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Gun Review: Beretta APX A1 Full Size 9mm Pistol


Beretta APX A1 Full Size 9mm

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Let’s jump into the Wayback Machine and set the dial for early 2017. Beretta had recently lost out on the Army’s modular handgun system competition. But the Italian gun maker used the product of that process to introduce their first ever full size striker-fired handgun to the commercial market.

The APX full size pistol did everything you want a 9mm striker-fired handgun to do and did it very well. Beretta then expanded the APX line with a range of sizes and features up to and including the APX A1 Carry pistol rolled out last fall.

But one look at the APX Carry pistol made it clear that something was afoot in APX World. The design was clearly different. The slide indentations (the weren’t really serrations) of the line were gone. Instead, the APX Carry had more conventional serrations and Beretta personnel promised more changed to the APX platform were in the works.

Those changes were made clear when Beretta announced the new APX A1 Full Size in the run-up to NRA. While you can see echos of the original APX (Beretta now refers to it as the APX A Zero), the changes to the APX A1 are much more than cosmetic. Beretta says the new gun is the result of five years of evolution and improvements.

Beretta APX A1 Full Size 9mm Pistol

Let’s start with the outside. Like the APX A1 Carry, the new APX A1 Full Size does away with those slide indentations that some liked and some loathed. Instead, Beretta’s given the slide a much more aggressive angled serration pattern that’s more along the lines of other competitors in the APX A1’s class. Beretta says their Aquatech nitride coating is much more corrosion resistant, too.

But there’s more to that new slide. First and foremost, it’s optics-ready, a virtual must-have in any serious new handgun these days. Given the wide array of mounting platforms for pistol optics, Beretta ships the APX A1 without plates…just the standard cover. They sell a wide range of plates (about $50 each) for any RDO mount you can think of including Trijicon, Leupold, Aimpoint, and Burrus/Docter.

Beretta APX A1 Full Size 9mm Pistol
Like the original, the APX A1 is fully ambidextrous (APX A1 above, original APX below)

The APX A1 Full Size slide also sports a tritium night sight on the front and a plain black serrated rear sight. Another good move: the sights are Beretta 92/94 compatible so there’s a world of aftermarket options out there if you want something different.

Beretta APX A1 Full Size 9mm Pistol
The front sight is tritium illuminated. The serrated rear sight frames the front post nicely.

Beretta ships the APX A1 Full Size with two 17-round magazines (unless, of course, you live in one of those states…you poor people get 10-rounders). They’ve also given the APX A1 a recontoured beavertail that gives you a slightly higher grip on the gun

Beretta APX A1 Full Size 9mm
Beretta has extended the texturing on the APX A1 up higher on the frame.

Beretta has updated the frame on the APX A1, too. They’ve added more and different texturing, extending the stippling up onto the index points on the frame. The finger grooves that the original APX sported are gone.

Beretta APX A1 Full Size 9mm

The other big improvement Beretta is boasting about is a APX A1’s trigger. The Beretta engineers call it “category redefining” and the “best out-of-the-box” trigger sold. I’m not sure that level of hyperbole is justified, but the APX A1 trigger is very good — as was the the original’s.

The APX A1 Full Size trigger is rated at a 6.5-pound pull weight, but the pistol I tested averaged 5.8 pounds on my Lyman trigger gauge with a clean pull and short reset.

Beretta APX A1 Full Size
The undercut on the APX A1 is slightly deeper than on the original.

Another improvement: the APX A1’s trigger blade safety.

Beretta APX A1 Full Size 9mm
Original APX trigger safety blade (left) and APX A1 safety blade (right)

On the original APX, the trigger blade safety was rounded and raised slightly. When depressed, it stays proud of the trigger shoe (see above), leaving a thin “ridge” against your trigger finger. That’s not a big deal most of he time, but if you’re at the range and shooting a lot, it can wear on your digit.

The APX A1 safety blade is squared off and recedes fully when the trigger is pressed flush with the shoe. It feels flat when pulled, which is noticeably more comfortable.

Beretta APX A1 Full Size 9mm
Original APX (left) APX A1 (right)

Another upgrade Beretta made is a better recoil spring. Beretta’s gone to a lighter weight single coil recoil spring that’s easier to rack.

Beretta APX A1 Full Size 9mm

The change doesn’t seem to have affected reliability at all and should make it a little easier for people with reduced hand strength (not that the original was particularly difficult to rack). The APX A1 reliably cycled all of the rounds I fed it in weights ranging from 115 to 147 grains.

The barrels are exactly the same on both APX versions which means Beretta’s threaded barrels will work just fine.

And yes, the new APX A1 Full Size is still just as modular as the original.

Beretta APX A1 Full Size 9mm
Beretta APX A1 fire control unit

While pulling the Beretta’s fire control unit is slightly more involved than it is on other modular pistols, it’s not difficult. You’ll just have to drift out a pin. That then lets you swap out grip frames if you want.

Beretta APX A1 Full Size 9mm

The magazines are the same for both the original and APX A1 pistols and Beretta says there will be some backward compatibility on holsters.

Beretta APX A1 Full Size 9mm

The dimensions of the APX A1 are…close to those of the original.

Beretta APX A1 Full Size 9mm

That said, I could just get the APX A1 in the Kydex holster I have for the original APX. It’s definitely not a perfect fit, but it’s useable. If you’re upgrading from the APX to the APX A1, definitely try the new pistol in your existing rigs, but my guess is you’ll want to buy a holster molded for the new model.

Beretta APX A1 Full Size 9mm

This is a gun I just happen to shoot really well. With the small backstrap installed, it fits my hand really well and just feels natural.

At a press event for the rollout of the APX A1 we had a competition among the media types who were there. I am by no means a competitive shooter and usually don’t fare well in these things. But somehow I finished in the upper middle of the pack shooting the APX A1 with a Burrus Fast Fire red dot. Your mileage may vary, but my guess is a lot of people will experience similarly good results.

Beretta APX A1 Full Size 9mm

Beretta’s done a lot of good work improving what was already a very competent 9mm handgun. They’ve obviously been listening to their customers over the years and have made a lot of changes — both cosmetic and functional — that make the APX A1 very competitive with literally any other full size 9mm pistol on the market.

Specifications: Beretta APX A1 Full Size Pistol

Caliber: 9mm
Capacity: 17+1
Action: Striker fired
Barrel length: 4.25″
Overall length: 7.5″
Overall height: 5.6″
Overall width: 1.3″
Sight Radius: 6.1″
Weight: 20 oz.
MSRP: $529

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style: * * * *
I was a fan of the original APX. As I mentioned to one of the Beretta engineers who were at the rollout event, the original looked like it was designed by Italians. I meant that as a compliment, but I’m not sure he took it that way. Anyway, the new design of the updated APX A1 will appeal to far more users than did the original design. No polymer striker-fired 9mm is beautiful, but to me the APX A1 looks good.

Ergonomics: * * * * *
This is really most of the point of the the upgrades APX A1. The frame has been improved with better texturing a deeper undercut and recontoured beavertail. The slide’s new, more standard and aggressive serrations are easier to grab and far less likely to slip. And the change to the trigger safety blade is a definite plus.

Concealability: * * *
The APX A1 is no harder to conceal than any other full-size 9mm pistol. Which means if you’re willing to pack a full-size gun, it’s OK depending on your rig and cover clothing.

Reliability: * * * * *
I’ve put a lot of rounds through this gun with a wide variety of ammo. I was also at an event where a number of other writers did the same. I experienced zero malfs and didn’t see anyone else have one either. At all.

Customize This: * * * *
It has a rail, three backstraps and it’s optics-ready, so pretty much everything you’d need. The 92/94 compatible sights were a good idea, too. One star off for shipping the pistol without plates.

Overall: * * * * *
Again, I like (and an own) the original APX. I didn’t mind the slide indentations or the pistol’s looks. Not everyone had the same opinion. If you were in the latter group, you should be very happy about the upgrades and re-think Beretta has given their flagship 9mm striker-fired pistol. The updated APX A1 can and does give every other full size 9mm a real run for its money.

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