Aero Precision is a company that I hold in high regard. I have been mixing, matching and building with their components for the better part of four years. I am thankful to Aero Precision for their continued support of the shooting sports, specifically 3-Gun. Aero is well known in the 3-Gun community as one of the go-to brands for dependable and customizable components for an AR-pattern build. Their intuitive design for their parts, the dependability of their components and their interchangeability are why I always recommend Aero Precision to people who are looking for an AR-pattern build. That said, Aero’s effective and utilitarian nature is why I am so excited to bring forth a review of their EPC-9 AR-pattern gun.
Aero Precision EPC-9
Aero Precision’s Enhanced Pistol Caliber AR is a highly versatile and equally customizable firearm that, with your careful selection of parts, will suit whatever goals you have. The crux of the EPC AR is its forged EPC-9 receiver set. You can either get an enhanced set, a normal set or build the receiver from parts. The main benefit to the enhanced receiver set is that it is a finely tuned and expertly crafted mounting system for a free-floating handguard, which only requires eight screws. Aero makes sure that the parts of their receiver set are forged the same to allow for a better cooling and lighter firearm.
The forged receiver set serves as a strong foundation for the rest of your EPC AR build. The user can choose between four different barrel lengths for their pistol—16-, 11-, 8.3- and 5.5-inch barrels. I chose to use the 8.3-inch barrel. My thought process was that I could see how the gun could perform as a truck, backpack or home-defense gun. The EPC is a worthwhile investment for your defensive needs because it offers a lot of abilities that a conventional pistol does not offer, such as an increased hit probability, longer effective distance, increased terminal ballistics due to a longer barrel, and M-Lok for accessories like lasers and sights.
Plus, I have been shooting full-length PCC builds in USPSA for the last four years, so mixing it up seemed like a fun project. Aero Precision also offers a large assortment of handguard styles and lengths to properly suit you and your build. I chose the 7.3-inch AR-15 ATLAS R-ONE M-Lok Handguard. I have always found M-Lok to be the best fit for me and my shooting style.
Aero’s utilitarian compatibility allowed me to add the Magpul BTR Arm Brace to my AR. The short length of my build added versatility to my shooting capabilities. It was the shortest carbine that I own. I was able to store the EPC nicely in my tactical Maxpedition backpack, as it is as easy to pack and transport as my takedown .22 backpack gun, and it was not too heavy.
The Magpul BTR Arm Brace is intended for use as a stabilizing accessory for non-shouldered use and is sling compatible. If you want to turn this gun into an SBR and add a traditional buttstock, make sure to stay current with the ATF’s newest rules, regulations and restrictions.
How’d She Run?
After building my EPC AR-pattern gun, I added a Crimson Trace Hardline 4-16 variable optic for an accuracy test. The CT Hardline 4-16 is a great optic for long-range shooting, and its crystal clear glass allows me to hone in and achieve the most accurate results possible. This second focal plane optic comes with a great bullet drop compensator reticle and 1/4-MOA click turrets, which will allow for dependable and repeatable accurate shots at distance. As you’ll see in the accompanying performance chart, the accuracy test was very encouraging. Groups were impressive for a gun equipped with a mil-spec, 8-pound trigger and such a short barrel.
Inconsistencies in accuracy are common for firearms with barrels this short, but the EPC’s ability to keep the groups under 2 inches is extremely impressive. I would love to see the performance and accuracy with an Aero Precision’s 16-inch EPC.
I also did some action shooting with the pistol to get a good feel for the gun. Fair warning, at the very start of the action shooting, I had a small feeding issue with a very old Gen 1 Glock magazine. However, once switching to newer magazines, I had no issues at all. Malfunctions are never great, but I will always give a brand new gun that is being broken in some leeway at the beginning of its tenure as my firearm.
I am pleased to also say that after swapping mags, the gun gave no further issues. At the end of the day, whether you are getting a full-sized EPC for competition or a shorter one for self-defense, you should be testing the functionality and training the usability of your firearm before it ever sees real-world use. The EPC is a reliable gun that works like a charm once you break it in.
Parting PCC Pointers
The largest commonality between all PCCs is that they are finicky at first, and you need to find the magic mix of ammunition and magazines for them to work. Given this, I was actually still very pleased with the performance of the EPC. The break-in process was shorter and easier than I had with the other PCCs that I owned. The Aero EPC was well balanced and did not feel clunky in my hands while shooting it. I have often found some carbines, especially PCCs, to be far too heavy or far too light. Luckily, the EPC was extremely portable, and it did not leave me feeling out of place.
I also shot the pistol while doing lateral movements, movements to the rear and forward-advancing movements. During this time, the gun was flat and cycled very evenly. Despite the short nature of this firearm, my movements and the recoil of the gun did not push the EPC around or off target.
Overall, the Aero Precision EPC-9 showed itself to be a gun that is intuitive and workable. The fun and steady performance of the EPC was encouraging, and it made me appreciate just how utilitarian and effective Aero Precision is. The EPC can truly be whatever PCC that you need it to be. My backpack build passed the test with flying colors. For more information, visit aeroprecisionusa.com.
Aero Precision EPC-9 Build Specs
- Caliber: 9mm
- Barrel: 8.3 inches (1:10 twist)
- OA Length: 26.5 inches
- Weight: 5 pounds 4.4 ounces
- Grips: Polymer
- Sights: None
- Action: Blowback semi-auto
- Finish: Anodized black
- Magazine compatibility: Standard-frame Glock 17 and 19
- Handguard: 7.3-inch AR-15 ATLAS R-ONE M-Lok
- Arm Brace: Magpul BTR
Aero Precision EPC-9 Performance
|Ammo Inc. Streak TMC 124||1,188||1.8|
|Federal Syntech PCC 130||1,089||1.1|
|Federal Punch 124||1,327||0.77|
|Hornady Critical Duty Flexlock 135||1,157||1.5|
This article originally appeared in the June-July 2022 issue of Ballistic Magazine. Get your copy today at OutdoorGroupStore.com.