Review: B&T’s 9 mm GHM9 Gen 2
B&T —formerly and perhaps better known as Brügger & Thomet—has been making firearms in Switzerland for almost 30 years now. It started by making suppressors for the Swiss market, and in the best capitalist tradition, found its products well-received enough that the company just kept expanding.
The company’s new pistol is the GHM9 Gen 2, a blowback 9 mm pistol with a plethora of features. Starting out, we have fully ambidextrous controls, along with a charging handle that can be swapped from one side to the other. The safety/selector, magazine catch and bolt release can be operated on both sides of the lower receiver.
The pistol as-shipped came with a 175 mm barrel as Europeans would measure, known here as 6.9 inches long, complete with both a threaded muzzle for suppressor mounting and a three-lug Heckler & Koch-style quick mount. If you desire a different barrel length, B&T offers three other barrels, complete with appropriate-length handguards for them. (That’s the Gen 2 part of the model designation.) The handguard on the GHM9 has a rail on top for the iron sights (the pistol comes with folding front- and rear-sight assemblies), a rail on the bottom and M-Lok slots on the sides for accessories. You can also, once your Form 4 clears, acquire the B&T integrally suppressed barrel-and-handguard assembly.
The GHM9 is a closed-bolt, direct-blowback design, and the charging handle, regardless of which side to which it is attached, cycles with the bolt. You can add as an accessory from B&T a folding charging handle, so you won’t have a steel rod cycling back and forth on each shot. I didn’t have a problem with the standard version, but some people might. Another benefit of the folding handle is that you can install the charging handle on the left side, cycle it with your off hand and not have a protruding charging handle poking into you when you have your pistol slung.
The top of the receiver has a full-length Picatinny rail. Actually, the receiver has one, and the handguard has one aligned with it. The recoil system includes a hydraulic buffer, so the felt recoil of 9 mm ammunition—which is not much to begin with—is even less of a factor here.
The brace shown here with the pistol is a Gear Head Tailhook, fitted to the European twin-rail mounting system. As braces go, it is comfortable and makes one-handed shooting easier. The system was included as a sample of one possible brace setup. In actuality, the GHM9 ships with only a removable endcap in place.
The receiver of the GHM9 Gen 2 is the upper half—the part with the bolt and barrel. This means that the magazine well and trigger housing, the part that attaches beneath the receiver, is not a firearm. These are the lower-receiver components from the B&T APC9 SMG. B&T makes the lower half in three configurations. One, the one sent for testing, uses the same magazines as the B&T APC9 SMG, in capacities from 15 to 30 rounds. The other two lowers use Glock 9 mm magazines or SIG Sauer P320 9 mm magazines. Obviously, those have whatever capacity magazines you can acquire for Glocks or SIGs, respectively. The option of lowers to take different magazines, and the changeable handguard/barrel lengths, is the primary benefit of the Gen 2 version from the Gen 1, and it makes this pistol an even more attractive proposition, since there are rather a lot of both Glock and SIG P320 magazines out there.
The selector, bolt release and magazine release are ambidextrous, although in testing the right-hand magazine release required more effort than the left-hand one to release the magazine. The trigger pull was clean in feel, but surprisingly heavy for as clean as it felt, taking 5 pounds, 10 ounces of pressure to release the hammer. That did not interfere with accurate shooting, however.
Initial accuracy testing was performed at 50 yards with an Aimpoint Micro T-2 red-dot mounted. This small, unmagnified optic is ideal for a large-format handgun designed for personal protection, and it helped achieve excellent accuracy from the GHM9 Gen 2, although the formal testing was performed with a magnified optic off of a rest. When you consider that the GHM9 is a Swiss design, the level of accuracy should not be at all surprising. Precision is one of the things for which the country is most noted.
Swiss engineering is one thing, but marketing is another. Why GHM9? Well, that’s from the Grasshopper Mouse, a rodent of North America that eats, among other critters, scorpions. Why does picking the name of a tiny and not exactly threatening animal make any sense? You might note that there is a popular 9 mm platform out there named the Scorpion, so we know who B&T is gunning for, don’t we? There’s even an engraving of a grasshopper mouse eating a scorpion hidden on the GHM9. Apparently, the Swiss also have a sense of humor.
The B&T GHM9 Gen 2 is available in pistol and carbine configurations. The price may seem a bit on the high side, but compared to some less-refined AR-based platforms, the extra cost is well worth it. And the platform’s accuracy is enough to win matches—or defend hearth and home. How long can you get hits on the 100-yard rifle gong with a
9 mm? With the B&T GHM9 Gen 2, for as long as you can hold up the gun.
Article by Patrick Sweeney