Old Reliable: The Beretta 92

Black Beretta 92FS, barrel pointed to the left, on a white background

The Beretta 92 series has gone through a lot of changes in its service life with the U.S. military.  First introduced in the ’80s, it met with tremendous resistance from die hard aficionados of the 1911 it was replacing. The Beretta M9 was the pistol I qualified with, and it was also my very first carry gun when I got my Indiana LTC.

Black Beretta 92FS, barrel pointed to the left, on a white background
The Beretta 92FS

The gun pictured is the most recent update to the Beretta 92 family, the Beretta 92A1.  The 92A1 is the civilian version of the M9A1, which was developed to meet the needs of the military by adding a rail to the dust cover of the Beretta and an interchangeable front sight. With these additions, the Beretta comes full circle as a serious defensive pistol, able to accept any of the accessories you hang on a Glock or M&P, while still maintaining the durability and reliability the 92 series is known for.

There do seem to be two kinds of people out there in regards to the Beretta pistol. Those that like them and think they’re a fine firearm, and those that hate them.

Obviously, I fall in the former camp—I think that if you’re considering a 1911 as your defensive firearm, you should also consider a Beretta 92. It’s about the same size, can be concealed, and offers a significant upgrade in firepower when using 15-round magazines. If you have small hands, you will have trouble reaching the trigger in double-action mode, which is a fault of the Beretta you cannot escape.

However, for those of you with the right hand size, the Beretta has a pretty good DA trigger out of the box and the SA trigger is usually quite positive with a short reset. Ben Stoeger, a USPSA GrandMaster and regular contender to win the Production Nationals, uses a Beretta exclusively in competition, and can definitely run the gun quickly.

The area where the Beretta is best suited is as a home defense or service weapon. As a nightstand gun, the large size is irrelevant and the 5-inch barrel let you squeeze the best possible terminal performance out of the 9mm round. With the addition of night sights and a light on the 92A1’s rail, the gun comes into its own as a home defense firearm, giving you a soft shooting, and easy-to-maintain firearm. Plus, for states where this is legal, the Beretta 92A1 is easily fitted with a suppressor which, in my opinion, is a must-have accessory for any home defense firearm.

The Beretta is coming up on 30+ years of service with the U.S. military and, while many attempts have been made to replace it, continues to out perform many firearms in the military’s demanding handgun trials.

Love it or hate it, the 92 series has proven its durability and reliability time and time again in law enforcement and military applications. For home defense, concealed carry or as a service weapon, you could do worse than selecting the sidearm used by our military.

Is the Beretta 92 part of your collection? Do you plan to make it part of your collection? Share in the comments section.

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Comments (16)

  1. Can’t beat the Beretta. I own many and the only real problem with the 92 is the locking block is weaker than it should be. Even Ben Cook of Beretta has stated that is the reason the 96 has a different one. Overall, the 92 will still pump out around 20000 rounds before that needs to be replaced, and that is under stress testing(civilian model). Oh… if you look at Hornady 9mm these days that isn’t rated +p, the 9mm is push over 400ft/lbs. That’s plenty of stopping power and with better terminal performance than 45acp. For my taste, I carry 357 mag as my heavy hitter. I only invest into 9mm and 357mag these days, with ammo being scarce and all. Plus 45acp isn’t great against black bear and cougar. Oh… if the 92 worries you the px4 imo is even better and has a better price point.

  2. The last 1911 the Army bought was made in June of 1944 so the comment of shot out peice of crap was accurate The ones the marines and army had were 50 years old and went through 3 wars. And the 96 is a piece of crap. If you dont believe me google up Maryland State police and the 96.

    As far as the SEALs carrying 9mm I would say 2 things first pistols are a last ditch defensive weapon, Second the decision to carry a 9mm probably has more to do with the logistics of ammo availability from the Army and from captured or KIA enemy soldiers. Most of the world uses 9mm.

  3. Why do I so frequently read about the same m92 failures DECADE AFTER DECADE; if there was nothing basically wrong with it, there should only be the usual, occasional 1911 fanatics’ tirade, but this is not the case; contrariwise, I rarely read of Glocks’ shortcomings

  4. I carried a 92 my last few years in the army and hated the thing. I shot well with it but never liked te grip feel. The .45 was the best but as the last Military procured 1911 was made in June of 1944 they were just worn out and the army didnt do jack to fix them. The first one I was issued had a barrel that was shot out. No lands at all. Most of the guys I know in the military all hate the 92s. A very good friend of mine put 6 confirmed solid center mass shots into a talibans chest as he was running at him with an ax. My buds still alive only because the guy beside him got off a quick burst from his A4 and 2 rounds hit the guy in the head. Give me something big enough I don’t have to use up a whole mag to stop him.

    Barretta also makes a .40 cal based on the 92 design. What a piece of garbage that pistol is. The Maryland State Police have had nothing but trouble with it.

  5. I like mine. I know it, its easy to use and has a damn good safety. And its not fair to compare it to the 1911, they’re completely different platforms.

  6. Have a 92FS I bought off a friend of mine years ago. Used it to qualify for my CCW permit. Eats anything I put in it, and groups more accurately than I do. Just had the Trijicon tritium lamps replaced after 18 years, the 92 now makes an excellent home defense piece. I really really like Sigs, but I shoot the Beretta just as well.

    P.S. if you have an older 92/96 with Trijicon night sights, Trijicon will replace all three lamps for $55. Just send in your slide and wait a couple weeks. This is a super way to get a fresh sight picture!!

  7. I dont know about the Beretta 92,not a big fan of 9mm. But if you want a 45acp that go’s boom ever time you pull the trigger what you want is the Beretta Px4 Special Duty,This monster will eat anything you throw in it!! Hard balls LEAD RN and “LEAD SWC” in any order from the same clip all day long!!! I could not believe it! First I tried the lead round nose thinking maybe, ate them up,then the lead semi wadcutters,thinking “NO WAY” ate them like candy! so I mixed them up in the clip, ate ever one!!! I just stood there and said, WOW!!! I have not tryed the full wadcutters yet, I have not found any,but I will, I hafta know? The money I save on relodeing more than makes up the cost of the gun! and cheap rounds are more fun

  8. Remember the M16? military went with it because ammo was lighter, and you were more likely to wound than kill with it instead of an M14, and another reason was they figured the average soldier wounded would be carried to safety by two others, whereas a dead one could be taken care of later, so that would take 3 out of play for awhile anyway, My brother told me most of the 45’s they had in the Marines were worn out pieces of crap, though he still scored Expert every time out, Don’t get me wrong the 45 is a very effective round and John Moses Browning was a masteful designer, I just prefer the 9MM!!!

  9. I own both a loaded Springfield 1911 in SS, and a 92A1 hicap. I love my 45 and would not want anything other than it by my side, I love to shoot it and do so often. My Beretta (or rather my girlfriends Beretta) is a far more accurate gun. My GF has tiny little hands and was able to group an entire 17 round magazine in a 5″ target the first time she ever shot it! I also like the de-cock feature and the fact that it’s single/double action. As far as the effectiveness of the 9mm, big and slow beats small and fast any-day, but new ammo with good expanding tips (hollow point or frangible and such) do a very good job of transferring energy into the target rather than going through. With all that being said… my 1911 is on my night table, and she keeps the 92 on hers!

  10. I own a 92fs, the gun is awsome. Light to hande, I’m a mall man and I haven no problem shooting it. If you want to know what a good gun is, look at the military trials. They picked and poked this gun until it was perfect. Trials exposed every weakness with it, even though they were controversial from the get go. But they made it better, that what trials do. I hate the 9mm round, I think its to small. But if you don’t like 9mm you can get the 94 or the 96.

  11. I’ve literally put thousands of rounds downrange and been with other shooters putting thousands of rounds downrange through the M9/92FS. When using Beretta magazines and lubing the gun regularly, you’d be hard pressed to find a more reliable gun out of the box. The slide to frame fit is amazing as is the stock trigger pull. I understand that in some conditions the open top slide is not the best design, but for 98% of civilians and police officers, it’s not a problem. Now with the ability to add a light and sights of your own choosing, the 92 is once again a good choice for the typical gun owner. While I still pick a Glock 17 as a daily carry 9mm, if you can’t tell, I love my Berettas.

  12. I’ve had my 92fs for 18yrs, Run a lot of ammo through it in that time, only one malfunction, Had a F U M C 115gr FMJ stovepipe, Gun has allways fed fine other than that, And not picky about bullet weight or type, It is a stainless model, I have 3 15rnd stainless mags with it, And a LaserMax in frame laser sight, (replaces guiderod and spring), I carry it in a Galco Silhuote holster, I’m med bld and hands are med sz, I have no trouble firing D/A, Love my Beretta!!!

  13. Sorry, but I always figured 9mm to be a “Gangsta” gun. I’ll stick with my Smith & Wesson model 645 (8+1) with a spare mag on the nightstand, my PT-145 (10+1) with a spare mag for carry, and the ever reliable Ruger GP-100 in .357 with a pair of speedloaders in the magazine stand next to my recliner for those “other” situations. Has anyone noticed the common theme? That’s right… spare mags, spare speedloaders, and each one of them packed with more “grunt” than any 9mm could ever dream of..

    Regarding the comment “you could do worse than selecting the sidearm used by our military,” are we talking about the same military that selected the Springfield trapdoor with copper-cased ammo over the Winchester ’73 because they were worried that with a repeating rifle, the troopers would just waste ammunition? Are we talking about the same military that sent troops into combat in the M551 tank, a vehicle noted for the ability of it’s own cannon to disable the vehicle when fired, had a chassis made of aluminum so that heavy machine gun fire would stop it in it’s tracks?

    Nobody should ever look to the US military for sound judgment on personal defense weapons. After all, remember the field tests for the initial Bradley fighting vehicle… it would target it’s own exhaust with heat seeking missiles!

  14. I hated this pistol. I was not a fan of my .45 either, but the M9 sucked as a replacement. It has to have 15 rounds because you will need them all due to lack of stopping power. On top of that the exposed slide made it extremely unrealible in certain climates, no matter how much you cleaned it. I also had terrible luck with the Beretta magazine springs losing the tension to push the rounds up enough to get completely chambered.

    All around I’m sure its a decent pistol for home defense, but my experiences carrying one as a side arm for over 10 years made me vow to never own another Beretta.

  15. I absolutely, positively adore my 92FS. Milady and I had a good Eastern Kentucky wedding: I got her a ring, she got me a gun. 🙂

    I have big hands and a large body; the 92FS packs well (except when my belly makes the gun print), and treats my Carpal-Tunnel abused arms gently. It shot high and to the left until I realized that it wants a steady diet of 115 grain non-+P ammo. Now it is as happy as a clam and is a lot more accurate than its shooter.

    Number One Son liked mine so much that he went and got a police trade-in 92FS himself. It’s a slightly better one than mine (night sights and a nearly worn-out rubber grip), but further into the “broken in but not broken” stage. He also has a rarity: a recoil spring rail that is somewhat curved, probably from too much +P ammo and too light a recoil spring. Next supply order, he and I are both getting new rods and springs, just in case.

    I am ambivalent about the rail (if I get it, great, but I don’t miss it normally), but the adjustable front sight on the 92A1 would tempt me terribly if I didn’t already have a wonderful shooting piece.

    Lest I come off as too much a fan boy, I agree with the “love it or hate it” crowd. The 92FS is a big gun. It either fits your hand well, or not at all. I wish Beretta would work on the oversized grip, like Sig’s E2 and the 4G Glocks, so that smaller hands could shoot it well. The compact and subcompact CX4s show it possible, Beretta.

    (If you’re listening, Beretta, how about an 84 in 9mm too? Please and thank you.)

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