Range Report: Beretta Storm SubCompact 9mm

By Bob Campbell published on in Firearms, Range Reports

Beretta introduced a handgun a few years ago that was not revolutionary—instead it was evolutionary. The PX4 Storm married the proven Beretta double-action trigger and de-cocking safety to a polymer frame. Those preferring a double-action first-shot pistol had a relatively inexpensive alternative to the Beretta 92, and those wishing a durable and reliable polymer frame handgun had a counterpoint to the Glock. The primary advantage of the pistol is accuracy.

Storm PX4 SubCompact right

The Storm performed well with Federal’s high grade target ammunition.

The Storm features a long, double-action trigger press that cocks and drops the hammer. After the first shot, the slide recoils and cocks the hammer for a light, single-action press. The following shots are single action. The relatively light and short single-action press allows good accuracy even in the short Storm pistol. The long double-action trigger press and manual safety are seen as safety features.

If you wish, you may carry the Storm with the safety off, but some of us believe a manual safety is a real advantage. When the pistol is loaded and the slide racked, the hammer is cocked. By pressing the de-cocking lever, the hammer is safety dropped without any danger of slipping and dropping the hammer on the firing pin. There is also a positive firing pin lock or drop safety. The larger Storm pistols feature a rotating barrel. The sub compact 9mm does not.

I do not recommend carrying any handgun without a holster, but a double-action first-shot pistol with the safety on seems a better bet to stuff in the waistband or jacket pocket than a safe action or single action pistol. Handling is important to concealed carry shooters and may be of more import than performance on a combat course.

The Storm is a pudgy little number in some ways, but easily concealed. The Storm SubCompact features a three-inch barrel. This is a good length for a compact pistol, but velocity will not equal that of a service pistol. As an example, the Federal 124-grain HST, a proven defense load, exits the Beretta 92FS at 1,203 fps, and the Glock 19 at 1,180 fps, but only 1,107 fps from the subcompact Storm. This is simply a trade off in the case of a very small handgun.

safety lever with raised profile on the Beretta PX4 Storm SubCompact pistol

The pistol isn’t difficult to manipulate. Note raised profile safety lever.

The 9mm Luger cartridge burns clean and efficiently even from short barrels and gives good performance, however. The larger Storm handguns feature a rotating barrel, the SubCompact is fixed. The barrel crown is recessed—a nice touch. The steel slide features both forward and rear cocking serrations. The finish is long wearing black Bruniton. The pistol is short with a 6.2 inch OAL, and it is only 4.7 inches tall. It is chubby at 1.5 inches wide counting the wings of the safety. The pistol is rated at 26.1 ounces, while mine actually weighs closer to 25 ounces.

The problem with high-capacity handguns is grip space. They are too large for most hands. The polymer-framed Storm features a pared down grip allowing comfortable levels and a spare grip insert is included in the package along with a spare magazine. The pistol’s slide lock and magazine catch work well in rapid magazine changes and the polymer frame features a light rail that accepts most lights—a short one is desirable.

The sights are a carryover from the Beretta 92. They are excellent examples of combat sights. The pistol is supplied with two 13-round magazines. Thirteen rounds is a lot of capacity for such a short, light handgun with a comfortable grip. The only difficulty with the pistol is loading the magazines to full capacity. It isn’t difficult to load the magazine to 11 rounds, but the last two are difficult. I am lucky to own a Butler Creek magazine loader.

To evaluate the Storm, I collected a supply of ammunition and headed to the pistol range. The firing began with the Federal Syntech 124-grain loading. The coated bullet cuts down on powder ash and lead contamination as well as barrel wear. Function was positive and accuracy was good to excellent. I began by bringing the Storm up quickly from concealed carry and getting a solid X-ring hit. The pistol responded well to a trained shooter.

Box of Federal Premium HST ammunition

The HST from Federal Cartridge Company is a viable loading for personal defense. The 150-grain HST would be ideal as it is purpose designed for short barrel handguns.

I did not extend firing past seven yards and concentrated on a solid first shot hit before advancing to double taps. Recoil simply wasn’t a factor with this well designed handgun. A combination of a well shaped grip, smooth trigger action, and well designed sights made for good hits. I ran through several magazines with the Syntech load with excellent results.

Speed reloads were smooth enough, due to the generous magazine well and tapered magazine. Next up was the Federal 124-grain HST. I have tested this load extensively and found it to be an accurate load with an excellent balance of penetration and expansion. I also fired the 150-grain HST. This loading is purpose designed for maximum performance from short barrel handguns.

I fired at small targets from 10 to 25 yards and found hit probability to be excellent. The short, crisp, double-action trigger press and good sights allow for good shooting. The SubCompact PX4 Storm 9mm is practically as accurate in slow fire as its larger brethren. Recoil control and recovery, of course, make for a less impressive showing compared to full-sized handguns, but the Storm SubCompact 9mm is a credible defensive handgun. I find the Beretta PX4 Storm SubCompact to be a good choice for hideout use or even primary carry.

10-Yard Groups, Average of Two 5-Shot Groups

Cartridge Group Size
Federal 124-grain Syntech 1.0 inches
Federal 124-grain HST 1.1 inches
Federal 150-grain HST 1.2 inches
Speer 147-grain Gold Dot 1.25 inches

Do you own, or have you fired, the Storm SubCompact? Share your review 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.

View all articles by Bob Campbell

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Comments (22)

  • Equestriancolt

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    I haven’t had any issues with the Winchester ammo or any of the ammo that is big branded name that cost a few dollars more. Like Sig Sauer, winchester, Federal, Remington.

    Reply

  • Joel

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    I have taken my .40 Storm to the range several times with Federal white box ammo and have had the same problem. What type of ammo do you recommend?

    Reply

    • RKC

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      what problem are you having?

      Reply

  • Will

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    I won one of these in a raffle a couple years ago. I was very disappointed at the time, as the raffle picture showed a full-size version of the pistol, but a free gun is a free gun, eh? Anyway, it is a very solidly built piece of equipment, if the ugliest firearm I’ve owned. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, though, it is an attempt to create a backup pistol that feels exactly like the full-size service pistol it is backing up, which it does very well. A few points of note:
    1) All controls are in the exact same locations, using the exact same parts as it’s two larger brethren. Flat replacements for the slide catch and safety are available for concealed carry.
    2) Thanks to the extra ugly, but functional bulk added to the slide, the sub-compact is within one ounce of weight of the physically larger and more sleek models.
    3) The magazines come in two varieties: one with a pop-out pinky extension, and one without. Mine came with one of each. It also accepts the larger PX-4 and PX-4 compact magazines.

    I find it performs it’s intended function well, and would recommend it for any police officer who is looking to match a backup pistol to their PX-4 service weapon. It feels virtually the same in the hand, minus a spot for the pinky finger, which should make for very natural use if needed. I personally find it to be too wide and heavy to comfortably conceal on my 134#, 3’9″ frame, however.

    Reply

    • John

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      Hope you meant 5’9″ :-)

      Reply

  • William Jenkins

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    I have been considering a subcompact for carrying purposes. I have a full sized storm 40 S&W. I always thought I was just a bad shot with a pistol. I put the storm in my hands and I can hit everything. It has replaced my shotgun as my favorite range toy to pop plastic coffee cans around with. I can even make the small vitamin bottles dance around with it. I am very pleased with the accuracy of it.

    Reply

  • Mark

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    Took mine for some practice today. The gun is clean and in excellent condition. The ammo I used failed to load properly or the empty shell did not discharge fully. I assume it was just lousy ammo. Gonna go again soon and use some higher quality ammo and see what happens. Still like this gun alot

    Reply

    • Equestriancolt

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      I have the PX4 Subcompact and a buddy of mine had the PX4 Compact we were out shooting and were shooting some cheap ammo and both of our guns had the same jamming issue after you fired the slide would not drop all the way for the next round. Got some better ammo and have no issues. He took some of the rounds in too a gun shop a buddy of his and they said it looked like it was reloaded ammo. So somebody may be selling reloaded ammo in stores which I think is illegal.

      Reply

  • Dale

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    I have a subcompact PX4 .40 cal in an IWB at the 5 o’clock position at this moment, slouching on the couch. Very comfortable to carry, easy to conceal and shoot. It’s definitely for short range defense, though. Did fine taking an unwelcome varmint in the barn this winter.

    Reply

  • Ed

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    Regarding the PX4 hitting low and left, I don’t have that problem on the Compact model. It also has rails, which now carry a Crimson Trace laser.

    Reply

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