Apples & Oranges: Two New Lightweight Concealed Carry Pistols

Opinion

The new Beretta APX Carry is pocket sized although it certainly works on the waist too.
The new Beretta APX Carry is pocket-sized although it certainly works on the waist too.

USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- Summer sweaty season is here, and it comes with the want (not necessarily the need) to carry a smaller and more easily concealable pistol. I say “want” because there’s no reason one can’t carry a standard compact or even full-size pistol inside the waistband with nothing more than a tee, polo, or short sleeve button-down shirt. Yes, the smaller guns are easier to conceal, and no one complains about lugging around less weight.

Anyway, outside of the big vs. small concealment debate, if you’re looking for something more convenient to tote around when wearing shorts and shirt instead of jackets, here are two new pistols that might fit the bill. They have different design goals, apples, and oranges if you will, so let’s look at where the Beretta APX Carry and Glock 43X fit.

Beretta APX Carry

Buy Now Gun DealsThe Beretta APX Carry is a brand-new addition to the APX family. It shares some of the original compact and full-size model characteristics like grip angle and that nifty ridged slide. Who needs serrations anyway? The full-length approach to slide grip of “building up” ridges about a half inch apart is surprisingly effective.

There aren’t sharp edges to wear on hands, holsters, or clothes, but it provides a non-slip grip even with sweaty hands no matter how you choose to operate the slide. Since the pattern extends the whole length, you can press check, do the pinch racking method or the over-the-top whole-hand method. Whichever you choose, you’ll get a positive grip.

Beretta APX Carry (bottom) On the outside, there are similarities with the larger APX models. Inside, things are different - mainly the trigger.
Beretta APX Carry (bottom) On the outside, there are similarities with the larger APX models. Inside, things are different – mainly the trigger.

Unlike the larger models, this compact version doesn’t include things like replaceable grip panels or a rail up front for accessory attachment. The sights are a bit different too. The original larger models came standard with three dot sights. The APX Carry includes a front white dot paired with a black rear sight. That has fine serrations on the back surface to reduce glare. It’s a good setup for a carry pistol. The sights are mounted in dovetails so you can swap them out for aftermarket versions of your choice if you like.

What’s different from the original APX pistols is the trigger. And that’s what got me thinking. After I tinkered with the new Beretta APX Carry for a while, I wondered if its purpose in life was to be a revolver substitute?

Here’s why.

While almost the same size asa snubby, the APX Carry offers 6 and 8-round magazine options for easy reloading.
While almost the same size as a snubby, the APX Carry offers 6 and 8-round magazine options for easy reloading.

As with its larger siblings, the APX Carry is a striker-fired pistol, but the trigger feels more like a pure double-action. The pull length is about ¾ of an inch, and it breaks with approximately 6 ½ pounds of pressure. The reset is also near ¾ of an inch. That’s very similar to the experience of a double-action snub nose revolver, although at about 60% of the weight.

The APX Carry is also almost identical in size to a snubbie, although given the inherent design differences of a cylinder-fed versus magazine-fed handgun, the shape and placement of bulk varies. But, if you designed a small box just big enough to fit one, the other would drop right in as well.

Since it’s not particularly hard to build a semi-automatic subcompact with a short-travel trigger that breaks in the 5 ½-pound range, I assumed that these attributes were there on purpose. To me, the target market for this subcompact was the pocket revolver crowd. If you feel more confident with that longer trigger press for pocket or deep concealed carry, then the APX Carry might just be for you.

There are advantages over the classic snubbie. While both are workable for pocket carry with the right holster, the APX Carry offers more capacity with a basic capacity of 6 +1. If you use the extended magazine, that gives you 8+1 but of course the pistol then becomes larger than the snubbie alternative. The next difference is the reloading speed. Sure, revolver speed loaders make a big difference. I’ve been testing a Smith & Wesson 642 Performance Center that’s cut for moon clips and reloading en masse is much easier not to mention quicker. But reloading a pre-stuffed magazine will always win the speed contest, at least for me (uhum…Jerry Miculek)

Last but not least is the ease of shooting accurately. Most factory spec revolver triggers range from 10 to 12 pounds for double-action shots. The APX Carry offers a trigger with just over half that weight, so in theory, it will be easier to manage without pulling the small gun’s sights off target.

While at the NRA Annual Meeting I cornered one of the Beretta Pistol Product Managers and posed the question, “Who is the APX Carry for? What market are you chasing with it?” His answer wasn’t surprising. He told me that it was for the revolver market. Many people like the peace of mind of that design for concealed carry and the goal was to offer a semi-automatic alternative with many of the same ‘comfort’ attributes.

Glock 43X

Buy Now Gun DealsI shot a Glock, and I liked it.

That’s a big deal for me. Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate Glocks as much as the next guy. I just don’t shoot them as well as other designs. Sure, if I spent most of my range time with Glocks rather than some other brand, I would get perfectly proficient with one without undue stress. And I certainly have no qualms whatsoever about the Glock’s reliability and ability to perform in virtually any conditions. If you handed me one and said, “This is all you get for the rest of your life to protect yourself” I’d be OK with it, especially if it were one of the Glock Slimline series.

I think the new Glock 43X is perfectly sized. It's big enough to control with easy, but compact and thin enough for easy carry.
I think the new Glock 43X is perfectly sized. It's big enough to control with easy but compact and thin enough for easy carry.

This one works for me because of its arguably near perfect of size and weight and the resulting ergonomic benefits. The 10-round grip is long enough to fit all fingers of my size large hand, and unlike many other Glock models, it’s well rounded. If you chopped it in half, the circumference would look more like an oblong oval than the traditional blocky rectangle. All of this translates into a soft and comfortable shooting pistol.

With all that said, I’ve been working with/reviewing the new Slimline Glock 48 and Glock 43X. As our in-depth reviews on each cover, they’re identical pistols except for barrel and slide length. Out of the box, they’re both great carry pistols. But being a tinkerer, and because I especially liked the carry attributes of the Glock 43X, I decided to buy it. Once I made that mental leap, I had no obstacles to making two customizations to transform it into an even better lightweight carry pistol.

The new XS DXT2 Big Dot sights are a great addition to this handy pistol.
The new XS DXT2 Big Dot sights are a great addition to this handy pistol.

First, I replaced the trigger with an Apex Tactical Enhanced Action Trigger. This minor surgery, while destroying the original trigger body, didn’t touch any of the internal parts like the trigger bar, safety plunger, or connector. It only replaces the trigger body and safety leaf. Even with those seemingly minor adjustments, everything changed for the better. The factory trigger was perfectly reasonable, but I’m a trigger snob, so I wanted to see what could be improved. The net effect of this replacement was a shortening of the travel by about half and a much, much smoother operation. The pull weight remained precisely the same, or as close as my spring scale could detect. That’s expected and by design for this component upgrade. I didn’t want a lighter pull weight for a carry gun, just a better experience.

Next up I upgraded the standard factory three dot plastic sights. They’re okay, and I’ve never had a problem with the plastic sight housings breaking; I just wanted something more visible. A lot more visible. The new XS DXT2 sights for Glock follow the company’s trademark “Big Dot” design but with some modern improvements.

Like earlier XS Big Dot sights, the new DXT2 models use a shallow ramp in the back. The vertical bar is Tritium illuminated.
Like earlier XS Big Dot sights, the new DXT2 models use a shallow ramp in the back. The vertical bar is Tritium illuminated.

Like the older models, the enlarged front dot includes a Tritium lamp in the center. However, that’s now surrounded by a large photoluminescent ring that picks up ambient light and glows for a while as you transition into darker environments. Imaging going into a house or building, or perhaps a darker room. This “mode” provides high visibility for those in-between conditions where it’s too dark to see non-illuminated sights easily but not dark enough for the Tritium to glow. These rings are available in both a green and orange version so you can take your pick. I find the orange more visible in daylight and the green more visible indoors or in the shade.

The rear sight isn’t a notch but rather a shallow “V” like the lever action sights of old. Operation is simple. Rest the huge ball up front in the “V,” and you’re good to go. The rear also has a Tritium vertical bar rising into the bottom of the “V” for faster and more precise centering of the front sight.

Here’s the bottom line. If your goal is to get 1.25-inch groups instead of 1.5-inch groups, these sights aren’t for you. If your goal is to get groups into a bad guy's softball-sized cluster as fast as possible, that’s where the DXT2’s shine. They’re defensive sights designed to get into your line of vision quickly and allow you to line up your sights on target fast. And they do. You simply can’t miss the enormous front sight as you raise your gun into your line of vision. Setting up targets at 15 yards, I had no trouble shooting orange-sized groups at high speed.

Apples and Oranges

I don’t see these two new pistols as directly comparable. Just as you wouldn’t set a bone-in Ribeye steak against Alaskan King Crab legs (the Ribeye is always better!) these ought to be evaluated based on their intended uses. The Beretta APX is smaller, especially in the grip area, and that opens up realistic pocket carry just as one might do with a classic snubbie. The Glock offers a 10-round single-stack magazine, so by necessity, the grip is somewhat taller. Unless you’re talking about a much larger coat or cargo pocket, this pistol will be best suited for waist carry, either on the side or given the short barrel of the 43X, the appendix position.

About

Tom McHale is the author of the Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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    MikialSteve GarrettTom McHaleHurganRat Bastard Recent comment authors
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    Rat Bastard
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    Rat Bastard

    Good grief, just get out and shoot what you like! Practice and get proficient. When you’re putting rounds down range at the bad guy he’s not going to care what you have. I have a S&W 22a with a ultradot and can pop soda cans all day at 100yds. May not kill but I’ll keep the bad guy ducking in the parking lot till the cavalry arvived . If that’s the pistol I only had with me, I know what it will do.

    Richard Davis
    Guest
    Richard Davis

    The Glock has several safties, what you mean is a manual thumb safety or “no buy”. Personally I want the gun to definitely fire when I pull the trigger (im a edc carry gun). But if one disciplines one self through lots of training with the additional step of a manual saftey – more power to ya.

    Dick
    Guest
    Dick

    Gary look down on either hand. The first finger on either hand can be your safety. Until you are ready to destroy your target, keep either of those fingers off the trigger. As far as a safety regulation, everyone is entitled to there own opinion. While it is true that the armed forces requires extra safeties, they also have all levels of people some of which likely may not have the capacity to remember to keep the finger off the trigger on till ready to destroy their target. Many police departments have these Glocks as their Department issue, so I… Read more »

    Zee
    Guest
    Zee

    First of all – describing both pistols, not once was the caliber mentioned. In the photos there are boxes of 9 mm. So one has to assume both are 9 mm. Second, why should I shell out some bucks just to have to make improvements. There are many fine firearms that are great right out of the box.

    Roy D.
    Guest
    Roy D.

    Haven’t you heard? The “experts” (the FBI) have decided that the 9mm is the “go to” round; again. Now don’t get me wrong, I normally carry an LCP which is a 380, of course. When wanting something more I usually carry one of my G-19s. If that doesn’t seem enough then my G-32 or G-23 get the nod. I have not yet felt the need to “carry” my G-20 or my G-30 but I could do that as easily as any of the others. Find a firearm you like, get good with it, and then, CARRY IT!

    Mikial
    Member
    Mikial

    Good point. I guess everyone assumes 9mm is the only EDC caliber any more.

    Michael Christensen
    Guest
    Michael Christensen

    If Glocks are so great, why is it that the first thing everyone replaces is the trigger? Sounds to me like it is an expensive mediocre gun that turns into a great gun after you sink another $600 into it. By then you could have bought a great gun with a great trigger installed for a cheaper price. I do not like Glocks because of the grip angle for my hand. To angled for my grip style so I hit high if I do not force my hand over on the top to lower the front sight.

    Roy D.
    Guest
    Roy D.

    Why is it that those who don’t like Glocks are the ones to expound on what those of us that do like them do with them? And then they still get it wrong. I think they are, deep down, actually jealous of us.

    Peter
    Guest
    Peter

    No, it’s that Glocks really do suck compared to pistols that are cheaper and easier to use. Case in point, the Glock 22: the worst gun I ever fired.

    Roy D.
    Guest
    Roy D.

    I will be the first to say that Glocks are not for everyone. However that says more about some people than it does about the gun.

    Mikial
    Member
    Mikial

    Agreed.

    Steve Garrett
    Guest
    Steve Garrett

    To all you fn hillbillies out there glock colt smith browning m1a1 fnlar ar ak whatever you choose I dont give a rats ass the important thing is your outgoing not incomming got it good

    Mikial
    Member
    Mikial

    I always have to chuckle about the “Glock Haters.” It’s kind of like the fact that people with tats don’t mind if other people don’t have tats, but many people without tats mind if other people do have them. Those of us who like Glocks don’t mind if other people like something else, but many other people who don’t like Glocks sure seem to mind if we do. Possibly something Freudian going on there.

    Mark
    Guest
    Mark

    The Gen 5 Glock has a fantastic trigger. Glocks are more proven in combat and duty than any other striker fired pistol. The grip angle allows for better recoil control. You don’t have to like a Glock, but to state it isn’t a fine pistol is incorrect. Other pistols do other things better, but there is nothing I trust more right out of the box than a Glock.

    David Pistorius
    Guest
    David Pistorius

    Glocks are the best of the best of the best in the world

    Gary
    Guest
    Gary

    ” No safety, no buy ” !

    Hurgan
    Guest
    Hurgan

    Are you certain the safety is “on?” As certain as you are a gun is “unloaded?”

    Fred Jackson
    Guest
    Fred Jackson

    I’ve never changed out any of my Glock triggers. I prefer to learn my equipment rather than try to “improve” it. The only thing I change out are the sights. Shoot what you like, but I’ll take Glock reliability, durability, aftermarket support, magazine interchangeability, and simplicity any day. Don’t give Glock owners a hard time just because they’ve made a logical choice (not to say that yours isn’t).

    Mikial
    Member
    Mikial

    Well said. I chose Glock because I know without any doubt I can rely on it to function under any circumstances with any ammo. I carried one on contract in Iraq and trusted it completely.

    Hurgan
    Guest
    Hurgan

    It’s not the trigger, it’s the sights. They come with cheap plastic sights. Also, few people like the combat style sights. If Glock put their own tritium night sights on, it would raise the price another $65 and people wouldn’t like them, either. Why do people buy expensive guns with acceptable sights and replace them? Because they like a different type of sight. They spent money on a gun with higher priced sights and then replaced them. I think Glocks are priced well for getting a gun that goes bang every time and not picky on ammo like more expensive… Read more »