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 sidearm 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 M922 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.
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 block (thus the addition of the "B" to the name), 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".
Beretta modified the model 92SB slightly to create the 92SB-F (the "F" added to denote entry of the model in U.S. Government federal testing) and, later, the 92G for French Government testing, by making the following changes:
- Design of all the parts to make them 100% interchangeable to simplify maintenance for large government organizations.
- Modified the front of the trigger guard so that one could use finger support for easier aiming.
- Recurved the forward base of the grip to aid 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.
U.S. Military useEdit
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) awarded a sole-source contract to Beretta for 3,480 "M9A1" pistols (M9 with an accessory rail, also available to the public from June 2006).
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.
After a year of flawless production and testing of M9 pistols in Italy under U.S. Government supervision, testing and later production was transferred to the Beretta U.S.A. factory in Accokeek, Maryland. At the same time, the U.S. Army became responsible for providing 9 mm ammunition (called the M882 round) to support the testing. Using the new ammunition, problems with M9 test pistols began occurring. In some tests, the frames of the pistols showed microscopic cracks after being fired 5,000 rounds during durability testing. Durability tested barrels showed a concentric indentation inside the chamber and, later, reports of slides breaking during field and test usage were reported.
Early analysis of the breakages by the Army suggested that the problems experienced were due to problems with the pistols themselves. Beretta responded to these reports by requesting testing of the M882 ammunition. Dissatisfied with the progress and methodology of the Army's tests of its ammunition, Beretta obtained independent tests of the ammunition that disclosed excessive pressure levels in the rounds (average pressures exceeding 50,000 psi, compared with maximum NATO-allowed pressures of 35,000 psi).
After delays in delivery of M9 pistols while these issues were resolved, Beretta developed a safety mechanism that significantly reduced risk to the shooter should an M9 slide break. The U.S. Army also changed the propellant mix for the M882 round, after which no further pistol breakages of the types previously seen were reported.
During this same time and in years since, the U.S. Army conducted durability testing of M9 pistols at Aberdeen Proving Ground. These tests revealed an average life of the M9 frame at around 35,000 rounds, of the M9 locking block at around 22,000 rounds, and of the M9 slide at around 75,000 rounds, all well in excess of the contractually-required service life of 5,000 rounds for the pistol. In addition, Government-witnessed tests of the M9 pistol at the Beretta U.S.A. facility resulted in average reliability of the pistol at one malfunction every 17,500 rounds.
According to numerous accounts from founding members, the first US military unit to field the Beretta 92 was SEAL Team Six, however due to the extensive use of the pistol by SEAL Team Six (3-5000 rounds per week, per operator), problems that were later evident with other US military users became apparent and SEAL Team Six, as slides started breaking and being flung back towards the shooter. After these incidents the SEALs switched to the SIG-Sauer P226. The P226 later became the standard sidearm for all of the SEAL Teams.
The Beretta 92's open slide design ensures smooth feeding and ejection of ammunition and allows easy cleaning of obstructions. 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 and cost (and increase corrosion resistance) using polymers, and polymer parts have started showing up in Beretta 92/96 models too. In 2003, the first internal polymer part to be introduced was a recoil spring guide. New polymer parts include safety lever, trigger, mainspring cap, magazine floorplate, and follower. In contrast some parts have been painted black to match the included polymer parts, these include; slide release, disassembly latch, and hammer.
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 (F/G/D) and combination of optional items (Inox/Brigadier slide/Compact length):
Each model name starts with two digits identifying the caliber:
- Chambered for the 9x19mm Parabellum.
- Chambered for the .40 S&W, introduced in 1990.
- Chambered for 9x21mm IMI. This option was introduced in 1991 for markets where it is illegal to own a weapon chambered for a military cartridge such as 9x19mm. There were also about 5000 early 98F manufactured in .30 Luger.
- F (standard)
- The current production version of the 92F has a double action first trigger pull, followed by a single action trigger pull for subsequent rounds. The "F" version has a safety lever that also functions as a decocking lever. 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 92 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.
- (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 (2.1 oz) heavier slide (and 1 mm (0.04 in)wider) to improve control when firing multiple shots in quick succession. It also includes removable front and rear Novak type sights.
- 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. This model also came with an integral rail located underneath the end of the barrel. This allows for mounting a flashlight, laser sight, or other accessory.
- 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.
- Stainless barrel, slide (frame anodized 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)
- 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)
- Stainless steel, 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.]
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. Italian magazine manufacturer Mec-Gar now produces magazines in blue and nickel finishes with a 17 round capacity, which fit flush in the magazine well on the 92-series. Mec-Gar also produces an extended 20 round blued magazine that protrudes below the frame by a couple of inches. These magazines provide users in unrestricted states with an even higher capacity for sporting or self defense purposes.
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. A large contract for the Beretta 92 was with the Brazilian army, for which Beretta set up a factory in Brazil. This factory was later sold to the Brazilian gunmaker Taurus. Taurus made pistols under license from Beretta based on the original Beretta 92, calling it the PT92.
- ITA — Military of Italy and police (Italian Army) (Aeronautica Militare) (Marina Militare) (Carabinieri) (Polizia di Stato) (Guardia di Finanza) (Corpo Forestale dello Stato) (Polizia Penitenziaria)
- USA — U.S. Military (M9 pistol) and some federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies
- ALB - Some special units of Albanian Armed Forces, Republican Guard and State Police Special Forces.
- ALG — Police
- BiH — Military of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Police
- FRA — French Military (PAMAS)
- INA — Kopassus and KOPASKA
- MAS — Royal Malaysian Army (92F)
- MEX - Fuerzas Especiales and some federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.
- PER — Peruvian Navy(92F) and FOES
- PHL — Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police
- SVN — Military of Slovenia and Police
- ZAF — Military (South African National Defence Force) and Police (South African Police Service) (Z88 licensed copy)
- ESP — Civil Guard (Spain)
- TUR — Police
- CAN - Vancouver Police Beretta 96
- Details on the Beretta 92
- A short story of the 92 and its derivatives
- Free videos of Beretta 92/96 disassembly
- How To Make The 92FS 9mm Shoot, Performance Shooter, October 1997
Blue Book of Gun Values, 26th Edition, S. P. Fjestad ISBN 1-886768-55-2
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