When the Army went looking for a new SMG, everyone was a bit shocked. Everyone in the tactical world told us the SMG was dead in favor of the short carbine. Yet, here was the Army looking for a new option for specialized Personnel Security details. The contest saw entries from HK, CZ, PTR, SIG, and B&T. At the end of the contest, the B&T APC9K was selected as the first SMG adopted by big Army since the M3 Grease Gun. B&T was kind enough to produce a semi-auto pistol variant of the gun and was even kinder to send one my way for test and review.
Bruger and Thomet is a Swiss company that has made quite the name for itself by producing extremely high-quality firearms. They produce firearms for military and police forces as well as options for the everyday Joe like you and me. In the United States, B&T is most famed for their PCC/Subgun/large format pistols. The APC9K is the smaller variant of the APC9 that’s more of a full-sized submachine gun.
The APC9K – Puts the K in F**k*** Awesome.
The short little APC9K is a short 113.5 inches with the brace collapsed. Different braces will provide different lengths, but with the telescoping brace I’m using, you get a total overall length of approximately 21 inches. The barrel is 5.4 inches and comes threaded with a ½ x 28 pitch. Adding cans, compensators, muzzle breaks, or whatever else is easy. A suppressor would be the natural choice, but I’m considering a VG6 PCC compensator.
The short barrel keeps things short and sweet, as does the 5 pound 15-ounce weight. It’s not the lightest subgun but would never be described as heavy. I can see why the Army chose the gun when they wanted something short and light. The APC9K offers you an almost concealable firearm in a subgun setup.
One interesting design note is that the lower receiver is polymer and is not the serialized portion of the firearm. The metal upper receiver is the serialized portion. B&T went with the tried and true straight blowback design. This isn’t fancy like a roller delayed option or a short-stroke gas piston. In fact, the earliest subguns were blowback operated, and that proven operating system has been in service ever since.
The downside of the blowback system is the need for a heavy bolt and heavy buffer spring. Additionally, a lot of little blowback guns have recoil more akin to a 5.56 rifle than necessary. We’ll talk a bit more about that later.
The Army is planning to use this gun for situations where an ultra-small weapon is needed that offers more firepower than a pistol. For you and me, the APC9K makes an awesome home defense weapon. It’s quite short, and with a suppressor, you can protect your hearing and your home. Even with a can, it’s shorter than 99% of rifle caliber AR 15s.
It’s super easy to transport, and if you go road tripping, camping, or similar, then the little APC9K provides a lot more firepower than any pistol but is still a pistol. Therefore it’s covered under concealed carry permits, and this often gives you the ability to keep it ready and accessible in some states.
Most obviously, guns like this are an absolute ton of fun to shoot. They are short, lightweight, and low recoiling. Perfect for smaller shooters and generally cheap to shoot since 9mm is traditionally cheaper than 9mm.
Why a SubGun vs. a Pistol?
You might be asking, what’s the point of a gun like this versus a standard pistol? The short barrel doesn’t impart much ballistic improvement over most full-sized pistols. Well, at 50 yards, I’m not consistently dinging a 4-inch gong in the standing. With the APC9K, I kept that mother trucker spinning for shot after shot. You get a significant accuracy improvement with a subgun over a pistol.
You also get a massive control improvement. I can drop a dozen rounds in a few seconds and hold the gun on the vital zone of a target at 25 yards. That same control allows me to jump between multiple targets on the fly and deliver quick and accurate follow-up shots. During testing, I conducted several drills with strict accuracy and time requirements. This includes the Hackathorn headshot standards and the Sage Dynamics Eleanor drill.
The APC9K showed its merit when the timer started, and the lead started flying. I fired the rifle standards for the Eleanor drill, and this was the first time I’ve ever passed the drill within its 2.5 second time constraints. It took three tries, but I passed!
That extra control and range make the APC9K quite distinct from a Glock 17 or 1911. The little gun bucks, barks, and hits its target faster and more accurately, well outside of typical pistol ranges. I live in the middle of nowhere, and the APC9K makes a great companion for the ATV. Should I stumble across some feral hogs or coyotes, I have an accurate and capable way to take them down out to 50 yards or so.
Boom, Bang, Pow
The APC9K is plenty accurate, but let’s talk recoil. Most blowback guns have stiff recoil for their respective pistol calibers. That being said, the APC9K doesn’t seem to have that same issue. Maybe it’s the ultra-stiff buffer spring or some combination of the gun’s geometry, but it’s not hard to handle, and felt recoil feels considerably less than something like the CZ Scorpion.
Recoil barely moves the red dot reticle off target. You can keep it on target and do so with ease. Muzzle rise can be best described as ‘nil,’ and you won’t see much, especially if you know how to control recoil in general.
Ergonomics in Action
B&T did an amazing job of equipping the APC9K with outstanding ergonomics. Every control is ambidextrous, super large, and easy to access. Closing the bolt, dropping magazines, racking the weapon, and fiddling with the safety is superbly easy. Everything is mimicked on both sides of the gun and presents a very easy-to-use weapon.
This is handy for both lefty and righties but also handy when you need to switch shoulders on the fly. It’s quite nice and makes it easy to accommodate most shooters and most situations. The charging handles, in particular, impress me. They fold forward, so they are low profile but large enough to grip and charge the weapon with ease.
The gun’s balance is also perfect for one-handed use. It’s light and balanced, so you can engage quite accurately with a single hand if necessary. The Army’s PSD team may need to open doors, carry a comrade, or use an arm to hold their principal back. They can do so and engage with the APC9K with ease. I had no problems easily dropping rounds into a man-sized target out to 25 yards.
Peanut Butter and Jam?
Sadly no, you’ll just have to chow down on peanut butter because the APC9K doesn’t jam. At least not in the several hundred rounds of various quality ammunition I put through it. This includes hefty 147-grain ammunition, light 115-grain ammo, jacketed hollow points, and more.
The gun ran like a typewriter, and I didn’t get a chance to ever need my immediate action skills.
Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze?
So what’s the downside? Well, the 2,450 dollar MSRP might be tough for some to swallow. It’s rather high for a 9mm pistol. That being said, the Swiss damn sure knows how to produce a firearm. This thing is an outstanding weapon and has quickly worked its way into my top slot for favorite subgun.