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B&T GHM9, Does it Eat Scorpions? The Raw Truth Review

This article contains affiliate links.

Not long ago, I mentioned that I was diving down the PCC rabbit hole with a B&T GHM9. I’d been tempted for years to try out a PCC/SMG project, but kept finding reasons to do something else instead. In the end, it was a growing chorus of voices from guys like Pieter (guest writer here for the site), Justin at Swift Silent Deadly, and 9 Hole Reviews that pushed me over the edge. I outlined my reasoning in the previous linked article, so I’ll not rehash it here.

The B&T GHM9 is not a new gun by any means. Hitting the market back around 2017 as an “affordable” alternative to B&T’s well known APC9. 

Laser engraving of a grasshopper mouse eating a scorpion found on the inside of the B&T GHM9

The GHM stands for “grasshopper mouse,” a notable rodent that it eats scorpions and is immune to their venom. At the time of release, this was a firmly tongue-in-cheek nod to the CZ Scorpion Evo, which I think held the lion’s share of the PCC market in the US due to its combination of affordability and performance. 

The GHM9 is a little infamous for having a laser etching of a grasshopper mouse eating a scorpion on the underside of the upper receiver.

While the GHM9 is more affordable than other B&T offerings, the nearly $1610 MSRP was more than I wanted to pay for this little side project. However, I saw an opportunity when Sportsman’s Warehouse held a sale, and I was able to get the B&T for $1199 with free shipping. That was within striking distance of competing options like the Stribog SP9A3, Beretta PMXs, and PSA AK-V that sell closer to the $1000 price point. I jumped on it, using my own money (or, rather, money earned through this site).

I have no relationship with B&T or Sportman’s Warehouse.

 

Bottom Line Up Front

The GHM9 is a fine PCC/SMG. However, the standard version with B&T stick magazines and polymer lower had some early malfunctions (5 out of 200 shots) that I didn’t appreciate. That may be a nothing issue over time, but I would have preferred a gun with an MSRP of $1610 (or magazines that retail for $65 each) have zero malfunctions. Perhaps it was a one-off issue, but there are enough reports around the web of similar feed issues with the standard magazines that I do think it’s worth noting.

That said, the version that accepts Glock magazines has a stellar reputation free of any of the feeding complaints found in the standard format. Even better, you can go to the aftermarket as I did and use CZ Scorpion magazines, which have given me perfect reliability ever since.

The GHM9 is accurate, running at about 1.5″ groups at 50 yards, has a mild recoil impulse for a blowback, and screams “capability.”

Once set up the way I like, it’s been nothing short of a fantastic grin-inducing weapon that I look forward to shooting a lot more and probably putting into home defense duty.

Not to mention, there’s still something about the SMG format that oozes 80’s action hero nostalgia. I couldn’t help myself with the photos for this one. Forgive me.

Initial Impressions of the GHM9

My starting moments with the GHM9 did not go as I expected. The GHM9 comes in a few different configurations. There’s a standard, with a 6.9″ barrel as well as a compact, sporting a 4.3″ barrel. I opted for the standard, which looked like it would offer a bit more real estate for accessories and hand placement. There’s also a choice of three different lower receivers. The standard, which accepts B&T stick magazines, and also models that takes Glock or Sig P320 magazines (to be clear, that means different lowers for each- not one lower that accepts both).

Preferring the look of classic stick mags, I opted for the standard.

I arrived at Sportsman’s Warehouse to start the paperwork, and they retrieved the box from the back and brought it out to me. I was expecting a hard-sided case with foam lining, typical of the GHM9 reviews I’d read. Instead, my unit came in a small black nylon sling bag. So that’s a bonus, given that it’s probably a way more practical carrying option.

Inside the case was the GHM9, one 30 round B&T magazine, a sling, polymer backup sights, and miscellaneous paperwork. Being my first exposure to the SMG/PCC format, I was impressed. Everything about the gun feels solid and well-fit. It’s compact, but surprisingly weighty.

GHM9 Heritage

The GHM9 strikes me as a mashup between the Thompson M1 SMG and the SITES Spectre M4, which I always thought was a good looking gun. To be clear, there are some shared design notes between the GHM and Spectre M4, but it’s not a modern interpretation. That distinction goes to another B&T gun, the KH9.

The First Issue

Something was wrong with what I found in the case. Rather than the standard straight magazine well configuration, the lower had a distinct backward sweep indicative of either the Glock or Sig lower. 

Indeed, the included B&T magazine wouldn’t fit into the well. To check, I grabbed a Glock magazine off the shelf and it inserted and locked in place without complaint. I wouldn’t say I was disappointed, but I was at least a little surprised. Prior to picking up the gun, I had already ordered more B&T format magazines from KCI, so the prospect of not being able to use them (and having to go buy a different format) bothered me.

Nevertheless, I signed my paperwork and headed home. This is the configuration that I did my initial pictures with.

Corrective Action

Many people might think I actually came out ahead. Aesthetics aside, the Glock lower and magazines seem more desirable than the standard format. B&T magazines are all polymer, and have a reputation for cracking at the polymer feed lips. KCI makes B&T style magazines with metal feed lips to address the issue, but many people just prefer the Glock mag because they’re cheap and compatible with the Glock they already own. The Glock style lower also has a much better reputation for reliability.

Still, my preference was for the standard double stack magazine designed for SMGs.

I looked over the included product codes and shipping labels that came in the case, then reached out to B&T directly. To my surprise, I got an email back about a day later indicating that something must have gone wrong during distribution. By the time they emailed me, they had already packed up the standard B&T lower and were ready to send it to me. I gave them an address, and had it in my hands a few days later. They also included a return shipping label to send back the Glock lower.

So kudos to B&T for the customer service there. With the correct lower in hand, I set out for a proper review.


GHM9 Out of the Box

It seems that most of the 5 lb weight of the gun is in the upper receiver. This houses the barrel, bolt, recoil system, etc. The polymer lower houses the pistol grip, trigger housing, and magazine well. First generation GHMs, and some of the early Gen II standard models, did not have replaceable pistol grips. B&T changed that with the introduction of the “Pro” lowers that took Glock and Sig mags, and then eventually ported the change over to the standard lower as well.

Note that the GHM9 and APC9 share the same lower.

The factory pistol grip was slim from side to side, and frankly not very comfortable. I immediately knew I was going to swap that out. The GHM uses any AR-15 style grip, though you’d want to avoid any that have the fixed “lip” on the front. Beavertails are fine, though. I replaced the factory one with a Magpul K2-XL grip.

B&T GHM9 muzzle and handguard

The barrel has both a machined tri-lug as well as a 1/2×28 threaded muzzle (knurled thread protector included). On the Gen II model, the handguard and upper receiver are separate pieces for modularity. The gun has a full length top rail, and the handguard has 1913 rail on the bottom as well as four MLOK slots on each side.

The GHM9 Trigger

The factory trigger is polymer, though the actual hammer and bits are metal. At first glance, the hammer appears similar to a standard AR-15 trigger in design and installation. In fact, several shooters successfully swapped in AR-15 triggers with a little modification to work around the thicker polymer housing.

The trigger weight averaged 4 lb 12 oz over five pulls with a Wheeler digital trigger gauge. It’s a two-stage design with a short take up and then a wall.

Overall, I found the trigger acceptable- though admittedly the polymer trigger shoe itself takes away from the “premium” feel of having a B&T. While you could chalk that up to the GHM9 being more budget friendly than the more expensive APC9, the truth is that they both use the same lowers and triggers.

Controls

Since the GHM9 uses both an AR-15 style trigger and pistol grip, it’s no surprise that the safety is also similarly-formatted. Frankly, I don’t care for the factory safety at all. It’s ambidextrous, polymer, and has a 45-degree throw. The levers are very wide and snap from position to position with authority. Given the width of the levers and the short throw, it’s uncomfortable on the shooting hand. For the risk of coming off whiny, the safety actually stings a bit if it hits the knuckle of the shooting hand while I switch it. I know companies like HB Industries already have aftermarket alternatives here.

The magazine and bolt releases are both ambidextrous and similarly positioned on each side. The bolt release slides downwards, and has a lot of resistance. So much that I don’t think most shooters are using their trigger finger to release the bolt. Rather, it’s easier to use the thumb of the support hand after inserting the magazine. Much like slapping the ping pong paddle of an AR-15 with the support hand.

On the upper receiver, the reciprocating bolt handle attaches directly to the bolt itself, and you can swap it to either the left or right. Given where I like to run my sling attachments points, I opted to move it to the right side to minimize interference. Note that B&T does sell a folding charging handle, but it only works on the left side.

 

B&T GHM9 disassembled on a white background


Disassembly and Internals

The gun breaks down simply, though not quite as easy as an AR-15. It uses push pin takedown like an AR, but there are three different pins. The lower itself uses two, which affix it to the upper. The third pin is for the tail cap, which also has redundant protrusions that keep in place even after you pull the pin. 

You don’t have to remove the lower to get to the bolt. Rather, you pop the pin out of the end cap, then carefully remove it since it’s under spring tension. With the end cap out, you pull the dual recoil spring assembly and set it aside. As the bolt comes back, there’s a notch in the upper receiver that lets you remove the charging handle. After that, the bolt slides freely out of the back.

B&T GHM9 boltThe bolt itself is a big chunk of metal. All blowback design PCCs/SMGs have heavy bolts. To aid in reducing the felt recoil of the big steel bolt, the GHM9 has a internal hydraulic buffer assembly poking out the rear. This presses against the back of the recoil assembly guide. 

One issue I ran into was that the factory polymer lower receiver was a ridiculously tight fit on the takedown pins. When I needed to take it off, I needed a hammer and punch to drive out the front pin and put it back in. I’m sure this would have worn in over time, but it was frustrating. The aluminum lower I later picked up resolved the issue entirely.

Photo of the author's first target with the B&T GHM9 showing one large hole

Results of the first two magazines at 15 yards, before I even got to zeroing

Range Testing

First off, shout out to Ammunition to Go, who partially provided the ammunition for this test and review. They provided several boxes of Fiocchi 115gr Range Dynamics, Magtech 115 gr standard, and Magtech 115 gr steel case 9mm. Ammunition to Go is one of my go-to sources for buying ammo when I’m not using my normal subscription services. I’m still working my way through the provided ammo, so not all of it appeared in this test up front.

I packed up the GHM9, a few magazines, ammo, a shooting bag, and my chronograph. Testing occurred at the 50-yard indoor lanes at Silver Eagle Group in Ashburn, VA. Tested loads included PMC Bronze 124gr, Magtech 115 gr, Browning BXP 147gr JHP, and Magtech 115 gr steel case. For velocity testing, I fired 10 shots each in front of a Garmin Xero C1 chronograph. Here were the results:

CartridgeVelocityStandard Deviation (Sd) / Energy
PMC Bronze 124gr FMJAvg: 1124.6
Max: 1156.2
Min: 1081.1
Sd: 25.2 fps
Energy: 348.4 ft-lb
Magtech 115gr standard FMJAvg: 1283.7
Max: 1334.3
Min: 1236.3
Sd: 28.3 fps
Energy: 420.9 ft-lb
Browning BXP 147 gr JHPAverage: 1062.4
Max: 1077.4
Min: 1045.2
Sd: 9.4 fps
Energy: 368.4 ft-lb
Magtech 115gr steel case FMJAverage: 1330.0
Max: 1361.6
Min: 1304.3
Sd: 19.7
Energy: 451.7 ft-lb

Accuracy Testing

Sadly, due to time and equipment constraints, I was not able to complete accuracy testing during the same range trip. A combination of poor lighting and instability at the tiny range table left me unconfident with the results I was getting. That said, some digging around the web indicates others have routinely squeezed out about 1.5″ groups at 50 yards with a variety of ammunition.

From my experience, I think this seems about right. At 15 yards, my first 30 shots were effectively one big raggedy hole. On my second round of testing (which I’ll mention below), I took another crack at accuracy and did get about 1″ groups at 25 yards. Admittedly, I the lack of a stock, poor indoor range lighting, and long magazines make serious accuracy testing a challenge.

Function & Reliability

During this initial range trip, I fired about 200 rounds of ammunition. Some of that was for testing, some of it for zeroing, and a lot of it for blasting because the thing is so much fun to shoot.

However, I did have some hiccups. My notes indicate there were five malfunctions, all with the PMC Bronze 124gr. I had no malfunctions with either Magtech load or the Browning BXP load. That could just be statistics at work seeing as I shot a whole lot more of the PMC than the others. The malfunctions were all double feeds.

Given this was only one particular load of ammunition and the gun may still be in “break in” phase, I don’t want to draw any serious conclusions about reliability just yet. When I looked into complaints of feeding malfunctions, it was almost always with the standard magazine and cleared up by switching to the Glock magazine format. If the issue is the magazine, I’m already well down the path to avoiding it all together (more on that in a bit).

As far as other functions, the gun is a smooth shooter and just flat out fun.

Configuring my GHM9 and Modifications

This is where the fun really begins. My intention for the GHM9 is to make it as capable as possible for that 0-50 yard “critical zone” of my training hierarchy. In pursuit of that, there’s a few obvious changes right out of the gate.

Optics Selection

I first mounted my EOTech XPS2. This appears in most of the pictures for the post. First, it was an easy choice since I wasn’t using the optic for anything else at the moment. That aside, the large viewing window and parallax-free nature of the optic are a good fit for a PCC that doesn’t have a stock on it [yet]. I don’t need to be perfectly aligned behind the gun to get a sight picture.

I have the XPS on an old ADM riser for both added height and quick detach capability. Despite how good the EOTech is for CQB shooting, I think it’s a hair too large for this format weapon. I also tend to favor optics I can leave on for a long time. As a replacement, I had a long list of contenders includes the Aimpoint Duty Optic or micro dots like an Aimpoint ACRO, Steiner MPS, or Trijicon RCR. I know the Holosun AEMS is popular here, too, but I’m personally trying to avoid Holosun at the moment.

Ultimately, I went an entirely different direction and picked up a Shield SIS 2. A review will be forthcoming. The British-made SIS2 is an enclosed mini dot that’s significantly smaller, lighter, and better suited to a PCC. It also has a switchable reticle style that includes a single dot (in two different sizes) or a single dot surrounded by a 65 MOA ring (a la an EOTech).

A Notable Optics Mounting Issue

Something else to note is optic mount compatibility. The B&T top rail is within spec for 1913 rails, but it’s at the top of the allowable spec for width. There are a lot of known issues with QD optic mounts that have relatively fixed width openings. My ADM mounts seem to clamp on just fine, but my Bobro and GDI mounts do not. Likewise, the EOTech EXPS with the clamping base is apparently very difficult to mount up, and the Vortex UH-1 doesn’t go on at all. 

Additionally, the rail sits close to the main receiver body. You can see how close it is in the photo above. Because of that, you cannot use Scalarworks mounts on the GHM9. There isn’t enough space for the thumbwheel to fit without some serious modification to the wheel.

Thus far, I’ve had no issues whatsoever with any mount that uses screws. My EOTech XPS included, since it has enough clearance under the thumb knob. Any mount that uses screws and a wrench has been fine.


Illumination

For illumination, I used an Arisaka 300 series light with Malkoff E1HT head. In testing, this probably isn’t the best option for 50 yards, but its small size and light weight works very well for in-the-house distances on a compact SMG format.

One issue I ran into was lack of real estate on the handguard. While I could mount the light in my preferred 10 o’clock position, it made it very awkward to actually hold the gun without a vertical foregrip. NFA rules being what they are, that wasn’t an option. So I moved the light over to the 2 o’clock position and opted for a remote switch (another first for me). I have the Unity Tactical Axon SL mounted on the top rail for this. I routed the wire through a small piece of Magpul XTM rail panel.

Overall, I’m liking this setup a lot.

Sling

For a sling, I went with the Edgar Sherman Designs (ESD) sling. The GHM9 only has one sling mounting point on the rear plate, and it’s a small hole with some paracord threaded through it. I removed the cord and instead used a Blue Force Gear u-loop through the attachment point. For the forward sling point, I installed a Magpul sling loop on the top rail and ran another u-loop there. This isn’t my normal QD setup at all, but it works, and is very quiet.

The sling is an important consideration here. Without a stock I’m forced to use the SAS-style “push method” for stabilization (hence the silly SAS-style getup I’m LARPing in the photos). In short, it means that you cinch the sling tight and then push the gun forward under a lot of tension. The taut sling between the shooting shoulder and the gun provides stabilization and an okay spot to rest your chin or cheek as if it were a rifle. It’s not ideal, but it works.

The front MLOK slot on the left side is a prime position for a sling point, and I may yet do that, but for now I’m keeping that area open in case I ever move the light or remote switch to that position.

Additional Controls

The last of the easy items is the forward controls. Since I can’t do a VFG [yet], I opted for a B&T angled foregrip. It’s high quality, and perfectly sized for the gun- almost like B&T intended it that way. This provides both a comfortable spot for my hand to hold the gun and still reach the illumination switch, while also giving a forward hand stop to provide the needed tension on the sling.

As a nod to the guys at 9 Hole Reviews, I installed two MLOK covers from Slate Black Industries to finish the look.B&T GHM9 with aftermarket accessories


The Big Modifications

This is where I went off the rails.

You might have noticed in the various photos in this article that sometimes there’s a straight mag and sometimes a curved one. In a major change of direction, I picked up a lower receiver from Lingle Industries. This is a small shop who makes very niche firearms parts. In this case, it’s a billet aluminum GHM9 lower configured to accept AR-15 safeties, AR-15 triggers, and feeds from curved CZ Scorpion Evo magazines.

The irony of opting to use Scorpion magazines in a gun that was supposed to kill the scorpion is not lost on me.

B&T GHM9 with aftermarket aluminum lower from Lingle Industries

I’ll owe you a more thorough writeup on the Lingle lower. For now, my impression is that it looks and feels high quality. The machining is top notch, and it mates perfectly to the upper. Lingle even added a tensioning screw with nylon tip to eliminate any slop between the upper and lower.

To finish the lower off, I installed a single stage Triggertech Duty AR-9 trigger with a fixed pull weight. My Wheeler digital gauge averaged 3 lb 6 oz over 10 pulls. This trigger is fantastic. It’s got a very crisp 1911-like feeling to it. A dedicated PCC trigger is desirable here since the increased mass of the bolt in a blowback PCC can beat the heck out of a standard AR-15 hammer and pins. PCC versions have beefier designs to account for it.

While I was at it (and there was a sale going on at EuroOptic), I also opted for a Triggertech safety, which is also similarly fantastic.

For the grip, I used a B5 Systems Type 23, which I really enjoy.

A Second Range Session

With the Lingle lower all configured, I went back for another range session. Right out of the gate, the new Triggertech trigger and safeties were an immediate improvement to shooting. The added weight of the aluminum lower also further reduced and smoothed out the recoil. I’m pretty sure I had a grin running from ear to ear from the first few shots. This thing is fun.

I fired another 200 rounds during the second session. It was a mixture of Magtech Steel Case (thanks again, Ammunition to Go), Fiocchi Range Dynamics 115 gr 9mm, and PMC Bronze. I had zero malfunctions whatsoever. The gun ran like a sewing machine.

Author posing with B&T GHM9

Final Thoughts

Ok, let’s close this out. 

Do I like the GHM9? Yes. I think it’s a fantastic PCC and it’s likely to become a favorite in my safe for both myself and anyone else I take to the range. It’s accurate, pleasant to shoot, and I think it’s a great package…now.

However, I’m putting a big fat caveat here. I feel like I’ve put in a lot of little complaints and issues with this review that shouldn’t be there for a gun at this MSRP. As pleased as I am with it now, you have to factor in that I’ve spent a lot of additional money on it to get it there.

As much as I prefer the look of the standard B&T stick magazines, I’m not sure I trust their reliability. Sure, it could have been a fluke and break-in issue, but given the wide number of reports out there of people having similar feeding issues as me that clear up by switching to a different magazine format- I don’t think it can be ignored. 

B&T GHM9 with red background, eotech, and illumination

The same magazines also feed the well-regarded APC9 and P26 (as well as Beretta’s version of the P26, the PMXs).

Were I to suggest an option to you, I’d say go ahead and get the Glock version. It doesn’t seem to have any of the issues associated with the standard stick magazines. It also won’t cost you any extra from the start. 

You can always buy additional lowers from B&T, but they cost $500 each. For a polymer lower.

The other direction is what I did with the Lingle lower, which costs $380 and lets me continue using proven double stack SMG magazines and keeps the proper “SMG Look.”

And, let’s be honest, looking cool matters.

An Alternative Option

The GHM9 is probably the top of the heap in the “duty ready” SMG/PCC market for less than $2k, especially when you can get it on sale. There’s a healthy aftermarket for it, and it packs a lot of nice features.

Given the issues I had with initial setup, though, I would also take a long hard look at the Beretta PMXs (for a similar price point on sale, as low as $1099 right now). It’s got a government-issue pedigree with the Italian police, and has its origins in the B&T P26. I’ve not shot it, but handled one and nearly had a bit of buyer’s remorse over the GHM9. At least until I finished modifying the GHM.

My only hesitation is that Beretta came late to the PCC game and it may never grab enough market share to attract a big aftermarket following.

In the end, I think there’s only so much you can do to gussy up a blowback PCC. The GHM9 is a great option, after you’re done tweaking with it, among several other good options (that also require tweaking in their own right).

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Matt

Matt is the primary author and owner of The Everyday Marksman. He's a former military officer turned professional tech sector trainer. He's a lifelong learner, passionate outdoorsman, and steadfast supporter of firearms culture.

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3 Comments
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Pieter
Member

First, welcome to the “rabbit hole”. Give it some time and who knows…. Lets see, where to start. I havent reached the B&T corner yet, and frankly I was surprised that the US military picked it over other options, (although Im sure $$$ was a major factor). No doubt the B&T is a good weapon, its not my favorite (maybe yet); but thats a Blonds, Brunette, Red Head thing (for the most part?). I do agree the newer less popular designs will receive less aftermarket support and thereby customer options. Im not a particular fan of Glock mag PDWs, although… Read more »

Pieter
Member
Replying to  Pieter

Just wanted to add that a binary trigger is definitely the way to go. A binary still gives you the Safe and Semi option but it allows you to switch into binary mode for one shot of the pull of the trigger AND one shot on releasing the trigger. Get one (several) while they are still available

Paul
Paul
Guest

WOW – that’s a rabbit hole! Going with the Lingle lower sounds like a good choice. I don’t own a SMG/PCC (well some consider the M1 Carbine one) and I’ve never been a 9mm or Glock fan but I don’t deny the success and capability. I do have a Zastava ZPAP92 in 7.62×39 – it’s a handful and maybe not suited for home security work. I also have a Thompson 1927A-1 – yeah the ‘Chicago Typewriter’ (semiauto repro) and I don’t consider it a PCC at 13 lbs. and a 16.5 inch barrel. They’re both hella fun though!

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