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Beretta 92A1

The Display Case Giant

The Beretta 92A1…the next generation of the Beretta 92FS which came with some very timely upgrades that many will appreciate. The Beretta 92A1 is a handgun that is easy to learn, easy to handle, and flat out nice to look at. This series of handguns has also gone through the most testing by the U.S. military.

Pistol Overview

Before we get on with the review, I’ll go over the general specs, and what I got in the box. The box itself is actually extremely flimsy and I did expect more for a $600+ handgun, but it is what it is.

General Specs:
Frame Material: Aluminum
Caliber: 9mm
Capacity: 17
Overall Length: 8.5 inches
Barrel Length: 4.9 inches
Width: 1.5 inches
Height: 5.4 inches
Weight: 33.9 ounces

In the box with the Beretta 92A1 you will find 3-17rd magazines, the handgun, a plug to keep the box from crushing under it’s own weight, a lock, mag loader, cleaning brush, and your typical paperwork. The pistol comes equipped with changeable white 3-dot sights, an ambidextrous decocker/safety, right-hand only slide release, and an ambidextrous magazines release (can be converted for lefties). The 92A1 has what Beretta calls their “Bruniton” finish which seems to be fairly durable.

In the photo above the magazine release is not stock, that is a Wilson Combat extended mag release. Keep reading to find out why I changed it out… and yes, I think it’s a necessary upgrade.

The Review

The 92 series from Beretta brings about a sense of nostalgia for a lot of people, especially with it being the weapon of choice by some of our favorite protagonists like John McClane in the Die Hard series. A lot of people believe that the 92 series is the first Beretta with the cut out slide, but in truth this was seen in the M1951 back in 1949.

The Beretta 92A1 is an aesthetically pleasing weapon that has an extremely good track record. A lot of service members will rag on it’s abilities, but you have to remember, more times than not the military’s M9s were not getting PM’d properly. (PM= Preventative Maintenance)

Looking down at one though at the shop can be intimidating with how it seems to tower over other full sized 9mm pistols that are on the market. Aside from the beefy back-strap it has somewhat similar dimensions to everything it competes against.

I do want to make an honorable mention of one of the design “features” the Beretta 92A1 has and it has to deal with the firing pin block (FPB). At the top of the slide when the trigger is being pulled (even if the safety is engaged) the FPB moves out of the way and the block moves partially out of the slide. If for any reason it were to fail and not reengage you can physically feel and see it. At this point you would need to go and get it checked out by a competent smith.

This feature does have one downside that comes to mind. In this day and age, everyone is wanting to get an RMR or MRDS mounted to their slides. The FPB does make this extremely difficult to do, verging the impossible.

As far as function goes, the Beretta 92A1 has a couple of things that aren’t normal on the market. The first of these is the “sliding locking block” (circled in red) which causes the gun to behave more like a fixed barrel firearm. This leads to the platform being more accurate by design. This is different than most handguns on the market today since they use a tilting barrel design that have locking lugs.

The second thing the 92A1 has is a built in recoil buffer system (circled in yellow) which is blue and in the frame. Since I haven’t shot the M9/92FS I cannot compare to say if the felt recoil is vastly decreased. To my understanding this was improvement was made more for the “96” or .40S&W models. The buffer acts to decrease the amount of ware the frame takes upon recoil.

As far as the ergonomics go, I’m going to knock-out the biggest issue I had with the Beretta 92A1 first… are you ready? The magazine release. The magazine release is stationed right at the edge of the frame and below the stock grip panel which made it difficult to get any quick magazine changes going. On the bright side it does kill the chance of inadvertently hitting the release during use.

I know a lot of people harp on the decocker/safety location on the 92 series, but I honestly have grown to like it quite a big. It takes a control off of the frame and it’s completely out of the way. I also love the fact that the decocker/safety rotates the firing pin plunger out of the way, meaning there’s no way at all for the gun to discharge if safeties fail during the decocking process.

Even though I didn’t experience issues with the length of reach for anything, it’s worth mentioning for those with smaller hands that this might not be the gun for you. Thanks to the thicker backstrap, recessed stock magazine release, and slide mounted decocker, you will probably have a difficult time running this gun smoothly.

As far as mounting lights go, I only threw the Streamlight TLR-1 on it, and it was a little bit of a pain. The rail is ever so slightly wider than that on other 1913 rails. Other than that activating the TLR-1 was easy. One of the nice things was the light could be mounted behind the muzzle, so there was no fouling getting on the lens. If you’re looking at mounting a compact weapon light like the TLR-7 on this gun though, I would recommend you not doing so. With the furthest back rail, it’s impossible for me with L-XL hands to be able to manipulate the light single handedly. 

Now for how it shoots and if it’s reliable…

The Beretta 92A1 is an interesting cookie to shoot. Whereas the felt recoil isn’t substantial, I’d say it’s actually less than a CZ SP-01 Tactical, it does have a bit of muzzle rise going on. Now, don’t get me wrong, there isn’t a lot of muzzle rise, but it contradicts what I’m feeling in my hand. With how little recoil I was feeling, I expected there to be no muzzle flip whatsoever, but the reality was the muzzle was rising more than what I was feeling. Hopefully that makes sense to you!

Reliability wise I didn’t have any issues with the Beretta 92A1. It cycled a lot of steel cased TulAmmo, Federal Brass, and some Remington UMC. One of the advantages to the open slide design is that FTEs are extremely hard to cause.

Unfortunately the 92A1 does come with a severe disadvantage. There’s next to zero holster support for the gun outside of the Phlster Floodlight and Dark Star Gear Orion. It’s nice that there is some holster support, but there isn’t nearly as much as there is for the M9A1.

Overall though, the Beretta 92A1 is an excellent pistol. Especially for those just looking to add a 92 series to their collection so they can dress up as Martin Riggs at the range. If you are the above person though that’s just getting it to be ‘Gram famous, personally, I’d just save a couple hundred dollars and pick-up a standard 92FS.

Link for the gun:
Beretta 92A1

Link to light:
Streamlight TLR-1

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