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OVER the last four centuries, Beretta has turned out a wide range of firearms for military, law enforcement and sporting applications. Today, the product most often associated with Beretta is the Model 92 semi-automatic pistol. Introduced in the late 1970s, the M92 enjoys universal popularity. For over 20 years it has been the standard sidearm of the United States Military. It is also widely utilized by law enforcement agencies, including the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; Holmdel Township, New Jersey Police Department; Maryland State Police and the St. Louis Police Department.

Over the last couple of years, Beretta has taken steps to further modernize their line of service pistols. One of their brightest spots now is the Px4 Storm. The Storm pistol uses a unique rotary barrel and locking system along with a weight-saving polymer frame.

Just when you think that all the possibilities with the M92 have been exhausted, Beretta is back with something a bit different. Dubbed the 90-Two, this new pistol takes the now classic design into the 21st century.

Over the last few months, I’ve had an opportunity to check out the Px4 Storm as well as the 90-Two. Both hold some very tangible advantages over the M92.

beretta1.gif90-Two Details
Without question, the M92 is one of the most reliable semi-auto designs ever produced. I’ve maintained an M92D as a training gun for over a dozen years and it has never malfunctioned. Combat accuracy is first rate and this is the only double-action-only (DAO) pistol I feel entirely comfortable with. Other M92s that have come my way have all been solid performers. In the grand scheme of things, I would have to rate the M92 as a cut above.

So what’s not to like? High on most critics’ lists is grip circumference. The grip on the M92 stretches my medium-size hand to the limit. Shooters with smaller hands often have a hard time getting a proper grip and as a result, performance suffers.

This issue has been addressed with the new 90-Two. The 90-Two casts the same familiar profile of the M92, complete with the open top slide. The careful eye will detect something a bit different with the grip. The one-piece grip is modular in nature and can be easily removed from the skeletonized frame. A smaller grip is available as an option and can be retrofitted to the 90-Two’s frame. This will have significant appeal to agencies that have to outfit personnel with a wide variety of hand sizes with a single pistol.

The polymer frame features molded-in texturing for a non-slip hold. Despite the fact that during testing, the cold winter weather made gloves a necessity, the grip proved comfortable and its raised surfaces prevented shifting in rapid fire.

The original M92 was only available in 9mm. I doubt if any other handgun cartridge has ever generated the controversy as has the 9mm. Of course, if the nine was not your cup of tea, the M96 in .40 was available for the taking. The new 90-Two is available in both 9mm and .40, and our test sample was chambered for the latter cartridge. In .40 caliber persuasion, the magazine of the 90-Two holds 12 rounds.

Moving up toward the business end, you will see a polymer shield under the dust cover. This shield protects the integral Picatinny rail and is easily removed. During testing, I mated a Streamlight TLR-2 white light/laser aimer combo to the 90-Two and had a very good go of it.

The triggerguard of the 90-Two has been rounded off. I have never been a big fan of squared-off triggerguards since they serve as some sort of invitation for anyone to put the index finger of the support hand out there. Unless you have really big hands and long fingers, this weakens the shooting grip. Kudos to Beretta for returning to the classic look. Sharp edges on the controls such as the decocker/safety have also been eliminated. The recontoured safety lever is less likely to bite the thumb during high speed manipulation.

Controls are in the same familiar location as the M92. The slide-mounted safety decocks the hammer when swept to the “down” position. Users or agencies who prefer “on safe” carry of the double-action (DA) pistol will be well served with the ambidextrous safety lever of the 90-Two.

Takedown of the 90-Two is very straightforward. After depressing the takedown latch, the slide and barrel are easily separated from the frame. I also noted that the 90-Two features a captive recoil spring and guide unit. This makes reassembly easier than with the separate spring and guide of the M92.

Once I had the 90-Two broken down for initial cleaning, I was puzzled by a strip of electric blue material set in the frame. A quick call to Beretta solved the mystery. This material is a piece of blue anodized aluminum and it serves as a buffer. Should a tired recoil spring get a little long in the tooth, the buffer will help to protect the frame and enhance its longevity.

Finish on the 90-Two is Beretta’s proprietary black Bruniton. While not as pretty as a bright blue, this non-reflective matte finish holds up very well to the elements. Both the front and rear sights are dovetailed to the slide. Our sample 90-Two was equipped with SuperLuminova 3-dot sights. When given a zap with your flashlight, the photosensitive material in the SuperLuminova sights will glow for up to 30 minutes.

There is no getting around the fact that the 90-Two is still a big gun, which is best suited for open-belt carry or tactical operations. Its barrel measures 4.9 inches in length and should yield maximum ballistic potential. Overall length is 8.5 inches and the 90-Two weighs in at 32.5 ounces.
The pistol received for evaluation featured a traditional DA trigger system. I wouldn’t be surprised if other trigger actions were available in the future.

beretta3.gifPx4 Storm Details
I was very prepared not to like the Px4 Storm pistol. Just what the world needs, another polymer pistol. But I’m really glad that I took the time to check out the Storm. After taking it on a long test drive, it has won me over. In fact, it didn’t take too long.

The Beretta Px4 Storm is a service caliber pistol built on a polymer frame. Storm pistols in 9mm and .40 have been available for a few years now. Currently, a .45ACP variant has just been added to the mix. I wouldn’t be too surprised if a Storm in .357SIG were to follow.

Externally, the Px4 Storm is a bit smaller than the 90-Two. It’s also lighter at 27.63 ounces, largely due to its weight-saving polymer frame. Being both smaller and lighter, the Storm is well suited to open uniform or concealed carry. Total length is 7.55 inches with a 4.02-inch barrel.

The Storm uses technology pioneered in other Beretta designs. Beretta’s first centerfire polymer frame pistol was the M9000S compact, designed for discreet carry. The double duty Px4 is a more versatile pistol and utilizes a techopolymer fiberglass reinforced frame that is light yet extremely durable.

Users who have been handicapped with large, double-wide grip frames would do well to check out the Storm. Three interchangeable backstraps are provided to let the user optimize the fit to the hand. Beretta’s ad campaign for the Storm speaks of fitting “the gun to the hand” and this would be a pretty accurate assessment of the possibilities. Backstraps are easily detachable so that one can find that perfect fit.

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The Storm’s lockup does not use the falling block of the M92 or the Browning-style cam. Instead, a rotating barrel, similar to that of the earlier M8000 Cougar, is used. This is a very strong design, well suited for hot rounds like the 9mm +P, .40 and .357SIG. Since the barrel remains on the same axis throughout the firing cycle, intrinsic accuracy is enhanced.

Other nice touches on the Storm include a molded-in Picatinny rail and the same SuperLuminova sights as used on the 90-Two. Tritium night sights are available as a factory option.

Other polymer frame pistols are square and homely. The Px4 Storm, on the other hand, looks a little racy. It just looks like it should be running down the freeway at 100 mph. Like other Beretta service pistols, metal surfaces are coated with black Brunition.

The copy received for testing was an “F” model with a traditional DA/SA trigger system and an ambidextrous slide mounted decocker. Other models include the “G” with a decock function only, a DAO “D,” and an innovative “C” (constant action) with a shorter, lighter trigger pull throughout the firing cycle. Fellow correspondent Rich Grassi tested a C version recently and gave it high marks. Looking into my crystal ball, I feel that pistols with C-type trigger actions will eventually eclipse both the traditional DA and DAO pistols in popularity. Right now, the C variants are limited to law enforcement.

The sample pistol received for evaluation was chambered for the world standard 9mm cartridge. Magazine capacity in the 9mm Storm is 17 rounds, a two-round boost over the original M92. Magazines will not interchange with the M92 or 90-Two pistols.

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Available Extras
LaserMax, a world leader in the development of innovative systems, has yet another winner on their hands. The new Uni-Max is an ultra compact light laser sight that can be fitted to any firearm with a Picatinny rail. Adjustable for windage and elevation, the Uni-Max projects a red/orange 635 nanometer wave toward the target and is just the ticket for getting a reliable index in low light.

Activation is accomplished by pushing an ambidextrous switch and power is supplied by a pair of silver oxide 357 batteries. The Uni-Max and Px4 pistol went together like ham and eggs.

Three seasons of the year, I’m not at all put off by maxing out those high capacity magazines the hard way, one round at a time! Winter on the other hand, wreaks havoc with my ability to efficiently and quickly load these same magazines. Cold weather means loss of physical dexterity and my fingers coming into contact with all those sharp edges. Enter the UpLULA (Universal Pistol Loader UnLoader) loader to save the day.

The UpLULA is a universal loading tool that works with both double and single stack magazines. It easily handles all popular pistol cartridges including 9mm, .357SIG, .40, 10mm and .45ACP. Simply slide the UpLULA loader over your magazine and with a simple squeeze and push technique, you can top off in the blink of an eye. Best of all, it saves those fingers no matter what time of the year it is.

I have never been particularly fond of “Mexican Carry” and have always preferred to carry my pistol in a holster. Other pistoleros, however, have different requirements. The GI Stealth Concealment Holster does offer a viable alternative to just sticking the pistol inside the pants.

Made of a durable polymer, the Stealth Holster attaches to the Picatinny rail of your pistol. The pistol is then inserted into the waistband where the integral carrying clip of the Stealth holster catches the belt. The fact that a light or laser can be affixed to the rail of the holster is an added plus.

The GI Stealth Concealment Holster presents some very interesting possibilities. I have gotten away from IWB carry, primarily due to a tender strong-side hip, but this concept has merit for younger, sleeker operators. It was a little tricky drawing the 90-Two with a light attached, but the naked gun can be quickly presented with the Stealth holster.

Reliability of both the Px4 Storm and 90-Two was true to the Beretta tradition. No malfunctions of any type were noted throughout the test.

Of the pair, the 90-Two displayed slightly better accuracy when fired from the bench. The requisite 25-yard, five-shot groups were fired with the aid of a Dan Wesson Sure Sight pistol rest. With the 90-Two, best results were achieved with Hornady CQ-TAP 180-grain hollowpoints, which fell into a very tight 2.38 inches. Two Black Hills 180-grain offerings were not far behind and our sample pistol seemed to display a preference for heavier bullets.

beretta2.gifIn the Px4 Storm, Speer’s +P 124-grain Gold Dot load was top dog. Tight clusters were also obtained with Winchester 147-grain JHPs and some vintage Federal XM9001 RCMP-spec 115-grain hollowpoints. In our test pistols, all loads tested averaged 3.50 inches or less from 25 yards.

The pistols were also given a workout in some high speed combat drills. With the Storm pistol, I used a Gould & Goodrich Yaqui Slide. This classic minimalist holster held the gun tight to the body and enabled me to get the Storm into action very quickly.

The rail configuration of the 90-Two prevented me from using it with the BlackHawk holsters I normally use with the M92. Instead, I pressed a Bianchi Cobra Tactical holster into service. On the upside, this allowed me to use the 90-Two along with a Streamlight TLR-2 white light/laser aimer.

Of the two pistols, I preferred the Px4 Storm. It had a lighter DA trigger and the first shot hit probability was very good. I especially liked the fact that it could be carried in either concealed or on the Sam Browne belt. After extensive testing, the Storm pistol has recently been selected by the Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, Sheriff’s Office.

Shooters who prefer the now classic M92 would do well to check out the next generation. If a full-size service pistol is your cup of tea, the 90-Two can do it all.

Today’s defensive pistol market is extremely competitive. The bottom line is that if you don’t build what people want, somebody else will. Beretta has apparently been listening. Both the Px4 Storm and 90-Two embody the qualities much in demand with discriminating consumers.

What would I change? Quite frankly, the Px4 Storm is pretty much good to go. I felt a little klutzy at first trying to quickly manipulate the slide mounted safety/decocker, but it quickly came together with just a little range time. If your preference runs to DA/SA pistols, the Storm is one of the best.

I wished the DA pull on my sample 90-Two had been a little lighter. When pushing that gas pedal all the way to the floor, heavy DA triggers caused me to drop that first shot low. I don’t know if it’s possible, but a C variation trigger in the 90-Two would probably have great appeal.

How about including that smaller, modular grip as part of the basic 90-Two package? Marketing it as an option only limits the appeal of this pistol. I bet quite a few shooters would opt for the smaller handle if it were included in the basic kit.

The future looms bright for these Beretta pistols. These highly evolved designs represent the future of the world’s oldest gunmaker.

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