As I walked onto the range this morning, the RSO asked me what I was shooting. “Just a couple sub guns” was my response. “Show me!” He was a little bored — there was no one else on there given the rainy weather, and I figured he just wanted to talk a little shop. So I plopped down my rifle bag and pulled out the two guns I had with me. He immediately recognized the MPX, but when I pulled out the second one and announced that it was made by Brugger & Thomet he immediately responded, “Who?” I’ve been getting that a lot with this gun, which is unfortunate given how truly awesome it is . . .
Those who know H&K guns know B&T (formerly “Brugger & Thomet” until the T in B&T left recently). The Swiss company manufactures most of the iconic silencers for H&K’s line of military and police firearms, some of which are rebranded as H&K products when they ship out as part of a contract. B&T has mostly been in the business of firearms accessories since their founding in 1991, but starting in 2004 they moved into the design and production of their own line of guns. Their first truly new gun (they previously bought the rights to the Steyr TMP and sold it as the B&T MP9) is the APC9, a pistol caliber sub gun designed to compete against the likes of SIG’s MPX and CZ’s Scorpion EVO 3.
While B&T has a pedigree among those who know their gun companies the way most people know their sports teams, there’s not really a whole lot of brand recognition here in the US market right now. SIG SAUER and CZ are known quantities, but B&T is a recent entry. Their US offices still smell of fresh paint and the shipping containers for their first run of APC9 and APC45 firearms remain mostly untouched. Note the serial number on this gun — the 73rd brought into the country. B&T has an uphill battle if they want to make a splash in the American market, but given the superb quality of their product, that shouldn’t take long.
I’ve been doing this whole “gun reviewer” thing for a while now, and one of the things I’m starting to realize is that to a certain extent, you can feel the difference between the quality of two firearms just by picking them up. The difference between the Scorpion and MPX, for example, is fairly obvious given that one is made from relatively rough plastic and the other is a more traditional coated aluminum. Working the actions of both you can feel that one is machined with a little more care than the other. For those who thought the difference between those two guns was rather large, the difference between a Scorpion and an APC9 is like the difference between a Model T and a Ferrari F12.
The fit and finish on this gun is exquisite. On every part of the gun, the external coating is silky smooth, even the internal rails that guide the bolt back and forth. The result is that working the action feels like you’re rubbing two pieces of lubricated Teflon against each other — not one bit of grit or roughness whatsoever. Everything comes together in a precise package with zero slop and not a bit of wobble anywhere. It just feels so solid.
The caveat for B&T giving me access to review these guns is that I needed to fire them in full auto. No complaints here! They wanted me to understand why they made certain design decisions, and to do that you need to fire the gun as it was intended to be used. Semi-auto is cool, but this gun was born to run.
That’s where the other interesting design feature comes into play: its hydraulic buffer. Instead of simply relying on the return spring to arrest the heavy straight blowback-activated bolt B&T designed a buffer in the rear of the gun to soak up the remaining recoil. That feature extends the recoil impulse over a longer period of time, which means less felt recoil (and more controllability) for the same amount of energy being transferred. I gotta say…it really does work.
Add to all that the fact that the gun is cool. Really, really cool. But the question is whether she’s worth the price. CZ’s pistol caliber thing is $849 MSRP. SIG’s MP5 replacement is $1,378. For this piece of Swiss mechanical art, B&T is commanding the princely sum of $2,250. You could buy both an MPX and a Scorpion for less than one APC9. Of course the same could be (and frequently is) said of Wilson Combat’s masterpieces or LaRue’s surgical instruments. Is the APC9 worth that extra cash? Stay tuned.