B&T APC-9 : A first look at Swiss perfection

first published on October 29, 2015 by

Swiss APC 9

The Swiss are known for producing finely manufactured items such as watches — think of Rolex, Tissot or Omega. However, they also produce some of the worlds most finely crafted firearms such as the Brugger and Thomet APC-9. As the nomenclature implies, the APC pistol you see here is the 9mm version but for those of you who prefer a larger hole, a .45 ACP version is also being imported known as the APC-45.

B&T has been around for many years and has a very close relationship with H&K. As a matter of fact, B&T produces suppressors for H&K who in turn rebrands them and markets them for their own firearms. B&T got their start in the firearms accessories business back in 1991 and by 2004 they had begun producing complete firearms. To get started in firearms manufacturing they acquired the rights to firearms designs such as the 9mm Steyr TMP (SPP semi-auto version) but quickly moved to build their first in-house design, the APC-9.

I’ve been asked many times to comment on the B&T APC-9 pistol but I’ve never seen one in person. Sure, I knew all about them from reading articles and seeing the video from Larry Vickers that teased me with slow motion awesomeness of the full-auto version being fired, but these paws were barren of this Swiss beauty until just recently.

Once I received the gun from a buddy who is working with the importer I couldn’t wait to both shoot it and, more importantly, tear it down to see what makes it so special — if anything was indeed special.

From the outside it looks suspiciously similar to a Bren 805 pistol that I recently talked about in video, so much so you might swear they were relatives. Unlike most firearms I collect, shoot and enjoy, the APC exhibits flawless quality at every juncture. There’s not one poorly fit or finished part on this gun. In fact, it was so darn pretty I didn’t want to crud it up by actually shooting it. After taking it from its box the first time I sat for a good 30 minutes just admiring the amazing attention to every minute detail in the construction. It really is a work of firearms art.

brugger & thomet APC9

I pride myself on my ability to take new firearms apart without reading the manual. If you’ve been around military type firearms as long as I have, you’ll eventually learn to look for subtle queues that tell you what to push, twist, pinch or pull to remove a particular part. In the case of the APC the two captive take down pins were quickly spotted and poked with the tip of a pen to remove them. That allowed me to remove the entire polymer lower that contains the trigger group and magazine well.

That’s where I ran into problems. I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out how to get the end-cap off. I knew I had to remove it but I couldn’t find the way to get it off. I looked for a plunger, button or some other device that would free it from the metal receiver but my efforts were fruitless. I finally gave up and resorted to reading the manual. After recovering from my bruised ego I followed the instructions by applying a little extra downward pressure on the end cap and POP, it slide right off. The tolerances are SO precise that the end cap really does look as though it’s part of the receiver and it takes a bit of a forceful hand to unseat it.

B&T APC 9 field stripped

Everything else came apart as expected. The recoil spring was effortlessly pulled from the rear. The bolt was then retracted to the point where the charging handle could be plucked from its perch thus freeing the bolt to slide completely out the rear of the receiver. Done!

Upon close inspection of the parts I found the quality to be well above other firearms in its class such as the Scorpion EVO S3 and even the Sig MPX. While I say the quality is truly exceptional, this doesn’t mean the Scorpion or MPX are low quality by any measure, it’s just that the APC stands out significantly in terms of fit, finish and attention to every minor detail. If anything, it could be argued that the APC is too finely made for a military weapon. With such craftsmanship comes cost, and cost is one of those things many militaries try to reduce. If cost isn’t a factor, the APC-9 certainly stands alone as I cant think of a more refined or expertly built SMG.

B&T APC 9 Bolt

Ok, it’s pretty. We get it. It’s the Rolex of the SMG world. So, you’re likely asking yourself “how does it shoot?” Good question!

I took the flashy Swiss chick for a romp on the range and honestly, I was once again thoroughly impressed. Not only does this broad have the looks, she has the goods — it’s a total package. Check this out.

7 yard group fired with ZQI ammo.

There’s a 5 shot 7 yard group (typical combat range) fired with 123gr NATO spec ZQI ammo. Of course I had the aid of an Aimpoint T1 Micro which does help a bit even though the pistol is much larger and far heavier than a more conventional handgun like my HK VP9. The group was fired standing with a two hand hold on the pistol grip much like you would shoot any hand gun. I pushed things out to 15 yards and this is what I got.

15 yard group fired with ZQI ammo.

That’s it, I’m in love.

The gun has solid ergonomics. The ambidextrous safety is small and unobtrusive however it’s easy to hit with your thumb. I’m happy to report the opposite side of the safety doesn’t grind into the first knuckle of my firing finger like the Scorpion EVO. The ambi bolt release and magazine release are conveniently and intuitively located, although some practice and familiarization is required to make sure you hit the mag release when you intend to vs. hitting the bolt release as they’re rather close to each other. It’s worth noting that the gun does lock open on an empty magazine, and while speaking of magazines, it uses a proprietary polymer 30 round magazine.

It features integrated backup sights and this is where the vaulted Swiss quality takes a slight tumble down the Alps. Both the front and rear sights are made of polymer, and rather thin non-confidence inspiring polymer at that. Once deployed from their roosts inside the 1913 top rail it would seem they’re fragile enough to be easily snapped off with a little rough handling. This I can forgive, however I would like to see metal replacements offered or simply remove them altogether and use aftermarket sights, which is possible.

Polymer rear sight of the APC 9

The trigger on the gun is extremely good. Peeking inside you’ll find it’s quite similar to a standard AR15 trigger, although the hammer is a bit truncated. From reports I’ve read, aftermarket AR15 triggers are indeed compatible making the gun that much more attractive. Drop an aftermarket trigger in this bad boy and you’ll have one very slick shooter for sure.

The reciprocating bolt handle can be easily moved from either the right or left side during normal field stripping. Simply pull it out from one side and insert it into the other before reassembly.

On the muzzle end you’ll find a 3-lug adapter present for quickly attaching and removing compatible suppressors. I’ve found my Griffin Armament Revolution 9 suppressor with the 3-lug adapter kit works quite well with the gun.

The APC-9 has a very muted recoil impulse. Some of this is likely due to the fact it is a 9mm, that it’s a bit heavy for a pistol (roughly 5lbs), and it has a massive hydraulic recoil buffer in the butt cap. Yup, you read that correctly. When the bolt nears the end of its travel after firing, a great big hydraulic buffer captures it and decelerates it more quickly than the recoil spring alone can do. This likely helps mitigate recoil on the select fire version in ‘MERICA mode, but I suspect it’s at least partly responsible for the good behavior of the semi-auto version as well.

APC 9 recoil buffer

The entire lower is made of dense polymer much like that found on other contemporary guns. The upper is made from aluminum including the top 1913 rail. The lower rail is also made of aluminum and the two side rails are made of polymer. The metal parts are finished in what appears to be a finely applied parkerization. The gun is setup to be easily converted to an SBR with a single screw holding the block in place until you obtain an approved Form 1 from Uncle Sugar. With that Form 1 in hand, a conversion to SBR status is only minutes away. Yeah… I’m headed that direction with this little beauty.

brugger & thomet APC9

The pistol ships with a hard case, sling, manual and cleaning kit. An optional Aimpoint T1 Micro rounds out the ensemble. The basic APC-9 will set you back a whopping $2250 (MSRP) which means you could buy both a Scorpion EVO and Sig MPX for what you’ll invest in this Swiss Miss. Is it worth it? That’s a subjective question. That’s like asking a Ferrari owner if their car is worth $200k. I know many will read that price and immediately complain “IT’S TOO EXPENSIVE!!”, or “I COULD BUY 4 AR15’s FOR THAT!!!” Yeah, but who wants a safe full of budget AR’s?  Not me.  I want this European hottie, but then I’m crazy like that.

Stick around for more info about the B&T APC 9 here on the Full30 blog and on the Military Arms Channel.