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B&T TP9 Optimized With A3 Tactical

The difference between a rule and a maxim is that while the prior makes no room for allowances, the latter generally applies, with exceptions. One such example of a maxim when it comes to firearms is that if it doesn't apply to you, it wasn't created with you in mind. The B&T TP9 can sometimes baffle users, as it seems to exist between the categories of a handgun and a pistol-caliber carbine. The base firearm is larger than a pistol, loads the magazine through the grip, and has features that beg you to tempt a visit from the BATFE. At the same time, it doesn't have the barrel length or AR-15-esque controls of the B&T APC9. In its base form, the TP9 shouts raw potential, while the BATFE whispers in the voice of Rufus Sewell as Count Ahdemar in A Knight's Tale Saying “you have been found wanting.”

Unlike rules, maxims have exceptions. This is the case of the TP9, playing the role of Heath Ledger as William Thatcher, and the armorer who helps pull that potential out of the firearm is A3 Tactical. Inside of the B&T TP9 are the bones of an exceptional PDW, and yet due to the caste system imposed by the BATFE, it must forgo a metamorphosis to reveal its true identity as a remarkably capable firearm.

Based B&T TP9

The body of the B&T TP9 appears as a halfway point between a handgun and a carbine. In the spirit of the maxim, this is intended, as the trigger reveals, the firearm if limited to semi-automatic is forced just short of its potential. On the range, however, the larger body begins to reveal hidden merit. The simple “iron” sights gently rock with each shot fired, as the combination of a rotating internal barrel and a lightweight bolt carrier eat up most of the felt recoil.

B&T TP9

It would make a great pistol at this point if the polymer body could be concealed. Yet instead we are instead we find ourselves holding something that fits better in a bug-out bag than in a holster. We can imagine the B&T TP9 as the foundation for something great in the hands of the law-abiding citizen, as well as being deployed in the hands of a counter-terrorism unit, but the imposed system has raised its ugly head, drawing arbitrary lines.

The controls waiver the line between handgun and PCC, as the bolt release/catch resides right where a pistol would expect it. At the same time, a euro-ish safety lever sits just below it.

A3 Tactical at the Forge

A phenomenon we've seen over the years once again saves the day. Like the CZ Scorpion, the base model of the B&T TP9 shows exceptional potential, and aftermarket support rose to the challenge as A3 Tactical remedied many of the initial quirks of the platform. From front to back, the TP9 hints at features that could, if uninfringed, be maximized. A3 Tactical navigates these invisible lines with an angled foregrip and brace solution, as well as providing quality-of-life improvements.

On the forend of the base B&T TP9 resides a stub that accommodates a foregrip. A3 Tactical fills in the empty space with an angled front end that transforms the otherwise awkward section into a comfortable and controllable front section.

B&T TP9 A3 Tactical

Moving backward, a common curiosity of the B&T TP9 is the plastic AR-15-like charging handle. While the OEM charging handle holds up to the rigors of the firearm, an American shooter, used to the remedial actions of America's rifle, would find the pinch grip of the TP9 unusual. As a response, A3 Tactical produced a winged replacement that solves both. With a captured roller to hold it in place, it vastly improves the manipulation of the firearm in both basic manipulation and remedial actions for the rare malfunction.

Finally, the A3 Tactical folding brace saves the day, metamorphizing the somewhat awkward pistol into a potent PDW. Without saying too much, consider the magnetic latch a must-have.

Optics, Lights

The rail placement of the B&T TP9 draws attention to itself, as both the top section and the 3-o'clock look like they had something in mind, but forgot to tell you. The iron sights integrated into the top rail can get in the way for some weapon-mounted lights, and right-handed shooters are forced to innovate to make use of the non-removable side rail. Those without a .gov budget will have to take some time to consider their loadout before accessorizing the compact firearm.

B&T TP9 A3 Tactical

Topping the PDW with a Vortex Sparc SolAR just made sense, and it paid dividends on the range. Those who would consider the TP9 for a defensive firearm will appreciate the years of battery life the little red dot provides, and since this isn't a pocket gun, an open-top MRDS didn't make sense.

The B&T TP9 appears to prefer lights with tape switches, at least that's what it looks like. A Surefire Mini-Scout Pro, with its adjustable base, accommodated more than one placement option, and that flexibility completed the build as we could choose where the pressure pad would end up.

At the Range

It all came together when the B&T TP9, equipped with A3 Tactical's accouterments, hit the range. Comfortable, quick target acquisition plus a gentle recoil impulse worked together for a surprisingly smooth operator feel. Even when pushing speed, a firm A-zone grouping consistently proved that this was not a firearm to be overlooked.

B&T TP9 A3 Tactical Cover

Reloading from the pistol takes some getting used to, as we're not dealing with a small handgun magazine and the mag well isn't flared. Still, with time and practice, it comes together, albeit with a little trial and error. We found it easier to rip the empty out, stow it in a dump pouch, and draw a fresh mag in a single motion instead of trying to let the spent magazine drop free.

Loading the mags with a variety of ammunition, from defensive hollow points to range reloads, the B&T TP9 ate through most. Admittedly, some of the ammunition was underpowered so we could instigate surprise malfunctions, for training's sake. The familiar tap-rack-bang remedial action got the job done each time.

Loose Rounds

If it came to classes, the B&T TP9 is a specialist: it looks, feels, and performs like a purposely designed firearm. For some, this just makes sense, for others, it'll take some getting used to. Both, however, benefit when A3 Tactical joins the fray and transforms the pistol into a viable PDW. In the world of backpack guns, the TP9 beats out most competitors in size-to-capacity ratio. Smaller than the APC9K, with better ergonomics than Glock conversion kits like the RONI, it's not afraid of where it belongs in the ecosystem of firearms.

When it comes to firearms, specialization has its perks. The TP9 looks, feels, and functions with a purpose, and unapologetically stays true to that objective. Even if it means boggling onlookers, over time, confusion turns into confidence, and with the help of A3 Tactical, the B&T TP9 successfully transforms from a capable foundation into a fully-fledged self-defense tool.


B&T TP9 x A3 Tactical

Caliber: 9mm
Overall Length Folded: 12 Inches
Overall Length Unfolded: 18.5 Inches
Height (With Optic and Magazine): 11.25 Inches

Parts List:

B&T TP9: $1,790 (estimated street price)
A3 Tactical Angled Foregrip: $60
A3 Tactical Direct Fit Brace With Magnetic Latch: $190
A3 Tactical Charging Handle: $120
Surefire Mini Scout Pro: $330
Surefire UE07 Switch Assembly: $95
Vortex Sparc SolAR: $400

Total: $2,985

Sources

B&T USA: bt-arms.com
A3 Tactical: a3-tactical-inc.myshopify.com/
Surefire: surefire.com
Vortex Optics: vortexoptics.com


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