The Extar EP45 – Big Bore Subgun

in Authors, Gun Reviews, Pistols, Travis Pike

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Extar is a small American firearms company that has a real cult following. They admittedly approach the industry in a different way. They sell directly to the consumer. Cutting out the middle man makes it easy to offer their carbines at a very low price. What started with a standard 9mm large format AR-type pistol has evolved into the EP45. This is a 45 ACP, large-format pistol. I mentioned it’s ARish, but it’s not an AR-15.

It poses as one and takes some of the best things from the AR. The EP45 uses Glock 21 magazines and provides shooters with a pretty handy dandy platform if you prefer the mighty 230-grain, .45-inch round. It’s not the first time I’ve ever seen a .45 ACP PCC-like subgun, but it’s the first time I’ve seen one cost 499.99 and not be a Hi-Point.r

The Guts of the EP45

The Extar EP45 uses a direct blowback system which is no surprise. Direct blowback 45 ACPs can often feel like a handful. It’s a big cartridge, and blowback-operated guns tend to have some excessive recoil. A .45 ACP could be a bit nasty, but Extar uses this recoil-reducing system that is supposed to take the sting out of the .45 ACP.

The EP45 broken down into parts
It breaks down almost like an AR-15, but not 100%

This eliminates the need for a super strong recoil spring or an overly heavy bolt. The EP45 weighs a mere four pounds and eight ounces. The gun has a 6.5-inch barrel and an overall length of 23.8 inches. It’s a compact, large-format pistol.

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It’s AR-like, and that includes some of the ergonomics. The safety, for example, Magazine release, the pistol grip, bolt release, and buffer tube design. The buffer tube is covered with a soft cheekpiece, but it’s removable if you want to add a brace. However, with the whole brace business going on, that’ll be up to you.

EP45 with rear-mounted optic
Mounting the optic to the rear ensured the charging handle didn’t get in the way of the mount

Where it departs from the AR is in the left side charging handle that is reciprocating. The charging handle is mostly fine, but you’ll want a smooth side optic mount. Mine had a QD handle, and it would rap my knuckles if I placed it anywhere but the rear or very front of the gun.

Up front, we do have a round M-LOK handguard that is also nicely textured for a good grip. It’s plenty comfy and allows for mounting all the accessories your heart desires. The barrel has a ⅝-24 thread pitch, and it comes with an attached blast can.

At the Range With the EP45

Extar provided the pistol, and Nosler was very kind in providing a pile of ammo to test it. The Nosler 185-grain JHPs were my ammo of choice. The world of .45 ACP and hollowpoints is an interesting one. Luckily, Extar’s potential Dynamic Feed Control system promises to feed every round you can toss through it.

The Extar EP45 - Big Bore Subgun
The controls are AR-like, but not identical.

With the mags loaded and the gun ready to rock and roll, I hit the range and started by zeroing my optic. Zeroing was the toughest part. This type of pistol isn’t zeroed like a normal pistol, but it’s also not zeroed like a normal rifle. I used a table and got the best-supported position I could, and let it fly. It took me more time and ammo than I’d like to admit, but I eventually figured it out.

Shooter using the Extar EP45 outside in the shade of a tree
The .45 ACP doesn’t need a flash can, but it does protect the threads in case you want a suppressor.

The Raw Accuracy

With that said, let’s talk about raw mechanical accuracy. The gun delivers on that front. I produced a three-round group that looked like a clover leaf, with all the rounds touching at 25 yards. The trigger is somewhat stiff but also super short, with no real pretravel. It’s a single-stage design that’s fairly nice.

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At 25 yards, I practiced doing a controlled mag dump. I wanted to see how fast I could dump the thirteen-round magazine in 10 seconds at 25 yards and what accuracy I could expect. Twelve of the thirteen rounds landed in the black of the B8. Although they were a bit low, so I made some adjustments after that.

The Extar EP45 - Big Bore Subgun
Not bad with a large format pistol fired rapidly with a ten second par time. I adjusted the dot up a hair after this group.

The EP45 is certainly accurate enough and honestly above average for the price point. Add in the fact it’s a little awkward due to its size, and it’s still quite accurate.

Controlling the Beast

The EP45 has some noticeable recoil. It’s not quite rough or painful, but it’s got a bit of snap I had to learn to control. Without a stock, that seemed tough at first, but as a shotgun fan, I often employ a push/pull method to control recoil. With the textured forend, I use a similar technique and push the front of the gun forward while pulling the grip rearward. This tension helps me easily defeat the recoil and keep the gun on target.

Extar EP45 on wooden bench with Nosler Ammunition
The EP45 is very short and very light for a blowback large format pistol.

With this technique, I was able to lay down those quick strings of fire and controlled mag dumps. The EP45 is very capable of providing quick double taps on target with the right technique employed. The EP45 hits hard and hits fast, making it well-suited for home defense. Add in the fact that it’s small and maneuverable, and you get a capable little PDW that travels easily too.

Closeup of the Extar EP45 handguard
The handguard made it easier to shoot with a push/pull technique

The controls are nice, and the side charger makes a lot of sense once you start shooting a bit more. Without a stock, working an AR-type charging handle would be awkward. One of the more interesting features is the last-round bolt hold open. That’s rare on rifles that use Glock mags these days, so seeing it on a very affordable platform was surprising.

The Extar EP45 - Big Bore Subgun
I need to invest in a few larger-capacity magazines for this beast

One of the few downsides of the gun is the magwell. It is quite tight. It does not drop the magazine free and takes a dedicated tug to remove from the gun. Loading takes a firm hand as well. A fully loaded magazine does not like to load on a closed bolt either. Reloading isn’t the fastest task you will accomplish.

Feeding the EP45

The high-quality Nosler ammo fed fine, and as expected, premium ammo delivered premium results. It was the most accurate of the ammo types I tried. On top of the Nosler, I used some basic 230-grain FMJs from Winchester and this handful of Tula 45 I’ve held onto forever. It ate through everything without any fuss. Feeding, firing, and ejecting was always reliable. In fact, the ejection pattern was so predictable it formed a near-perfect little pile of .45 ACP cases.

Extar EP45 magazine and beautiful rounds of Nosler .45
Thanks to Nosler for providing so much ammo for this review.

The EP45 – A Mighty Subgun

I’m impressed. For 499.99, the EP45 is one helluva platform. It’s surprisingly nice, with an excellent degree of reliability, accuracy, and excellent ergonomics. The EP45 provides a non-9 mm subgun that doesn’t cost a fortune and still handles like a champ. My main complaint would be the tight magwell, but I can overcome that. Now I need to get my hands on some bigger magazines, maybe a suppressor, and a different optics mount, and I’ll be ready to rock and roll. Check Extar out here, and give Nosler a peek if you need some high-quality freedom seeds.

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  • Jeff Corino November 20, 2023, 4:32 pm

    Is it available in California?

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