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.