When Beretta introduced the APX pistol a few years ago, I was immediately impressed with its feel and the performance, ranking it at that time among the best duty-sized polymer-framed, striker-fired 9mm handguns on the market. But I’ll confess, it was its non-traditional appearance that originally got my attention. The slide of the APX resembles the tires on a monster truck, with oversized “serrations” for lack of a better word, which clearly indicates this handgun is designed for tough use. I wondered at that time if we’d get to see a subcompact or even micro-sized version of this design in the future. Well, the future is now, and we do indeed have that micro-9 sized Beretta APX that is everything its larger sibling is, in a very tiny package.
When I say “tiny”, I don’t mean just a version of the APX that someone took a hacksaw to – it has been redesigned into a completely new form factor. This is a pocket-sized 9mm, well suited for deep concealment. At just over a pound, and less than six inches long, it not only fits into your front pocket – it fits there comfortably. The other key dimension is the width – or perhaps the lack thereof. The APX Carry is just 0.9” thick, which allows it to melt into your daily attire whether that be a business suit or shorts and a tee-shirt.
And while the firearms industry has made amazing strides in the ability to design higher capacity pistols that are miraculously small, there is a place for the stable and time proven single-stack 9mm. Beretta is not new to this concept, nor is it new to offering such a gun to its customers. The Beretta Nano, if you recall, is a micro-9 that was not only extremely small, but came to market with a snag-free design that eliminated almost all external controls, such as slide stop and takedown lever. The APX Carry advances that package onward into today’s current marketplace where buyers want more control but not more size.
The APX Carry is almost identical in its footprint to its predecessor the Nano – but the ergonomics have changed a bit, some user controls have been added back (and some have not), and it has been ruggedized. The changes in design versus Nano can be summarized as follows: a larger rear sight that is all flat black with serrations on the APX Carry to appeal to the current preferences that buyer’s have; a deeper grip (front to back) to make the pistol feel more natural and comfortable to larger hands, equipped with backstrap extension to protect the magazine baseplate and act as a guide for reloading quickly; a squared off and enlarged trigger guard to better accommodate a gloved finger; the trademark APX slide with “all-terrain” grip serrations; a slightly extended beavertail (again, making the gun more friendly to the larger hand); and my personal favorite change – an external slide stop that functions nicely as a slide release. In most every other way, the two pistols are identical. So much so, that the magazines are interchangeable.
Beretta did hold its ground on keeping some controls from becoming bumps and levers on the outside of the gun. It has no external manual safety – using internal safeties, trigger safety, and length of trigger pull for that. It is also absent a takedown lever – just as the Nano is. The takedown is accomplished by rotating the slide lock pin using the notch on the right side of the pistol. In a pinch, you can use the rim of a cartridge, but I discovered it is perfectly sized for the edge of a nickel. Field strip is simple and contains no surprises. The barrel and recoil spring assembly are easily removed and re-installed for cleaning.
At least a few times every year, I have a need for a deep concealment handgun. Something smaller than usual, and carried in some alternate way – in other words, no Kydex IWB holster, maybe not even a pocket holster. When I go for deep concealment – I almost always select a single-stack 9mm. This is mainly for its thinness, although length and height are also very important. The APX Carry is a perfect candidate for such purpose. And, if you’ve ever carried in an ankle rig and didn’t want to walk like Frankenstein’s monster, you know that the light weight is also appreciated.
The ergonomics of the APX have not been lost or diluted with the Carry model. Beretta has increased the front-to-back measurement of the grip to make the pistol a better fit for average to large hands. One major complaint I hear often from men and women alike is that micro pistols don’t offer enough meat to hold onto, or that the trigger reach can be too short. The curved backstrap also helps to fill the palm, and Beretta has added about ½” of polymer behind the magazine baseplate. This protects the magazine, aids in reloads (helps guide the magazine in like a shoehorn), and also adds height and increases the amount of hand-to-gun contact for a sturdy grasp. Helping maintain that grip is the aggressive texture which includes tiny pyramids on the front and back straps to keep the pistol planted during recoil.
SHOOTING THE APX CARRY
Pushing the APX Carry out to the target for the first time, you’ll notice two things: The gun feels bigger than it really is, due to some clever ergonomics; and it has a great sight picture. As you start to engage the trigger, you’ll notice that it has a long pull. About a half-inch or more from the take-up/reset position to the break. There is no “wall” to speak of, it is just one long fluid motion. Having some travel on a self-defense firearm is not a bad thing – not at all. But what you’ll likely notice after thinking “gee, this is fairly long pull”, is, “but boy, it sure is smooth!”. And it is that – very smooth. I measured the trigger at almost exactly 6 lbs. on a Lyman digital gauge and it feels lighter. The reset is long – all the way back to the initial position – but nicely audible and tactile. The APX uses a trigger safety in the form of a polymer blade inside the trigger shoe, and it collapses fully flush and is not an annoyance during live fire or dry fire.
The long trigger gave me time to allow my shots to pull left a bit when shooting off-hand, but I was still easily able to keep all my shots within about a 4-inch group from about 8 yards. Using a rest at 12 yards, I was able to average just a hair over 2” from four groups of five rounds each. The best three of those same groups (helping eliminate flyers and shooter inconsistencies) averaged well under ¾”.
The APX Carry shoots smoothly and consistently, and handles recoil surprisingly well for its size. Learning the trigger was easy, and I never had any stutters during the more rapid shooting.
JUST MY OPINION
I have long liked the Beretta APX duty sized pistol, and when I learned they were releasing the APX Carry, I was immediately interested. Having released the APX Compact version about a year prior, I was pleased that Beretta continued the reduction to make this single-stack, true concealed carry model. I like the choices that the designers made where they actually added some size to the pistol in key places while keeping it very small where it matters. The extra size inside the trigger guard will be appreciated by anyone who’s ever tried to shoot a tiny gun with gloves on, and the “lanyard extension” to the backstrap is genius. It doesn’t really add to the height, because of the grip frame angle and the space taken by the magazine baseplate – but it gives the user nearly a half-inch of additional real estate.
There are times when you just need to lock the slide back on a handgun – and I don’t want to have to remove a magazine and strip rounds from it to do so. The addition of the external slide-stop was a key element to making this pistol truly suited for everyday carry. And of course, there is that ‘knobby-tire’ slide texture. It’s really too wide to refer to as serrations, but I’m at a loss for what other word to use. Suffice to say that it gives you fantastic traction to run the slide no matter how or where you grab it. As a bonus, I personally like the appearance. One isolated malfunction occurred where the slide did not lock open after the final shot, but this was unrepeatable. The gun is an effective fighting tool for personal defense in terms of accuracy and reliability, based on my tests. Durability long term is a guess – but I’m guessing it won’t be an issue. This is likely the most rugged 9mm pistol in its size range.