U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- A while back I had a chance to purchase a couple of Beretta 92s Italian police trade-in guns for a great price. With most police trade-ins they come with a bit of holster wear. The price I paid for these guns were incredibly low, but they were guaranteed to work.
Not surprisingly they were in a terrible cosmetic condition. I took the two Berettas to the range, and they worked flawlessly. I put a couple of hundred rounds through both guns. One was accurate. The other had a bent sight, but I had no stoppages.
The most important part of a gun is that it functions, and these worked, but the worn-down look of the Berettas was bothering me. I knew I had to do something about it. Lucky for me there is a custom gun shop one town over from where I live.
I reached out to Sterling Arsenal to see if they could help me with one of the Berettas. I wanted to keep one in the original condition I bought it in to compare it to what they could do with the gun when it was customized. I gave them the one with the bent sight.
When I went to Sterling Arsenal, I spoke to the owner, Luis Rose. Luis didn’t come from the traditional gun guy background. He was big into finance and was making a lot of money. After 9/11 he quit his high paying job to work for the government out of a sense of duty.
When he started to see the government encroaching on the Second Amendment of Americans, he decided the best way to fight back was to get firearms into the hands of everyone he could. The best way to do that was to open a gun shop and Sterling Arsenal was born.
It started out in a small room with only a couple of employees, but it started growing fast. Luis’s business background was a big help in managing the fast-growing company. Eventually, Sterling Arsenal relocated to its current location. They went from a simple gun dealer to gun manufacturing. They were turning out their own line of guns, and also customizing firearms.
They produce a line of AR-15s, which the US government purchases, and AR-10s. I have shot their bolt action rifle, and it is deadly accurate. Where they really flourish in the gun making business is their line of AKMs.
These are top of the line AKs. I usually steer away from most American produced AKMs because I have bad luck with them in the past, but the ones that Sterling Arsenal makes will just run flawlessly.
Sterling Arsenal also got into the Cerakote business through its sister company Critical Koting. Cerakoting is what I was thinking of having done to the Beretta. I went and spoke with Luis, and he showed me some examples of what Critical Koting could do to my gun.
When he asked me what I wanted Critical Koting to do to my Beretta 92s, my answer was simple. I gave my favorite answer and said, “Surprise me.” He smiled and took up the challenge.
In a couple of weeks, I had my Beretta 92s back in my hands. When I laid my eyes on it, I actually asked, “Are you sure that is my Beretta? That doesn’t look like my Beretta.“
Luis assured me that it was my Beretta. It wasn’t just Cerakoted. Critical Koting entirely redid the pistol. I talked to Luis and he said he originally was going to do flames on the slide, but he decided because of the history of the gun he wanted to give it a classic look. I am glad he did give it that old fashion look.
I really like the fact that Critical Koting doesn’t just throw the latest “it” kryptek design on the guns that they do. They treat each firearm as a one-off and choose what is best for the gun. Although if you wanted a dragon breathing fire, I am sure they would do it for you.
The Beretta I got back was a gun steel blue. If you had shown me the color before it was on the gun I probably would say “no,” but it honestly really works for it. It is subtle, but that is what a classic gun needs. I am glad I didn’t see the gun before they Cerakoted it.
Critical Koting added what I could only describe as swirl pattern down the side of the gun. It is a decorative design that I could imagine being on a ceremonial saber. On the top of the barrel, the swirl pattern continues until the muzzle where it forms what looks like a cloud of smoke. The lines really flow through the pistol.
On each side of the slide near the barrel, Critical Koting laser etched the Beretta logo which looks great. On the top of the slide, they etched a diamond pattern which really pops. Under the barrel on the front of the slide is another small swirl pattern which works with the one on the front of the barrel. They even straightened the sight for me.
With the sight straight, I took it to the range to see if the accuracy would be there. To my surprise, the redone gun was more accurate than the pistol that didn’t have any damage to the sight. I wasn’t expecting Critical Koting to fix the sight, but they did, and now the gun is a tack driver.
Around the slide release of the Beretta, there are smaller swirls, but they are a tad bit bright than the rest of the swirl pattern. That little difference of coloring makes those small swirls pop. It is something I would have never thought of myself. That is the difference between someone who is a gun guy and someone who does firearms customization for a living.
The swirl pattern on the Beretta 92s continues on the bottom of the frame and the trigger guard. The swirl pattern is the constant that ties the gun together. I know they painted the parts separately but looking at it I would have guessed Critical Koting painted the pieces together.
On the back strap and the front strap of the Beretta, there is a laser etched pattern that just really works and is probably my second favorite element of the design. My favorite part of their design is on the trigger guard. On one side is the Sterling Arsenal cross swords logo, which I asked for because it is a pretty cool logo. On the other side are the words “Sic Semper Tyrannis.”
For those that don’t know, that is the motto of my home state of Virginia. It is Latin for “thus always to tyrants.” What most people don’t know it is a shortened form of “Sic Semper Evello Mortem Tyrannis.” Which translates to “Thus always I bring death to tyrants.” It is a bad ass line that I could envision Leonidas yelling at the invading Persians.
To finish off the pistol, Critical Koting added a pair of VZ grips that work well with the overall design. On the bottom of the Beretta, they left the lanyard loop untouched. That completes the guns look because it is a little bit of the old with a lot of the new.
Overall, I could not be happier with the customization of the pistol for $375. It sounds like a lot, but it is a steal for what you get. Every job price will vary. I will be taking more guns to Critical Koting and Sterling Arsenal in the near future. They are the best custom pistol shop I have done business with in Northern Virginia.
I took a tour of the facility when I picked up my gun. I saw some designs that they were working on and watched as they worked. They are real craftsmen, and they are artists. They blew me away with their skill.
I was going to 3D print a stand, so I could display the pistol in my gun room along with my other custom firearms, but the gun was too nice for that. A friend of mine turned me onto a company called HP Machine Shop. They make a lot of cool stuff, but the thing I wanted was the custom machined pistol stand.
Initially, I wasn’t going to mention the stand in the article, but I have to let the secret out. These stands are too nice to keep a secret. The best part is that HP Machine Shop set a reasonable price. I expected to pay $100, but it only cost $39. Each stand is gun specific.
What will be my next custom firearm? Stay tuned to find out!
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About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. He is the former CEO of Veritas Firearms, LLC and is the co-host of The Patriot News Podcast which can be found at www.blogtalkradio.com/patriotnews. John has written extensively on the patriot movement including 3%’ers, Oath Keepers, and Militias. In addition to the Patriot movement, John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and is currently working on a book on leftist deplatforming methods and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, on Facebook at realjohncrump, or at www.crumpy.com.