Improving the Beretta 92

By Bob Campbell published on in Firearms

If there is a battle proven handgun that stands a head and shoulders above the rest—in this century—it is the Beretta 92. Soldiers returning home from overseas often choose a Beretta for their personal sidearm. My son, Captain Matthew Campbell carried the Beretta in Kosovo, Korea, and the Middle East. That is enough recommendation for me.

WIlson Combat 92 with VZ Grips profile right

If you desire a custom gun ready to go Wilson Combat has it.

The problem when learning to shoot the Beretta is the long double-action trigger press. It is relatively smooth, but stiff, and requires some effort to master. However, some shooters never quite get it. On the other hand, I have seen military shooters work the long DA trigger and get center hits at 25 yards on the 8-inch gong, and with real speed.

The Beretta 92 handles well on a combat course. Recoil is modest even with +P loads. The tapered, double-column magazine is an aid in rapidly replenishing the ammunition supply. As a tactical pistol, the Beretta has much to recommend. As for absolute accuracy, the Beretta takes a back seat to few pistols.

I have fired my pistol extensively with thousands of handloads. The Hornady 124-grain XTP at 1,050 to 1,100 fps and Titegroup powder is the most common diet. With quality ammunition, such as the Fiocchi Extrema 124-grain XTP load, the pistol may group five-shots into 2 to 2.5 inches at 25 yards. Some will prove more accurate than this standard.

For the best results, Army marksmanship units developed accurizing procedures for the Beretta. The procedure has been taken even further by Wilson Combat. Below are the specifications of the Beretta Elite from Wilson Combat.

Magazine being guided into a Beretta 92 magazine well

The Wilson Combat magazine guide is a first class addition.

Specifications

  • M9A1 frame with 92A1 round trigger guard profile and improved checkering
  • Dehorned 92G Brigadier slide
  • Enhanced slide to frame fit
  • Trijicon tritium dovetail front sight
  • Stainless barrel with recessed crown, 4.7” Elite II length, black finish
  • Oversize steel magazine release
  • Steel de-cocking levers
  • Skeletonized Elite II hammer
  • D hammer spring
  • Lanyard loop pin
  • Lanyard loop, aluminum
  • Steel trigger
  • Wilson Combat rear u-notch battlesight
  • Wilson Combat fluted steel guide rod
  • G10 Dirty Olive grips with Wilson Combat logo medallion
  • Wilson Combat logo on slide
  • 3 15-round M9A1 Beretta sand resistant magazines
  • 9mm caliber only
  • G configuration ambidextrous decocker only
  • All steel components (decocker, trigger, magazine release, guide rod)
  • Checkered frontstrap and backstrap
  • Beveled magazine well
  • Rail for mounting light or laser
  • Special serial number range with WC prefix
  • IDPA Stock Service Pistol approved
  • USPSA Production Division approved
  • Not CA Compliant (Unless LEO purchase)
Wilson Combat 92 magazine release

The W/C magazine release works fast and well.

Only Two Custom Upgrades at This Time

  • Action tune
  • Mag guide

Beretta fans that already own a good 92FS pistol may add a D-type hammer spring to enhance the trigger action. Wilson Combat offers parts to upgrade an existing Beretta 92 or 92A1 handguns. AS for my personal Beretta 92, the safety lever I fitted isn’t ambidextrous and offers an excellent surface for rapid manipulation. It is low profile and snag free.

I recommend the short-reach steel trigger. This addition makes handling the Beretta 92 double-action trigger much easier. Leverage is simply excellent.

I ordered a Wilson Combat Spring Kit, which made for a smoother trigger action. I added the Wilson Combat hammer. The extended magazine well is an aid in rapid replenishment of the ammunition supply.

My personal pistol has had the barrel recrowned and cut at a 45-degree angle, which enhances accuracy potential and limits damage to the barrel crown. This combination of features makes for a great handling handgun. Lastly, I added a set of VZ grips. I favor VZ from long experience with 1911 handguns and revolvers, and this set also worked out well.

Bob Campbell holding the Beretta 92 pistol at a low ready

Handling is the long suit of the Wilson Combat modified Beretta.

I have fired the Beretta extensively since modified and find the pistol improved somewhat. Firing at man-sized targets at 5,7 and 10 yards, the Beretta comes on target quickly. I was able to center the hits in the X ring with the new smooth trigger action. The combination of the short trigger and spring kit made a difference in fast handling, yet reliability was not compromised as the firing pin cracked all the primers.

Control in single-action mode was excellent. The VZ grips provided good adhesion when firing. Most recently, I fired the pistol off the benchrest for accuracy. With Gorilla Ammunition’s 135-grain JHP, I printed a series of five-shot groups that averaged 1.9 inches at 25 yards. I cannot hold any better.

The Beretta 92 9mm is reliable as issued and accurate enough for most chores. With judicious improvement—coupled with practice at marksmanship—the Beretta may be a more capable and reliable handgun.

Did you carry a Beretta 92 while serving in the military or law enforcement? Do you own a Beretta 92? What upgrades would you make to a Beretta 92 and why? Share your answers in the comment section.

SLRule

Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooter’s Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.

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Comments (30)

  • Jessica

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    I went with Pachmayr wraparound grips on mine; it improved surety of handling enough to tighten my groups by half.

    Reply

  • Frank

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    My original Beretta is the 92F which I got in December of 1985. Still have it and it still shoots like the day I got it. Purchased a new 92FS a few months ago. I ordered the metal parts kit from Beretta along with their lighter trigger spring to replace all the plastic in the newer guns.. Now that 1st double action shot is about 7 lbs instead of 12 lbs. What a difference in that 1st shot. Put the 1st shot in the center of the Q on the fbi Q target at 10 yards.

    Reply

  • GEORGE DEAN

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    Thanks, Mikial.

    Reply

    • straps

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      Agreed on all. I’m a Sig guy who purchased a Beretta grudgingly because It’s what I deploy with. I came to appreciate the reliability and accuracy, and heeded the advice of prominent Beretta shooters to keep it running. An off-the-shelf “government” DA/SA fire control system will never satisfy, however. When Wilson announced its program, I was at first bummed because getting one into Cali would be diffficult AND expensive, but their willingness to work on customer guns prompted me to source a railed frame and Brigadier slide, which I sent off to Wilson for pretty much every customization on offer—mechanically and aesthetically. Truly money well spent. A Wilson Berretta truly turns the platform “up to 11.” As the author states, a tuned gun constricts ammo choices in terms of accuracy (I’ve had two malfunctions with my 10K-round M9A1, none after 2K through my Wilson) but it’s nice to have a gun to “grow into” as I dog-leg my way up the speed vs. accuracy mountain.

      Reply

  • Mikial

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    The Beretta 92 is a great design. The only thing I’ve done to ours is add some comfortable Hogue grips. My wife’s and mine are rugged, accurate and utterly reliable.

    Reply

  • Christian D. Orr

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    The Beretta 92F was the first pistol I ever fell in love with, back in 1989 at the tender age of 14, and my additional experiences with it as an Air Force Security Forces troop (enlisted and commissioned, 1999-2006) and as a Private Military Contractor (PMC since 2011) have further endeared it to me.

    I own three of ’em: a standard edition and two collectors’ editions (an Operation Enduring Freedon U.S. Air Force Commemorative and a U.S. Armed Forces 20th Anniversary Commemorative). Viva La Beretta!

    Reply

  • Rick

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    Beretta is a reliable, durable and easy to carry. thanks for providing wonderful information about Beretta 92.

    Reply

    • Bob Campbell

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      Rick
      Thanks for reading!

      Bob

      Reply

  • George Dean

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    I wonder if the trigger or spring kits are compatible with the Tarus 92. I know Tarus made some mods to the upper, but think some of the internals should be a direct fit. Personally, I believe the T 92 is a practical sub for the Beretta. Several hundred dollars cheaper, but made on formerly owned Beretta machinery.

    Reply

    • Mikial

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      I’d do a little research before trying it, but I wouldn’t be surprised it they did. My wife’s ATI C92 is another great Beretta 92 clone. So far it’s been an exact internal match in every way and it has been utterly reliable after many thousands of rounds of every brand of ammo from Cor Bon to reman and cheap Russian range ammo. She likes it better than my Beretta 92.

      Reply

  • Heavy10mm

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    And if you want a pistol battle proven this century and last century, one that shoots a respectable caliber and was designed in America, get a 1911. And you don’t have to pay $1300 to get one with a decent trigger. Hell, the cheap POS models coming out of Turkey shoot well, and you could get 4 of them for the price of this Wilson…

    Reply

    • Adam

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      You might not need to spend $1300 for a 1911 with a decent trigger, but you’ll spend close to that much (either upfront or with a gunsmith) to get a 1911 that runs with the reliability of the Beretta (or SIG, Glock, M&P, etc).

      Interesting bit of history – during the M9 trials, the military tested the 1911 side by side with both the Beretta 92 and the Sig P226 for a reliability comparison (MRBF). The Beretta 92 was over ten times more reliable than the 1911, and the Sig P226 was even more reliable than the Beretta 92.

      Reply

    • Christian D. Orr

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      BIN-GO, Adam, spot-on, thank you!!! I’ve owned 4 different 1911s (Springfield Armory 90s Edition, Charles Daly, post-bankruptcty & re-organization era S.A, and a Colt Series 70s Combat Commander), and of those 4, ONLY ONE (the later model Springfield) was reliable out-of-the-box (by which I mean able to go 100 rounds of standard-pressure 230-gr ball without jamming). Hell, the other three were still jamming even AFTER a trip back to the factory and/or gunsmith.

      On the other hand, ALL of my Berettas have been perfectly reliable out-of-the-box.

      Reply

    • Pete

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      I have a Beretta 96 which is identical to the 92 but is chambered in 40 S&W. The weight of the gun helps tame the recoil and after 20 years of firing has never had an issue.

      Reply

    • Val Thor

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      I purchased a Wilson 92G. I don’t want 4 turkey guns, I just want 1 Wilson Combat 92G.

      Reply

    • Christian D. Orr

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      Meh, ho-hum, another 1911 cultist filled with dogmatic hatred of anything 9mm and/or double-action and/or of foreign design. Yawn, zzzzzzzzzz………

      Reply

  • Darrell Golden

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    Great article Bob! It seems that lately all I’ve been hearing about the 92’s is folks poo-pooing the 92. I carried a 1911 & then a M9 in the Army back in the day. The Beretta is indeed a fine machine and overall very reliable.

    She’s an old girl and she continues to serve us well..

    I still have an old Police Trade In 92 that I will probably send off to Wilson to have them do their magic, or maybe do the parts kit upgrade like you did.

    – D

    Reply

  • Charles

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    The Wolf trigger conversion spring is worth looking at if you have the all steel trigger from the early guns. It was originally developed to aid reliability.

    Reply

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