Aero Precision recently released their first pistol caliber carbine known as the EPC. EPC stands for Enhanced Pistol Caliber and is seemingly late to the PCC party. Lots of companies are producing them these days, especially the ‘AR9’ variant. While the EPC may seem late to the PCC show, Aero Precision didn’t just copy and paste the typical blowback AR9 design.
Although it’s a blowback design, as far as reliability goes, blowback guns work and have proven to work well in the AR platform.
The Aero Precision EPC isn’t a single gun. It’s more or less an upper and lower receiver that the end-user customizes to their heart’s content. Once you have the upper and lower, you can install whatever barrel, hand guard, stock, or brace you want.
Aero produces, or at the very least sells, whatever you’ll need to finish your rifle or pistol build. This includes complete upper receivers with varying barrel lengths. As you can see, mine is a full-sized, USPSA-approved rifle variant. It’s decked out with the Atlas one handguard, a Magpul MOE SL stock, a Magpul grip, and a VG6 PCC muzzle device.
Currently, Aero Precision sells the EPC in 9mm and 40 S&W variants, with a 45 ACP and 10mm version coming soon. Yes, it takes GLOCK mags as well.
Breaking Down the EPC Upper and Lower
At its heart, the EPC is an upper and lower, and it’s worth mentioning the features that set the EPC apart from other AR9 pistol caliber carbines. I received my EPC in parts and had to put it all together myself. The EPC has a number of proprietary features that are pre-installed into the EPC.
One of the more interesting proprietary features of the EPC is the last round bolt hold-open device built into the upper receiver. It locks the bolt open and works perfectly with a standard bolt release. Another pre-installed feature is the massive magazine release.
Magazine releases on GLOCK-fed AR9s can be tricky due to the magazine‘s design. It locks in the front and not the side, so you need a specialized magazine release. Placement of the magazine release places it right where you’d find a normal AR-15 magazine release. However, it’s absolutely massive.
Aero milled the lower with a heavily flared magazine well to make reloads a little faster. If you aren’t familiar with Aero’s receivers, then you might not know that Aero threads the takedown pin detent channel and the bolt catch. I used Aero’s lower parts kit, which includes reinforced trigger pins. Since blowback actions are a little rough, the reinforced trigger pins are designed to withstand a ton of abuse.
Assembling the ECP took a little more than an hour, with a good amount of that time spent finding my torque wrench. Everything threaded in easily, popped in place, and clicked together nicely.
Together Forever At the Range
Once you put a gun together, you can’t help but go out and hit the range. I popped an optic on and went at it. The optic I’m currently using is a Holosun 510c. I plan to be reviewing soon, so watch this space for that. I used the Holosun 510c for the EPC because it’s the optic of choice for PCC champ Max Leograndis.
Zeroing the optic in a supported position at twenty-five yards proved that the gun was capable of awesome accuracy. Something in me has a dislike for supported rifle fire. I find it a bit boring, but it does show a good degree of mechanical accuracy.
The Aero Precision EPC hits where you want it to. I zeroed at 25 yards and fired three rounds at a time. With each string of fire, I created one ragged little group that slowly made its way to the center as I adjusted the optic.
When I moved from boringly old supported shooting to more practical shooting at 20, 25, and 50 yards, I rang steel like a Jehova’s witness rings doorbells. Ding, ding, ding was the most requested song of the day. Back out to 50 yards, I was making a 4-inch gong swing over the top of the brackets repeatedly.
The trigger in my LPK is listed as mil-spec, but that’s a term that’s become rather confusing in the commercial market. It’s smoother than most ‘Mil-Spec’ triggers and provides a short pull with nearly zero slack and a brief wall before the bang.
The Truth About Blowback Recoil
Blowback guns get a bad rap for recoil, and it’s important to contextualize it. With a lot of AR-type pistols, 9mm blowback recoil feels like a carbine 5.56. With a full-sized EPC rifle, the blowback recoil is tamed a bit and feels softer than a standard 5.56 carbine.
It’s plenty comfortable, and my nine-year-old son loves the EPC. I might be losing it if he has his way. (Say what you want about video games, but my son loves guns that look like they came out of his games.)
The VG6 PCC muzzle device works as both a compensator and a brake. It helps reduce recoil and muzzle rise. You can sling lead quite quickly without the muzzle rising much. It makes slinging lead fast both fun and accurate…..as well as expensive these days.
Once I finished a mag dump, my initial reaction was to reload! Reloading is quite easy with the EPC. The LRBHO gives you that tactile feel that it’s time to reload. The massive mag-well makes it easy to slip the magazine into place, and slapping the bolt release is instinctive with all my time behind an AR platform.
How Does It Run?
Anything that takes GLOCK magazines takes more than just GLOCK mags. What I mean is “GLOCK mags” include GLOCK OEM magazines and all the other aftermarket compatible magazines out there. I have GLOCK, KCI, ETS, and Magpul GLOCK magazines, and I thought it was important to see what works and what doesn’t in the EPC.
GLOCK OEM magazines work perfectly, as you’d expect, but so did all the others. ETS, Magpul, and KCI mags all fit without issue, tripped the LRBHO without issue, and fed perfectly fine. Obviously, quality varies between magazines, but they are all compatible with the EPC.
Outside of the various magazines, the little EPC ran like a Swiss watch. Blowback is far from refined, but it damn sure works. You couldn’t shut it down. I mean, outside of a round of Tula that was seated too deeply in the case, I had zero issues.
I used Tula, Winchester White Box, Winchester NATO loads, Winchester Forged, and a smattering of SIG 124 grain JHPs. The EPC ate all through all of it without a stoppage outside of that junk Tula.
Lastly, the gun was fired by my ape-like self, my petite future wife, and my nine-year-old son. No matter who was pulling the trigger, it wasn’t picky about how it was held or who handled it. Everyone shot the PCC without issue and everyone enjoyed the little EPC.
Specifications: Aero Precision EPC Pistol Caliber Carbine
Barrel Length – 16 inches
Overall Length – 32.5 inches (stock collapsed)
Weight – 6 lbs. 13 ounces
Caliber – 9mm or .40 S&W
MSRP – Receiver Set $269.99 (complete guns vary by option)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Accuracy * * * *
It’s no precision rifle accurate to .5 MOA, but it’ll hit where you need it to on targets both big and small. The trigger is rather nice for a PCC but never hampers reliability.
Reliability * * * * *
A single ammo caused failure in 620 rounds seems to promise reliability. The EPC worked with various magazines and various ammo types and quality.
Ergonomics * * * * *
Aero Precision went out of its way to produce a very ergonomic PCC in the EPC. The controls are AR-like in the best ways possible, and the addition of a magwell, LRBHO, and normal bolt release give the gun high marks.
Overall * * * * ½
Overall the EPC is a fun little gun at a good price point. Aero Precision took their time getting a PCC out there, but it works on day 1, and there is something to be said for not being a Beta tester. It’s an affordable firearm that allows you to build the rifle or pistol you’ve always wanted.