Gun Review: Compare and Contrast the Beretta APX RDO, Centurion, and Compact Models

Beretta APX

Last year TTAG editor Dan Zimmerman was able to spend some quality time with the Beretta APX. His review of the gun laid out the basics, including the modular serialized chassis system and the overall excellent ergonomics of the gun. TTAG’s been looking for a deeper dive into the performance of the platform ever since, particularly now that they’ve expanded the line.

Beretta decided to up the ante and sent us all three sizes of the APX, to include the new APX RDO, Centurion and Compact models, as well as an extended magazine, threaded barrel, and a Beretta branded IWB holster for review. As I did with the Beretta PX4 series, I was able to compare and contrast each model.

Dan liked the APX a lot. With all three models, I found there’s a whole lot to like.

Gun Review Beretta APX Centurion Compact Striker Fired Pistol

The full-sized RDO version has the overall dimensions you’d expect from a duty gun. Take a look at Dan’s review to go over that in detail. The RDO’s slide is a teeny tiny bit wider than the original APX, measuring 1.5 instead of 1.33″.

The Centurion model has a barrel length of 3.,7″, half an inch shorter than the full-size APX RDO. It’s also half an inch shorter in overall height, and 1.24oz lighter. It’s a tad bit smaller overall.

Interestingly enough, the Compact version’s slide is exactly the same as the Centurion’s. As in, EXACTLY the same. Swap the slides between the Centurion and the Compact and you won’t know the difference.

The Compact version just has a shorter grip, sacrificing two rounds in the magazine for a total of 13 compared to the Centurion’s 15. That’s it, the height difference between the Compact and the Centurion is not even half an inch.

Gun Review Beretta APX Centurion Compact Striker Fired Pistol

The full-sized RDO (above) fits my size large hands with room to spare. The Centurion’s grip fits, with all of the last finger of my firing hand completely on the grip, but just barely.

Gun Review Beretta APX Centurion Compact Striker Fired Pistol

The Compact version (above) also fits my entire hand, but the bottom of my last finger is overhanging the grip just a tiny amount. Folks with medium-sized gloves or smaller would have no problem getting their entire hand fully on the Compact’s grip.

Gun Review Beretta APX Centurion Compact Striker Fired Pistol

Internally, the only difference, other than the shorter dimensions of the Centurion and Compact models, is that those have a very slightly different recoil system. The shorter slide models have two different spring systems and the full-size APX RDO has one, although they are both captured spring guide rods. For some reason, the bases of the Centurion and Compact guide rod assembly are larger than the full-size APX RDO as well.

Gun Review Beretta APX Centurion Compact Striker Fired Pistol

Just like the full-sized APX RDO, both the Centurion and Compact models come with multiple easily replaceable back straps. Like most of the APX’s counterparts, these back straps help fill voids in your hand, but primarily serve to alter the length of pull.

The new Centurion and Compact models carry the exact same sights as the full-sized APX. In my rarely humble opinion, the stock sights are just OK. The fact that they’re not bright fiber optic or night sights for any duty gun or any pistol designed for EDC is a mistake. However, Beretta does offer tritium sights through their website. Since the APX uses a proprietary dove-tail, these are your only out-of-the-box options for now.

Gun Review Beretta APX Centurion Compact Striker Fired Pistol

The ledge on the rear sight looks like it was designed for one-hand slide manipulation, allowing the rear sight to catch on a belt or pocket, but the design didn’t go far enough. It’s not quite high enough. Although I was able to get the sight to catch some of the time, it certainly wasn’t regular enough to count on, especially under stress.

Gun Review Beretta APX Centurion Compact Striker Fired Pistol

This APX RDO shipped red-dot ready, with the rear slide cut and multiple base plates included. The Centurion and Compact models don’t yet have that option. The RDO also has an MSRP that’s $125 more the standard APX, or either of the Centurion or Compact models. You could have any of the models milled for the optic of your choice, of course, but I doubt you could do it for only $125.

Note, because what I assume is the striker block actually presses above and out of the slide when the trigger is fully depressed, extra care will need be taken when cutting the slide. Make sure you’re smith is aware of this particular aspect of the series before sending it in.

Gun Review Beretta APX Centurion Compact Striker Fired Pistol

Dan wasn’t able to fully test the reliable function of the APX during his weekend with the gun. It took a while, but I certainly was. I keep a big bag of “loosies”. Those are the rounds left over in boxes when I’m done shooting and don’t to keep the whole box. Then, when that gallon Ziplock gets full, I shoot it.

It was full at the beginning of this review. It’s empty now. Each of the three pistols got 300 of Remington’s 115gr UMC FMJ rounds, plus whatever was in the bag, and then some. The rounds were from a dozen different manufacturers and included Polycase, surplus steel, and brass cases. They were weights from 100grs to 165 grains, and included flat nosed frangible, ARX shaped bullets, HPs and FMJs of all types.

When using the standard barrels in any of the guns, no matter what they were loaded with, and using any magazine supplied by Beretta, including the extended 21-round magazine they sent me, I had no issues of any kind. None of these guns failed to fire, cycle, lock back on an empty magazine, fail to load, drop the magazine…nothing.

I used standard and +P labeled ammunition. I used ammunition from well-known brands, ammunition from companies that have since become extinct, and ammunition I couldn’t even figure out where it came from, but it looked like 9X19 so I shot it.

Everything on every one of these guns worked every single time. There were at least 2,000 rounds fired in total for this test with the standard barrels, and zero malfunctions of any kind, with any round, and any magazine.

I shot it wet. I shot it muddy. I lubed each gun with RemOil prior to shooting, and never cleaned any of them or lubed any of them again. They performed flawlessly.

Gun Review Beretta APX Centurion Compact Striker Fired Pistol

Unfortunately, the same could not be said when I replaced the standard barrel in the full-sized APX RDO with the threaded barrel supplied by Beretta and put a suppressor on it. To be clear, the gun ran perfectly with the supplied threaded barrel, just not when I put a can on the end of it.

I shot this gun both with an Advanced Armament Company Evolution and a Gemtech GM-9 suppressor. The pistol would fail to fully cycle and load the next round with both cans using the 165gr Freedom Munitions HUSH round. It also had intermittent failures with 147gr round of several varieties with either silencer.

It ran perfectly well with 124gr and 115gr rounds and the Gemtech suppressor, but still failed occasionally with those same rounds through the AAC can.

It should be noted that I only changed the barrel itself in the gun, and made no other changes. No alternate recoil spring was included and none was used. Perhaps this was the issue, as other folks have reported no issues running the gun suppressed. Beretta does offer an alternate guide rod assembly for only $25. Their website doesn’t mention that it’s particularly better for suppressed guns.

The poor performance running suppressed is a shame, because the stock sights cleared both silencers, and with subsonic ammunition, the AAC can was particularly quiet. If the “competition” guide rod assembly makes a difference, or another suppressor does, I’d appreciate it if readers would chime in and let us know.

Gun Review Beretta APX Centurion Compact Striker Fired Pistol

When I watched the Beretta APX promotional videos on the Beretta website, they listed a series of criteria their users said were important during the development of the gun. I found it interesting that “accuracy” wasn’t one of the factors their development team included.

Even so, the APX presents good levels of precision across all three sizes. The best-performing combination was the full-size model using the Freedom Munitions 135gr Hollow Point round. This combination resulted in an average 1.5″ five round group for four rounds at 25 yards off bags, but with a lot of variation. That’s the best, but groups just above the 2″ mark were more common for all of the platforms. No group ever hit 3″ on average.

There were some definite trends among all of the guns. Every one of the guns shot heavier rounds better. With the exception of the 165gr Freedom HUSH round, no 115gr bullet outshot a heavier round for a particular gun. No 124gr outshot a heavier round for a particular gun. The 135gr and 147gr bullets shot the best from of any of the guns.

Gun Review Beretta APX Centurion Compact Striker Fired Pistol

Off the bench, the full size gun did shoot slightly better than the two smaller versions, but at 25 yards, just only slightly. The total difference between average group sizes for the same ammunition on the RDO versus the Centurion or Compact was never more than .3 inches, and usually smaller, depending on the ammunition.

Also, there was no measurable difference, down to the 1/10th” between the group sizes of the Centurion vs. the Compact, when averaged out. That really only makes sense, as the slides, sights, and trigger are all the same, and off the bench, that extra 1/2″ of grip makes no difference at all.

There’s no difference in reliability. There’s not much difference in precision. In overall handling, they generally felt the same.

The shot-timer told a different tale entirely.

Gun Review Beretta APX Centurion Compact Striker Fired Pistol

Just like I did with my previous PX4 review, I set up an Action Target PT Tactical Torso steel target, with it’s 4×6 center at 10 yards away. When the timer when off, I drew and shot five rounds. Any strike outside of the square added half a second. Just like before, there were no misses of the entire target. Unlike that PX4 test, I used the supplied Beretta IWB holster for this review, but I didn’t draw from concealment.

With the full-sized APX RDO, I averaged 3.45 seconds. With either the Centurion or the Compact, I averaged half a second slower. That’s a fairly significant percentage. I was both slower to get my first shot out, and, unlike the with the full-sized version, I got points off for missing the center plate much more often with the two smaller guns.

There was not even a .2 second difference in my average scores for the Centurion vs. the Compact. Note that those drills were run after I had put at least 100 rounds through each gun, so I had familiarized myself with them by then. Not my best shooting.

The APX’s trigger pull is fairly long, with a weight of just over 6lbs, no matter what version I was shooting. With the full-size APX, I really struggled to keep the muzzle in line during the full trigger press. With the compact models, I not only struggled between each shot, but I had a hard time finding the front sight upon presenting the gun to the target.

It’s a striker-fired firearm with a long, fairly heavy trigger and a light, easy to move muzzle. That slowed me down, or, when I was getting sloppy, helped push me to pull the trigger on a miss.

Gun Review Beretta APX Centurion Compact Striker Fired Pistol

Beretta supplied me with a Kydex/leather hybrid IWB holster for the review. Unfortunately, the sweat guard on this holster is leather, and not stiff leather so it flops down on top of the gun, making the draw very difficult. I went ahead and just tucked the sweat guard back into my waistband as well. If it was my holster, I’d cut the guard off below the line of the grip.

The longer magazines for the APX RDO, or the extended 21 round magazine provided, worked with all of the small models as well. That means that if you were to carry the smallest model, the Compact, and a single extended magazine, you’d have 35 rounds total available for the gun, assuming you carry one in the chamber.

Gun Review Beretta APX Centurion Compact Striker Fired Pistol

For all three models, all of the controls are the same. Same placement, same feel, everything. The sights on the slide are the same. The slide is the same width on all of them. The serrations are the same (there’s just one more of them on the full-sized model). The grip shape is the same, just not the length. Holsters available from Beretta fit all three pistols.

Beretta did a great job there, making sure that, on the off-chance that the APX is your duty pistol, you could carry an EDC version of the same gun fairly well concealed, and the guns would shoot and feel the same.

Beretta waited a long time to get into the striker-fired duty gun market. They’ve rolled out a solid model, extremely configurable and with tons of after-the-sale product support. They’re a long way away from the market dominance they once held with the 92 series, but it’s still relatively early. With the APX line, they’ve made a strong duty gun as well as great off-duty and EDC pistols to go along with it.

Gun Review Beretta APX Centurion Compact Striker Fired Pistol

Specifications: Beretta APX Pistols

APX RDO
Action: Striker-fired
Barrel length: 4.25
Caliber: 9mm
Magazine Capacity: 17
Overall length: 7.5″
Overall width: 1.5″
Sight radius: 6.1″
Weight unloaded: 33.3oz
Sights: Removable front and rear sights Removable front and rear sights
MSRP: $725

APX Centurion
Action: Striker-fired
Barrel length:3.7″
Caliber: 9X19
Magazine Capacity: 15
Overall height: 5.19″
Overall length: 6.97″
Overall width: 1.30″
Weight unloaded: 27.7oz
Sights: Removable front and rear sights Removable front and rear sights
MSRP: $575

APX Compact
Action: Striker-fired
Barrel length: 3.7″
Caliber: 9X19
Magazine Capacity: 13
Overall height: 4.80″
Overall length: 6.97″
Overall width: 1.30″
Sights: Removable front and rear sights Removable front and rear sights
Weight unloaded:26.4oz
MSRP: $575

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style and Appearance * * *
Super industrial. Most folks I talk to either love it or hate it. All the standard black plastic fantastics look pretty much the same to me.

Customization * * * * *
One of the many nice things about Beretta is that they provide good after-the-sale support and they are in it for the long haul (they’ve been in business almost 500 years). With the serialized chasis system, you can easily swap out the frame. You get multiple backstraps with the gun. There are RDO models, threaded barrels, extended magazines, night sighs, and myriad holsters. Dirt cheap replacement frames (only $50). Really, anything you need for this gun is already available from Beretta.

Reliability * * * * * (and * *)
Any round, any model, all day every day. Unless it was suppressed with the drop-in barrel. I’m still scratching my head at that one, as no one else seem to be reporting the issues I had. That said, I’ve never had any big issue with the multitude of other striker fired 9X19s I’ve tried with those cans.

Accuracy * * * *

With the exception of one particularly good outlier, all of these guns were consistent in their upper middle class status when it come to small groups. Most groups at 25 yards shot just over 2″.

Overall * * * *
The APX was Beretta’s first striker fired pistol. The full-size model was aimed squarely at the law enforcement market. Yes, that is a tough nut to crack, but Beretta’s been at this game a long, long time. As in, their first duty pistols were flintlocks. Now it’s a full line you can feel confident buying into. Right out of the box, they’ve included a modularity not seen in many other pistols, the Sig P320 being the most notable competition. As usual, Beretta brings quality and consistency to the table, and it shows in the wide range of models and accessories for the entire APX line.

comments

  1. avatar Bloving says:

    Personally, I like their look. It seems just about every customers hands I put it into agree it feels great and points naturally. We also came down on the price which is now on par with others like the Smith M&P line. But for some reason, they just aren’t moving off the shelves very fast… yet.
    Maybe this article will give it a little more interest.
    🤠

  2. avatar Michael in KC says:

    Good review. I have both a normal full size and just picked up the compact. I figured id go with the compact over the centurion because i can literally make it a centurion with a 15 rd mag with a sleeve. I havent put a ton of rounds through the compact (1 range trip) but i was shocked how much it felt like the full size. I think the APX is a bit underrated right now cause the p10c had all the buzz when the APX was released, but i think its easily one of thes available and would probably be what i would recommend to others before anything else (although im a big fan of the m&p 2.0 and something about HK vp9s and p30s just work with me and make me look better than i am to make me torn on what i like best).

    Interested to see if the other recoil spring would fix the suppresor issue. I think its a heavier spring so maybe?

  3. avatar Mark says:

    Super impressive reliability given you lubed it with Rem Oil, which isn’t a lube, but rather some shitty form of sewage water that burns off quickly.

  4. avatar Greg says:

    I checked out an older one without the optic cut. Liked how it felt in the hand. I thought the slide could have been more aggressive. BZ to Berreta for the optic ready slide. I ended up purchasing a CZ P10C as it was priced better for my budget.

    1. avatar M1Lou says:

      I also snagged a P-10c as the sub $500 price for what you get is hard to beat. I have handled the APX pistols a few times and they feel great. They fit my hand perfectly. I haven’t shot one yet, but maybe I can rent an APX one of these days.

  5. avatar yolo says:

    what an ugly gun. all they had to do was have some normal rear serrations and “beretta” etched somewhere near the front, maybe bevel the front of the slide to remind people of a 92. but no, they had to be weird and make the slide ribbed like some sort of d*ldo.

    now im willing to shoot ugly guns, but unlike most people on ttags thats not a look im really going for with my firearms. im kidding, love you guys.

  6. avatar Maloy says:

    I own a APX and well over 2,000 rounds down range. I also have a P10C. Both are excellent striker fired guns. The APX trigger did some nice improvement before it got to 800 rounds.

  7. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

    Sorry but no manual safety means “no buy” or use for me. Life’s experience has taught me these types of pistols are accidents waiting to happen because the idiotic trigger safety does not prevent the gun from firing if the trigger is snagged. My P30/s compact has both a long hard double action pull coupled with a manual safety and both these safety features make it highly unlikely I will ever have an accidental discharge. The mechanics of the system prove it beyond all doubt. Try putting a striker fired gun with no manual safety in your coat pocket (unloaded of course) and then see how long it takes it to accidentally trip the striker. It will make a believer out of you very fast.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Thousands of people carry that way in complete safety every day. They use a good holster. Problem solved.

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