Editors Note: With the resurgence of police surplus pistols this review is an update of one of Mikes's articles that ran on AmmoLand News in 2015, and just a great read.
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- Do you remember the first time that you saw a Beretta 92?
It may have been while watching an action film from the 1980s such as Lethal Weapon or Die Hard or a thriller from the 1990s like Leon: The Professional.
Perhaps movies aren't your thing and it was on active or reserve duty with the US Military over the past 30 years or on duty with a law enforcement agency.
Whenever it was, for three decades the Beretta 92 in all of its configurations was one of the most popular 9mm handguns on the market, selling between $500 and $1000 and bringing imitations from Brazil, Egypt, Turkey, and Romania. Then things went south for the venerable model and today used and surplus Beretta 92s can be had for as little as $329.
Beretta 92 Pistol
When the 92 series debuted, it was a revolution in the firearms world. The pistol was double action, held 15 rounds of 9mm in the magazine and the open-top slide made it look vastly different than its predecessors such as the 1911, Browning Hi-Power, CZ, Smith & Wesson semi-autos, etc. In the 1980s, it was the pistol to have. Glocks were new on the scene and had taken a bad rap for their polymer frames; Sig Sauer pistols were deemed to be too expensive.
Beretta made basic changes along the way to the base model. A version came out with a more vertical grip frame known as the Vertec. The Inox models in stainless steel became available, as did an enclosed barrel model dubbed the Centurion. Double-action only models were made for customers that refused to learn anything about shooting apart from how their double-action K-frame revolver felt. The late 1990s ushered in frames with rails so we could hang lights and lasers on them.
Yet, the market grew smaller.
Other companies were offering pistols with better triggers, lighter frames, increased magazine capacity, and simplified maintenance. The misguided 1994 Federal Assault Weapon Ban made people shift to larger calibers that held closer to 10 rounds than 15. When concealed carry became a reality in many states, people did not want full-sized service pistols in their holsters; they wanted something lighter. As most police departments moved on to other firearms, so did much of the civilian firearm market.
With active duty military and veterans, there were ebbs of nostalgia; yet that group seemed split into two camps: one side that loved the Beretta M9 and the other that did not.
Perhaps the biggest hit that the Beretta 92 series took was when it was announced that it would be replaced after serving US forces as a sidearm since 1985. The armchair commandos came out in full force citing that it was time to move up to a 45 ACP handgun, screaming from the mountaintops how the bigger caliber had better results.
This, of course, is not entirely accurate. Most of the shootings with a handgun in 45 ACP were at the hands of Special Forces, Navy SEAL, Marine Recon or Delta Operator. The 9mm was more typically wielded by cooks, truck drivers or mortar men in a line unit. The comparison is one of apples to oranges as the typical cook, mortar man or truck driver simply does not have the same level of training as a tier-one warfighter. The real output of those shooting incidents is more of shot placement. A trained shooter will simply be more accurate and hence, more deadly with a pistol than a troop who is not as well trained.
Now retired Beretta 92s are hitting the police trade-in market in droves, with the average retail price between $300 and $400. The author picked one up for a sense of nostalgia. I had been in the camp that disliked the Beretta and had not shot an M9 since the early 1990s while serving as a US Marine. Over the years I had contemplated adding one to the collection but found better firearms at the same price.
The sight of a Beretta 92 FS for $300 and change, made me grab one.
It was beaten up and rough on the outside, but like new on the inside. We took her out to the desert to run a box of ammo through her and she was reliable and accurate. The Model 92 was made for shooting and three decades of service use mean there are a lot of spare parts and aftermarket accessories for this fine old warhorse.
It may not make the carry rotation but would serve fine as a home defense pistol, “truck gun” or just an excellent shooter to make noise on a Saturday afternoon.
About Mike Searson
Mike Searson's career as a shooter began as a Marine Rifleman at age 17. He has worked in the firearms industry his entire adult life as a Gunsmith, Ballistician, Consultant, Salesman, Author and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1989.
Mike has written over 2000 articles for a number of magazines, websites and newsletters including Blade, RECOIL, OFF-GRID, Tactical Officer, SWAT, Tactical World, Gun Digest, Examiner.com and the US Concealed Carry Association.