Improving the Beretta 92

WIlson Combat 92 with VZ Grips profile left

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.

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.


  • 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)

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.

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.


About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (35)

  1. Carried a 92 and then a 96 in 1990 when I was uniform patrol. During May “Police Week” shooting competition, myself and four other officers would shoot “Team Beretta” and clean up the trophies. I still have an M9 that I shoot regularly.

  2. In the Navy; I carried one of the 500 1911’s made by Singer, under the Colt license. Mint value today, in excess of $48K.

    I learned the easiest way to move from condition three, from the leather GI holster, was to lift it slightly, rock it forward and shove it downward, hooking the rear sight on the top edge of the holster, which cycled the slide, loading a round and cocking the piece. A rapid and effective action.

    I prefer the Taurus 92 to the Beretta. It is a fine pistol. In my local market, I’ve noticed the Beretta’s price dropped several hundred dollars with their loss of the Army’s contracts.

  3. The Beretta 92/M9 is my choice for either competition 9mm and or combat. The proprietary open barrel design seemingly makes the gun immune from jams–literally have fired K’s of rounds throughout the years and never had a FTE or the like. Italian perfection copied by the Brazilians quite well I might add. HAPPY New Year.

    1. “Italian perfection copied by the Brazilians quite well I might add.”

      Actually, the Taurus line is the original Beretta 92 — with a few modern changes.

      Beretta had won the contract to supply the Brazilian military with pistols, and when the contract was filled Forjas Taurus bought the plant: “lock, stock and barrel.”

      For years they produced the pistols in the original Beretta design: with the magazine catch on the bottom of the grip butt and the safety on the top of the frame. They subsequently moved the mag catch to the same location as the later Beretta 92s, while keeping the safety in the original Beretta on-the-frame location.

      Taurus later converted the safety lever to a safety/decocker design — which to me is vastly better than the on-the-slide configuration.

      Also, unlike the Beretta 92/M9, the PT92 (and later PT100) has the ability to be carried in the ”Condition 1”/”Cocked & Locked” carry configuration.

      More Trivia Time: John Moses Browning designed his famous pistol without a safety: he intended for the pistols to be carried in what’s known today as “Condition 0”: round chambered and the hammer cocked (no “locked”: remember, no safety lever?), utilizing the grip safety as the only “safety.”

      Of course, the Army wanted their pistols “idiot-proofed” and demanded that they be equipped with a safety lever; wherein Browning redesigned his “M1910” to the “M1911” configuration to make the Army happy.

      And after all that, the Army required its troops to carry the M1911 in “Condition 3” – chamber empty, hammer down and charged magazine in the pistol — therefore requiring the shooter to “charge” the weapon before it could be fired. 😐

  4. I tried a Beretta M9A1 with the full Wilson Combat upgrade side by side with the normal M9. The trigger is so much better. The sights are good and the other changes make for a better experience. I would recommend the Wilson version if you can justify doubling the cost of the Beretta.

  5. I was issued the 92, which we called the M9, when I was in the Marines in the 1990s. I recently bought an M9A3 and it was like finding a long lost friend. Even after all these years, I am more comfortable and more accurate with it than any other handgun. Yes, it is a full sized service pistol, but it is my every day carry anyway.

  6. I was issued a 1911 and the Beretta 92 as my service pistol when I was in the Army. I was always more accurate with the slimmer grip of the 1911. The Beretta is durable and easy to take down and maintain and I never experienced any jams or misfires; however, I am still more accurate with a 1911 despite extensive target practice with my Beretta.

  7. In your list of attributes, you mention that the Beretta 92 isn’t California Compliant. However, as of this very moment, Saturday night at 10:29 pm on December 23rd, 2017, the Cal DOJ website lists over ten different 92 models that are currently approved for sale. You can’t get the full 15 round mags, but the guns themselves are very compliant.

  8. Thanks for the article, i changed the spring in my Beretta some time ago because of the hard trigger pull but have never had the chance to try it out yet.

  9. The Beretta 92 (and 96) are among my favorite guns by far. The only criticism I have is that they need to return to using steel for all the plastic bits they’ve switched to in the last 20-30 years.
    The 90-series pistols will NEVER be made into lightweight versions, so why degrade the perfect gun with a plastic guiderod and levers?!?
    Upgrades I’ve added to all three of my 90-series’ pistols are Hogue grips, skeletonized hammers, and stainless guiderods. I highly recommend these cheap upgrades to anyone with these great guns!

  10. Hi, I am a bit of a rookie with 1911’s but have actually acquired 3 over the past few years. My first is a 9MM Desert Baby Eagle, a Kimber Target Eclipse II in 45 & a Glock 21 also a 45. I looked at an FS92 Inox at a gun show. Beautiful weapon! I have seen photos of the new two tone Inox. Not a huge fan but would like to see one in person. I am considering the Robar NP3 coating on the Glock along with night sights, if I could ever decide on which set. Perhaps there is an article in the Chronicle? Might also lighten the trigger pull. Any advice on modifications would be appreciated. Thanks and Merry Christmas to all!!!

  11. The 4th paragraph references “…my personal pistol” and then goes on to describe somewhat poor accuracy but it hasn’t yet been established that the “personal” pistol NOT the WC92G while the WC92G is pictured extensively. That’s misleading.

    Would have made more sense to have the personal 92 pictured since its the actual subject or the WC 92G reviewed.

  12. I’ve had my 92F since 1986. It has been a reliable shooter with full power defensive loads, but stovepipes badly with cheap plinking ammo. Two dealers told me that’s because being made in Italy, it was built with a main spring designed for Italian military ammo. Maybe that’s true. It never fails with defensive loads. My only mod was the addition of Hogue grips. They add bulk, but handling is much improved in wet conditions.

  13. I was in the Army as the Beretta was coming in. I hated it then and still hate it. It feels terrible in the hand to me, and is the only firearm ever which I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn from the inside while using. I could regularly put 37 to 40 out of 42 rounds in the 10 ring during timed rapid fire with the 1911 no matter which one out of the armory was handed to me. With the M9 I might as well have thrown that POS at the target. I would rather use something from Hi Point than an M9. At least then I might put some rounds on the target rather than somewhere out in East BFE. M16A2 I qualified Expert. 1911 I qualified Expert. M249 I qualified Sharpshooter. M60 I qualified Expert and never once missed a single pop up target at the range, not even the half torso at 1100 meters. M9 I barely qualified Marksman due to its worse than anything other than a brick feel and its total lack of ergonomics in my hand. You might like it, but you couldn’t pay me enough to own one. It is the single example in that category for any handgun which I have ever fired.

    1. It sounds to me that you have smallish hands.

      If that’s true, your grip would tend to interfere with your natural “pointing ability.”

      IOW, whereas the thin(ner) grip of the 1911 tends to bring the weapon into a straight-with-the-arm orientation, the fatter grip of the Beretta tends to cause the weapon to “point right” (for “righties: left for “lefties”), thereeby interferring with your natural pointing.

      It’s extremely difficult to teach trainees with smallish hands to establish a good “shooting grip” with double-stack mag-equipped pistols … and it’s worse with “DA/SA” pistols such as the 92/M9.

      I, OTOH, have somewhat larger hands and routinely shot 100 (50 out of 50) with my Taurus PT92 I carried as a law enforcement officer (later replaced with the Beretta 92SF after I joined the Air Guard Security Police and was issued the M9 as a duty weapon; you know: continuity of training).

      Few people even realize that one of the changes from the M1911 to the M1911A1 was replacing the “straight” hammer spring housing with the “arched” housing in an effort to make the “pointability” more natural (the straight housing tended to make the POA v. POI lower than did the arched housing).

      Trivia time: even fewer people are aware that the stock M1911/M1911A1 is a “no tools required” arm. IOW, you can completely strip the weapon down to the bare frame and slide using only components of the weapon itself. The only parts you cannot readily remove without tools are the four grip escutcheons. It’s best to use a specialized tool to remove these without damaging them.

  14. I own the 92G-P ” police special”
    This is the decocker only model, no safety.
    Probably the finest pistol I’ve ever used.
    I’ve ran every type of ammo from top end, to the cheapest bulk
    reloads from gun shows, I cannot recall a single malfunction
    after 10’s of thousands of rounds.

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

  16. 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.

    1. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

    1. 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.

  20. 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…

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

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

  21. 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

  22. 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.

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