The Beretta 92 FS made big time when the U.S. Army selected the Italian pistols as its new service handgun in 1985, giving it the name ‘M9.’ Although the matching order for 315,000 weapons marked the beginning of the 92 series' success story, Carlo Beretta, Giuseppe Mazzetti and Vittorio Valle had actually launched the first model as far back as 1976. The U.S. Army shows no signs of wanting to replace its service pistol, having extended the contract in 2012. Beretta has modified the M9 several times since 2010. The M9 A3, its most recent version, premiered at the 2015 SHOT Show. Buoyed by the U.S. Army decision over 30 years ago, the 92 model is also a top seller on the civilian market. Besides the 92-model pistols in 9×19, Beretta also makes versions in .40, S&W, 9×21 mm IMI and 7.65 mm Para, known respectively as the 96, 98 and 99. In addition, there are four technically distinct designs with the shorthand designations FS, G, D and DS, as well as variants that differ in terms of material, sights and lengths. An assortment of copies, for instance MAS (France), Taurus (Brazil) or Denel Land Systems (South Africa), are also on the market.
The 92 series has a number of forebears from a technical perspective: its tilting locking block mechanism beneath the chamber is based on the principle contrived by the Walther team under engineer Fritz Barthelmes for the P.38. The same applies to the hybrid combination of single/double action with external hammer. The design of its outer workings liberally references the Beretta 951 Brigadier, which was developed as a law enforcement and military handgun from 1949 on: put succinctly, the main difference between the 92 and Brigadier is the increase in magazine capacity from 8 to 15 rounds. Both the 951 on the 92 borrowed the principle of the open slide above the barrel that had been introduced in 1920 with Beretta’s concealed carry pistols.
Review of the Beretta 92 FS:
Always brawny, today’s Beretta 92 FS is even meatier due to its weight of 925 g to 940 g, depending on the model, placing it firmly among the heavyweights of its caliber class. But it usually offers first-rate finishing with absolutely dependable cycling/safety (–0 points each). The front sight, machined from the solid material of the slide, and the (only) laterally adjustable rear sight, give the sighting features a slightly old school feel (–1 P). Details such as the scratchy magazine release, the one-sided slide stop and the difficulty reaching the hammer with small fingers are mildly annoying aspects in the operating elements (–3 P), while one reviewer complained that the trigger/frame design makes the pistol a tad bulky for smaller hands and that it “generally [has a] somewhat unpleasant feel” (–1 P).
The trigger characteristics reveal a slightly jaggy first stage and some creep in the single action setting (–2 P). The discharge metrics are otherwise standard for military pistols in single and double action mode. Finally the precision: the best group size was an adequate 64 mm (–12 P). But as a military weapon, the 92 FS had trouble handling IPSC factor loads.
Summary of the Beretta 92 FS Review:
The FS from Beretta’s 92 series delivers dependable design, outstandingly reliable features and adequate precision for a military and law enforcement pistol. Sports shooters would prefer the group sizes to be a little tighter of course. But the Target models and suitable upgrade kits are available for this particular clientele. Leaving numerical scores aside, an off-the-cuff assessment would pretty much match the Glock 17: throughout the world, the pistol is quite rightly considered an absolute classic and therefore a must-have
Score for the Beretta 92 FS in 9 mm Luger:
|Precision (max. 50 points)||38 points|
|Cycling/safety (max. 10 points)||10 points|
|Trigger characteristics (max. 10 points)||8 points|
|Trigger/grip design (max. 5 points)||4 points|
|Operating elements (max. 10
|Sighting (max. 5 points)||4 points|
|Finishing (max. 10 points)||10 points|
|Total score (max. 100 points)||81 points|
|Commendations||5 of 6 |