Pietro Beretta S.P.A. is the world's oldest firearms manufacturer. In existence almost since the invention of the gun, Beretta offers a wide range of firearms for both sporting and defensive purposes. Probably best known for its high-end sporting shotguns, Beretta also supplies small arms to many of the world s armies and police agencies, including the U.S. military. The Beretta 92F 9mm pistol remains the official issue handgun for U.S. forces serving around the world. Rumors abound regarding its replacement; nevertheless, Beretta recently announced a new U.S. military order for thousands more 92 pistols, so who knows if the rumors are true.
After the military selected the Beretta, a number of American police agencies followed suit, but as time went by it became clear street cops favored smaller, lighter guns with adjustable grips and consistent trigger actions. Guns you had to decock or manipulate safety levers fell into disfavor with some, but not all, as it became clear many law enforcement officers were not gun people and wanted easy-to-use weapons. Some still prefer a gun you can carry on safe, but they remain a definite minority. Like most gun companies that aim to meet the needs of American law enforcement agencies, Beretta is trying to find the right combination of features that will appeal to street cops, and has recently introduced two new handguns it hopes will be embraced by both those who want simplicity as well as by officers and agencies who want additional security.
The model 90-Two descends directly from the 92F with its cut-away slide and long barrel. It differs from the original in its new rounded contours that offer a snag-free drawing capability, interchangeable grip and light/laser-mounting rail built into the dust cover. Each 90-Two pistol comes with a plastic cover that slides over the rails to prevent snagging.
Available in three different models double action/single action with a safety/decock lever, double action/single action with decocking-only levers, and double action only the 90-Two uses the 92F s falling locking-block system designed to offer enhanced accuracy and longer service life. When you fire the pistol, the recoil energy pushes the slide/barrel to the rear. After a short distance, the locking block falls and releases the slide, allowing it to recoil while the barrel locks to the frame. The slide continues to the rear, extracting the fired round, chambering a fresh round from the magazine and cocking the hammer for follow-up shots. The recoil spring then returns the slide into the battery and the gun is ready for the next shot.
The frame is made from a light aluminum alloy that keeps the gun s weight to 31.9 oz. (.40 S&W; 32.5 oz. in 9mm), quite reasonable for a gun this size. You can easily reverse the magazine-release button for left-handed use, and you can adjust the entire grip to fit smaller or larger hands. With diversity a necessity for police agencies in the 21st century, a gun you can adjust to a wide range of hand sizes is an important factor when police administrators select a gun to issue to their troops. The grip panels are lightly stippled on the sides with a more aggressive fish-scale checkering on the front and back straps. The magazine well has a slight bevel to make magazine insertion easier. The sights are of the three-dot variety with the front sight dovetailed into the slide, something the original did not have. Installing tritium night sights on the 92F required shipping the slide off to a company that could drill and insert the tritium vial per Department of Energy requirements. This is not the case with the 90-Two.
I tested a double-action/single-action model with a safety/decock lever located on each side of the slide in caliber .40 S&W. I m not going to kid you here: The first double-action trigger stroke was long and heavy, breaking my trigger scale at 13 lbs. Without considerable practice, most shooters will shoot the gun low left (low right for left-handed shooters) as they tighten their whole hand in an effort to press the long and heavy trigger to the rear. Fortunately, the single-action trigger is a very nice 4.5 lbs. with a 1/4 reset distance. Please don t misunderstand, the 90-Two s double-action/single-action trigger can be mastered, but it takes time and effort. Once you accomplish this, the 90-Two offers exceptional accuracy. At 15 yards, I was able to fire unsupported, hand-held groups into a 3 -circle with boring regularity using Federal, Winchester and Corbon ammunition. The 90-Two also proved its reliability as it fired 300 rounds of various hollow-point bullets without a single failure.
For officers and agencies interested in something lighter and smaller, Beretta has recently introduced the Px4 Storm semi-auto pistol. Like the 90-Two, it has three different trigger modes (double-action/single-action with safety-decock lever, double-action/single-action with decock-only lever, and double-action only) and an adjustable grip that uses three interchangeable back straps that make the grip large or small. I tested the double-action-only model, which was very sleek with no sharp edges or corners to snag during the draw or on clothing when carried concealed. One of the more unique features of the Px4 is the rotating barrel that keeps the bore in alignment with the target at all times. Instead of dropping out of the way like many barrel designs, the Px4 Storm barrel rotates as the slide moves to the rear, which unlocks the action. This design reduces friction between the barrel and slide, increasing the smoothness of the firing operation. This also helps keep the bore axis low over the shooting hand, which gives the Px4 better pointing capability as well as helps get the gun back on target more quickly for faster follow-up shots.
The polymer frame helps keep the Storm s weight to 27 oz. The front and back straps offer the same fish-scale checkering as the 90-Two. The grip is considerably trimmer than the 90-Two, and when you install the small back strap, a shooter with the smallest of hands can use the gun. The magazine release button is totally reversible, making this gun totally ambidextrous, with the exception of the slide-stop lever. The dust cover of the polymer frame has a rail built in so that you can easily mount white lights and laser sights on the gun. The rounded trigger guard, forward-cocking serrations and tapered sights give the pistol a very sleek appearance. The sights are of the standard three-dot variety, but are coated with Luminova photo-sensitive material that gives the dots a glowing capability five times as bright as tritium for about 30 minutes after exposure to any light source. The dots remain usable in low light for hours, and only need another brief exposure to regenerate.
The double-action-only trigger of the Px5 Storm is very smooth with an easy-to-use first-trigger weight of 8 lbs. Subsequent triggers require a full release of the trigger to reset, which I found to be a bit disconcerting when trying to shoot fast. On several occasions, I short-stroked the trigger, failing to reset the sear, which does not deactivate the gun but does require another release of the trigger to pick up the hammer-sear engagement. This would slow your rate of fire, and could be a problem in a close-quarter confrontation where fast, accurate shots are needed to end the fight. This is not an indictment of the gun, but merely an observation, and it s a concern you can solve with proper training.
The Px4 Storm proved both accurate and reliable. Like the 90-Two, the Px4 went through 300 rounds of .40-caliber hollow points without a hiccup. It was also capable of holding all rounds inside a 3 -circle at 15 yards when fired from an unsupported, hand-held stance. The Px4 Storm is an excellent choice for either duty or plainclothes carry. If the Px4 possessed a shorter trigger reset, I would carry it as my personal sidearm I liked it that much. The truth is, either gun makes a good choice for police service, but I have to admit I have a strong preference for the Px4.
What You Get
Caliber: 9mm and .40 S&W in three trigger modes
Capacity: 15 and 17 rounds in 9mm; 11 and 12 rounds in .40 S&W
Finish: Rust-resistant, black Bruniton slide with aluminum frame
Barrel length: 4.9
Caliber: 9mm and .40 S&W in three trigger modes
Capacity: 17 rounds in 9mm; 14 rounds in .40 S&W
Finish: Rust-resistant, black Bruniton slide with a polymer frame
Barrel length: 4
Beretta U.S.A. Corp
17601 Beretta Drive
Accokeek, MD 20607