The Apex Tactical M&P Barrel: First Look


Several weeks ago, Apex Tactical owner Randy Lee and I were talking on the phone and our discussion turned to new products  coming down the line from Apex.  One of the major items of interest to me was the “Apex Grade” 9mm barrel for the Smith and Wesson M&P. My association with Randy goes back a bunch of years.  I still have the early 2006 M&P that we used for the prototyping of the original Apex Hard Sear that started it all. Well, he prototyped, and I was the ape that attempted to break it.  As the conversation evolved, some hints might have been dropped, and a semi-drop in barrel arrived at my door about three weeks ago.

The old gun that had been used for prototyping has an unknown round count, that is fairly high.  Plus a million dry fires.  I’ve been shooting another brand mostly of late, so the gun was put away in the safe.  .

Let me preface this with the history of the accuracy issues regarding the S&W M&P, particularly in the 9mm full sized variants.  When this gun was in good form, the accuracy was outstanding.  It was pretty much as 2.5 inch gun at 25 yards with good ammo.  With handloads, I could squeak it  down a bit more on some days.  Other 9mm M&Ps I have owned I can’t say the same for.  I bought one 9mm M&P and owned it for five days.  With handloads, it was a six inch gun at 25 yards at best.  It was returned to the same gun shop I purchased it from.  I purchased another late model gun, and it was only a bit better.  I sold off all of my M&P stock and moved on.  Now, that was my personal experience.  I know several other guys that are great technical shooters that had the same issues.  Some had moderate success with other manufacturers after market barrels.  Some guys got guns that ran pretty good.  It was, shall I say, hit and miss.

Upon the initial inspection, the craftsmanship is on par or above some of the gold standards in the barrel world. The barrel crown was very well done. The instructions were really easy to follow for the installation of the semi-drop in for even the slower kids like me in the class of gunsmithing.

The first shots fired came on New Years Day.  I have yet to bench the gun at 25 yards, but have not done so on purpose.  Most of the ammo fired was Federal American Eagle 124 grain training ammo, and the bulk of my shooting has been off hand at 15 and 25 yards.  I like to try to judge a pistol off hand before I bench it for accuracy.  The results were even better than when the gun was new.  I shot several three round groups in the three inch range at 25. A few were way better than that.  Another thing I noticed is that recoil seemed a bit softer.  Even during rapid strings the gun tracked very predictably shot to shot.  I don’t know if it was just perception being what it is, or if the gun actually shoots a bit softer.

In the coming weeks, I plan to bench the gun and see what it will do with factory and hand loads.  I feel fairly confident from the first shots that Apex has themselves another huge winner.

SOURCE: Apex Tactical


8 thoughts on “The Apex Tactical M&P Barrel: First Look

  1. I am planning on ordering one to see for myself. Knowing Randy, I know it will be a great product. I consider myself slightly more educated than the average bear when it comes to the mechanics of a pistol, but I feel like a retarded 4th grader when I stand next to him. As for my experience with the factory barrels, with factory 115gr ball (like Win White Box or American Eagle), about half the ones I encounter seem to shoot acceptably well (say 4-inches or so at 25-yards standing, two handed) and the other half have trouble holding 6-8 inches from the same distance. This only seems to affect the full size variants in 9mm. The compact models don’t seem to be afflicted with the same problem. I currently have Storm Lake oversized match barrels (available only from G&R Tactical, apparently) in my M&Ps which I fitted myself. They shoot about the same as my factory Glocks, which is an improvement over the stock M&P barrels. I can’t wait to try out Randy’s new barrel.

  2. Has anyone ever formally stated what the issue is driving the inaccuracy in the M&P full size 9mm guns?

    • Apex has a video on their website regarding the issues and how their bsrrels address it. The simple answer is that Apex used high speed photography to analyze the problem and found the issue had to do with the barrel essnentially unlocking too soon. Earlier factory barrels also compounded the issue with a much slower twist rate. Thus the Apex Grade barrels address the issue by tightening rear lockup surfaces by using max tolerances at the barrel hood and locking lug at the bottom. This helps ensure the barrel stays locked with the slide until well after the bullet has left the barrel.

    • I always thought it was the twist rate of the barrel that was the problem. S&W changed the twist rate a year or so ago and it was supposed to improve the situation. My full size M&P9 (which has the newer twist rate) has mediocre accuracy. Not as good as my G17 but not bad.

      As for HK, I disliked HK’s for a long time (and I owned quite a few). The USP was a dog (ergonomically) but I have to say, the VP9 has been incredible. Highly accurate and reliable so far.

      If these Apex barrel give “average” 1911 level accuracy, I will be impressed. If it gave me NHC/WC level accuracy, I would be absolutely floored.

  3. first you announce the M&P SIRT and then you announce this

    it’s been a great new year for m&p owners

  4. I purchased a couple M&P pistols and have had no issues. Not the same experience with my friend. I just think it’s ashame a person may have to invest in so many replacement parts to bring the weapon up to the realm of greatness. For the money, an HK would have been a better choice. I neglected the HK so I could support an American company and American build. Not to mention I find the M&P to feel better in my hand.

    • I agree that it sucks to have to mess with a factory pistol to get it to perform as it should from the factory. That said, the Apex Grade barrel is touted to give you accuracy on par with that of a custom 1911 which is pretty good if that indeed bears out. H&K makes some pretty accurate and reliable pistols but ergonomics have never been their strong suit.

  5. I really wanted to like the M&P (owned two, as in past-tense), but decided to continue to run with Glock. It’s too bad that you have to get non-OEM parts to make them run as good as a Glock, plus M&P OEM parts are not as easy to find as with Glock…

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