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Old March 5, 2013, 04:26 PM   #1
TunnelRat
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M&P APEX Install vs. XDm PRP Install

Hi all,
I just wanted to share some thoughts on these two items. They seem relatively popular and I just wanted to compare the two in a limited way. The end goal is to improve the stock triggers on the two pistols and it's worth wondering how successful each as at it improving its target weapon. I am talking about the AEX DCAEK install and the Powder River Precision Drop-In install, specifically. PRP offers some trigger kits that require some fitting and that is not what I am talking about here. These are just my thoughts, but feel free to chime in with your own.

Price
You're talking about roughly the same price but the edge goes to the APEX. The PRP drop in kits can be found for roughly $110 on Brownells + shipping. The APEX kit can be found for roughly $93 on MidwayUSA.

Quality
Both seem like quality part kits. In talking to each of the manufacturers on the phone I got excellent help with any questions so either company seems dependable as well. They both have qualified gunsmiths on staff.

Ease of Install
This is the real question. Both companies have gone through the effort of making videos available on YouTube to help folks that do it themselves. Of course the packaging with the parts always instructs the user that a gunsmith should do the install. This is kind of amusing as the videos are pretty much there for Joe Schmoe, but I understand the legality. I am sure it does help the occasional smith as well.

APEX's video is a number of shorter videos. This is due to the fact that individual components from the DCAEK can be purchased (a very nice touch btw). So to do the install of the entire kit the user just has to remember to watch three videos. DCAEK Part 1, DCAEK Part 2, and USB Install. This makes it a bit more arduous but it's still straightfoward. The narrator seems to do a decent job at maintaining a pace that's easy enough to follow. I wish the quality of the video was a bit higher but it's nothing that makes it impossible to do the install. The only issues I see with the install are getting the pin for the trigger housing back in and installing the USB. APEX is kind enough to supply a slave pin for the trigger housing pin so make your life easy and USE IT. It's a big help. The USB install requires removing the rear sight. This is a pain in the butt for a few reasons. 1. Depending on how much the firearm has been shot and if it still has the stock sights getting them off is a big hassle. APEX supplies a plastic sight pusher which is again nice of them. I found it does deform pretty easily. You'll probably need some sort of vice to hold the slide. This isn't a big issue but if we're fair it does require more starting hardware than the XDm. Be prepared to give some good wacks (rubber mallet is advisable). 2. Now you have to realign the sights. You can make this easier by putting marks on the slide in pencil as to where the sights are, but even doing this after the install I still had to realign the sights after a trip to the range showed me shooting left. This aren't the fault of APEX, it's part of the M&P design. My advice is do the kit and a sight install at the same time to save some effort.

PRP's video is a single video. The video quality is a bit better than APEX's which makes it a bit easier to see what's going on, but it's not massive. My only complaint with the video is the narrator seems pretty damn experienced, which is good and bad. I get the impression he could do the entire install himself in probably a fraction of the time. He does narrate fairly well but I found myself rewatching sections a number of times to pick up on little tips that he was doing out of habit and didn't mention (such as the alignment of certain parts and what not). Don't get me wrong, it's possible to do watching the video that's how I did it. It's just not as easy to follow, IMO, as the APEX video. There wasn't one part of the install in particular that struck me as overly difficult. I did have to play with placing the trigger and trigger bar in a few times. Turned out I didn't have the trigger bar far enough back into the mechanism and it made it seem like the trigger itself was too long and rubbed on the trigger guard. But certainly no removal of sights or anything like that, really all you need is a punch and hammer. It did honestly take me longer simply from the rewatching. Lastly, I found the supplied safety spring for the firing pin block a problem. In installing it it had a big tendency to bend instead of fitting in the little impression compared to the stock as it didn't have nearly as much tension (watch the video to get what I mean). I actually found when I took it out to put the stock back in that it had come loose slightly. This was probably just me but it was something that happened.

Results
Next to the install probably the most important question. I'll preface this by saying both improve the triggers, so I consider both a "success".

The APEX trigger kit resulted, in two different installs, in a massive difference. The grit was completely removed thanks to the USB and the new sear led to a very crisp break. My end weight as measured on a Lyman digital scale came out to 5 lbs 5 oz. I really like a carry trigger at just over 5 lbs so I was ecstatic about this. The only complaint I would have is the reset. I also did a Reset Assist Mechanism, (RAM), install. To be honest I don't find it makes a huge difference. The reset becomes audible but the tactile feel is barely there. I really don't consider this a deal breaker. There was still a fair amount of takeup but overtravel was essentially gone.

The PRP trigger kit resulted in a noticeable difference. The trigger was smooth to begin with and that remained. The biggest difference is likely in the takeup which was reduced significantly. The integreal overtravel stop on the PRP trigger removes basically any overtravel. The reset was much shorter as a result. The reset also remained audible and tactile. I did find the break to be not as crisp as the APEX and still had a bit of mush. Weight is a bit of a personal issue. With the grey, non-competition springs, it came out to 4 lbs 10 oz. compared to 6 lbs 12 oz. stock. For me this is a bit light, but many would be happy with that. I found that leaving the striker and safety springs stock, basically ignoring the slide part of the installation, left it at 5 lbs 12 oz. Putting in the PRP striker spring brought it just about 5 lbs 5 oz, again where I personally like to be.

Conclusion
They are both great products from great companies, but honestly I think the APEX kit is more bang for the buck as it's cheaper and makes more of a difference. To me the APEX trigger kit turned a very mediocre trigger into a great trigger whereas the PRP trigger kit turned a good trigger into a great trigger. Does this mean the PRP is a failure? Not really as frankly I think it starts with a better trigger and so making a noticeable difference isn't as easy. But for me the takeups between the two are both smooth, though the M&P breaks much further back (they have a different kit to address this now), the overtravel isn't an issue, and the reset isn't something I personally worry a ton about. Then it comes down to the break and honestly I think the APEX just has the PRP beat in this case. If someone asked me is the PRP trigger a must have for an XDm, I'd have a hard time saying yes. If someone asks the same about the APEX I would say yes instantly.

If you read all this, congrats!
-TR
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Last edited by TunnelRat; March 5, 2013 at 04:33 PM.
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Old March 5, 2013, 04:35 PM   #2
Uncle Malice
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I would agree with your conclusions here. I think Apex makes the most drastic difference, really, because of the mitigation of the gritty take up.

I have never used just the PRP drop-in kit, but the complete competition kit. Which did produce a VERY good trigger... however I wouldn't feel safe with it for carry. It had about as much movement as the trigger in my Springfield TRP 1911 and wasn't much heavier. VERY good... but a little scary for duty/carry (it's a competition trigger after all)..

The Apex DCAEK provides a great trigger for a striker fired gun. The newer triggers also have a better reset than the older ones. My newer M&P Pro 9 is evidence of that. In fact, after polishing the contact surface of the trigger bar where it interacts with the striker block, there is basically no grit at all. The pro trigger breaks to the rear like the Apex kit does, so I don't even need the Apex kit in my Pro series - but I definitely consider it a requirement in the standard models.
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Old March 5, 2013, 04:41 PM   #3
TunnelRat
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Quote:
. however I wouldn't feel safe with it for carry. It had about as much movement as the trigger in my Springfield TRP 1911 and wasn't much heavier. VERY good... but a little scary for duty/carry (it's a competition trigger after all)..
Good point. I've seen folks on the XD forums mention installing the competition triggers for carry. IMO, and it's just that, that's a bit light for carry. For competition sure. I also would have concerns if a person "needs" a 3.5 lb. trigger to hit effectively. I grew up shooting revolvers so heavy pulls are something I learned to live with and I think trigger weight sometimes gets made into a bigger deal than it it really is.

Quote:
The newer triggers also have a better reset than the older ones.
I've heard this a few times. The last M&P I did the install on was from June of last year and it was still very rough, but in talking with S&W on the phone they did say they'd be rolling out some improvements. For a service handgun it's probably fine anyway. To me it's just a shame as it has great potential. I'm glad to hear it's getting better from factory.
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Old March 5, 2013, 06:39 PM   #4
57K
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Well, the revolvers I grew up with, Dan Wesson, S&W and Rugers had far better triggers than they do today. Particularly in single action. A service auto just doesn't compare until you start talking about 1911s. One thing that makes 1911s so shootable along with lighter pull weights is that most triggers have an overtravel stop as some older revolvers had. My Dan Wesson had one fitted to the frame and was simply outstanding.

I bought an XDm 4.5 in .45 ACP in June of 2010. I had previously owned a 5" tactical model in .40 S&W. I have large hands so the TAC grip and trigger reach were a bit short for me, so I sold it about the time that SA introduced the XD in .45 ACP. Didn't buy an XD in .45 and that was probably a good thing as the standard XD doesn't function well with SWCs. SO when I ordered my XDm sight unseen as soon as they were announced, I also ordered a PRP "Match Easy Fit" trigger kit and installed it before I shot the first round through the pistol after only dry firing it. With this kit, the overtravel stop was an internal part that I had to fit. Luckily, I nailed it right on the money. My pull weight is just about 4# which I have no issue in using for a defense pistol because the rule of discipline mandates that you keep your finger off the trigger until your ready to fire, anyway. The PRP kit eliminated take-up, dramatically improved the trigger pull and reset is very short. Partly due to the overtravel stop. Now the kits come with the overtravel stop integral on the rear of the trigger, and much easier to set.

With Glocks and M&Ps you can make definite improvements to the trigger, but since they are semi DAO mechanisms you can't eliminate the overtravel as readily as you can with the XDm's single action trigger. I've been handgunning for over 35 years and I've never had a service auto with a better trigger that didn't say 1911 on the slide and cost at least twice the price of what I have invested in my XDm. I haven't done anything whatsoever to the striker and find no reason to do so. The toughest part of the install was getting accurate alignment of the striker safety lever, but the only fitting I did was to the overtravel stop, and as I said, PRP changed that over a year ago with their new trigger that has the overtravle stop molded into the rear of the trigger.

For a carry XDm, I recommend the "Ultimate Easy" kit that runs about $110 directly from PRP. The springs are not so light as the "Match" kit and there's no need to do anything to the striker. You'll get a clean crisp trigger with no take-up, shorter reset with no overtravel and installation is easier than with the kit I used, but I guarantee you, I could not be more pleased after having done this over 2 1/2 years ago.
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Old March 5, 2013, 08:17 PM   #5
TunnelRat
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Quote:
y pull weight is just about 4# which I have no issue in using for a defense pistol because the rule of discipline mandates that you keep your finger off the trigger until your ready to fire, anyway.
While I get what you're saying, I kind of grow tired of this logic. Were people machines and the rules always followed then we'd all have 1 lb triggers with no takeup at all. If you're comfortable with that weight it's your gun and I take no issue with it. But everyone knows the four rules, or should. Their existence, however, has not prevented negligent discharges in the past and they will likely happen in the future. Do I think we all need 10 lb triggers? Not at all, or I wouldn't have done these trigger kits. But I do think there should be a difference between a carry gun and a competition gun.

Quote:
For a carry XDm, I recommend the "Ultimate Easy" kit that runs about $110 directly from PRP. The springs are not so light as the "Match" kit and there's no need to do anything to the striker.
Replacing the striker spring itself was the easiest part of the whole install, I really like how HS designed that part. The safety spring was only a minor issue with the replacement and the stock spring was no issue at all (btw the video tip of using a dab of grease to hold the spring in place is very useful). I think the Drop In kit is fine tbh, but you're right that there are other options from PRP.

Quote:
I could not be more pleased after having done this over 2 1/2 years ago.
That's great! To be clear no where did I say I didn't like the result of the PRP kit, I just don't think it makes as much of a difference as an APEX kit in an M&P. It is still a nice option and I commend the folks at PRP for their work.
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Last edited by TunnelRat; March 5, 2013 at 08:24 PM.
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Old March 6, 2013, 10:37 AM   #6
chilly460
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Good post. I just installed an APEX kit in my M&P .40 last night. I've never even taken a semi-auto down to that level, and didn't find the install difficult at all. The improvement was amazing, much lighter and crisper break. I tried it before doing the USB and was very happy how much it reduced the grittiness. The M&P trigger went from the worst in my collection, to the best that I have in a striker fired gun.

I have an XDM .45, the trigger is very nice for a stock gun, but I may consider the PRP in the future after shooting it a bit more.
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