Friday, February 24, 2023

Bartolomeo Must Be Rolling In His Grave

The business that he ran was probably already in operation for many years before 1526 but it was that year, which is shown on an invoice, during which Mastro (Master) Bartolomeo Beretta sold close to 200 long gun barrels to a city/state arsenal in Italy. The Beretta family business/company has been in business ever since, in fact probably longer, and is one of the premiere firearms makers in the world. They make or have made everything from matchlock long guns to flintlock handguns, to double barrel shotguns - veritable works of the gunmaker's art - valued at tens of thousands of dollars apiece, to modern revolvers and semi automatic pistols to true assault rifles as in real weapons of war. More on Beretta's history here:
In all that time, the Beretta name has been the hallmark of excellence in firearms manufacturing. So when it comes to my latest acquisition of a Beretta pistol - the Beretta APX A1 Carry 9mm semiautomatic pistol - if mine is the norm for these particular handguns I must wonder if Bartolomeo is agonizing from the grave. This particular pistol, in my opinion, might well be enough to cause his spirit not only to rattle chains and moan in agony but to take those chains and bind closed forever the doors of Beretta's manufacturing plants.
Make no mistake about it, even though I just said that about the APX A1 Carry pistol, I remain and have been an avid Beretta fan for over four decades. I purchased my first Beretta pistol when I was a Border Patrol Agent back in the early 1980s. Since then I can account for 18 other Beretta pistols that I have purchased and am fairly certain there were at least two or three more that have passed through my personal inventory. Right now, as I type, I own 11 of them but chances are before too long, I will own only 10. Those I currently own include: a Beretta 70S in 22 LR, a Beretta 70S in 380 AUTO, a Beretta 84B in 380 AUTO, a Beretta 87 Target in 22 LR, two Beretta 92FS pistols in 9mm, two Beretta 92FS Compact L Type M pistols (these use single stack mags) in 9mm, a Beretta 92SB in 9mm, a Beretta 950 BS in 22 Short, and my latest acquisition the Beretta APX A1 Carry.
To say that I have thought Beretta pistols as being to my liking is a gross understatement. They truly have been among the best, if not the very best, handguns I have ever owned. In fact, with that thought in my mind, I jumped at the opportunity to purchase something new for me - a Beretta striker fired (as per the vernacular) pistol. So, I purchased a Beretta APX A1 Carry pistol back in November 2022. All of my other Beretta pistols have been semi-autos and all metal except for the grips and all have external hammers. This new one is quite different as it has a polymer frame, does not have an external hammer and is striker fired. Well now that I have it, my opinion of Beretta pistols is newly revised as well, at least relative to my opinion of this particular one.
Striker fired handguns are nothing new. For example, my oldest one is an Ortgies semi-automatic pistol that was manufactured in the 1920s. Over the period of time since my Ortgies was manufactured (and longer) - the striker fired semi-automatic pistol has gone through many advancements. Many handguns today are of that type. Glock introduced their pistols back in the early 1980s (I think 1982 - the lock 17) and they pretty much took the market by storm shortly thereafter. Since then though many other, if not all major manufacturers of semi-auto defensive pistols have created their own versions modern striker fired pistols. 
One of the notable things about striker fired pistols, as opposed to double action semiautomatic pistols is that the length of trigger pull is often very short as is the trigger reset. Those made by high quality manufacturers often, but not always, have a smooth crisp actions. This is where the Beretta APC Carry A1 figuratively falls on its face and I think could be making Bartolomeo turn uneasily in his grave, if not actually rise from it, in protest that this gun bears the Beretta family name.
I took it to the range a couple of days ago and shot about a hundred rounds or so through it. Normally, when I fire a new gun for the first time, I shoot at least 200 rounds through it to assure it is functioning properly (at least I try to do so with those I am fairly certain I will be keeping and possibly using for self defense). I would prefer to shoot 300 to 500 rounds through new ones like that but the truth is that ammunition became very pricey over the past few years. Even though it has come down markedly in price just lately, it is not as cheap as it once was and my pocket book is a lot skinnier than it used to be what with the inflation apparently caused by President Joe Biden and his administration.  
The things I do not like, at all, about the Beretta APX A1 Carry mostly have to do with the trigger's action. First of all, and this is all my opinion: the trigger has an overly long, a seemingly very - very - very long length of travel, before it will cause the gun to go BOOM. That is mostly evident as trigger take-up. Then there is the part of the trigger's overall travel referred to as trigger creep. That is the trigger pull, once it evidently engages other internal parts and causes them to move - such as the sear. It feels outright crunchy like there is sand or other grit in the action. Granted the creep may smooth out over time as the gun breaks in, so to speak. My view on that - it should not be crunchy feeling in the first place and in today's world there should be no break-in period required, a pistol should be ready to go at its best right out of the box except maybe for cleaning. Then there is the trigger reset - the reset that was very hard for me to feel when firing this pistol. 
Another thing I dislike very much about this pistol is that, according to the manual, it requires a tool to disassemble it for field stripping. You need to insert a punch or something else like a ballpoint pen tip (they actually recommend this in the manual even though this means the ball point pen's ball possibly could come lose and then I guess may wind up in the works of the pistol or at least have you wind up with ink in the works). The tool needs to depress the Striker Deactivation Button on the right rear side of the frame. It is otherwise easy to disassemble for field stripping without tools beyond that point. Assembly was straightforward and easy, it did not require a tool to assemble from a field stripped condition. I did not disassemble it further. Why on earth Beretta would create a defensive pistol that requires a tool to field strip it is beyond the scope of my imagination.
Additionally, I do not like the grip. It just does not feel right in my hands. It is on the small and thin side but then it is a compact single stack pistol; yet, other single stack pistols I own do not have the same inadequate feel for me when I hold them. That of course is a subjective and personal issue but I must point out, this is the first Beretta pistol I have owned or fired for which I have noticed this foible. Because it is a fairly thin pistol, it is easy to conceal or should be for most shooters.
As for the specs, I'd give them to you from the Beretta website but for some unknown reason, I cannot find the APX A1 Carry shown therein. (I wonder, has it already been discontinued?) There are a few to several APX pistols pictured on their site but the Beretta APX A1 Carry no longer seems to be one of them. The specs, of course, are shown in the manual. Sadly though, if you are considering purchasing one of these pistols and want to check the specs, you are unlikely to have a manual for it at hand because they come packaged in the box with each new APX A1 Carry pistol. I though will give you some of those specs for my APX A1 Carry, as they appear in the manual (for educational purposes):

Model: APX A1 Carry
Caliber: 9x19 (9mm Luger, aka 9mm Parabellum)
Magazine: 6 rounds (8 round extended optional) - Note mine came with an extended mag base on one of its two magazines, one mag base, attached to one of the mags, that was not an extension but has a small finger lip and another spare magazine base with no finger lip.
Sights: Removable front and rear
Frame Chasis: Stainless steel
Grip Frame: Fiberglass reinforced technopolymer
Slide: Steel with Nitride finish
Barrel: Steel with Nitride finish
Safety: Automatic striker block & trigger drop safeties
Length: 5.8"
Barrel Length: 3.1"
Grip Width: 1"
Width: 1"
Height" 4.4"
Sight Radius: 4.7" ( I did not measure this but it seems a bit longer.)
Weight: About 20 ounces with empty magazine
If you do consider getting one, I suppose I should also mention other parts such as the sights and slide. The rear sight is a notched sight without any sighting assist dots. It is plain black in color and the rear side of it (side nearest the shooter's eye) is grooved, that probably to cut down on possible glare. The front sight is a post with a single white dot. It is easy to get on target fast with a good sight picture and alignment. The sights are removable and if I understand correctly the rear sight base area of the slide accommodates a red dot sight on the APX's optics plate. That plate seems to be in place with the rear notched sight sitting atop it. There are directions in the manual on how to install a red dot sight. The manual is okay but the photographs in it are very small and some of the photos' details are very difficult to see due to small size and darkness/contrast of some of the shots.

The slide has wide grooves front and rear. The slide is easy to operate but the wide grooves do not seem to me to add to its function and appear to me to be that wide more for the tacticool effect than anything else.

The internal workings, at least many of them, are evidently located in a chassis that sits inside the frame.

As for how it shot, it was satisfactory as far as I shot it. I only fired it out to ten yards. I did not shoot further out because I had to stop shooting because to the stiffness of trigger pull seemingly caused by the crunchy feeling trigger creep was so bad as to make shooting it not only uncomfortable for me but actually painful to my trigger finger. I shot a fist sized group a bit low and to the left of dead center.

The need to use a tool of some sort to field strip this pistol, in my estimation, sets it back around 40 years from currently made defensive pistols that I have used and owned. More importantly, I think in a defensive pistol, is the trigger and its operation. In fact, the the trigger and the operation of the trigger are some of the most important aspects of any firearm and of the users ability to shoot it well. The Beretta APX A1 Carry trigger, has (in my mind) one of the worst trigger actions I have ever encountered in all my 57 or 58 years of shooting. That trigger was supposedly reworked and improved  by Beretta; yet, I think it has no place on a high quality handgun. In my opinion, any gun with a trigger like that does not deserve to wear the proud Beretta name or trademarks. 
Now, I'll leave it to Beretta as to decide onto what they want to put their name and on what they want their reputation to depend. I am truly shocked though that they have decided their name and reputation are, even in part, suitable to be associated with the APX A1 Carry. If I had to rate this one on a alphabetic scale, I'd give it a C minus or C at best. Despite its name of APX A1 Carry, it is not a gun I'd choose to carry for self-defense unless in an absolute emergency where I thought a better made pistol was unavailable.

In closing let me tell you what a guy on a gun forum wrote after I posted about the price I paid and the rebate offer with which it came: "So, you got a Beretta for $199.99 after rebate? Damn, that’s Hi-Point money". Truth be told, I think it may be the low point of Beretta quality (or lack thereof) to which Beretta has ever fallen. That's my opinion, yours may vary.

All the  best,
Glenn B