SIG SAUER set the standard for modularity with their P320. Not to be outdone — although they were for the Army’s MHS (Modular Handgun System) contract — Beretta has released their first-ever full-size semi-automatic striker-fired pistol: the APX. Like the P320, the Beretta’s APX has an internal serialized chassis that accommodates grip frame housings of various colors and sizes, while remaining simple to disassemble and maintain. Has Beretta taken the trend to the next level?
The APX ships with two 17-round magazines. The package comes complete with small, medium and large interchangeable backstraps, a branded magazine-loader and the obligatory cable lock.
Reflecting Beretta’s desire to carve out a significant piece of the U.S. law enforcement and operator market, the first APX’s out of the gate are full-sized models chambered in 9mm and .40 S&W. A .45 and a compact frame model will follow. All sport full-length, prominent slide serrations.
Those vertical, widely-spaced stripes are a matter of taste aesthetically, but they’re perfectly practical. The nose-to-tail serrations enable a sure grip no matter how or where you grab the gun. You can also use them against any solid surface — shoe, belt, wooden plank — to cock the pistol. How operator is that?
Less tactical: that little button highlighted above. If you object to having to pull the trigger before field stripping your striker-fired pistol (*cough* GLOCK *cough*) you can depress the APX’s striker deactivation button (using a pen or .223 round or whatever is at hand) to release the striker.
That’s not something you’ll be doing in a hurry or under fire. Or when you don’t have a pen or a spare .223 round. But for those of you who don’t like having to pull a trigger to take down a striker-fired gun, it’s a great option.
Then again, you could just clear the APX and pull the G-D trigger. And with a glove-friendly take-down lever that’s almost as large as a NAA revolver, the rest of the field stripping process couldn’t be quicker or easier.
Beretta designed those flared mags base plates to make it easier to yank if the gun or mag malfunctions (with its full-size handle, our mags dropped free and clear every time). The gun’s grip texture is just right; suitably sticky, but won’t shred your hands.
While the mag release isn’t ambidextrous, it can easily be reversed for lefties. The magazine-release button’s extended teardrop shape makes it an easy reach for even the most Tyrion Lannister of small-handed shooters among us. A category that includes your humble correspondent. With the slimmest backstrap installed, the APX was the first full-size pistol where I didn’t have to adjust my grip to reach the release and drop a magazine.
There’s plenty of room inside the trigger guard to operate while wearing gloves. The APX’s surprisingly good double-action-only trigger has a 6-pound pull weight with a short, very tactile (and audible) reset. After 500 rounds of range fun, I can say that the APX sports one of the best striker-fired triggers I’ve tried. Period.
The slide and barrel are both nitride finished for durability.
The simple, modular design make disassembly exceptionally quick and easy.
The chassis lifts out for easy changes to alternate colored and sized polymer frames. The first options — flat dark earth (FDE), olive drab green (ODG) and wolf grey frames — are priced at $50.
Beretta says their ambidextrous slide stops are also intended for use as slide releases in order to speed reloads. In practice, they work as billed. While staying flush against the frame, the release is positioned within easy reach of your thumb and is easy to engage to let you get quickly back into battery.
Beretta uses a proprietary dovetail to mount their three-dot white-dot sights. They’ve made the front-sight dot slightly larger than the rear dots for quicker target acquisition. The squared-off rear sight can also be used to rack the slide in a one-handed situation. At the front of the Beretta APX’s frame is a standard 1913 Picatinny rail to attach a red-dot laser sight, flashlight or tritium night sights.
I was in Virginia last week for a press event during which 12 writers put the APX through its paces. We ran almost seven thousand rounds through our dozen APX Strikers over two days and in that time the only hiccups anyone experienced were two failures to go fully into battery on fresh magazines. No failures to feed, failures to eject, double-feeds or stovepipes.
The only thing we weren’t able to do with our APX pistols was adequately test them for accuracy (although that didn’t appear to be an issue from as much as 7 yards) or fire them with anything but range ammo. We’ve got an APX on the way and will update this review with our findings.
Beretta put years of work into their first duty-sized striker-fired pistol, and the effort shows in virtually every aspect of the gun’s design and performance. This is a supremely reliable, eminently shootable pistol. You have to think it will be an extremely popular new option for law enforcement and other agencies as well as those in the market for an affordable, reliable home- or self-defense gun. The APX is bound to give its competitors a serious run for their money.
Overall length: 7.56 inches
Barrel length: 4.25 inches
Overall width: 1.3 inches
Overall height: 5.6 inches
Sight radius: 6.3 inches
Magazine capacity: 17+1 rounds
Weight with empty magazine: 26.8 oz.
Trigger pull weight: 6 lbs.
Ratings (out of five stars):
Ergonomics: * * * * *
Beretta got input on the APX from literally hundreds of military and LEO types during the design process in an attempt to end up with a gun that works for the vast majority of shooters. Mission accomplished. Everything from trigger performance to grip texture to control placement is spot on.
Style: * * *
It may not win any beauty contests, but what duty-size gun has? Style is very much in the eye of the beholder. Some find those widely spaced serrations not their cup of tea. In the end, who really cares? The APX is a tool designed to do a job.
Carry and Concealabilty: * * *
This is a big pistol so concealment will, of course, be a challenge. If you’re someone who’s OK toting a G17, M&P9 or 4.5″ XD(M), you won’t have any problem carrying an APX. Several holsters are available on the Beretta website.
Reliability: * * * * *
Along with its ergos, this is where the APX really stood out over two full days of shooting the guns. Thousands of rounds fired with only two failures to go fully into battery.
Overall: * * * * *
All of the extensive design work that went into this gun is on full display in its excellent reliability, ergonomics and shootability. The APX is a top flight duty-size handgun.
UPDATE: We’ve since tested the APX with half a half dozen different personal defense rounds from Hornady, Remington, Federal Premium and Winchester totaling about 250 rounds. We didn’t experience a single failure to feed, fire or eject. Nothing that would change the five-star reliability or overall ratings above. This Beretta pistol is one great gun.