In the March 2019 edition, Paul Scarlata introduced us to the new Beretta APX pistols – Beretta’s attempt to win the US Army’s Modular Handgun System competi
tion. The APX is a chassis-based design with a focus on modular features such as interchangeable grips and ambidextrous controls.
Beretta did not win the contract, but the APX was made available to the civilian market. In addition to the full size service pistol (17-round capacity) they have the smaller Centurion and Compact. Both feature a shorter slide, slightly shorter than that of the Glock 19, while the Compact has a short grip and a magazine capacity of 13 rounds. The Centur-
ion’s grip length is in between that of the Compact and full size, and has a 15-round capacity.
Beretta also opted for interchangeable frames, similar to the system used in some of SIG’s pistols. A serialised and removable fire control chassis (which includes the trigger assembly) is used. The chassis, with the weapon’s serial number, can be removed from an existing frame and simply inserted into another. The frames are sold as sep-arate accessories (no licence needed). At the time of writing I found full-size frames online for R795.
I like the idea of buying an additional frame over the counter; it can be the same size in a different colour (black, flat dark earth, green and grey), or for conversion from the Compact’s frame to the slightly larger Centurion, or vice versa. The Compact makes an excellent concealed carry gun, leaving a rather small ‘print’ beneath clothing, but for extended range sessions I’d prefer a slightly larger frame for my over-sized hands. A Centurion frame will make this possible.
Removing the chassis and placing it in the larger frame is straight forward once you have figured out the procedure – something that can be done in a few minutes. It involves removing a pin and lifting the chassis out of the frame, which most handgun enthusiasts should be able to manage. Of course, with a longer grip, longer magazines are needed, and instead of opting for the Centurion’s 15-round mags I’d probably just buy additional 17-round magazines, which can be used in all the frames.
The three interchangeable back-straps (small, medium and large) supplied with each pistol frame allow for further customization. These are held in place with a long steel retainer. To remove the retainer you need to remove the slide and push the top of the retainer to one side while at the same time gripping it at the mag-well end and drawing it out in the same direction you remove the magazine. I found a noticeable difference in the grip size by swopping the inserts, and finally settled on large, which allowed me better control over the pistol during recoil.
I also tried the small frame of the Compact with the long slide of the full- size pistol. The shorter dust cover of the frame revealed part of the guide rod and springs, but the pistol functioned perfectly and was a revelation to shoot. This assembly is the opposite of the Glock 19X with its Glock 19 slide and full-sized grip of the Glock 17. The Beretta with its short grip and long slide actually felt well balanced in my hands. Even better, it shot well.
Read the full article in the May 2020 issue of Magnum.