Today’s market may be crowded, but an advantage to the consumer is a wide choice of arms from prominent makers. The Beretta APX Carry is Beretta’s offering in the lucrative single-column magazine, 9mm compact market. Pistols like the Glock 43 and Smith and Wesson Shield are the most popular concealed carry choices. They offer a good balance of power and weight and are controllable and accurate enough to give the concealed carry handgun user real confidence.
While basic physics and rules of wound ballistics favor larger calibers, there are modern 9mm loadings that make the Parabellum a reasonable choice for personal defense. I would feel uncomfortable betting my life on a smaller caliber, and the slim line 9mm has much to recommend. The pistols are light, slim, and reliable in the best examples, offer good hit probability and big gun quality.
Beretta’s APX – Something Old, Something New
The Beretta APX was designed as a full-size service pistol to compete in U.S. Army trails. It competes in the civilian and institutional market against the Glock 17 and similar pistols. The APX compact is a Glock 19-size pistol. The Beretta APX carry is a pistol that is more in the Glock 43 size, and which also invites comparison to the Beretta NANO.
While there are similarities, the APX Carry isn’t a worked over NANO—at least not completely. The APX Carry is compact and slim; it is slightly larger than the NANO. It is also easier to control and has greater accuracy potential. The NANO does not have a slide lock while the APX Carry does. The APX also has greater magazine capacity.
The take down is the same, however. The APX Carry features a dial or screw in the frame that is rotated a quarter turn to remove the slide. There is also a small button in the right rear of the frame, that when pressed, releases the striker without pressing the trigger to allow disassembly.
Firing the Beretta APX Carry
The Beretta APX Carry uses the familiar striker-fired action. The striker is partially prepped by the slide’s action—either as the slide is racked or as the pistol is fired. The double-action-only trigger is pressed to the rear, moving the striker against spring pressure. The striker breaks forward and fires the pistol. The slide recoils and resets the striker.
The trigger action is the same for each shot. The trigger action of a personal defense pistol should not be a light trigger, such as is often found on a dedicated target pistol, but it should be controllable, smooth in action, and not heavy enough to be fatiguing in practice or to limit accuracy potential if a precise shot is needed. The trigger action is the heart of the handgun.
I racked the slide and dry fired the pistol several dozen times before heading to the range. The action is different than the Glock and other striker-fired handguns in some ways, but the same in others. It is one of those actions that feels lighter than the actual pull weight as measured on the Lyman Electronic trigger scale. The action feels like a typical 5.5-pound Glock trigger compression, but the digital reading is 6.2 pounds.
The action was tight, and reset was fast. A slow creepy reset is sometimes worse than creep. The action is well suited to modern needs and those that practice will find the trigger makes for good practical personal defense shooting. The sights are the standard white dot front and rear notch rear. These sights are large enough for rapid acquisition but also offer plenty of accuracy potential to 10 and 15 yards, which is a long distance for personal defense engagement.
Good Accuracy Potential
Combat accuracy is the ability of the shooter to draw, fire, and get good hits at typical engagement ranges. This is 5 to 10 yards. Firing as quickly as possible isn’t real training—in my opinion. Instead, I believe it is setting the shooter up to fire before the effects of the initial shots are apparent. It is important to fire at a precise point on the target, rather than aiming for an area. Shooting drills should include drawing and firing for the center of the target, the X ring on a B27 target, or the center mass of any type of target.
I loaded the Beretta APX Carry magazines with Black Hills Ammunition 115-grain FMJ, an affordable and clean burning training load. I drew from a Galco-Stow-N-Go holster. Drawing as quickly as possible, I brought the pistol to bear on an Action Targets B27 silhouette. It wasn’t difficult to get center hits in the X ring.
Allowing the trigger to reset during recoil, I was able to keep up a good cadence of fire. Follow-up shots were not fired as quickly as possible, but only as fast as I was able to re-acquire the sights after recoil.
I don’t consider the 9mm a hard kicker even in the lightest handguns. The Beretta APX features a properly-designed recoil system that aids in controlling slide velocity. While you will not fire this handgun as quickly or as accurately as a Glock 19, as an example, it is comparable to any 9mm in the APX Carry’s size and weight class.
A serrated rear notch and bold front post are ideal for quickly getting hits at moderate range. By the same token we should not be helpless if we must take a deliberate shot at 10 to 15 yards. The adversary may be behind cover firing or the distance may be longer than the typical engagement. Shooters should practice until they know their limitations.
You will not rise to the occasion in a gunfight but operate at best at the default you have achieved on the range. If you don’t push the envelope, you will not understand your ability and how you may perform with the handgun. Like some polymer-frame handguns, the Beretta APX Carry will fire low due to the balance of the steel slide over a polymer frame.
The shooter that keeps a firm grip, and doesn’t fire too quickly, will find the Beretta APX Carry exhibits good hit probability. The shooter must pay attention to detail. There are easier handguns to shoot well, but we keep coming back to the size of these slim line 9mm pistols. The slim line 9mm is far easier to shoot well than a snub nose .38 or small .380, other standards of concealed carry.
As for absolute accuracy, I fired from a standing, braced, barricade firing position to test accuracy. I fired two 5-shot groups with each loading at 15 yards. Using Black Hills Ammunition 115-grain FMJ, Black Hills Ammunition 124-grain JHP, and Black Hills Ammunition 115-grain EXP, respectively, the average for five-shot groups was 2.9, 3.3, and 3.15 inches at 15 yards. This is good enough to ride with.
Reliability and Performance
The pistol has features that set it apart from other slim line 9mm handguns. The Beretta APX Carry features a slide lock, which the Beretta NANO does not. The APX Carry is very similar to the NANO internally but features superior handling and sights. The Beretta APX Carry, like the other handguns in the APX line, features cocking serrations covering the slide from front to rear.
As for reliability, the Beretta APX Carry has proven reliable with every load I have loaded into the magazines. These have included the Black Hills Ammunition 115-grain EXP, Black Hills Ammunition 124-grain JHP, Federal 124-grain HST, Federal 147-grain HST, Hornady 124-grain XTP +P American Gunner, Hornady 135-grain Critical Duty, Winchester 115-grain Silvertip, Winchester 124-grain PDX +P, and the SIG Sauer V Crown JHP in 124- and 147-grain weights. This mix of bullet weights and +P loads have performed well. However, I would consider limiting my choices to standard pressure loads. The APX Carry isn’t a daisy and will easily handle +P loads, but recoil is accelerated. A good performer such as the 124-grain JHP in standard pressure might be the best choice for most shooters.
Beretta APX Carry Specs
- Caliber: 9mm
- Barrel: 3.07 inches
- Overall Length: 5.63 inches
- Weight: 20 ounces
- Sights: White-dot front, notch rear
- Action: Striker-fired
- Finish: Black, wolf gray, flat dark earth
- Capacity: 6+1, 8+1
The Beretta APX will appeal to Beretta fans, but brand loyalty only goes so far. This is a far different type of handgun than the Beretta 92. It represents different and we must say, with more modern technology. The Beretta APX carry is a worthy competitor to the Glock 43 and Smith and Wesson Shield. Some will prefer the performance of the Beretta over other polymer-frame striker-fired pistols. It is an accurate and reliable handgun with much to recommend. Carrying the APX Carry is best accomplished with an inside-the-waistband holster. I have used the Galco Sto-N-Go with good results.