I channeled my inner Hong Kong action film and went full John Woo at the range today.
Back in the pre-panic (two panics, now) buying days of 2012, TTAG published a review of the Taurus PT92 and compared it to the Beretta 92FS. Chris Dumm’s article had two faults in my most humble (and more often than not worthless) opinion. One, a current production PT92AF was used for the comparison with the accessory rail, a MIM hammer, and plastic rear sight. Two, it compared a Beretta with aftermarket adjustable target sights. I don’t think it was a fair comparison.
I always wanted to do a more direct comparison between the two and now I can since I recently purchased an early 90s production Taurus PT92AF and that was spurred partially by how it’s been portrayed in Asian cinema along with the old school gun ads.
So, some of you might ask, who is John Woo and what the heck do I mean by that? John Woo is a Hong Kong Movie Director known for using Beretta and Taurus automatics in his action films and having his characters wield them akimbo. Thus, going full “John Woo” means two-fisted shooting.
Mr. Woo’s style became so popular in the Hong Kong action scene that it was often copied.
Here are some of the old school gun ads I was talking about. I remember drooling over these ads in the magazines back in the day.
Enough about 1980s Hong Kong action movies and Reaganomics-era gun ads. Let’s get to the meat and potatoes. We’re going to compare the Beretta and the Taurus.
Beretta and Taurus have produced some fantastic Wonder-Nines and these two are, in my opinion, the cream of the crop.
Design wise, they’re very similar.
This particular Beretta is a “Police Special” model that it was marketed to law enforcement agencies. Beretta took a bog standard 92FS and sold it in a carboard box to reduce shipping costs. They threw in a third magazine and installed Trijicon night sights on ’em.
The Taurus, as mentioned previously, is a then standard PT92AF. Remember that in 1997, Taurus started to cut costs on their guns. But this one was made before any of that. Everything on this gun is old school cool.
The most obvious difference between the two guns is the safeties. Beretta moved theirs to the slide back in the day and Taurus has kept it in its original location on the frame. Both safeties act as de-cockers, but only Taurus’s gives you the option of carrying cocked and locked a la the 1911.
Both guns have lanyard loops and along the front rear of the grip there are vertical serrations to make it easier to hold. For the Beretta, I use Hogue’s finger-grooved grips, which covers the front grip serrations. The lanyard loop is oriented differently between the two.
Both pistols are exactly the same in terms of takedown for general field cleaning. Not a single thing is different in that regard.
The magazines are the same except for the magazine catch cut in the mag body. Both are fifteen rounds in capacity.
Beretta and Taurus independently moved the magazine button from the heel to the current location behind the trigger. So the measurements of the mag catches themselves are different. So while the magazines are the same specs, they aren’t interchangeable unless you modify the magazine catch hole in the mag body to work for both. Triple K actually made a magazine like that.
I know someone is going to ask, “Why can’t I just swap the magazine catch from one gun to the other?” The reason is because they are designed differently. Beretta cuts a big notch in the grip frame, and the entire assembly housing is removed as a complete unit. Taurus installs the catch housing in a semi-permanent manner, and a two-piece catch is screwed together into the housing.
Both guns have the same pattern of external extractor that functions as a loaded chamber indicator. When loaded, the front end of the extractor sticks out slightly and there’s a little dab of red paint that acts as a visual cue to let you know a round is in the chamber.
The slide serrations on both guns are crisp and sharp. Beretta positions theirs more forward to clear the slide mounted safety lever.
Both have the extractor retaining pin in the same location. The Beretta has a visible firing pin block that physically raises when you pull the trigger.
The Taurus also has a firing pin block, it just isn’t visible from the exterior of the slide. Both function exactly the same way, though.
Both pistols have a fixed ejector on the left side. You can also see that both guns have a hammer that was machined from a forging.
The trigger transfer bar is the same on both guns. Same with the disassembly release latch button.
You can see how, just opposite from the ejector on the other side of the hammer, both have little “arms.” That is the firing pin block lever.
The barrels and locking blocks are the same and completely interchangeable.
The recoil springs and guide rods are interchangeable, too. I actually swapped the Taurus rod for one in my Beretta. Why? Because the factory Taurus one is stainless and looks better on my Beretta 96G Brigader Elite II.
The Beretta has a set of fixed Trijicon night sights. While not 100% a direct comparison with the Taurus sights, they are both similar in being a three-dot arrangement and the tritium is mostly burnt out anyways.
You can see the cutout on the left side of Beretta’s slide for the oversized hammer pin. What’s that for, you ask? It is to prevent the slide from hitting the shooter in the face.
Back in the 1980s, the US Navy had their SEALs did a lot of training with the then-new 92F. They punished these guns with lots of over-pressured SMG ammo and eventually a few slides had catastrophic failures where the back end of the slides flew back and struck the shooters in the face. Beretta designed the oversized hammer pin to prevent that. Taurus never did such a thing.
Both have a similar sight arrangement and view. The front sight on both is machined as part of the slide.
Taurus kept the straight dust cover while Beretta went with a slanted dust cover. Why did Beretta change the profile? They did it to strengthen the frame for the purposes of eliminating cracks after heavy use.
The trigger on the Taurus is more curved and you can see that while both have hooked “combat” trigger guards, only Beretta added texturing to improve the grip there. Taurus left it plain.
So that’s it, right?
Of course not. Even during a historic ammo drought, we at least have to see how the Italian Stallion and the Brazilian Bombshell shoot. First up is the Taurus.
Now the Beretta.
You can see, that the Beretta was beaten by the Taurus. The Brazilian bikini clad lady sure showed the chic Italian runway model how it is done. The Beretta has a lighter trigger pull, but that’s because I installed a “D” mainspring in it over a decade ago. I can do the same to the Taurus, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.
All in all, this Taurus meets the same level of quality that you’d expect in a Beretta. While Taurus later reduced the level of quality in their products, this PT92AF is what I want from the 92 platform.
So who won? Well, I’d say it is a tie. Both pistols are phenomenal shooters from a bygone era of duty-size 9mm semiautomatics that make a GLOCK 17 look small.
Concealability was never a factor in either gun. Back in the 1990s when these handguns were new, I’d have gotten the Taurus if I were a new shooter. It was the same quality as the Beretta at a lower price. Today, pre-panic, the price of a used Beretta was very low and was actually competitive with the prices you see for a Taurus.
But no matter what, if you are a 92 fan it’s worth hunting down an early 90s Taurus PT92AF. You’ll be surprised by how good the gun is.