November 2014

9mms: New Beretta 92 Compact Versus Used SIG Sauer P228

Should you chase after a used gun with a high and increasing price, or an uncommon factory model? We like Beretta’s compact production gun, which you might not have seen before.

9mms: New Beretta 92 Compact Versus Used SIG Sauer P228

No, we are not re-shooting the U.S. Military trials. We are stacking up a brand-new Beretta 92 Compact, shown with Bob Campbell against a used SIG P228 9mm compact pistol. (Below)

Two pistol makers that have knocked heads in police and military competitions for more than 30 years are SIG Sauer and Beretta. The Beretta 92 and the SIG P226 engaged in a hotly contested and much debated U.S. Military trial. After the dust settled, Beretta won that lucrative contract. However, the Navy did not accept the Beretta and instead adopted the SIG. American police agencies have used both in large numbers, with the SIG often hampered by a higher price. Recently, the French Army and police forces gave SIG the largest single peacetime order for handguns in history. Certainly, both makes enjoy enviable reputations. But at Gun Tests, all makers start on the same footing, reputation or not.

The raters were led toward this test by external factors. In one case, a family member was looking for a good, clean SIG P228 as a carry gun. Since the P228 is out of production, replaced by the heavier P229 or M11 A1, the SIG P228 would have to be a used gun. (Occasionally, a new-in-the-box P228 is seen at a premium.) The other instigator was an e-mail from Afghanistan. A young soldier told her father-in-law, “I want a Beretta for my own when I get home!” After two tours in Iraq and the tour in Afghanistan, this well-trained soldier had great respect for the Beretta. However, she did ask if there were a shorter, lighter version of the pistol.There is a compact version of the 92FS, but it is seldom seen. The question was, would the self-defense shooter be better off with the new Beretta or the used SIG, if each could be found within a few dollars of the other?

This would be a tough contest. Among our raters, one has over 20 years of police experience, including training several agencies on the SIG. Another is a military intelligence officer who has deployed the Beretta from Europe to the Pacific and just returned from 14 months with the Beretta as a daily companion. Other raters had experience with both pistols. So the deck wasn’t stacked in favor of either handgun.

Common aspects of the guns include aluminum frames and steel slides. Each features a double-action first-shot trigger. Each features a 13-round magazine. Beyond those areas, lock-up differs. The SIG uses angled camming surfaces to unlock, and the barrel hood butts into the slide. The Beretta locks and unlocks via an oscillating wedge. There are differences in the decockers, and handling feels very different. Here’s how our shooters rated them when the pistols were shot head to head:

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