by Bryce Adam Prescott
The Beretta PX4 Storm is probably the most neglected polymer pistol when it comes to reviews. This is in stark contrast to reviews on Glock pistols which seem to be pouring out endlessly into the Internet and various magazines. This a review on the full size Beretta PX4 Storm 9mm Type F (safety/decocker) . . .
At first look, the PX4 Storm seems to be a combination of a Glock 17 and a Beretta 92FS. In truth, the Beretta PX4 Storm is really more or less a polymer version of the Beretta 8000 (the closest current incarnation is the Stoeger Cougar). The look of the pistol is really striking. It is one of those designs that people either love or hate. For my eyes the Beretta PX4 Storm is the most beautiful polymer pistol ever produced. The finish on the slide is very nice and seems to be resistant to wear.
Ergonomics are almost as subjective as aesthetics. Gripping the pistol feels great even with my smallish hands. The grip comes far back enough to prevent hammer bite (although I wouldn’t exactly call it “beavertail”). The pistol comes with 3 interchangeable backstraps for fitting the gun to various hand sizes. The front and back of the pistol are checkered while the sides of the pistol are smooth. The trigger guard is semi-rounded with enough squareness to accommodate shooters who wish to place a finger on the front of the trigger guard. For a polymer pistol, the Beretta PX4 Storm feels quite heavy. Between the thickness and the heft of the gun, I’d say this pistol is not a concealed carry piece for the average person. The safety location is an ergonomic miss in my book. Deactivating the safety requires a rather awkward movement of the thumb and hand, but this won’t be much of a challenge for any Beretta 92FS users transitioning to the Beretta PX4 Storm. The slide release lever is awesome on this pistol. It is very oversized thus giving the user a lot of leverage. Releasing the slide with the slide release lever is amazingly easy. Using the overhand technique (sometimes called “crab claw”) is painful due to the flared safety and should be avoided on this pistol.
The sights are of a large 3 dot variety. The sights are made of metal and can take abuse. The rear sight is squared off so racking the slide on the edge of a table while injured should be possible. The dots are large and intensely white. As far as stock pistol sights on polymer pistols go, these are excellent.
Two 17 round magazines come with the Beretta PX4 Storm. These magazines are very slick and very hard to load. Luckily, Beretta is nice enough to include a loading tool with the pistol. If 17 rounds isn’t enough, Beretta sells a +3 extension kit to convert these magazines from 17 rounds to 20 rounds. The downside is that these magazines are among the most expensive. They are priced at $45-$50 in local gunshops in my area. I’m disappointed that Beretta didn’t stick with the inexpensive 92/M9 magazines. Considering that Beretta’s target audience includes police (and possibly military) switching from the Beretta 92, for which they probably already have acquired many magazines, this is definitely a miss. It’s worth mentioning that some versions of the Beretta CX4 9mm carbine are compatible with the PX4 magazines.
The biggest problem with the Beretta PX4 Storm is the guide rod assembly. It is a bizarre single spring captive guide rod with a large washer and plastic end cap. My guide rod assembly completely fell apart only a few months after owning the pistol. To be fair, it didn’t fall apart while I was shooting the gun; the guide rod assembly fell apart while I was cleaning the gun. Beretta was kind enough to replace it for free, but my confidence in this gun has been shaken a little. Beretta does not offer a steel version of the guide rod assembly; however, DPM Systems and Steve Bedair make metal replacements. These replacements aren’t cheap and sometimes they are back ordered.
Shooting the Beretta PX4 Storm is very pleasant. The curved trigger provides a nice double action pull when the pistol is decocked. I have been able to get bullseyes with this pistol in double action because of the trigger design and reasonable pull weight. That is how good the double action pull is on this gun. Once the gun transitions to single action, the trigger pull is short and crisp with a very well defined reset.
Recoil is mitigated by the pistol’s unique rotating barrel system. When recoiling, the barrel of the pistol twists backward in a straight line. Beretta claims that this counter motion helps reduce felt recoil. My PX4 Storm is a 9mm so recoil isn’t particularly noticeable in the first place. The recoil does seem less to me but I am not sure if this is the placebo effect or a real decrease in recoil. The 40S&W and 45ACP versions of the pistol would be a better test for this. This pistol probably isn’t the best option for legal suppressor owners since the twisting motion of the barrel can (reportedly) loosen the suppressor from the barrel especially if the suppressor is eccentric.
The pistol has been very reliable (even with steel case ammo). The only problem I had with the pistol is when I accidentally loaded a 17 round magazine to 18 rounds. This caused the magazine to bind up which resulted in a few FTLs (failure to load). This is what can happen when impatiently using a loading tool on a stiff magazine. The magazine seems to have recovered after being left empty for a while. The magazine spring seems much more robust than the guide rod assembly.
Takedown is toolless and very simple. To remove the slide, press down the two tabs on both sides of the pistol and pull the slide forward and off of the pistol. The pistol breaks down into the following main components: pistol frame, slide, barrel, guide rod assembly, and central block. The biggest difference between this pistol and most other pistols is the central block. The central block is what interfaces the guide rod assembly to the barrel. The quality of the pistol is evident when looking at the inside parts (with the exception of the guide rod assembly).
There are so many great things about this pistol, but, alas, there are many bad things about it too. The guide rod assembly is a disastrous piece of engineering and is almost unforgivable in and of itself. To all pistol designers, please use steel in your (preferably non-captive) guide rods; we will gladly pay the extra $5 this costs. A further insult is how expensive the magazines for the pistol. For those who can overlook those shortcomings, get a Type G (decocker only) and replace the plastic guide rod assembly with a steel aftermarket guide rod. Most people would be better off sticking with a Beretta 92FS for which a factory steel guide rod and inexpensive magazines can be purchased.
Aesthetics: Simply put, there is no polymer pistol that looks better than this.
Durability: The pistol is very durable excluding the guide rod assembly. The guide rod assembly is garbage. I don’t have the funds to put 10,000 rounds through the pistol or risk breaking it by running it over with a truck. Therefore, I can’t say how this pistol would stand up to torture tests. My guess is the first thing to break would be the factory guide rod assembly assuming it hadn’t been replaced.
Reliability: Assuming the guide rod assembly isn’t broken, the pistol is very reliable. Anyone wishing to seriously involve themselves with this pistol should invest in an aftermarket guide rod assembly.
Accuracy: All shots were done standing without a rest. In those conditions, it is possible to put one ragged hole at about 25 feet.
Value: The cost of the pistol is on par with many other polymer pistols, but the magazines are costly and only two are included. Considering this, along with the likelihood of needing/wanting to replace the factory guide rod assembly, the value is actually lower than average.
Miscellaneous: The unique rotating barrel helps mitigate recoil. The magazine compatibility with the Beretta CX4 Storm carbine is a neat feature. The factory +3 magazine kit can turn 17 round magazines into 20 round magazines of reasonable length.
Conclusion: There are many great things about this pistol, but there are too many drawbacks to recommend this to the average pistol shooter. I would love to see a striker fired version of this pistol that uses 92/M9 magazines.