Umarex Beretta APX Part 1
Another airgun evolved from the Army’s Modular Handgun System Trials
By Dennis Adler
The new 9mm Beretta APX is among the handguns that were considered as a replacement for the Beretta M9 as the U.S. Army’s standard issue sidearm. The gun finally chosen in the Modular Handgun System competition was the Sig Sauer P320 (other finalists were Glock and FN USA). As has been the case with military handgun trials in the past, the guns that are not selected by the military end up entering the civilian market as the latest advances in handgun design. Many of those also appear soon after as CO2 powered blowback action air pistols. The new Umarex Beretta APX is the latest example.
The Umarex Beretta APX
In order to compete in the Modular Handgun System competition the gun’s construction had to reconfigurable for multiple uses (one of many requirements) and the APX was developed by Beretta with a separate fire control and trigger housing that could be moved from one frame to another. Beretta first introduced this concept with the 9mm Nano in 2011 and .380 ACP Pico in 2013, so the design parameters were not unfamiliar to the oldest armsmaker in the world. In producing a CO2 version of the APX that part of the design was not carried forward to the airgun, nor were the interchangeable backstrap panels, however, the general lines of the APX CO2 model and its “major” operating controls have been duplicated.
Since the airgun is not designed to be disassembled it does not have a functioning take down lever, so this piece is molded into the frame for visual accuracy; the blade safety trigger from the APX is also not used on the airgun and an additional mandatory sliding manual safety has been mounted on the right side of the frame where the takedown lever’s crown would be. The safety can be easily operated by the trigger finger.
The CO2 model has fixed white dot sights (that look like the fully adjustable high definition sights on the APX), a locking slide and left side only functioning slide release (the slide release is ambidextrous on the cartridge models), correct style magazine release, grip contours, surface texturing on the backstrap and frontstrap, and aggressive full length slide serrations. The weight and balance have also been closely approximated to make the APX CO2 model a suitable training aid for familiarization with the new striker-fired cartridge models.
One of the requirements for the 9mm and .40 S&W APX semi-autos was a trigger design that would provide a consistent trigger pull and quick reset. Although the CO2 version does not use a blade safety trigger, its shape is closely duplicated for the DAO design with a trigger pull resistance of 6 pounds, 4.5 ounces, vs. 6 pounds even for the centerfire model. Unfortunately, the airgun’s trigger requires a full release to reset.
Another design aspect of the Umarex model was the decision to use a separate CO2 chamber and 20-shot stick-type BB magazine with a full size APX base plate. This decision was based on the airgun’s retail price point, which is under $70. Even so, it still offers blowback action, and manages to use a polymer frame with integrated MIL STD 1913 Picatinny accessory rail, a metal slide, and duplicate the cartridge model’s low bore axis to reduce felt recoil. While felt recoil is not relevant to the CO2 model, the low bore axis of the APX design also improves accuracy, and that’s relevant to any handgun, no matter what the caliber.
From the start, Beretta designed the APX for military and law enforcement use and built a straightforward “fighting handgun” for quick deployment and action in the field. The CO2 model makes training for that end user a very affordable and practical process, as well as offering airgun enthusiasts a new CO2 model that is right up to the minute for contemporary design. The cartridge-firing APX models were introduced in the U.S. this year concurrent with the CO2 version from Umarex.
While the centerfire APX models use a tilting barrel, locked-breech design, the CO2 model uses a fixed barrel and straight blowback action operating system (some more costly CO2 semiautomatics duplicate the locked breech tilting barrel designs of their centerfire counterparts). Standard magazine capacity for the 9mm model is 17+1 while the air pistol can load up to 20 steel BBs. For practical training purposes the APX CO2 model can be loaded to duplicate the 18-round total for a 9mm.
Like the recently introduced Sig Sauer P320 CO2 model, the Beretta APX is a minimalist design that provides only the most essential operating features for training and accurate handling of its centerfire counterpart. With all of the correct Beretta markings and logos, (and having the warning information discretely printed on the underside of the triggerguard) the Beretta licensed Umarex APX comes off looking nearly identical to the 9mm model with standard black polymer frame and black nitrating finished slide. It comes in at a price that makes the CO2 model an almost essential training aid. How well it works in that capacity will be addressed in Part 2 when the Umarex Beretta APX heads to the test range.