U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- The Beretta PX4 Compact is a pistol that always caught my attention but for some reason, I never pulled the trigger on buying one till now. After owning it for a bit and getting to know it, I figure it was time for a review of the PX4 Compact in 9mm.
The PX4 compact is generally described as a combination of the Beretta 92 fire control group and the rotating barrel of the Beretta 8000. What those articles leave out is the ergonomics a result of what Beretta learned with the Beretta 9000 project, the ill-fated Cougar replacement.
Why I Bought It
My first experience with the Beretta PX4 Storm series of pistols was SHOT Show 2016 where I got to shoot a Langdon Tactical PX4 Storm Compact Carry, which was phenomenal. At the time I was still very much a DA/SA shooter, around that time my CCW pistol of choice was a USP Compact which was a direct competitor to the PX4 series.
When I saw the pistol sitting in the used case at my local gun store, not only was it priced right at under $400 but it also checked the nostalgia box with its slide-mounted safety like the 92FS that I lusted after as a kid. In addition to the nostalgia factor, Ernest Langdon's 50,000 round test of the Beretta PX4 Storm Full-Size was a pretty compelling reason to give the PX4 Storm Compact a solid try.
I couldn't come up with a reason why I shouldn't buy it, so it came home with me.
Ernest Langdon's 50,000 Round Test
Before we get into my personal experience with the Beretta PX4 Storm Compact, I feel it is important that I touch on the epic 50,000 round test done by Ernest Langdon of Langdon Tactical Technology. If you haven't seen it, make sure to watch Ernest's wrap up video below. It is nothing short of impressive from a pistol that diverges from the traditional methods of locking a breach.
Cliff Notes From The Video
Over the 50,000 rounds, Ernest reports that he only saw 12 stoppages total with only 9 of those not being shooter induced. Of the 9 non-shooter induced stoppages, 8 of them were failure to eject and 1 was a failure to feed.
As for shooter induced malfunctions, Ernest had one instance of the slide locking back prematurely and 2 failure to feeds during reloading caused by hitting the slide release too early.
As far as broken parts, Ernest reported that his pistol did break its cam block somewhere around 44,000 rounds. Strangely the pistol still sort of worked but did experience 2 odd malfunctions the day prior. Once the cam block was replaced, the pistol was returned to the level of reliability he had seen for the duration of the test.
I reached out to Ernest and his wonderful wife Aimee to ask for some photos of the test pistol to share in this article which they graciously sent over. Make sure to check them out below.
(right-click and open in new tab to enlarge the photo)
At a glance, the Beretta PX4 looks like your everyday polymer-framed wonder nine, easy to overlook for more “interesting” pistols in your local gun store's gun case. If you loiter to take a closer look at the barrel and you might notice that it looks a bit different than you might be used to, and there is a great reason for that.
Both the Beretta PX4 Compact and the PX4 Full-Size utilize an uncommon rotating barrel rather than the typical locking method used in your run of the mill Glock/Sig/CZ/1911. On the surface that might not mean a whole lot, but the rotating barrel means that the pistol shoots a bit softer than more traditional designs with the same ergonomics.
Simply put (mostly because I am not an engineer) the rotating action of the barrel eats up some of the energy out of the recoil cycle. Instead of all of the energy being used to drive the slide back, some of that energy is spent rotating the barrel which results in a softer recoil impulse.
Since there is no free lunch, there is a downside. Some shooters report feeling a slight torque to the pistol in recoil, but I never noticed it should that be accurate.
Like I mentioned earlier, the Beretta PX4 Storm Compact has a slide-mounted safety/decocker like the Beretta 92FS. The PX4 Storm that I bought was an F model which means that it is the traditional safety/decocker arrangement. I did convert it to a G model by removing a spring and detent ball and found that I much preferred the G model configuration with a decocker only.
While the decocker lever and slide release could be considered slightly oversized for a “compact” (let's be honest, this is more midsize) handgun, the magazine release is a bit on the small side.
Personally, I would have liked to see the PX4 Compact offered with lower profile controls that matched the magazine release from the factory. Beretta and Langdon Tactical both offer lower profile solutions, I just never got around to ordering the parts.
As was the case with most handguns that hit the market in the early to mid 2000's, the PX4 Compact came with white 3-dot sights. They do the job, but they are far from optimal. There are several options on the market for replacement sights with most of them being night sights if you desire a change.
More importantly, Langdon Tactical has figured out a way to mount a red dot by repurposing a modified Glock MOS plate. Ernest's solution for mounting an RMR was one of the factors that pushed me over the edge on buying the gun, even if I never did the mod.
The trigger is very similar to other Beretta pistols which made it easy to get used to shooting. I did find the double-action trigger pull to be a bit on the heavy side at 12-pounds, but the 5-pound single action was about in line with other polymer-framed pistols on the market for the 20-years preceding the launch of the PX4.
Double action pull on my example came in right around the 12-pound mark which isn't out of the norm for a defensive DA trigger pull.
While the PX4 Storm Compact does have a light rail, it only accommodates lower output lights without modification to the light. I was able to make a Streamlight TLR 7 fit with some changes to the rail insert, but that may affect the warranty on the light.
Even though I was able to mount the Streamlight TLR 7 to the pistol, that completely killed any possibility of finding an off the shelf holster for the PX4 Storm Compact.
Upgrades & Available Aftermarket Parts
Like every gun that I buy, the ability to make it better fit my needs is always a consideration. Before it is pointed out in the comments, the pistol is perfectly serviceable in its stock configuration.
That said, I have not found a pistol to date that I haven't found something that I want to change a bit. Generally, it's a grip texture that isn't as aggressive as I would prefer. Sure, a smoother grip is easier to carry against bare skin but I feel like not enough texture compromises my ability to control recoil too much as well as I would like.
In the case of the PX4 Compact, I felt the stock texture was just too slick for my tastes and broke out the OT Defense Stipple kit and added more texture. Sure, I could have used a set of Talon Grips but that wouldn't have given me as aggressive of a texture as the OT Defense kit gave me.
Overall, after the addition of the stipple work was well worth it in my opinion and I can absolutely recommend sending it off to a professional stippler or giving it a go yourself if you feel comfortable tackling the job.
Making The Slide Release Work With My Grip
I also ditched the right side slide release because it got in the way of my trigger finger and I didn't see a need for it being a right-handed shooter. At the time that I owned the PX4 Compact, my EDC gun was (and still is) a Glock 19 modified by ATEi and Great Lakes Custom Works, so the loss of the right side slide release was easy to adjust to.
If the hole in the frame is too much for you, Beretta sells a plug for the hole. I would have added one to my gun but I never got around to ordering it.
Shooting The Beretta PX4 Compact
Just like the Langdon Tactical version of the PX4 Storm Compact I shot back in 2016, the base model PX4 is rather enjoyable on the range.
Nearly every round that I fed my Beretta PX4 Storm Compact was Sellier & Bellot 124-grain FMJ 9mm. While this hasn't been my go-to ammunition over the last few years, price is always a factor since I pay retail price for every round I shoot.
Shooting The Vickers/Hackathorn “Test” Drill
For the last year or two the Vickers/Hackathorn “Test” has been a benchmark drill for me along with the 25-Yard B8 Bullseye. This drill really highlights how you work with the pistol in recoil and how quickly you are able to recover for the next sight picture.
If you aren't familiar with this drill, Paul W. at Primer Peak wrote up a pretty good breakdown of “The Test.”
I was able to shoot “The Test” in 9.63 seconds for a score of 100/100 points with 6 of the 10 being in the X-ring. While it isn't an accuracy drill, I was able to squeak out a 2.752″ 10-shot group during that run.
Performance At 25-Yards
Once I pushed the target out to 25-yards, the group opened up a bit as you would expect. Another one of my benchmark drills is the Defour Hat Qual, 10 shots fired at an NRA B8 placed 25-yards away.
Sadly, I didn't record the time like a dolt but it did meet the 20 second par time. The result was a 5.482″ 10-shot group that scored 90/100.
Overall I was rather impressed with the PX4 both at typical defensive distances as well as the 25-yard line. Rarely does a pistol with non-adjustable 3 dot sights perform this well, which is a testament to the PX4's shootability.
While I didn't own the PX4 Storm for a long time, I did manage to get more than 500 rounds downrange before I sold it. Not once during the time I owned the pistol did I experience a malfunction. Even though I didn't put a million rounds through the PX4, I feel comfortable labeling it as reliable.
Frankly, I expected that level of reliability as a result of Ernest's 50k round test. The pistol flat out runs.
Despite the Beretta PX4's limited aftermarket, it is a really fantastic pistol. The stock version that I purchased wasn't quite as outstanding as the Langdon Tactical PX4 Storm Compact Carry I had the pleasure to shoot at SHOT Show 2016, but it was still pretty dang good for a gun I purchased used for under $400.
If you happen to be in the market for a compact 9mm pistol and all of the “go-to” options just don't appeal for whatever reason, the Beretta PX4 Storm Compact 9mm would be a really solid option. With the upgrades available from Langdon Tactical, many of the reasons that I might not choose the Beretta PX4 series of pistols are addressed.
After spending some quality time with the PX4 Compact in 9mm, I decided that it just wasn't for me and sold it. Now, just cause I sold it doesn't mean that I didn't rather enjoy the gun nor does it mean that I won't add another PX4 to the safe in the future.
I hung onto the PX4 Storm Compact for a while, but safe space was at a premium and it went on to a new home. I regret selling it a little bit, but I don't feel as though the PX4 Compact gave me any capability or benefit over the pistols that I chose to keep through the downsizing.
Should I come across a PX4 Storm .45 SD priced at the “couldn't say no” price level or lower, it will absolutely be coming home with me. There is just something undeniably cool about the tan framed pistol designed for the Joint Combat Pistol program back in 2006.
What Does The Beretta PX4 Storm Compact 9mm Cost?
Beretta asks an MSRP of $650 for the PX4 Storm Compact, but street prices often hover right around the $500 to $550 mark at the time this was written.
About Patrick R.
Patrick is a firearms enthusiast that values the quest for not only the best possible gear setup but also pragmatic ways to improve his shooting skills across a wide range of disciplines. He values truthful, honest information above all else and had committed to cutting through marketing fluff to deliver the truth. You can find the rest of his work on FirearmRack.com as well as on the YouTube channel Firearm Rack or Instagram at @thepatrickroberts.