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Beretta APX A1: Striker-Fired Soluzion



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Beretta pistols have very long and storied history. For some of us, the Model 70 is where Beretta pistols begin. It embodies the classic “Beretta lines,” an Alta Italia blending of the 1911 and P38. Beretta stopped making the Model 70 in 1985, a year after the 92F, the soon to be M9, started production.

The 92F was heavily featured in the Lethal Weapon films, and the M9 carried us through the end of the Cold War, Desert Storm, and early GWOT. However, USASOC isn’t terribly nostalgic, and the Glock 19 replaced the M9 for their purposes — the age of the combat striker-fired pistol had arrived. 

The XM-17 Modular Handgun System (MHS) competition was a U.S. Army competition for a new sidearm, with Big Army sending out Request for Proposals (RFPs) in 2015. Beretta offered an upgrade to the standard M9 but after evaluation of the RFP, it was obvious to Beretta that the Army wanted a striker-fired solution. 

The APX is Beretta’s entry for the MHS competition. First offered commercially in 2016, the Beretta APX series are polymer-framed, modular, striker-fired semi-automatic pistols. Jumping forward to May 2022, Beretta announced the APX A1, an ergonomically and functionally improved revision of the standard APX design. 

Polymer-bodied, sleek, and striker-fired, the APX A1 doesn’t feel like the Beretta 92F of old — more like the Glock 19 that replaced the M9 on special forces ODA teams. In order to be viable in a world rife with options, above all it needs to be durable, then functional, serviceable, upgradable, and finally affordable. Let’s take a closer look. 

DURABILITY

The MHS Material Reliability Test consisted of firing three pistols to an unprecedented 12,000 rounds each. For reference, the old standard was 5,000 rounds, and the M9 had an anticipated service life of a little more than double the new standard of 25,000 rounds. 

With the APX, Beretta would have to have minimal stoppages and pass a post-firing parts interchange test. The MHS testing also included accuracy and dispersion requirements to ensure the pistol held up to the rigors of military use. 

There were also extensive measurements of the other aspects of the pistols, such as a firing pin indent test and trigger pull measurements. 

Beretta made some changes from the original APX to the A1, which features a new flat-wire recoil spring with higher overall compression. The spring energy is managed differently during the firing cycle, offering more consistent compression and expansion phases. This reworking of the operating system allows for suppressed use without decreasing performance or reliability and is confirmed reliable to no less than 10,000 rounds. 

DESIGN

There are only so many ways to make a reliable striker-fired pistol. The envelope for what’s effective causes many designs to closely resemble each other. Differences are often nuanced and subjective. The APX A1 follows the orthodoxy of modern pistol design — no gadgets, no gimmicks, but full of features. Elements of the Glock 19, the SIG Sauer 320, and even the H&K VP9 are reflected in this design. While the Beretta APX A1 is its own, it’s not a radical departure from industry norms. 

TRIGGER AND FRAME

The most subjective, yet critical, element to any pistol is trigger feel. As any Glock buyer or builder already knows, the OEM trigger is usually the first thing to go. Pistol triggers are a finicky thing; there’s a lot of testing and development that goes into making a polymer-framed pistol trigger — a balance of feel, function, and liability lawsuits.

The take-up on the APX A1 is about 4 to 5 mm. Once beyond the take-up, the “wall” of pressure is very vertical to reach the break point. It’s obvious that you’re applying pressure with minimal movement in the trigger body. 

The break itself hovers at 6 pounds, with about 6 to 7 mm of overtravel. The crisp reset hits at the exact point the take-up ends. Fast and smooth controlled pairs are easy; it’s a touch heavy for some but still really good. 

The grip and feel are a massive improvement over the early generation APX. The newly designed polymer frame on the A1 has more aggressive texturing than the original; contoured areas in front of the take-down pin grip your thumbs like a gas pedal. 

The APX A1 also offers a higher and more undercut trigger guard. Additionally, Beretta added a thicker beavertail and removed the finger grooves from the original. The grip angle itself is slightly more canted forward than the Glock 19. It’s very easy to drive from target to target.

The proper backstrap is especially important, as those with smaller hands had a hard time indexing on the original. This greatly reduces muzzle flip on the range. 

The ambidextrous slide catch is an effective rectangular shape, slightly angled away from the frame for easy manipulation without interfering with gripping the slide. 

The magazine release is textured and a very nice teardrop shape. It rides below the dominant thumb and is just shallow enough to not interfere with the support hand. The button travels about 3 to 4 mm, and once flush with the frame, allows the magazine to drop cleanly and smoothly. The magazines themselves are alloy bodies combined with polymer base plates — very reminiscent of M9 magazines, just with a slick black coating. 

SLIDE AND SIGHTS

The slide is optic-ready, screws and tabs keeping the cover plate in place. It also features more aggressive slide serrations, but not so much that you’ll cause excessive wear to the inside of your holster or poke holes through a T-shirt. There were no issues with manipulating the APX slide with wet gloves. The backward 45-degree cuts are just right for gripping the slide in front or behind the ejection port. 

Sights with a blacked-out rear and a white glow-in-the-dark dot front sight post are standard. The 3mm front sight sits between the rear sights with gaps of about half the width of the front sight post on either side. This is somewhat thicker than many prefer, though acquiring targets and accurate engagement are simple affairs. For OEM non-adjustable offerings, they’re solid and effective. 

UPGRADABLE 

Other than soft goods, lights, optic plates, and sights, upgrades for the APX A1 are limited. Aftermarket support is light, at least for now. The good news is there are multiple webpages of items available directly through Beretta. Some are worth noting. 

RECOIL SPRING 

The original double-wire recoil spring that used to come with APX is available and compatible with the APX A1. Despite it being the older version, it underwent and passed several military field tests and actually has a lower spring weight. Those who have a harder time racking the slide may want to look into this. 

SIGHTS 

Beretta offers an adjustable sight set with a red fiber-optic front sight post and a green fiber rear. For competition use, Beretta recommends the combination of the fiber front sight and all black rear. Note that use of the adjustable sights eliminates the ability to mount an optic.

There are also taller sights to co-witness with optics and to use with silencers. They’re simple non-adjustable, black-with-white-dots sets. It can be bothersome that many companies offer optic-ready pistols without co-witness sights, but it’s an unfortunate reality. 

MAGAZINE WELL 

The APX magazine well is made from billet aluminum, designed to assist with correct insertion of the magazine when speed is paramount. It also minimizes interference with clothing and gear. 

COMPENSATOR 

The Beretta compensator features side and upper vents to stabilize the pistol during firing by deflecting spent gases. Since it’s made for the A1, it follows the slide profile for a streamlined silhouette. It’s easy to install — just screw the compensator onto the barrel, ensure correct alignment, then tighten the lateral positioning screws. 

SERVICEABILITY 

Disassembly of the APX A1 is straightforward, with two options. Once the weapon is cleared, you can release the slide by pulling the trigger in the typical Austrian way. 

Alternately, you can use a tool. Without pulling the trigger, clear the pistol, retract the slide and hold it, then depress the striker deactivation button with a small punch or the tip of a ballpoint pen. You’ll hear a click as the striker disengages. Release the slide, then push and rotate the take-down lever. Finally, remove the slide from the frame.

In the usual method, clear the pistol, pull the trigger, push, and rotate the takedown lever, then remove the slide. 

Small parts are available on Beretta’s website, with springs, moving parts, and high wear items in stock. It doesn’t boast the depth of aftermarket support of the Glock, but what other pistol does? Fortunately, Beretta is fully supporting the APX directly. 

LOOSE ROUNDS

Beretta has priced these guns very favorably. The ultra-compact version, the APX A1 Carry, is made in Tennessee and retails for $399. The full-sized APX A1 shown here is made in Italy and retails for $529. Compare that to a Gen 5 Glock. 

More than 3,500 rounds have been put through the pistol pictured in this article with various firing schedules, including a first fast 500 rounds — only stopping to reload. There were no stoppages, failures to fire, or loss of accuracy during any of this testing. 

While not flagrantly abusive, this regimen wasn’t kind to the pistol. The original APX passed the MHS trials, and the APX A1 improves upon the original. It’s a viable solution for duty and daily carry.

The OEM trigger is an excellent duty trigger, and shooting the pistol is both natural and familiar to those who have carried other striker guns. Combine that with factory support and the ability to be upgraded — plus the price — and it’s hard to ignore even in a saturated market. If you get a chance to put some rounds through one, don’t pass it up. 

The Italians have a saying “Val più la pratica della grammatica,” which means experience is more important than theories. In the APX A1, Beretta’s extensive experience in firearms manufacturing offers a rare blend of function and value.

SPECS:

Beretta APX A1

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Overall Length: 7.48 inches
  • Barrel Length: 4.25 inches
  • Magazine Capacity: 10, 15, 17
  • Width: 1.3 inches
  • Weight (unloaded): 1.81 pounds
  • MSRP: $529
  • URL: www.beretta.com

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1 Comment

  • SRQ Shooter says:

    My issue with my first Gen. full size APX is that the trigger/trigger housing is below where the web of my (XXL) hand registers on the rear of the grip. Consequently, my arthritic trigger finger is forced down in the trigger housing. When operating the trigger, my finger rubs on the bottom of the trigger guard. To make matters worse, the safety in the trigger irritates my finger, which reviewers have noted in the past. There are too many other products out there that do not have these issues. Not a wonder that the APX line doesn’t sell well. I regret my purchase.

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  • My issue with my first Gen. full size APX is that the trigger/trigger housing is below where the web of my (XXL) hand registers on the rear of the grip. Consequently, my arthritic trigger finger is forced down in the trigger housing. When operating the trigger, my finger rubs on the bottom of the trigger guard. To make matters worse, the safety in the trigger irritates my finger, which reviewers have noted in the past. There are too many other products out there that do not have these issues. Not a wonder that the APX line doesn't sell well. I regret my purchase.

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