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The APX A1 Compact is Beretta’s mid-size addition to their striker-fired, 9mm carry gun market. It has quite a different look than the 92’s I’ve long associated Beretta with, joining the APX family Beretta has worked hard to refine over the last several years.

At 27.7 ounces unloaded with a 3.7-inch barrel, it’s significantly heavier than the smaller APX A1 Carry (3-inch barrel) subcompact with a longer barrel…but a mere 1.3 ounces lighter than the APX A1 Full Size with its 4.25-inch barrel. Being right between both offerings, would Goldilocks consider it “just right?”

Like it’s Bigger APX A1 Full Size brother, Beretta incorporated a number of great features into this gun, including an extended beavertail, interchangeable backstraps, a front red fiber optic front sight, reversible mag release, and an optics-ready slide.

Optics-ready is truly the standard nowadays, but typically costs more than a traditional iron-sight-only pistol. At $499 MSRP — only about $400 retail — the APC A1 Compact is a very handy combination of features for a surprisingly affordable price.

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If I were to describe this pistol in one word, it would be…robust. It’s honestly on the bulky side and heavier than I — someone with a smaller frame — would use for every day carry. Run out of ammo, though, and it could inflict some serious damage as a blunt object.

While the APX A1 Compact’s stippling is aggressive and I greatly appreciate it above and on the magazine release, I would have liked to see more towards the front of the slide. The diagonal slide serrations are aggressive and easy to grab, but are a bit sharp for my liking.

Being able to manipulate the slide in less-than-ideal conditions is important, but press too far into these deep, rectangular indentations and you may feel them a bit too poignantly.

Aside from that mostly cosmetic quibble, the APX A1 Compact’s controls are very easy to manipulate, particularly the slide stop, which is larger than most. Also larger than usual is the serrated combat trigger guard with a high undercut. This leaves lots of room for gloved hands. This extra room comes with a tradeoff — a shorter two-slot Picatinny rail for accessories.

Photo by Alex Gavel

The ambidextrous slide release, reversible magazine release, and interchangeable backstraps scream inclusivity, catering to a wide variety of shooters. The pistol also comes with two magazines, either 10 rounds or 15 depending on state restrictions. (Extended magazines and spacers are available aftermarket.) This is almost double the capacity of the APX A1 Compact, which packs eight rounds.

Concerning concealability, I didn’t have a test holster, but I knew right away this gun was heavier than I’m comfortable carrying on a regular basis. While I’ll trade weight for greater capacity, the 15-round flush mag capacity of the APX A1 Compact mirrors that of a number of other smaller, lighter, striker-fired pistols.

Where this really gun shines is in its reliability and shootability. The extended beavertail kept my hand conveniently out of the way while providing an overt reference point for a proper grip.

I ran several hundred rounds through the pistol, trying different brands and loads, and it didn’t malfunction once. It tore through everything I put through it, though with some mixed results.

Photo by Alex Gavel

Berretta designed the APX A1 Compact for self-defense. Defensive scenarios generally occur at close ranges…usually under ten yards. The APC A1 Compact more than accurate enough in the proper hands to effectively end a threat at those distances. However, this isn’t a match grade pistol and has a fairly spongey trigger.

I shot for groups at 25 yards off a rest with the factory iron sights. While I’m not the best pistol shot in the world, I’m comfortable saying I’m more capable than the average concealed carry permit holder. With that in mind, while I didn’t have any truly stellar groups and I definitely pulled a shot or two, my experience is representative of what the average person may achieve.

My test gun definitely favored Speer’s 124 grain Gold-Dot Personal Protection over the other ammunition I tried. I pulled two shots out of the main group, with eight of ten shots landing in a 2-inch by 1-inch group.

Federal Premium’s 124 grain Law Enforcement Tactical HST also did decently well, yielding a 2.5-inch to 3-inch group. The APX A1 Compact gun didn’t like Federal’s 115 grain American Eagle FMJ range ammo as much. The target looked more like a shotgun pattern than a group compared to the hollow-point personal defense loads.

While the APX A1 Compact has no manual safety, it does have a trigger blade safety, firing pin block, out of battery safety, loaded chamber indicator and a striker deactivation button. This last feature allows you to disassemble the pistol without pulling the trigger.

The APX A1 Compact is an ultra-reliable addition to Beretta’s APX family. While it wouldn’t be my first choice for every day concealed carry, largely due to its weight and capacity combination compared to other compact pistols, it has some intriguing features at a very affordable price.

Specifications: Beretta 9mm APX A1 Compact Pistol

Caliber: 9mm
Magazine Capacity: 15 (10-round and extended mags also available.)
Action: Striker Fired
Frame Material: Polymer
Overall Height: 5.2”
Overall Width: 1.3”
Overall Length: 6.9”
Sight Radius: 5.7”
Barrel Length: 3.7”
Weight Unloaded: 27.7 oz.
MSRP: $499 (about $399 retail)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style: * * * *
The extended beavertail and serrations give this pistol an eye-catching look. Beretta also added some styling to the stippling and index pads. Like its full-size brother, this is an improvement over the original APX design.

Ergonomics: * * * *
The APX A1 Compact is very comfortable in the hand and easy to shoot long shot strings at the range.

Carryability: * * ½
This gun is on the heavier side of the compact 9mm category without offering any greater capacity. It is 4.07 ounces heavier unloaded than an unloaded G19.

Reliability: * * * * *
The APX A1 Compact functioned 100% reliably with no jams or failures to feed over several hundred rounds using a wide variety of range and personal defense ammunition.

Overall: * * * ½
This is a full-featured, reliable option with great features and good ergonomics. That said, it may not be well suited for those who want to carry a lighter firearm. If you are looking for a solid 9mm pistol from a well-respected manufacturer and a very affordable price, the APX A1 Compact is definitely worth a look.

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  1. It looks ok. I’m getting “something” before January 1 to prepare for ILLANNOY Jihad against all gat owner’s. A stasher🙄

  2. They save money by charging extra for optic plates. They could expand their customer base if they would offer a manual safety version. The previous gen full size APX could be retrofitted with a manual safety kit. I assume they’re done offering the APX in .40 cal.

    • I concur- I would have preferred a manual safety. But, being forced to make lemonade out of lemons… at least all of my polymer/striker pistols share the same manual of arms.

  3. Because the striker design. I was wondering why all theses gunms are looking more and more like HiPoints.
    $500 ain’t bad.
    That’s only like filling up your veehickles fuel tank twice.

  4. The APX is one of the most reliable guns I own and nothing can stop it, yet my least favorite Beretta to shoot. The PX4 and 92 are true Berettas by design as the company has never offered a Browning tilt barrel before. This is their mee too gun and should be considered over a Glock.

    • By true Beretta, I mean it has a barrel that remains in a fixed location during the firing cycle; a feature found in every Beretta Cat gun, 92, Px4, 84, 86 w/Tilt loading barrel, etc.

    • Yep- it’s a GLOCK perfected with Italian style and superior ergonomics. The Austrians could learn a lot from Beretta about how to improve their GLOCKs- but it’s simply not in their nature to ever admit their shortcomings…

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