Review: B&T APC9 Rocks Compact Firepower for Advanced Security Ops
When the Army announced its contracts for “Sub-Compact Weapons” in 2018, it wasn’t just exciting because the military was sourcing a new firearm. It was exciting because there were so many companies vying for the title of champion. The competition ended up spawning some seriously cool and capable guns, but the one that ultimately won the contract was the B&T APC9K. Let’s take a closer look at why this particular gun pulled it off.
You can’t talk about the APC9 without first mentioning the reason for its existence. B&T began work on the APC9 (Advanced Police Carbine caliber 9) as a modernized replacement for the H&KMP5. While the MP5 had served valiantly over the years for many police, security, and special forces units across the globe, it was clear there were some upgrades that could be made to the platform.
When the Army offered up the contract in 2018, B&T returned with the APC9K, which is a natural evolution of the APC9 platform. The main difference between the APC9K and the APC9 was a shorter 4.3-inch barrel, dual folding stock, and – of course – the full-auto giggle switch that brings the cyclic rate of fire to 1,080 rounds per minute. Unfortunately, that also puts the Army’s APC9K clearly out of reach for civilian ownership.
The explicit goal of the contract was to get “Sub-Compact Weapons” into the hands of some of the most important personal security details around the world. High-value officers and foreign dignitaries would benefit from the gun’s ability to “engage threat personnel with a high volume of lethal and accurate fires at close range with minimal collateral damage.”
The Army selected guns from powerhouses like Beretta and H&K as well as smaller companies like Quarter Circle and Zenith Firearms. While the contract was for only $2.5 million for 350 guns – with the option to go to 1,000 guns - the prestige of winning offered the chance to catapult other sales. After rigorous testing, the B&T APC9K was selected for a myriad of reasons that we’ll get into in a minute.
First, let’s take a look at who else is using this premiere firearm across the globe.
B&T APC9 Users
When the Army decided to entrust the APC9K with protecting its highest-value assets, others were sure to follow. True to form, the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Air Force also adopted the APC9K for security details. This was, of course, on top of all the European law enforcement agencies and special forces units that took up the APC9K for security detail work as well. In addition to 9mm, B&T has begun offering chamberings in .40 S&W, .45 ACP, and 10mm, along with an integrally suppressed model.
Users can even use a lower that accepts Glock 9mm magazines and SIGP320 mags, offering a bevy of options that match common service handguns. In short, agencies around the world turned to the APC9K because it’s an incredibly concealable platform optimized for low visibility carry and discreet deployment.
Feel and Function
Upon picking up the APC9 Pro that I got for testing from B&T, I could immediately feel the quality. Find me something poorly made by the Swiss, and I’ll find you a liar. The APC9 Pro is no exception, and it didn’t take more than a couple of minutes to find myself falling head over heels for the feel and function of the gun. Let’s start up front.
The gun features a tri-lug muzzle adapter up front for easy attachment of suppressors – We’re hoping to put that to the test in the future. Moving back, you’ll find 3.75 inches of Picatinny rail on the sides and bottom of the gun to compliment the 12 inches of Pic rail up top. Pair all that rail with four M-LOK attachment slots on either side, and configurations for all your accessories is limited only by your own imagination.
The polymer lower is an interesting choice to offset the alloy upper, but it works to keep the gun lightweight and wieldy. The APC9 features ambi everything, including mag release, bolt release, and selector switch. All these controls closely mimic AR functionality, so there is no worries on making the jump for those already familiar with America’s most popular sporting rifle. It also features ambi non-reciprocating charging handles on the front of the gun, which make it both easy and rather enjoyable to chamber a round.
It should be noted that the bolt release and selector switch were a little stiff out of the box. Those broke in with some shooting, and after around 1,000 rounds, both are definitely easier to manipulate. At the grip, you’ll find maybe my one main gripe with the gun. For how nice the gun is everywhere else, the grip seems like a bit of an afterthought. Maybe that was intentional, given that you can swap the grip with any M4-compatible grip.
The stock B&T grip just doesn’t provide a ton of texture, though it does have a storage container, which is always a nice touch. Still, if this gun was staying in my closet for home defense, it would most certainly be getting a Magpul or Hogue upgrade in the grip department.
My test gun came with a folding pistol brace from SB Tactical. I found the brace enjoyable, easy to deploy, and the APC9 will also function with the braced folded over. I put two mags through it like that just to verify there were no issues. The only other gun I’ve spent any significant time with that used the same SB Tactical stock was a CZ Scorpion. Let’s take a look at how the two compare.
Specs and Comparisons
The easiest comparison for the APC9 Pro would be the lineup of other guns that competed for the Army contract. The MPX Copperhead, Angstadt Arms SCW-9, and CZ EVO 3 A1 are the guns that really jumped out at me. Since I’ve only had the opportunity to handle the CZ Scorpion, that’s the one I’ll use for this comparison.
First, I can already hear the comments about the price of the APC9, and for that amount of money, you could buy a Scorpion and add whatever mods you would want to it. Don’t get me wrong, the Scorpion is a fine gun and very fun to shoot but thinking that these two guns are the same is foolish. For starters, the B&T has far less recoil impulse, allowing the gun to shoot flatter and faster.
The APC9 Pro also has size to its advantage, making it an even more compact package. It cuts down nearly 3 inches on the folded package and nearly the same with the brace deployed. Overall, the APC9 Pro is a little heavier, but that also helps aid in that recoil control. Check out how these guns compare more in the specs below.
Let’s be honest, these guns don’t shine on the spec sheets alone. Taking them out to the range and putting them through their paces is the most fun way to figure out what these guns are all about. I found shooting this gun to be extremely enjoyable. The APC9 has eaten every round of the nearly 1,000 rounds we’ve put through it so far with no exceptions.
I ran everything from standard Federal American Eagle and budget-friendly Wolf to remanufactured reloads and high-end defensive rounds. The APC9 never skipped a beat. It should also be noted that I haven’t cleaned the gun yet and all the controls and functionality still seem perfectly smooth and clean.
I shot a couple of mags with the brace folded over, just to ensure I wouldn’t have an issue, and the APC9 chugged through everything. But with the brace deployed, the APC9 instantly became one of my favorite PCC-type guns that I’ve ever had the pleasure of shooting. This is in large part due to the hydraulic buffer system that eats up recoil like a fat kid eating fried food at an all-you-can-eat buffet. This is by far the easiest shooting PCC-type gun I’ve ever laid my hands on. Even during strings of rapid fire, it stayed incredibly flat and on target while shooting.
The trigger is also a thing of beauty. Again, B&T makes sure that only the highest-quality components are used in their products, and they spared no expense in the trigger department. The trigger should also get some credit for the guns ability to stay flat and shoot fast. There is hardly any take-up on the initial press before hitting the wall. Then once at the wall the break is about as clean and crisp as you’ll find in any production pistol. This is all followed by a super short reset, which is quite loud and has a nice tactile feel to it. This all adds up to an incredible shooting experience.
The model that I received also came with an Aimpoint Acro PL-1. Partnering with Aimpoint was an easy decision for B&T as the two brands complement each other nicely. Just as B&T is known for its ruggedness and ability to function, so is Aimpoint. The PL-1 sits atop the B&T lifter, which was also included with the kit. This allows you to co-witness the backup iron sights with the red dot to make target acquisition speedy with relatively little effort.
With its aluminum housing, the Acro also seems like it was made for the APC9. It’s sturdy and ready for whatever the job throws at it. In fact, B&T is so smitten with the Acro that every APC9 that is ordered outside the U.S. comes with this Aimpoint along with every LE order within the U.S. The dot is certainly bright enough even in the high-noon sun to easily be picked up and put on target.
Pros and Cons
At this point, you might think that this is all peachy keen, and that I couldn’t find anything wrong with this gun. Just like everything, the APC9 isn’t perfect, but the stones I’m going to throw are pebbles. I wouldn’t really let any of them distract you from a purchase or rental of this gun.
The two stones I would throw at it immediately out of the box are the grip texture and stiffness of the controls. Though the controls have broken in a bit since I first picked it up, the safety selector is still quite stiff when compared to your average AR-15. The only other stone I might throw here is that the mags threw me for a loop at first.
This may be strictly an appearance thing, but they remind me of clear ETS mags, not that there is anything wrong with ETS magazines. The clear polymer just seemed like a stark contrast to the rest of the gun. My guess is that the people who depend on these guns everyday actually appreciate the clear magazines as it’s the quickest and easiest way to confirm round count.
So far, I haven’t had any issues with them, and they’ve run everything, so this may just be a superficial stone I’m tossing here. Plus, if you don’t like the clear mags, you can always order a non-serialized lower to your house that accepts Glock or SIG P320 mags instead, which is of course a huge plus.
Certainly, you can’t make a pros and cons list on B&T without mentioning the price. B&T, while known for its excellent craftsmanship, is also known for being quite expensive. Such is life with a Swiss product. The APC9 is no exception with current APC9 models retailing for around $2,500, and that is for the version without the brace, lifter, or optic, so you can expect those upgrades to drive the price up further.
Here is a full list of my pros and cons of this gun:
Flat and fast shooting gun aided by hydraulic buffer system and great trigger
Swap out non-serialized lowers to accept Glock or SIG P320 mags
Available in 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, and 10mm
Compact package trusted by some of the world’s top security details
Models available with SB Tactical brace and Aimpoint Acro mean they are ready to run out of the box
Swappable grip that’s M4 compatible
Very little recoil
Stiff controls out of the box that requires some break-in time
Grip offers very little texture
A little heavier than some of its competition
I’ve loved shooting this gun so much that I don’t want to give it back. In fact, I plan on pushing this further while adding a suppressor into the mix. I’m also planning on adding some accessories to show how versatile this platform can be. Stay tuned to Guns.com as we run up the round count and get more familiar with the APC9.