The World’s First Bullpup Pistol-to-Rifle Kit: Meta Tactical’s APEX-Series

2 - The World’s First Bullpup Pistol-to-Rifle Conversion Kit: Meta Tactical’s APEX-Series (Full Review)

I found Meta Tactical in the basement of the Venetian Expo Center at a fairly recent SHOT Show. The startup from Minnesota claimed to be offering the world’s first bullpup pistol-to-rifle conversion kit, and I was intrigued.

SHOT Show, for those who haven’t been, is filled with products that claim to be innovative but aren’t and products that are technically innovative but mostly a gimmick. After talking with the guys at Meta Tactical, it seemed like the APEX-Series chassis occupied the sweet spot every gun company tries to hit: it meets a real need and actually works.

I was eager to get my hands on one and take it for a spin, and so far, I’m impressed.

How Does This Thing Work?

The APEX-Series is a chassis system that turns a handgun into a bullpup-style rifle. The kit ships with a 16-inch barrel that fits the make and model of gun the user specifies when ordering. (There might be some unintentional overlap between different models of the handgun, but by and large, the APEX-Series chassis will only work with one make and model of handgun.)

To install the pistol into the chassis, users first swap out their factory barrel for the Meta Tactical barrel. The rear of the chassis swings up, the trigger bar pulls out, and the handgun can be inserted into the bullpup chassis.

2 - The World’s First Bullpup Pistol-to-Rifle Conversion Kit: Meta Tactical’s APEX-Series (Full Review)
2 - The World’s First Bullpup Pistol-to-Rifle Conversion Kit: Meta Tactical’s APEX-Series (Full Review)
2 - The World’s First Bullpup Pistol-to-Rifle Conversion Kit: Meta Tactical’s APEX-Series (Full Review)
Once you get the hang of it, the APEX-Series is easy to assemble. Each barrel is stamped with the model and caliber, so you won’t get them confused.

To operate the system, users charge the firearm with the ambidextrous charging handle and pull the chassis trigger to fire the rifle. The trigger on the chassis is connected to a trigger bar that “pulls” the trigger on the original pistol. Thanks to this design, the trigger doesn’t hinge like a striker-fired handgun. Instead, it moves straight back like a 1911.

The safety selector can be moved between “safe” and “fire,” and the mag can be released using the ambidextrous paddle.

I used a Glock 19 for this review but other models of pistols are available.

Meta Tactical is offering all APEX-Series models for $499.99. Click here to check it out!

Why Would I Want One?

Pistol chassis are nothing new. Inventors have been affixing stocks to handguns for basically as long as handguns have existed, and the Micro-Roni chassis is incredibly popular today.

The benefits of shouldering a pistol are obvious. A stock allows for more precise shots and quicker follow-up shots than a handgun held at arm’s length. Unless your last name is Miculek, you’ll shoot your pistol more quickly and accurately if you can brace it on your shoulder while firing.

Unfortunately, thanks to the vagaries of federal firearms law, affixing a stock to a pistol magically transforms it from a pistol into a rifle. If that “rifle” is fitted with a barrel shorter than 16 inches, it becomes a “Short-Barreled Rifle” and needs to be approved by the ATF. (The law and requirements here are more complicated, but that’s the gist).

This meme illustrates the absurdity of this regulation regime better than I can describe it:

2 - The World’s First Bullpup Pistol-to-Rifle Conversion Kit: Meta Tactical’s APEX-Series (Full Review)
What’s the difference between a pistol and a rifle? According to the ATF, it’s complicated…

To legally shoulder a pistol-caliber firearm, gun owners have adopted a few methods to do an end-run around this nonsense.

Some, including major gun manufacturers, have fitted their firearms with a “pistol brace.” Pistol braces were designed for disabled veterans to shoot a heavy gun with one hand. Unfortunately, pistol braces have been politicized and the ATF has been inconsistent to the point of trying to ban them. Currently an injunction against the ATF is the only thing stopping them.

Others have simply converted an AR-type rifle (and variants) into what’s called a “pistol-caliber carbine.” These firearms feature barrels of varying lengths, but models with a 16-inch barrel can be purchased and owned without worrying about a visit from federal agents.

The problem with this route is that it eliminates a pistol’s primary advantage: its compact size. If you want to maintain a 16-inch barrel, the overall length of an AR-type rifle is, well, about the same as an AR-15. Shooting a 9mm from an AR is fun, but ballistically speaking, it can’t compete with a .223 Rem.

The Meta Tactical APEX-Series is designed to overcome both of these challenges. Because the Meta Tactical 16-inch barrel replaces the factory barrel on your pistol, you can shoulder it legally no matter what the ATF rules about pistol braces, etc.

2 - The World’s First Bullpup Pistol-to-Rifle Conversion Kit: Meta Tactical’s APEX-Series (Full Review)
2 - The World’s First Bullpup Pistol-to-Rifle Conversion Kit: Meta Tactical’s APEX-Series (Full Review)
2 - The World’s First Bullpup Pistol-to-Rifle Conversion Kit: Meta Tactical’s APEX-Series (Full Review)
2 - The World’s First Bullpup Pistol-to-Rifle Conversion Kit: Meta Tactical’s APEX-Series (Full Review)
2 - The World’s First Bullpup Pistol-to-Rifle Conversion Kit: Meta Tactical’s APEX-Series (Full Review)
The APEX-Series is well built and comes with several useful features.

The bullpup design, furthermore, allows the overall length of the gun to be about as short as a rifle can possibly be fitted with a 16-inch barrel. With the adjustable stock fully collapsed and no muzzle device, the gun measures a scant 22 inches. With the stock extended, it measures 26 inches.

Bottom line? If you’re in the market for a pistol-caliber carbine and don’t want to worry about whether the ATF will turn you into a felon overnight, the APEX-Series chassis system might be just what you’re looking for.

But How Is This Better Than My Pistol?

Adding a 16-inch barrel and a stock to a pistol does two things: improves practical accuracy and increases velocity.

Practical accuracy is usually considered as opposed to mechanical accuracy. Mechanical accuracy is how accurate a gun is without human inputs. Depending on the barrel and level of wear, your Glock 19 or Smith & Wesson SD9 might be just as mechanically accurate as that same gun in the Meta Tactical chassis.

But practical accuracy will almost surely improve. Practical accuracy describes how accurate a gun can be with a human pulling the trigger. Being able to shoulder a gun almost always improves accuracy, as does the ability to install a magnified optic. Pistol red dots are readily available these days, but it’s much more difficult to fit a handgun with a scope. With a full-length Picatinny rail, the APEX-Series is ready for whatever optic or prism sight you want to use.

AmmoPistol Average Group (in)APEX-Series Average Group (in)Pistol Average Velocity (fps)APEXSeries Average Velocity (fps)
Hornady American Gunner 124-Grain3.5252.67511751365
Hornady Critical Defense 115-Grain5.753.01511251320

That’s exactly what I found in the course of my testing. Shooting a Glock 19 in a Meta Tactical stock was always more accurate, whether from sandbags or free hand. You might argue that it isn’t fair to compare a gun with iron sights to a gun with a 5x magnified optic. But that’s sort of the point. The APEX-Series allows users to shoot their handguns with a magnified optic, which will inevitably increase accuracy.

2 - The World’s First Bullpup Pistol-to-Rifle Conversion Kit: Meta Tactical’s APEX-Series (Full Review)
2 - The World’s First Bullpup Pistol-to-Rifle Conversion Kit: Meta Tactical’s APEX-Series (Full Review)
In both images above, the targets on the left were shot with a Glock 19 handgun and the target on the right with the APEX-Series. You can see how the stable platform and optic allowed for more precise, consistent shooting. All shots were taken from 25 yards from sandbags.

Velocity also increased by about 200 feet-per-second compared with a standard 4-inch Glock 19 barrel. More speed allows bullets to fly flatter, so users don’t have to compensate quite as much at longer distances. I found that hitting a man-sized target at 100 yards required nothing more than aiming at the “neck” and pulling the trigger.

So, How’s It Shoot?

The trigger is often the Achilles’ heel of bullpup rifles, and I was especially dubious about this particular bullpup. The trigger mechanism is polymer, and adding all that extra material between my finger and the actual trigger seemed like a recipe for disaster.

I was pleasantly surprised. Your experience will depend on the trigger in your handgun, of course. An aftermarket trigger with a clean break will feel better than a factory trigger in the APEX-Series. But I wouldn’t say the APEX system degrades the overall experience too much. The trigger bar sits directly on the trigger, so there isn’t any extra takeup that isn’t already present in the original trigger. The break and reset also feel similar, though those extra moving parts keep the break from feeling quite as crisp as pulling the gun’s trigger directly.

2 - The World’s First Bullpup Pistol-to-Rifle Conversion Kit: Meta Tactical’s APEX-Series (Full Review)
This thing is a blast to shoot.

When evaluating the trigger, it’s important to keep the intended application in mind. You won’t be shooting a 9mm at 500 yards. This is a close-quarters firearm, and the trigger is more than adequate for that application.

Another thing I was pleasantly surprised by? Reliability. In hundreds of rounds of testing, I never experience a malfunction, not even with my janky 115-grain reloads. Your experience might change depending on the handgun you use, but the Glock 19 in the APEX-Series ran like a champ.

2 - The World’s First Bullpup Pistol-to-Rifle Conversion Kit: Meta Tactical’s APEX-Series (Full Review)
The gun was perfectly reliable, and lefties will appreciate this useful brass shield.

My final concern is related to repeatability. Because the gun is locked in with a simple latch, I wondered whether point of impact would shift when the gun is removed and re-installed. Fortunately, I didn’t notice any significant shifting. I removed the gun and reinstalled it several times, and my shots landed in the same circle at 25 yards.

Overall, shooting a 9mm in this configuration is a real pleasure. The 16-inch barrel reduces the shot report, and recoil is all but non-existent. Muzzle rise is also easy to control, which makes follow-up shots a cinch.

Last Shots

The APEX-Series fills a real, though admittedly niche, need in the firearms marketplace.

Pistol-caliber carbines are popular for a reason. They’re easy to shoot, fun at the range, and more effective than their handgun counterparts in a self-defense situation. But unless you want to mess with the ATF and NFA, you’re looking at a significantly longer overall length than a handgun chambered in the same caliber.

The APEX-Series is a quick and relatively inexpensive solution. The 16-inch barrel offers improved ballistics while the bullpup design retains a relatively short overall length. If you have an old Glock 19 laying around, this is a great upgrade. Throw on a magnified optic, and you’re set for some serious fun—not to mention a new and excellent option for home defense.

The APEX-Series won’t be for everyone. But for those looking for a unique, useful—not to mention fun—pistol-caliber carbine, look no further.

Click here to check it out!

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  • Jay Smith March 26, 2024, 11:00 am

    For $500? , umm nah. Just get a pcc that uses the mags of your preferred semi auto pistol. Now you have both with ammo & mag compatibility… Derp.

  • Gabe March 26, 2024, 3:29 am

    cool rifle

  • Gabe March 26, 2024, 3:26 am

    The rifle matches the picatinny rail. I like the rifle with the picatinny rail cause it can match my 1-8×24 rifle scope. You know, the rifle scope is my baby. This is the second one I bought and I think maybe I will buy another one if it doesn’t work. And maybe I will add the rifle aboove into my cart. So that I can have a new rifle and a rifle scope. https://www.cvlife.com/products/cvlife-bearpower-1-8×24-rifle-scope-with-30mm-cantilever-mount

  • meep March 25, 2024, 11:51 am

    interesting design, and with a 16″ barrel i get avoiding the atf and all but why? when one can literally buy a full-on ar-15 for what one would have in this chassis. i get sharing mags and one ammo type and all that but i’d rather be able to reliably and accurately be able to reach out to 300 if needed. jmo.

  • Guy Barnhart March 25, 2024, 8:25 am

    I tried to purchase a Meta Tactical a year ago. Meta always had an excuse as to why the gun wasn’t ready yet. I got my money back within a 30 day time period, because of credit card dictates. I also tried to find their manufacturing plant, but was told that all parts were farmed out. In addition, the BBB rating is F. Buy at your peril, as I did. Further, this review closely follows one done by Guns America a year ago: don’t think it is the same author.

  • B. B. March 25, 2024, 7:31 am

    Kel-Tec Sub 2k is less money than the chassis and does the same thing and allows you to keep your pistol.

    • Pete April 9, 2024, 8:44 pm

      Except that the Subby sucks at it. I’ve had two of them: a Gen 1 and a Gen 2 but never regretted getting rid of them. The trigger is awful and the charging system seems like something from the Stone Age. As far as bullpups go, the design of the Meta looks like a stage prop from Flash Gordon. No, not Star Wars.
      I will tell you who does make a really nice bullpup conversion for Hi-Point carbines and 10/22’s: High Tower Armory.

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