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Beretta APX A1 Tactical: Making the competition green with envy

The Beretta APX A1 Full Size Tactical and Compact Tactical bring additional options to the table for officers looking for a duty gun or a rock-solid, off-duty carry pistol

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The terrific ergonomics of the Beretta APX A1 Full Size Tactical and Compact Tactical make for a very flat shooting duty handgun.

Photo/Todd Fletcher

Founded in 1526, Beretta has been in continuous business making firearms and firearm accessories for military and law enforcement use. This means Beretta has the longest history of any firearm manufacturer. Remarkably, Beretta has been owned by the same family throughout its history. In the early 1980s, the Beretta 92 was selected as the United States military’s standard issue handgun and was issued as the M9 Pistol. Even though the United States military has changed handguns, Beretta firearms can be found protecting soldiers and law enforcement officers throughout the world.

When Beretta introduced the APX A1, I was intrigued by its pedigree and ready to see if it could carry the Beretta name into the future. In January 2023, I had the opportunity to test the Beretta APX A1 and put nearly 1,000 rounds downrange for a Police1 article. Since that evaluation, I’ve acquired my own Beretta APX A1, and it has shown to be just as reliable, durable and dependable as the Beretta name. In fact, the Beretta APX passed every stringent test of the U.S. Army MHS program and is used by professionals on the ground in more than 20 countries, and the APX A1 only improved on the proven APX platform.

With the introduction of the Beretta APX A1 Full Size Tactical and Compact Tactical, Beretta has given us some pretty cool options to complete the APX line of pistols. Before we get into what makes the Tactical line different from the other APX A1 pistols, let’s do a quick review.

Beretta APX A1 pistol specs

To begin, all the Beretta APX A1 pistols have amazing ergonomics. These pistols feel good in your hands. The grip texture feels good without being overly abrasive, and the 360-degree texturing is right where your hands need the greatest amount of grip. The interchangeable back straps and enhanced beaver tail combine to maximize surface contact with your hands for better recoil management.

The aggressive slide serrations on the front and back sides of the slide improve traction when manipulating the slide. Especially with wet or gloved hands, these cuts aid in working the slide, conducting press checks, loading, unloading and doing malfunction drills.

The magazine release and slide release lever are fully ambidextrous and perfectly placed. I don’t have particularly large hands, so a lot of pistols force me to adjust my grip to reach the magazine release. However, the magazine release on the Beretta APX A1 is perfectly positioned so that I can maintain my grip and hit the magazine release. As a result, reloading the Beretta APX A1 is lightning fast.

Beretta APX A1 Full Size Tactical and Compact Tactical features

The Beretta APX A1 Full Size Tactical and Compact Tactical take all these features of the standard APX A1 and provide some additional cool features.

The most obvious feature is the olive drab green frame. Even though this doesn’t add any performance to the pistol, the olive drab frame looks really good. With the black slide and grip inserts, the olive green really stands out. I know. You don’t care how a pistol looks as long as it performs, right? Sure…

Along with the olive drab color, the frames of the Beretta APX A1 Full Size Tactical and Compact Tactical feature magazine cutouts that make stripping a stuck magazine quick and easy. This is usually something I add to my pistols, but Beretta does this right straight from the factory.

When it comes to feeding this workhorse, the Beretta APX A1 Full Size Tactical comes standard with 21-round extended magazines for less reloading and fewer magazine changes giving you a tactical advantage in defensive situations. Similarly, the Beretta APX A1 Compact Tactical offers a full loadout with three 15-round steel magazines that drop free quickly even when empty. Unlike some competitors, you will never worry about having to strip an empty magazine from the magazine well with this handgun.

The Beretta APX A1 Full Size Tactical and Compact Tactical come ready for pistol-mounted optics with plates available for Leupold, Aimpoint, Trijicon and several others. This allows users to quickly mount all the common duty-capable optics. The blacked-out suppressor height sights give a nice, clean sight picture without being obtrusive when using optics. This is further enhanced with serrations on the face of each sight to reduce glare.

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If you look closely, there’s an empty case in the air about shoulder high and a second empty case is being ejected. The Beretta APX A1 Full Size Tactical and Compact Tactical can be shot very quickly and accurately.

Photo/Todd Fletcher

The Beretta APX A1 Full Size Tactical and Compact Tactical come equipped for stealthy operations with a threaded muzzle at ½”-28 TPI. This makes both pistols a great choice for home defense when set up with a quality suppressor. Protecting your hearing while protecting your family is an underappreciated part of home defense.

On the range, I ran both pistols right from the box without checking for appropriate lubrication and I never added any lubrication during testing. I ran both pistols hard and fast to see if they could stand up to abuse. They never disappointed me. In fact, I abused these pistols, and neither pistol skipped a beat. They took everything I could throw at them and asked for more.

I didn’t test these pistols for accuracy until I put several hundred rounds through them. The Beretta APX A1 Full Size Tactical and Compact Tactical are as accurate as any of the currently available duty handguns. I was able to shoot several good 5-shot one-hole drills out to 10-yards with both pistols. When it came to accuracy testing at 25 yards, both pistols proved they were significantly more accurate than me. When I shot standing and unsupported, both pistols performed the same as any other quality duty pistol I’ve shot. In other words, I was the limiting factor. However, when shooting from a braced and supported position, I was able to shoot a pair of five shot groups that measured less than two inches, which bested some of the most popular duty pistols on the market.

Shooting the Beretta APX A1 Full Size Tactical and Compact Tactical

Where these two pistols stand out is in their excellent ergonomics and reliability. Both pistols ran reliably with a mixture of 115, 124 and 147 grain ammunition including training and duty ammunition. Even with magazines containing a mixture of ammunition weight and bullet types, the Beretta APX A1 Full Size Tactical and Compact Tactical ran flawlessly without a single hiccup.

The ergonomic advantages of the Beretta APX A1 Full Size Tactical and Compact Tactical really shine when you push them to their performance limits. Both pistols remain flat during recoil without exhibiting much muzzle rise, and they return to the original point-of-aim quickly and reliably. The trigger is wide and flat giving the shooter a larger margin of error when it comes to putting lateral pressure on the trigger. In other words, the wide trigger face makes it easier to press the trigger straight to the rear. This improves downrange accuracy while running the pistols quickly.

As the owner of a Beretta APX A1, I have experienced how well these pistols perform. The only downside to the APX A1 pistols is the amount of aftermarket support. Once the marketplace catches up to the benefits and features these pistols bring to the user, there will be more holsters and performance parts available. Until then, we have a few quality duty and concealed carry holsters available while looking forward to more options.

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The groups on the reduced B8 targets on the side were shot from a supported position at 25 yards. The group in the head was a 10-yard unsupported 5-shot one-hole drill.

Photo/Todd Fletcher

The Beretta APX A1 Full Size Tactical and Compact Tactical bring additional options to the table for law enforcement officers looking for a duty gun or a rock-solid off-duty carry pistol. These pistols are reliable, durable, accurate and easy to operate. The controls are perfectly placed making it an exceptionally easy and quick gun to run. The addition of a threaded barrel, blacked out suppressor height sights and the olive drab frame make this an attractive performer.

Todd Fletcher is the owner and lead instructor for Combative Firearms Training, LLC providing training for law enforcement firearms instructors from coast to coast. He has over 25 years of training experience as a firearms and defensive tactics instructor. He retired after more than 25 years as a full-time police officer and over 31 years of law enforcement experience.

Todd is a member of the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) and the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA). He is a member of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), and was selected as the 2022 ILEETA Trainer-of-the-Year. He is also a member of the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI) and won the 2023 IALEFI Top Gun Award. He can be reached at