Review: Beretta APX Carry

Beretta’s APX Carry delivers safety and functionality in a subcompact package.

Review: Beretta APX Carry

Beretta APX Carry has several great features users will appreciate. (Photo: Tom McHale)

With the introduction of the Beretta APX Carry, the APX is now a true family affair.

Prior to the release of the APX Carry, the company offered three size configurations: Full-size, the Centurion and the Compact. The full-size and Centurion share the same grip height, but the Centurion shortens the slide and barrel to 3.7 inches from the full-size version’s 4.25 inches. The Compact model takes 0.8 inches off the overall height by sacrificing two rounds of magazine capacity and shares the Centurion’s 3.7-inch barrel and slide. While any model can be carried, the compact has so far been the only pistol optimized for that use. But no longer.

With its pocket-friendly size and 3.06-inch barrel, the APX Carry falls squarely into the subcompact category.

A Short Tour 

While not in the same size category as something like a Ruger LCP, it can be carried in a jacket or cargo-style pocket. The APX Carry measures just 5.63 inches long and 4.17 inches high, which is slightly smaller than the newest Springfield Armory XD-S at 6.3 inches long and 4.7 inches high. While the proportions and mass distribution are different, the APX Carry occupies about the same footprint as a Smith & Wesson 642 snub-nose revolver.

The slide on the APX Carry is a scaled-down version of the one used on the larger APX pistols with its unique triangular ridge pattern. On the APX Carry, there are four ridges at the rear of the slide and four more up front. I wouldn’t call them serrations, as they are raised surfaces from the slide body. I find this design more effective than cut serrations, especially when using an over-the-slide whole-hand technique to rack.

The frame of the APX Carry has the same cosmetic features as the larger pistols although the back strap is one size fits all and there are no replaceable inserts as there are on the full-size model.  

The APX Carry differs from the larger members of the family in its trigger design. It’s still a striker-fired handgun like all the other APX pistols but this one is designed as a double-action trigger. Presumably as a nod to carry safety, the trigger is not only heavier, but carries longer travel for the break and reset. On the pre-production sample I’ve been testing, the trigger weighs 6 ¼ pounds consistently. As for movement, the APX Carry trigger travels 1/4 inch with minimal take-up resistance until you start to feel pressure. From that point, you’ll feel a full ½ inch of travel under pressure before the break. That means that overall trigger travel distance, as measured by the bottom end, is just about 3/4 of an inch.

Compare that to a Smith & Wesson 642 and the overall pull length is about the same, although the APX Carry’s pull weight is significantly less than that on a double-action revolver. There’s a bit of over-travel but it’s hard to detect and doesn’t interfere with the shot. The trigger reset also requires ½ inch of forward travel. You’ll hear and feel the reset “click” but it’s a bit more subtle than the reset of the Glock 43X that I was testing side by side with the Beretta. You’ll also notice that the trigger face is rounded, more like that on a revolver. The trigger on the larger APX pistols has a flat face.

The sights on the APX Carry are a bit different. The front is a steel sight with a white dot insert. The rear sight has a vertical leading edge for easy one-handed racking if required. There are no dots on the rear sight in order to help the eye find the front sight more easily, and the rear surface of the back sight is horizontally serrated to reduce glare. The sights are replaceable: the rear sight uses a standard side-to-side dovetail while the front sight is set into a dovetail that’s longitudinal to the bore. The sight slides in from the muzzle toward the back and there appears to be a small Allen screw that locks it into place. As a result, any side-to-side point of impact adjustment has to be done on the rear sight.

The new APX Carry is available in four different frame finish options including black, flat dark earth, olive drab green and wolf gray. All models feature the same black slide. The pistol ships in a cardboard box with a soft zipper case for transport.

Administrative Functions

The field-stripping procedure of the Beretta APX Carry is elegant and safe. You can remove the slide, barrel and recoil spring assembly in seconds. After removing the magazine and making sure the chamber is empty, you must release the sear. You can do this by pressing the trigger, but you don’t have to. On the right side of the frame just forward of the beavertail area, you’ll see a small recessed button. Pressing on this with a punch, key or other handy object will release the sear safely so you can continue on to the next step.

Also on the right side of the frame, you’ll spot a round pin a bit larger than a No. 2 pencil. There’s a slot that allows you to rotate that takedown pin counter-clockwise with a key or dime. Once that’s done, the slide assembly slides off the front of the frame. To reassemble, put the slide back in position and rotate that pin a quarter turn clockwise. “Triggerless” takedown is a nice extra safety feature on this pistol.

The slide lock lever is on the left side only. It’s recessed in the frame so it won’t present an obstacle to inside-the-waistband carry. It’s positioned just forward of my thumb knuckle when I have a normal grip, so I can use the “strong” part of my thumb to operate it. As with most subcompact pistols, it’s subtle and takes a deliberate effort to release.

The magazine release button comes on the left side by default. But it is reversible, so no worries if you shoot left-handed — the position is good. I didn’t have to move my firing hand fingers out of the way to operate it with the pad of my thumb.

As for magazines, the gun comes with two. Both are steel with polymer baseplates, so they fall freely when you hit the mag release button. The standard magazine holds six while the extended magazine holds eight, so total capacity with one in the chamber is seven and nine. The standard magazine features a pinky extension. For me, this allows about half of my pinky finger to get on the grip. If you want maximum concealment, there’s an extra baseplate in the box that’s flat, so the overall height is a bit shorter. The extended magazine adds a full extension to the grip that allows me to fit all fingers on, but just barely.

Range Performance

I shot a variety of ammo from Sig Sauer, Federal, Doubletap Ammunition, Inceptor and Liberty through the APX Carry. Most loads were in the 115- to 124-grain category. I didn’t try any 147-grain ammo as I figured defensive loads in that category wouldn’t perform ideally with lower velocity from the subcompact 3.07-inch barrel.

I wanted to see how velocity stood up from the 3.07-inch barrel, so after some freehand shooting to get acclimated, I shot numerous rounds of each ammo type through a Shooting Chrony Beta Master placed 15 feet downrange and averaged the results. (See chart.)

The interesting options for this little pistol are the light-for-caliber Doubletap and Inceptor offerings. In the reduced weight ranges, velocity increased significantly while recoil was reduced.

I then set up targets to get a feel for practical accuracy. As this is a close-range and subcompact defensive pistol, I kept things casual and used a simple sandbag rest from a distance of 15 yards. My first couple of groups had low flyers from the first round out of the magazine. After checking things out, I figured out that this pre-production pistol was struggling just a bit to get back into perfect battery. It returned to battery from spring power, but it was just a hair unsettled. After a couple dozen rounds, it broke in and operated normally without those first shot flyers. (See chart.)

This was not an uncomfortable pistol to shoot like many subcompact models. I could get a proper grip, even with the low-profile magazine and with its 20 ounces of weight unloaded, there’s enough mass to soak up 9mm recoil.

The APX Carry Buyer

Even with all the safety devices in modern pistols, a lot of people remain nervous about carrying a self-defense pistol with a round in the chamber unless there is a secondary manual safety. Right, wrong or indifferent, that’s the way many think. While not to the degree of a snubnose revolver, the heavier and longer trigger pull design of the APX Carry offers similar peace of mind. You really have to intend to fire this gun — a light touch on the trigger simply isn’t going to do it.

The difference between the APX Carry and a snubbie revolver is that this pistol is much easier to shoot accurately. With a little more than half the trigger weight and a sight radius that’s 1 ¼ inches longer, it takes less skill to operate the APX effectively. Add to that the benefit of at least two additional rounds in a package of approximately equal size and fast reloading with the second magazine, and the APX makes a solid concealed carry option.

From a size perspective, the APX Carry occupies a niche between the super tiny pistols like the Ruger LCP and slightly larger models like the new Glock 43X. Dimensionally, it fits right between those. From a positioning standpoint, I would compare it to a snubbie revolver first and foremost given the size and double-action feel of the trigger.

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