The Beretta 92fs is a handgun that people seem to feel passionately about. Many love it, and many loath it. This model is a traditional double action pistol that is meant to be carried uncocked with the first shot being double action, and the remaining shots being single action. It is a rather large gun with a 4.9" barrel, steel slide, and large aluminum frame. If one does an online search (google, yahoo, etc.) on the Beretta 92fs, one will find many, many reviews, both positive and negative regarding this now classic platform. I have always been intrigued by this gun based on its gorgeous lines, but always found that my wants and/or needs took me in another direction. Well, I finally decided to purchase a used one a few months ago. I will share my thoughts about this popular handgun.
As I mentioned above, much info can be found online regarding Beretta's model 92fs. When one is reading reviews of this weapon, one will no doubt encounter horror stories regarding failing locking blocks in this particular model of pistol. Most of these reports seem to revolve around military use of this pistol (the 92fs replaced the model 1911 as the standard military sidearm around 1984 I think), and many are second hand stories about someone who knows someone who experienced a locking block failure. I'm not saying that these failures have not happened, but I'm almost certain that they do not happen nearly as often as some of the reviews would lead one to believe.
Another common complaint is that the 92fs (or M9 as it is called in the military) has reliability issues in the sandy desert environment of the Middle East. It seems that many of these issues are caused by poor quality after-market magazines that were purchased by the military (someone please correct me if I'm way off here). From what I have read, it seems that if one is using original Beretta magazines, or high quality magazines such as those made by Mec-gar, the problems tend to disappear (please realize that this info is based solely on info that I have read and not experienced for myself).
More often than not when researching this pistol, one will find that it is regarded as an extremely reliable and adequately accurate sidearm. It was these many reviews coupled with the elegant lines of the pistol that finally solidified my decision to purchase one after wanting to for years. After finding one that appeared in good condition for an excellent price on gunbroker.com, I submitted my bid and won the Beretta. After it arrived at my favorite FFL, I went to pick it up, and after BSing with my FFL holder for a bit, I took my new acquisition home.
The example that I bought is an older model that features a straight dustcover and all metal (steel I think) small parts. On most of the newer models the dust cover is now slightly angled, and many of the small parts such as the guide rod, trigger, hammer, etc. are now made of plastic (or at least coated in plastic). It seems from my internet research that most users/owners prefer the all steel small parts, and most people (myself included) prefer the look of the straight dust cover. My gun came with two 15 round magazines. It turned out that one was an original Beretta mag, and the other is a cheap after market unit.
The 92fs is a very large pistol for a somewhat small caliber such as 9mm. This is a common complaint about this model, and is a valid one as there really isn't any reason that a 9mm needs to be so bulky. At its widest point, this gun is over 1.5" wide. The frame is also very wide making the grip quite thick, which makes it somewhat difficult for those with small hands to get a good grip on it. I myself have pretty small hands, but I find the grip to be very comfortable indeed. The grip is big enough to make the trigger reach in double action a bit of a reach, but in single action it is very ergonomic for me. As such a large gun, there is considerable heft. The gun weighs in at 33.3oz. (specs can be found here: http://www.beretta.com/Pistols-Carbines/Defence/Full/92FS/index.aspx?m=82&f=2&id=795). For a gun this size, it is actually reasonably light weight considering how much more it would weigh if it had a steel frame instead of aluminum.
One of the things that enjoy most about the 92fs (besides the look of the gun) is the fit of the parts. For a gun in this price range, the parts seem to fit together and interface with each other very well. Racking the slide is joyous indeed. It is glass smooth and feels excellent. This gun points quite naturally for me, however, the sights could stand to be a bit bigger. My example came with the now almost standard 3 dot set up. The dots on mine are white, but on the stainless models I think they are usually red. I should mention that on the 92fs the front sight is integral with the slide, so it would definitely take some gunsmithing to change it. The rear sight is dovetailed in place. I have seen examples of these guns fitted with adjustable rear target sights. Another feature that I love about this gun is the ease of take down and the ease of cleaning.
The double action trigger pull on my example is very smooth. I don't own a trigger pull guage, but I would guess it to be right around 10lbs, but it is smoother than any other DA/SA pistol that I have owned. The single action pull is acceptable, but not as light as I would prefer. I would guess it to be around 6lbs. I am currently entertaining the idea of switching out my mainspring with what is commonly referred to as the Beretta "D" spring. This is the mainspring that is used in the double action only version of the Beretta 92. I have ready many accounts that switching this spring greatly reduces and smooths both the double action, and single action pulls when installed in the DA/SA version of the 92fs.
For being such a large gun, the 15+1 round capacity is not very impressive considering that many smaller, lighter guns hold more rounds. However, Mec-gar makes 18 round mags that fit flush like the original mags, and 20 rounders that have a slightly extended base pad. Mec-gar makes excellent mags, and supplies many manufacturers with OEM magazines. I will be purchasing at least one 18 rounder in the near future. Regarding the magazines; the original one that came with my gun works flawlessly, but the after market one often will not lock the slide to the rear after the last round has been fired. It does however seem to feed fine.
I have only put around 500 rounds through my 92fs thus far, but they have been very enjoyable rounds. This gun is really a pleasure to shoot. The small 9mm caliber, along with the guns heft and wide back strap really negates recoil. The gun returns to be on-target almost instantaneously. It is certainly not my most accurate handgun, but it is plenty accurate and has been 100% reliable so far (besides the crappy after market mag not locking the slide to the rear). I trust the reliability of this gun enough to use it at times as a concealed carry piece. It is a bit big for being ideal for concealed carry, but I pull it off pretty well in an IWB holster.
I am thinking about getting the gun refinished in the future. There are some wear marks since I purchased used, but it is in good condition especially for the $399 that I paid for it. If or when I do decide to get it refinished, I'm not sure if I will send it to Beretta for a factory finish or go a different route. I have always loved the look of the Inox models (Inox is Beretta speak for stainless steel), and therefore have thought about getting mine hard chromed. Hard chrome is an excellent and very attractive finish. It is one of the most wear-resistant finishes available. However, I'm not sure if the aluminum frame cam be hard chromed. Does anyone out there know if it can be done?
In conclusion, I HIGHLY recommend the Beretta 92fs to anyone looking for an excellent defensive/duty style 9mm. There are certainly other options out their that are better suited to concealed carry, but in a duty/range/home protection role the Beretta really shines. It would make an excellent addition to anyone's collection. It is up amongst my favorite handguns that I have owned. I often find myself admiring its classic, gorgeous lines every time I pull it out of the safe.