We feel honor-bound to start with what we think the lawyers call “a statement against interest,” though common vernacular might be closer to simply outing ourselves: We were hacked at the Apex folks for a good long time.
You may recollect that we ran the SIG Sauer P320 pretty hard in three calibers and four versions (here, here and here), luckily portending a large-scale military adoption (by the U.S. Army) which has since come to pass. We even made an admittedly undistinguished transit of USPSA Nationals—no fault of the P320—though this was the genesis of our irritation. The factory trigger was already pretty good, but we hoped for better with an aftermarket upgrade. Apex was the only game in town at the time; suffice it to say the upgrade, well, wasn’t.
Long story short, we kept the grousing to ourselves in hopes of a more civil and personal chance for redress, and that too has come to pass. Turns out our very early gun was the victim of tolerance issues, and the Apex folks were a) polite in the extreme, and b) glad to fix us up.
Whether you prefer the flat-faced Apex (right), or the curved (see our marquee image), either will outperform the SIG original at left—and it wasn’t bad either. Photo by A1F Staff
Two syllables are adequate as to the result: “Yee,” and “hah,” and at very high volume.
Provisioned with their Curved Advanced, we’ve passed the 500-round mark and pronounce the results superb. As promised, the install is a dream—perhaps the easiest we’ve ever encountered (a double-checked empty gun though, remember?). Granted we’ve been in the SIGs before, but still think it was under five minutes. Other common annoyances in striker ignition systems are also entirely absent, even when we try to excite them with deliberately short-seated primers. No joy—bang, bang, bang, bang; just as before. And reset? Right on the edge of scary good as well.
Our only complaint is a small one, and it required very careful measurement: Trigger press reduction is quoted as “approximately 2 pounds,” and ours was only 1.9.
This isn’t our first dance, so to speak, with ETS Glock magazines, so it’s best to fess up: We’re fans for a variety of reasons, though our recommendation comes with a proviso. More self-loading firearms have been “stopped” by magazine issues than by flood, fire, famine and war put together. So never, never, never load up on these (or any other) until you’ve tried them in your gun. Period.
But if your particular gun is a Glock G42, absolutely do try them. We’re impressed.
ETS sent us their flush fitting seven-rounder, slightly extended nine and comparatively gargantuan 12, and we wrecked an oversized sample of ammunition (see below) while failing to foul them up. We had one stoppage in a max tension situation (a full nine-rounder from a 9+1 start) which was completely on us: We were a little loose on the gun in a close-to-the-body retention grip. In other words, all our fault. Interesting to note, however, that this was on the very first use of the magazine—we couldn’t reproduce it on a second or third attempt.
TOP: If you can blow the round count here, you must be trying. BOTTOM: Big stick 12, extended nine (our favorite for pinky support while preserving pocket carry), and flush-fitting seven-round mag. Photo by A1F Staff
We already copped to a predisposition here, and it’s an obvious one: Nothing—and certainly not witness holes—quite matches a translucent (polymer) magazine for confirming round count. But there are other reasons we like the ETSs, too. The flush-fitting seven adds an extra round, but no length—great for pocket carry. The nine takes you to 9+1 while providing “pinky” purchase and better control, a benefit even in the soft-shooting G42. It also still fits—barely—for pocket carry.
The 12-rounder is just plain fun, though if this was a night-table gun, we’d be using the “big stick” and a backup for a total of 25 available rounds. We grant that .380 ACP is on the low end of the defensive calibers by power, but if it’s what you have, why not have the higher round count?
One thing is incomplete in our tests, and it will have to wait. Factory Glock mags use a steel liner to add significantly to strength and longevity, and the ETSs lack that internal support, though in turn, the ETS walls are thicker. We’ll see.
Given the great functioning to date, though, it’s ETS 3, Guns & Gear Editor 0.
Visit Elite Tactical Systems at http://www.etsgroup.us/ MSRPs are $17, $22 and $22 respectively for seven, nine and 12 round magazines.
10X .380 ACP Ammunition
We’re hoping to conjure a Jedi mind trick for our friends at 10x from Blue Lakes Ammunition. Maybe that way they’ll miss the fact that we don’t have any of their dandy .380 ACP reloads to show you.
250 rounds of shiny 10x Ammunition looked really nice in there, trust us. And they shot even better. Photo by A1F Staff
The truth is we shot them all in about 35 minutes, trying to get a malfunction in the ETS magazines above. Every last one. At one point, our poor little G42 was too hot to touch.
But we learned something along the way: The 10x .380 ACP is a startlingly good training round in a caliber that needs precisely that. We detest the hard-primered imports for their comparatively high failure to ignite rate, and while most domestics are clearly better, we suspect they’re using slower-burning (and generally less-expensive) powders to maximize margins.
That’s fair enough we guess, being capitalists ourselves. But this engenders some problems for folks who’d like to shoot more of J. M. Browning’s diminutive corto/kurz nine. Even in the better locked-breach guns, it makes the cartridge disproportionately bucky in recoil. Not terrible in relative terms, we know, but it turns these physically smaller guns into an annoying, technique-sabotaging handful.
We also don’t find the imports very accurate. The 100-grain flat-based round nose of the 10x seems to us the polar opposite, landing most of our remotely careful shots in the same slowly widening hole at defensive ranges. Even in emergency let-them-rip mode, anything but “A”s were uncommon.
If this sounds like we’ll be in no hurry to unlimber our .380 ACP dies, you’ve got it exactly: If you can find 10x Remanufactured .380 ACP, buy it and shoot it.
‘Bout time we all committed to getting better with our small carry guns anyway.
Frank Winn has been studying arms and their relationship to tyranny, meaningful liberty and personal security all his adult life. He has been a firearms safety/shooting instructor for more than 20 years, and earned state, regional and national titles in several competitive disciplines.