Founded in 1526, the Italian firm of Fabbrica D'Armi Pietro Beretta SpA is the oldest, privately-owned firearms manufacturer. Their first semi-auto pistol, the Modello 1915, was designed at the request of the Italian army during the Great War and led to an extensive line of blowback-operated pocket pistols.
Beretta’s first locked-breech pistol, the Modello 1951 chambered in 9mm Parabellum, was released in 1957 and, like its predecessors, was adopted by a number of military and police forces. It served as the inspiration for the Model 92 which was adopted by the US armed forces. In both 9mm and .40, it has become one of the most popular military and police pistols in the world today. In 1992, the Denel Corporation obtained a licence from Beretta allowing their subsidiary Vektor Ltd to produce the M92 as the Vektor Z88. This was adopted by the South African Police, while a modified version, known as the Vektor SP1, was taken into service by the SA Defence Force.
I have owned and used several Model 92s for carry, home defence and competitive shooting and I believe they are among the most ergonomically-friendly pistols ever produced.
In 2011 the XM17 Modular Handgun System (MHS) trials were announced to find a new service pistol for the US Army and Air Force to replace the then current M9 (Beretta) and M11 (SIG) pistols, and those 1911 pistols still in limited service. Used by American soldiers for over thirty years, the M9 had proved a reliable and popular weapon, but handgun technology had advanced dramatically since its adoption. Interestingly, although it was not a precondition, all eight pistols in the trial final featured polymer frames. Beretta engineers from Italy and their US factory in Gallatin, Tennessee, designed and entered a totally new pistol that met every single MHS requirement – the APX 9mmP.
What most would consider the APX’s frame is in fact a grip housing containing a removable, metal chassis frame which reinforces and provides rigidity to the housing, contains the trigger mechanism and the rails on which the slide reciprocates. The metal frame can be removed and fitted to a compact-sized housing that Beretta offers as an option. This allows both a full sized and compact pistol simply by swapping housings.
The APX uses a variation of the Browning system that has become pretty much universal on today’s polymer-framed pistols. The barrel hood bears on the front edge of the ejection port locking the two units together. When the pistol is fired, the slide moves to the rear and the barrel is cammed down allowing the slide to continue rearwards extracting and ejecting the spent case. The recoil spring then pulls the slide forward, stripping the next round from the magazine and chambering it as the barrel hood moves up, locking the barrel and slide together once again.
Without doubt, the APX’s most distinguishing feature is the row of prominent ridges on each side of the slide. Most pistols have grooves at the rear, and sometimes a second set at the front of the slide. The APX’s slide has seven wide grooves – forming widely spaced, prominent ridges – running the full length of each side. These enable the shooter to retract the slide from a number of different positions, press check to verify if there is a round in the chamber, quickly get rid of a dud round or clear a jam.
Read the full article in the March 2019 issue of Magnum.