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Old March 5, 2013, 04:26 PM   #1
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Join Date: May 22, 2011
Posts: 8,096
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.

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.

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.

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.

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!
Know the status of your weapon
Keep your muzzle oriented so that no one will be hurt if the firearm discharges
Keep your finger off the trigger until you have an adequate sight picture
Maintain situational awareness

Last edited by TunnelRat; March 5, 2013 at 04:33 PM.
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