December 29, 2022
Turkish gun makers have been really producing some solid products in the last few years. Well, they’ve been making solid products longer than that, but savvy American importers are now bringing in their products, and we shooters are benefitting. One such example is the BRG9 Elite, a 9mm pistol manufactured by the Burgu Metal Company, and imported by Buffalo Cartridge Company. Buffalo has been an ammunition company for some time, and a good one at that. They offer a wide variety of calibers and loadings. I’ve known of them, and have been pleased when I’ve had the opportunity to use their ammo, so I was surprised to see a 9mm pistol in their lineup. I should not have been, as it is a clever thing for an ammo maker to offer a product that can increase demand for their original products.
The thumbnail description of the BRG9 Elite would be a polymerframed, double-stack magazine 9mm pistol using a striker firing system. Which doesn’t narrow it down, so let’s get specific. The slide and barrel are steel, 4340 alloy, to be clear. Those who are fans of the AR-15 will be somewhat familiar with this family of alloys, knowing of the discussions comparing 4140 to 4150. What’s different here? 4340 adds in a bit more nickel, chromium and molybdenum to the basic 4X40 alloy, to add strength while also increasing machinability. That’s the “3” in the 4340. The second “4” indicates that it has a useful amount of carbon in the mix, without going the full step to a 4X50 alloy, which is a much harder alloy than the 4X40 mixes usually are.
They then subject the slide and barrel to a double heat-treatment process. That is done to produce a harder surface while maintaining a tough core or interior, which keeps hard parts from being perhaps a bit brittle. In effect, you get the surface hardness of a 4350, and they get the machinability of the 4340 alloy. This is not a new idea, it has been done for over a century in manufacturing, but it does take extra time, steps and equipment, so hats off to Burgu for going those extra steps for our benefit.
The slide has cocking serrations front and rear. There’s a husky extractor at the back of the ejection port, and on top there is a loaded chamber indicator. When there’s a round in the chamber, the indicator tips up, and you can tell by feel what the situation is. The ejection port is also the locking system engagement surfaces, where the barrel locks into place when closed. The four-inch-long barrel itself is a modern iteration of the basic Browning design. There is no barrel bushing, the locking lug on the bottom has no link, it simply cams up and down to lock and unlock, and the feed ramp is an integral part of the barrel. No two-step ramp here. All very 21st century. Those of you who have never had a 1911 apart are shrugging your shoulders: “It’s a 9mm pistol.” Yep, it is.
The rear of the slide has the striker system retaining plate, which is made out of 7075-T6 aluminum, another detail you AR shooters are familiar with. This provides a strong plate to keep the parts in place, not that we expect them to be going anyplace. Still, comforting, and another indication of the lengths Burgu goes to, to make things the best they can. The plate has a witness port, and when the striker is cocked you can see the rear tip of the striker protruding from the plate.
The sights are low-profile, and three dot with the rear two white and the front one orange. They are installed in the slide by means of transverse dovetails, so they can be adjusted for windage, and replaced with night sights, suppressor-height sights, whatever you want, as long as the new sights use the same sized dovetails. I haven’t removed the sights (there’s only so much surgery one can do on a loaner pistol, for learning and writing) but I would think, given the other details Burgu has attended to, that you will find the dovetails a standard size, and readily replaceable, should you wish to change the sights. Really, most of those who buy a pistol never change anything, so we’re good here.
The frame is a polymer shell, with the firing mechanism and other parts assembled into it. It is not a chassis system, there’s no internal assembly to be swapped from one shell to another. That’s an answer to a different question than most of us have. The frame has an accessory rail out front, where you can put your light or laser. The accessory rail is also the location of the frame serial number, on a metal plate inset in the rail. Turkish manufacturers like Burgu export to a number of countries, and they have to cover all the export bases when it comes to requirements. So, the BRG9 Elite is marked with the serial number on the frame, the slide and the barrel.
Yes, some countries insist on barrels being serial-numbered. Go figure. The trigger guard is squared, with the front face being grooved. This looks good, and promises an extra recoil-controlling surface, but don’t be fooled: it was learned decades ago that straight trigger guards promise more than they deliver. Admire it for its looks, but don’t expect it to help keep the muzzle down. The trigger is as expected, sporting a safety blade in the middle of its front face. It is also listed in the specs as being straight. Well, kinda-straight, as there’s a bit of a curve to it. But, in feel your trigger finger will never notice the curve, so straight it is. Behind the trigger is the magazine release button, and here we’re really cooking with gas.
The mag button is truly ambi, in that pressing the button in from either side releases the magazine. No swapping from one side to another, it just works by pressing, it is shielded from inadvertent activation by raised ribs on each side of the frame. The ribs are high and tight, and it does take some effort to engage the button, but better that than a too-easy drop that releases the magazine inadvertently. With a little practice you’ll get used to the difference, and not notice it after that.
Above the trigger are the two other controls: the takedown lever an the slide stop. BRG-USA calls the slide stop the “Perfect Touch” release. I don’t know about perfect, but it does everything you want a slide stop to do, and nothing you don’t. As a lever, it is a flat panel, with grooves on it, so it is out of the way when you don’t need it. The slide locks open after the last round has been fired, and when you reload you can always slingshot the slide to release it. If you prefer to use your thumb, the grooves on the panel give you the purchase to press it down, and the slide goes forward as desired. It works as you want such a part to, so I guess it is perfect.
Forward of that is the takedown lever, so since we’re here, let’s detail that process. Unload the Elite. Lock the slide back. Rotate the takedown lever until it is perpendicular to the bore. Release the slide and ease it forward. When it stops, point the BRG9 in a safe direction and dry fire it. You can now remove the slide assembly from the frame. The recoil spring assembly is a captured unit, and once you have pried it out from its seat in the barrel, you can scrub it, but it doesn’t require any further disassembly. At this point the BRG9 Elite is like any other modern pistol. Once clean, reassemble the slide, barrel and recoil spring. Run the slide back onto the frame and lock it to the rear. Rotate the takedown lever back to parallel, and release the slide, easing it forward. You’re all set.
The frame has a grip safety in the backstrap. You’ve heard of love-hate relationships? When it comes to grip safeties, for most people it is better described as a hate-indifference relationship. Some people hate them. No matter how unobtrusive, perfectly working or well-designed, some people just gotta hate. For everyone else, as long as it works, it is yawn worthy. The grip safety on the BRG9 Elite is yawn worthy. Once you forget it is there, you’ll never notice it. It always works, it serves its purpose, and it is never in the way.
The frame is given a pebbly texture, in panels, as a non-slip surface treatment, with “BRG” in the middle panel on each side. How much is enough, and how much is too much is an argument that will rage until the end of time. In this context, I’ve had a few shooters who have handled the BERG9 Elite comment that the texture wasn’t aggressive enough. They are also competition shooters who prefer such aggressive texturing on their pistols that new shooters might bleed from having picked up their competition guns. When I first picked up the Elite, it seemed as if the texture was a bit subdued, but in shooting I never noticed any extra movement.
So, it works, even though it might seem not as aggressive as your competition buddy might prefer. The backstrap is replaceable. The Elite came with the medium-sized backstrap installed, and the carry case includes two more, a small and a large, in case you want to adjust the size. The backstrap has rows of raised dots in it as a non-slip pattern. The backstrap also extends below the frame a short distance. This acts as a backstop for your reloads, a mag funnel without being a mag funnel. It also does not extend below the bottom of the magazine base pads, so it is unobtrusive.
The magazines are steel tubes, holding sixteen rounds, and have an oversized polymer base pad. The BRG9 Elite comes with two of them, so you are good to go from the start. The BRG-USA website offers magazines for $33 each, which is in the ballpark for mags these days, and certainly not a burden to stock up. Oh, and Burgu does not feel the need for a magazine disconnector, and the frame has that warning molded into it. The BRG9 Elite will fire when the magazine is removed.
At 30 ounces, the BERG9 Elite is neither a lightweight, nor an anvil. What it is is a pistol that feels good in the hand, indexes properly, and has a nice trigger. Oh yes, the trigger. The specs list it at “five pounds.” OK, we all know of striker-fired pistols that list their trigger pull as five pounds, and that aren’t. We gun writers joke among ourselves sometimes about the latest polymer wonder that has “a five pound trigger” that is greeted with a bitter chuckle. Usually “five pounds” translates to mushy, spongy, gritty, all of the above, and actually well past six pounds. Well, this isn’t one of those. In fact, I started handling and range-testing the BRG9 Elite before I read the specs. “Hmm, nice trigger.” I fully expected it to have a trigger pull closer to four, and it was a clean four pounds I was expected. So, when I started putting the steel weights on the trigger, I was surprised when it held past four. The moment I put the five pound extra on, click it went. OK, out with the digital scale to get a better read, and waddaya know, just under five.
The BRG9 Elite comes in a fitted and lockable hard case, with the sturdy foam lining laser-cut to be a snug fit to the parts. There is the pistol itself, the spare magazine and magazine loaders, an array of cleaning brushes, lock, manual, and the two extra backstraps. The Elite that arrived here was the all-black model, with the barrel and slide given a black oxide treatment, and the polymer in black. You can also have the Elite with a silver slide (nickel or chrome plating, they don’t say, but applied to the same 4340 alloy) or an Elite in flat dark earth (FDE). The silver version retains the all-black everything else, while the FDE version has the controls and the backstrap retained in black, and the slide and frame in FDE. The silver and FDE cost a bit more, but that is to be expected. And, all this with a limited lifetime warranty.
You might be looking at the BRG9 Elite and thinking to yourself “This looks a lot like an XD or XD-M.” Yes, you’d be correct, it does. And that is not a bad thing. That basic design has an enviable reputation for reliability and durability. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but there’s no good reason to go re-inventing the wheel, unless you just have this compulsion to do so. (If you do, don’t be surprised if the rest of the world does not share your point of view.) Burgu resisted the temptation, and used the basic design, adapted it to their manufacturing processes and equipment, and made sure it performed at a high level, all for your benefit. Good going, Burgu, and clever, Buffalo Cartridge, for bringing it to us.
Right now, the world is full of fully featured 9mm pistols with polymer frames, striker systems and magazines that hold a third of a box of 9mm ammo. There are names of note, historic and aggressively marketed. Standing there in “Ye Olde Gun Shoppe” you might pass over the BRG9 Elite, your eye caught by the other offerings. At the counter, you might miss on this bargain if you didn’t dig in and inspect everything. If the shop has a range, and you shoot the BREG9 Elite, you will come away with a different opinion. The felt recoil is entirely manageable, not that the 9mm recoils all that briskly. It is comfortable, accurate, handles well, and the trigger is very, very nice. At the counter, or coming back from the range, when you flip over the price tag, you will now have a different impression. The list price is $399, which is a hundred bucks or more less than some others, and half of some of the big names. You might even find it for less than list, even in this hot market, and that, my friends, is a deal that is almost a steal.
BRG-USA offers extra barrels on the web page, and a fitted kydex holster. When I worked in gun shops, we always had “the wall of holsters” to work with. A new pistol could be checked for fit, until we knew what was an acceptable cross-match. I don’t have the wall today, but given the commonality of pistol sizes these days, there are no-doubt a slew of holster options that will already work. I just don’t know of them at the moment.
In function, the BRG9 Elite worked flawlessly. It also proved to be plenty accurate. So, we have extras on the deal of the century; accuracy, reliability, good handling, a very nice trigger, and a price that is hard to beat. The BRG9 Elite arrived just in time to be added to the cargo packing for my annual trip to The Pin Shoot. I didn’t have enough lead time to see about using it in the optional event as the main gun, but I did give it a few runs, and it is well-suited to that task, as well as general plinking, everyday carry, and training.
With all that, are there some things that BRG-USA might have done better? Well, the extra barrels they list are the same four inches in length as the one that comes in the pistol. If I’m buying an extra barrel, I’d most likely be scoring one that is extended and threaded, for mounting a suppressor or comp on. I really don’t have much use for an extra just like the one that came in the pistol. Interestingly, BRG-USA also lists extra slides. So, you could have the silver or the FDE slide, if you wanted, as an extra on your all-black Elite. I find this also curious, as the cost of an extra slide, and an extra barrel in it, is pretty close to the cost of another pistol.
If I had to have another BRG9 Elite, I’d just toss in an extra $50 to that slide/barrel purchase, and get another complete BRG9 Elite, in sliver or FDE. Now, an extra slide, with extended, threaded barrel and suppressor-height sights? That would be an attractive option. Another thing perhaps overlooked is mounting a red-dot optic. This might take more work than just milling a slot, as the loaded chamber indicator might pose a problem, and there are slide internals located right where the red-dot would go. But that can be overcome in the CAD-CAM computer stage of manufacturing. Given how hot a detail this is right now, and how much red-dots are going to be dominating the market for the future, this is something Burgu and BRG-USA are most-likely working on. In the meantime, if you are not hot for a dot, and iron sights work for you, you would be hard-pressed to come up with a better deal, and a better pistol, than the BGR9 Elite.
BRG-USA BRG9 Elite Specs
- Type: Striker-fired, semiautomatic
- Caliber: 9mm
- Capacity: 16+1 rds.
- Barrel Length: 4 in.
- Overall Length: 7.4 in.
- Height: 5.5 in.
- Width: 1.4 in.
- Weight: 30 oz.
- Grips: N/A
- Sights: Three-dot
- Trigger: 4 lbs., 15 oz.
- MSRP: $399
- Manufacturer: BRG-USA
About the Author
Patrick Sweeney is a life-long shooter, with more than half a century of trigger time, four decades of reloading, 25 years of competition (4 IPSC World Shoots, 50 USPSA Nationals, 500+ club matches, and 18 Pin Shoots, as well as Masters, Steel Challenge and Handgunner Shootoff entries). He spent two decades as a professional gunsmith, and two decades as the President of his gun club. A State-Certified law Enforcement Firearms Instructor, he is also a Court-recognized Expert Witness.
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