Back about a million years ago, after graduating college, I decided I needed a handgun. At the same time, I didn’t even know what I didn’t know about guns and shooting. However, I had seen Lethal Weapon and I liked the gun Riggs carried: the Beretta 92.
I especially liked the Christmas tree scene early in the Lethal Weapon movie. You know the one: “That’s a real badge, I’m a real cop and this is a real [effin’] gun.”
Yes, the good old Beretta 92. Fifteen-round magazines. Double-action trigger. Good enough for the military to adopt – they called in the M9, of course. Even a number of police agencies including LAPD adopted it as well.
Clearly, Martin Riggs used it without complaint. Not only that, but I especially liked how Riggs couldn’t miss, right? Even when the muzzle didn’t point at the targets he perforated. (And I kind of liked how it didn’t recoil too!) After all, the clowns on the A-Team couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn (from the inside) with their Mini-14s.
With all this stuff going for the Beretta 92, it seemed like the perfect choice for this 22-year-old just out of college.
Looking back, I wasted a lot of time, money and ammunition trying to self-learn how to shoot that gun well. A few years later, I enrolled in Mas Ayoob‘s then-Lethal Force Institute I class as my first formal training. (Today the same course is known as “MAG-40”.) I soaked up the attention of Ayoob, Robert Houzenga and Andy Kemp. Believe me, I needed plenty as I didn’t know jack.
In the end, I shot a 299 out of 300 on the final qualification. Good enough for third place out of probably 30 or 40 serious shooters and a few newbies like me. Frankly, I came out of that class shooting better support-handed than I went in shooting with my strong hand. And I also met some outstanding people including a few I call friends to this day.
As much as I like Beretta as a company, I don’t recommend the Beretta 92 to folks. Unless people want a big, bulky, relatively heavy gun with a double-action trigger that’s tough for beginners to shoot well.
The gun does have its utility, though. I learned that double-action trigger pull at LFI and that skill has served me well. If a person can master that long, double-action trigger in a Beretta 92, he or she can shoot about any handgun well.
In fact, Massad Ayoob “rode the trigger” with me to show me how to shoot that challenging first shot in a Beretta 92. Riding the trigger with new shooters has helped me watch countless kids and adults experience that “a-ha!” moment.
Seeing their faces light up makes my time teaching all worthwhile. Yes, folks, once you have the fundamentals of stance, grip and sight-picture out of the way, 90% of making good hits has to do with good trigger control.
In the end, I have lost more than a couple of Beretta 92s to tragic boating accidents. And if you sneak a peek into my nightstand, you’ll find a Beretta 92 all snuggled up next to a tactical flashlight, extra magazines (loaded with Winchester Ranger 124gr JHPs), extra M1 carbine magazines (loaded with Hornady Critical Defense), a few loose shotgun shells (mostly reduced recoil 00-buck) and some electronic ear muffs.
Yes, I have owned or shot a lot of different handgun brands and models over the years, yet my first handgun purchase still resides in the nightstand for the time being.
At least until the twins start crawling, then it’ll have to go elsewhere.