I followed the Army’s little subcompact weapon competition closely, and like many, I thought the SIG MPX series would sweep it. SIG seems to be the go-to company with the United States military these days.
In addition to SIG, saw competitors in the subcompact competition including CZ, PTR, HK, Beretta, and B&T. I was pleasantly surprised the B&T APC9K won. I was even more pleasantly surprised by the gun when I got my hands on one.
B&T, or Brugger and Thomet, is a Swiss firm that’s made waves with some very high-quality SMGs and subguns alongside a neat integrally suppressed pistol and a series of carbines. Speaking of Carbines, APC9K stands for Advanced Police Carbine 9mm, Kurz. Kurz means short in German. This is one of those super small subguns that have become popular as of late.
APC9K and Finding Purpose
The barrel is only 4.3 inches long. That gives you the ballistics of a full-sized handgun in a subgun package. The advantage to guns like the APC9K isn’t some kind of extra velocity, but it’s easier to control when fired rapidly and extends your effective range to an impressive degree. With a brace or with a tax stamp and stock, the gun is quite large. Small enough to be easily used in and out of vehicles and in extremely close quarters, but too big for AIWB carry certainly.
My wife loves guns like this and uses one for home defense. It’s short and light, and she can handle it with a single arm if need be. Plus, with the addition of a suppressor, it’s still much shorter than a traditional carbine or shotgun. A suppressed subgun makes for a very effective home defense gun. Toss a light, a red dot, and a can on, and you have a very effective weapon for dealing with two-legged vermin.
There is also something to be said about fun guns. PCCs and subguns like this are some of the most fun at the range. I’ve had a blast with the APC9K over several hundred rounds.
The APC9K won’t light the world on fire with its operating system. It’s a simple straight blowback gun. This requires a hefty bolt and stiff spring for safe function, and you feel it. Without my adornments, the APC9K weighs 6.7 pounds. A lot of that weight is that big heavy bolt and aluminum upper receiver.
The short little handguard offers you some M-LOK slots with rails on the sides and one on the bottom. Just enough room for a light. Over the top, we have plenty of space for an optic and a 12 o clock light if you roll that way.
B&T serializes the upper receiver, so that’s the legal firearm. If you want, you can swap the lowers, and B&T makes GLOCK and P320 lowers. The aftermarket has also produced a Scorpion lower, and if there’s enough demand, I’ll reach out and try to get one for evaluation. We all love our Scorpion mags.
There is a multitude of brace options, and this one has a telescopic brace with a Tail Hook brace. SB Tactical also makes one. There are numerous adapters out there to use ACR stocks, 1913 rails, and beyond. In short, you have options.
Taking this thing apart isn’t hard. Two captive pins hold the upper and lower together. A separate pin holds the bolt inside the gun, and it pops out easily enough. The upper, lower, and rear plate/brace all come apart, and the gun is remarkably simple. Cleaning and lubricating are easy.
Inside we see the hydraulic buffer system B&T is famous for. This buffer takes all the sting out of the blowback-operated system. It does so without needing a receiver extension as well.
On the Outside
B&T certainly impressed me with the ergonomics of this gun. It’s completely ambidextrous. I mean truly ambidextrous and not merely reversible. The safety, magazine release, and bolt release are all ambidextrous. The charging handle sits above the barrel, and the handles fold out of the way when they aren’t needed.
They are non-reciprocating and quite nice. Behind them, we get two sling loops which are also ambidextrous. I read Nick’s review of the APC9, and it looks like they listened and removed most of his gripes. The safety is massive and easy to accentuate. The pistol grip can be swapped with other AR-15 grips, but I see no reason to do so. The bolt lock is also a fair bit different from the old APC9. Ergonomically B&T did a fantastic job.
Do looks matter? Well, if they do, the APC9K scores high.
It’s a great-looking weapon and reminds me of early 1990s action flicks. Remember when the bad guys were European terrorists with high-end weaponry? That’s exactly where the APC9K belongs. It’s sleek, stylish, and well put together.
At the Range
Oh my, the trigger on the APC9K is impressive. It’s actually very nice, especially compared to other subguns like the Scorpion. It’s light, smooth, and very short. Such a trigger makes accurate shots easy but also makes quick and easy double-taps a possibility. Short triggers are faster to pull, and light triggers are going to help with dispersion between rounds 1 and 2.
Speaking of accuracy, I was remarkably impressed with the gun. With an Aimpoint TL mounted, I reached started at 25 yards and moved all the way to 100 yards. Even at 100 yards, I was constantly dinging steel targets. I typically consider these to be 50-yard guns, but the APC9K makes it easy to hit a 10-inch gong at 100 yards.
Typically a blowback-operated gun has some serious recoil, well nit serious, but more than you’d expect from a 9mm. However, I think the B&T’s internal hydraulic recoil buffer system does a fantastic job of reducing recoil. The gun doesn’t move and barely bucks.
6.7 pounds of gun helps keep the gun quite controllable. I could rapidly fire with the APC9K, and the red dot barely moved between shots. I could keep a string of rapid-fire in the A-zone of an IPSC target easily.
Bang and Pew
All those ambidextrous ergonomics are nice once it goes live fire. You can swap shoulders and play operator without missing a beat. My left-handed friend certainly appreciated feeling like a normal person at the range with the APC9K.
I tossed a Hybrid 46M on the threaded barrel and lit off a few hundred rounds. Not a single issue. Heck, the gun still felt well balanced, with a can hanging off the end of the gun. I had zero issues with gas blowback in my face, and the gun ran reliably. Admittedly inside the gun, the magazine was absolutely filthy after some time with a suppressor.
Honestly, guns this short are natural suppressor hosts. In fact, if you don’t plan on suppressing the gun, the longer APC9 might be for you. It gives a little more oomph to the little 9mm round with its longer barrel. However, if you are like me and love guns that are short and sweet, you might just like it for that reason. I know I do. I love this little gun and think B&T did an amazing job compacting the APC9.
Specifications: B&T APC9K
Barrel Length – 4.3 inches (5.4 with tri lug adapter)
Overall Length – 13.6 inches
Weight – 6.7 pounds
Caliber – 9mm
Capacity – 30 rounds
MSRP – $ 2,505 (about $2,200 street price)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Ergonomics * * * * *
Hot dog did B&T do a fantastic job designing the weapon. They’ve made some real improvements to the old B&T APC9K. The fully ambidextrous controls, the massive size, and the easily accessible nature make these a winner.
Accuracy * * * * *
I’d argue the B&T ACP9K is the most accurate subgun I’ve ever handled. Not just at long range, but with rapid-fire. You can hit targets easily out to 100 yards in an unsupported standing position. When you get up, close the buffer system reduces recoil and makes staying on target easily.
Reliability * * * * *
Not a single issue with the gun, the mag, or when running with a suppressor. It’s an extremely well-made gun, and it shows. Regardless of the ammo type, it goes bang when the trigger is pulled.
Bang For Your Buck * * *
Ooh boy, it’s a great gun, but man, oh man, is it an expensive gun. At 2,200 bucks, it won’t be for everyone. Yet, you do get a fantastic gun.
Overall * * * * ½
The APC9K is a great gun that’s held back only by a big price tag. However, after my time demo-ing and testing the gun, I love it regardless of the price point and will likely buy one. And the one I buy might be the GLOCK model for the cheaper mags. I’d gladly trust it for home defense and would feel comfortable using it in that role with a suppressor and a mag full of 147-grain JHPs.