It is hard to believe that it has been 26 years since the official adoption of the Beretta 92 pistol by the U.S. Armed Forces. I can clearly remember all of the criticism when the decision was finally reached in 1985 and the U.S. Armed Forces had a new “wondernine” to replace the 1911A1. I’m not going to get into a history lesson here, but suffice it to say that the M9 tests were only a part of the story. The M9 Beretta handgun, now known worldwide as the Beretta 92FS, not only won the M9 tests, but all of the other tests behind the scenes that very few people ever heard about.
In one of those grueling tests in particular, the only two companies whose guns were able to complete the test were Beretta and Sig Sauer, with Beretta coming out on top. Regardless as to how you feel about the Beretta 92FS design, the gun has proven itself in the heat of battle many times and continues to do just that. Now, the oldest gun manufacturer in the world has added a new twist on what has become an old favorite for many. Enter the Beretta 92A1 and the 96A1.
As a fan of the Beretta 92/96 design, it feels like I’m putting on a pair of well-worn gloves when I pick one up. This new Beretta 96A1 that I received for evaluation was no different at all. The more you use a tool of any kind, the more comfortable that tool will feel in your hand. That is at least part of the reason these guns feel so good in my hand. The other reason the gun feels as good in the hand as it does is that Beretta has never wavered in the design pattern of the grip on the 92/96FS model pistol. The high-cut tang area at the top of the backstrap and the flared out portion at the bottom of the frontstrap make for a perfect high-on-the-gun combat grip when shooting one- or two-handed.