Thursday, May 03, 2007

Beretta Pistols

Beretta 92

Beretta 92

Type Semi-automatic pistol
Place of origin Italy
Service history
Used by
Production history
Manufacturer Beretta
Produced 1975 – present
Variants See Variants and Development
  • 950 g (92)
  • 970 g (92S/SB/F/G)
  • 920 g (92D)
  • 900 g (Compact/Vertec)
  • 217 mm
  • 211 mm (Vertec)
  • 197 mm (Compact/Centurion)
Barrel length
  • 125 mm
  • 119 mm (Vertec)
  • 109 mm (Compact/Centurion)

Feed system Detachable box magazine:
  • 15, 17 rounds (92, 98 series)
  • 11 rounds (96 series)
  • 10, 13 rounds (Compact L)
  • 8 rounds (Compact M)

The Beretta 92 (also Beretta 96 and Beretta 98) is a series of semi-automatic pistols designed and manufactured by Beretta of Italy. It was designed in 1972 and production of many variants in different calibers continues to the present day. It is most famous for replacing the M1911 .45 ACP pistol as the standard sidearms of the United States armed forces in 1985 as the M9 pistol.

Although only 5000 copies of the original design were manufactured from 1975 to 1976, the design is currently produced in four different configurations (FS, G, D and DS) and three calibers:



The Beretta 92 pistol evolved from earlier Beretta designs, most notably the M1922 and M1951. From the M1922 comes the open slide design, while the alloy frame and locking block barrel (originally from Walther P38) were first used in the M1951. The grip angle and the front sight integrated with the slide were also common to earlier Beretta pistols.

The Beretta 92 first appeared in 1976 and was designed by Carlo Beretta, Giuseppe Mazzetti and Vittorio Valle, all experienced firearms designers on the Beretta design team.


About 5000 copies of the first design were manufactured from 1975 to 1976.


In order to meet requirements of some law enforcement agencies, Beretta modified the Beretta 92 by adding a slide-mounted combined safety and decocking lever, replacing the frame mounted manual thumb safety. This resulted in the 92S which was adopted by several Italian law enforcement and military units. The later relocation of the magazine release button means these models (92 & 92S) cannot necessarily use later magazines, unless they have notches in both areas.

92SB (92S-1)

Initially called the 92S-1 when it was specifically designed for US Air Force trials (which it won), the model name officially adopted was the 92SB. It included the changes of the 92S, added a firing pin safety, and relocated the magazine release catch from the bottom of the grip to the lower bottom of the trigger guard.

  • 92SB Compact (1981 – 1991), shortened barrel and slide (13-round magazine capacity). It was replaced by the "92 Compact L".

92F (92SB-F)

Beretta modified the model 92SB slightly to create the 92F (and 92G) by making the following changes:

  • Redesigned all the parts to make them interchangeable between 92 variants to simplify maintenance for large government organizations.
  • Modified the front of the trigger guard so that one could use finger support for easier aiming.
  • Modified the front angle of the grip to allow for better instinctive aiming.
  • Hard chromed the barrel bore to protect it from corrosion and to reduce wear.
  • New surface coating on the slide called Bruniton, which allegedly provides better corrosion resistance than the previous plain blued finish.

Introduction of polymers

After 1992 Beretta started producing model 92s with some polymer parts, to reduce wear and save production costs. Polymer parts found on newer pistols include guide rods, triggers, safety levers, hammer spring caps, lanyard loops, and magazine bottom plates and followers.

U.S. Military use

Marine Security Guard students perform rapid-fire exercises on the Department of State pistol qualification course Feb. 4 as part of their MSG graduation requirement
Marine Security Guard students perform rapid-fire exercises on the Department of State pistol qualification course Feb. 4 as part of their MSG graduation requirement

When the U.S. Air Force (USAF) began the Joint Service Small Arms Program, Beretta entered the competition. The Beretta 92SB (92S-1) won, but the Army contested the Air Force's methods. There would be several more competitions, and Beretta refined the design of the Beretta 92SB into the Beretta 92SB-F and in slightly modified form the Beretta 92G. These designs were ultimately selected by the United States (Beretta 92F, U.S. Military designation of M9 Pistol) and France (Beretta 92G, French military designation of "PAMAS"). The M9 Pistol was intended to replace the M1911A1 and .38-caliber revolvers and pistols. Over 500,000 M9 pistols were made and the switch-over was largely achieved.

The USAF has scheduled switching over from the early model M9 (92F) to the 92FS standard, according to planning documents. In May 2005, the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) posted its intent to award a sole-source contract to Beretta for 3,480 "M9A1" pistols (M9 with an accessory rail, also available to the public from June 2006). In the U.S. Army, selected M9s were scheduled to be replaced by XM8 compact carbine variants. However, XM8 and the entire OICW Increment 1 program were suspended in July 2005. Current model M9s are scheduled for replacement under the Future Handgun System, which was merged with USSOCOM's SOF Combat Pistol program to create the Joint Combat Pistol (JCP) program. The JCP winner is specified as having a number of new features; chambered for .45 ACP, an integrated rail, Day/Night sights, and capable of accepting a sound suppressor. In early 2006, the JCP program was renamed Combat Pistol and seemingly split from the Army program.

Confusing matters, the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) purchased 5,000 Ruger P95 and 5,000 SIG SP2022 (SIGPro) pistols in December 2004. However, these pistols were purchased solely for issue to Iraqi security forces.

Early problems

Disassembled Beretta M9
Disassembled Beretta M9

Beretta had two major contracts, about 500,000 units for the U.S. armed forces and about 230,000 units for the French armed forces. In the case of the Beretta 92G, it was agreed that the French would supply the slide steel to Italy until GIAT could start licensed production. Beretta then decided to use 5,000 semi finished slides, intended for the French, to build pistols for the U.S. military. Soon after the US accepted these pistols, a few 92F slides, (less than 10 total) and some older Beretta 92SB slides started to crack and fly off the frame.

An investigation would later determine that this lot had been made with French steel slides which were determined to be metallurgically inferior. Compounding this was 9mm Luger ammunition made in the US whose pressure far exceeded specifications. It was also discovered that the locking block required a design change to increase its service life. The US military decided to replace their M9 locking blocks after 5,000 rounds, which gave the gun a bad reputation on the civilian market as a gun with a short life. With the new version of the locking block installed however, the gun was a success and the locking block is now rated for 25,000 rounds. However, something still needed to be done to reduce the risk being struck by the back of a slide if it should break. The solution was to enlarge the hammer pin head to act as a slide retention device. A shallow slot in the base of the slider is cut just long enough to clear the hammer pin head during normal travel, but arrests the slide's backward travel if the slide fails. This simple change resulted in the Beretta 92FS. Since then nearly all Beretta pistols are fitted with this simple safety feature.

Tests were also carried out using a stronger closed slide, instead of the now famous cut-away version, but this reduced the ability of the pistol to dislodge sand and debris caught between the barrel and slide. Beretta eventually designed a new slide, one less prone to breakage, by thickening the slide wall at its weakest point. This came to be known as the Brigadier slide. Ironically, although the initial cause of slide breakages had already been remedied, the Brigadier is still sold today as a popular variant as its greater weight helps to control recoil. It also allows the owner to adjust or replace the front sight if so desired.

The trigger spring, which is responsible for resetting the trigger to its original position after each trigger pull, has also been improved. There had been cases where the spring would break which would require the shooter to manually push the trigger forward. Beretta remedied this by changing the spring's design so that each leg is similar, allowing it to be inverted in case one leg fails. Periodic inspection and replacement of this spring is recommended.


The Beretta 92's open slide design ensures visible feeding and ejection of ammunition and allows the barrel to cool quickly. The hard-chromed barrel bore reduces barrel wear and protects it from corrosion. The locking block barrel lockup provides good accuracy and operability with suppressors due to the in-line travel of the barrel. This is in contrast to the complex travel of Browning designed barrels. The magazine release button is reversible with simple field tools. Reversing the magazine release makes left-handed operation much easier.

Increasingly, it has become popular to reduce handgun weight using light alloys or polymers, and polymer parts have started showing up in Beretta 92/96 models too. In 2004, the first internal polymer part to be introduced was a recoil spring guide. Many Beretta owners were displeased with the polymer part just because it was "plastic". The polymer recoil spring guide works as well as its steel counterpart but it is possible that weight of the steel part helped reduce recoil. In 2005 new polymer parts started to appear in Beretta 92/96 series guns. New polymer parts include safety levers, trigger, slide release, lanyard loop, magazine floor, and the disassembly latch.


The Beretta 92 is available in many configurations each with a distinct model name. Combining the various options results in more than 50 different configurations, but the major variants are defined by their operation caliber (92/96/98), operation (FS/G/D/DS) and combination of optional items (Inox/Brigadier slide/Compact length):


Each model name starts with two digits identifying the caliber:

Chambered for the 9 x 19 mm Parabellum.
Chambered for the .40 S&W, introduced in 1990.
Chambered for 9 x 21 mm IMI. This option was introduced in 1991 for markets where it is illegal to own a weapon chambered for a military cartridge like 9 x 19 mm.


FS (standard)
The current production version of the 92F with the only change being the addition of a slide-mounted ambidextrous safety (also acts as decocking lever) and a bigger hammer pin and slot in the slide to stop over travel. It is this version that was adopted by the US Army as the M9 Pistol.
G (no safety)
This version was created for and adopted by the French Military as PAMAS ; it is simply a model 92F with a decocking lever that does not also act as safety lever.
D (double-action, no safety)
The double-action-only variant of the 92F or FS.
DS (double-action with safety)
The double-action-only variant of the 92F or FS that includes a safety.


(2003 –)
  • New vertical grip.
  • Short-reach trigger.
  • Thinner grip panels.
  • Integral accessory rail.
  • Removable front sight (can be replaced with Tritium sight).
  • Beveled magazine well (to enable easier/faster reloading).
(1993 – 2006)
60 g heavier slide (and 1 mm wider) to improve control when firing multiple shots in quick succession. It also includes removable front and rear Novak type sights.
92G Elite IA
92G Elite IA
Elite I
(1999 – 2001)
Pistols with this option include the heavier Brigadier slide and some modifications to the grip and bevel of the magazine well. It was introduced in 1999 and replaced by the Elite II option in 2001.
Elite 1A
This option replaced the standard grip on the original Elite with the Vertec grip but retained the Brigadier slide. A flat hammer spring cap was standard as well as the stainless barrel, decock only feature and dovetailed front sight.
Elite II
(2001 – 2006)
This option replaced the Elite I option in 2001 and includes the same features of the heavier Brigadier slide and removable Novak type sights, but also an extended magazine release catch and skeletonized hammer. This option is available only with the stainless-steel slide.
92G Elite II
92G Elite II
Stainless barrel, slide (frame anodised to match color).
Compact L
(1992 –)
Shorter barrel, slide, and more compact frame (13-round magazine capacity).
Compact Type M
(1992 –)
Similar to the Compact L, but has a slimmer grip that accepts only a single stacked 8-round magazine.
(1992 – 1996)
Shorter barrel and slide of (like "Compact"), but with standard-sized frame.
(1992 – 1993)
Shorter Beretta 92 Centurion
Shorter Beretta 92 Centurion
Single action only. It is designed for sport shooting and includes a front barrel bushing for improved accuracy.
(1994 –)
Heavier Brigadier slide. It is also designed for sport shooting and includes a front barrel bushing for improved accuracy.
(1994 – 2001)
Heavier Brigadier slide, single-action only and also designed for sport shooting, including a front barrel bushing for improved accuracy. It also came with an additional longer barrel that was weighted.
(2001 only)
A limited-edition (2000 copies) commemoritive (of the year 2000) model manufactured in the 2001, featuring the heavier Brigadier slide.
Steel I
(2004 – 2006)
Nickel-plated, single-action-only, collector's model. [Edit: Both single-action-only and single/double-action variants exist. Also used and desirable for competitive shooting because of its steel frame (for added weight & strength), the frame-mounted safety and/or Vertec-style grip-frame that are all found to be desirable features in a competition gun.]

Magazine Capacity

To keep in line with the introduction of laws in some locations restricting magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, Beretta now manufactures magazines that hold less than the factory standard 15 rounds. These magazines have heavier crimping (deeper indentations in the side) to reduce the available space while still keeping the same external dimensions and ensuring that these magazines can be used on existing firearms.


The Beretta 93R is a significantly redesigned 92 to provide the option of firing in three-round bursts. It also has a longer ported barrel, heavier slide, fitting for a shoulder stock, extra forward grip, and an extended magazine. Unlike the other berettas in the 90 series it doesn't have a decocker and very few are around today.


The Beretta 92 was designed for sports and law enforcement use and, due to its reliability, was accepted by military users in South America. The first large contract for the Beretta 92 was with the Brazilian army, for which Beretta set up a factory in Brazil. It later sold this factory to the Brazilian gunmaker Taurus.

Taurus continues to make pistols (under license from Beretta) based on the original Beretta 92, calling it the PT92, the barrel of which is still interchangeable with a Beretta 92. Taurus modified the original Beretta 92 design, and its recent pistols have the magazine release located behind the trigger guard, and different safeties that act as decocking levers when pulled down and trigger locks when pushed up, presenting the end-user with a different variety of safety options.

See also

External links

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