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By Roy

I recently bought this little bulldog of a gun from my local gun shop. He had it set up in the window like a lost, abandoned puppy; it was used and had been sold to old Tommy by a left-handed young woman who had no more need for it. The price was right; $450 for the 9mm pistol, box, manual (in four languages!), a single magazine, and the dealbreaker, a Streamlight TLR3 in mint condition. Even had a working battery in it. I couldn’t pull the money out fast enough . . .

It was like new, didn’t have any wear marks at all. She hadn’t carried it much, I figured. Frame rails still had the finish on them, even a little CLP. I’d gone in there with the intention of purchasing a lower receiver for my first AR15, but instead I walked out with a brand-new handgun.

Having heard the reputation of the PX4, I knew it was more than likely a good shooter. Beretta makes quality firearms, after all even if they cuss you out in Italian every now and again. I’d handled and shot a few Cougar 8000’s in years past and was familiar with the rotating-barrel design.

The gun fits my rather small hands well; even more comfortably than the GLOCK 19 (which is a tad bigger than the PX4-C) and 1911 I’d cut my teeth on as a kid, shooting in the backyard whenever I had the allowance to buy more ammo. My thumb rests just off the slide release, in the perfect position to hit it without having to shift my grip during a reload (except for hitting the mag release, dammit). Compared to my 1911, it kicked like a pussycat, hardly jumping in my hand. This could also be attributed to the cheap Wolf ammo I was using. From my place at twenty-five feet, I was putting rounds in the eight-inch circle as fast as I could pull the tirgger.

It handles well and is probably more accurate than I am. Now, there are some peculiarities. It’s fairly heavy for its size at just over 27 ounces, and rather thick at 1.42 inches (these measurements according to the website and manual). Concealing it might be a chore in warm weather, but fairly easy when it’s cold. Ah, but worse yet, there are very, very few people hwo make holsters for it out there. You’ll need custom kydex if you intend to run a light.

Speaking of which, the TLR3 on mine was actually Loctited on there. I couldn’t get it off with a thick towel and a pair of pliars! I’m no Charles Atlas, but I split wood by hand every day, four months out of every year. So kudos to whoever put this on there ‘cuz it ain’t coming off. Thank the Lord above that the battery can be changed without removing it from the rail.

But my miniscule muscles aside, there are a whole bunch of neat little things about this pistol. It’s ambidexterous;  the safety, slide release and disassembly levers are on both sides. The magazine release is super-simple to change over to the other side, provided you’ve got a needle to do so.

Yes, a needle. A toothpick will do, but it needs to be a thin one. A thick needle works wonders. I tried to use the backstrap retainer — yes, there are two backstraps, use whichever fits your hand better) to swap the mag release, but to no avail. If the current mag release isn’t to your liking, there are a set of replacements from Beretta or Brownells for around $30 or so. The mag release spring is strong, but at least I won’t have to worry about it falling out.

Now a few downsides to this seemingly-wonderous pistol. Mine is a type F, meaning the safety will remain in the safe position when rotated. I fully intend to convert it to a Type G, decocker-only when I’ve the chance. I personally don’t like slide-mounted safeties. Never have. However, on this gun it is a godsend.

The slide serrations are garbage, no grip whatsoever. So I’ve two options; full over-the-top grip, thumb near the front sight, palm covering the ejection port as I pull back.

Or alternatively, I grasp it by the safety itself, slingshotting the slide. It’s surprisingly effective, if a bit hard on the pad of your thumb. Wearing gloves alleviates it entirely, through it’s difficult to use this small a gun with gloves on. I’d prefer the GLOCK 19 for gloves, as it’s a bit bigger.

Now on to the trigger. As with all Berettas and most hammer-fired pistols, it’s light and crisp. Nowhere near as good as my 1911, but for a double-action, it’s very nice. A bit of takeup, with slight creep in the polymer trigger before a crisp break somewhere around four to five pounds. More than acceptable for a carry gun. The double action pull is heavy, I’d say somewhere around eight and a half to eleven pounds by my unscientific estimate. But it’s smooth, with no hangups.

The sights are your basic fixed, three white dots. Nothing out of the ordinary. They do the job and weren’t jacked. They haven’t moved in the fifty rounds I’ve fired plus however many its previous owner put through it.

Magazines for this puppy are expensive at $35 apiece, each holding 15 rounds of 9mm. Roughly the same for fullsize PX4 mags, which hold 17. There are also extended ones which hold 20 rounds. As you all guessed, there is a .40 caliber model of this pistol as well, and seeing as the rotating barrel was designed around the .40, the 9mm variant should hold up to a lifetime of use.

When comparing it to its predecessor, the Cougar, other than the frame, disassembly lever and some minor cosmetic changes, they feel just the same, even with the recoil (though the 8000’s recoil was lighter, having a heavier metal frame).

I can’t give a final score on this firearm as of yet, but so far, I like it. If I am permitted, I’ll report back as my testing continues.

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42 Responses to P320 Entry: First Impressions-Beretta PX4 Storm Compact

  1. Removing locktited screws can be a huge PITA. Heat works though. If you really want to get it off, apply a soldering iron to the end of the screw. Once it has heated up, try again.

    • a quick “jolt” of pressure is needed, not constant force. It’s it Loctite-Red, then heat of course.

  2. I looked at the Px4 when I was in the market for a compact carry 9mm. I went with the XD/m because it was the same size, a little lighter and a little thinner but the big reason was the 3.8″ barrel. Also the safety goes the wrong way for a long time 1911 user. The Px4 has a subcompact barrel in a compact frame. If I ultimately decided on a Px4 I would have given up the .25″ extra barrel length and gone with subcompact version.

    As far as summer concealibility goes, if you are dressing like an adult (yes, I always say that) there is no reason that you can’t conceal a full sized pistol in the summer. The only reason that I don’t carry my Hi Power when it gets warm is it is the perfect size to irritate my side. The longer 1911 is fine and the XD/m is fine. The Browning just hits the “sour’ spot on my body.

  3. Good review but $450 for a used Beretta doesn’t seem too great a deal especially with only 1 magazine. The Storms I see seem to languish in the cases of my local gun shops. Each to his own I guess. BTW what is the light worth?

    • You are buying a gun you may have for the rest of your life…… +/- 75 bucks is nothing. And this gun gets GREAT reviews! I shot a full size 9mm the other day. Super accurate, minimal kick and the smoothest machined/operating gun slide I have seen in a long while. SILKY smooth slide.

    • Please read the review. He also got the tactical light with it for that price. He got a great deal. And what’s this about they languish in your dealers case? I smell a troll x 2……

  4. Spelling and grammar mistakes. Easy ones that could have been caught with spell-check I believe.

    • Your first sentence is incomplete, and the second one contains poor grammar and is lacking a needed comma. I’m all for grammar policing, but do make sure you’re not throwing rocks through your lovely glass house.

      • this is true, but I wrote that as a comment, not as a formal article. spelling and grammar mistakes have more tolerance when “speaking among buddies”, but when you’re writing specifically to make an article, spellcheck, grammar rules, and punctuation become far more important.

        • I don’t think I have ever seen somebody just bag on an article here for grammar and spelling.

          Are you entering the contest yourself, Spencer, or will you be providing red ink and gold stars for everybody?

  5. Nice deal! Very. Nice.

    Re. Locktite.

    They may have used the “red” locktite, which, yes, is a major PITA.

    The key is heating it up. If you do not have a heat gun, which I bought when I swapped out my magazine on my M4 shotgun, you can get a cigar torch and CAREFULLY heat it up. But, honestly, I’d suggest a heat gun and starting at the lowest setting and working your way up. Give it time. Keep the heat stream moving and go over and over it for about five minutes on LOW setting then see if it is budging. Work from there. You may even see some smoke as the locktite heats up/burns off.

  6. Good first look. Don’t listen to the guy about grammar when his grammar wasn’t even perfect.

  7. I have a subcompact PX4 as well as its predecessor, the 9000S (both in 40cal).
    The 9000S is a nice pistol but the slide is a bit small for my sausage-fingered mitts, and was a bit hard to control with rapid fire.

    With the PX4 those problems are gone. 🙂

  8. Thanks for reading, everyone.

    I gave the hairdryer trick a shot, but no dice. I’m thinking whoever it was used Rocksett, but unfortunately, I don’t have a heat gun or soldering iron to test that. It’s not worth the chance of damaging the TLR or frame with a torch just to get the light off. No matter, I’m not all that concerned with removing the light, as I won’t be carrying it until I’ve put more rounds downrange.

    Just something to add, there are a few inconsistencies with my submitted document. There are a few missing parenthesis, commas and periods, probably lost when it was converted from .rtf to whatever format TTAG uses, or forgotten when it was copied and pasted.

    For grammar, I type the way I speak. Look closely, and you’ll see a pattern in it. Say it out loud and you’ll even see how it matches up. I was raised in Southern Maryland, so I count myself lucky that I don’t pronounce wash as “warsh” like everyone else.

    As to spelling errors, I use WordPad for all typed documents,(Which doesn’t have spellcheck, and I refuse to use Microsoft Word) and I know full well I miss a thing or two in that department when I go over my work. I like to blame it on my failing eyesight,(20/60 corrected to 20/30) but no matter how much time I spend, I always wind up missing something on the first go round. In retrospect, I usually find it to be something so blatantly obvious, I come out feeling like a blithering idiot.

    In other words, the same as ever.

    But anywho, thanks to the guys of TTAG for posting my (Overly-inflated) opinions. I’m picking up more ammo soon.

  9. I also picked up a Px4 compact for my main carry piece after renting a full-sized at a local range – very comfortable to shoot and a slide that is almost effortless to rack (I use the safety to rack the slide like you mention above). I haven’t gotten around to actually carrying it yet since I’m still trying to figure out carry position, but I’ve also noticed the lack of Px4-specific holsters out there.

    Only problem I’ve had out of it so far was with some Fiocchi ammo – for some reason the box-and-a-half I managed to get through had all sorts of issues – double feeds, failure to feeds, sometimes even seemed like it didn’t actuate the slide, etc, eventhough it ate everything else just fine that day (the Fiocchi was visibly longer and with a fatter ogive on the bullet, so I thought that might have been causing the issues). I mean I had to fix something after every shot, it was that bad.

    Funny thing was next time I went out and finished up that half-a-box it went through it without a hitch.

    • My boyfriend bought the PX4 Storm 9mm to use as his work weapon, and for one of our early dates we went target shooting. He explained the rotating barrel, and told me it wouldn’t kick much. I have had issues with not feeling in full control of a weapon if it moves around in my hand while I shoot.

      I was pleasantly surprised to find I felt full control emptying the entire magazine. My target had a tight grouping exactly where I wanted it.

      This model is addictive. We now own 3…the full sized 9mm, compact 9mm (mine), and compact .45. Everyone we take to the range wants one after trying it out. (At least so far, and we’ve had these for 2 years now.)

      When the 9mm full sized was new, it had problems with cycling through ammo without sending two into the chamber, or not ejecting the spent round. We had been using a small – load ammo, I don’t remember the grains, but because it was new, it was stiff. Changing to a higher grain load stopped the problem. Plus, once about 200 rounds had been used, (and the gun cleaned and oiled), we were able to use the smaller grain with no issues.

      When we bought the next two PX4’s, we made sure to run the high grain ammo for the first few target practices, and didn’t have any problems. We even have a friend who reloads ammo, and haven’t had failures with that ammo either.

      A side note: I looked at possibly buying the subcompact, but the barrel doesn’t rotate. Plus, the heavier weight of the compact or full size makes shooting easier to control. I’m only 5 foot, 3 inches tall, and I shoot left-handed, but I can conceal the compact either in my lower back or my left side without too much drama. I don’t like the idea of my weapon being in my purse (I feel like it isn’t secure and could be stolen or not accessible in an emergency), but if a small person wants the larger size for conceal-carry, a shoulder holster would work.

      • I forgot to add that we swapped out the factory sights for trajicon (spelling?) night sights. Those are amazing!

        Also, we are able to use the 17 round full sized magazine in the compact. It just looks weird, sticking out the bottom.

    • I have found if you like a IWB or a OWB Savoy Leather has the holster for just about any firearm out there I have the PX4 Compact and the PX4 Sub Compact I had Savoy Leather make a holster for both fits like a glove. Savoy Leather is a little pricy but you will never have to buy another holster it will last a lifetime and then some.

  10. Hidden hybrid holsters make some nice IWB for the compact w or wo light/laser. FYI when I got mine in 2012 there was a 6 week lead time on them. I’ve had no issues with my px4 compact or holster.

    Only 2 issues I have are 1. I do not like the sights. And how u line them up

    2. Sometimes if dry firing in DA if I ride the trigger I can keep it from resetting. If I squeeze the grip u can hear it reset. It has gotten less with use. But it’s probably just some plastic flashing from the frame. I have not gotten up the guts to dig that far into it.

  11. @Mike

    Common belief is that the PX4 Compact is the most finicky of the PX4 family when it comes to ammo. The Fiocchi might be underpowered(Or mis-sized) which is where a number of people had problems. The hammer spring is very strong while the recoil spring is, as you say, effortless to pull back.(Very easy to check-chamber) Leaving the hammer back for a day or two seems to break it in.

    Now for my purposes, if it runs steel-cased, I’m happy.

  12. The dealbreaker was actually a dealmaker; it caused you to go make the deal, not break off doing so.

  13. “P320 Entry”? What’s the relevance to the story? I came in expecting to read about the newest Sig and how it differs from my P250

  14. These are great guns. I have two in my collection (Full size 9 and SC .40) and love them. I only use them as range guns though. I have holsters but, prefer not to carry them. The main reason being the SA/DA action (to each his own) but, I’ll take the DAO of my M&P’s any day for a carry piece. The really annoying thing about these pistols though is the sharp end of the decocker that digs into the meat of your hand every time you rack the slide. As you mentioned the serrations are useless so you almost always end up with those things digging in and it’s fairly painful in my opinion. I hate that part of an otherwise amazing gun. If you convert to the “G” model this is resolved because the G uses flush decocking lugs but, then it is a totally different action. Last I checked the G conversion kits were also expensive and hard to come by. (Maybe it’s not even a kit, I don’t remember). That could have changed though. These pistols are great otherwise and I really like having them.

  15. I was just out at the range shooting my broom handle Mauser pistol in .30. This gun is now over 100 years old and in in NRA excellent condition… Now I know I won’t be around to worry about it but what sort of condition will the plastics found on guns made in the last 50 years be like in another 100 years? I have friend that does musume conservation work and he tells me the hardest things to conserve are those made with plastics in the 1930s and 40s
    Things like the nylon 66 .22 rim fire rifles should be fine as nylon seems to be a an ok material for long life… But does anyone know about the plastics used in modern plastic framed guns? I know we are ok for say 50 years but what about 100 or 150 years I have seen plastic grip panels from the pre ww2 period that are falling to bits delaminating and frosting and cracking just with age.
    What will our Glock sorts of guns look like in the collections of our great grand children?

    • It’s a minor point, but ‘plastics’ of the ’30s and ’40s were very early compounds made during the infancy of plastic engineering. A lot of the old bits were Bakelite, or celluloid, or even hard rubber, all of which deteriorate badly with age. What is coming out in plastics now will probably last ‘forever,’ in our sense of the word; Modern plastics are, if it suits their intended purpose, completely inert–immune to the effects of sunlight, heat and cold to a point far beyond what we can stand, completely rustproof, resistant to acids, bases, and other corrosives, proof against strong solvents, and in some cases, intense radioactivity. Unless the plastic is somehow attacked by the rare and deadly polyestermite, a devilish insect that eats plastic, I figure that a Glock frame will be around for as long as cockroaches.

  16. I’m actually looking at getting my first personal firearm in a few months when I get back to regular life and just from what I’ve read on paper, I’m leaning really heavily to the Px4 C. Here’s why
    1) I don’t have much experience shooting guns outside of work and even then, in all honesty I probably haven’t gotten half the training that I could have. That being said, I’m comfortable with the layout of the M9 and I think the learning curve would help make the transition into civilian life easier, although it’s hard to say this side of the military curtain. That being said…
    2) The compact PX4 improves on the M9’s design by scaling down the length involved while still retaining the capacity. Throw in the fact that its slide stop is set up for the convenience of God’s other children, and that is another point in this gun’s favor for this southpaw. As for size being a factor…
    3) I just finished a 6 month assignment that involved “conceal carrying” an M9 in a SERPA for a decent chunk of the time, somehow, I can’t imagine weight being an issue, although again, I probably won’t know this side of the curtain.

  17. I have PX4 Storm Subcompact in 9mm. It was the first pistol I owned (though not shot) and I couldn’t be happier with it. Sure, you can chalk my positive experience with the pistol somewhat up to inexperience, but it’s been a stellar performer on the range, with the only FTF being with the first magazine I shot through it, i.e. maybe I loaded a round improperly.

    Takedown is a breeze, I tend to be a little fussy with the cleaning, especially with the barrel, but even with that I can give it the once-over in 20 minutes or so.

    The one thing about the subcompact is, it’s about as big as pistol should be that calls itself a subcompact. Experienced POTG handle it and they are like “Wow, this thing is a brute!”…i.e. the first comment is about the weight, even empty.

    I wouldn’t recommend it for those with small hands. The double-stack nature of the magazine and grip make it difficult to get a proper grip.

    And yes, as for concealment, as long as you dress appropriately, you are good to go.

    Ammo-wise, the general recommendation has been for +P loads to compensate for the shorter barrel of the subcompact. My carry ammo choice is Speer Gold Dot 124 grain +P. “Go Yankees” as the meme says, I guess. Sidebar: I think that’s a reference to Speer being the brand of choice for NYPD?

    Just to get used to +P kick I ran about 300 rounds of Winchester 9mm NATO through it. Flawless, except for some unburnt powder due to the short barrel.

    The PX4 is not a big seller as far as pistols go, but I would gladly recommend the line to anyone.

  18. I have a holster I bought for a mace gun from impact guns. It fits my storm compact pretty decent. Have a slight problem with the mag release button hitting the side when I holster the gun. The inside is of smooth material and I paid about $15

  19. I have a px4 c. It’s my every day gun. I wear it outside waist on left side. (Cross draw) I bought a Master Holster at the local gun show. And although it’s not px4c specific, I think it’s one of the best fitting holsters out there for it. It’s also a switchable left or right holster. A little thick yes. But I really don’t care if somebody notices I’m carrying my gun in the summer. I’m legal. But the holster is awesome.

  20. I carry the PX4 sub-compact in a Versacarry IWB when I’m in “adult clothes” 🙂 Use Xgrips on spare standard PX4 mags for added ammo.

    I carry a Sig P232 w/ +P fragmenting rounds during summer when not wearing adult clothes because it is so easily concealed (it’s also a nice backup gun the rest of the time)

    When it enters late fall I gross up and carry a Beretta 92FS with an integral laser sight w/ 20rd mags since I can carry the heavier gun easily in the concealed carry pocket of my jackets/coats

    One thing I’m curious about – what’s the big deal with folks talking about getting “G” models or G mods to the safety? The F safety is basically just a decocker if you immediately flip it back to hot after dropping the hammer.

    Does the G mod make the lever lower profile? If not, are you just concerned you’ll forget to flip the safety off or that you might accidentally engage it?

    • The F model is the full decocker/safety, while the G is, as you suspected, a very low-profile decocker only that immediately returns upward via the spring to ‘fire’ position.

      Someone above suggested that the action differs between the F and G models. That is NOT the case.

      Type C – single action only (Constant Action – hammer at half-cock), spurless hammer, no decocker, no safety
      Type D – DAO, spurless hammer, no decocker, no safety

      Both the F and G are DA/SA, with full, accessible, skeletonized hammer.
      The *only* differences are that the type F has a decocker/safety lever, while the G is decocker only, and does not stay in ‘safe’ (with the firing block rotated so it’s not possible to actuate the firing pin, as there’s a physical disconnect between the hammer and pin until the firing block is rotated back into ‘live’ and re-aligns the travel of the intermediary pin). On the G or G-conversion of the F levers, there’s no detent to keep the decocker spring from immediately rotating the lever bar/firing block back into firing alignment.

      Type F can be converted to type G, either by removing the safety levers and popping out the small ball bearing that keeps the levers in the safety position and putting the levers back on, or by swapping them out and installing type G levers. It may or may not be possible to (easily) convert a type G to a type F, as I don’t know if a Factory type G has the depression to accept the ball bearing when engaging the safety. If the slides are identical, then probably it’s just a control swap. I haven’t heard of anyone wanting to convert a factory type G to a type F, as the model F is ubiquitous, while Factory G seem much less common, so I don’t recall seeing it ever having been explicitly addressed.

      As to treating an F as a G in practice, while yes, you can decock an F model, and immediately return it from safe to Condition 2, it’s possible to bump the (overly) large F ambi-safety lever and return the gun to ‘safe’ inadvertently, or at least misalign the firing block enough to prevent the hammer strike being passed to the firing pin. Just assuming the safety is off, if you ever do need your pistol, pulling the trigger and getting ‘CLICK…’, not ‘BANG!!!’ may be the difference between having a ‘worst day’ and a ‘last day’.

      So, if you’re carrying an F-model and haven’t done a conversion to type G, then it’s probably best to train muscle memory to automatically flip up the lever to ‘fire’ position as part of your draw and presentation every time, so you don’t rely on the assumption the safety is already disengaged when it’s position may have shifted.

      With the Type G or the conversion, that’s a non-issue. You’re always good to go. It’s also slims that wide cross section somewhat, and makes for a noticeably more comfortable (or less uncomfortable, depending on your personal opinion) carry.

      I hope that helps

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