Two years ago, the first murmuring about a new pistol from Beretta began. In February 2015, Beretta unveiled its new pistol at the International Defence Exhibition & Conference in Abu Dhabi. The polymer-framed, striker-fired APX is a departure from Beretta's long and venerable line of metal-framed, hammer-fired pistols, which culminated with the 92F that the U.S. military adopted in 1985 as the M9.

While Beretta already markets the Px4 Storm, a hammer-fired, polymer-framed pistol, in the United States, the APX represents its entry into the striker-fired, full-size duty pistol market. What prompted Beretta to finally make this move? The answer is the U.S. Army’s Modular Handgun System competition. The APX is a chassis-based design with a focus on modular features such as interchangeable grips and ambidextrous controls — all features requested by the Army's Modular Handgun System competition.

We have already seen several other Modular Handgun System firearms enter the civilian market, including the Smith & Wesson M&P; 2.0, the Ruger American, and Remington's RP9. The SIG Sauer P320 has been available commercially since 2014. Now Beretta, one of the seemingly more successful competitors, appears set to follow them into the U.S. handgun market.

Army photo

Until the end of 2016, the Beretta remained one of the favorites to win the Army's new contract and in all likelihood made it to the last three. But when the SIG Sauer P320 was selected by the Army in January 2017, speculation that the APX would soon be brought to the U.S. civilian market mounted. On Feb. 10, a 40-second promo video of the APX appeared on Beretta's YouTube channel and its Italian website was updated to include images, stats and details of the pistol.

While the U.S. Beretta website has not yet been updated to include the APX, the new information and video give us a tantalizing look at what may be marketed in here in the near future. In Europe, the pistol will be offered with a variety of frame colors, including black, wolf gray, olive drab, and flat dark earth. Like the SIG P320, the APX has a serial-marked trigger module, which is what is legally considered the firearm. This allows the frame of the pistol to be swapped out at will. The most obvious physical characteristic of the APX is its low-bore axis, meaning the user's grip is close to the line of the barrel, minimizing perceived recoil. This is a feature that is becoming increasingly popular with handguns like the Steyr M9A1, Arsenal Strike One, and the new Hudson H9 recently coming to market.

The APX owes many of its features directly to the specifications of the Army's Modular Handgun System competition. These include a trigger-blade safety and the option of a manual frame-mounted safety catch, as well as the pistol's ability to be disassembled without having to pull the trigger. And, of course, the pistol's modular characteristics such as its ability to chamber a number of calibers including the ubiquitous 9x19mm, as well as 9x21mm IMI and .40 S&W.; The pistol also feeds from a double stack 15-round magazine. It is worth noting that the 9x21mm IMI round mentioned on Beretta's Italian site is unlikely to be offered in the United States as it is a round used in European countries, including Italy, which prohibits the chambering of civilian weapons in military calibers such as 9x19mm.

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With its low-bore axis and styling the APX is a good looking gun, made by a trusted manufacturer with one of the finest reputations in the firearms industry. No word yet on a retail price but when it arrives on the US market it will be interesting to see how much attention it receives and how well it sells in a marketplace already brimming with polymer pistols from Glock, SIG, Smith & Wesson and a dozen other firms.