I’ve not always been a fan of Beretta. I’ll admit that. When I was first told to turn in my 1911 to be issued an M9, I was not a happy camper, and that caused a burning hatred of the 92 series pistol that lasted for a good many years. Two decades later and I find myself to be a rabid 92 series fanatic. It took a long time to come around… but the gun garnered my favor the hard way. It earned it. Working at the gun counter for almost a 9 years, I had sold a great many Beretta products. And I do not remember a single one that ever came back with an issue. Say what you will about Beretta, I know they have their share of detractors out there… But I love Beretta. But I also know they are far from perfect. Let’s hit the high notes:
I hate to admit it, but this gun is a dinosaur. I love mine, and I think these are the best looking automatics ever built… But the design is dated and need revision. Oh, wait… You did revise it. And you called it the 92A1:
You added a rail.. which is a good… but better yet you gave it a dovetailed front sight post which was desperately needed, and you improved the internals… All of this is good, fine and well… Making this gun the best 92 you can buy. But then you changed the trigger guard to differentiate it from the M9A1. What I don’t understand though is why do you have these two very different pistols? Because a holster for an M9A1 wont work with a 92A1, not even close. I do not see the roles that these two different pistols fill. This pistol just leaves me scratching my head. So here’s what you need to do. Kill the 92A1.
Wait, what? I just said it improved everything an was the best 92 you can buy! Yes, I did. But it still needs to die. Namely because it doesn’t stand out in the 92 series line. Same with the 96A1. I would build the 96A1 within the same frame as the M9A1, same trigger guard. Giving the 96A1 the Civilian frame with the rounded trigger guards makes no sense. It’s a tactical gun and needs to be better compatible with the lights. I think this will fill that 96 nitch much better. Now, back to the 92A1… Yes, kill it. And fill the hole in the line up with with a reintroduction of the 90-TWO, renaming it simply as the 2092:
This gun looks amazing, feels amazing, and shoots as good as it looks. The reshaped safety levers are an improvement. This gun moves the Beretta family forward. It only failed because someone gave it a stupid name and your Marketing effort was completely lacking.
This was the stupidest name ever in the firearms industry. It was a failure from the start. But the pistol was awesome. It needs second chance. So rename the bloody thing and bring it back. Also, make a 2092 INOX. And just for fun, maybe INOX slides on the blackened frames and barrels… and vice versa… because two tone guns are sexy. There should also be a COMPACT version of the 2092 as well.
The Billennium. But instead of it being blinged out… Just make it Black and Inox. Here’s why. It answers the #1 Complaint that people hate on the 92 for – the Slide Mounted Safety. The Billennium’s Frame Mounted Safety – Especially if you matched that up with the old Vertec Frame – would be a WINNER.
You guys actually had it… and like the 90-Two… you failed to market it correctly. In fact, I didn’t even know this thing existed. All steel though – so it was a heavy pig. Nice idea, bad execution. Make THAT but with an alloy frame and your current rear sight… Beretta… I’m telling ya… WIN. How come this hasn’t been done already?
The NEOS. I like the pistol. But it’s skinny grip and extreme angle is ridiculous. Have you looked at a Ruger MKIII or Browning Buckmark? Well look again. Because I don’t have hands like an adolescent E.T.
This is why I’ve never bought one. I can’t even hold on to the thing. However I’ve sold it to people with smaller paws than mine, and they have loved it. Never have I sold one to a guy with bigger hands though. Look at Ruger… They have the option of a .45 like grip frame. Do that, but with maybe your Storm. A Storm like grip frame. Seriously Beretta, as much as you guys may like this thing as it is – at American Gun Counters, it turns off far more people than it impresses.
The Storm Series:
I love the Storm Pistols. Two things though… the Sub Compact with the tilting barrel… Get rid of it. It does nothing the Compact can’t do and it’s using a different action so it’s not really a sub compact version. The SD as shown. Where are the 9mm and .40 cal versions and where is the Compact version? Remember when the Navy bought a lot of HK pistols recently? They bought the compact version of the HK45, and not the full sized. Huge handguns are good… but sometimes those Operators who operate operationally need something a bit smaller so they can conceal them. And US Citizens like do something called EDC with guns with many of these features. That Midsized handgun is the sweet spot, and you need to maximize that.
I could write a 2,000 word report on everything wrong with this thing alone… But I don’t have time. So I’m going to quickly outline what it needs to fix it. It needs a major work-over. The pyramid iron sights… Kill it. Run a full rail across the top end to end. Let customers use AR style irons of their choice. No one likes these sights that doesn’t work for Beretta and have to say they do. Extend the the body out till only an inch from the muzzle. Thread the barrel. Give it a thread cap. Threads should be a common type. Supply a flashhider/muzzle brake with it. I like the lack of rails on the side and bottom, but put mounting hardware in there so rails can be added where needed. The bottom of the pistol grip makes fast reloads a challenge. Shape it like a normal pistol grip. The Bolt Release needs to be a Safety. On both sides, make it ambi. Push the bolt handle out front and give it an HK style bolt catch and release. That stock. Get rid of it. Put on a SCAR style Folding/Adjustable stock. Done. Now just rename it. Your other rifles are the ARX series… call this one the ARX9 or ARX40 or ARX45 per caliber and you have a WINNER. You’ll sell more than you ever had before.
I’m only going to touch on 1 shotgun.
I want a pistol grip version and I want the feed tube to run out to the end of the barrel. Make these options. I also want mounting points at the front end so I can attach a short rail section to add a tactical light. That’s it. Simple.
The 1911. It’s a fantastic shooting platform. I had gotten away from it for some years and now I’m back to it for the time being. As an instructor I’ve made many observations on the guns and the shooters and I think I’ve come up with some conclusions.
1. The 1911 demands loyalty. You can’t cheat on it and have it be faithful back to you. If you are going to carry a 1911, you need to marry it. Here’s why… In most every class I’ve taught that had a 1911 shooter in it, I’ll catch a guy draw his weapon, push out from the high compressed position, and then crush his trigger to no effect because he forgot to sweep the safety off. Most of the guys that do that, do so because their other guns are not 1911′s. They are Glocks or XD’s or M&P’s or something altogether not 1911′s. Don’t cheat on the 1911. Because that’s going to lead some issues.
2. Don’t go shorter than 4 inches. 1911′s that are shorter than a “Commander” start to give up reliability. You give up other things as well to the point that you are detracting from the fantastic qualities that make the 1911 the 1911 in the first place. The long sight radius, the accuracy, the pointability… These things make a 1911 what it is. Chopping them down to 3 inches… you’ve ruined it. You no longer have the pointing, the accuracy, the very things we love the 1911 for. And I’ve never seen a compact 1911 of any sort complete one of my handgun courses without turning into a hot mess of problems. The Commander is 4.25 inches. Many 1911 makers are doing a 4″ version, and they seem to be running just about as well as any good full sized 5″ “Government” model. Shorter than 4, it’s effecting the geometry and the timing and it’s just not worth the risk in reliability for the perception of greater concealment.
3. The 1911 needs to be well lubricated. Some guys like oil, some grease, and others a combo of both in different places. However you like it – that’s fine. As long as you oil it. Most every 1911 I’ve seen with issues that wasn’t shorter than 4″, was a pistol that was bone dry. Just like an AR-15, it can be hot, and dirty… but it can’t be dry. The 1911 likes to be wet.
4. The 1911 is a traditional type of pistol so it needs a traditional type of holsters – leather. Good leather. Most 1911′s are north of $1,000 dollars, so don’t even think about it letting it ride in a cheap rig. And remember what I said about marrying the 1911? That means showing it the respect that it deserves… let it ride in something nice. Let it know you care. Here’s the other reason… The 1911 is not for the Duffers. It’s a pistol for the experts. It’s for the experienced shooters. It should show some miles on it. Let it get some holster wear, let that holster break in… And you do that by #5…
5. You Must Train with it. Practice your draw. Practice your re-holstering. Practice getting that one thing that the 1911 excels at – that fast and precise first round heavy hit. All gunfights have one thing in common. That first shot. Make it count.
I’ve a rather short list of handguns that are of interest to me, at the moment. Perhaps the fascination will pass on these, but the Want Factor has been quite high all year so far.
1. The Walther PPQ M2 5″.
The P99 I reviewed for Concealed Carry Magazine really impressed me, overall. But a couple things that irritated me to one degree or another on the P99 was removed or fixed in the PPQ. Namely the mag release and the decocker button on the top of the slide. The PPQ retains everything good about the P99, just cleaned up. Like a Subaru WRX without the Spoiler and Hood Nostril. Talking to some other guys about the PPQ, such as Jon Hodoway from Nighthawk Custom Training… it’s quietly becoming a favorite in the class of Polyframed Striker Fired pistols.
2. The SIG M11-A1.
This is basically a reintroduction of the very excellent SIG P228… Which is what SIG is now calling the 229… but the 229 has rails. Don’t try to figure it out – it’s SIG and they just do things like that. But it takes nothing away from the M11A1… Which is an excellent pistol and one that’s been on my mind more and more lately. Slightly shorter than the full sized 226, the M11A1 comes home to that “Just Right” size for me. For EDC work both Open or Concealed, this gun can get it done. And has been getting it done under the 228 tag for a long time. I had a 228 that I used as a backup gun for some time and it was quiet excellent. I did have some problems with the trigger return spring, but that was an easy fix and it never troubled me again. I miss that gun. This is it’s resurrection.
3. The Ruger Super Blackhawk, 4 5/8″, .44 Magnum.
Nothing quite says “You’re Doomed” like thumbcocking back the hammer on an accurate and powerful single action revolver. I’m more fond of the western style revolvers than I am the more “modern” double action types. There’s something about the classic heritage of the breed that is both fascinating and just… I don’t know how to say it… “The way it should be”. Especially when dealing with full potency magnum loads. The only thing I’d do to this gun would be to get a Gold Bead front sight put in. That’s it. The reason I picked this over the Vaquero… the sights… the magnum frame… and a grip that fits my hand better. The Vaquero felt too small to me. Nice, but too small. That and with the Blackhawks I can really place my shots. For me, that’s a requirement with a gun with only a few rounds in it. The shorter barrel looks properly handsome as well. If I was in a rural area again where Open Carry didn’t even cause folks to look twice – That’s what I’d be packing most of the time I think. (Along with a Truck Gun in the same caliber… Such as a Rossi 92 20″)
The Beretta 90-Two. Beretta’s best and worst in one single package. Let me explain why.
On one hand, it’s absolutely the best. The best handgun Beretta has ever made. It has all the latest features and updated good looks that really take it into the next century. I love the swept lines and new contours in the frame on the safety levers.
On the other hand, it has the worst name they could have given the pistol. I had people come to me at the gun counter and say “I want a Beretta ninety two.” Yes, I have that right here. “No, a ninety two.” You get my point. It’s name was made of confusion. Had they called in a 2092 or something, it would have worked. Colt and STI did similar things for the “1911″ and it worked. Worked just fine, without being cute. In fact, it was more descriptive and accurate if a name. People knew what you were talking about.
The internal buffer and the dovetailed sights are both features of the 92A1… and that’s great. But the 92A1 doesn’t have the fresh new look.
I’ve been wanting one of these more and more this year. For no specific reason.
Here’s the other gun I’m wanting. The 92FS Compact. I have no real justification for it. It’s only a little bit smaller than the standard 92FS. A little shorter in barrel and slide, a little shorter in the grip frame. So it’s really not so “Compact”. It’s more of a 92 “Commander” in that it takes the gun that feels rather large and turns it into a gun that feels “Just right”. I can’t describe it any better than that. It just felt oh so very “right” when I drooled on one at the last gun show I went to in Utah. I passed it up, but the gun has been on my mind ever since and as of late as been doing laps like a motorcyclist in one of those round steel cages.
Both of these guns are very high in Want Factor for me. I want them bad. But I can resist buying them because of rational reasons. But rationality can only go so far.
Now, if Beretta made a 90-TWO Compact. I’d just have to throw my hands up and surrender to the Beretta Trident and do something very foolish to quickly raise the money to buy one immediately. Because that’s what I really want. I don’t think I could take living in a world that has that and me not having one.
I’ve talked about the best choices for Concealed Carry, but what about for the guys who have to carry openly? Law Enforcement, PMC, Security Contractor, or general Open Carry use, these are going to require a different type of handgun. Basically as much gun on your hip as you can get. Full sized, full capacity, none of the compromises required for Concealment.
SIG 226/220. This full sized SIG is a classic and the choice of a great many gunslinging professionals. A big capacity and rugged construction combined with reliability and accuracy. It’s everything you could want in a Side Arm. Unless you want a larger caliber. The 220 everything you like about the 226, but in .45 Auto. This big bore auto is known as “The Thinking Man’s .45″ and that does indeed make sense when you’ve spent time with the gun. Same capacity as a 1911, but offers a decocking DA/SA fire control profile. This is probably the safest autoloading handgun I know of. (226 included) They are also very accurate.
Glock 17/22. Depending on your choice of 9mm or .40 cal, these guns are probably the first choice of more police departments than anything else. Very low bore axis, and a simple striker fired trigger mechanism makes these guns very easy to shoot well with once you get used to the triggers. 17 rounds of 9mm was an improvement over the typical 15 rounds others guns had, and 15 rounds of .40 cal is nothing to sneeze at these days.
Glock 20/21. 10mm or .45, these full sized beasts give you everything you need to pull duty on a dark and storm night. A lot of Law Enforcement Officers are running the 21 and I know a few that are running the 10mm. 15 rounds of 10mm is a lot of firepower. With good accuracy and legendary reliability – A Glock is never a wrong choice.
Beretta 90 Series. The 92FS, 92F, M9, M9A1, 92A1, 90-TWO, 96, 96A1. Shooting the big Beretta is like driving a Cadillac. Big, comfortable, comforting, reliable and accurate all with Hollywood good looks. Beretta has a lot of visual style, but what I like best is the almost straight line feeding. Mine can feed empty casing. Super smooth action as well, thanks to it’s unique locking block. The Beretta won the US Army contract for a good reason. Like it or not – and I know I’m going to open a can of worms here – it kicked SIG’s ass in the Trials. It kicked everyone’s asses in the Trials. So much so that the Army actually had to “dumb down” the test just so the SIG could stay in the race and the Beretta wouldn’t be a lone competitor. The 90 Series is battle proven around the world.
Beretta Px4 STORM. This is Beretta’s newest service auto. It uses a unique rotating barrel action with a traditionally Beretta like DA/SA trigger mechanism. This action makes the Storm a soft shooting pistol as it takes more energy out of the recoil. Like the 90 Series, the sights and the barrel maintain their relationship, they are very accurate shot to shot. With good triggers and comfortable recoil – it’s easy to be a good shot with the Px4 STORM. Even the Mid sized version… But the full sized is seriously just a pussycat. You can get it in 9, .40, and .45 auto. It’s one of my favorite new autos.
S&W M&P. S&W decided to get serious with the Poly Striker platform and forced Glock to rush the Gen 4 to market. Smith took a lot of LEO sales away from Glock. The Swampy as some call it, is a good pistol and a huge step up from Smith’s prior Glock Attack, the SIGMA. *shudder*. I bought one for my eldest Son, who upon getting the pistol, loading it, and having never fired it before – drilled the X in the target as perfectly as an Olympic Marksman from 20 yards. They are accurate guns. Like my Glocks, his Swampy has never failed.
Walther PPQ. This gun surprised me. The prior P99 was a gun that surprised me too. 500 rounds of mixed ammunition, it never failed. But it had a couple characteristics that made it an oddity. Such as the push down mag release and the top of the slide decocker button. The PPQ does away with the decocker on top and gives the gun a normal and familiar mag release. Honestly I didn’t mind the P99′s mag release and I found that I would use my trigger finger to drop the mags, just like I did with my HK. The PPQ is now available in either 4 or 5 inch barrel lengths and in 9mm or .40 caliber. The PPQ feels good in the hand and is probably one of the best and most under-rated service autos on the market. Let me put it this way – I really want a PPQ and will be buying one this year. Or Trading for it. A few years ago I had said that Walther was struggling to maintain it’s validity. The PPQ anchors it.
Springfield Armory XDM. Good trigger, good sights, and huge capacities make the XDM a solid choice. If you can get passed it’s “only a mother could love it” looks. While I’m not the biggest fan, I have to respect it. They are super accurate and easy to shoot well with. I know owners who have dumped a lot of rounds with astounding accuracy through their M’s.
HK P30 and HK45. The Germans really do engineer some fine hardware. But the P30 and the HK45 are both over priced and in my opinion over rated. With a standard trigger package, I find their triggers to be lacking in the quality of trigger pull that I would expect from such expensive guns. And I don’t like glow in the dark toy like sights that come on them stock. Again, for such an expensive gun, I want Tritiums on it right out of the box. Don’t get me started on the price of spare mags. For what you pay for an HK, it should come with Tritiums and 4 spares. All that aside – these guns deserve consideration. They are sharp looking, and they feel good in the hand. You can not go wrong with an HK, you really can’t. They are very well made. And after you dump enough rounds through it… Cost wise, would be enough to put a kid through a 12 credit semester of college, the trigger does feel pretty decent. They do look good… Like new BMW or Mercedes good looking. Pistol-Training.com’s Todd Green did a long term test on the P30 and it ran some 93,000 rounds before forced retirement. You could buy a new car for that much… Or you could afford to get sick or even have a (small) accident under Obamacare for that much money. I believe that none of his other tests have run that distance… Which ultimately makes the HK’s probably the best choice out of the lot.
It’s all about simplicity, really. Nothing needs to be tuned or tweaked. Nothing needs adjusted. Out of the box, you could take it, unprepared to a 500 round pistol course and run it without problems. Then when you get home you can throw it in your gun vault and neglect it for as long as you like. When you take it out again, it will still run.
Any “upgrades” are optional. Such as sights. You can shoot it just fine with the factory sights, but may find improvement with some aftermarket options. But that doesn’t effect the reliability. It’s out of box performance is exceptional. Easily the best I’ve experienced. Even better than S&W M&P’s and XDM’s, both of which are outstanding systems. And while many complain that Glock is uncomfortable – that’s something that is easily changed like the Sights. You can do it yourself. At home. With some sandpaper and a soldering iron that you can buy for 10 bucks from Harbor Freight. I did.
If you were looking for new sub compact .380 pistol, Beretta has a new option for you.
As small as .380 Mouse Guns go, it looks good. Looks like it’s for little lady hands… I think I’d have to use chopsticks to hold it. But it’s cool looking, and it looks like it has good sights too.
I knew I was going to catch some flak from my 1911 Brothers out there for selecting, of all guns, the Glock in a .40. The Anti-1911. You wouldn’t believe the amount of flak I’m catching from work! They have been merciless. Let’s just say I don’t work at a Glock Shop. Guys, I am not turning my back on the 1911. I am still a 1911 Guy. But before I am a 1911 Guy, I’m a Gun Guy… which means I like guns… all guns.
The Glock’s biggest criticism is that it’s ugly. Many owners think it beautiful. Regarding the Glock’s beauty. I’ll be the first to say… it’s not Pretty. However the Function of it is what can make a Glock absolutely gorgeous. The low bore axis helps reduce muzzle flip. Combine that with that funky grip angle that helps return the gun to point of aim faster… now lets add in what really is a fine trigger pull… consistent and the same every time… with a super short Trigger Reset… And it’s simple. Nothing complicated. Nothing “trick”. It’s about as straight forward of a mechanism as it gets. The Glock really is the whole enchilada when it comes to Function. That’s why I am going to give the Glock another chance. I didn’t contact Glock for a Review gun, I ordered one for my own outright purchase.
When my Glock 23 arrived, I took off my SIG P229R and picked up the Glock. I had to carry it. I loaded it up with some 165 grain PDX1′s from my SIG Mags, and tucked it in. I know I usually advocate the test firing of your carry gun with your choice of carry ammo, but in this case, I had no concerns. There are 3 lines of guns have always felt comfortable with right out of the box. HK’s, SIG 22X series, and of course, Glock. See, I’ve owned a Glock before. A Gen1 17. I’ve been to this rodeo before… I know the Glock well enough and have always respected it’s reliability.
I dismissed them when the Gen2 came out, and I’ve not paid any attention to them since. They just didn’t feel right in my hand. The RTF2 grip feels much better to me, I don’t know why. I started looking at the Glocks again when we got in a 17RTF2 and I thought, “You know, this isn’t bad at all.” I’ve got friends who are into Glocks and they all kept recommending them. A lot of guys I respect recommended them. LittleLebowksi from WeTheArmed.com is one of them, but the kicker came Las Vegas. At SHOT Show, my friend Mark Walters and I sat down at Ceaser’s Palace and we had a good conversation. During which Mark gave good testimony about his favorite gun, the Glock 23. It was a convincing argument. I promised I’d give Glock a second look. So I did.
I borrowed a Glock 17 and shot several magazines through it. After a few mags I got used to the grip angle. It shot just as I expected it would. Reliable and predictably accurate. I had no problem with it. However I’m just not all that interested in a 9mm. I’ve become reacquainted with the .40, a caliber I used to stake my life on back in Virginia. My 229 is incredible with the .40 when it comes to shootability, but it’s heavy. When I carry I do the “AllDamnDay” Carry and that usually means from 6AM to 10PM. That’s a long time to have a Heater strapped on. As much as love the SIG P229… and I really do… I want (no, not need… just want) a lighter gun for all day carry. A mid-sized gun, not a compact, not a mouse gun for pocket carry… a Mid sized gun in a mid sized caliber. From Glock that means Mark’s beloved model 23. The balance of form, function and firepower is just perfect for what I was looking for. The Glock 23 is just “it”.
The RTF2 grip texture is said to be too rough, but it does perfectly what it was designed to do. Lock the gun into your hand so it wont slip. Oh, it does that. But it isn’t “Fabric Friendly” so you gotta watch what you wear over it, and you sure as hell want to wear something under it… it can be… abrasive. But when you draw the gun, and it’s in your hand. It’s going nowhere.
The large Tritium front sight post of these Warren Tacticals.
The trigger is one of the things that Glock Owners like to brag about. It’s worth bragging on, because it’s pretty dang good. The pull is consistent, shot to shot. But the trigger reset is what really sets it apart. The distance which you let the trigger move forward, to where it resets so you can fire it again… very short in the Glock. One of the shortest, if not the shortest resets on the market. What this does for the shooter is to allow that trigger to be run quickly and efficiently… which makes for fast and accurate shooting. Something Glocks are very good at. When I roll into an IDPA match, I note who’s shooting Glocks. More and more frequently it’s the guys with those Glocks that are on the tops of the Leader Boards.
Accuracy? That goes without saying. Glocks are going to just as accurate as any other service auto. And when it comes to practical accuracy, they can be even more so. From the holster to putting rounds into the target, they are just as fast as the classic old 1911 while shooting groups that rival John M Browning’s Masterpiece. This is why so many Law Enforcement Agencies have adopted Glocks. Combine this accuracy, the utter reliability, and the simplicity of the Glock system, you have something a Department can issue to all its officers with little more training necessary than with a service revolver. Many departments have reported improvements in qualification scores overall after a Glock adoption.
Does this mean I have gone over to “The Dark Side”? Why, yes, I think it does..