Beretta’s APX line has been well received overall in the market, but the line only had regular and tactical full-sized models, plus a carry version. Now they’ve rolled out the Beretta APX A1 Compact, a size many people might prefer over the smaller carry version, as it is still concealable but handles more like a full-sized gun.
The Beretta APX A1 Compact has proven to me once again that, while first impressions are important, you should never let a first impression rule over the evidence. Don’t get me wrong, my first impression wasn’t exactly negative. The gun looked attractive enough, but you get to a point in handling so many guns where they all start to seem similar, and nothing seemed to distinguish this one at first glance. If anything, I was a little put off by how chunky the steel slide and some of the controls seemed.
But then I shot it. Its out-of-the-box accuracy was immediately noticeable and it felt very good indeed. That “chunky” slide was well balanced once the magazine was inserted, the gun pointed naturally with a good grip angle and the recoil seemed less than what you might feel in many comparable guns.
Ergonomically, the gun felt mostly good. A double-undercut trigger guard worked to keep my grip high and the “fang” between the two undercuts didn’t bother my support hand’s index finger, as sometimes happens with my smaller proportions. The small flare forward at the front base of the grip helps to prevent gun-flip—probably only minimally, but every little bit counts. The front and back of the grip have significant texturing with much-less-aggressive (but still-useful) texturing on the sides. This texturing works very well without being negatively noticeable. Even the front of the trigger guard offers ridges to keep your finger in place in case you like putting your support-hand’s index finger there. (I tried it both with and without a finger on the trigger guard and it was quite comfortable both ways.)
The grip clearly was not designed with tiny hands in mind, however, so the chunkier controls along the top of the frame (like the ambidextrous slide stop) are very noticeable, though doubtless easier to operate under stress—and that really might matter since they’re also pretty stiff, at least right out of the box. The index points (extra texturing on the frame where your thumbs might rest) are also too far forward to do me any good, but these are always nice to have if they fit. Multiple backstraps also come in the box to improve grip, and—should the fit still not be perfect—one of the very nice things about the APX family is that the serialized portion of the gun does not include the grip frame, so you can lift out the inner chassis and drop it into a different frame.
The serrations on the APX A1 Compact’s steel slide are good without being overly sharp, and the slide has an anti-corrosion coating Beretta calls Aquatech Shield. It is also optics-ready with five kit options, sold separately, so it should be able to accommodate your favorite optic. The nice, bright fiber-optic front sight was easy to pick up quickly, so if, like me, you are one of the “gun Amish” (as I heard John Correia put it in a recent lecture), accuracy is still readily achievable. The frame also has a two-slot rail for a flashlight or laser so you can add your favorite and see in the dark.
Let’s talk trigger. If you like the trigger on the full-sized APX A1 version, you should like this one; I didn’t notice any difference. It is a very slightly curved design—just enough—with a thin safety blade in the middle that will go sub-flush. I’m not a fan of safety blades, and this one was negatively noticeable at first, especially with that trigger pull weight coming in between six and seven pounds. (I know, I know—my poor, delicate fingers! But most people don’t toughen up their fingers deliberately, so I consider it a valid point.) Marketing for this gun claims a crisp trigger, and definitions may vary on that, but my experience with the trigger is safety blade, slack, slightly spongy feeling, wall. The trigger is not bad for a striker-fired gun, however—certainly not bad enough to affect your shots—and perfectly fine for most people’s uses, especially once you’ve gotten used to the feel.
By the end of my testing, I gained a very positive overall impression about the Beretta APX A1 Compact. I would not purchase it myself only because it’s not a great fit for my hands, but I would encourage it for anyone who likes its fit. Its biggest selling point, in my opinion, is that I experienced no malfunctions at all during testing—a rare-enough event to be noticeable—and that was with a non-ideal fit for my hands, so it’s clearly a forgiving gun. It is also easy to shoot this gun accurately without much effort thanks to the natural grip angle and bright front sight. (My velocity testing—for which I’m not concerned about accuracy at all beyond not shooting the chronograph—resulted in a target with no center paper remaining.) Those features together—reliability and ease of accuracy—make the Beretta APX A1 Compact an excellent choice for anyone and especially for anyone who might not get to train as often as might be ideal, since the gun is essentially doing some of the work on your behalf.