Sometimes it takes a company a few years to evolve a new design. Beretta’s M9 / 92F 9mm handgun – and the subsequent .40S&W caliber versions – was, and still is, an excellent design. That said, is there always room for improvement? Yes. Otherwise the firearms industry would be stuck with flintlock rifles and handguns. There are several notable design evolutions incorporated in the Beretta PX4 pistols. The closed side, the rotating barrel and the polymer frame with interchangeable backstraps all help the handgun bring Beretta into the new millennium.
One of the agencies I perform regular firearms training for recently switched from the Beretta 92Fs that they’ve been carrying to the new Beretta PX4. They had been wanting to switch to a .40 caliber weapon and were fans of the Beretta… but the delivery time did test their patience. As I understand it the weapons were ordered some six months ago (or more). It’s not a big agency – currently only seven officers. But they’ve been waiting (eagerly I might add) for those new guns.
While it is definitely no criticism on the Beretta pistol, the agency in question had a limited selection of duty holsters to choose from. They ended up using the Safariland 6004 – but will readily tell you that they intend to transition to a Level III holster when they can find one they’re happy with.
For all of you who were familiar with the Beretta 92/96F and the 92/96G, the Beretta PX4 is available in both of those operational configurations as well. The PX4F is a double action / single action pistol with the Manual Safety also performing as a decocking lever. However, if you push the safety lever down (on) you have to physically push it back up (off) to be able to double action fire the weapon. The PX4G version, however, does not have a Manual Safety. The lever strictly serves as a decocking lever. When you push it down to decock the weapon it’s spring laoded to jump back up when you release it. The Beretta PX4D is a double action only weapon with a spurless hammer and no Manual Safety or decocking lever. Also listed on the Beretta PX4 website is the PX4C – listed as “constant action”, again with a spurless hammer. I haven’t been able to learn what the difference is between the PX4C and the PX4D.
Overall Length: 7.59″ / 193mm
Overall Height: 5.51″ / 140mm
Overall Width: 1.41″ / 36mm
Grip Width: 1.18″ / 30mm
Barrel Length: 4″ / 102mm
Sight Radius: 5.75″ / 102mm
Those numbers are all the same for both the 9mm and the .40S&W versions of the PX4. Magazine capacity is:
9mm: 17 – OR you can add a +3 baseplate to make it a 20 round magazine
.40S&W: 14 – OR you can add a +3 baseplate to make it a 17 round magazine
Okay; I have to say that the 20-round capacity in the 9mm didn’t really make me blink. I used to have a couple of 21 round magazines for my Beretta 92F anyway. But to put 17 rounds of .40 caliber ammo in your handgun… that’s impressive. I know, I know: you can get 13+1 of .45ACP in another manufacturer’s gun and why “settle” for the .40 when you could select the .45ACP? Handguns are a very personal choice. When police departments start making them they often set requirements and then the lowest bidder wins. At least in this case the agency knew what they wanted and knew that Beretta could provide it.
So that’s all good but how do they shoot? Across the span of the last two weeks I’ve been at the range repeatedly with the agency in question and the PX4s have performed well. The operation of the weapon is identical to the 92Fs that the agency used to carry, so mechanical skills did not have to be changed. Several of the officers commented that the impulse of recoil didn’t feel as sharp and one of them said that the recoil didn’t seem to put as much torque on his wrist. This is a side effect of the rotating barrel design where nothing tilts. The barrel stays in alignment with the line of fire. The slide moves back and forth in a straight line. Really the only energy impact that would make the weapon twist right or left during recoil is the extraction and ejection of the spent brass. All shooters said that the PX4 was more comfortable to shoot. Remember that they’re comparing the PX4 in .40 to the Beretta 92F in 9mm. They liked the PX4 in .40 better.
All weapons were field stripped, inspected, wiped and properly lubricated prior to practice fire and qualifications. No misfeed or extraction malfunctions occurred. The one failure to feed was attributed to a magazine not fully seated.
The only design feature I’m not a big fan of is the “night sights” that the PX4 comes with standard. They are Super Luminova sights that need a ligth charge before they’ll glow at night. I think straight night sights that don’t require a “light charge” would be preferable. Still, these sights are a far cry better than plain white dot and outline sights.
The overall comments about the weapon were favorable. All shooters enjoyed the added comfort perceived due to the rotating barrel system. Everyone seemed to feel that field stripping the gun wasn’t any easier or harder than field stripping a 92F. Given the +3 magazine baseplate option, all shooters were more than happy with a 17-round magazine capacity of .40 caliber ammo.
As is always the torture I face (can you see the sarcasm here?) I had to qualify with the Beretta PX4 before I could take any of the other officers to the range with it. I enjoyed it – and although I never had issues with the Beretta 92F I wasn’t a big fan of it either. The PX4 has made me a Beretta fan once again.
Check out more information about the Beretta PX4 online at http://www.px4storm.com.
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