Apex Tactical Barrel Conversion

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Get Maximum Accuracy From S&W’s M&P 9mm

By Ralph Mroz

Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm owners have been anticipating the Apex Tactical barrel for a few years now. I have the good fortune of having one of the first off the line and it performs even better than I had expected!

Guns, like all machines, have moving parts manufactured to tolerances. Actual machined measurements within these tolerances vary from gun to gun and from one manufacturing run to another, with the result accuracy often varies from one “identical” gun to another. When every tolerance on a particular gun is running towards the least desirable end, this is called “tolerance stacking” and can result in adversely affected accuracy.

To wring the most out of the M&P 9mm (the most popular M&P caliber and the one most prone to tolerance-stacked accuracy issues) Randy Lee at Apex Tactical watched tens of thousands of frames of high-speed video to see just how the M&P’s components behaved. He was finally able to determine the complex cause of the accuracy issues in some M&P 9’s (including mine, which was one of his evaluation guns).


Ralph’s battle-worn S&W M&P 9mm is now capable of sub-1″
accuracy at 25 yards with “white box” bulk ammo, thanks to
the Apex barrel conversion.

Two key elements of the improved, gunsmith- or factory-fitted barrel, for this fairly loosely-fit stock gun, are improved barrel-lug/locking-block mating, and a closer slide/muzzle mating. These two elements improve stability at both ends of the barrel to mitigate its tendency of destabilization at ignition. The Apex barrel also incorporates a faster 1:10 twist rate, the increased torque of which slightly increases dwell time.

The result is the M&P 9 has the potential and is mechanically capable of 2″ groups at 50 yards with widely available ammo, and sub-1″ groups at 25 yards. Indeed, Randy has posted pictures of test targets with sub-inch groups fired from a Ransom Rest using inexpensive bulk ammunition.

My own M&P 9 with the Apex barrel now shoots solid 1″ groups off a rest with inexpensive Winchester White Box 115-gr. ammo, when my 62-year-old eyes, using iron sights, are working well. That is custom 1911 level accuracy, and with cheap ammo to boot! Bravo to Apex!

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