Pistol caliber carbines are fun. They have mild recoil, light report, and are easy to control. They’re almost like shooting a .22, but with more downrange terminal performance. They pair up nicely with your sidearm, too, especially when they’re built from the same platform as your sidearm. At least that’s the case with the Meta Tactical Apex Series Carbine Conversion Kit.
The Meta Tactical Apex: What It is and What It’s Not
While this is a conversion for Glock, Smith & Wesson, and Polymer 80 pistols, it’s not a brace, and it’s not a PDW conversion like some of the units out there. The Meta Tactical Apex is a true carbine conversion kit. The included 16-inch barrel turns your Glock pistol into a rifle for legal purposes. Aside from giving you more velocity and accuracy potential, this gives a distinct legal advantage.
If the ATF’s new brace rules go into effect next year like they’re planning, braced Glocks and similar handguns are a thing of the past. The first thing on the ATF worksheet is that the weapon must weigh at least 64 ounces. If it weighs under that, which all Glocks and most traditional handguns do, then ATF has deemed that there’s no need for a brace.
That means that all of the pistol braces like the Endo Tactical, Recover Tactical and Flux brace, along with the full conversions like the Roni and Recover Tactical PDW kit I reviewed recently, are out the window—unless you SBR your pistol. I don’t like it, and I don’t agree with it, but that’s the rule that’s being proposed.
The difference with the Apex is that by adding that 16” barrel, your Glock is now truly a carbine and can have a real buttstock, avoiding the whole legal quagmire of a braced handgun. There are no permanent mods to your handgun either, so that you can swap back to handgun configuration without issue.
I received a kit for my 9mm Glock 17, so let’s dig in and see what I found out.
What You Get in the Apex Kit
When you buy an Apex kit, you buy it based on your specific gun and caliber. It’s available for most mid and full-sized Glocks in 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, and 10mm. Kits are also coming soon for the Smith & Wesson MP series and the Polymer 80 pistols in the same calibers.
Meta Tactical is promising models for Sig Sauer, and Springfield Armory pistols down the line as well. It’s a pretty broad lineup, and I was pleased to see the support for the large frame .45 and 10mm Glocks.
Kits are available in black, gray, olive drab green, or tan. With the kit, you get the APEX-Series Chassis and a 16-inch barrel with thread protector and a muzzle device. You also get a wrench to install the muzzle device and an instruction manual.
I received a soft case with my T&E kit, but that’s an optional item from Meta Tactical. Other optional items are flip-up sights, an angled fore grip, or vertical fore grips that hold spare magazines.
Assembling the Apex Conversion Kit
The assembly of the Apex conversion kit is extremely simple. If you can field strip your Glock, you can put this kit together. And in just about the same amount of time.
Clear your handgun, take off the slide, and remove the recoil spring, guide, and barrel. Swap your barrel for the provided 16-inch barrel and reassemble your pistol.
You now have an extremely long barrel pistol that reminds you of the one that Jack Nicholson’s Joker used in the 1989 Michael Keaton Batman movie. Once the barrel is installed, you can screw on the muzzle device with the provided wrench.
To install the long-barreled pistol into the Apex chassis, simply depress a button on the bottom of the chassis. This will release the rear portion of the chassis, which hinges upward. Next, pull out the trigger pin above the release latch. Then simply slide your Glock in place until it seats in the chassis.
Finally, push the trigger engagement pin in place and close the hinged portion of the chassis until it snaps shut. That’s it. It literally takes seconds to do.
After that, all you need to do is add sights, which is easily accomplished using the Apex’s 35-slot aluminum Picatinny rail. You can add flip-up sights and/or the optic of your choice. I tried both my Bushnell TRS-26 and my Sightmark Wolverine CSR and ended up settling on the CSR for my range use.
From Tip to Grip
I’ve handled a fair number of braces and conversion kits for Glocks, as well as bullpup style kits, dating back to the 1990’s Muzzelite days. I have to say that the Meta Tactical is the nicest one I’ve handled. The build quality of these USA-made kits is excellent, and everything feels solid and well thought out. The aluminum top rail is rock solid and makes for a stable mounting platform for optics.
There are three M-LOK slots on both sides and the bottom of the handguard for mounting grips or other accessories. Just above the M-LOK slots is the ambidextrous charging handle. It’s a solid metal unit with checkered knobs on either side of the gun. It’s easy to grab and cycle and is non-reciprocating, so it doesn’t get in the way while you’re shooting.
The pistol grip is a Meta Tactical design, but it will accept regular AR grips that have a flat top profile without the extended beavertail. I found the grip comfortable but a little short. It’s perfectly functional, but I might want to swap it out with another grip down the road. Which is fine, I end up doing that on most of my ARs too.
Since the Meta uses a trigger linkage to engage the Glock’s original trigger, a simple cross bolt safety is provided that sits right above the trigger. I have to shift my firing grip to disengage it with my firing hand. However, I can easily push it off with my support hand.
From Mag to Butt
Moving rearward on the gun, you’ll run into the magazine release. This is a tab that engages the pistol’s normal magazine release. The Meta is set up with a tab on either side so you can set it up for right- or left-handed use, depending on if your donor pistol supports that. I found this a little awkward at first but got used to it quickly.
Keeping the carbine shouldered with my firing hand, I could easily bring up a spare mag with my support hand and engage the release. This allowed the empty mag to drop free so that I could immediately insert the fresh mag.
Above the mag release are the ejection port on the right side of the gun and an access port for the slide release on the left. The ejection port has a built-in brass deflector that kicks the brass forward to the right, away from the face of the shooter, regardless of which shoulder you’re firing from.
Access to the slide lock/release is important, as not all PDW kits allow this. It definitely helps in the case of a malfunction or if you want to lock the weapon open to show it’s clear. When the buttstock is fully closed, it does occlude this slot, however. So, it’s something to be aware of if you’re shooting from the most compact position.
The 6-Position Stock
Speaking of the stock, it’s a 6-position stock operated by a lever at the bottom rear of the chassis. A wide grooved butt plate gives you a solid firing position. That’s another bonus in the fact that this is a true carbine, not a braced PDW. You get a real butt plate that’s actually designed for shoulder firing.
With six positions, you can easily adjust the stock to the proper length of pull for the shooter, even in heavy winter clothing or while wearing armor. The overall length of pull is adjustable from 13.5 to 17.5 inches.
Handling The Apex
The balance on the finished carbine is excellent. It feels solid in the hand but only weighs 5.75 pounds with a Glock 17 installed. You can easily keep the carbine shouldered with just your primary hand, allowing you to use your support hand to open doors or move through cover. It also means you could operate the gun if one arm is injured or otherwise out of commission.
Meta Tactical says that their CCK trigger linkage mechanism retains the trigger pull weight and reset point of the pistol you have installed in the kit. This seems to be the case as I can say this is by far the best trigger I’ve experienced on a bullpup kit. I have a stock 5.5-pound trigger in my donor gun, and I don’t notice any increase with the gun installed in the Apex chassis. The trigger reset is short and positive.
The Meta Tactical Apex on the Range
Accuracy with the 16-inch Chrome Moly barrel was excellent. I hit the range with my usual shooting partner, and we rapidly sighted the Apex in and were making ragged one-hole groups on the 25-yard range.
Like my other recent review, we started with plinking at steel helmets on the backstop berm. We could roll those around steadily, even in rapid fire. We started picking golf ball size and smaller targets off of the dirt backstop with ease. Honestly, the gun deserves a trip to the hundred-yard range, but the timing didn’t allow for that just yet.
Recoil is negligible, and the gun stays on target and is easy to control, even when doing fast doubles. We ran 150 rounds of mixed Federal ball and hollow point loads from my aging ammo stash. We had two malfunctions which were easily cleared thanks to the easy-to-operate charging handles and the ability to lock the slide to the rear.
Likewise, we used the Apex with a mix of factory, Magpul, and Bosnian AC-Unity mags. With the exception of the two malfunctions, everything fed fine and dropped free fine.
The Meta Tactical Apex carbine kit is a great option if you have a spare Glock (or Smith or P80) lying around that you want to make use of. It also would be great to keep in the truck for use with your carry gun. Switching to carbine configuration is quick and easy. So, it would let you have rifle-like capability with your EDC gun if things went sideways, without having to leave an actual rifle in your car.
Size wise it compares very favorably to other pistol caliber options. It’s shorter than my Kel-Tec SUB-2000 carbine and is better suited to optics mounting as well. It’s even shorter and lighter than my CZ Evo-3 Scorpion SBR. And that’s with a 16-inch barrel as opposed to the Scorpions 7 ¾-inch barrel!
You also don’t have to deal with the hassles of NFA paperwork. Likewise, you don’t have to worry about any pending brace rule changes due to its carbine barrel length.
At $599.99, the Meta Tactical Apex Carbine Kit does run a little more than some other Glock conversion kits. When you factor in the build quality, features, and the fact that you get a quality 16-inch barrel with the kit, it’s really very competitive.
Although I had some very minor quibbles with the safety and would probably replace the pistol grip, I’m walking away very impressed. In fact, I have a 10mm donor gun sitting and waiting for the release of the 10mm P80 kits later this month. After all, I have a birthday coming up, and I deserve it!
For more information, please visit MetaTactical.com.
Meta Tactical Apex Carbine Conversion Kit Features:
- Bullpup design allowing for rapid target acquisition in a compact rifle platform
- 16” drop-in replacement barrel
- Lightweight at just 3.25lbs + weight of stock firearm (1.5lbs average, unloaded)
- Ambidextrous design with shell deflector, ambi mag-release, and ambi non-reciprocating charging handle
- Supports suppressor height sights
- Compatible with most aftermarket slides as well as optics ready/optics cut slides (without optic mounted)
- Built-in cheek rest allowing for a consistent cheek weld
- Compatible with most AR15 flat-top A2 style grips
- 6-position adjustable stock
- M-LOK accessory system on handguard with a NATO picatinny top rail
- PROUDLY MADE IN THE U.S.A.
- MSRP: $599.99
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