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In 1526, Bartolomeo Beretta received an order from the Venice Arsenal for 185 harquebus barrels, for which he was paid 296 ducats (around $45,992 in today’s money). That original bill of sale is still on film in the company’s archives. Almost 500 years later, Beretta is one of the oldest manufacturing companies in the world,. The storied gunmaker’s getting ready to celebrate its twenty-fifth Anniversary as the U.S. Armed Forces supplier of the M9 Combat Pistol. Today, the company is still owned and operated with a Beretta at the helm.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), muzzleloader barrels are no longer available in the Beretta catalogue. Beretta now focuses on more modern firearms, including rifles, pistols, and shotguns. Beretta is also the parent company for about a dozen other smaller companies (including Benelli, supplier of the M1014 Combat Shotgun). While many clay bird and upland game hunters hold the Silver Pigeon in high regard, Beretta’s bread-and-butter is the well known 92FS semi-automatic pistol.

First Impressions

The Beretta 92FS is a short-recoil based semi-automatic pistol, with DA/SA firing modes. The 92FS is traditionally chambered in 9mm Luger, although .40S&W, 9x21mm IMI, and 7.65mm Luger are also available (Models 96, 98, and 99 respectively). Magazine capacities range widely; our tester holds 17+1.

Leave it to the Italians to make a pistol sexy. The 92FS has an open slide top, and curvy lines. The roadster inspired top not only reduces weight, but is supposed to make clearing jams easier. I find this hard to believe, because in the 400+ rounds pushed downrange I had zero jams to clear (more on this later).

Most 92FS pistols come with Beretta’s sturdy and well-checkered plastic grips. The owner of my tester decided to replace the plastic grips with a set of optional factory wood grips. Right answer. There is something about well-checkered wood grips that really sets a pistol apart. All of my SIG’s, 1911’s, and S&W revolvers sport wood grips. The grip, feel, and texture of a wood is unmatched by rubber or hard-plastic (sorry XDm’s – I still love you anyways!).

Beretta uses a proprietary Teflon-based paint finish on their pistols, referred to as Bruniton. While traditional blueing or Parkerizing is a surface-modification, Bruniton is a coating. The finished pistols are flat-black and have little glare – something I’m sure is welcome by soldiers in combat. The pistol coating provides a very durable and corrosion resistant layer. To further inhibit corrosion, 92FS barrels feature hard-chromed bores and chambers.

All M9 and 92FS pistols feature a 4.9” barrel with traditional land-and-groove rifling. One feature unique, although not exclusive to the Beretta, is the locking-block mechanism. The 92FS works similar to an old Walther where the locking mechanism uses a separate block to align and lock the barrel up. There are two locking lugs that engage appropriate recesses cut into the slide’s internal side surfaces. Most modern pistols (e.g. Glock, XD/XDm, M&P) utilize a locking lug that is integrated with the bottom of the barrel.

To cater to a multitude of users, the 92FS features an easy-to-change reversible magazine release. The ambidextrous safety/decocker, located at the rear of the slide, provides a positive “on” and “off”. When applied, the safety safely lowers the hammer, and also rotates the rear of the two-piece firing pin out of alignment, thus making it impossible for the hammer to strike. The safety also disconnects the trigger group, meaning a trigger pull literally does nothing when the safety applied.

Internally, the 92FS features an enlarged hammer pin, extending all the way into a groove in the slide. This is where the “S” comes in 92FS, and was done in response to reported defective slides during US Military testing where, during catastrophic failure, the slide blew off and injured shooters. The Beretta also features an automatic firing pin catch, which is a bar that blocks the firing pins forward movement, unless the trigger is fully depressed. Should this pistol be dropped on a hard surface, this block prevents an accidental discharge.

New Kid on the Block

Thanks to a good friend, I was able to test Beretta’s newest variant of the 92FS, known as the 92A1. The 92A1 features an integral Mil-Spec 1913 (Picatinny) rail, comes with three 17 round magazines, an internal recoil buffer, captive recoil spring assembly, and the old-style rounded trigger guard. The 92A1 also features a removable front sight; you can replace or upgrade sights with relative ease.

The differences between the M9A1 (military version) and the 92A1 (civilian version) are minimal but worth mentioning. M9A1 and 92A1 both have the standard “92” grip frame, both being able to utilize any 92 grip panel. The 92A1 grip frame is serrated while the M9A1 is aggressively checkered. The 92A1 has the buffer assembly developed for increased durability in pistols chambered in .40S&W (Model 96A1), where the M9A1 does not (probably overkill for a 9mm anyway, but +P load shooters may benefit). The M9A1 also features a more aggressive bevel in the magazine well.

The biggest difference: the magazines. The 92A1 comes with stainless-steel 17-round magazines. The M9A1 on the other hand, comes with PVD-coated 15-round magazines. The coating is proprietary, but is likely a nitride of some sort. I hear people talk about PVD as being the actual coating, but this is a common mistake. PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) is actually the process used to coat the magazines. The PVD-coated magazines are designed to better withstand the talcum-powder like conditions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

On magazine choice alone, I prefer the increased capacity of the 92A1 over the M9A1. Both the 17-round stainless and the 15-round PVD coated magazines feature a dirt “rail” – a slight indentation on both sides of the magazine. The purpose is twofold; the valley on the outside of the magazine acts as a trough for dirt to collect. The peak formed on the inside of the magazine is designed to keep cartridges away from the walls of the magazine, and thus away from dirt, oil, and other foreign materials that may get trapped inside.

Shooting Impressions

The 92A1’s ergonomics are fantastic, My grip naturally fell into place on each string. The pistol points well, and shoots where I aim. While I had no problems, others find the grip fairly large. Even with the plastic grip panels in place, I will admit that the 92-series of pistols are probably one of the chunkiest around.

While certainly not a world-class target gun, the 92A1 can keep a grouping well within MOI (Minute of Intruder). The weight, which tips the scales at 34.4oz unloaded, may be a bit heavy for some to carry all day. However, the increased heft makes the recoil next to nothing, especially for those accustomed to shooting polymer-framed guns.

The 92A1 comes with 3-dot sights, which are my favorite on a combat pistol. I would prefer something tritium-lamped, but the Beretta’s are easy to see and pick up, even in bright daylight. The advantage of the 92A1 over the M9A1 is that owners can choose to replace the sights if they so desire.

When I first started shooting pistols some time ago, I had a big problem with the slide-mounted safety. I came from being an avid rifle and shotgun shooter, and expected safeties to be quite and easy to get to. However, it didn’t take me long to get over my grievances with the 92. Why? Well, I simply don’t use the safety on any DA/SA pistol. For me, I simply refer to the safety/decocker as the decocker. After loading a round, rotate down to decock, rotate back up to the fire position, and holster. There is an advantage of the Beretta-style decocker over a SIG-style decocker . . .

Regular readers know that the Rabbi [vehemently] suggests that all reloads be done by grasping the rear of the slide (from slide-lock), pulling back and releasing. While I certainly see his point, I have large hands and fat fingers, and thus prefer to use the slide stop to release the slide.

Those familiar with SIG pistols know that the decocker and slide release are similarly shaped and are in close proximity of each other. Having the decocker high on the frame means the likelihood of depressing the decocker instead of the slide release is eliminated. Is the Beretta-style better? Well, that’s a personal decision but it’s food for thought for those looking for a DA/SA pistol.

The 92A1’s trigger is my only grip—I mean gripe with the 92A1. I can deal with thick grips (especially since the 92A1 points so well) and standard sights on a combat pistol. However, the 92A1’s DA trigger is horrendous. It’s smooth with little stacking. The trigger’s rated at a 12-pound pull. It feels more like 20. Perhaps I’m spoiled. All of my SIG pistols are newer SRT models. They have a smooth and true 10-11 pound pull in DA. My S&W revolvers, are, well… Smith & Wesson revolvers (the yardstick by which all DA triggers are judged).

The DA pull of the Beretta makes the trigger of a stock S&W J-frame feel like one on a precision rifle. Luckily, the single-action trigger of the 92A1 is significantly better. There is a fair amount of take up (it is a combat pistol afterall), probably in the 0.5” range, and also a slight stack towards the end. The stacking is minimal (likely from the firing pin block). While most polymer-gun shooters will never notice, I would wager that many 1911 and revolver shooters will. Even so, the stack is easily accustomed to and grouping did not suffer.

Final Thoughts

Through my day of testing, I put just over 400 rounds through this pistol, mostly Winchester White Box 115-gr FMJ. On my way to the range, I also picked up a few boxes of Federal 124-gr FMJ, Remington UMC 115-gr FMJ, and a box of Winchester PDX1 124-gr +P JHP, and Winchester PDX1 147-gr JHP.

Accuracy with all loads was excellent. The Federal 124-gr grouped the tightest hand-held at 33 feet. Both the 124-gr +P and the 147-gr PDX1 ammo performed flawlessly. Throughout the day, not a single FTL, FTF, or FTE occurred, limiting my ability to make a conclusive statement as to whether or not the open-top slide actually makes clearing jams easier.

After a day of shooting, I was happy to see that the 92A1 breaks down very easily. The button on the right side of the frame gets pushed in, allowing the breakdown lever to be rotated down. The slide then moves forward and can be removed. After cleaning, the slide only needs to be put back on the frame and racked back. The breakdown lever returns back to its “locked” position automatically, so there is no need to rotate the lever again.

The owner of this pistol changed the factory plastic guide rod to an OEM steel unit. I do the same in my newer SIG pistols. There’s been discussion here on TTAG about the durability of plastic guide rods (I mentioned it in my SIG P220 Elite Review.) Most of us would agree that they typically hold up just fine and can withstand thousands upon thousands of rounds of use. However, for less than $15, swapping in a steel guide rod, particularly one that may be subject to +P rounds, is easy enough. It guarantees that you’ll never have any guide rod failures. For me, it is money well spent.

No question: the Beretta 92A1 is a great pistol. While I have issue with the DA trigger, I can easily overlook them. The Beretta is heavy, but solid – think 1971 Cadillac DeVille. This pistol feels like it is going to last forever. At a rated 30,000 round lifespan, it is unlikely that many 92-series pistols will ever get worn out. This is certainly one of those guns that you’ll want to give you kids, and likely one of those guns that your kid will actually look forward to getting.

Unfortunately, this pistol has to go back to its owner. To make matters worse, I now have been bitten by the Beretta bug. Upon purchasing my first SIG, I can tell you that these “infections” are serious and can rarely be cured. The acquisition of multiple pistols never kills the virus; it merely keeps the symptoms at bay.

Needless to say, a 92-series pistol of some sorts is on my “Objects of Desire” list. With a little boy expected at the end of March, I can only hope that my buddy will lend me his beautiful pistol from time to time, so that I can at least keep the virus squelched long enough to save up enough cash to buy my own.

Special thanks to J.B. for letting me break-in his beautiful combat pistol

SPECIFICATIONS: Beretta 92A1 Pistol

Caliber: 9mm Luger
Barrel Length: 4.9”
Overall Length: 8.5”
Weight: 34.4 oz
Action: DA/SA with safety/decocker
Finish: Teflon-based Bruniton Black
Capacity: 17+1
MSRP: $775

RATINGS (out of five stars):

Style * * * *
Probably the best looking modern combat pistol around, rivaling even the much-loved 1911.

Ergonomics * * * *
Fantastic ergonomics, near as good as my XDm pistols. The pistol points well and comes to target quickly.

Reliability * * * * *
No problems at all, including +P loads.

Customize This * *
It has a rail, but so do a lot of pistols. If you’re going to use this pistol as your CCW, find a nice, sturdy holster. If new owners prefer, tritium night sights aren’t a bad idea.

Overall Rating * * * *
Plain and simple – I want one.

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  1. Good review of a good pistol. A lot of folks in the military like to slag the M9 but I think it’s as reliable and useful as it’s predecessor, the M1911. It fits my hand well, but then again, I have big hands. People with smaller hands, particularly women, often have problems with the thickness of the grip. As for the safety, if you train yourself to flick the safety upwards with your thumb as you draw the pistol, it is just as quick as the downward-pivoting safety of the M1911.

    Choices of military weapons are never about what is the “best, period” they are always about what is the best compromise in terms of usability, cost, durability, etc.

    • If I’m not mistaken, “cost” was the biggest player in the selection of the M9. I think the SIG P226 was the other candidate that qualified during testing, but couldn’t lower the price (complete price, not just pistol) enough to compete with the Beretta. Either way, the Beretta is a great shooter!

      • The 226 was adopted as the secondary-standard pistol, the M11. I carried an M11 for about a month in Haiti in 1994 (when the CI agent to whom it had been issued went on leave.)

        The M11 is normally carried by those whose duties require them to carry discreetly: CID (Criminal Investigators – the Army’s equivalent of NCIS), Counterintelligence (CI) agents, and the like.

      • You’re mistaken as far as reliability, however, many other misinformed are as well. The M9/92FS was proven more reliable than the Sig P226 during US Army testing. Many have swallowed the kool-aid, probably started on a Sig forum. Beretta clearly makes this fact known on their website, Sig is silent.

        • You are entirely misinformed (probably from Beretta forum cool-aid). The Sig beat the Beretta in the 1984 trials – in both reliability AND cost! (many people falsely believe that the Beretta was cheaper) These were the only two pistols to even qualify, so they are both great designs. Beretta had established manufacturing capability to meet demand, Sig did not, so IMO the Army did not make a bad choice at the time. in the late 80s, the SEALs dropped the M9 because of slide failures and went with the P226. In 2006, the CNA did a survey of all who actually used their M9s in combat (Iraq and Afghanistan) and found that it had the lowest user rating of any US weapon, with 46% of soldiers who used it stating that they had reliability issues. Also consider that since those 1984 trials, the M9 has basically remained the same while the P226 of today is a vast improvement over the ones tested in that trial.

    • I have a 92A1 and was shown a characteristic of the 92’s: The barrel has some movement in all directions because the slide does not hold the end of the barrel firmly. And there is some side play as well between the slide and the frame. Does anyone know of a fix for the play between the barrel and the slide?

  2. Nice review! As the proud owner of an Italian-made 92F 9mm (purchased while on Navy active duty deployed to the Mediterranean in ’86), your assessment is completely accurate. The “Ferrari” of pistols. I intend to hold on to mine until I can’t shoot it anymore, then give to my son.

  3. An excellent refview of a beautiful and important pistol. I handled one recently and agree with your thoughts about the thickness of the stock; despite the pistol’s sleek, even racy, look, it does feel like a big handful. But doesn’t it just ooze Italian style? If there’s ever been a better-looking service pistol, I haven’t seen it.

  4. I am all,s proud owner of an Italian-made 92F 9mm. I find be one best made 9mm handgun ever made. I have worked coulp gun ranges 92F seem be one few 9mm that worked ever time you shoot it. One few gun I know it is ammo picky put cheap ammo hollow points reload in it well shoot them all day long. The 92f seem hold up ever well lots of shooting . I agree not gone use 92f 9mm as consled care gun just to big for that. How ever size wait does make easy gun shoot. I agree review on 92f 9mm well done right about strength and weakness.

  5. The M92 has always been a good pistol.  My beef is the same with all double/singles with a decocking lever…they are unsafe to operate.  What I mean is that unless you remember to reset the decocking lever after decocking the weapon, you are holding an expensive paper weight that will get you killed.  The exceptions to my disfavor are the HK USP series and, I believe, some SIG pistols that have spring loaded automatic decocker reset.  If Beretta would add this to their M92 platform, I would be right there with checkbook in hand.

    • Well I wouldn’t say “unsafe to operate”, more like “only ever so slightly inconvenient”. I do appreciate the decocker on my SIG’s, which as you mention are spring-loaded, but not because of the spring, but because they are just easier to operate (for me). I must admit, while I have never used a 92 pistol for personal carry, I don’t know if I would have EVER come to the assessment of the safety being “inconvenient”. Forgetting to reset the decocker isn’t a gun issue, it is a training/practice issue. As with any gun (from 1911 to Glock), and any shooter, there needs to be a certain level of familiarity for both to be effective. I think Mas put it best when he said that grabbing your CCW piece should be like “shaking the hand of an old friend”. I would extend his quote to include operating any decocker, safety, magazine release, etc. as so equipped.

      • Good points, Pat. I probably should have qualified my comments with “for the novice shooter”. In all the years I have taught pistol classes, every class has at least one student with a double-single who “dies” several times during the class because he drew an inoperative weapon. This issue is always covered in depth during classroom instruction but nothing teaches like drawing your weapon only to find yourself holding a $500 paper weight. Therefore, I agree that it is indeed a training and experience issue…just like the safety on my beloved 1911.

        • I agree with the above comments. There is no substitute to practice, practice and more practice which leads to familiarity with your gun.

          For example, the decocker on the HK45 is downwards while that on the PX4 storm is upward. The HK has separate positions for the safety and decocker while the safety/decocker of the PX4 storm is the same position.
          These differences can be “confusing” or “inconveniencing” to a novice or even to veteran who own both guns.But practice creates a digital memory not mental memory that delineates the difference and can be life saving when it matters.

    • Wilson combat has an excellent response to the safety/decocker issue. They offer an upgrade that allows it to spring back to fire mode after decocking. This is mainly suited for carrying- pistols, as it no Longer has a functional safety. They also offer this in a low profile design, bringing it in closer to the slide, as well as one that eliminates the ambidextrous feature, making the other side flush.

  6. Military 9mm ammunition (9mm NATO) exceeds SAAMI pressures for 9mm Parabellum.

    SAAMI even says that you should not use 9mm NATO in a 9mm Parabellum gun:

    So it isn’t surprising that there were some issues with the military trials of the Beretta 92. I don’t blame the gun so much as the people at Beretta who submitted it for trials without thoroughly testing it or modifying the 92 to factor in the hotter ammo.

    • Aye, it’s true as far as it goes: US commercial 9x19mm handgun ammo is generally pretty weaksauce in the pressure department compared to either milspec or Euro commercial, mainly because when Remington tooled up to manufacture the first US commercial 9mm ammo after the war, they were afraid it would get into someone’s war-trophy Italian Glisenti pistol, which used a dimensionally identical 9x19mm cartridge that was loaded to about half the pressures of the German milspec ammo. So they settled on a 32,000 CUP pressure limit, the worst of both worlds–it blows up Glisentis but won’t cycle a Luger’s toggle action. Ever since then most US commercial 9mm ammo has been loaded to only 75%-80% of the pressures required to give best reliability under adverse conditions with most recoil-operated designs (and as for open-bolt subguns, fuhgeddaboutit), with the +P and +P+ designations reserved for those that may actually approach the original 42,000 PSI pressure specs. Those who have tried, for example, Fiocchi .357 Magnum ammo may have noticed a similar relationship between accepted European pressure specs and SAAMI pressure specs.

      I would also note that, however, SAAMI specs are only relevant if we’re speaking about US commercial ammo. The rest of the world is barely aware SAAMI exists. SAAMI spec 9x19mm is, for example, so underloaded that a P08 Luger or a 9mm C96 Mauser loaded with it usually won’t cycle, unless the recoil spring is beaten all to hell. Gen 1 Glocks and some pre-1990 SIG P220s and P226s in 9mm had the same problem with US manufactured ammo until the manufacturers lightened the recoil springs by a pound or two for the export-market guns. And yes, we’re aware, milspec 9mm peens the hell out of Walther P1s with their aluminum frames, but that’s a metallurgical problem–the original P38 design called for a steel frame.

      Just out of, oh, call it morbid curiosity, is SAAMI still using the old obsolete copper-crusher pressure testers to make these rather startling determinations? It’d explain some things.

      As for the problems the Beretta 92 displayed during US military trials and just after its adoption, it’s long seemed to me that these fell into the category of metallurgical problems (embrittled slides caused by alloy contaminated with zirconium; note that Taurus PT92 slides, made to the same basic design, have never been known to fracture in that manner) and design problems (sharp angles and sharply machined edges on the first versions of the locking block constituted textbook-perfect stress risers and it’s a marvel they don’t fracture any more than they do).

      Please don’t interpret this as a swipe at the M9, incidentally. It’s not a bad design. I think it is overly large for its caliber and magazine capacity, overly complex and difficult to detail strip, with dirt-sensitive magazines and small parts that are prone to breakage, but there are worse out there, on both counts. I haven’t owned one but I’ve shot a number of M9s on rental ranges and do well enough with them that I am willing to rent them again, and do not fear ending up with half a slide embedded in my forehead. On the other hand, was the Beretta 92, especially as it existed circa 1984, THAT superior to the S&W M59 and the Ruger P85? Was it even demonstrably superior to the SIG P226? I have always believed that its selection had far more to do with quiet backroom quid pro quo in which the Reagan Administration agreed to purchase Beretta’s rather average handgun design in exchange for permitting the USAF to store tactical nukes on forward bases in Italy than with any inherent merits the 92 has.

      • “Was it even demonstrably superior to the SIG P226?” I agree – the reports that I find, although some of which conflict each other, suggest that the P226 was the better option. The official statement was that Beretta provided a “pistol package” cheaper than the SIG pistol package (although the actual “pistol” was cheaper).

        • It was the spare parts support package that lost SIG the contract. At least that is what SIGs factory rep told me back when this was undergoing competition.

    • Using NATO head stamped 9mm ammo in a modern pistol is not a problem. The NATO range of what qualifies as standard is quite wide. MOST of it doesn’t seem to be +P in oerformance. But using +P or +P+ ammo in a modern pistol should not be an issue. I was issued +P+ ammo for use in Glock pistols. After 30,000 rounds the gun was working fine. The M92A1 has the new buffer system that extends the life of the gun, even though they were rated for 30,000 rounds without the buffer. SOME NATO marked ammo is hot but there aren’t any NATO nations issuing guns that can’t handle it. Even those old Inglis HP35s can digest it.

  7. This is the exact same as the Taurus 92b-17 that I bought a few years ago. I see that Beretta has adopted the improvements Taurus made to their original design. The only difference is the Taurus is about $150 cheaper.

      • Taurus adopted from Beretta. The “Beretta 92 1st series” had the safety on the frame same place as Taurus now uses it.

        • Taurus is using Berettas’ “First Series” tooling which was left over in Brazil from the Brazilian Military/Police handgun contract which lasted for many years.
          I think it’s Taurus’ best selling firearm.

  8. Nice article Sir,
    but a 92-A1 is not a civilian M9-A1.
    The 92-A1 is a reworked 90TWO,and the Frames “Dustcover” and Slide are wider than a standard 92FS.
    Also,a 92-A1 or 90Two Upper will not fit on a standard 92/96 Lower.
    Another important note of interest…
    the 90Two was built for the .40 S+W cartridge,so +P 9mm should be fine.

    Comparisons and Evals are on the Beretta Forum dot net

    • You are correct – the 92A1 shares, um… “inspiration” from both the M9A1 and the 90Two. It is based on the elements of 92FS and 90Two – the 90Two being an enhanced version of the original 92FS. The overall shape and styling of the 92A1 is based on the 92FS with an accessory rail on the underside of the frame, while internal design is based on 90two.The 92A1 can interchange magazines with other 92-series pistols, as well as the grip panels, where the 90Two uses a wrap-around grip panel that can be user-changed. Since the 90Two was developed to use the .40S&W cartridge, the +P and even +P+ (SAAMI Specs) should be no problem for the 92A1. Thanks for clarifying what may have been confusing for some. I referred to it as the “Civilian M9A1” because it looks like the M9A1, but is capable of using personal-protection ammo commonly used for civilian self-defense.

  9. Thanks for the great review! Helped me to decide to buy one for my new pistol Im goin to buy. I went to the guide rods site and they wanted $40 for a stainless steel one. That seems a little expensive to me.

  10. I’m also looking for a steel guide rod for my new 92A1. The Beretta site says their OEM steel rods will not fit the 92A1, so where did you get the steel rod for $15?

  11. Yeah, I would love to know that too. Where did you find a steel guide rod for only $15? I agree that paying $40 is a little too steep for a metal rod.

  12. Well, I disagree with Beretta being given an unfair advantage over Sig in 1984. My research indicates that Beretta won the trials in 1980 and in 1984 a new trial began were the last two contenders considered were Beretta and Sig and Sig did not match the reliability of Beretta and therefore lost out as far as head to head testing. According to Wikipedia: “In 1984, the trials started again with updated entries from Smith & Wesson, Beretta, SIG Sauer, Heckler & Koch, Walther, Steyr, and Fabrique Nationale. Beretta won this competition.” Likewise, Beretta claims it won the trials in reliability testing on it’s website in 1984? It seems a little risky of Beretta to be making false claims about it’s testing and I’ve never heard of official claims by Sig to the contrary?

    • Your assessment of the 1984 trial results are false. Average number of rounds between stoppages in standard reliability tests: P226 = 2,877 , Beretta = 1,750, Colt M1911 162. Number of stoppages during testing: P226 = 12 stoppages (1 requiring an armorer), Beretta = 20 stoppages (9 requiring an armorer), Colt 1911 = 220 stoppages (25 requiring an armorer). The Beretta and Sig both passed testing well ahead of the competition, but the Sig scored higher in standard reliability and was cheaper than the Beretta. Both are good guns, but the Sig has been improved greatly since those tests while the Beretta has not.

  13. Just purchased the 92A1. Not fired yet but polished the bore and ramps. Bought the new Grade 3 walnut grips from Beretta now on sale, (Gold flat screws are extra). This thing is like Sophia Loren and Lana Turner in their 20’s rolled into one. Beretta does have a Golden steel rod for it and it is pricey. Now, Back to ballastics. SAAMI specs for a 9×19 parabellum are 34,100 psi. A 9×19 +P 38,500 psi. A 9×19 Nato is internationally rated (CSI I believe) at 38,500 max pressure. This puts the NATO round below a +P in pressure. Any 92 series can handle these as does my Ruger SR9.

  14. PS: Check with WOLLF springs for steel rods. You must also use their springs with these. This model being new, they might not have produced them yet.

  15. Nice article. I have an m9a1 and my son has a 92a1. Both are great,we have never had a misfire or jam or any problem at all. The only drawback is the stocky feeling grips which I replaced with Pachmayr combat style grips which i thought looked good but seemed to compound the problem. I switched back to the stock grips. I guess I was bitten by the beretta bug too as I have my eye on a 96a1.

  16. >> Beretta does have a Golden steel rod for it
    Not correct, it does not fit th m9a1 it also states that on Beretta’s web site

  17. My 92A1 runs like a dream after our neutered Canadian mag springs are worked in.
    I run it as like a chainsaw or an axe… “F*ck the finish, you just work and do not stop!”. After 2K rnds the outside looks fine, the inside is just wearing in nice. She garburates anything I put thru her.

    Best part is, when her slide is locked back and you drive a magazine into her hard, tilted up on a 45 degree angle, she closes her own slide. Now THAT’s a gun. F*ckk yeah. 2K rnds no failures.

  18. Nice article.

    I am a fan of the M9. I am also a senior NCO and leader of a marksmanship training team in the US Army. To date, my team and I have trained thousands of Soldiers deploying over the last 3 years. We’ve also competed at the 2010 & 2011 US Army Small Arms Championships, placing among the top 10 teams in Rifle, Pistol, and Combined Arms. Two of my Soldiers have earned their Gold Distinguished Pistol Badges in the last 18 months, with a third within four points of that achievement. We’ve fired tens of thousands of rounds through our M9’s.

    Here are the problems, and a little gem of a tip for those of you slamming the magazine into the pistol to get the slide to release and thus load a new round into the chamber as quickly as you insert the magazine… neeto huh?

    … not so much…

    Take and load 5 to 7 rounds in a full size magazine, then try that trick. You will soon notice that you might get off one shot, or no shots at all, but the remaining rounds in the magazine are in a bullet nose down attitude, rolling around in the magazine with the follower stuck down inside and askew.

    Next item…

    I have large hands and very long fingers. I like the M9. But Soldiers with average size hands or short stubby hands don’t like it so much. But those Soldiers with short thumbs do have an advantage with the M9 – specifically with the slide release. You see, those of us with normal sized hands – grown up sized, non mutant hands like mine – will unconsciously bump the slide release during recoil as we maintain a proper high and firm grip on the pistol. When the last round is loaded from the magazine and fired – the magazine follower will push up on the slide lock – but as the recoil energy is transmitted to the shooter the tip of the slide release will bump the shooters thumb resulting in the slide going forward on an empty chamber. Which is then followed by a ubiquitous “click” as the shooter presses the trigger and the hammer goes forward on a dry chamber. This usually happens during a stage in competition that a guy had been doing real well at. The trick is to change your grip so that those of you with long thumbs rest the right thumb over the backside of the lower left thumb instead of where it naturally falls along the side of the pistol.


    The story I’ve been told… and its probably just hogwash but it has some veracity to it. Is that when the initial 92’s first came out they had a spring loaded de-cocker. The US Army wanted a “Safety” (having been raised on 1911’s). So, Beretta removed the spring, and called it a safety. Now-a-days, most Soldiers draw that pistol to fire in a hurry and press the trigger back a few times before they realize… “Oh Shit!” I need to take the safety off!” … seconds are lost and the stage ends or the bad guy gets away.

    We would like to “officially” train Soldiers to always “DE-COCK AND HOLSTER” rather than “SAFE AND HOLSTER”

    The other pet peeve…

    New shooters will use an over hand grip with the non firing hand to rack the slide. When they do, they typically – and unknowingly – sweep the de-cocker/safety to the “ON” position. When they go to press the trigger, they get the mushy emptiness of a disarmed pistol. Seconds are lost while they figure it out and the stage is over or the bad guy gets away. Sometimes I tell them to take their time, they may have the rest of their lives to figure it out.

    We train Soldiers to use the blade of the non firing hand to rack the slide by catching the front of the rear sight (ala 10-8 forums rear sight) on the top of the slide and apply sharp rearward pressure while pushing forward with the grip hand. In some close gunfights, fingers are traumatically amputated. It is better to train to rack that slide w/o the use of your fingers – because you might not have them, and you might inadvertently apply the de-cocker when you really didn’t want to if you did have them.

    If you buy one of these pistols from Beretta (as a number of us bough our own so we could get more practice) please know that we were told by Beretta that only the military M9’s are zeroed at the factory – NOT- the civilian market pistols. Why did this question come up you might ask? We had two of our pistols shooting about 20 inches low at 10 feet from the target. Of course the poor guys took all kinds of hazing from us until each of us shot those two particular pistols with the same nice tight group… approximately 20 inches low. Having never seen that before with a military M9 we called them and discovered what we did.

    Since then, whenever I have a problem shooter with an M9, we always check to make sure the pistol sights are set up correctly. We’ve found a few M9’s that have had this problem – it’s rare, but they’re out there.

    Locking blocks and slides have been discussed ad naseum.

    I mentioned the slide release lever problem to Beretta at Shot show last year, the rep I spoke to in the booth was from engineering. He said it was the first time he’d ever heard about that problem. B.S.

    If someone created a case hardened, and properly finished aftermarket slide release lever that reliably eliminates the problem I would purchase it and recommend it to the USAMU and the rest of the Army.

      • Sounds like you are pulling the trigger. Squeeze back and put more pressure on your left palm then your right grip. You will see a difference. Start at 8 yards with this grip and trigger.

      • I’m shooting low with with mine as well the weird thing is that I don’t have the problem with the smaller PX 4 compact in 40 cal.

        • I am the proud owner of a Beretta M9A1 which I believe to be a wonderful weapon! The only thing I can say negative about my M9A1 is that it does in fact shoot low and left. Heh, I actually grew quite frustrated having to look at targets that consistently told me I had an issue with my shooting I knew didn’t exist but then why were my groupings consistently low & left. Que the gun rest which I finally borrowed along with the range master for a second opinion and validation that the issue wasn’t my shooting, it was the sights on my weapon. *Now I don’t claim for a second that I’m the best shooter in the world!! Afterall, there’s gotta be at least 1 or 2 people out there who are better than me HA! ;8)
          -I am actually beginning to think that the production line might of had a slight calibration issue somewhere in the production line (if i had to guess) which stayed like that for the duration of a few batches.. I say this because I have come across quite a few threads and posts in which other M9 owners have the same exact low and left issue with a few also using a gun stands to check their gun…
          Again, I still think the M9A1 is a great weapon and once I finally spring for replacement sights it’ll be almost perfect (for me at least)

    • “We train Soldiers to use the blade of the non firing hand to rack the slide by catching the front of the rear sight (ala 10-8 forums rear sight) on the top of the slide and apply sharp rearward pressure while pushing forward with the grip hand. In some close gunfights, fingers are traumatically amputated. It is better to train to rack that slide w/o the use of your fingers – because you might not have them, and you might inadvertently apply the de-cocker when you really didn’t want to if you did have them.”

      I must be doing something wrong (yeah, I know, shocking! LOL!!!), but I can’t rack the slides on either my 92FS or my Springfield XDM .45 in this manner. Maybe it’s because of my being fairly new to weapons handling (bought my 1st gun in March and my 2nd last week) or my just not knowing what I’m doing.

  19. I must agree with SFC Garcia, with 2 tours in the middle east and more than a few rds on the M9, I like and respect this weapon platform. Time spent with SpecWar allowed me the rare treat of shooting many types of handguns, from the HUGE H&K 25 to several small concealable types which must remain un-named. When we were forced to change from the 1911, I was not a happy camper, but through the years I have changed my mind. I have read all the so called expert opinions about “The 9mm is a wimp round and will not protect you”, let me assure you that with the ammo we used (not hardball NATO approved by the way), I doubt anyone would be insane enough to bet their lives on their opinions! Problem is, the powers that be won’t let our non-SpecWar units deploy this type ammo (they don’t want to hurt anyone). Sorry, but if they were to get their politically correct nose out of your superior’s posterior they would realize that the point of war is to WIN! Sorry to rant, tired of wimpy leaders, wheres Patton when you need him?

  20. I agree. I was in the marines and during a tour in Afghanistan I saw the m9 used shockingly quite a bit. The accuracy and durability helped especially when our medical personnel corpsmen were trying to take care of troops. It has since been my all time favorite along with most of my marines and sailors.

  21. I have a 92fs. Is is very accurate and has bever jammed. I have approx. 3,000 rounds throug it. I really love this gun as it is durable/ heavy/and well made.. however it is an outdated piece of equipment. There are pistols that are much easier to fire and less fumbling with levers and de cockers. With a striker fired pistiol there is no cocking, and no need for a there is no need to de-cock. I see the military addopting this fire arm in one way or another next. Is is easier, faster, and more efficient.

  22. I’d like to reply to Mr. Carpenter and anyone else out there that might be hazarding a guess as to what the next US Military sidearm will be.

    I doubt very much that the Army and the Marines will adopt any other pistol besides the M9 or M9A1 for a very long time (20 years or so).

    My reasoning is this. The search for such an item may well be underway, but *read the operational requirements very closely.* The US Army operational requirements specifically say (key words) *increased lethality.* Which is code speak meaning that the US Army at least is after something that will offer a significant leap ahead in terminal ballistic performance.

    That being the case, and with the dramatic terminal ballistic performance improvement that the M855A1 offers (over M855 or other 5.56 ammo), I think the next “side arm” will not be a side arm at all. I think the US Army is after the H&K MP7, *BUT* with upgrades to its ammo that will copy the technology of the M855A1 round. I’m not going to get into that, just know it works.

    Such a weapon firing that type of ammo will offer the increased lethality (better terminal ballistics) that the US Army is after, as well as inherently better accuracy at all ranges, and increased magazine capacity. The MP7 has also got some combat time under its belt with US forces already.

    My bet is the future will see the military using fewer pistol all together. Those combat support and combat service and support, tankers, MP’s, command staff, etc., folks carrying pistols now-a-days will be carrying the MP7 or similar such weapon in the future.

    Striker fire pistols are nice, but the Army is looking for leap ahead technology that a pistol just isn’t going to provide.

    • What you are missing, is that your quote “My reasoning is this. The search for such an item may well be underway, but *read the operational requirements very closely.* The US Army operational requirements specifically say (key words) *increased lethality.* Which is code speak meaning that the US Army at least is after something that will offer a significant leap ahead in terminal ballistic performance. ” The operational requirements you quoted are from their published requirements for a PISTOL, not a PDW. Also the 4.6×30 had its butt kicked in every measurable way by the 5.7×28, which is a much more common round in NATO countries. And they specified modularity adjustable for various sized hands and ease of field maintenance. The MP7 has none of those qualities. Not to mention the MP7 is a PDW that is underwhelming compared to the 5.7×28 FN won that competition with. The P90 & Five-seven would already be issued if Germany was not such a sore loser that they used their NATO card to derail the entire project when their 4.6×30 lost the competition to FNH.

      So what pistols are reliable, simple, easy to strip and maintain in the field, with adjustable backstraps and eliminate the issue you mentioned earlier of soldiers forgetting to check / deactivate safety’s or decockers? Humm the list is pretty short. Beretta will not be on it.

  23. I had the opportunity to shoot a 92A1 the other day. I don’t quite remember if I pulled or not, but I did shoot low and quite left. My brother had the same problem, but again, I don’t know if he pulled either. He did, however, manage to hit a milk jug at approximately 70 yards, and the projectile still had some bite to it at that range. Overall, I was impressed. Although, I’d like to add that in the article, it was stated that the pistol comes with three 17 round magazines. This is true, in most states. In the beautiful state of California, however, it only comes with two 10 round magazines. Don’t you all just love this state? Anywho, beautiful gun, great article.

  24. Good review, tho I was confused by the term MOI or Minute of Intruder, as you clarified. Being the newbie gun owner that I am, I looked this term up on google, but I could not find anything. So I asked some gun folks in an online chat, and the only thing they could conclude is that you are actually referring to Moment of Inertia.

    Is this correct? Or is the MOI you refer to in your review something else? If so I’d appreciate an explanation 🙂

    • I think its a reference to MoA or Minute of Arc/Angle. The joke is that you might not hit the 10-ring but you can still pop the bad guy.

  25. i seem to remember the two original reasons to adopt the M9 were the ease of fitting a suppressor [?] and that “smaller-statured” soldiers [ie, women] would find it easier to grip than a 1911 [with that huge fat M9 grip?]

  26. I have had a 92fs for six years , put about 2300 rnds through it. I’ve fed this pistol everything I could find never had an FTF or FTE. I have changed the hammer spring to a D spring and recently added Buffer Technologies recoil spring guide rod. I would feel safe to say that I would just my life with this pistol.

  27. Like I said before. Its built well and shoots OK. Its out dated..NOT made for combat in the sand, has an annoying sight system, a very crappy finish that wears and peels easily, and is huge to carry. Other pistols have come further in design and ease of use. The US military will change soon. Its outdated just like our education system..

    • I went to the range today and took the 92fs 9mm, 1911 .45acp and a inexpensive cz999 in .40S&W. I am an novice shooter in my late 50s and enjoyed all three firearms. I served with the 1911, my son with the M9, but that cheap cz999 is a pleasure to shoot. The 9mm is the most accurate, but I shoot at 50 feet and the groupings are not that different among all three. I will take the 45 for home defense, the Yugo for carry and the Beretta for accuracy.

      • Just back from the range and we ran a 92FS US Model and 92FS Italian.. Now these should shoot the same… the Italian model was considerably more accurate.. not sure why. I love the M9. This pistol is easy to clean and after about 900 rounds not a misfire…. yep it is outdated for sure. I love the finish BTW it has shown no sign of wear and cleans up very nicely. (I do baby my guns though) /// Shooting a Tavor and a M4A1 too and love them both. A lot of folks complain about the Tavor trigger and it does have a lot of pull but it is crisp and I like it too. If you own a Tavor buy the flex ejection port cover.. makes a huge difference.

  28. This review is misleading in regards to how durable the coating is. I own the 2013 beretta M9 and after 150rds the coating on the slide bubbled up and cracked off. I’m a coating inspector and I can tell you right now that should never happen. Sent it back to beretta so the could fix it thinking they would stand behind there product and what did they do then sent it back to me the same way they revived it. In other words they did nothing and when I called them asking ing what the deal was they gave me the run around and called it normal wear.

    • You should have bought a RIA. They will stand behind their product. I have the 92fs and a 1911 RIA .45acp. Today after the range where I also took a Serb CZ999 in .40S&W I sprayed the CZ with a powder cleaner. To my dismay black paint came off the handgun and stained my fingers. I was laughing so hard and remembered that I will not hold a $320.00 gun to higher standards than higher priced firearms. It is still black and will cold blue it if need be. Be well and shoot straight.

  29. Update..after 3 years the white dot sights have peeled off and faded. As the finish did a year ago. A very bulky gun. Get a GLOCK.

  30. You Americans fired several shots, very few Italians us, our private police fired fifty shots a year, police state much less. Sometimes they train only every five years. it is virtually impossible to become good shooters with a 92. With Sig, CZ, Glock, the results are much better. Only those who shoot many shots as you Americans shoot well with everything. With the 98FS I also shot 200 meters, 50 m. is very accurate at 25 yards I can hit a coin, but I’m a shooting instructor. The quality of the 92fs is greatly diminished, the lock swinging sometimes breaks every 5000 shots. In Italy, a few policemen and soldiers carrying the loaded gun, some of them die with the safety engaged.

  31. Great review on a great gun. I have been the proud owner of a Beretta 92A1 for two years now and have shot over 2000 rounds through it with no failures whatsoever. While training and shooting at distances between 3 to 10 metres, accuracy wise it does the job perfectly. While static shooting at the range from 25m, well let’s say being a combat gun it was not designed for that, although I still get 6 to 8 inch groupings without too much fancy aiming!…good enough for bad guy popping. The only thing I don’t like about the 92A1 is the dammed safety/decocking lever. It’s so easy to forget to put on “fire” in an emergancy! That’s why I’m getting myself a new Beretta PX4 Storm, “G” model, where the deckocking lever is equipped with a spring which automatically resets the lever on “fire” position. Still the 92A1 is a pistol I will keep, I love full steel guns. If I had to describe it in three words, they would be; “Sexy, Mythic, Reliable”.

  32. I reckon the Beretta has a bad rep in the service because a lot of them are in the same shape as ours were. Springs not replaced when needed because no round counts kept for individual weapons. Craptastic old mag springs. And lastly, good ol Joe not doing his diligence after quals. I personally have drawn a weapon from the armory that should have been a1 ready to roll, and it fails to go into full battery after three rounds. We break her open and what do we find? Carbon so thick you had to scrape it off with a knife. I have a 92FS inox and its a fine weapon, though a bit to big for my hands. Never have put over 10,000 rounds through any handgun, so I won’t claim I know when a Beretta will fail. To the average end user its virtually irrelevant provided the weapon has a reasonable life expectancy. I will keep shooting the Beretta, and its Brazilian cousin, as, despite having owned most brands and many models of pistol, the slick old oversized nine will still have a place in my armory.

    • Agree 100% my 92FS will go to my grandson..we go shooting all the time.. he loves rapid fire… we have maybe put 1500 rnds through this one.. and all types of ammo.. not one failure… I love the 92FS and how easy it is to maintain. Anyone else have a grandson that leaves the guns for grandad to clean??? 😉

  33. DAMN YOU!! After reading your review, I couldn’t resist the urge to check one out. Now I’m $600 poorer. I’m a 1911 man, but I sure do like this gun!

  34. “I will admit that the 92-series of pistols are probably one of the chunkiest around”

    Yeah baby, fat bottom girls!

  35. I am surprised that I have not read one complaint about the lousy S/A trigger. All my 1911’s, s&s wheel guns shotguns and rifles have 3#’s! One rifle had to go w/ 3.6#’s I need to find a cure for my 92fs. Stay safe and shoot straight!

  36. If sig saures were more reliable, the armed forces would use them. The Beretta has been tested in rough conditions, it has been proven to fire 24,000 rounds with at most one round not running the full cycle, there’s lots of Sig owners on here that will lie to make them feel their pistol is superior, when it isn’t.

  37. Pinecarpenter you glockaholic. Calling barettas bulky? So holding a dam brick sideways is better? Ive fired 4 glocks. 2 in 40 sw and 2 in 9mm, all of which i found to be an overpriced hi point. And about finishes, that depends on maintenance and materials used. Dont push your one-sided views and cry glock. New tech may surface, doesnt mean old tech is useless or inferior.

  38. As a collector, I have little “brand loyalty” but I do love the ascetic appeal of the Bretta. My first Beretta was a pre WW II “bring back” in .32 APC and found it to be accurate and reliable. What it wasn’t was theft proof… I have a nice assortment of Brettas, Sigs, Smith & Wessons as well as a Brizillian made gun or two. All have their pluses and minuses. The 92 series is one of my favorites and while I do not carry it as a personal protection piece, it is comfortable to shoot and easy to care for on a trip to the range.

    I do remember an old saw however for those of you who fret over the price. The bitter taste of poor quality will linger long after the sweet taste of low price has faded.

    People should remember, you are buying an item that your life may depend on, are you worth it?

  39. Never shot a glock but I own a 92G no safety but not able to carry cocked as a single action. Alien gear makes a IWB holster that I used now for 6 months with out any discomfort. I am a bigger guy 260lbs but it carries great for me. Love the feel and the lack of recoil.

  40. just bought the gun…love it…followed up by getting a cx4 storm…my question is about the guide rod..I keep running into “not for 92 a1″….can you give me an idea where to find one?
    btw…this review helped my decision to buy this gun!!

  41. I’m not a Pro here but I’ve shot a lot of S.A./ D.A. revolvers & a few pistols. What I don’t like about my 92 is the old-style trigger that slightly cants rearward at the break (fire) point (as do many revolvers), causing my finger to slide down against the guard & TORQUEING down. Results in ‘Low Hits’ if I don’t use good technique! Many new 92 shooters complain that the gun shoots low & the sights are ‘off” when they don’t realize this, ESPECIALLY if they don’t have long-slender fingers. Observe ‘Gunslingers’ technique on Wilson Custom 92 promo! Note the 1911 pistols’ triggers (rear-pull design). Now some guns DO have problems & 92s’ are meant for ‘LARGE’ hands, but why is this seldom explained before most start fudging with the sights. Practice TECHNIQUE FIRST!! Any ‘Pro’ Opinions?

  42. Where can I find photos or video of the technique Wilson?
    I am an italian instructor are specialized against the problems of shooting with Beretta pistols.

  43. It appears the 92A1 (only out since 2010) has a slide that is specially designed to retain the captive polymer recoil rod/spring assembly. Apparently M9 style recoil rod & spring are not compatible. Any other explanations? By the way, on the “Wilson Combat” website, under the Custom Work tab, you can watch the video for the 92A1 Custom Carry Package showing “Gunslinger” & his technique for grip & control.

  44. I had a hard time deciding between the M9A1 and the 92A1 but eventually went with the 92A1 because of the removable front sight and the recoil buffer. I might eventually get an M9A1 just to have it but I’m very pleased with the 92A1

  45. I have shot the Beretta in the military for years and carried it deployed. I can agree with this review in that it is accurate after considerable use and abuse. My armory even stopped using lubricant and they still kept going strong.

    However, I can’t see the value in making the purchase unless it’s a dedicated range fun-gun. Why? It’s HEAVY. And THICK. And it’s just a 9mm. That’s a lot of size and weight to lug around just for 15 rounds of 9mm. I carried one on my hip for a whole deployment in a quality holster and the dang thing felt like a lead brick. Good luck with an IWB unless you buy pants five sizes too big.

    Basically you have the weight of a 1911, without the thin frame and 9mm instead of a .45.

  46. Regardless of what “Experts” intend for the Military, sidearms will have to go to more compact variants. Perhaps an M9A3 Compact? Reason – WOMEN in COMBAT. Everything changes, I venture even NATO specs. will be rewritten. See it everywhere in the private sector!

  47. I will admit up front I prefer the 1911 however the Beretta may be my next purchase a range gun. As for concealed carry I do use a 9mm however it is not a full or compact frame,it is a sub compact or micro 9 (Sig P938). It’s about the same size as a pocket size .380 and I selected this for a very specific reason: I can carry it every day!

    Now for you all who can carry a compact or full frame under a coat or otherwise great, however many people like me wear slacks and polo shirts or jeans and tee shirts. I see so many who own compacts or full frames but leave the weapon at home. The reality is they are not readily concealed.

    My concern and reason for bringing this up is during all the attacks recently here and abroad not one assailant was taken down by an occupant in the crowd under fire. It’s time to rethink what you can truly carry concealed and then do it. I for one am not comfortable with the thought of having innocents around me gunned down without being able to aid in their immediate defense. I welcome your comments and applaud those who do carry daily.

  48. Good article. Interesting comments. I am a dedicated Glock user as they are more compact, lighter weight and simpler in use. That said, I just bought my 5th M92 (a 92A1). Regardless of the bulk and weight of the 92, there is just something about the Beretta that keeps calling my name. It is the only service pistol that I could reliably hit a B27 target at 125m. That was in my youth with good eye sight. But knowing how good they shoot on single action just inspires me to this day. Would I carry it everyday? No! A Glock M19 just makes more sense. Would I feel improperly armed in a gun fight? No! These are great pistols.


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