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.

Chow Yun-fat in 1989’s The Killer, directed by John Woo. Dual wielding a Beretta and Taurus.

Mr. Woo’s style became so popular in the Hong Kong action scene that it was often copied.

Chow Yun-fat in 1989’s God of Gamblers, directed by Wong Jing. Dual wielding a Beretta and Taurus.

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.

Late 1980s era Taurus PT92 advertisement promoting one of the gun’s key difference from the Beretta. Its overall lower price.
Original 1980s era advertisement. Beretta riding the wave from being adopted as the official service pistol of the US Military and then beating all the competitors when trials were redone.

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.

My Beretta made in January 2003 and Taurus made in August 1994. Both are in my opinion exceptional Wonder-Nines from their companies.

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.

Schematic for both guns, Beretta on the left.

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.

Beretta’s slide mounted safety vs Taurus’ frame mounted safety.

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.

Taurus above, Beretta below.

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.

Taurus PT92AF disassembled.
Beretta 92FS disassembled.

Both pistols are exactly the same in terms of takedown for general field cleaning. Not a single thing is different in that regard.

Beretta on the left, Taurus on the right.

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.

Triple K’s Universal Beretta/Taurus 92 magazine. Notice the mag catch cutout.

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.

Notice the blued finish on the Taurus versus the Bruniton finish on the Beretta.

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.

Beretta on top. Taurus on the bottom.

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.

Beretta on top, Taurus on the bottom.

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.

Taurus on top, Beretta on the bottom.

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.

Taurus on top, Beretta on the bottom.

The trigger transfer bar is the same on both guns. Same with the disassembly release latch button.

Beretta on the left, Taurus on the right.
Taurus on the left, Beretta on the right.

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.

Taurus on top, Beretta on the bottom.

The barrels and locking blocks are the same and completely interchangeable.

Taurus on top, Beretta on the bottom. Though in reality, both guide rods are Beretta. The OEM Taurus one is stainless steel.

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.

Taurus on left, Beretta on the right.

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.

Taurus
Beretta

Both have a similar sight arrangement and view. The front sight on both is machined as part of the slide.

Beretta on top, Taurus on the bottom.

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.

Notice how on the Taurus, the bottom front of the grip is straight while the Beretta is flared out.

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.

Taurus at 25 yards at Talon Range in Midway, FL. 15rds were fired.

Now the Beretta.

The Beretta at 25 yards at Talon Range in Midway, FL. 15rds total were fired.

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.

26 COMMENTS

  1. i bought the compact taurus 92 in about 93
    good shooter
    nice trigger after it wore in a little bit
    eats everything 100 percent except with certain brands of 147 grain jhp it gets a little finicky cant remember which now
    i think i got it for like 350 brand new shipped and transferred with 3 factory mags
    i liked the spring loaded frame mounted safety lever/decocker on the taurus and the sights more than i did the same features on my buddys beretta
    thats why i bought it
    i have probably 2000 rounds through it
    no problems with it
    its going to be my third oldest sons one day…

  2. No one seems to note this: this story implies everything is interchangeable between both guns but the mag. In fact neither slide is interchangeable with the other gun.

    • I’d imagine that being pretty obvious given the safety dissimilarity.

      PT99AF was my first self-bought pistol. Rear sight pin broke and I got occasional (quite rare) stovepipes, but otherwise it was a fine purchase.

  3. “I *think* Taurus I had was the 92ASF, aluminum frame, stainless slide. I wasn’t confident the frame would survive a few thousand rounds, so I sold it off during a fiscal meltdown…

  4. For some reason I cannot shutz either of those pistuls very well. ??
    For me to buy one of either would be for future profit and for that reason I would buy a Beretta.

    • Theses guns schutz better with lighter hammer springs. 20# is standard on the Beretta. Drop down to at least 16#, which is referred to as the ‘D’ spring because it’s standard on the DAO model (and subsequently some of their newer pricier models). But you can run a 13# spring reliably with just about any ammo.

  5. My first semi fully automatic pistol was a PT92 back in the 80’s. Like so many I’ve had I wish I had kept it along with my first handgun, a Ruger Security Six. My first shotgun was a Winchester 1300 Defender. All are long gone but last year I was able to find a used 1300 identical to my original one and it’s possible it could be the same one but no way to know. Anyway…. since the Taurus back then I’d moved on to Beretta 92 series and have/had 9 different models/versions and have repopulated the Taurus void with PT917C and CS models. I’d like to show them here but have no idea how to add photos.

  6. Dang. I’d think Luis works for Taurus if I didn’t know better.

    I thought he was Cuban, not Brazilian.

    I’ve never had a reason to trust a Taurus, and I shot some back in the 80s and Early 90s. Safety levers dropping off. Sights that weren’t anchored.

    Glad this those one works and it does shoot well.

    I’d still get one of the old 92S models if I wanted to add something new to my Beretta stable. Or a new Tomcat….or a surplus 85 …. or some other non Taurus.

    • Specialist38,

      I have been able to hold/inspect/shoot several Taurus handguns manufactured since 2008 and all of them seemed to be fine handguns — their build quality appeared to be very good, there were no obvious defects, and all of them functioned reliably with all manner of ammunition.

      For people who cannot afford a “premium” brand of handgun, Taurus is a good brand. Simply look it over, ensure that it cycles and dry fires properly, and verify that everything is tight before buying.

      And that standard applies to any firearm purchase. About eight years ago I was considering a revolver that a popular domestic producer (with a good quality reputation) manufactured. I noticed a pretty glaring defect at the sales counter and asked the salesman to look at another of the same model. That one had the same defect. The salesman, understandably concerned, picked a third one from their shelf and found that it also had the same glaring defect. He apologized and promptly took ALL of them off the sales floor for return to the manufacturer. The simple fact of the matter is that any firearm from any manufacturer can have defects.

      • My opinion is based on shooting the guns.

        And yes. Every manufacturer has had problems.

        Everything looks good when it’s new.

        Was shooting a friends new Bersa 9 sometime ago and starting having some Failires to go into battery. When disassembled it revealed Frank’s rust all over the internals of the pistol.

        So I recommend breaking one down before buoying even when new.

        You pay your nickel and takes your chance.

  7. Yes & Thank you…!
    Taurus has always been a good choice, better price than the Beretta with the same look.
    Both great guns, .
    Now do a report on the difference between the S&W 357 snubby & the Taurus 357 snubby, I’m not positive, but I think the conclusion will be the same…

  8. I picked up an earlier Taurus 92 in stainless. While it does have the Accessory Rail on it, other than that it has only had the guide rod, recoil spring and a set of wrap around grips added to it. About 10,000 rounds and a number of years later, it is still a fun gun to shoot and combat accurate.

  9. Do a write up on the 96G Elite 2!I also have one and neither Beretta or Ernest Langdon can give me much info about it.

  10. My buddy bought the Beretta version 20 years ago. I advised against it. The hammer broke within 100 rds. I know they have supposedly come a long way since the, but still. Pepperidge Farms remembers.

  11. Always worth comparing low cost against high cost products.
    Do we need $600 Eotechs, or will a Vortex/Holosun work just fine.

    Cheap imported shotguns against Mossberg/Remington.

    Cheap ARs against High Dollar ones.

    Sometimes the extra expensive is justified, sometimes it is not.

  12. Berettas weren’t having catastrophic failures due to Seals running them hard with SMG ammo. This is a myth that was heavily pushed by Beretta. The 92s and M9s had quality control issues with the steel causing the failures.

  13. I’ve had a PT92C for over 30 years. Will eat anything has a decent grouping for being a compact (so to speak these days). I also have a (newer) PT-92AFS and is a great shooter. Also eats anything. For giggles, I took the full sized (stainless) barrel and tried it in the “C”. The muzzle climb went way down (obviously the longer, heavier barrel). So much so that I went and bought a full sized (black) barrel/locking block for it. I wouldn’t part with either.

    I later tried a Beretta 92; I can’t stand where the safety is; it makes no sense at all. It made shooting the Beretta a bit annoying and made the gun feel “unnatural”.

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