The Beretta APX: A Striker-Fired Polymer Masterpiece

I may not like Glock handguns, at least not as much as I like 1911s and magnum revolvers, but I’ve got to hand it to Gaston. His polymer pistols are some of the best on the market if only because of their reliability, concealability, ammo capacity, and price. If he never made these handguns, there probably wouldn’t be a lot of polymer handguns on the market today.

Not too long ago,  one of my friends purchased a Kimber 1911 in .45 ACP for a little under $900. He never struck me as someone who’s into firearms (at least not as much as I am) so I was a little surprised when he told me about the purchase.

It makes sense though — he’s in the healthcare industry and from time to time has to work night shifts so he needs a good CCW for his own security.

a picture of a Kimber 1911He sounded very pleased with his new acquisition and because of it, he might have developed that type of itch to buy more guns (which I’m sure most gun nuts out there have felt at one point, at least). Then he told me that he saw a relatively new Beretta handgun called the APX. He said he finds it particularly appealing because it looks cool.

Knowing next to nothing about this new handgun (I only have the assumption that it was manufactured by Beretta so it must be good), I immediately looked it up on Google images. He was right, this handgun is oozing with aesthetic appeal, especially for one with a polymer frame. I got curious — could this be better than the Glock 19, its main competitor?

Luckily, another friend of ours was willing to lend his Beretta APX for us to scrutinize.

If you’re looking to purchase this new high-capacity polymer handgun from Beretta but you’re too lazy to do your own research, feel free to read through the entirety of this article. Maybe you’ll find helpful info to help you decide on your purchase.


The Beretta APX

Originally designed by Beretta in 2016 as their entry into the MHS (modular handgun system) competition last year, the APX was built to replace the trusty Beretta M9, the standard issue sidearm of the US military since 1985.

a picture of the soldiers shooting in the MHS competition

Unfortunately for Beretta, SIG Sauer’s P320 ended up winning the MHS competition, even beating the Glock 19X (much to a lot of Glock fanboys’ disappointment), but the competition introduced a lot of great modern handgun designs into the market.

Beretta has been in business for over five hundred years making really great quality firearms, and the M9 being the US military’s standard issue sidearm for well over three decades is proof. But the APX is Beretta’s first take on striker-fired plastic handguns.

There are three variants of this new pistol in terms of size: the full-size APX, which is what we’re taking a look at today; the APX Centurion, which is a slightly smaller version Beretta only just recently introduced; and the APX Compact, the smallest of the three.

Currently, the Beretta APX is only available in two calibers: the ones manufactured in 2016 were chambered for the 9mm, and just a year ago the company released the same model chambered in .40 S&W. In this article, we’ll only be taking a look at the Beretta APX in 9mm.


What’s in the box

Out of the box, we got three backstraps of different sizes (which we’ll talk more about later) two 17-round magazines, a reloading tool, cleaning brushes and the manual. The Beretta APX is a 17 +1 handgun chambered in 9mm.

Having a polymer frame, it’s not surprising that our full-size APX only weighs 28 ounces. The handgun’s overall length is seven and a half inches.

a picture of the Beretta APX new in box

Now if you’re familiar with the M9, you’d know that one of the things about Beretta is they manufacture handguns that are fairly thick and heavy, case in point the M92 full-size and even the M92 compact. Those handguns are relatively large compared to other double-stack 9mm handguns.

Considering the size of its older brothers, the APX is really slim, with its slide’s width measuring only about one and a quarter inches. This slim profile makes it a very unique Beretta design. But the first thing everyone notices right up front is the diagonal slide serrations, another attribute that makes it unique. And it’s not just for aesthetics either.


Those Slide Serrations

When I first saw the APX, I didn’t know what to make of it. It looked modern, futuristic even, to the point that I wouldn’t have believed it was from Beretta had I not seen the company’s logo engraved on the slide.

a picture of the Beretta APX slide

Those serrations spread across the entire length of the slide means no matter where I grab it, I’m able to rack the slide, unlike my 1911 where I can only grab the front or rear part of the slide to rack it, or a Glock where only the rear part of the slide has cocking serrations.

I’m aware though that there are people who don’t like what Beretta did to the APX’s slide. I personally don’t have issues with the wide serrations, but to each his own. My only gripe about it is whenever my hands are sweaty (I do have sweaty palms) and I’m not wearing gloves, I’m having difficulty racking this slide.

All Beretta APX slides are available in Nitron finish, the same thing some SIG Sauer models I’m aware of use. I can’t find a lot of info online on Beretta’s version of Nitron but if it’s even remotely as durable as SIG Sauer’s (which has a Rockwell hardness rating of 70), it will hold up to all but the toughest kinds of abuse.


Factory Sights

a picture of the Beretta APX sightsThe Beretta APX has fixed low profile three-dot sights, a bigger front dot and slightly smaller two rear dots which works really well.

Unlike other more popular striker-fired polymer guns that skimp on sights (yeah, you know I’m talking about Glocks), the APX’s sights are made of steel. The edges of these steel sights were also rounded a bit, making them snag-free.

They are also dovetailed into the slide for easy removal and reinstallation. Beretta has four different types of aftermarket sights for the APX on their website: a set of red fiber optic front with black adjustable rear sights; a set of red fiber optic front and green fiber optic two-dot adjustable rear sights, a set of three-dot Tritium sights with adjustable rear, and a set of white three-dot sights with adjustable rear.

a picture of different Beretta APX aftermarket sights

Personally, I wouldn’t buy any of Beretta’s aftermarket sights for the APX as they’re all quite expensive, with the Tritium set priced at $129 per kit and the rest at $109 per kit. That’s highway robbery right there — like, do they really think five of these sight kits are worth a single APX handgun? Bah.


Barrel

a picture of the Beretta APX linkless barrel

The full size Beretta APX uses a link-less barrel design. It has an overall length of four and a quarter inches, with a right-hand rifling twist length of one in 10 inches.

We wouldn’t say it’s exceptionally accurate, but like most modern pistol designs, it will easily get the job done, being capable of shooting sub-two-inch groups within distances of 15 yards even when using cheap factory ammo like Winchester White Box 115 grains.

a picture of Beretta APX groups in target paper

But again, like most good firearms, it will only be as accurate as whoever’s shooting it. For sure, its relatively low bore axis of one and fifty-two hundredths of an inch will make firing accurate follow-up shots easy.

But its bore axis measurement isn’t anything exceptional (contrary to what a lot of people rave about). For comparison, the Glock 19 has a lower bore axis (only one and twenty-six hundredths of an inch) which gives the Beretta APX a run for its money as far as fast and accurate follow-up shots is concerned.

And if you’re used to hammer-fired all-steel conventional designs (e.g. the 1911) that point somewhat naturally, you might find it difficult to point any handgun with a low bore axis just  because of you’ll have your index finger positioned from the top curve of the grip’s rear to the trigger.

Still, it’s fairly accurate, easy to do fast and accurate follow-up shots with. Nevermind that Glock has lower bore axis, the Beretta APX rivals Glocks when it comes to reliability, as shown on this video:

One other thing — for people who like messing with their barrel’s front, Beretta offers an aftermarket threaded barrel for mounting a suppressor or a compensator on the APX. It’s a little on the expensive side though, priced at a cool $219.


Frame and controls

At the front of the Beretta APX’s frame is a standard 1913 Picatinny rail to attach any of a laser sight or a flashlight.

The handgun has ambidextrous slide stop levers, both very flat against the surface with just the right amount of texturing so they can be easily actuated even when they’re sitting almost flush to the slide.

The low profile magazine release is easy to actuate and reversible. And it’s relatively easy to install on the right side of the frame for left-handed shooters… Here’s a quick video to demonstrate:

The frame comes in three different colors: Dark Earth, Olive Drab, and Wolf Gray. Each aftermarket frame comes with two additional sets of backstrap with integrated grip panels. A set of aftermarket grip frame costs $50 from Beretta’s website.


Grip and backstrap

a picture of different Beretta APX Interchangeable Backstraps

Beretta designed the APX’s grip such that the frame’s width can be altered by installing any of the included backstraps. This feature is similar to that of Gen 4 Glocks, but there’s a bit of a difference.

Gen 4 Glock backstraps are literally just backstraps. The Beretta APX’s backstraps attach pretty much like wrap-around grips, i.e. it has the grip panels integrated. Not that the Gen 4 Glock’s backstraps are in any way inferior to the Beretta APX — there’s hardly any difference as far as how both function, but Beretta’s version looks cleaner and relatively easier to install.

a picture of Beretta APX frame with no finger groovesThe front of the grips on our piece also have shallow finger grooves, which I personally like. But I know there are people who don’t like it, which is why Beretta released a grip frame with no finger grooves.

The grips are shaped to be very ergonomic, they’re relatively thin and just fit well in my hand. There’s square checkering on the back and front of the grips. It’s not too aggressive, unlike the earliest checkering (RTF2) on Glock Gen 3s.

Lastly, loading a new mag in is also made fast and easy thanks to the slightly flared bottom part of the grip, acting as a sort of a magwell. This is another feature on the grip that makes it really appealing.


Magazine Capacity

As mentioned earlier, there are two included magazines with the Beretta APX, each having a capacity of 17 rounds. These are some really good quality magazines, each with a wide base plate. If for whatever reason, two magazines simply aren’t enough for you, an aftermarket 17-round mag costs $35 a piece.

a picture of a Beretta APX 21-round magazine

The compact Beretta APX has a 13-round magazine, with aftermarket ones costing $33 per piece. But if you want more rounds in your mag, Beretta sells aftermarket 21-round mags for $36 a piece.


Superb Trigger

There is much to talk about when it comes to the Beretta APX’s trigger. The first thing you’ll notice about the design of the trigger is the reach of the finger to the trigger’s lobe or axis. The APX allows for a tight purchase with plenty of room for even the shortest of fingers to comfortably pull the trigger.

a picture of the Beretta APX trigger

The trigger guard as made to be really large and wide for users who prefer to wear gloves. This doesn’t come as a surprise as the Beretta APX was originally designed primarily as a duty pistol.


Trigger Safety

Right inside the trigger is a little trigger safety lever which looks and feels similar to the typical Glock pistol’s trigger safety. When pressed up, it relieves that area behind that trigger, allowing for the trigger to be pulled all the way back to fire the pistol.

When that lever inside the trigger is down, the handgun won’t fire. This also helps with the drop safety for the striker inside the gun. So far, there have been no reports online of any Beretta APX handgun having an accidental discharge, which means this trigger safety works well.

a picture of someone pulling the Beretta APX trigger

Trigger Pull

Beretta advertises the APX’s trigger pull weight to be around six pounds. We tested our loaner gun using our aluminum trigger pull weight gauge from Brownell’s, we got five-pull average of around 5.8 lbs so ours was within spec.

And about as important as the weight of the pull is the smoothness of the pull. When engaged, as soon as the trigger is pulled, there’s very little resistance all the way to that “wall” of the trigger, i.e. that break point in the pull at which the striker is ready to be released.

This trigger is designed to allow the shooter to reach its break point with little to no resistance at all, which makes fast and accurate follow-up shots easy. There are no creeps or bumps before or even after the break point, resulting in a very clean take up each time the trigger is pulled. And the take up itself is very smooth once the shooter gets past the break point, with very little overtravel.

Beretta really did their research when they set the trigger pull weight to be around six pounds — again, not surprising considering that its competitors in the MHS competitions mostly have the same trigger pull weight.

A trigger pull weight of six pounds is just strong enough to prevent accidental discharges but light enough to allow for fast and accurate follow-up shots, especially when factoring in the relatively short trigger reset of only three millimeters.

The trigger has a wide, flat face which gives a lot of surface allowing for any shooter to be really consistent with each pull.

Firing Pin Block Safety

At the top towards the rear of the slide there’s a curious looking little piece of steel that is unique to the Beretta APX — and to the Beretta M9 and Model 92. On page 19 of the Beretta APX manual, this little piece is called the firing pin block, which prevents the striker from moving all the way forward if the trigger isn’t complete pulled.

a picture of the Beretta APX automatic striker block safety

When the trigger is pulled, that little piece of steel pops up. If pressure is applied to it, the trigger can’t be pulled. We’re aware that there were people who had concerns with this little firing pin block button, specifically those who were thinking they might not be able to install an RMR sight on their APX because it might block that button, ultimately making the handgun useless.

Beretta addresses this concern by releasing their own aftermarket RMR optics mount for the APX, these cost $82 a piece. Note that this doesn’t include the optics itself (you’ll have to buy your own). Also, the rear sights have to be removed, which means you’ll have to bring your APX to a gunsmith to have this mount installed.


Modularity: the name of the game

Perhaps the best feature of the APX is its modularity. Again, this isn’t surprising because Beretta primarily built this handgun as their entry to the  MHS competition, where one of the many requirements for all handgun entries is to have modular features that let them adapt different pistol grips, magazine options, and fire control devices.

a diagram of the Beretta APX showing its modular design

Each Beretta APX uses a serialized chassis which contains the fire control group — the trigger, and the trigger mechanism. Compared to using a serialized frame, a serialized chassis allows for the owner to quickly and legally switch out frames. Coincidentally (or not), this design concept is the same as the modular system found on SIG P320s which, as mentioned earlier, ended up winning the MHS competition.


Disassembly

Depending on the user’s level of familiarity with handguns in general, disassembling the Beretta APX can be brutally painful or fairly easy and straightforward. And there are two ways of going about it.

As with all firearms, the first step always is to make sure the gun is unloaded. Simply push the magazine release and rack the slide to eject the chambered round, if there’s any.

The next step required for disassembly is to make sure the striker is deactivated. There are two ways to do this, the first one is far simpler but requires pulling the trigger, which may result in an unintended discharge if the user failed to eject a chambered round.

a picture of the Beretta APX Striker Deactivation Button

The second option requires applying pressure to that little detent with a dimple on the rear right side of the frame just below the slide. Any kind of tool can be used to apply pressure to that little detent. Upon pressing it, the striker is deactivated without the user having to pull the trigger. I personally don’t like doing it this way, as I prefer to disassemble handguns without having to use any kind of tool.

The third step is to apply pressure on the takedown pin (on the right side of the frame) with one’s left index finger and hold it in, then pull the takedown lever (on the left side of the frame) downward using one’s right thumb.

a picture of the Beretta APX takedown pinThat takedown pin on the right side of the frame doesn’t take a whole lot of pressure to disengage, but this is the part where some people seem to be having trouble. Not sure why, but I didn’t have trouble with the takedown pin/lever on our loaner sample.

At any rate, as soon as the takedown lever is pulled downwards, the slide is released and easily comes right off. From there the recoil spring guide rod assembly and the link-less barrel can be pulled out of the slide for cleaning and maintenance.

Reassembly is much easier in comparison. Just put the barrel in the slide, then put the recoil spring and guide rod assembly back in, then put the slide back on the frame and yank it all the way back with as much force as possible. With enough force, the slide will disengage the takedown lever. From there the user can just do a function check.

It all looks complicated in writing so here’s a quick video showing how it’s supposed to be done:


Price

If you go to Beretta’s website, the suggested retail price on the APX is $575.00 regardless of the caliber or the ammo capacity of the included magazines you’re purchasing.

It’s a little pricey for a polymer handgun especially considering that its direct Glock competition, the Glock 19 Gen 5, is only retailing for $559.00 but comes with three 15-round mags.

a picture of the Beretta APX with a price tag

Of course there are online firearm retailers selling it for much cheaper — for instance, at the time of this writing, Arms Unlimited offer the full size APX NIB for a cool $440, which means a rather significant 23.47% discount. But who knows how many they still have in stock? Discounted units are already out of stock at other online retailers like Botach and DEGuns.

Still, for a polymer handgun packed with a ton of features and bearing the name of a world-renowned 500-year-old firearms manufacturing company, not to mention its aesthetics and the bragging rights that come with owning a unique looking piece of hardware, the Beretta APX offers great value for the money.


Conclusion

Beretta’s take on modular polymer handguns is fresh and unique. This is what happens when a company really focuses on the things that matter the most to their customers.

The APX is nothing short of impressive. It’s reliable, feels good in the hands and shoots mighty fast and accurate thanks to its relatively low bore axis and its wide flat trigger with zero creep and quick, short reset. The factory three-dot sights and the low-profile controls just work well. There really isn’t much to say about its many features.

Best of all, it ticks all the good boxes without sacrificing aesthetics — the same can’t be said about Glocks.

While a lot of people think the APX is coming way too late to the party (Glock started the polymer handgun revolution more than three decades ago), it’s nice to know that an old but well-established firearms manufacturer like Beretta is still doing innovations on their pistol designs.

If you’re in the market for a polymer handgun but you don’t like Glocks and you feel like the SIG P320 is overrated (it might have won the MHS competition but it’s prone to accidental discharges), then we wholeheartedly recommend that you look into the Beretta APX.

A firearms and ballistics enthusiast and an outdoorsman, Mike is one of Gun News Daily's best contributing authors. He's a researcher, data analyst and writer by trade and strongly adheres to conservatism—a stalwart of the right to keep and bear arms.

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