Beretta APX Slickguns Review
The Beretta APX is the world’s oldest gun company’s newest pistol platform, meant to fight with service handguns from the world over in the most important battle of all: the battle for your money. How does it stand up to the competition?
As always, our Slickguns Reviews are broken into six parts: Accuracy, Shootability, Suitability, Maintenance, Abuse, and the Nutshell. We start with accuracy because that’s most important regardless of your intended use for the pistol.
It’s often difficult to find Ransom Rest inserts for new handguns. If you have a Smith & Wesson revolver from 1973, fear not, Ransom has every conceivable configuration covered. If you have the latest carry pistol, well, you might be out of luck. However, when I called Ransom to ask about the APX, they told me they had an insert for the APX Compact, but not the APX. Since I thought there was only one variant of APX, I decided to order the insert and see if it was really for a full size.
This was quite some time ago – last year, in fact – and Beretta has since introduced an APX Compact along with a midsize APX Centurion. As it turns out, though, that “APX Compact” insert was really a full size insert, and I was able to get some solid groups from the APX with the help of the Ransom Rest.
Though the pistol didn’t shoot one-hole groups, the fact that it put every type of ammunition I tried into a group size of 4 inches or less speaks well of the pistol. Keep in mind that these were ten shot groups, not the three shot or five shot groups preferred by some. I have seen other handguns that shot extremely well with one type of ammunition and not well at all with other types, but the Beretta was equally acceptable with all. That means, generally speaking, that you should be able to pick up just about any 9mm ammo and expect it to shoot to point of aim if you have a Beretta APX.
I always start the shootability section with a statement along the lines of, “Well, maybe the pistol is accurate in the Ransom Rest, but once you hold it in your hand and start shooting, you encounter something weird and can’t shoot it very well. However, that wasn’t the case here…”
Except it was the case here. On paper, if you will, I thought the APX had an excellent trigger with a nice reset. When I was shooting, I found myself flinching quite often with the APX, most especially when I transitioned immediately from shooting a different pistol to shooting the Beretta. Handing the pistol off to numerous friends, we observed the same issue there. Something in the way the trigger resets causes us to think that we can move back to pulling or pressing the trigger sooner than we actually can, and the result seems to be that we attempt to yank the trigger with excessive force while our whole hand flinches.
This was rather new to me when shooting with a full size handgun, as I consider myself a decent shot capable of adapting well to new pistols. It was such an issue for me that I spoke with Erik from Beretta about it during the 2018 SHOT Show, and he seemed aware of my complaint, telling me that a new spring – I believe it was a trigger return spring – would alleviate the problem.
It’s also my belief that more trigger time dedicated to the APX would make it go away, as the issue was more pronounced when switching between pistols. Should you choose to shoot the APX more exclusively, I doubt you would think this is much of a problem, even with the stock spring.
Though I didn’t replace the spring in this pistol, I’ll take Erik at his word that a spring swap will make the pistol more shootable. He indicated that the as-shipped spring was intended more to meet military specifications for the MHS contract than to make the pistol as shootable as possible. That made sense to me, because if you look at the mess that was the XM9 handgun trial and specification/requirement list, the organizers seemed bound and determined to make the pistol as user-unfriendly as possible. That something as excellent as the Beretta M9/92FS came out of that debacle is nothing short of a miracle.
One minor complaint regarding shootability which is not related to the trigger is the size of the front sight dot. Outside of XS Big Dot sights, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a large front sight. Were I to purchase an APX, a new set of sights would be my first modification.
I would have no issues recommending the APX for home defense, general range use, or even duty use, depending on your location and environment. It’s a bit wide for concealed carry and I don’t really see it as a competition pistol, but there’s nothing stopping you from using it for those tasks if you so desire.
Luckily, the APX was just like almost every other pistol we’ve tested in that it exhibited no potential maintenance issues, at least none that I saw. It disassembled easily and was easy to clean, although I don’t clean handguns unless I’m forced to.
As the adopted descendant of the M9, if not its direct blood relative, I had high hopes for the APX in our abuse tests. After all, the M9 offers outstanding performance in dust, mud, and water, its many Internet detractors notwithstanding.
Unfortunately, the APX I sampled didn’t perform very well, especially in the mud test. I had hoped that the large ribs on the slide would make racking the pistol when both it and my hands were slick with mud easy, but that wasn’t the case at all. In fact, they did nothing for my ability to rack the slide in that situation, which became necessary when the pistol malfunctioned several times.
Though it was perfectly reliable in fair weather conditions, its performance in the abuse test was, simply put, disappointing.
The Beretta APX presents a quandary for me, as I am in love with the company and am one of the biggest proponents of the M9. Viewed on its own merits as a handgun for the range or home defense, the APX is a fine choice. Viewed in the context of other pistols in the same price range, the APX is a good gun, but it is not a great gun.
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