Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Another cheap pistol - AP-MBP Review

My wife is getting her concealed carry permit. So, the time came to buy her a dedicated carry pistol of her own. I agonized over this quite a bit. I came up with some criteria that the new gun had to meet.

It had to have low recoil. The Kel Tec P32 was probably too small for her to handle easily, and I was worried about recoil in such a small gun. The Bersa .380, Makarov, PA-63 and CZ 83 were nice enough, but with a larger caliber, I'd read about the stout recoil of those guns too.

It also had to have a halfway decent amount of stopping power. Of course, a 9mm or even a .380 would be ideal, but maybe unmanageable for her. I even thought about going down to a .22 caliber pistol, but I didn't want her to defend herself from a bad guy with a round intended for a squirrel.

And, it had to be inexpensive, but reliable. I didn't mind paying a few hundred for it, but I didn't want to break the bank.

After a long search, I finally found a pistol that was small, but not too small; light, but not too light, and with a fairly low recoil, yet not dropping down to the inadequate .22 round, all for well under $200: the Hungarian AP-MBP.

Fortunately, it also goes by AP-7, or AP-7,65 (yes, with a comma). Those are better than AP-MBP, which is a dumb name, but at least they didn't call it "Manatee" or "Raging Pig". As it is, too many meaningless letters. I don't like the name. At all.

That's the only negative I have to say about this nifty little .32 auto pistol. Now, here are the positives.

1) Price - Actual sale price was $120. Got it "out the door" for around $132. My dad was impressed with the pistol, never dreaming it was this cheap. He was thinking it would go in the mid $200's. Now that he knows how inexpensive it is, he wants one for himself.

2) Quality - Titanium aluminum alloy frame, based on the Walther PP series pistols, a proven design. Made by FEG, who's quality is respectable, if not legendary.

3) Performance - I would trust the AP-MBP enough at this point to carry it. This thing digested a variety of hollow point and round ball ammo without a hitch. The mag is INCREDIBLY hard to load, probably more so that any other magazine in any other gun I've ever had. And, the rounds have a tendency to nose-down in the mag, but that doesn't seem to make a bit of difference, as everything loads just fine. The spring pressure is so tight that the feed lips score the rim of the cartridge if you pull one out, and you believe that the smallish slide will NEVER be able to grab the rounds out of the mag. But, the rounds are easily stripped and go into the chamber reliably. I did polish the feed ramp, mostly out of boredom.

And, the thing flat out shoots. It shot about 2" left at first, but a few taps on the rear sight with a hammer and a brass punch got it lined up. After that, it was not hard to get a 1 1/2"-2" group at 10 yards, more than accurate enough for self-defense work. I know people say that the .32 isn't much of a defensive round, and I agree. But, the AP-MBP is handy enough that you'd carry it in situations that other guns would be left at home because of their size. It's better than throwing rocks.

4) Customizability (is that a word?) - Lots of parts available for the AP-MBP, largely because of the great commonality of parts with the larger caliber PA-63. You can get spring sets to adjust slide resistance, recoil, trigger pull, etc. Plus, you can get aftermarket wood grips and holsters as well.

I already did some work on this one. Most AP-MBP pistols come with a black anodized frame, and it's not uncommon for them to be worn around the front and rear straps on the grips. I stripped the black off and polished the underlying titanium/aluminum frame to a fairly high sheen. This made it look like a completely different gun. Maybe not like new, but far easier on the eyes than the original black frame, and with much more character. I also gave it a good cleaning and touched up some worn spots in the bluing on the slide. It looks a LOT better than it did when I got it.

If you can't tell, I like the AP-MBP a lot. If you like small guns, .32 autos, service weapons, or if you always wanted a Walther PP but didn't want to pay over $500, you can't go wrong with the AP-MBP.

UPDATE: Nearly impossible to find "original" magazines for this gun, but many sources on the Internet have reported success using the larger caliber (and far easier to find) PA-63 magazines. I have compared them side by side, and they don't LOOK the same, but seemingly, the 9x18 PA-63 mag will feed the .32 caliber rounds reliably. Who'd have thought? I'm going to test this for myself, and will report back when I have results.

ANOTHER UPDATE: One issue with the AP - the decocker doesn't work. Actually, it works on rare occasions, but most of the time, moves halfway to the "safe" position, then stops, refusing to budge further. It does NOT drop the hammer unless I pull the trigger. I tested this at the range and working the decocker to the halfway position THEN pulling the trigger allows the decocker to function normally. Nevertheless, I'm not going to trust it, for the fact that this pistol's close relative, the PA-63, can sometimes discharge when the decocker is used. Apparently, the metal pieces that stop the hammer from making contact with the firing pin can become "peened" and mushroomed back to the point where the hammer WILL make contact with the firing pin, and cause the gun to fire if there is a round in the chamber. So, if you own EITHER gun, always aim downrange before using the decocker, or carefully drop the hammer while aiming the gun downrange. If you can't do this, while keeping the gun aimed downrange, drop the mag and EJECT THE ROUND before using the decocker.

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