In July of 2021, I wrote an article about the Army’s latest submachine gun, the APC9K. That article was done via outside analysis. I wasn’t part of the contest, and I certainly didn’t have a pile of submachines guns to do my own testing. Well, someone at B&T saw the article, liked what I said, and offered to send me a semi-auto variant of the APC9K to get an inside look.
Obviously, it’s not the exact APC9K the Army adopted. Mine lacks the fun of a full-auto switch and proper stock. The gun B&T sent me is the civilian legal pistol variant that’s available for purchase inside the United States. While it lacks a stock, the weapon does have a collapsing brace that’s similar to the standard stock utilized by B&T’s SMG variant of the APC9K.
However, even with the differences, I’ve been able to see why the Army chose the weapon, beyond simply accounting for the specs on paper. I’ve taken it to the range, fired hundreds of rounds through it, and developed a solid impression of how the weapon operates. Before we dive too deep into the APC9K, I suggest you read my initial article on the weapon, as I’ll be referencing some points I made there.
The APC9K in living color
The Army’s requirement for a submachine was called the subcompact weapon program, and it wasn’t based on a need for any old submachine gun. What they wanted was a very small SMG that was superbly designed and easily concealable with the right equipment. The weapon will be used by personal security details for high-ranking officers, visiting politicians, and similar folks.
They wanted more firepower than a pistol, but something shorter and easier to use in vehicles than a rifle, something capable of being fired in super close quarters, and something that could be easily concealed when necessary. B&T delivered on each count with a firearm that features a 4.3-inch barrel, a 14-inch overall length with the stock/brace collapsed, and a paltry weight of just 6.7 pounds.
In person, the APC9K is quite small but feels very stout. Its size makes it deceptive. Based on looks alone, you’d expect it to be a little bit lighter than it is. They just pack a ton of gun into this small package. It is lightweight, but it certainly feels dense. B&T constructed the lower receiver from polymer and the upper receiver from metal. Due to the squat nature of the weapon, it’s very well balanced.
B&T provides ambidextrous controls that include the safety, magazine release, bolt release, and charging handles. The charging handles are particularly impressive, in large part thanks to their folding design that ensures they don’t catch on gear or objects in your environment. Don’t let the fold spook you, however. They fly into action and unfold to reload, clear a malfunction, or clear the weapon. These controls make the weapon very easy to wield and extremely ergonomic.
The pistol grip is fantastic and quite thin. It fits my hands well and is clearly AR-like in design. There isn’t much room for a forward grip, but you can grip the magwell to support the small weapon easily enough. The telescoping brace slides outward with ease and locks in place without issue.
On the sides and bottom of the gun, we have rails for adding accessories. I would only add a bright white light to keep things illuminated. Across the top, the APC9K has a monolithic optics rail that makes adding red dots easy, and heck, there is plenty of room to add a night vision device and a PEQ 15 laser aiming device too, if you’re so inclined.
The side rails are M-LOK which makes them easy to remove. As a result, I’d prefer to attach the PEQ 15 to the fixed optic’s rail to maintain its zero. For my testing, I had an Aimpoint mounted, and that was it.
To the Range
I was impressed by the gun. It’s a little fella, but it reeks of quality and is very well thought out. It’s a premium package, and it shows in the gun’s construction and design. But you don’t really start to appreciate the APC9K fully until the rounds start flying downrange.
With some 9mm in hand, I hit the range. After spending a bit of time zeroing the weapon, I fired at various distances, focusing mostly on the 25 to 50-yard range. This is where these little 9mm subguns rock and roll. Inside of 50 yards, the APC9K outperforms a pistol and can keep up with a rifle. The accuracy is exceptional. I produced a tiny group inside a two-inch circle at 50 yards with the projectiles touching.
The trigger of the APC9K is absolutely outstanding and helps make the gun exceptionally accurate. It’s so crisp and just fantastic. With that in mind, I walked this SMG all the way back to 100 yards. 9mm is a pistol caliber, and 100 yards is quite the range for this little round. I wasn’t optimistic. However, I found myself hitting a man-sized IPSC steel target, and then even a 10-inch swinging gong. Just to reiterate, that was with a 14-inch SMG at 100 yards.
All I heard was ding, ding, ding, and I was impressed. Admittedly at these ranges, I needed to hold for drop. I made these shots in the standing and constantly delivered lead on target. The APC9K provides brilliant accuracy for such a small subgun, and I could see why it won the competition.
Running drills like failure to stop, box drills, 1-5 drills, and similar show that the weapon is easy to handle and steer between shots and multiple targets in a tactical environment.
A Winning Weapon
The APC9K is super easy to control. I commented in my previous article that the gun uses a blowback design that wasn’t particularly impressive. Blowback guns often have heftier recoil than they should for a pistol-caliber weapon. However, the APC9K notably lacked the tell-tale recoil and sting I’ve come to expect from a blowback weapon.
It was absurdly easy to handle, and I could shoot both quickly and accurately, putting effective rounds into kill zones on man-size targets from various ranges. Heck, even beyond that, I could engage small gongs and keep them swinging for shot after shot. I delivered a ton of lead on target and never found the weapon trying to fight its way out of my hands.
In terms of reliability, I found the weapon handled like an absolute champ. It never failed to fire, extract or eject. I dang sure didn’t clean the thing throughout several hundred rounds, and it didn’t fret.
The APC9K is killing it
Now that I have the APC9K in my hands, I can very clearly see why it was the Army’s choice for a new SMG. It’s incredibly compact, super accurate, and very reliable. The APC9K will undoubtedly serve the United States well. If you get a chance to handle one of these tiny terrors, you most assuredly should.
It seems clear that the Army made a good decision on this one.