THE 92 MAXIMIZED
THE BIG DA BERETTA IS GOOD, BUT YOU CAN MAKE IT AWESOME WITH THIS DIY PROJECT
The big DA Beretta is good, but owner upgrades and Wilson Combat customizations make it awesome.
Iadmit it. I can never seem to leave well enough alone. Take the issue of best battle-proven handguns.
If there is one that stands head and shoulders above the rest in this century, it is the Beretta 92. However, I set out to see if I could make this handgun even better.
First, I took a look at the outstanding Beretta/Wilson Combat 92G Brigadier Tactical, a full-blown customized gun with all the bells and whistles. But I’m a hands-on guy, so I ordered some Wilson Combat aftermarket parts and super-charged my own Beretta.
THE 92 AS-IS
Like all handguns, the Beretta has endured some controversy, but the bottom line is that it has served for well more than 30 years with no end in sight. What impressed me is that soldiers returning home from overseas often choose a Beretta for their personal sidearm.
My daughter-in-law did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and emailed home in the middle of an Afghan tour, “I want my own Beretta!” She got it when she returned home. My son Captain Matthew Campbell carried the Beretta in Kosovo, Korea and the Middle East.
Soldiers have gone through my training classes with the Beretta and a military competitor went through an instructor’s class with the Beretta and showed many of us how to shoot accurately. That was enough recommendation for me. I have kept a Beretta 92 on hand for some time to demonstrate the Beretta for classes with military shooters.
The only Beretta 9mm handgun I have seen malfunction with good ammunition was a Beretta Vertac 9mm, ex-police service, that short cycled. When field stripped, the original recoil spring was found to have lost an inch of its free length. The firing pin channel also showed signs of corrosion. This handgun had been fired untold thousands of rounds (the owner had two cases of Winchester USA Ball through it after purchasing the Beretta used) with little maintenance and no spring replacement. The Beretta gets the nod for reliability.
A CLOSER LOOK
There is a problem when learning to shoot the Beretta … the long double-action trigger press. It is relatively smooth but stiff and requires some effort to master. Some shooters never quite get it. On the other hand, I have seen military shooters work the long DA trigger and get center hits at 25 yards on the 8-inch gong and with real speed.
“LIKE ALL HANDGUNS, THE BERETTA HAS ENDURED SOME CONTROVERSY, BUT THE BOTTOM LINE IS THAT IT HAS SERVED FOR WELL MORE THAN 30 YEARS...”
The handling of the double-action pistol appeals to many shooters. The trigger press is a safety feature. The long double-action trigger is used for the first shot. The slide then cocks the hammer and subsequent shots are fired with a crisp 4.5-pound single-action trigger press.
The Beretta is controllable in rapid fire. Muzzle flip is limited. The manual safety/decock lever offers a degree of safety absent from many handguns. The safety may present an obstacle to an adversary that gains control of your weapon. The safety may be quickly moved to the off-safe position on the draw with a strong thumb motion similar to that learned when manipulating the safety of the 1911 handgun. Those who prefer a handgun with no safety may ignore the Beretta’s manual safety and carry the handgun fully loaded and rely upon the double action first shot trigger as a safety feature. The pistol also features a positive firing pin block or drop safety. The Beretta 92 handles well on a combat course. Recoil is modest even with +P loads. The tapered double-column magazine is an aid in rapidly replenishing the ammunition supply.
As a tactical pistol, the Beretta has much to recommend. As for absolute accuracy, the Beretta need take a back seat to very few pistols. The Beretta 92 9mm is more accurate than the striker-fired handguns. The SIG P226 is often pointed out as a very accurate 9mm handgun. On average, the SIG may shade the Beretta in absolute accuracy, but the margin is small. Few shooters will be able to demonstrate the advantage on a tactical course. With quality ammunition, such as the Winchester 124-grain PDX +P, the Beretta will demonstrate a 2.5-inch, five-shot 25-yard group. With generic ball training ammunition, 2.75 to 3.5 inches. Occasionally a pistol will prove more accurate than this standard.
WILSON COMBAT’S CUSTOM BERETTA
Army marksmanship units have developed accurizing procedures for the Beretta, but the procedure has been taken even further by Wilson Combat. Wilson Combat has maximized the pistol.
The Beretta/Wilson Combat 92G Brigadier Tactical provides enough custom features—listed in the accompanying sidebar—to satisfy even the fussiest handgun enthusiast. The handguns are accurate, the barrels excellent, and the trigger actions properly tuned.
If you don’t want to order a complete gun, another option is to have Wilson perform custom touches to a Beretta that you already own, such as adding a D-type hammer spring to enhance the trigger action of your stock pistol.
Wilson Combat also offers parts for the upgrade of an existing Beretta 92 or 92A1 handgun. Mine were ordered from Brownells.com.
The safety lever offered by Wilson Combat isn’t ambidextrous, but it offers an excellent surface for rapid manipulation. It is low profile and snag free. I also recommend the short reach steel trigger. This addition makes handling the Beretta 92 double-action trigger much easier. Leverage is simply excellent.
I also ordered a Wilson Combat Spring Kit, which made for a smoother trigger action. I also added the Wilson Combat hammer. The extended magazine well is an aid in rapid replenishment of the ammunition supply. My personal pistol has had the barrel recrowned and cut at a 45-degree angle, which enhances accuracy potential and limits damage to the barrel crown. This combination of features makes for a great-handling handgun.
Last, I added a set of VZ grips. I favor VZ from long experience with 1911 handguns and revolvers and this set also worked out well. All of the parts were in stock at Brownells and arrived promptly.
The Beretta was proofed with the additions described. The difference in performance was noticeable. I began drawing from my Wright Leather Works holster and firing at man sized targets at 5, 7 and 10 yards, and with magazines filled with Black Hills 115-grain FMJ ball ammunition.
The Beretta came on target quickly, and I was able to center the hits in the X ring with the new, smooth trigger action. The combination of the short trigger and spring kit made a
“WILSON COMBAT HAS MAXIMIZED THE PISTOL.”
difference in fast handling, yet reliability was not compromised as the firing pin cracked all the primers. Control in the single-action mode was excellent. I fired several magazines in the combat course and also fired at extended ranges of 15 to 25 yards. The pistol never failed to function and accuracy was good. The VZ grips provide good adhesion when firing. Moving to firing from the bench rest, I selected a number of credible defense loads. Though 25 yards is a long distance for combat work, the pistol should stay on a man-sized target to 50 yards. As the table shows, the Beretta 92 gave an excellent showing.
The Beretta is reliable as issued and accurate enough for most chores. With judicious do-it-yourself improvements coupled with practice at marksmanship, the Beretta may be a more capable and reliable handgun. If you want the ultimate Beretta, heck, just go all-out and order one from Wilson Combat.
Above:The magazine guide proved ideal for tactical use.
Middle: The Wilson Combat pistol features the Brigadier or reinforced slide. Wilson Combat photo Bottom: Wilson Combat’s safety lever is robust and allows rapid manipulation.
Below: Wilson Combat has added high profile/high visibility sights to the Beretta 92. Wilson Combat photo
Above: This is the Wilson Combat Beretta 92 with a long list of custom upgrades that makes a great pistol better. Wilson Combat photo
Left: Note the extended magazine release.
Above: An extended magazine release and aggressive grip texture are advantages of the Beretta 92 Wilson Combat pistol. Wilson Combat photo
Above: The Wilson Combat Beretta 92 offers well thought out and properly executed upgrades. Wilson Combat photo Below: The Wilson Combat safety is an oversized part that makes rapid manipulation of the safety more ergonomic.