New for 2022, the Extar Arms EP9 Gen 2 resets what we should expect from a GLOCK magazine-fed 9mm large-format pistol.
Large-format 9mm pistols (sometimes incorrectly referred to as Pistol-Caliber Carbines or “PCCs”) have had quite a run in recent years. Unlike their 16″-barreled big brothers, the large-format pistol doesn’t quite replace a rifle for practice, but it does have a very valid role.
By shortening the barrel and dropping the stock, guns of this format are lighter, smaller, and more maneuverable than a true PCC. As long as a 9mm pistol’s barrel length exceeds 4″ you’re also assured extra velocity and muzzle energy beyond what the manufacturer listed. The end result is something easier to learn and shoot, with more energy than a handgun, while being more compact than a rifle. It’s easy to see why this format has become so popular.
Some of the most common versions are those that use AR-like controls and sometimes even AR-15 receivers, but that results in something larger, heavier, and more expensive than it really needs to be.
Enter Extar Arms, one of the few companies that’s only making an affordable option, but they also didn’t raise their prices dramatically during the crunch of 2020 and 2021. The founder of Extar has over 40 years of experience in injection molding polymer and even took a swing at beating the ’94 Assault Weapons Ban by producing .223-chambered firearms that were too light to be impacted by the prohibition. That’s patriotism!
The Extar EP9, now in its second generation, is constructed mostly of weight- and cost-saving polymer. Rather than adapting the AR platform to accept parts needed for 9mm blowback operation, the Extar EP9 was designed from the ground up.
The EP9 looks, feels, and in general operates like an AR9, but is lighter, less expensive, and devoid of unnecessary materials. AR users will find the controls familiar aside from a left-side charging handle which eliminates the AR’s awkward face movement when charging the firearm.
Priced at just $449, and weighing just a touch over 4 lbs. you might not think the Extar EP9 Gen 2 is worth anything more than a range toy. The polymer side-charging handle, polymer receivers and handguard all somehow look less serious than aluminum, but they accomplish the same task for less cost and weight.
Extar designed and patented the first GLOCK-magazine last-round-bolt-hold-open device (obviously licensed to several other manufacturers) so one of my first questions was, “Which GLOCK magazines?”.
There’s a plethora of Glock-patterned magazines available on the aftermarket and not all of them work in all “GLOCK-pattern” guns. I hit the range with no less than ten variants to give them a try. The results can be seen in the video below.
Mags tested include GLOCK factory mags, Extar’s own magazines, ETS, TorkMag, ProMag, Jagermann, the Fab Defense UltiMag, two types of Korean 33-round stick magazines, and more.
I was also curious to see if Extar’s unique buffer system would result in any ammunition sensitivity. As always this was tested with the What’s For Dinner Test which included rounds ranging from 65gr to 165gr.
Aside from some of the magazines fitting a bit tightly, all models were usable. What really took me by surprise was how pleasant the Extar EP9 Gen 2 was to shoot.
Over the years I’ve found that most blowback 9mm guns have as much, if not more recoil as a rifle caliber guns do. The Extar’s light weight made me expect more than average. I was wrong.
Tucked inside the Extar’s proprietary buffer tube is a conically-shaped buffer that ends its travel by fitting into a second buffer made of polymer. This eliminates the classic slam most 9mm blowback guns exhibit and greatly reduces perceived recoil.
Even “punchier” loads like Winchester Silver Tip and Federal’s 124gr Punch were soft-shooting. That makes the Extar EP9 Gen 2 and excellent choice as a defensive tool, especially if there are members of the house hold that don’t shoot often.
Specifications: Extar EP9 Gen 2 9mm Pistol
Barrel Length: 6.5″ Barrel
Extar Stabilizer included for optional mounting
Last round bolt hold open
Integral QD Point at the aft end of Lower Receiver
1/2-28 Muzzle Thread
Overall length 24″
Weight without Brace 4.06 lbs
Weight with Brace 4.22 lbs
*Note the included brace is not factory installed. Should BATFE overstep their place AGAIN, this is not a braced firearm.
Ratings (out of five stars):
Reliability * * * * *
Ten magazine types and eleven different ammunition loads couldn’t slow the Extar EP9 Gen 2. What more could one ask for?
Ergonomics * * * * *
If you can run an AR, you can run an Extar EP9 Gen 2. The only difference is the smart left-side charging handle. The inclusion of a B5 Systems grip keeps things comfortable with the shorter length of pull.
Accuracy * * *
Untested beyond 25 yards. Tossing a 9mm bullet from a 6.5″ barrel, I hit everything I was aiming at, but grouping just felt wrong.
Concealability * * * *
When compared against other PDW/PCC/large-format pistols the Extar’s light weight and reduced footprint makes it smaller and easier to place, but it’s of course still larger than a standard handgun.
Overall: * * * * *
This is a soft-shooting, under-$500, made in America, 100% reliable, firearm. The Extar EP9 Gen 2 is a great buy for plinking or personal defense.