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The Beretta 92FS - Review of a Classic Firearm

by Ben Jimenez 5 min read

Beretta 92FS

Ever since the US military chose it as the new standard-issue pistol, the Beretta 92FS became a classic. It’s not only a favorite of military and law enforcement pros, but it’s starred in many movies, television shows and video games.

In a northern Italian valley known for rich veins of iron ore, the Beretta Forge landed it’s first contract to make gun barrels. It was October 3, 1526, and Bartolomeo Beretta agreed to make 185 barrels for 296 ducats.

Fast forward to the 1980s. The US military’s surplus of the M1911 pistol had dwindled. They had issued the .45 caliber single-action semi automatic pistol since before World War I.

Because of the looming threat of war with the Soviet Union, the forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) needed to standardize munitions for logistical purposes. They chose 9mm for pistols and submachine guns.

The time had come to replace the M1911 with a newer design.

It had to be durable.

I had to be reliable.

It had to be accurate.

And most of all, it needed a heap of safety features.

They sent out a call to compete for the contract. Beretta and 8 other gun makers answered. In 1985, the newest configuration of the Beretta 92 won the contest.

The military version of the Beretta 92FS is called the M9 pistol. Beretta’s factory in Gallatin, Tennessee produces the M9. Beretta makes the civilian 92FS model in Italy.

Here’s what the 92FS/M9 offers:

  • Double/single action semi-automatic.
  • 4.9” (125mm) barrel.
  • 2 15-round magazines.
  • 5.4” (137mm) height.
  • 8.5” (217mm) length.
  • 1.5” (38mm) width.
  • 6.1” (155mm) sight radius.
  • 33.3 oz (945 grams) unloaded weight.

Beretta 92FS Durability

The Beretta 92FS has survived some of the harshest elements:

  • Exposed to temperatures from -40ºF to 140ºF.
  • Soaked in saltwater.
  • Dropped repeatedly on concrete.
  • Buried in sand, mud, and snow.

Source: Alex Zidock in Popular Mechanics, December 1983, p41.

It’s made to last. The 92FS tested at 35,000 mean rounds before failure (MRBF).

The inside of the barrel has a chrome lining which reduces wear and resists corrosion.

The 92FS has Beretta’s trademark Bruniton finish. It resists rust better than traditional blueing. The 92FS Inox comes in a chrome finish.

Beretta 92FS Safety

There arose a controversy over safety while carrying the M1911. The best combat-ready condition was Condition One:

  • Hammer cocked.
  • A round in the chamber.
  • Full magazine.
  • Thumb safety on.

A lot of people worried about soldiers and police officers carrying a cocked gun.

There was not any real risk of accidental discharge. The M1911 had two safeties:

  1. Thumb safety - a lever that locks the slide and hammer.
  2. Grip safety - a lever on the backstrap which the firing hand presses in while gripping the gun. The gun won’t fire if the grip safety isn’t pressed.

Some tried carrying in Condition Two:

  • Hammer uncocked.
  • A round in the chamber.
  • Full magazine.
  • Thumb safety on.

Condition Two had one major problem. With the hammer uncocked and a chambered round, the firing pin comes in contact with the round’s primer. A sharp impact to the gun, such as dropping it on concrete, could cause it to fire.

Many users carried in Condition Three.

  • Hammer uncocked.
  • Empty chamber.
  • Full magazine.
  • Thumb safety on.

The trouble with Condition Three was the need to rack the slide, that is, pull it towards the rear, before shooting. And it takes a couple of seconds, which is a lot in a confrontation.

Since the Beretta 92FS is a double/single-action semi-automatic, you can carry with a round in the chamber and safety on. You fire the first round in double action. In other words, you pull the trigger to both cock and fire the gun in one movement. During recoil, the slide cocks the hammer, and you fire the following rounds in single action.

It has an ambidextrous safety lever. Whether you‘re left-handed or right, it’s easy to turn the safety on or off with a slight thumb movement. When you engage the safety, it also uncocks the gun. It places a barrier between the firing pin and the cartridge. The hammer falls without firing a round.

Some shooters complain about the safety on the 92FS.

  1. It's not needed. The Beretta 92FS is a double-action/single-action handgun. When it’s not cocked, it’s in double-action mode. It takes about twice the pressure on the trigger as single-action. There’s no real risk of accidental discharge.
  2. If you have small hands, it's difficult to operate.
  3. It’s easy to forget to release the safety. You can overcome this with practice. 

You can get an aftermarket kit to convert the FS to a G configuration. That is, the safety/decocking lever becomes a decocking lever only.

Another safety feature you’ll find on the 92FS is the red loaded chamber indicator. A chambered round pushes up the red marker on the slide. When the chamber is empty, the marker drops down.

It also has an external hammer so you can tell at a glance if the gun is cocked.

Beretta 92FS Accuracy

At 50 meters (about 55 yards), a skilled shooter will get a shot grouping of less than 3” - that beats the military accuracy standards.

The 92FS comes with fixed tactical three-dot sights. They make it easy to get a bead on your target. Line up the two dots on the rear sight with the single dot on the front. Get a sight picture where your target sits on top of the three dots.

A drawback to the three dot sights is that it’s hard to get a good sight picture in the dark. Fortunately, you can get aftermarket night sights, and it’s housing design lets you easily install a laser.

Beretta 92FS Reliability

Model 92 Berettas feature the open slide design. This helps prevent “stove-piping,” the malfunction where a spent casing gets stuck in the ejection port. It also makes it easy to inspect the chamber.

The US Navy Seals field tested Beretta model 92 handguns in the 1970s. They suggested that the trigger guard should have a more oblong shape. The Beretta company took that feedback and designed an ergonomic tactical trigger guard that allows easy movement of the trigger finger and provides good support in one-handed shooting.

The 92FS is designed for both right-handed and left-handed shooters. It has a reversible magazine release so you can set up for left-handed magazine drop with no need for a gunsmith. 

The disassembly latch makes cleaning and maintenance easy. No tools needed. Pull back the slide and release the lever. Then separate the slide from the frame. Now you have access to the gun’s working parts.

A new Beretta 92FS comes with two 15-round magazines. You can get aftermarket magazines for the 92FS with up to 30 rounds capacity. 

Final Thoughts

The Beretta 92FS is not very expensive. Its retail price is about $600.

Some say that the Beretta 92FS is too large for concealed carry. You’ll have to wear clothing that won’t show a bulge - difficult in hot weather. But a lot of owners say they’ve carried it inside the waistband for years without any problem.

There are a ton of aftermarket upgrades and accessories for the 92FS. You can add a laser, night sights, a suppressor (if it’s legal in your state) ... all kinds of stuff.

It’s true that the US Military recently awarded the contract to Sig Sauer for the P320 to replace the Beretta. But after more than 30 years as the choice for military and police professionals, we can expect its popularity to continue.

Do you own a Beretta 92FS? Need a gift idea for a 92FS owner? Check out our selection ofKydex Holsters.

 


Ben Jimenez
Ben Jimenez


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