty pis­tol that, with a pull­out chas­sis, is de­signed to evolve for fu­ture de­mands.

De­signed to van­quish all com­ers to the Army’s XM17 Mod­u­lar Hand­gun Sys­tem com­pe­ti­tion to re­place the Beretta M9, the APX was one of about a dozen de­signs sub­mit­ted for eval­u­a­tion. Although the Army se­lected the SIG Sauer P320 for its needs, the APX is, none­the­less, a win­ning new de­sign with very good func­tional fea­tures and an ex­cep­tion­ally solid build. Here’s why.

GUN DE­TAILS

“AP” stands for “Ad­vanced Pis­tol”; the “X” is Beretta’s des­ig­na­tion for “poly­mer-framed firearm in­tended for mil­i­tary or LE, such as the PX4, CX4, and ARX,” ac­cord­ing to the com­pany. The full-sized ver­sion was the first out of the gate, but this year, Beretta will launch ad­di­tional APX vari­ants, in­clud­ing a com­pact, Cen­tu­rion, RDO and Com­bat model. RDO mod­els ac­com­mo­date red-dot op­tics, while Cen­tu­ri­ons have full-sized grips but com­pact-length bar­rels. Com­bat mod­els have threaded bar­rels and are RDO-ca­pa­ble. There’s even a late-year Tar­get ver­sion in the works that has a com­pen­sated bar­rel, ad­justable sights and com­pe­ti­tion trig­ger.

The APX is made at Beretta’s flag­ship plant in Gar­done, Italy, and is cham­bered in 9mm Luger or .40 S&W. It is a dou­ble-ac­tion, striker-fired pis­tol that uses the fa­mil­iar mod­i­fied Brown­ing tilt-up bar­rel lock­ing sys­tem. The striker spring is slightly pre-ten­sioned af­ter the slide is cy­cled, and de­press­ing the trig­ger fully cocks and re­leases it, as with Glocks, M&Ps and many oth­ers. The 9mm APX holds 17+1 rounds and is 7.55 inches long, 5.6 inches high, 1.3 inches wide and weighs 26.8 ounces un­loaded. The 4.45-inch bar­rel is ham­mer forged. These di­men­sions are slightly shorter than the Glock G17, but with near-iden­ti­cal bar­rel length and a bit more weight from the APX’s more-prom­i­nent use of steel in­stead of poly­mer.

Like sev­eral of Beretta’s poly­mer-framed firearms, the APX has an ap­pear­ance that de­parts from de­sign or­tho­doxy, with uniquely shaped cock­ing grooves along the en­tire slide and a squared-off trig­ger guard. How­ever, un­like the Neos, PX4 and Cx4 Storm, which were de­signed by Italde­sign Gi­u­giaro (which styles/en­gi­neers for Lam­borgh­ini, Bu­gatti and Audi, among oth­ers), Beretta de­signed the APX in-house; and its un­con­ven­tional ap­pear­ance seems to spring from func­tional rea­sons, not aes­thet­ics, which turned out to be “unglam­orous” to some Amer­i­cans’ sense of style. The slide al­lows the shooter to se­curely grasp it any­where to ma­nip­u­late it, and the squared-off trig­ger guard is in­tended to pro­vide a solid stop for lights, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany.

Beretta in­tends to sell the APX in ev­ery state ex­cept Cal­i­for­nia (where the fool­ish, un­proven tech­nol­ogy of mi­crostamp­ing is man­dated for all new hand­gun de­signs) and Mas­sachusetts (be­cause of un­cer­tainty in how the at­tor­ney gen­eral could rein­ter­pret the law reg­u­lat­ing which pis­tols may be sold in that state). If de­sired or man­dated, the APX can be or­dered with a loaded cham­ber in­di­ca­tor that sits atop the slide, a

mag­a­zine dis­con­nect safety and/or an am­bidex­trous thumb safety. The safety levers can be in­stalled where the rear take­down pin is now lo­cated with­out per­ma­nent mod­i­fi­ca­tion of any parts.

MOD­U­LAR AD­VAN­TAGE

The APX in­cor­po­rates what I con­sider the fu­ture of firearms de­sign: modularity made pos­si­ble by a re­mov­able chas­sis frame that forms the slide rails and con­tains the trig­ger, sear, disconnector, ejector and slide stop levers. The chas­sis frame is the se­ri­al­ized part, which de­fines the firearm for le­gal pur­poses. Its re­mov­abil­ity en­ables the user to con­fig­ure a sin­gle firearm into mul­ti­ple weapons in dif­fer­ent cal­ibers and in dif­fer­ent sizes of pis­tol—and even into a ri­fle. Es­sen­tially, the pull­out chas­sis will en­able the APX to evolve for the ev­er­chang­ing de­mands of the con­sumer.

THE APX IN­COR­PO­RATES WHAT I CON­SIDER THE FU­TURE OF FIREARMS DE­SIGN: MODULARITY MADE POS­SI­BLE BY A RE­MOV­ABLE CHAS­SIS FRAME THAT FORMS THE SLIDE RAILS AND CON­TAINS THE TRIG­GER, SEAR, DISCONNECTOR, EJECTOR AND SLIDE STOP LEVERS.

It also makes a thor­ough clean­ing eas­ier than on some non-mod­u­lar de­signs, on which com­po­nents are at­tached with pins and a de­tailed strip is re­quired to clean and in­spect them.

Beretta of­fers dif­fer­ent sizes of grip frames, slide/bar­rel as­sem­blies and per­haps a .45 ACP ver­sion in the fu­ture, but a ri­fle con­fig­u­ra­tion, such as the shoul­der stock and bar­rel that trans­formed the Neos pis­tol into a car­bine, is not yet on the hori­zon. In­ter­est­ingly, the APX and the SIG P320 were the only truly mod­u­lar pis­tols sub­mit­ted to the Army’s tri­als, be­cause other de­signs merely of­fered in­ter­change­able back­straps or grip pan­els.

The re­mov­able chas­sis frame also saves FFL trans­fer fees and pa­per­work and al­lows grip frames to be cus­tom­ized and gun-smithed with­out fear of ru­in­ing the se­ri­al­ized com­po­nent if the project goes awry. The Beretta on­line store sells full-sized grip frames in three dif­fer­ent col­ors, each with a match­ing set of back­straps, for only $50. Users also save the sub­stan­tial fed­eral ex­cise tax as­so­ci­ated with buy­ing a com­plete firearm. Fi­nally, a cus­tom firearm can be made with­out the has­sle and mul­ti­tude of le­gal re­stric­tions that ap­ply to ship­ping and han­dling a non-mod­u­lar firearm. The chas­sis frame is made of stamped stain­less steel, and the in­ter­nal parts are at­tached to it by pins, rather than welds, for easy re­moval and re­place­ment. The frame is at­tached to the grip by a sin­gle roll pin at the rear and by the take­down lever in the front (it is re­mov­able with­out spe­cial tal­ent; but re­fer to the Gun World web­site for a video that will save you time).

LIKE SEV­ERAL OF BERETTA’S POLY­MER-FRAMED FIREARMS, THE APX HAS AN AP­PEAR­ANCE THAT DE­PARTS FROM DE­SIGN OR­THO­DOXY, WITH UNIQUELY SHAPED COCK­ING GROOVES ALONG THE EN­TIRE SLIDE AND A SQUARED-OFF TRIG­GER GUARD.

CON­STRUC­TION QUAL­ITY

Re­li­able engi­neer­ing and ro­bust con­struc­tion seem to have driven this pis­tol’s de­sign, with steel used in places other mak­ers use poly­mer; this in­cludes the re­coil spring guide rod, sights and slide back plate. The steel parts, in­clud­ing the bar­rel, are ni­tride treated for a harder, cor­ro­sion-re­sis­tant fin­ish. The bar­rel is cold ham­mer forged, mak­ing it among the most durable types made and typ­i­cally out­lasts bar­rels made us­ing other meth­ods. The grip frame is a fiber­glass-poly­mer mix­ture that is thicker than com­pet­i­tive mod­els in some ar­eas. A throated cham­ber en­sures re­li­able feed­ing of hol­low-point bul­lets, and a wide ex­trac­tor made of heat-treated steel makes ex­trac­tion more cer­tain. The APX also uses dual re­coil springs that, ac­cord­ing to Beretta, “of­fer the best com­bi­na­tion of per­for­mance and ease of ma­nip­u­la­tion with­out the need for a spe­cial pro­gres­sive rate spring.”

The parts’ fit and fin­ish are very good, with only a hint of ma­chine tool marks be­tween some of the slide ser­ra­tions; these marks have no bear­ing on func­tion.

ER­GONOMICS

The APX of­fers very good er­gonomics for right- and left­handed op­er­a­tors, start­ing with three dif­fer­ent-sized back­straps de­signed to pro­vide com­fort and a close-to-ideal po­si­tion­ing of the fin­ger on the trig­ger (although my hands are medium sized, the large back­strap gave me the best grip). In­ter­change­able back­straps are hardly new, but Beretta’s ex­e­cu­tion of the con­cept is far bet­ter than most of its com­peti­tors’ be­cause the ma­te­rial is flex­i­ble rub­ber, not hard plas­tic. Plus, the grips add length and width, and the tex­ture af­fords a good mix of com­fort and ad­he­sion. The front of the grip fea­tures wide, shal­low fin­ger grooves with very good tex­ture; and for those whose fin­gers don’t fit the grooves, Beretta of­fers grip frames with­out them.

The mag­a­zine re­lease but­ton sits at an ideal spot for the thumb of the fir­ing hand and is eas­ily re­versible to the other side—more so than on some other de­signs.

Slide lock levers are bi­lat­eral and ac­ces­si­ble with the thumb. Although smaller and sit­ting closer to the frame than I pre­fer, the APX’s levers are bet­ter than those on Glock and M&P, which are en­tirely too small and sit too close to the frame to be ac­ces­si­ble un­der stress or if wear­ing any­thing heav­ier than

very lightweight gloves. And ac­ces­si­ble, eas­ily worked levers are im­por­tant, es­pe­cially when the slide should be locked open to read­ily clear a dou­ble-feed stop­page.

The APX comes with night sights us­ing the typ­i­cal three-dot pat­tern, and the RDO model also ac­cepts re­flex op­tics on the slide. Dove­tail mounts al­low for drift­ing ad­just­ments.

One of the bet­ter, al­beit sub­tle, fea­tures of this pis­tol is the trig­ger shoe shape, which dispenses with pop­u­lar notions of what a “com­bat trig­ger” needs to be. Much wider than most de­signs to re­duce the per­ceived weight of pull, the APX’s smooth-faced trig­ger shoe gives a feel­ing of bet­ter con­trol than the typ­i­cally nar­rower, grooved-faced trig­ger. My sam­ple had a to­tal pull weight of 6 pounds, 2 ounces, mea­sured with a Ly­man elec­tronic gauge. There was some takeup, a sig­nif­i­cant amount of creep typ­i­cal of dou­ble-ac­tion striker mech­a­nisms and some over-travel—which should be re­moved if Beretta de­cides to change any­thing on this pis­tol.

One as­pect of the APX I did not like was the grad­ual thick­en­ing of the trig­ger guard near the grip, which made the un­der­side of my trig­ger fin­ger drag as it pressed rear­ward on the trig­ger. It wasn’t dras­tic enough to be an an­noy­ance; how­ever, it is eas­ily fixed with a Dremel tool. A Beretta rep ex­plained to me that this was added to the de­sign be­cause the fabric on some gloves could be­come stuck un­der the trig­ger with­out it.

FIELD-STRIP­PING

Take­down of striker-fired pis­tols with pre-ten­sioned strik­ers of­ten re­quires pulling the trig­ger, which al­lows the slide assem­bly to move for­ward off the frame with­out catch­ing onto the sear. That can cre­ate a haz­ard for the care­less and ig­no­rant, who don’t al­ways check the cham­ber for a round (is

any­one still around who would do that?). This haz­ard can be avoided with the APX, be­cause it can be dis­as­sem­bled in two ways: One in­volves pulling the trig­ger, and the other in­volves dis­en­gag­ing the sear from the striker. The lat­ter method is time-con­sum­ing and re­quires dex­ter­ity, and I sus­pect it won’t be used that of­ten as a re­sult.

With this method, re­tract the slide slightly and hold it. Then press a small, spring-loaded but­ton (the “striker de­ac­ti­va­tion”) on the right side of the frame in­ward with a nail or pen point. De­press the take­down lever left­ward, ro­tate it down, and pull the slide for­ward, off the chas­sis rails. The sim­pler method is to ver­ify the cham­ber is clear, press and ro­tate the take­down lever, keep the pis­tol pointed in a safe di­rec­tion and pull the trig­ger, al­low­ing the slide to be re­moved. Re­mov­ing the mag­a­zine is re­quired as step one in ei­ther pro­ce­dure.

RANGE TIME

I tested the APX for accuracy by shoot­ing three dif­fer­ent loads at 20 yards from sand­bags and then for re­li­a­bil­ity with three more. My sam­ple pis­tol shot 1 to 2 inches lower than point of aim, be­cause the sights were reg­u­lated to place the shot un­der the white dot of the front sight, in­stead of just above the front sight’s top edge. This is con­sis­tent with how SIG Sauer pis­tols are sighted, and Beretta sells two types of ad­justable sights with fiber-op­tic in­serts for those who pre­fer a dif­fer­ent sight pic­ture (I in­tend to buy one for mine and use an MGW Sight Pro Tool to re­place them).

The APX did not de­liver the type of accuracy I ex­pected—but nei­ther is it an in­ac­cu­rate pis­tol. The av­er­age-sized group of eight at­tempts for each load fired from a rest at 20 yards ranged from 2.28 to 2.57 inches. Off-hand per­for­mance might be im­proved by re­plac­ing the stock trig­ger with Beretta’s com­pe­ti­tion trig­ger and by re­mov­ing the trig­ger’s over-travel. Re­li­a­bil­ity was flaw­less, with zero stop­pages in more than 300 rounds tested.

Beretta’s at­ten­tion to craft­ing the APX’s grip de­sign re­sulted in a pis­tol that is ex­tremely easy to point and easy to con­trol. The wide ra­dius of the trig­ger guard’s un­der­cut, shal­low fin­ger grooves

ONE OF THE BET­TER, AL­BEIT SUB­TLE, FEA­TURES OF THIS PIS­TOL IS THE TRIG­GER SHOE SHAPE, WHICH DISPENSES WITH POP­U­LAR NOTIONS OF WHAT A “COM­BAT TRIG­GER” NEEDS TO BE.

with tex­ture on the front strap, along with a broad back­strap, all worked in uni­son to re­duce muz­zle rise, mak­ing per­ceived re­coil feel as if I were shoot­ing a less-pow­er­ful cal­iber.

One-handed shoot­ing was also far eas­ier than with many other pis­tols I have tested. This makes the APX a pis­tol you can spend lots of time shoot­ing with­out ex­pe­ri­enc­ing any de­gree of hand fa­tigue from re­coil. Although the smaller slide lock levers had me con­cerned, I could ma­nip­u­late the dom­i­nant-side lever, even when wear­ing medium-weight gloves. Plus, ju­di­ciously bend­ing the levers slightly out­ward im­proved ac­ces­si­bil­ity. Fully loaded mag­a­zines locked in place eas­ily, even with the slide closed, mak­ing tac­ti­cal reloads on the move more fluid.

BERETTA GOT IT RIGHT

I would have liked bet­ter accuracy, bet­ter-reg­u­lated sights and a trig­ger with­out over­travel (which the APX com­pe­ti­tion

ver­sion might pro­vide)—but that didn’t stop me from buy­ing two APXs for my range.

Beretta got many de­sign as­pects cor­rect and suc­ceeded in craft­ing a duty pis­tol that won’t be out­dated soon. Yes, the Army pre­ferred the SIG Sauer P320 for its re­quire­ments, but the APX could be ideal for yours, as a re­sult of its good er­gonomics and ex­cep­tional com­fort and con­trol dur­ing live fire.

Its heavy-duty con­struc­tion prom­ises dura­bil­ity over the long run that will likely eclipse other poly­mer-framed pis­tols when shoot­ing a steady diet of the +P NATO loads for which it was in­tended. Its mod­u­lar chas­sis is the wave of the fu­ture, with ben­e­fits that will be­come ob­vi­ous as Beretta rolls out dif­fer­ent slide/bar­rel as­sem­blies and per­haps even to­tally new plat­forms in which it can be used.

Fi­nally, with an MSRP of $575 and a street price of about $500, the APX is ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive, given its qual­ity and fea­tures. GW

RE­LI­ABLE ENGI­NEER­ING AND RO­BUST CON­STRUC­TION SEEM TO HAVE DRIVEN THIS PIS­TOL’S DE­SIGN, WITH STEEL USED IN PLACES OTHER MAK­ERS USE POLY­MER ...

The mod­u­lar Beretta APX is the wave of the fu­ture … and it looks the part. (Photo: Beretta)

The grip has a very work­able sur­face tex­ture. The fin­ger grooves are com­fort­able—much more so than the Glock Gen3. If de­sired, the mag re­lease is easy to ac­cess and read­ily switched to the right side.

The ser­ra­tions on the slide might look odd to some, but they are 100 per­centfunc­tional, rather than cos­metic. You can rack the slide by plac­ing your hand any­where along it. Note theslide stop lever that can be made more prom­i­nent and eas­ier to ac­ti­vate bybend­ing it out­ward.

The APX, bro­ken down to its main com­po­nents. Note the dual re­coil springs held cap­tive on a steel guide rod.

Sev­eral dif­fer­ent grip frame cov­ers, along with match­ing back­straps, can be or­dered on­line for$50 (MSRP) and in­clude the mag re­lease but­ton.Some lack fin­ger grooves to suit users’ pref­er­ences. The long, metal tab locks the strap into the grip frame.

The wide, slightly curved back­strap is one of the APX’s de­sign fea­tures that re­duces per­ceived re­coil.

You’re look­ing at the ac­tual firearm—as far as the ATF sees it. This re­mov­able stain­less chas­sis makes the APX mod­u­lar, and the se­rial num­ber is stamped on both sides.

As on the Beretta 92 and Chee­tah, the APX’s fir­ing pin block moves up­ward as the trig­ger is pressed, al­low­ing the striker to move for­ward. Shown is the FPB in its up­ward­most po­si­tion with the trig­ger fully de­pressed. Fir­ing pin blocks are com­mon but are not of­ten vis­i­ble. By show­ing move­ment that is vis­i­ble, the op­er­a­tor knows it is not stuck in the de­ac­ti­vated po­si­tion—which is po­ten­tially danger­ous.

To­ward the rear of the frame are two pins. The for­ward­most pin is not a pin; it’s ac­tu­ally thestriker de­ac­ti­va­tion but­ton. De­press­ing this but­ton de-cocks the striker, al­low­ing the slide assem­bly to be re­moved. Pulling the trig­ger alsoworks and is an eas­ier step for the safe­ty­con­scious shooter who clears the cham­ber andkeeps the pis­tol safely di­rected.

As on many re­cent Beretta of­fer­ings, the visual de­sign— in par­tic­u­lar, the slide, in the case of the APX—is very dif­fer­ent from any­thing else on the mar­ket. When­ever some­thing is dif­fer­ent, it’s go­ing to in­voke “love it or leave it” feel­ings.

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