Construct Blowback Higher: Aero Precision EPC 9mm AR Pistol Evaluation

The idea of a 9mm AR is nothing new. Within the early Nineteen Eighties, Colt started creating 9mm prototypes primarily based on this platform, the earliest of which was an open-bolt submachine gun that fed from a modified Uzi journal. In subsequent prototypes, the design switched to a closed-bolt direct blowback system — this could carry via to Colt’s first manufacturing model, the ten.5-inch-barreled R0635 SMG. Since then, direct blowback has grow to be the trade commonplace for 9mm ARs, with a couple of notable exceptions (for instance, the radial-delayed CMMG Banshee featured in Concealment Difficulty 16 and the roller-delayed JP-5 we reviewed in RECOIL Difficulty 57). If we’re being beneficiant, we’ll simply name direct blowback easy. In any other case, we’d name it downright crude. Both method, reasonably than counting on a mechanical delay mechanism to decelerate the bolt, it depends on the mass of the bolt and buffer system. This interprets to a recoil impulse that may really feel a bit jarring regardless of the pistol caliber — it’s noticeably extra harsh than a 5.56mm AR. Fortunately, there are methods to mitigate this. We constructed a 9mm AR pistol utilizing elements from the Aero Precision EPC (Enhanced Pistol Caliber) line, after which modified it utilizing aftermarket components. The tip result’s a smooth-shooting, compact weapon that can be utilized for a wide range of duties, from competitors to protection.

Above: With the brace compressed and the JK Armament suppressor eliminated, this EPC-9 can match right into a small backpack with ease.

Editor’s Notice: This text initially appeared in Difficulty 29 of our sister publication Concealment journal. | Pictures by Nate Gerhart and Patrick McCarthy

Aero Precision EPC-9 Evaluation

The EPC line is Aero Precision’s tackle an optimized pistol-caliber AR and it consists of mix-and-match uppers, lowers, and builder kits, reasonably than full carbines or pistols. At time of publication, it’s solely accessible in 9mm/.40S&W, however a 10mm/.45ACP variant is within the works. Sure, each variations settle for Glock mags.

Very like Aero’s widespread M4E1 rifle-caliber receivers, the EPC receivers are machined from 7075-T6 cast aluminum, with an enlarged set off guard and flared magwell. A final-round bolt hold-open mechanism — a function many 9mm ARs lack — is built-in. The bolt catch and takedown pin channel are each threaded for ease of meeting, and there’s a tensioning set screw to make sure a good match between the higher and decrease. An prolonged magazine launch can be pre-installed.

Above: Aero Precision sells EPC-9 lowers with varied shares and braces, and uppers starting from 5.5 to 16 inches with a number of handguard kinds. We ordered an EPC-9 pistol decrease and full higher, then added this black nitride BCG and charging deal with to complete it off.

We began our construct with an EPC-9 full pistol decrease with SBA3 brace. This features a Mil-spec set off and selector, Magpul MOE grip, EPC 7.7-ounce buffer, and Aero M5 .308 carbine spring. Aero notes that particular hardened set off pins are put in to face up to the “excessive calls for of blowback AR platforms.” We paired it with an EPC-9 8.3-inch full higher outfitted with Aero’s Atlas R-ONE 7.3-inch M-LOK handguard. To finish the setup, we picked up a nitride-finished 9mm bolt provider group and a Breach ambidextrous charging deal with, each from Aero. Complete MSRP for these things was $1,095, they usually have been assembled right into a practical AR pistol seconds after unboxing.

Preliminary Impressions

To check the EPC-9 pistol in commonplace kind we loaded up some 30-round Glock mags from GunMag Warehouse, mounted a Major Arms MD-20 SLx pink dot on an Arisaka Protection riser, and headed to the vary. Aero’s modifications to the 9mm blowback AR system — specifically the heavier 7.7-ounce buffer and stronger .308 buffer spring — create a weapon that’s positively softer-shooting than an old-school 9mm carbine with 5.5-ounce buffer. The 8.3-inch barrel makes this pistol mild and simple to maneuver, and it’s sufficiently small to suit right into a backpack. Reloads have been fluid because of the bolt hold-open function, easy-to-reach magazine launch, and flared magwell.

Nevertheless, as is commonly the case with these tasks, we started questioning if there have been extra enhancements available with aftermarket components. Earlier than lengthy, we have been buying round, and down the rabbit gap we went.


Above: When the Arbor Arms sling isn’t in use, the surplus slack could be stowed neatly in opposition to the brace utilizing this magnetic Haley Strategic Sentry Strap.

The primary point of interest was discount of felt recoil, for the reason that Aero EPC buffer system helps however doesn’t utterly overcome the punchy direct-blowback recoil. For this, we turned to a buffer system we’ve utilized in a lot of our rifle-caliber ARs through the years: the VLTOR A5. The A5 makes use of a buffer and tube that’s ¾-inch longer than a typical carbine system, in addition to a rifle-length spring. It permits the buffer — and due to this fact the heavy 9mm BCG — to decelerate extra progressively. The A5 SP-PCC package we picked up is designed particularly for pistol-caliber functions. Along with the additional journey, its A5SH2 stainless buffer is barely heavier than the EPC buffer at 8 ounces. Shooters who wish to fine-tune the recoil impulse extra can attempt an A5SH3 (8.8 ounces) or A5SH4 (9.6 ounces).

Whereas we have been at it, we swapped the nitride BCG to a RedMohawk 3.0 Copperhead 9mm BCG from Iron Metropolis Rifleworks. It’s coated in a slick copper PVD end with a particularly low coefficient of friction for simpler cleansing, and it makes use of a typical AR-15 extractor. If copper isn’t your type, variants of this BCG are additionally supplied in black, tungsten grey, and gold finishes.

Above: It’s not onerous to see why Iron Metropolis Rifleworks calls this BCG the RedMohawk. On this Copperhead version, the provider is completed in a high-gloss, copper-colored PVD coating.

We changed the Mil-spec set off with a RISE Armament Blitz drop-in unit, which includes a 3-pound pull, crisp break, and quick reset. It makes use of springs reasonably than set screws for pressure in opposition to the included anti-walk pins and is appropriate for PCC functions (Aero Precision even sells it immediately as an EPC improve). We additionally put in a Strike Industries 60-degree selector change and more-upright 15-degree pistol grip on the decrease.

Above: The RISE Armament Blitz set off blade has a faint curvature and chamfered edges we discovered to be very comfy. It’s additionally lightning-fast with a brief reset.

As for the higher, the handguard is clad in textured M-LOK rail covers from Strike Industries and a Magpul hand cease. We caught with the optic setup and charging deal with talked about beforehand however added a compact Streamlight TLR-VIR II unit that toggles from a white mild to an infrared laser and illuminator for taking pictures underneath night time imaginative and prescient. It additionally includes a prototype TLR-1 Paddle Shifter change from Emissary Improvement. After we put in a sling loop into the built-in entrance QD socket, we seen it interfered with a full grip across the handguard, so we opted to connect our Arbor Arms Twin-Regulate sling to the highest rail by way of a Strike Industries Ambush sling mount. The opposite finish of the sling is connected to a PWS Ratchet Lock finish plate, which additionally eliminates the necessity to stake a citadel nut after putting in the A5 buffer tube.

The ultimate ingredient of this construct is a JK Armament suppressor constructed with 5 baffles and a “strainer” compensator endcap. It threads onto a Struggle Eagle 9mm comp/flash hider, connected to the 1/2×28 threads on the Aero Precision barrel.

On the Vary

With all these components put in, we returned to the vary to verify the outcomes. The A5 buffer system supplied a noticeable enchancment to felt recoil, altering the impulse from an abrupt thwack to a softer push. Granted, this direct blowback recoil remains to be nowhere close to the buttery smoothness of a gas-operated gun like a SIG MPX, and no quantity of aftermarket components goes to vary that. Nevertheless, it’s shut sufficient to shoot shortly and comfortably. Plus, it maintains the acquainted handbook of arms and accent compatibility of an AR-pattern firearm. The Blitz drop-in set off can be fairly good, with not one of the slack and vagueness that’s current in lots of 9mm SMGs and PDWs. This can be a massive benefit of a 9mm AR — set off choices are plentiful, straightforward to put in, and well-suited to semi-auto precision.

The reduced-angle pistol grip and handguard add-ons present improved management, and naturally, the suppressor makes taking pictures far more pleasing all-around. With the suppressor eliminated, the Struggle Eagle comp doesn’t make a lot distinction in felt recoil — 9mm muzzle gadgets not often do — nevertheless it dissipates muzzle flash and acts as a handy mount for the suppressor. Mixed with the tall optic mount and IR mild/laser, this EPC-9 construct is superb for lively or passive aiming underneath night time imaginative and prescient as nicely.

Above: We beforehand used the EPC as a take a look at bench for our assessment of the Phantom Hill Design CTF-1 infrared laser/illuminator.

Aero Precision EPC Construct Sheet

Aero Precision EPC-9 Pistol Full Decrease with SBA3 Brace $430
Aero Precision EPC-9 8.3-inch Full Higher with Atlas R-ONE 7.30-inch Handguard $415
Aero Precision BREACH Ambi Charging Deal with $80
Iron Metropolis Rifleworks RedMohawk 3.0 Copperhead BCG $280
JK Armament Struggle Eagle 9mm Comp and 155 Suppressor $962
RISE Armament Blitz Set off $199
VLTOR Weapon Programs SP-PCC A5 Buffer Package and RE-A5 Receiver Extension $127
Major Weapons Programs Ratchet Lock Fortress Nut and Endplate $40
Strike Industries AR Enhanced Pistol Grip, Flip Swap, Ambush Sling Mount, QD Sling Loops, and M-LOK Covers $153
Magpul M-LOK Hand Cease $25
Major Arms SLx MD-20 Gen II Pink Dot Sight $150
Arisaka Protection 1.93-inch Aimpoint Micro Mount $109
Streamlight TLR-VIR II $600
Arbor Arms Twin-Regulate Carbine Sling $60
Haley Strategic / NeoMag Sentry Strap $40
ETS Gen 2 32rd Glock Magazine $22
As Proven $3,692


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