The B&T Advanced Police Carbine 9 (APC9) is a rather nice blend of existing, proven design and some truly unique engineering. It is a clever and well thought out balance between time proven features, high tech production materials and manufacturing procedures to keep costs to a minimum. It is a statement to the excellence of Swiss engineering and innovation.
The APC, not unlike the Glock pistol, was designed from the very beginning to be produced in quantities and at an economic price that will please any administrator or logistics officer. It also possesses enough features that any operator will appreciate and be able to rely upon. The flexibility built into the weapon from the beginning will enable the product to be sold to law enforcement, military and even to civilian customers where local legislation allows such carbines.
When most people see the APC the first time it appears to be familiar to them. The stock is the same stock as B&T uses on the GL06 Less Lethal Launcher which has been sold literally by the thousands all over the world (outside of the U.S.). The optic is the well known and popular Aimpoint TL1 Red Dot sight. The barrel lug is the same one finds on the MP5 and the magazine is the same as B&T uses in their MP9 PDW. When one holds the weapon in the hand to test the trigger, the pull one feels is the same as the M16. The polymer used in the APC is the same that B&T has used in the MP9 since 2003 with virtually no reported failures in the field. What B&T has done is to incorporate proven, existing designs and technologies into a new weapon.
The entire idea of the APC is that the world still has demands for a state of the art 9mm police carbine or submachine gun that is larger than a PDW yet smaller than a 5.56mm rifle. B&T has been producing the MP9 for some years now and has gained great experience and had much customer feedback about this subject. Contrary to much modern thought, the 9x19mm cartridge is far from obsolete either in a handgun, submachine gun or carbine. Other competitive products in this category are either of an old design using stampings and metal machining which results in a heavy and expensive weapon, or are designed around an envelope that is in fact the same size as an assault rifle; while other products were originally produced for larger calibers that resulted in a SMG that is as large dimensionally as a 5.56 rifle. The APC fits into a special niche that other manufacturers have not been willing to go to for many years. They seem to have forgotten the art of the submachine gun.
The APC is an original B&T design. The inspiration for this came from Karl Brügger himself who saw the need for this type of weapon from the success B&T has experienced with the MP9. “We noticed that that the market is not yet filled.” Mr. Brügger explained, “In spite of the introduction of new calibers such as the 5.7x28mm and 4.6x30mm, many users still demand the 9x19mm. As a matter of fact some are even asking for the .45 ACP…” (…more on that later…) B&T also was able to hire some great engineering minds to work on the project, men that have many years experience in the small arms field. The final reason was that the B&T management team thought it would be a fun exercise to make an interesting new product.
From a marketing point of view B&T set out from the beginning to create a high quality, modern, price competitive submachine gun in the 9mm caliber with the potential for other calibers. It needed to have full modularity and flexibility to accept all types of 9mm ammunition from monobloc, hollow points, frangible, subsonic and even very lightweight bullets that are still found in Europe. Many readers will immediately say that the 9mm is nothing in terminal ballistics when compared to the 5.56mm caliber. The answer is that you are correct, however most police agencies the world over are led and managed by civilians who feel a 5.56 cartridge in an urban environment is just too much energy considering the much higher population density that exists in Europe and many countries in Asia. The police agencies in these countries were the target markets.
One might also say that the capacity to penetrate a bullet proof vest is also limited with 9mm ammunition. Here again one can get the feeling that is true when one compares standard Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) projectiles. There are, however, a multitude of armor piercing 9mm rounds available to qualified users. For example the Swedish m/39B will easily go through 50 layers of Kevlar and still keep going. The mass of the 9mm bullet will be more in the body thus creating damage of a known quantity. There also is the fact in many countries worldwide it is illegal for a non authorized person to posses a bullet proof vest much less even getting caught wearing one. The penalties can be as draconian as having an illegal weapon. Finally, NATO has been in combat for over ten years now. Over the past decade the author has debriefed, discussed with and spoken informally with many NATO soldiers who have been deployed in the SWA Theater. Many of these have been assigned to various Special Forces units. In all cases none of these soldiers remember shooting or seeing the bodies of any insurgent or even hearing reports of any terrorist wearing a bullet proof vest. There have been cases of NATO soldiers having to shoot persons wearing a bomb vest but not a bullet proof vest. In all objectivity, the argument for the urgent need for all soldiers or police having a weapon that will penetrate a bullet proof vest is a bit over-stated in the popular media when compared to the actual incidents.
The APC had to accept all types of accessories straight out of the box without any further investments in extra rails or mounts. The barrel had to be ready for mounting a suppressor. There is then no need for an agency to spend more money for rails, or mounts to get the weapon ready for use. The weapon comes complete with an Aimpoint TL1 Optic, single point sling, cleaning kit and Quick Detachable (QD) vertical handgrip. The only option an operator really needs is a tactical light which B&T has recently introduced with the cooperation of In Force.
The operating system is a straight blowback function. It fires from the closed bolt and on the last round the bolt will stay open thus facilitating quick reloads. This overcomes one of the major issues with the MP5 family of weapons. This one design feature will decrease by 50% the amount of time it takes to perform a tactical reload as compared to an MP5. It is almost as fast as with a handgun.
The top of the weapon has an aluminum NAR (NATO Accessory Rail) integrated into the top receiver. The primary sighting device is the Aimpoint TL1 which comes standard with the weapon.
There are NAR rails on the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions. The lower rail is machined aluminum while the lateral rails are made of the same polymer material as the trigger housing. The reason for this is that it is more likely that the rail in the 6 o’clock position will be used with a sighting device such as a laser, whereas the side rails will probably be used of illumination devices which do not require maintaining zero. The sling mounting point on the APC9 is just where it should be, where the stock and receiver meet.
The Aimpoint TL1 is the Mil-Spec. It is one of the lightest and most technically advanced parallax free red dot sights currently produced. Aimpoint originally invented the concept of the red dot sight. The sight has no magnification and is powered by one 3V Lithium CR2032 battery which will produce 50,000 hours (5 years) of continuous service. It is submersible to 25 meters and the weight is only 105 grams. The only feature that this sight doesn’t have over the standard T1 has is that it does not have a NVG setting. It comes standard with the B&T QD mounting system.
B&T chose this optic for various reasons. The most important reason is that it can withstand all the Mil-Spec tests that the gun goes through. It is a very tough sight. Simply put, the TL1 is part of the system and if the optic fails then the system fails and thus the weapon fails. B&T just didn’t want to risk having a failure because of choosing a cheap or substandard optic. Aimpoint sights are so good that since 1997 the company has delivered more than one million Red Dot sights just to the U.S. Army. This number is even greater if one counts all the other NATO (and non NATO) militaries that have adopted other Aimpoint systems. The APC9 is NOT available without the TL1.
In the unlikely event the optic should fail for some reason there are integrated flip up emergency sights that are recessed into the top NATO rail. The rear sight is adjustable but aligns perfectly with the TL1 mounted. The emergency sights are not exposed when kept in the storage position and thus well protected from abuse and exposure of normal wear and tear of daily handling.
The stock folds very nicely and clips securely into the right side of the receiver when not in use thus making it a very compact 385 mm in length. There are no extra buttons to press to open the stock; just a small bit of pressure will do it. When the stock is open the entire weapon is 600 mm in length while producing a 330 mm stock pull. The author feels the stock pull is an important feature because there has been trend for some years now in law enforcement for all officers to wear a ballistic vest or if they are on a special team either a material vest or an integrated ballistic and material vest. These added layers have drastically reduced the pull an operator requires to effectively manipulate and fire his or her weapon. This issue is greatly compounded if the operator is a small statured male or a typical female operator. If the stock is too big then the weapon cannot be easily manipulated. This is an outstanding ergonomic consideration of the APC to the realities of many modern users. Karl mentions that an expandable stock is in the pipeline but B&T didn’t want to delay the introduction of the APC9 while the stock is being developed. Be advised that it is not just an M4 type stock. It will be a new design that is unique to the APC9 but also adaptable to other B&T products like the GL06 Less Lethal Launcher.