Budget Friendly and Built to Last: BRG9 Elite Review
When walking down the firing line at SHOT Show Industry Day this year, I didn’t expect a newcomer from Turkey to be a gun to leave a lasting impression, yet that is exactly what happened. The BRG9 Elite from BRG-USA is actually imported by Buffalo Cartridge Company. While the gun doesn’t exactly look like anything groundbreaking or new, it proves that looks can be deceiving, because the performance has so far put a smile on my face.
Let’s find out more about the BRG9 Elite from BRG-USA and why I’m digging it so much.
The BRG9 Elite may seem strikingly similar to another gun that has been around for a while, which is the Springfield XD-M which rolls in at nearly double the cost. They share similar styles, but there are a few noticeable differences. Let’s start with the trigger, the BRG9 Elite has what the company deems a flat trigger, though there is a small curve to it. One of the guys at the gun shop deemed it “flat-ish.” It’s true that it’s not a flat trigger the same way I would think of one on my Shield Plus or MC2c.
The BRG9 Elite (right) compared to the Springfield XD-M (left), while there may be similarities on the surface once you start digging its easy to find what seperates the two guns. (Photo: Seth Rodgers/Guns.com)
Whether the trigger is truly flat or not is a conversation for another day. One thing that is for certain about the trigger is that it’s very nice. We’ll get more into the shooting in a bit, but the trigger proved to have a nice and easy pull with a clean break. BRG advertises the trigger pull at 5 pounds, and it certainly doesn’t feel anything over that. The reset isn’t the shortest, and we haven’t been able to open this up with any rapid-fire yet, but it seems like it’s more than adequate enough for personal defense.
The second big noticeable difference that immediately caught me was the sights. The BRG9 Elite offers some really nice stock sights. The front sight post is a little slimmer, which I personally like because it lets some light in on the sides of the rear sight. This, combined with the high visibility of the orange on the front sight post, leads to an easy, quick, and accurate sight-picture acquisition.
Let’s check out some of the other specs that the BRG9 Elite has.
Getting a Feel for It
In the hand, the BRG9 Elite feels great. It’s very well balanced and points very naturally. It’s also deceivingly light, weighing in at 30 ounces, which isn’t bad for a 16+1 gun. The grip texture is minimal, and I would probably send it in to someone for an aftermarket stipple job if I chose to carry this gun every day. But that’s just me, and I happen to like a bit more of an aggressive grip texture.
The mag release isn't overly easy to access. It takes a bit of movement to actuate it, but mags drop free easily every time. My other small issue is that the mag release button is small and a bit recessed, which again leads to me having to move my grip to actuate it. Nevertheless, it does work well and southpaws will be happy that the gun comes with a truly ambi mag release out of the gate.
The slide stop/release is very easy to actuate, BRG dubs it the “Perfect-Touch” slide release. I’m not sure it’s “the perfect touch”, that seems a bit overboard, but it does work very well. It’s smooth and takes very little effort to send the slide forward and chamber a round. Compared with some of the other guns I have for concealed carry, it is easier to use.
There are slide serrations at both the front and rear of the gun, which aren’t overly aggressive, but they are more than adequate to get the job done. If I had to compare them to another brand, either a Glock or Ruger feel comes to mind. BRG also offers you a rail if you’re someone who likes to attach a light or laser to your gun.
Finally, the pistol ships with three backstraps just in case the medium-sized one doesn’t fit your hand well. Out of the box, the gun fit me very well, so I didn’t need to change anything about it.
Opening Range Thoughts
What initially impressed me about this gun at SHOT wasn’t its looks. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with how it looks, but the gun out-shoots the curbside appeal. Let me put it this way, if you were walking down a lineup of guns there is nothing about the BRG9 Elite that would necessarily jump out at you. But if you had a chance to shoot all the guns in the lineup, it might just surprise.
It's a surprisingly soft-shooting gun with very little recoil. The trigger reset, which seems a little longer when compared to others I’ve tested recently, didn’t seem to affect my accuracy at all. In fact, that was another thing that really impressed me about this gun. It just flat-out shoots. I’m not the best shot in the world, but I feel confident and remain very accurate with this gun. It’s something I not only noticed immediately that windy day out in Nevada at SHOT Show but also when I got one shipped to me back home in Wisconsin as well.
I’m usually not a huge fan of the grip safety-- though I understand the appeal to certain folks-- but this grip safety was neither obtrusive nor hard to actuate. It seems to meld into the hand nicely and didn’t cause me any issues.
Through the first 100 rounds, I did have a single malfunction – a failure to eject while running Federal PremiumAmerican Eagle. I also experienced a handful of cases where the slide failed to lock open on the last round. I reached out to Ken Cooper, a founding partner of the importing company Buffalo Cartridge Company, to see if this could be an anomaly.
He told me that the very early run of these pistols, and mine is under 1,000 in the serial number, had a few slight tolerance issues between the initial run of magazines and the gun. He said that they have made very minor tolerance tweaks to both, and it’s solved the problem. To be sure, he rushed me four new magazines and I put another 100 rounds through them. None of the new mags had any issues locking back on the last round, and I didn’t have any new malfunctions. I think this is a big testament to the company for doing everything they can to make this product as flawless as it can be.
At Industry Day on the Range, BRG claimed they had a gun with over 5,000 rounds without a single malfunction. While I can’t say that I was there for all 5,000 rounds that day or leading up to it, I can say we didn’t experience any malfunctions from all the shots we took at SHOT Show.
There are two things that really set the BRG apart from the crowd: the price and all the extra goodies. Let’s start with the latter. This gun comes with a really nice case, which is laser cut for the gun, an extra magazine, extra backstraps, a magazine loader, and a plethora of cleaning supplies. Pair that with the other reason, this gun has an MSRP of $399 but can be found much cheaper, and you have a lot of bang for the buck.
It's not unheard of to get bonus items like this with a gun. In fact, another certain Turkish manufacturer by the name of Canik also does a nice job of adding goodies. But the fact remains that this much extra stuff for the price is a superb value for the gun you get. It’s a gun that is well under $400, with a 16+1 capacity, that shoots well, and is paired with all the goodies. That’s a recipe for success for new gun owners.
Pushing Past 1,000 Rounds
Sometimes your opinion of a gun can change after running up the round count. Other times the gun posits the same feeling on you no matter how many rounds have gone through it. In the case of the BRG9 Elite it’s the latter. Everything that I thought about the gun in the first 100 rounds has remained the same. I still think this is a great budget option for people tight on funds or for those perspective first time buyers who are looking for a reliable and soft-shooting 9mm.
The things that bothered me about the gun after 100 rounds also still ring true, and probably won’t change in the next 1,000 rounds either. The main complaints that the mag release is tough to reach and too small still ring true, especially after running some different drills with it. The grip texture is still minimal, but it’s bothered me less the more rounds that have gone through it.
Don’t get me wrong, I would still like more grip texture, but because the gun is so soft recoiling, I find it acceptable. On smaller, snappier guns I would probably be less forgiving but this gun welds to the hand fine and I’ve never felt like it was jumpy. The grip texture and subtle finger grooves work.
Overall, the gun has remained incredibly reliable and has chewed up everything that’s been thrown at it.
Cleaning and Disassembly
I’ve run up the round count without doing any cleaning on this gun. Part of this is the test of the gun, part of this is simply lack of discipline from me. However, for the final part of this review I figured it would be good to open it up and put the cleaning kit to the test as well.
The gun breaks down incredibly easy, the same way the XD-M, or any M&P for that matter, would. Always remember to check that the gun is unloaded before starting any field stripping and cleaning.
Simply rack the slide to the rear, rotate the takedown lever 90 degrees, send the slide forward and depress the trigger and the slide comes off. Remove the recoil spring and you have yourself a field-stripped pistol.
I decided to put the gun cleaning kit to the test since it came with the gun, so why not. The kit certainly did the job well enough, but I’ll probably stick with my Hoppe’s 9 and Universal Cleaning Kit from DAC Tech in the future. Overall, all the brushes worked just fine and the included yellow wipes were pretty nice. It’s not the cleaning kit I’m going to lean on but it's nice to have as a backup or as a range cleaning kit that also acts like a carrying case.
Upon disassembly, you’ll also notice the large rails, especially in the rear. This is a large reason that the gun has such a smooth ride to it.
Pros and Cons
Full-size gun with 16+1 capacity
Soft recoil and easy to control
"Perfect Touch" slide release is easy to send the slide home
High-quality steel construction
100 percent reliable
Very little grip texture
No optics cut
Hard to reach the mag release for me
Not a huge fan of grip safeties
Where it Fits In
Overall, this gun is a bit large for me to carry, but I like the capacity. It’s just tough to justify carrying a gun that is heavier and larger than a lot of the competition at the same capacity. That said, I could certainly see people carrying it without much of an issue. I think it would make a fine home defense gun as well. Where I think it hits a sweet spot is for new gun owners though. It’s easy to learn on and has a great recoil impulse, which makes shooting enjoyable.
Plus, the price is easy enough to swallow for most prospective gun owners. Couple that with the bonus goodies and some standup customer service and I think you have a great introduction pistol. Finally, it makes for just a nice range buddy to take a long and plink with.
Don’t be wary of the new Turk on the block. These guns are built like solid tanks, and I expect mine will keep ticking along for some time without much of any issue. I would encourage anyone to get their hands on a BRG9 Elite and take it for a spin. It might just surprise you, I know it did for me.