Polymer-frame, striker-fired pistols have pretty much taken over the law-enforcement and self-defense markets, and they’re making significant inroads into the military market as well. Aside from a few companies that specialize in the 1911 platform, every major pistol manufacturer produces some form of striker-fired polymer gun, and Beretta is no exception. Famous for producing top-quality double-action pistols like the ubiquitous Model 92 and the compact Px4 Storm, Beretta entered the full-size, striker-fired game in 2017 with the APX, a service pistol offering features like interchangeable backstraps and a nice trigger. The Beretta APX Compact is new for 2018, and it builds on the history of the original APX by giving you all the great features of the original gun in a smaller package.
The 9 mm Beretta APX Compact we tested is, well, compact. The trigger guard of the pistol is undercut for a higher grip on the gun, and the front, sides and rear of the grip are stippled to help you hold onto the handgun. The grips themselves have interchangeable backstraps, and the gun ships with small, medium and large sizes to help fit the pistol to your hand. A nice feature of the APX Compact is the stippling on the frame in front of the takedown lever, which not only provides more support for your off-hand when shooting with two hands, it also provides a logical location to rest your trigger finger when it’s not involved in the process of pulling the trigger. The APX Compact also features an ambidextrous slide catch and a magazine release that can be swapped around for left-handed use.
(l. & ctr.) Standard fare for this class of pistol, the sights are of the traditional three-dot variety. They are dovetail-mounted for adjustment or replacement if either is needed or desired. (r.) A short section of rail accommodates accessories if desired.
Disassembly of the Beretta APX Compact differs slightly from other striker-fired guns. Rather than pulling the trigger to deactivate the striker and remove the slide, the APX Compact has a small striker deactivation button on the rear of the slide that is actuated as the slide is moved backward, allowing you to take the gun apart without pulling the trigger. Also, like a growing number of other modern pistol designs, the fire-control group for the APX contains the trigger for the gun and is the serialized part considered to be the actual firearm. As such, it can be removed from the pistol and dropped into another APX frame, which should be available from Beretta later this year. Like many other pistols in this range, the APX Compact has a short length of Picatinny rail for mounting accessories such as a light or a laser sight.
The slide on the Beretta APX Compact is decorated with the distinctive slide texture from the first APX model, which provide a secure grip for charging the gun and manipulating the slide. Sights on the APX Compact are the usual three-dot variety, with the dot on the front sight a little larger than those on the rear sight to help acquire a good sight picture as quickly as possible. The gun ships with two 13-round magazines and a speedloader, and I loaded them up with a variety of 9 mm ammunition and headed to the range.
(l.) Removable grip panels help fit the APX Compact to the shooter’s hand. (ctr.) Despite looking like every other striker-fired trigger, the APX Compact’s “bang switch” is quite good. (r.) Thirteen rounds of 9 mm +P are at the ready, and the pistol ships with two mags.
The first thing I noticed was its solid feel in my hand. While it is true how a gun feels has little or nothing to do with how it actually shoots, the grip on the APX was rounded in all the right places, giving me a nice, warm feeling about what it could do when the trigger was pulled.
Steel construction allows the fire-control group to be swapped with minimal fuss.
I’m happy to report that the gun did not disappoint. The Beretta APX Compact was easy to shoot and recoil was pretty typical for guns its size. It experienced zero malfunctions over 250 rounds at the range, with no stoppages or issues of any kind. The sights were easy to pick up under rapid fire and all the controls were right where I expected them to be. These are not target sights, though, and that fact, combined with the short sight radius of the APX Compact, required me to pay close attention to accuracy at longer ranges. The trigger on the APX Compact helped with longer-distance shots: With no stacking or discernable over travel, a crisp break and a short, easily identifiable reset, it’s one of the better triggers out there in this market niche.
The Beretta APX Compact is a worthy entry into the compact 9 mm pistol market. With its excellent trigger, adaptable ergonomics and wide range of features, Beretta’s new 9 mm APX Compact will serve you well as a compact, concealed-carry pistol. It’s also pretty solid for a good time on the range and other general pistol tasks. And, given the modularity of the platform, if you prefer a different setup, it can change.