I have two guns, one for each of you

In this video, I take a look at one of my favorite Hollywood tropes – firing two guns at once. But instead of just playing around, I take a hard look at whether or not it’s more effective than firing one gun with two hands on it.

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Low light training

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m a huge believer in WML for defensive handguns, especially guns that are going to be used for home defense. In today’s video, I spend some time on the range working on manipulating the light in the dark and incorporating challenging into my training.

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Wilson Combat announces the 92G Compact Carry

New for 2016, the Wilson Combat/Beretta 92G Compact Carry features sought after custom Beretta parts and features, specially selected by Bill Wilson to enhance performance as a concealed carry pistol.

Beretta 92G Compact Carry - Photo courtesy Wilson Combat
Beretta 92G Compact Carry – Photo courtesy Wilson Combat

Click here to purchase the 92G Compact Carry.

Some features of the limited Italian production Wilson Combat/Beretta 92G Compact carry include steel ambidextrous decocker-only levers, a checkered compact frame with rounded trigger guard, beveled magazine well and Wilson Combat G-10 grips. A steel guide rod and extended steel magazine catch improve handling while the match-grade, blackened stainless barrel with recessed target crown ensures match-grade accuracy. The 92G Compact Carry also features a 16# hammer spring for lighter trigger pull weight, a white dot integral front sight and a Wilson Combat rear battlesight.

The 92G Compact Carry is finished in Beretta black Bruniton coating and marked with the Wilson Combat logo and is specially serialized to ensure its place in Beretta history.

The 92G Compact Carry has been optimized by Beretta to meet the needs of high round count tactical shooters. For discriminating customers further customization and finish work is also available through Wilson Combat.

“In my opinion, the 92G Compact Carry is the ultimate Beretta 92 concealed carry gun and I am pleased we were able to bring this exciting model to the marketplace. This selected combination of sought after custom features and the legendary reliability of the 92 platform will ensure that our version of this classic gun will be a top choice for all-around defensive use” -Bill Wilson, President of Wilson Combat

This model is exclusive to Wilson Combat and only available from Wilson Combat and Wilson Combat dealers.

Editor’s Thoughts: There is a lot I like about this gun right off the bat, the first thing being the lack of a rail. The current 92FS Compact offering from Beretta is a great carry gun, but I feel like the rail makes it too chunky. This model lacks the rail, preserving the nice lines of the pistol and making it a bit lighter. Additionally, it’s a decock only G model, which is the best possible set-up for a 92-series pistol. Replaceable rear sight means I can swap out the sights for something I may like more, however the Wilson sight that comes on it is an excellent choice. The only thing I wish it had was a tritium front sight instead of a white dot sight. Otherwise, I think $1k out the door for a truly sick carry gun is a pretty fantastic set up.

Beretta M9A3: A Commercial-Off-the-Shelf Sidearm for Military & Law Enforcement Agencies

Accokeek, MD. (Nov 5, 2015) – Beretta Defense Technologies (BDT) is pleased to announce that the Beretta Model M9A3 semi-automatic pistol is now shipping to law enforcement dealers, law enforcement agencies and is now being offered to military customers worldwide. Built in the U.S., the M9A3 offers advances in pistol design and other enhancements that result in increased modularity, reliability, durability, and ergonomics.

M9A3 Final 0007

“The M9A3 represents the next generation handgun utilizing the best attributes of the legacy M9 pistol combined with proven COTS modifications that increase performance and durability” stated Gabriele de Plano, Vice President of Military Marketing and Operations for Beretta Defense Technologies. Mr. de Plano added, “The U.S. Army, or any military or law enforcement service using M9s can adopt this weapon today with minimal impact to their training, in-service accessories (holsters, lights, etc.), integrated logistics support plan, and existing parts inventory.” Much like its counterpart legacy weapon systems (M2, M4, M16, M240, etc.), the M9A3 is upgraded through material and design changes.

“Combined with the U.S. Army’s recent decision to accept new, improved ammunition (specifically jacketed hollow point) for military applications, the M9A3 becomes a more lethal, ready-to-use now solution that is also a fiscally responsible option. Use of improved ammunition in the M9A3 will likely attain the desired lethality and penetration characteristics the U.S. Army is seeking today through its Modular Handgun System program at a fraction of the cost of replacing an entire weapon system, conducting new training and qualification, and buying all new accessories,” stated Gabe Bailey, Military Business Development Manager for Beretta Defense Technologies.

The M9A3 maintains 100% commonality with major components of the M9 and 76% commonality of individual parts. It meets 84% of the requirements for the Army’s latest Modular Handgun System requirement, and with only a few additional modifications can reach 92%. The M9A3 features a thin grip with a removable, modular wrap-around grip, MIL-STD-1913 accessory rail, removable front and rear tritium sights, extended and threaded barrel for suppressor use, 17-round sand resistant magazine, and numerous improved small components to increase durability and ergonomics, all in an earth tone finish.

Beretta USA offered the M9A3 to the U.S. Army via an ECP in December 2014, prior to that Service’s decision to allow use of more lethal 9mm ammunition.

Made in the U.S.A. by an American workforce since 1987, the M9 has been the sidearm of the U.S. Armed Forces for nearly 30 years; serving with U.S. Servicemen and Women in training and combat operations throughout the world. Currently manufactured at Beretta U.S.A.’s Maryland factory and soon to be made at the Company’s new Gallatin, Tennessee facility, he M9A3 employs cutting-edge technology in a proven weapon system, delivering 21st century capability and features while increasing usability and reliability.

About Beretta
Beretta, established in 1526, is the oldest industrial dynasty in the world tracing its roots through 16 generations of continuous family ownership. Firearms bearing the Beretta name have been sold for almost 500 years. Beretta USA Corp. was founded in 1977 in Accokeek, MD and supplies the standard sidearm to the U.S. Armed Forces. Today, Beretta manufactures, distributes and markets a complete line of firearms, accessories, and apparel. Beretta also owns and operates six retail Beretta Gallery stores worldwide. Beretta-owned companies employ nearly 600 individuals within the United States with locations in California, Colorado, Maryland, New York, Texas, and Virginia. For additional information visit www.Beretta.com.

About Beretta Defense Technologies
Beretta Defense Technologies (BDT) is the strategic alliance of four Beretta Group defense companies (including Beretta, Benelli, Sako, and Steiner/Steiner eOptics), providing products and services that enable superior performance by the Defense and Law Enforcement communities. State-of-the-art machinery, extensive research and development capabilities, and a long-standing worldwide experience allow BDT products to respond to the ever-changing needs of defense, law enforcement, and security personnel.

Ernest Langdon and the Beretta PX4

Way back when, a guy bought a SIG P220ST at a local gunshop.  He then took that double action/single action (DA/SA) .45ACP and famously “tore down the house that 1911s built” at the 2003 IDPA National Championship and won the CDP title.  Never an organization to be so inflexible enough to not ban pistols other than 1911s in the CDP division, IDPA changed the rules, making the P220ST illegal for the CDP division due to new weight restrictions (a newer, lighter P220ST was released shortly thereafter by SIG coincidentally).  Personally, this ranks right up there with the time the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) showed up at Camp Perry and used M16s to beat the Marines’ M14s handily as a moment in time in which I wish I could have been there to laugh with much gusto.”  This guy’s name is Ernest Langdon and he is one of those oddballs in the firearms world in that he is a combat veteran and a shooting champion, proving that the tactical and competitive worlds are not mutually exclusive.

Getting a bit closer to the subject of our article, DA/SA handguns are making a comeback in competition and elsewhere.  The last five USPSA Production National Championships were won with DA/SA guns, three times with a Beretta and twice now with a Stock II.   The noted 1911 manufacturer Wilson Combat is even selling custom Berettas.  CZ 75 variants abound in my local USPSA matches.

Finally circling in and landing upon the subject of our article, Ernest Langdon recently found himself in a quandary:  he wanted the desirable combination of size, shootability, and magazine capacity that the Glock 19 offers albeit in a DA/SA pistol.  I’ll let Ernest tell the rest in his own words, as taken from his original Pistol-Forum post.

The newest handgun on my radar screen is the Beretta PX4 Compact. I’ve never really given it a second thought even though it has been out and available for years. Some people really love the PX4. Some people don’t. I have heard great things about its accuracy and there are still a few police departments carrying the PX4 as their issued side arm. That being said, why is it a gun that almost no one considers as a personal carry option?

I started asking myself this when I was working in the Beretta booth at the NRA Show this year. I was talking to customers about the new handguns from Beretta, like the M9A3, Wilson Combat Brigadier Tactical, and the full 90 series product line. I am fully familiar with all of them, but I was contemplating getting a smaller gun for daily carry. I carry the full-size M9A1 now and while I have become accustomed to it, summer was right around the corner and I wanted something smaller and lighter.

Of course, most would say “get a 92 Compact” and while that was an option, there were a few things that have stopped me from carrying it full-time:
1) No front sight options. You get what you get unless you send it off to Tool Tech and have a night sight put in. No front dove tail!
2) No G model available, or at least not currently. Of course, I could send it down to Wilson Combat and have it converted, but that’s an added cost.
3) 13 round magazines. Not a big deal, but in my opinion, a gun that size should have 15 rounds of 9mm.
4) Hard for me to load with the standard mag. I can do it really well with a full size mag in the compact gun, but a quick reload with the standard 13 round mag often ends up with some of my skin between the frame and floor plate of the magazine. The grip on the 92 Compact is about a ¼ of an inch too short for my hands.

So, this brings me to the PX4. I started playing with the PX4 Compact and realized it had the features I was looking for in a smaller, lighter compact carry gun. The PX4 also has has 15 round mags (17 with extension), dove tail front and rear sights, the safety converts to a G configuration easily and it has the same manual of arms as my full size 92s. Most importantly, I can load it full speed without catching the heal of my hand with the magazine floor plate. Not to mention, the trigger is smooth and shootable out-of-the-box.

The PX4 was feeling like a great option, but there were some other factors to consider. Right off the bat, those huge safety levers! They were way too big for my liking and have some really sharp edges on them. The ambi slide stops are bigger than they need to be and seem to make the gun wider than it should be.

So I started asking the questions…
Ernest: What about those huge safety levers?
Beretta: “We make stealth levers that are much smaller. ”
Ernest: Really? What about those huge ambi slide stops?
Beretta: “We make a smaller single side one.”
Ernest: Really? What about that really little mag button?
Beretta: “We sell a kit with three different size buttons.”
Ernest: Really?

I mean why did I not know this stuff? I consider myself a gun guy and a Beretta guy, but I did not really know anything about the PX4 at all. I knew the safety lever could be converted to G and that it was a rotating barrel design like the Cougar, but that was really about all I knew.

So, when I got back from the show I continued looking into the PX4 with more detail and finally broke down and picked one up from my favorite gun shop, Virginia Arms in Manassas. I drove straight to the range to make sure I wasn’t going to have buyer’s remorse. I put 200 rounds through it right out of the box. Easy to shoot, very flat shooting for the size and weight. (Surprisingly flat shooting, actually). It also hit to point of aim and was very, very accurate!

I liked it, but, of course, I headed home to take it apart and swap out the hammer spring to a 12 pound chrome silicon spring for the 92 (thanks to Bill Wilson for that tip – he likes them too). The DA pull weight decreases quite a bit and I decided to start the 2,000 round-test with this thing. I clean it, lube it, black out the rear sight and add some orange paint to the front dot, slip a piece of bicycle inner tube over the grip and we’re off to the races.

2,040 rounds later and I had no issues; so, 2,240 total at this point and I’m liking my decision so far. (Shot 147 SXTs, 147 grain reloads, 115 AE, 147 AE, 124 AE, 124 Winchester FMJ, 115 grain WinClean, and even some 90 Grain Frangible stuff.) Not a single malfunction.

So, now what? If I am going to carry this thing there are some things that need to be addressed. To start with, I need those “Stealth Levers” I was told about. A call to my buddy Eric Stern at Beretta had those sent my way. I also ordered up as set of Trijicon HD sights and a holster from Custom Carry Concepts. When the sights came in, I did a little bit more trigger work (it’s basically just like a 92 in that respect – lucky for me). I also did a little stipple work on the frame (got rid of the inner tube) and changed out the smaller magazine button for the medium mag button to make it slightly larger.  Lucas Gun Oil is what I use for lubricating these pistols.

So here I am, a couple months later and many trips to the range, and I really like this gun. Not kidding! It is almost exactly the same size as a Glock 19, the trigger is now under 7 pounds DA and right at 4 pounds SA. I really like the Trijicon HD Sights. In fact, I now have over 4,000 rounds through this gun with no problems. The only failure I have had with the PX4 was in firing with the 115 WinClean, but it went bang on the second hammer strike by pulling the trigger again. (I don’t blame the gun for that, however, as I have seen lots of FTFs with WinClean.) I like it so much that I am carrying it all the time now and used it to qualify as my off-duty carry gun with the Sheriff’s Department.

The “Stealth Levers” make it a ton thinner. My my measurements the compact is about 6mm thinner with the small levers, but most of that comes from getting rid of the right side slide stop. I don’t have a standard PX4 to measure. The safety levers are about 5mm thinner than the stock ones. So that should do it if that is the widest part of the gun. If the standard PX4 does not have the ambi slide stops, then the safety levers are likely the widest part of the gun.

I have two more PX4’s that I am playing around with and changing things up to see how it performs with different features. I have modified another one, which also has Trijicon HDs, “Stealth” levers, medium mag button, stippling on the grip, G conversion, and more aggressive trigger work. The DA on this one is just over 6 pounds and the SA is 3.5 pounds. I only have about 300 rounds through this gun, but so far, it is just as good as the other one and the better trigger makes it more fun to shoot. I now have one to carry and one to practice with.

I am going to use the third PX4 as a gun to experiment with to see what can really be done with the trigger. So far it has been really easy to get the DA down and I think I can go a lot lighter on the hammer spring with a bit more work. I would not be surprised to get a sub 6 pound DA on this third gun with 100% reliability if I set it up correctly – I’ll keep you posted.

OK, so I now have just a little over 2K through the second gun. A 1,000 of that was Winchester WinClean (known for not being the most reliable ammo) and now a second PX4 has passed the 2,000 round test. So far the best hammer spring is the Cougar “D” spring. Gun has proved to be super accurate with everything I shoot in it and how I have a little over 6K through two guns and they have both been 100% reliable. Interestingly they both run the Winchester WinClean better than my 92 does. The WinClean gives me fits in the 92 pretty often. The PX4 Compact not only runs it well, it seems to shoot it very accurately also.

I have also heard that there are even more parts for the PX4 than I knew about. Turns out Beretta Italy has spent quite a bit of time developing some accessories for these guns. There are 4 different versions of the safety levers in different sizes. There are steel guide rod kits and even an improved trigger group. Basically it is a whole hammer and sear group that just drops into the frame that includes a better hammer spring. Both DA and SA are improved with this kit. I am trying to see if I can get my hands on one to try. This kit includes a stiffer cage that houses everything as well as plated parts for a smoother action.

All-in-all, I don’t know why this gun is not way more popular. If you are like me and prefer a DA/SA Traditional Double Action gun for carry, this is a great option. I carry AIWB, therefore, I prefer an external hammer gun – this PX4 is treating me well.

Here are a few comparison photos for you:

 

Under-rated guns I like: The Beretta Px4 Storm

In 2014, I spent a decent amount of time shooting the Beretta Px4 Storm. I didn’t shoot much in 2014, probably only 7,000 rounds of pistol or so; of that about 2,000 was through the Px4 Storm. I had three posts that covered using the gun, including a review of the Px4 Storm. I shot it in several action pistol matches and at Bianchi Cup, I learned that you can put the “D” spring from a Beretta 8000 series in the Storm to greatly improve the trigger, I discovered that the rotating barrel makes the gun unusually accurate, and that the recoil system is about the most pleasant 9mm I’ve ever shot. In short, I learned that it’s a pretty good gun…and not a lot of people like it.

px4 storm 5

I understand that in the early going, there were problems with some of the Storms. I’ve heard reports of cop guns locking up and having various issues, but it’s something I’ve never seen. Plus, that was a rather long time ago, because while people tend to think of the Storm as a “new” design, it’s been with us for a decade now. It hasn’t always had the easiest time in government service either, having been adopted by a handful of police departments. It’s hard to call that a failure of the gun itself, because with the exception of big sales in the LA metro area in the 80s, Beretta has never really gone hard in the paint after domestic LE contracts. It has enjoyed success in foreign markets, with buyers in South Africa, Peru, Portugal, Canada, and a bunch of other countries that US readers don’t care about.

But is it really fair to judge a gun based on how many soldiers and cops carry one? Or is that a judgement of the efficacy of the parent company’s sales strategy? An example of that would be the Springfield XD, which has been adopted by even fewer militaries and LE agencies than the Storm, but is widely popular in the US consumer market thanks to an incredibly effective marketing campaign in the United States since Springfield acquired the importation rights to the HS2000. It becomes difficult to separate the gun from its company’s marketing efforts, which can lead to quality guns like the Storm not getting the love they deserve, while guns like the XD become popular because of effective marketing.

Make no mistake, I genuinely believe the Storm is a good gun. It’s made by a reputable manufacturer that has a solid history of quality control; the various Storms I’ve had have all proven to be accurate and reliable, and it’s a genuinely easy to shoot well. It’s also quite reasonably priced, frequently available for less than $500 brand new. But it doesn’t get the love, and I think that’s too bad.

If I had to really think about it, I’d say the Px4 never caught on for two reason:

  1. It wasn’t a new Beretta 92 Elite: Serious competition and defensive shooters loved the 92 Elites, and rightfully so. They were (and are) great guns. When Beretta brought the Storm out ten years ago, a lot of the 92 line started to go away as Beretta initially pushed the Storm hard. People who were serious shooters wanted a new 92, not a polymer gun with a weird lock-up system.
  2. It was DA/SA polymer when the market was going to striker fired guns: I think this is the same thing that hurt the Sig SP2022 (or whatever it’s called now). Both the Sig and the Px4 Storm were and are excellent DA/SA guns with polymer frames, and they came right as the entire market was going to polymer framed guns…that were also striker fired. The M&P came out the year after the Storm, the XDm came out in 2006; and the die was pretty much cast. The non-serious shooter, the gun owner wanted striker fired guns.

Now at the end of 2014 and 2015, Beretta has once again started pushing the 92 line-up hard. New models like the M9A3 are coming out in 2015, the G-model has been brought back, and they’ve even collaborated with Wilson Combat to offer a Production/IDPA ready 92 for competition and serious shooters. Make no mistake, I love the 92. I think it is easily one of the top 5 greatest handguns ever produced, and has earned it’s place alongside the Glock 17 and 1911 as icons.

But in all the hoopla, I hope the little Storm doesn’t get blown away. I think it’s a great gun, and at the current market prices of less than $500 delivers a ton of value for what you pay.

5 reasons the Beretta M9A3 will be the next service pistol

Yesterday, much to the joy of Beretta fanboys (like me) Beretta USA announced the latest update to the venerable M9 pistol line, the M9A3. This pistol represents Beretta’s answer to the requirements for the Army’s proposed Modular Handgun System (or whatever they’re calling it this time around) and I am willing to bet that the Beretta M9A3 will absolutely be our nation’s next service pistol. But first, here’s what Beretta has to say about the new gun:

M9A3-b1

After delivering over 600,000 M9 pistols to the DOD and on the heels of being awarded a new contract for up to 100,000 M9s, Beretta USA announced today the presentation of the M9A3 to the US Army. The M9A3 introduces major improvements to the M9 that will increase the operational effectiveness and operational suitability of the weapon. The improvements include design and material enhancements resulting in increased modularity, reliability, durability, and ergonomics. They are being submitted via an Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) in accordance with the terms of the current M9 contract.

Made in the U.S.A. by an American workforce since 1987, the M9 has been the sidearm of the U.S. Armed Forces for nearly 30 years; serving with U.S. service men and women in training and combat operations throughout the world. The M9A3 is designed for the next 30 years – delivering 21st century capability and features while increasing usability and reliability.

“The M9A3 represents the next generation military handgun utilizing the best of the legacy M9 combined with proven COTS modifications that increase performance and durability” stated Gabriele de Plano, Vice President of Military Marketing and Sales for Beretta USA. Mr. de Plano added, “After listening closely to the needs of U.S. Army and other Service small arms representatives, we determined the M9, much like its counterpart legacy weapon systems (M4, M16, M240, etc.), was capable of being upgraded through material and design changes. The resulting M9A3 we are offering to the DOD will likely cost less than the current M9 and answer almost all of the Services’ enhanced handgun requirements.”

The M9A3 features a thin grip with a removable, modular wrap-around grip, MIL-STD-1913 accessory rail, removable front and rear tritium sights, extended and threaded barrel for suppressor use, 17-round sand resistant magazine, and numerous improved small components to increase durability and ergonomics, all in an earth tone finish.

“Furthermore, the M9A3 benefits from having a law enforcement and commercial variant that will be launched at S.H.O.T. Show 2015 in Las Vegas, NV” stated Rafe Bennett, Vice President of Product Marketing for Beretta USA. Mr. Bennett added, “The M9A3 offered to the DOD is the exact gun that consumers will be able to purchase in the second quarter of 2015.”

The M9A3 follows on the heels of Beretta and Wilson Combat’s collaboration, and represents a lot of the features that end users have been asking for in their Beretta pistols. The backstrap will allow users to switch from a traditional Beretta profile grip to the smaller and easier to manage Vertec style, the sights are replaceable, and the safety is convertable to a G-style decock only model. With this feature set, here are five reasons why the Beretta M9A3 is going to be the US service pistol for a long time.

1. Money
Hey, did you know that the military is currently undergoing all kinds of budget cuts? The Air Force (for example) by the end of FY 2015 will be at its smallest size since its creation in 1947, the Army is cutting costs wherever it can (despite getting new uniforms) so when Beretta presents a solution to the DoD’s desire for a new toy that doesn’t involve wholesale replacement of holsters, magazines, and small parts, the odds are that they’re going to go for it. Unless Sig nails the baksheesh.

2. Seriously, the money
Beretta did a smart thing: they submitted the M9A3 to the Army as an ECP, and engineering change proposal. What that means is that the M9A3 is part of the existing M9 contract now, assuming that the DoD accepts the ECP, which they will because follow the money.

In the Modular Handgun System proposal, the Army asked for a certain set of features on the new gun. The M9A3 has all of those features, which means that some bean counter in the Pentagon is going to look at this ECP vs the cost of an entire new handgun and go “well, this is a no-brainer.” Essentially, the M9A3 is presented to the Army as fait accompli by Beretta. “Oh, you want all these features in a gun? No problem Holmes, let’s just make that for you as part of the existing contract.”

3. We are not going away from 9mm any time soon
There are entire graveyards full of dudes that have been killed with 9mm ball ammo. Despite what the Warriors of the Keys will tell you, we don’t really need to switch up to .40 or .45, because in the FMJ form our line troops would be required to use, they still suck. To get serious though, we’re not ditching the NATO standard round any time soon. Everyone uses 9mm, and we are going to keep using 9mm as long as we’re the Big Kid at the North Atlantic Treaty Table.

If anything, the trend in rounds is towards smaller rounds. It wouldn’t surprise me if when I’m getting ready to retire in 30 years for the military to be issuing pistols that fire 5mm tungsten core beads to pierce power armor or something.

4. The M9 is fine
The big problem with the M9 (and the M4) isn’t the gun. It’s the way the military trains people to “maintain” their weapons. But that’s a post for another time. Fastidious attention to cleanliness at the expense of lubrication isn’t good for guns.

5. Logistics
All those mags. All those small parts.

Conclusion
There are circumstances where the M9A3 might not make it. The Army could, for reasons that are unfathomable to me, reject the ECP and force the MHS competition to go forward, and then pick a different gun. Sometimes they do things like that because of reasons, none of which make any kind of sense. But like I said above, I’m willing to make a considerable wager that in 2017, when the Army is supposed to pick its new handgun, the M9A3 will already be riding in frontline holsters, and doing just fine. Then it will be “this gun gives us what we wanted, so let’s just keep it.”

What do you think? Will the M9A3 effectively end-run the MHS competition?

Wilson Combat Beretta 92G Brigadier Tactical

DSC_0584 If you remember back to March of this year, we brought you the announcement that purveyors of 1911 excellence, Wilson Combat, had teamed up with Ernie Langdon to begin offering gunsmithing services on the Beretta 92 family of auto pistols. Bill Wilson, the founder of Wilson Combat, has apparently been a fan of the Beretta 92 pistol for quite some time and wasn’t content to offer gunsmithing services on the 92 family…he wanted a Beretta built to his specifications. So he called up Beretta and ordered 1,000 pistols built his way, including using parts Wilson manufactures for the 92 series pistols.

It’s a fairly unusual thing for a relatively small custom gun maker like Wilson Combat to team up with one of the heavy hitters in the industry to produce a gun. I can’t really think of any other examples of this kind of venture off the top of my head. The fact that Beretta was willing to build this gun to Wilson’s spec says quite a bit about the company and the people involved in the effort.

The announcement in early November generated a lot of buzz on forums and social media…and a lot of sales, too. The first 250 guns sold in less than 48 hours. Why, you may well ask, would people be in such a hurry to buy this pistol? DSC_0576

The simplest way to put it is this: This pistol is like a greatest hits edition of the Beretta 92, built to the highest standard possible. The feature list includes:

 

  • 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 15rd M9A1 Beretta sand resistant magazines

Of particular interest to those who know the Beretta 92 are the spec for a tighter lockup, the use of a “Brigadier” slide, the inclusion of an Elite II style barrel, and the “G” de-cocker only configuration. That combination of features is impossible to find even among Beretta’s discontinued models. As an example, it’s only in the last few weeks that Beretta has brought “G” model 92 pistols back to the market after a very long absence.

The heavy "Brigadier" slide is cited as "bulletproof" by Bill Wilson.
The heavy “Brigadier” slide is cited as “bulletproof” by Bill Wilson.

Seeing the buzz and the speed with which these guns were selling and reading the specs convinced me to place an order. Pretty soon WC0279 arrived at my local FFL and I was able to go hands-on with the what is claimed to be the best Beretta 92 ever built. It’s difficult to say this without sounding like a cliche, but the gun just “felt” right in my hand the second I picked it up. The fit of the slide and frame is as tight as advertised, and ditto with the lockup. The store happened to have a couple of other Berettas in the case so I took the occasion to compare, and the fit and finish on the Wilson Beretta was indeed superior to those specimens and to the two Beretta pistols I already owned.

5 shots of Federal HST 124 grain +P ammunition at 25 yards from a rested, seated position. Not too shabby.
5 shots of Federal HST 124 grain +P ammunition at 25 yards from a rested, seated position. Not too shabby.

Of course, gunstore “feel” doesn’t really tell the tale of how the gun will perform for you. To figure that out you need to go to the range. On her first range trip the pistol did not disappoint. Conditions at the range were, frankly, terrible and not conducive to getting the best accuracy out of the gun…and I was shooting horribly thanks to a monster headache not being helped by the dude next to me blasting with an SBR AR15 with some ridiculous brake on it. It took a bit of doing but I finally figured out that I needed to use a 6:00 hold on the sights and got a system down good enough to hit the nearly invisible 2″ circles at 25 yards. In more than 200 rounds of shooting I managed to put together a couple of good groups using Federal’s 124 grain +P HST and the Speer 124 grain +P Gold Dot loads.

The spec is designed to produce an exceptionally accurate pistol and every report I’ve seen so far seems to indicate that shooters are finding their own eyeballs and trigger fingers to be the limiting factor in accuracy rather than the pistols themselves. Mr. Wilson himself reports getting excellent accuracy at 50 yards with the guns he’s acquired for himself.

So is this the perfect Beretta 92? The combination of the accessory rail and the “Brigadier” slide will make finding holsters for it somewhat challenging and the double action trigger pull on my specimen could benefit from a trigger job (a service Wilson Combat will happily perform on the guns, though it adds cost and an estimated 5 weeks to the delivery time) but other than that it’s difficult to find anything to complain about on the gun. The grips don’t have enough purchase on the left panel for where my hand makes contact, but that’s true for me with just about every handgun I pick up.

Is this the best Beretta 92 pistol ever made? I can safely say it’s the best Beretta 92 I’ve ever handled. It’s more expensive than a Beretta 92 sitting on the gunstore shelf, but it’s built better and it’s a configuration you simply cannot get from Beretta today or by buying one of the excellent discontinued models like the Elite II or 92G-SD. (Which usually sell for more money than is currently being charged for this pistol, for what it’s worth…)

I’ll put it to you the way I heard someone describe the Hellcat editions of the Charger and Challenger: If it sounds cool to you, you’ll like it. If you like the Beretta 92, this gun is a no brainer. If you don’t like the Beretta this gun may be the one to change your mind. If you are interested, I believe Wilson Combat still has some guns available for order here.

Even more importantly, it may be the opening shot from a reinvigorated Beretta looking to take back some lost ground in the handgun market.

Time will tell.

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Beretta 92S

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How does one say “ya’ll ain’t from around here, are you?” in Italian? If you’re into used Berettas or follow the surplus gun scene, you’ve probably noticed that these Italian police trade-in Beretta 92s have been popping up all over the place at stupid cheap prices.

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