Taking into account its production as a military weapon (the M9), this pistol is one of the largest selling sidearms in history. The 92FS and the other guns are traditional double actions. The first shot is double action; subsequent shots are single action. The hammer can be lowered safely using the decocking lever found on both the right and left side of the slide. This lever will then stay down and, acting as a safety, disconnect the trigger. Raising the lever returns the gun to double action.
At least two features make the Beretta 92 pistols unique. One is that the slide exposes most of the barrel, and the other is that lockup is almost entirely achieved from underneath the chamber. A barrel-mounted falling locking block accomplishes lockup. This adds to the simplicity of field-stripping. On the left side of the frame is a button that when pushed allows the catch on the other side of the frame to rotate and release the slide. There is no slide stop to remove. Once removed, the top end breaks down to slide, barrel with locking block attached, and the recoil spring with the guide rod. The recoil spring is a single-filament coil, and the guide rod is polymer. This combination allows this pistol to be reliable with low slide mass and reduced recoil.
The energy expended to operate the locking block also contributes to a reduction of felt recoil, as does the full-sized frame, which contributes excellent ergonomics. The frame is alloy, with Berettas Bruniton finish. Both the Beretta and SIGArms pistols in this test weighed in at 34 ounces. The all-steel Magnum Research pistol, although similar in overall size, weighed 6 ounces more.
To test the performance of each of our pistols, we set up a test apart from our usual benchrest session. We fired pairs of shots from 7 yards at a NRA D-1 target, which is used in Action Pistol (Bianchi Cup) and resembles its nickname, the tombstone. It is fashioned from corrugated cardboard showing concentric circles starting with a 4-inch X-ring. Next is an 8-inch ring, referred to as the 10-ring, and a 10-inch ring, which scores 8 points. Aiming at the X-ring we started firing double action, and followed as quickly and as accurately as we could with a second shot single action. This was repeated 15 times. We used a Competitive Edge Dynamics timer to record the splits, or time between shots. This device ($134.50 from Brownells, 800-741-0015) sounds a start signal and then displays elapsed time each time its internal microphone hears a shot. Split times are also displayed.
We then looked at the size of the groups to give us a picture of the each guns willingness to transfer from DA to SA and maintain control. The Berettas stock double-action trigger was smooth but heavy at 12.5 pounds. Single action was heavy as well, requiring 7.5 pounds of pressure. This would rate as being at the high end of the average weight trigger found on most stock 1911 semi-automatic pistols.
The Beretta was the first test pistol of the day at the 7-yard line, and we filled it with Federals 124-grain Expanding Full Metal Jacket ammunition. This round produced an average velocity of 1095 fps from our 92FS. The P226 fired this round at 1089 fps, and the Magnum Research Desert Eagle was fastest with an average velocity of 1120 fps. In the Berettas Action test, the time between shots ranged from 0.71 to 0.51 seconds, for an average of 0.61 seconds. Through 15 strings of fire, we landed 14 X-ring hits, 15 10-ring hits and one 8-ring hit. Our 30-shot group measured 5.9 inches in diameter, tops for our roster of 9mm test guns.
The second day of tests featured all four guns being tested from a sandbag rest at a distance of 25 yards. We fired two loads from Black Hills, a new manufactured (red box) 115-grain +P round, and a remanufactured (blue box) 124-grain FMJ round. We also tried a frangible, the 60-grain Defender from MagSafe. Reliability throughout our tests was 100 percent. We found that the Beretta liked the Black Hills 115-grain JHP-EXP the best, shooting groups that consistently measured approximately 2.5 inches center to center.