Gun Review: Beretta 92 FS Compact L

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(This is a reader gun review contest entry, click here for more details.)

By Chris Valle

Fabbrica d’Armi Pietro Beretta, founded in 1526, is the oldest firearms manufacturer still producing today. Over the last 450 years Beretta has gained a reputation as a high quality manufacturer of arms; from easily and cheaply produced submachine guns for military use to some of the world’s finest sporting shotguns. Here in the States Beretta is probably best known for their handguns. Most notably their 90-series pistols, a variant of which was adopted as the sidearm of the United States Armed Forces after a controversial-on-the-internet series of handgun trials beginning in the early 80’s . . .

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Open-top slides are kind of Beretta’s thing

The particular pistol to be scrutinized in this review is the Model 92FS Compact L, a reduced sized version of their flagship 92FS. This pistol’s heritage begins with Beretta’s first foray into the P38-type falling locking block method of operation, the M1951. In 1975 this locking mechanism, along with aspects of the then new Model 84, was used as the basis for a larger high-capacity service pistol design that became the Model 92.

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The Italian wonder-nine with the grandfather of the modern service pistol, the P38.

The original Model 92 was a single action pistol with a manual safety and the magazine release button located toward the heel of the grip. This design was changed over the years to meet the requirements of police and military contracts, most notably those of the US M9 and French PAMAS, resulting in the DA/SA slide mounted decocker safety 92FS we know and love (or not) today.

Overview
When first handling the pistol, the best word that came to mind to describe it is “substantial”. Sporting a 4.3″ barrel and reduced length grip the Compact L is certainly smaller than its full-size 92FS counterpart, but rather large by today’s standards when a 4″ barrel passes for a “full-size” pistol, as with the S&W M&P, Steyr M, or FN FNP/FNS. For reference, I compared the Compact L to other modern ~4″ barreled pistols I have at my disposal: the SIG SAUER P225/P6, GLOCK 19, Steyr M9A1, and CZ P01.

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Current production Compact Ls are available equipped with an M9A1 style frame with accessory rail.

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The Compact L (center) isn’t the most compact of compacts.

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From left to right: SIG SAUER P225/P6, GLOCK 19, 92FS Compact L, Steyr M9A1, and CZ P01.

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From left to right: SIG SAUER P225/P6, GLOCK 19, 92FS Compact L, Steyr M9A1, and CZ P01.

Being of steel/aluminum construction, the Compact L is a hefty pistol, weighing in at 32 ounces. It’s the heaviest of the five by several ounces. It also isn’t the slimmest handgun, being noticeably wider than the others with a 1.38″ thick grip. It is long thanks to that extra 0.3″ of barrel, but has a rather short grip which I have found to be a more important factor when trying to conceal a handgun.

Magazine capacity is another area where this pistol falls behind its contemporaries. At 13 rounds it holds the fewest of the pistols above, save the single column P225, despite its large grip diameter. The Compact L will accept any 92FS magazine, so increased capacity is available if so desired. Personally, holding one or two rounds less is not an overwhelming concern.
Having larger hands, I find the grip length to be “just right” with the magazine in place; no pinky left dangling off in space.

The magazine release is large and easy to activate, but not so large as to have the shooter accidently press it under recoil. The slide release lever is easily accessed with my strong hand thumb without changing my grip, as can the slide mounted safety lever. Individuals with smaller hands will have to alter their grip to reach the controls, but I have found that disabling the safety as part of the draw stroke to be easy enough regardless of hand size. There is a lot of internet griping about the slide mounted safety/decocker, especially with respect to inadvertently activating it while manipulating the pistol to clear a malfunction or something similar, but I will address that in the shooting section later in the review.

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The much-maligned, difficult to use slide-mounted safety is surprisingly undifficult to use.

The front and back straps of the grip are checkered, giving the user a solid grip. The checkering is not too aggressive and does not aggravate the hand after prolonged shooting. The factory grips feel smooth despite their appearance. Fans of aggressive texturing would certainly want to swap them out.

The pistol comes equipped with the standard 92FS steel 3-dot sights. The rear sight is dovetailed in place while the front is machined as part of the slide, making replacement a costly endeavor. Fortunately the sights are rather usable; the large dots make them easy to locate and the sharp flat top allows for good alignment.

Disassembly is achieved by locking the slide to the rear with the magazine removed and the safety disabled, then rotating the disassembly lever down. This allows the slide to be removed by sliding it forward off the frame. The spring/guide rod assembly can then be removed from the slide, followed by the barrel, in a manner similar to any other short-recoil operated pistol. Cleaning the gun is no harder than any other. The nicely finished internal surfaces make wiping up carbon and such an easy task.

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The Compact L field stripped.

 

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The 90-series pistol’s German heritage is evident when the barrel/locking block assembly is compared to that of the P38 on the right.

Fit and finish on the external and internal surfaces of the pistol are excellent. The “Bruniton” enamel finish had proven durable through hundreds of draws from a kydex holster and several months of carry in less than friendly Florida weather. Wear is present on surfaces that directly contact the holster, as well as on portions of the frame rail where accessories have been attached, but have worn no worse than quality finishes on my other firearms that have seen similar use.

One of the benefits of the 92’s design is the “direct feed” arrangement between the barrel and the magazine. Since the barrel does not tilt as part of unlocking from the slide, there is no need for a large feed ramp, which allows the magazine to line the next round up more-or-less in line with the barrel. This allows for extreme reliability with regard to feeding various ammunition types. This particular handgun has fed numerous hollow points, semi-wadcutters, lead round nose, and various other projectile shapes without malfunction. This coupled with the open top slide and beefy extractor ensures this pistol is not likely to see any feeding or extraction issues.

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The round has nowhere to go but in the chamber where it belongs.

Shooting The Thing
The trigger is very good. The double action pull is moderate in weight and smooth with no discernible stacking, allowing for a consistent sight picture on the first shot without any jittering around when you hit bumps as may be experienced with other DA triggers. The reset is short, audible, and tactile, allowing for a quick follow up SA shot. There is a short take up on the single action, due to the need to lift the firing pin block out of the way, followed by a hard stop and a light crisp break. There is an over travel of a few millimeters, but nothing to be too bothered by. Overall this pistol has one of the best DA/SA triggers that I have tried.

Shooting the Compact L is enjoyable; the heft of the handgun results in a less snappy recoil impulse, making reacquiring the sights and taking the next shot very easy. The moderate checkering lets you keep a consistent grip; the gun never feels like it is going to jump or shift in your hand. For what it’s worth, new shooters have typically been more comfortable with this handgun than any of the other 9x19mms I provide. It really is just very easy to shoot well. The slide is also easy to manipulate; shooters with less strength that have difficulty racking the slide of other handguns find this Compact L’s slide easy to work.

The pistol exhibited excellent reliability for 300-400 rounds. No malfunctions of any sort…

Then I Broke It
During one of my few first range sessions with the Compact L, I discovered that the safety/decocker ceased to function. When the lever was moved into the “safe” position, the hammer failed to drop. More unsettling, I found that with the lever in the “safe” position I could still pull the trigger and fire the handgun as long as the hammer was back. This is because the safety, when in the safe position, disconnects the DA mechanism. Assuming that the hammer was dropped his would prevent the gun from being fired. It does not, however, disable the sear so the SA pull still works. So, if by some means the hammer can be cocked with the safety on, as in this case, the gun can still be fired.

The pistol was disassembled and I determined that the hammer release lever had broken off, which made a whole lot of sense seeing as the hammer was not releasing. Fortunately after some crawling around I was able to find the missing portion of the hammer release on the floor.

Hammer Release 1

Well, this isn’t good.

Under magnification it appeared to be a rather rapid brittle fracture of the part, possibly due to insufficient heat treatment. I am not familiar as to how this part is manufactured, so what exactly went wrong is hard to determine. What I do know is that it broke, and that it probably wasn’t supposed to.

Hammer Release 2

Everything looks like crap at 400x.

I contacted Beretta USA to notify them of the issue. They offered to replace the part if I sent them the gun, but would not send me the part to do it myself as it was part of the safety mechanism. Being a capable man, I opted to purchase the part and complete the repair myself. This was simple enough to repair, taking maybe 15 minutes and basic tools. It did not prevent the gun from actually firing, so even if this failure occurred at the worst possible time, you would still be left with a functioning pistol (so long as the broken bit didn’t go somewhere it didn’t belong). Still, having a part break that disables the safety while allowing the gun to fire isn’t the coolest thing that can happen.

This goes to show that one should put their firearm through its paces before trusting it as a defensive weapon. Even experienced manufacturers with mature, well-proven designs run into the occasional bad part that can leave your gun less than functional at an inopportune moment.

Let’s Try This Again
After repairing the pistol, a further 400 rounds have been fired through it ranging from 147 gr. premium hollow points to my terrible dirty 125 gr. LRN over Bullseye reloads. The gun feeds, fires, and ejects everything without issue, and no further parts breakage has been experienced.

Now about that slide mounted safety. Drawing from a holster, it is easy to have your thumb disable the safety while you obtain your grip, from which point you rely on keeping your finger off the trigger and the long DA pull to prevent discharge of the pistol until your sights are aligned and you are ready to shoot. Alternatively, if you have large enough hands, you can disable the safety whenever you like after you draw the pistol.

Clearing induced malfunctions using dummy rounds did not result in inadvertent activation of the safety. Using an overhand grip with my thumb under the safety and pointing rearward, I am able to ensure that the safety remains in the “fire” position. I believe concerns I have heard/read as to the slide mounted safety being a detrimental feature are grossly overstated.

As far as accuracy is concerned, during slow fire the pistol shoots as well or better than anything else, rivaling my CZ-75 as one of my more accurate handguns. If you are used to DA/SA guns, first shot on target is no problem with the snag-free DA. If you are used to striker fired or SA guns, the DA pull will take some getting used to and you will see a tendency to pull your first shot if you fail to pull the trigger strait to the rear. Under rapid fire, the weight of the pistol coupled with its predicable and responsive trigger makes quick, accurate strings easily achievable.

Outside the Range
The biggest issue I ran into with carrying his pistol was finding an appropriate holster. At the time I was looking there was no one who made a holster for the railed model with a light attached. I was able to have one made through Armiger Solutions that was compatible with the Bladetech hardware I already used. There were a few available for the pistol without the light, so if that is not a concern then you have some options.

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Carrying the pistol IWB was about the same as carrying my P01 or GLOCK in terms of concealability; the short grip keeps printing to a minimum. The increased weight, especially compared to polymer guns, was not particularly noticeable with a good belt. OWB under a light jacked or un-tucked shirt, it is like carrying any other handgun.

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Specifications:

Caliber: 9x19mm Luger
Action: DA/SA, falling lock, short recoil
Barrel length: 4.3 inches
Overall Length: 7.8 inches
Overall Width: 1.38 inches
Overall height: 4.85 inches to top of slide
Weight: 2 lbs
Sights: 3-dot steel, read drift adjustable
Finish: Bruniton enamel
Capacity: 13 rounds
Price: $ 745 (MSRP) $650 (street)

Ratings (Out of Five Stars):

Style: * * * * *
Few things are more classy than a fine Italian handgun (even if they made this son in the US).

Accuracy: * * * * *
The 92FS Compact L shoots as well as the most accurate service pistols I have used. The dampened recoil and excellent trigger make accurate rapid fire achievable.

Ergonomics: * * * *
Who decides how big a “compact” pistol is anyway? This pistol may be as large as some handguns that are marketed as full-size pistols, but it’s smaller than the 92FS, so compact it is. The dimensions that are larger don’t seem to effect it’s concealability as compared to similar sized pistols, so I would call it compact enough. For those with larger hands the controls will be easy to reach and manipulate. Shooters with smaller hands may find the slide mounted safety hard to reach while maintaining their shooting grip and other controls may require shifting to reach.

Reliability: * * * * *
This pistol is approaching 1000 rounds of ammunition without any failures to feed, extract, or eject. The “direct feed” alignment of the magazine and bore, open top slide, and well designed extractor ensure reliable function with a wide variety of ammunition types.

Durability: * * * ½
My experience with the hammer release lever is not typical, and I wholeheartedly believe, based on past experience, that Beretta builds an excellent, durable product. Still, the problem I had must be reflected, and I docked the pistol one and a half stars. I would have likely been harsher if the pistol didn’t still function after the hammer release broke. The finish has proven to be at least as durable as those on other pistols.

Customization: * * *
While not as extensive as what is available for GLOCKs, the 92 series has a number of accessories specifically tailored to it, especially with Wilson Combats recent expansion into pistols of this design. The frame rail allows for the addition of light, lasers, and bayonets (if that’s your sort of thing). Compatible surplus magazines are available by the boatload. Holsters are a bit tough to find, but if you don’t care about having the light attached a number of high quality manufacturers can accommodate, including the Wilson Combat. Other, wise having one custom made may be what you have to do. The fact that the front sight can’t be changed hurt the Compact L in this category as well.

Overall: * * * *
Despite the hammer release hiccup, this 92FS Compact L is quickly becoming one of my favorite handguns. The 92FS is a proven design that has been in service for decades in the U.S. Armed Forces as well as countless other military and police forces worldwide. One of the big drawbacks is the price. At $650 new from Bud’s Gun Shop, I have a hard time coming up with a reason to spend an extra $100-150 versus the CZ P01, GLOCK 19, or other similarly sized handguns available on the market. Though if you are willing to hand over the extra cash, I believe you will find the 92FS Compact L to be a capable and thoroughly enjoyable pistol.

comments

  1. avatar Ern says:

    I like Beretta, I own and carry a PX4. Got to go give this one a look/see.

  2. avatar Cameron b says:

    Neat.

  3. avatar Nate says:

    100% better with a full sized grip.. aka the Centurion model.

    I would love for Beretta to offer Centurions with straight dustcovers (again) and rails. As well as the Vertec model with straight dustcovers and rails. Low-profile decockers only (like Wilsons) and no safety DAO (slick slide). Better yet move it to the frame.

    1. avatar Mike says:

      Beretta had posted on their Facebook page a couple days ago that they are indeed bringing back the Vertec (The pic was of a/the railed version). No idea when, or if it’ll be production or short run, though.

  4. avatar sacorey says:

    Excellent write up, but I’ll stick to the p6 and p01

  5. avatar george from fort worth says:

    hhhmmmm, a full-sized compact ? is this an itialian thing?

    1. avatar tdiinva says:

      More like a Commander equivalent.

  6. avatar Enuz says:

    I should have known better than to read gun reviews while waiting for my tax return. Now I have to add one of these to the wishlist.

  7. avatar RenegadeDave says:

    Nice write up. I’d be curious to see what the average star rating of people who actually own the fire arms being reviewed is. I’m betting 4.

    Not a comment at the 92L compact, just in general, nearly every gun reviewed gets 4 stars when we open it up to the readers. I know I gave mine a 4 star rating, not sure if it’s getting published though, hah.

    1. avatar The Best Chris says:

      Well, of the Compact-sized handguns I own and have used, I feel it is one of the better ones. The fact that I own it doesn’t mean I like it. As a collector I own many a pistol I feel is flat out terrible. That P225/P6 for example is one of my least favorite handguns I own, and would give it a rather unflattering review had I selected it instead. The Beretta is an excellent pistol in most respects, but is shows its age when compared to more modern handguns. Still, I feel it is deserving of a 4-star rating.

      1. avatar Bryan says:

        It’s kind of funny actually. While I am a huge fan of the Beretta 92 and 96 series pistols, once one moves into the compact serits of handguns, I would prefer my 225 over almost every pistol on the market I have held. It’s perfect, for me, size and shape fits me like no other. Full size?….i’d take the beretta over most any other, even the holy grail 1911.

    2. avatar RCA_Cajun says:

      I’m guessing lots of times reviewers will say their gun is slightly better than comparable models because they have chosen to buy that gun for themselves based on their criteria. I know that is how I feel, but I didn’t kid myself in my review and rated it average (3 stars) as I think it was the most accurate. If it were based on how I feel about the fun personally, I’d rate it 5 stars all day.

      I’m curious as to where we are in the reader review contest. The winner was supposed to be announced on December 31, and this suspense is killing me.

    3. avatar Renner says:

      I own the Inox version. I’d give it at least 4 stars. My only beef is that it is a little pudgy for an IWB carry gun. For OWB or other uses, I love it!

  8. avatar JoshinGA says:

    I used to own one of these fine Italian guns (albeit the older version with no pic rail). Sold it last year (and still maybe, kinda sorta regret it). As a broke graduate school student, I needed the funds to buy a gun I could actually carry, and the 92 compact was not it. Too heavy, not a fan of a safety on a carry gun, not a huge fan of DA/SA for carry either. Ended up trading it for a NIB Shield + 2 extra mags at a local gun shop.

  9. avatar JS says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 400X microscope used in a gun review. Cool addition. Really makes me want to pull out the sears in some of my pistol and compare the finish.

    5 stars on the reliability? Really? Sure it’s an uncommon problem, but I would absolutely call that a massive failure. Good review but all your star ratings are too generous.

    1. avatar The Best Chris says:

      I dinged it on durability for the broken part. Function wise the gun still fired, and was usable despite the part having broken. Nothing happened in my course of using the gun that prevented it from feeding, firing, or ejecting a round. I would consider that rather reliable.

      1. avatar DJ9 says:

        If 3 stars is the average and/or median rating, then a currently-manufactured-of-modern-materials pistol that breaks ANY part within the first 400 rounds of shooting does not deserve even a 3-star rating for durability, in my opinion.

    2. avatar Accur81 says:

      I agree. Broken parts after a few hundred rounds disqualifies a 5 star reliability rating. When I think 5 stars, GLOCK 19 and 23 immediately come to mind. They’ll eat anything. Usually.

      Anyways, TTAG has not standardized reliability or accuracy ratings.

      1. avatar Tile floor says:

        I have four guns that are over 80 years old I have never had a problem with.
        Same goes with my newer weapons (Glocks, Ruger SR-556, 870, etc).
        If a piece on a gun breaks, particularly part of the safety mechanism, from nothing more than everyday use and shooting it needs to have a one star rating IMO, regardless of if the gun technically could have fired. As stated in the review, what if that had gone somewhere where it had impeded the function of the firearm?
        It’s a little different if it had broken after 10 thousand rounds, but this soon? I would ask for a refund, but that’s just me.

        1. avatar The Best Chris says:

          Well, lets look at what “Reliability” means:

          “the ability to be relied on or depended on, as for accuracy, honesty, or achievement.”

          Using that as our definition, lets think about what one relies on a handgun to do; Fire, eject, and feed cartridges when I pull the trigger. This handgun did so without issue for over 1000 rounds with various ammunition. I would say that since the pistol served its primary function without failure, it can be relied on to do so in the future. If that does not make it reliable I don’t know what to tell you.

          Now, as for durability…

          “able to resist wear, decay, etc., well; lasting; enduring.”

          Since the hammer release broke, one could reasonably argue that the pistol is not durable. Sure enough, It suffered in its score in this department.

          Additionally, since we are not idiots, we also know that this is not a terribly common problem with these pistols and the Beretta is a well respected manufacturer of quality arms. My inspection of the part leads me to believe it was not properly heat treated, which would indicate that this is simply a bad part that slipped through their production line. To declare that the every Beretta 92 is not durable because this particular example suffered a part failure is simply silly. Everyone here knows better than that.

    3. avatar Renner says:

      I could not justify 5 stars for reliability based on the experience the author had. Any broken part needs to be considered, and creating a new category of durability seems like cheating the review. I have a Beretta that had the identical broken part. It still rotated the firing pin safety so it cannot discharge, but the decocker didn’t work and the trigger can be pulled which drops the hammer, a failure of the safety system as designed. A guy at work had the same failure with his. This is an all too common problem that Beretta needs to fix with better metallurgy or different material construction. If you have a problem, you can’t discount it and assume it won’t happen to others. But yes, the $10 part can be easily replaced at home.

  10. avatar SteveInCO says:

    Liked the writeup; the history behind it was an added, appreciated touch.

    I have to second the comments about feed reliability. A 92 next to the *typical* 1911 is like night and day. A friend thought it was normal to have to worry about misfeeds, until he noticed that guy with the Beretta never had those problems, gave up on his seventh or eighth 1911 and bought a Beretta.

    1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

      I’ve probably run about 4000 rounds through my FS without a single malfunction of any kind. I don’t think you could come up with a more reliable semi-auto when it comes to feeding and extracting.

      1. avatar SuperiorPosture says:

        Don’t say that too loud in front of the Glock guys. Or call it a Beretta brand Glock®. But I concur. I’ve only put about 1,000 rounds through my 92 FS Centurion and have not had a single malfunction of any kind whatsoever using 115 and 127 grain new or reloaded, or a box of REALLY old 124 grain rounds. I did put a lighter spring in to make the trigger pull like a hot knife through butter, but so far, that’s the only thing I changed.

        1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

          Glocks have an excellent reputation as well, I have nothing against them except maybe the fact they’re kind of homely. Glocks are probably more prone to limp wristing, just because of the lighter frames. But either way I wouldn’t waste too much time with malfunction drills.

          I installed a 17# mainspring on mine, I think most people drop to 16#. I wouldn’t exactly call it a hot knife through butter, but it helped. DA isn’t as smooth as my GP100 but it’ll get the job done at short range and my philosophy is that DA is for can’t miss territory (<10 yards) and if you need an accurate shot at longer ranges you should take the 1/4 second and cock the hammer manually. The SA trigger pull is pretty good though, and other than a little bit of take up it breaks about as crisp as my revolvers.

        2. avatar SuperiorPosture says:

          I went with the 13lb spring. I live in NJ, so no hope of ever carrying. I don’t think I’d want to carry that particular firearm anyway. But with the 13lb spring, you actually ARE surprised when the SA fires. It’s so light. I’m tempted to polish the trigger bar, too, but realistically, I could achieve the same effect by just shooting the bejeezus out of it… which would be much more fun anyway.

        3. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

          My condolences on your NJ residence.

          I went back and made a comparison with my GP100 and Blackhawk. The big difference is that with the revolvers the transfer bar is raised with the action of cocking the hammer, whereas with the 92 the trigger safety is engaged with the trigger in SA. So with the revolvers there’s a tiny fraction of an inch of travel and then the trigger just breaks. With the 92 there is about 3/16ths inch travel and then a tiny fraction of an inch of stacking where the resistance is greater and then a break. So the revolver triggers are still better but there are inherent sacrifices that need to be made with a semi-auto. That said the revolver triggers pale in comparison to my Timney trigger on my Remington 700.

          I carried several firearms and ended up settling on the GP100. It’s the Wiley Clapp model (3 inch). Technically it’s about the same length and weight as the Beretta, but because of the more curved profile it just carries better. I tried a couple of smaller pistols as well, but once I figured out I could carry a full sized firearm concealed with little consternation they seemed a little silly. The GP is also more accurate and I make up for the round count with Double Tap 158gr. Still, if the zombies ever come around I’m grabbing the Beretta. Till then it’s more of a range toy though.

  11. avatar Paul J. says:

    Great, thorough review. My first handgun was a Beretta 92FS because it was what John Woo favored in his movies. I’ve since stopped buying guns based on their top-billing in movies. I liked the Beretta okay, but it was just too big and heavy for what it was. Still, it was one sexy gun.

  12. Any chance we can get a picture or three of a Compact L beside the full-size 92FS?

    I love my 92FS, and a Compact L might just be compact enough for me. Some comparison pictures between the two would go a long way to knowing if I want it or not.

  13. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    For those who like to gripe about the 92 safety, looks like the G model is back. – http://www.beretta.com/en-us/92-g/

  14. avatar TT says:

    I love the way 92s look. I’ve shot two different iterations of them and hate they way they handle and shoot.

  15. avatar DJ says:

    I had a bad opinion of the M9/Beretta 2 until I was issued one that was factory new. That changed my opinion.

    If you have small hands, not a platform for you, but I like the M9.

  16. avatar Charles5 says:

    Good Review. I would like to handle one of these some time.

    I have a 92A1 that is by far my favorite semi-auto range gun. It is soft shooting and as accurate as can be. I can hit soda cans at 25 yds all day long. It has been unfailingly reliable. Checking my log, I see that it has 1435 rounds through it in a wide variety of ammunition without a single malfunction. When I take new shooters to the range, this is the gun I always hand them after the warm-up with the SR22. The extra weight, while not ideal for carrying, is perfect for actually shooting. With it’s flush fitting 17 round magazines and rail, it sits in the night stand as a home defense gun with a Streamlight TLR1 attached that I am 100% confident to trust my life too.

  17. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    Gee if my lowly Taurus broke that quickly I would catch all kinds of hell for giving it 5 stars…other than that it was a very good review…

  18. avatar Gruney says:

    I don’t understand why any manufacturer still uses slide mounted safeties or decockers. I really liked the PX4, but the safety not only works backwards, it is in the way when you are racking the gun. Your thumb can push things down much better than up, which apparently JMB figured out.

    The 92 started out with a frame mounted safety, and they changed it – why? Taurus (!) was bright enough to return it to the frame on their version of the 92. I would like somebody to explain to me how a slide mounted control can ever be better than frame mounted.

    The only exceptions I would make are the decocker button on the back of the slide on some HKs and the decocker on the Walther P99. Neither of those get in the way, and you just push in to activate.

    And don’t get me started on cross-bolt safeties on long guns. Worst design ever. You can’t easily see it, and you have to memorize which way is safe vs fire.

    1. avatar defensor fortismo says:

      I recently purchased a px4 compact and the first session of firing was rough. Not a single successful cycle of operations in 100 rounds. I figured out that it was my own fault for not lubing her up and she’s working a lot better now, (I’ll wait to make a judgment till I’ve broken her in ).
      During all of those immediate action drills I did, the safety stayed up through the lot of them. if you look at the shape of the safety, it actually takes real effort to accidentally disengage it by accident.
      I trained to carry the m9 with the safety off and to use it as a decocker, and in that context, keeping the safety out of the way makes perfect sense

    2. avatar Juanito ''Johnnie'' Ibañez says:

      Taurus didn’t “return it (Safety Lever) to the frame on their version of the 92” – they LEFT it there, as that’s where Beretta originally placed it in the early 92s. (Taurus bought out the original 92 rights and tooling from when they were building them for the Brazilian Army under contract to Beretta).

      Moreover, Taurus has “One-Upped” Beretta, as their frame-mounted Safety Lever is now also a Decocker (Up for “Safe” – Middle for “Fire” – Down to Decock the hammer, afterwhich the lever returns to the Middle/”Fire” status).

      I have carried and used both the Taurus PT-92 and the Beretta 92FS – and I actually prefer the Taurus, as it has the option to be carried “Cocked & Locked” ala the M1911 – no “DA/SA” if you don’t want to. 🙂

  19. avatar W.P. Zeller says:

    We have a fair amount of experience with the 92 platform in the course of our instruction business and I’m going to have to go against the flow on at least a few things based on our experience on the range.
    We actually own two, a 92FS and one of the old-but-good Taurus 92C clones. We find it necessary to have the 92 in our inventory for the significant number of students coming to us for training specifically on that gun, usually relating to military service. We’re proud to say we got one medical person needing to qualify before being sent to the active zone during the early years of the second Iraq war- she couldn’t hit the paper with the thing before my partner had her cutting center hits.
    We do holster-oriented action shooting class and get to see a lot of stuff. Additionally, we do intro, secondary, and intermediate classes of several kinds. We see 92s every month and know some things about people shooting them.
    Number One, and a big shock to us, is that the average 92 owner/shooter was mostly unaware of the double-action trigger mechanism, and also with the decocker. Why? Because they go to booths in commercial ranges, install a magazine, drop the slide, and start shooting. Not everyone, and I understand the choir here ought to be more knowledgeable than that, but it’s a big problem.
    The problem comes because few 92 shooters deploy the decocker and shoot double-single-single.
    When it comes to our more-advanced holster class, we have big trouble getting people to render the gun in safe carry condition prior to holstering.
    We decline to call that lever on the slide a “safety” and maybe it’s just us, but it’s a “decocker” with a very poor “safety” setting that we don’t have anyone use.
    The review states that it’s not hard to turn off the “safety” but we strongly disagree. Flipping a poorly-located lever with the pivot point in the wrong place, upwards against the natural operation of the hand during a draw and gripping, is just ergonomically wrong. Not only that, the great majority of safeties go (naturally) down during disengagement. The Beretta going against convention is like the old Buick automatic transmission quadrant going PNDLR or whatever it was: confusion could get you killed.
    We also disagree about the 92’s trigger being satisfactory. Now, two of our closest friends in the action pistol competition world are Master-class 92 shooters but they’re almost freaks. The rest of the mortals simply go badly with that unreasonably long trigger. Even my middle-sized ex-carpenter’s hands really don’t operate the trigger well, and I’m a strong revolver shooter who can normally handle a double-action stroke.
    We can also testify to the results we see on the targets: in these holster classes, the worst hits on the targets when under time pressure come from the 92s, along with the old Ruger clunkers. Even Sig 226s (we see a lot of those, too) are markedly better.
    Anyone on the short side of “large” is going to have trouble with a stock 92 trigger. The ergos are just wrong for smaller and medium people as long as you include the DA trigger pull.
    There are pluses: the feeding is indeed reliable. The giant grip softens the felt recoil such that recoil-sensitive women often like the actual shooting of this large-for-caliber gun.
    The slide is among the easiest to rack, too, another women’s issue, but it’s screwed by the decocker cluttering up the gripping area of the slide where plain serrations should be. The thing belongs down on the frame, out of the way, and where it can be operated with a downward motion. (See: Taurus 92).
    Again, just reporting the things we actually see on the range with other people and their 92s every week.

  20. avatar Carlton Latsko says:

    I had a holster made by DeSantis (001 M9) three slot thumb break for a Smith an Wesson M&P – a very nice fit for the Beretta 92FS Compact.

  21. avatar Woody says:

    Just picked up my 92fs compact L stainless. Got it on the table this am and started to get familiar with it. Breaks down easier than any semi I have ever owned. I got 400 rounds of various 9mm ammo to run through it this afternoon so wish me luck. I was extremely happy with the tone of this review by the author until he had the breakdown with the safety. I have, for years, carried a small revolver. Simply because every semi -auto had some draw back. I felt, after ample research, this gun was the one I should have. The history of it’s use both in the military and civilian use convinced me. So…….I bought it and was considering selling or giving my trusty Smith snub nose to my son. Now I am thinking that I may just keep my revolver and enjoy this fine looking Baretta on the range and in the back property. Long live the wheel guns…..they are still the most dependable of all hand weapons. Without exception.

  22. avatar Steve says:

    I have the elite, centurion, and fs. Now, on my way to pick up the compact from my lgs. Looking forward to shooting this new Beretta.
    Thanks for the thorough review.

  23. avatar Woody says:

    Well………..I took it out and ran 300, not 400 as planned, rounds through it. And the boring but pleasing results are. I could not be happier. No issues what so ever. I saw no reason to waste any more ammo. Fast fire, magazine drop, and 13 more right behind the first 14. I am going to change the red sight markings to white though. It’s my old eyes not the gun….you see…. red through my early stage cataracts is not really red it sorta turns pink.

  24. avatar Bernie Malis says:

    I own a NOS Beretta 92 FS Compact Model-L. Living in California, I am limited to a 10 round max capacity magazine. I currently have an 8 round magazine (actually fits 9 rounds) that came with the gun. I have searched over 60 websites looking for additional Magazines. I would like to get 4 more, but can’t find them anywhere. I see the 10 round standard, the 15 round, 20 round and even 30 rounds mags everywhere. Does anyone know where to get 8 round magazines for the 92 FS compact Model-L ?

    Used ones are OK as well. New ones are not being manufactured by Mec-Gar, Midwest Gunworks, or Beretta.

    Thank you.

    1. avatar Steve says:

      Have you checked with Budsgunshop.com or greg cote?
      The 8 rd mags are for the M model.

    2. avatar Michael Furman says:

      I have two you can buy off me. I’d like to replace them with 15 rounders. These are the ones that came with my 92 when I lived in Seattle. So shoot me an email. mykfurman@gmail.com

  25. avatar Woody says:

    I would go with what ever size and capacity magazine I could buy…..especially in California. The way things are going out there you folks will be turning in your firearms soon enough. If your gonna be a “criminal” you might as well have a fifty round drum. With the selection of politicians the people of California make every cycle it makes me wonder why you folks keep voting at all. Just eliminate the voting and give it to the politicians to vote themselves in office. Why waste your time.

    Sorry but I feel for you folks out there……I just bought a full size FS magazine for my compact and it locks in and feeds fine, sticks out at the bottom but who cares. I also bought a couple more 13’s and a ten. Don’t know how that ten made it back here to the East coast.

  26. avatar Eddie says:

    I just took my new beretta compact 9 millimeter out to shoot after a thorough cleaning three shots and it jammed so I brought it back in cleaned all really good took it back out and after 48 shot it jammed 13x

  27. avatar Sean says:

    I love my Beretta 92Fs compact..I shoot +P never had anything go worng best gun I own

  28. avatar Mike says:

    I bought one last week and it was the two-tone model. I did a quick clean on it went to the range and broke it in with 300 rounds of Blazer Brass FMJ and finshed up with 50 rounds of Federal Premium Tactical HST hollow points. Never had any jams or misfires.

  29. avatar Clint Doyle says:

    I’ve been carrying a Browning Hi Power MK-III as my CCW – IWB, but I looked at this Beretta Compact to see if I might like it. The Compact holds the same 13 rounds and is about the same weight and length as my Browning, so those weren’t a factor in my decision on switching. I shot a compact and for me the double action trigger just isn’t as good [to me] as my single action Browning, and the Beretta is thicker too, which is also a negative for me.

    I upgraded my Browning with a 18.5# recoil spring, added a shock buffer, and it fires 147 gr +P Federal HST tactical rounds [1100/380] like butter, so I’m staying with my Browning Hi Power; it’s great.

  30. avatar Choppa says:

    This is the first and only pistol i own, I’m personally a rifle guy but wanted something i could carry while im away from home. I haven’t concealed carry with it yet, but I am experiencing trouble with the feed and ejection, a couple things I am keeping in mind are 1) the gun was never fired prior to my ownership. 2) ive only got about 500 rds. of cheap 115gr. ammo both steal and brass cased FMJs through it so far. I have always loved the iconic body the Beretta has and I love the way this gun fires, i just want it to cycle reliably. This is by far the best, most informative in depth review i could have asked for on the web and i thank you for that. If anyone who might have a solution to my issues, your advice would be greatly appreciated and i thank you in advance.

  31. avatar Ben M says:

    Is there a laser made for the compact L w/o a rail?

  32. avatar Jim says:

    I am the happy owner of a CZ75 compact with custom grips, it is a great shooter. I also have a new Beretta 92fs compact L, l must admit I had Cajun Guns do some trigger work on the CZ. and I have tried to get a different hammer spring for the Beretta but every place I’ve tried is OUT OF STOCK…. As soon as I can replace the hammer spring and polish a few parts I’m hoping the trigger will be a little lighter

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