Pistol to Carbine in Minutes!

by Vern Evans

Pistol-to-carbine conversion kits are nothing new. The idea of adding a buttstock to a handgun to give the shooter more points of body contact with the firearm for a steadier hold and enhanced accuracy goes back to the age of blackpowder muzzleloaders. That being said, they’ve always been something of a novelty compromise for circumstances where an actual carbine wasn’t a practical option.

Meta Tactical Apex Conversion Kit

Today, this niche market is still relevant, and perhaps more important than ever; but, not because of the obvious fun factor of increasing the range and accuracy of your recreational shooting. For the large number of new gun owners who purchased a single handgun specifically for self-defense in recent years, and especially urban dwellers who are at greater risk from civil unrest, rioting and mob violence in their densely populated communities, increasing the range and accuracy of the single weapon they rely on to protect themselves and their loved ones is serious business. 

In the last ten years, I’ve seen many pistol-to-carbine conversion kits, some clearly range toys, and others fit for serious use. Out of all of them, I believe the Meta Tactical Apex series kits are the most practical overall for everything but military applications. They are ruggedly made (in America), simple to operate, allow you to convert your pistol back and forth just by swapping out the barrel, offer many useful accessories to customize them to your requirements, and don’t require NFA registration (along with the $200 tax stamp and long wait) to own.

Inside the Apex Conversion Kit

The Apex Conversion Kit includes a polymer chassis and a 16-inch, ultralight barrel with a ½” x 28 threaded muzzle with a protective cap and a removable flash hider/breecher muzzle device at an MSRP of $400. To this you must add the sights/optics of your choice and your Glock, P80, PSA Dagger, or S&W M&P 2.0 handgun.

The chassis and barrels are model and caliber specific, so you need to make sure you get the kit that fits your gun. The profile of the 16-inch carbine barrel in the kit is turned with contact surfaces to match each pistol’s barrel to slide fit, and the polymer frame is likewise molded to tightly engage the pistol frame at the rear of the beavertail, the trigger guard, and the accessory rail. The pistol-to-chassis fit is impressively tight with these three points of contact and the long barrel, floats free inside the forend with enough room to tilt in and out of battery as the slide cycles back and forth for chambering and ejection.

The thick polymer chassis is molded in two halves securely joined together with steel bolts threaded into captive nuts. The forend has M-LOK slots at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock and a thick, 35 slot, aluminum Picatinny rail runs along the top. The forend is ribbed to improve the gripping surface, as is the pistol grip. Any non-beavertail-style AR pistol grip will fit. A steel, ambidextrous non-reciprocating charging handle protrudes an inch on either side of the chassis, giving it an extreme width of 2.5 inches. It acts directly on the front of the slide. It has a manually operated trigger block safety button running horizontally through the chassis.

Chassis Details

Located above and behind the trigger, it requires breaking the shooting grip to activate or deactivate, depending on your handedness. A cut on the left side of the chassis accommodates direct manual operation of the pistol’s slide lock release. The slide also releases after pulling back slightly on the charging handle.

The chassis has ribbed tabs on the left and right side that correspond to the location of your pistol’s magazine release button. The trigger operates directly against your handgun’s trigger, adding approximately a pound to the overall pull weight while, in my opinion, preserving most of the original feel. The left-side ejection port is large, allowing for easy inspection of the chamber and the clearing of potential failures to feed or eject. I experienced no failures in my testing. A deflector mounted above the ejection port allows the Apex to fire left-handed without getting hot brass in your face.

It has a six-position buttstock with metal arms, a soft, rubber buttpad and an ambidextrous, center line-oriented adjustment lever. Length-of-pull ranges from 13.88 inches to 17.88 inches in .88 inch increments.

Inserting & Removing the Pistol

The hinged rear section of the chassis opens to insert and remove your pistol by pressing a rectangular button protruding at the bottom in front of the magazine well. It locks positively and securely with a bar engaging hooks on either side of the magazine well opening. I noticed the gap between the forward and rear chassis assembly flexed slightly, moving approximately .015 inch at the lowest part of the joint. This occurred pushing the buttstock hard into my shoulder. Not conducive to consistent accuracy like a really tight lock-up, the Apex rather serves outside the target rifle realm.

I tested the Apex for the 9mm Glock 19, Glock 19X and Glock 45 Gen 3 through Gen 5 pistols and found it capable of shooting 5.5-inch, five-shot groups at 50 yards. Most people wouldn’t be able to do that that with any pistol, much less a 4-inch barrel compact. Anyone who can shoot a long gun shoots it more accurately than a handgun. 

Gaining Velocity

Chronograph results showed a 200 feet-per-second gain in velocity with the Apex 16-inch barrel. Its thread protector or flash hider must be removed to install it in your pistol. I didn’t mind this, but I found both would work loose during firing. I eventually just left them off. All that need be done to prepare a pistol for installation in the chassis is to install this barrel. That operation by itself requires no tools, but attaching the muzzle device requires a wrench. 

Performance is also enhanced by the broad range of accessories Meta Tactical offers for the Apex. For fast target acquisition and more precise aiming at long range, I installed a large-window red-dot optic (a value-priced Firefield in this case). I also got the Meta Tactical three-piece forend Picatinny rail set. On the bottom I installed their vertical foregrip/spare magazine holder to keep my supporting hand away from the muzzle. I used the left and right rails to install a Streamlight TLR RM 1 combination 500-lumen tactical light and green targeting laser and its pressure activation pad. Equipped with light, laser and red dot, the Apex chassis is set up with the basic technological improvements that help shooters of all skill levels perform more effectively. 

Apex Style

The Apex comes in black, grey, OD green, or tan polymer or, at a $100 up-charge, several camouflage hydro-dip options. In keeping with the value model that I believe the Apex represents, I added a matching tan polymer 33-round Glock pattern magazine from CenterfireSystems.com ($20 each). They make about a dozen colors which is helpful in keeping your ammo types sorted. The total weight of the Apex chassis as I configured it with a pair of empty 33-round magazines and without the pistol was just 4.5 pounds. Visit MetaTactical.com to see the many different handgun models the Apex will fit as well as the various accessories they offer like cheek risers, thumb rests, bipods, offset sight mounts, etc. 

Specifications: Meta Tactical Apex Series Carbine Conversion Kit

  • Caliber: Faries 
  • Operation: Semi-automatic, locked breech blowback
  • Barrel: 16-inch, 1-10 RH twist, 1/2: x 28 threaded muzzle
  • Chassis Material: Polymer & aluminum
  • Overall Length: 21.3 inches with stock collapsed, 24.3 inches fully extended
  • Height: 7.5 inches
  • Width: 1.86 inches 
  • Weight: 3.35 pounds for chassis and barrel alone without accessories or sights
  • Magazine capacity: Varies 
  • Controls: Ambidextrous non-reciprocating charging handle, buttstock LOP adjustment lever, magazine release, and trigger block safety, left-side slide lock release. controls, right or left ejection. 
  • Trigger: Adds approximately .75 pounds to normal pistol trigger pull weight
  • Stock: Six-position adjustable buttstock that increases LOP from 13.88 inches to 17.88 inches in .88-inch increments.
  • Sights: None
  • Accessories: Thread protector for muzzle and flash hider/breecher.
  • Color: Black, grey, OD green, tan and camouflage hydro-dip options.
  • MSRP: $500

Performance: Meta Tactical Apex Series Carbine Conversion

Load Velocity Best Group
Fiocchi 115-grain FMJ 1,355 5.00
SIG Sauer 115-grain FMJ 1,453 5.25
Magtech 115-grain FMJ 1,437 5.47

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