A History of Beretta’s Amazing 100 Year 9mm Pistol Legacy

Michael Crites


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Beretta 9mm models cover via Beretta

Beretta is a household name in the world of 9mm semi-auto handguns and has been making them continuously for generations. We give you all you need to know to carefully select the right one.

In This Article:

Who is Beretta?

Armi Beretta SpA of Gardone Val Trompia has a history in firearms manufacturing reaching back to 1526 when Mastro Bartolomeo Beretta received the regal sum of 296 ducats to construct 185 arquebus barrels for the Arsenal of Venice.

Now close to the 500-year mark, the company is still going strong and is known for more than just their barrels.

Beretta's early 9mms

Beretta’s first semi-auto pistol, Model 1915, was a 9mm, albeit the slightly underpowered 9mm Glisenti variant of the 9x19mm cartridge.

Adopted by the Royal Italian Army as their service pistol during the Great War, at a time when the country was fighting the German-allied Austro-Hungarian Empire in a series of brutal campaigns in the Alps, some 70,000 M1915s were produced and reportedly gave good service in the grueling “Fronte alpino,” in which Italian Arditi commandos fight up close and personal hand-to-hand raids against Austro-German defenders.

Beretta M1915 via Beretta side by side
Photo: The Beretta M1915, the Italian gunmaker's first 9mm pistol.
Italian Arditi
Photo: Italian Arditi shock troops, who preferred pistols, grenades, and fighting knives over more cumbersome rifles when it came to raiding Austrian trenches in the Alps during WWI, were fans of the Beretta M1915, chambered in 9mm Glisenti.

Beretta introduced a shorter replacement of the M1915, the M1923, still chambered the 9mm Glisenti round, after WWI and was adopted by the Italians.

Beretta M1923 via Beretta side by side
Photo: The Beretta M1923, the Italian gunmaker's interwar 9mm pistol design.

By the early 1930s, the company had developed a 7+1 capacity blowback semi-auto for the Royal Italian Army, the M1934, with the duty weapon chambered in “9mm Corto,” which is basically just spicy .380ACP by another name.

Over a million of these Beretta pistols were produced, with the service pistol remaining in the Italian military for a generation as well as being used in Africa and the Balkans as late as the 1990s.

Beretta M1934 by Beretta side by side
Photo: The Beretta M1934, was the most popular "9mm" the company made in the first half of the 20th Century, although its cartridge was actually a .380ACP.

Then came the…

Beretta 1951

The Beretta M1934, M1923, and M1951 via Beretta. All were designed by the company's genius engineer, Tullio Marengoni, who could rightfully be thought of as the grandfather of today's Model 92.
The Beretta M1934, M1923, and M1951 via Beretta

The immediate replacement for the M1934 pistol, which was chambered in 9mm Corto, was the slightly larger M1951 or 951, introduced in the early 1950s.

The svelte single-stack Beretta pistol proved successful, especially in overseas sales throughout the Middle East, being made under license in Iraq (as the Tariq) and in Egypt by Maadi (as the Helwan Brigadier).

While this particular Beretta pistol hasn’t been manufactured in decades, there are tons of these vintage warhorses still riding and they often pop up on the secondary market as overseas military and police users surplus them out.

For instance, Gander Mountain was selling these, in fair condition, for as low as $199 just a year or so ago.

However, be aware that the locking blocks on these old guns are typically worn out and should be replaced, especially when it comes to the Egyptian clones which sometimes have questionable metallurgy.

An upgraded block that costs about $70 recently hit the market, but when coupled with the cost of the cost, you are getting into the same territory that is occupied by used early Model 92s, which are literally twice the gun, growing from an 8+1 to a 15+1 capacity.

Beretta 92 Series

Beretta 92 disassembled via Beretta

Introduced in 1974, the Beretta Model 92 was a game-changer. Fitted with a 4.9-inch barrel standard, it had a 15+1 magazine capacity in 9mm Para/Luger.

Double-action, this Beretta pistol had a frame-mounted safety, giving users a more effective operating system than legacy guns like the Browning Hi-Power with more capacity to boot.

Keep in mind at the time the only competition when it came to capacity was the CZ 75, a product from the other side of the Iron Curtain.

The gun proved immediately successful.

Over the past 40 years, Beretta has introduced a staggering variety of Model 92 series pistols including 5.9-inch barreled examples, 4.9-to-5.1-inch barrel full-sized or standard models, and shorter 4.3-to-4.7-inch variants. Let us wade through the options.


Beretta 92S ex Italian police
The 92S was the first practical Beretta 92 series gun made in large numbers. With their low-mounted magazine release, they are unpopular on the American market.

After the initial run of 5,000 of the first series Model 92s in 1976, the 92S was introduced and included a slide-mounted firing pin blocking safety rather than the original frame-mounted safety lever.

Like the original Beretta pistol, it has a European-style magazine release button located at the base of the pistol grip. Long discontinued from Beretta’s catalog, container loads of 1970s and 1980s-production Model 92S pistols from European police and military surplus stocks, have been coming into the U.S. in recent years.

These guns are often well-used but, once the springs are changed out and new magazines with the proper cutout for the bottom-mounted safety are sourced, make economical pistols that usually have a lot of life left in them.

92 Combat

This is one of Beretta’s hardest-to-find models– at least in America. It has a 5.9-inch extended target barrel and adjustable sights, but only about 50 were imported to the U.S. in the 1990s, with the typical asking price these days running about $3K.

The distinctive look of the guns was mimicked in the 1994 action film, Léon: The Professional, with Jean Reno’s eponymous Italian hitman using AL-GI-MEC-compensated model 92FS guns to recreate the style.

The film itself has sparked a market in folks making knock-off “Professional” model comps so that fanboys with a plain 92 can go full Leon.

If going for a legit comp kit, check into those made by Jarvis Custom


In the early 1980s, Beretta morphed the 92S, with its slide-mounted safety, to the 92SD which had an American-style magazine release near the trigger guard.

To this model, they added a squared-off trigger guard– rather than the rounded trigger guard familiar all the way back to the Beretta M1915– to facilitate better two-handed shooting for those with smaller hands.

This resulted in the 92F/FS which was submitted to the U.S. Army several times for an ongoing series of contracts to replace the M1911A1 .45 Government as the official handgun for the military.

M1911 Compared to Beretta 92FS
Photo: The Army adopted the Beretta 92F to replace the long-serving M1911A1 in 1985.

Adopted in 1985 by Uncle Sam, at least 830,000 Model 92Fs, designated the M9, were purchased by the military through 2021 when the final pistol was delivered. This legendary Beretta has not only won the US military in contract, but saw renewal after by the armed forces after more than 20 years of use in the some of the world’s toughest conditions — Desert Storm’s Iraqi blazing deserts to the unforgiving Afghan mountains. 

At least that many 92F models have been bought during the same period by consumers, security, and law enforcement as the pistol is reliable, accurate, and familiar with easy-to-find magazines and holsters.

Further, the mountain of aftermarket parts and accessories makes this gun an easy choice for those looking for a rock-solid home or self-defense pistol.

Beretta 92F Inox
Beretta 92F Inox (Stainless) which is produced in Italy.

This is one of the few models offered by Beretta in a stainless (Inox) variant, with the production of those typically done in Italy rather than in the U.S.


In 1987, Beretta took the 92F and redesigned the spring-mounted safety lever to work instead as a decocking lever to safely lower the hammer.

This came to meet a contract for the French Army and Gendarmes, who produced it under license as the PA MAS G1 at the state-owned MAS arsenal until 2020. Going past Gallic use, Beretta started offering the decocker slide design as the 92G shortly afterward and the conversion kits are readily available to swap 92F series guns over to the decocker.

92 Brigadier models

In 1999, Beretta began marketing the 92FS on the consumer and LE markets with a heavier slide to reduce felt recoil, wraparound rubber grips, and 3-dot combat sights. This package was dubbed the Brigadier– not to be confused with the Helwan Brigadier– and the profile was repeated in 2019 with the 92X Performance series.

Vertec Frame

In 2002, Beretta downsized the chunky legacy frame of the 92 series by giving the pistol slimmer grip panels, a straight backstrap grip, and a special short reach trigger.

All this allowed those with smaller hands to better manipulate the surface controls while enabling all users to obtain a higher grip on the gun, which aided in accuracy.

First introduced in the 92FS Vertec, Beretta has repeated it on the M9A3, which debuted in 2016, as well as the 92X series guns which hit the market in 2019. For those with smaller hands or looking for the most accurate Model 92 pistol variants, the Vertec is a great starting point.

Beretta M9A3 with Vertec Frame
Beretta M9A3 with Vertec Frame via Beretta


In 1992, Beretta cut down the size of the standard 92F series from a 4.9-inch barrel to one that used a 4.3-inch barrel. Dubbed the Centurion, it still used 15+1 magazines and a full-sized frame but deleted the slide-mounted safety to trim the overall length.

The Centurion is essentially the same concept as seen on “Commander” versions of the M1911 pistols, in the respect that it just uses a more compact barrel/slide unit on a standard frame, shortening the overall length and making the gun more concealed carry-friendly without losing magazine capacity. Beretta has continued the Centurion concept on the new 92X series as well as their Langdon Tactical (LTT) Elite models.

Compact Frame

Shortly after the 92F was introduced, Beretta announced the 92 Compact in 1986.

While the Centurion used a shortened slide/barrel over a full-sized frame, the Compact used the same slide unit on a shorter frame. This cut weight and height over the Centurion.

On the downside, the abbreviated magazine well could only accommodate 13-round flush-fit mags or an 8-shot straight-line mag in the “M” series slimline gun. While the 92F Compact was discontinued in 1993, it was rebooted briefly in the early 2000s then relaunched a third time in 2014 with a Picatinny rail and an ambi safety lever.

The current Compact 92 variants are a model of the 92X and an LTT 92G, both with the same 13+1 magazine capacity and 4.3-inch barrels as seen on the old-school Compacts of the 1980s.


With the Beretta 92 hitting the 35-year mark, the company moved to update the design in 2011 with the Model 92A1, which included a frame-mounted MIL-STD-1913 accessory rail, as well as an internal recoil buffer and redesigned captive recoil spring assembly to increase the lifespan of the gun.

Going back to the model’s roots, however, the old, rounded trigger guard of the 92S came back to make it more aesthetically pleasing. Plus, the magazines use an updated spring and follower that allows for a 17-round capacity in the same space as the old 15-rounder. For fans of the standard 92F who want a light or laser rail, the 92A1 is the way to go.

However, keep in mind that most Beretta 92 holsters are meant for the flat-faced trigger guard of the 92F/M9 series, so you may have a funny fit.


Army navy Airforce Navy Beretta M9
The Army, Navy, Airforce, and Marines have deployed the Beretta M9

Capitalizing on the success of the M9 variant of the 92F with the military, Beretta started marketing an M9-marked pistol that has a few differences over standard 92 models including a lanyard ring, 3-dot sights, checkered grip straps, military-style markings, and a beveled magwell.

These are popular with Vets and collectors. The company has also released several limited runs of M9 models with special commemorative markings (i.e., with Air Force or Marine Corps emblems, Desert Storm markings, Operation Enduring Freedom markings, 20th anniversary, etc.).


Blending the military-style markings and squared trigger guard of the M9 line with the updates from the 92A1 (accessory rail, 17-shot mags, internal recoil buffer), Beretta introduced the M9A in 2006.

Popular with both police purchasing agents and on the consumer market, it was only retired in 2019, when it was fully replaced by the M9A3.

Confusingly, there was no M9A2.


Beretta M9A4 via Beretta

Because every cool handgun needs to be offered in Flat Dark Earth, the M9A3 was introduced in 2015. Besides the FDE scheme (it was also offered in black when first released, although this was later discontinued), the M9A3 included all the features of the M9A1 but shifted to a slim Vertec frame and included a threaded barrel for use with suppressors.

Importantly, in response to feedback from places like Iraq and Afghanistan that the legacy M9 mags had issues in the desert “moon dust,” the 17-round mags introduced with the M9A3 were sand resistant.

There are also special runs of two-toned guns (Black/Gray, Black/Green, FDE/Black, or Green/Black finish) as well as G-model decocker-only slides. Beretta offered this gun to the Army in 2014 as a contender to replace the aging original M9, but the military went a different direction and selected Sig Sauer’s P320 as the M17/M18 pistol due to its increased modularity.

You can expect the M9A3 to fade from Beretta’s catalog in the coming year or two with the recent introduction of the M9A4, which comes from the factory with an optics cut for micro red dot sights, the way of the future.


Beretta 92X via Beretta
Beretta 92X via Beretta

In 2019, Beretta moved to deliver an update that borrowed from the best features already seen on their Model 92 series while adding things that users had requested for years.

This resulted in the 92X line which takes a steel Vertec metal frame with front and rear checkering, adds a chrome-lined barrel with recessed target crown, incorporates an extended magazine release, a skeletonized hammer, high-visibility orange/black combat sights, and wraparound textured grips.

The guns also have a decocking safety, 3-slot Picatinny rail in front of the trigger guard (except for the Compact version) and the company’s standard black Bruniton finish on the slide.

Further, they are less expensive than the tricked-out M9A3 series of “combat pistols.”

The 92X is available in standard, Centurion, a and Compact version as well as a red-dot optic ready (RDO) model. All have rounded trigger guards and a short-reset trigger, proving some of the Beretta 92 variants ever made.

92X Performance

Lumped in with the 92X series is a pistol that really should be listed on its own– the 92X Performance.

Using a stainless steel metal frame rather than the 92 series’ typical aluminum alloy frame, it tips the scales at over 3-pounds, but the added weight allows it to just hang on target and feel more akin to shooting a .22LR, ideal for target shooting.

Besides the Vertec-sized grip as seen on the other 92X models, it has a Brigadier profile slide and a bunch of competition-oriented upgrades including an oversized magazine release, rubber magazine pads, a skeletonized hammer, Beretta’s crisp Extreme-S trigger mechanism, a red fiber optic front sight with a full black serrated adjustable rear sight.

Also included are an ambi thumb safety, extended beavertail, and aggressive saw-tooth front and rear serrations.

92X Performance Defensive

While the 92X Performance was introduced in 2019 along with the rest of the 92X line, the 92X Performance Defensive model only debuted in late 2021.

What makes it “Defensive” is that it has dropped over a quarter-pound of weight to meet IDPA regulations while adding an optics cut for popular MRD sights including Aimpoint, Trijicon, Burris/Vortex/Docter, Leupold, and C-More red-dot patterns.

On the downside, the whittled down weight means the accessory rail was cut.

Beretta 92X Performance Defensive via Beretta
Beretta 92X Performance Defensive via Beretta

Clones & Subsidiary Products

Girsan 92 clones

EAA, a Florida-based importer, has been bringing in over a dozen models of the Turkish-made Girsan MC 39/Girsan Regard since 2019.

These are outright clones of the Beretta 92 series in a variety of finishes– including such far-out examples as white frames, some with gold accented inlays, and blue G10 windowed grips. Some models have finger grooves molded into the frame while others have threaded barrels. Also seen are models with 4.3-inch barrel units over full-sized frames, mimicking Beretta’s 92 Centurions.

While EAA and others are offering these at about $100 or so less than the Beretta’ they are borrowed from, the newness of these imports on the scene means they should be taken with a grain of salt.

Taurus PT92/99

In 1975, Beretta won a contract to build 92SD series pistols for the Brazilian Army, with one of the caveats in the award being that the Italian gun maker set up a factory in Brazil.

When the contract ran out in the early 1980s, Forjas Taurus, a local firearms concern, bought the factory lock, stock, and barrel including all technical drawings, tools, machinery, and the skilled workforce that had been building Berettas for a half-decade.

Naturally, Taurus started making cloned 92SD pistols with very slight differences– such as using Brazilian walnut grips rather than the plastic Beretta panels. These guns have been popular on the U.S market for years even as Taurus has moved on to their in-house designs such as the G2, G3, and GX4.

While inexpensive compared to legit Beretta 92 variants, the Brazilian guns are seen by some as being stuck in the 1970s and haven’t evolved to include the features seen in the circa 2000 Beretta 92A1 and today’s 92X lineup.

Also, there are big differences in quality between the two, and the Beretta 92 and Taurus PTs are functionally different, so much so that not even the magazines are interchangeable without modifications.

If looking for a Beretta 92, it is far better to go with an actual Beretta rather than a clone.

Beretta (Stoeger) 8000 Cougar series

In 1995, Beretta, in association with Stoeger, a Maryland-based subsidiary of the company, began marketing the 8000 series pistol, branded as the Cougar.

Chambered in 9mm Para, it was made in a single/double action model (Cougar F) as well as a double-action-only model (Cougar D).

Using a short recoil system with a 3.6-inch rotating barrel (a Mini Cougar had a shortened grip/height), it was a product of the Federal Assault Weapon ban and originally marketed with a 10-shot magazine, which was later replaced with a standard 13+1 mag after the ban expired in 2004.

Equipped with fixed sights, the Cougar hit the scales at 32.6-ounces due to its anodized aluminum alloy frame while black plastic grips and a Bruniton matte black finish kept it simple.

Beretta Cougar 8000 by Beretta side by side
A 9mm Beretta Cougar 8000 F, made between 1995 and 2005. The company still makes these in Turkey rather than Italy and they are carried under its Stoeger subsidiary.

After 2005, Beretta changed gears in its 9mm semi-auto line and transferred production of the Model 8000 to Turkey at the Silah Sanayi A.S. works, with Stoeger taking over the marketing without Beretta’s name on the gun– although the Italian firearms maker stresses production is still “strictly in line with the most traditional Beretta quality control and attention to detail,” as they distribute it through their channels.

They have a reputation of being dependable, if chunky, while legacy Beretta-marked guns are becoming collectible as they are now two decades old.

On the downside, magazines are expensive ($40 apiece for factory mags), and decent-fitting holsters are hard to find.

Beretta PX4 series

Moving past the 8000 series, Beretta introduced the new PX4 Storm handgun system in 2005.

A single/double action hammer-fired design that used a polymer frame over a locked-breech rotating barrel system, it was modern and innovative, offering a hammer-fired competition to the Glock while being lighter and more modern than the all-metal 92 series, featuring an integral accessory rail.

More popular than the Cougar, the PX4 has also proven incredibly durable, with a lifespan that blows the vaunted 92 away. To highlight this, firearms trainer Ernest Langdon ran 50K rounds downrange through a factory-stock PX4 in a year over the course of 141 range trips.

In that time it put up remarkably consistent performance; he only suffered 12 malfunctions and only one broken part– a cam block that went down at 44,000 rounds.

The PX4 has a trigger mechanism that can be customized to four different configurations: Type F (single/double action decocker and manual safety), Type D (double action trigger with spurless hammer, LE only), Type G (single/double action decocker with no manual safety, LE only), or Type C (constant action, spurless hammer).

Further, it is offered in a full-size with a 4-inch barrel, a compact with a 3.27-inch barrel, a Compact Carry with a 3.2-inch barrel– all able to use 15-round mags. Going smaller, there is a PX4 Sub-Compact that is shorter in height and length, uses 13+1 capacity mags, and runs a very short 3-inch barrel.

A PX4 Storm Special Duty has a 4.6-inch extended barrel and comes in an FDE frame.

Oft-forgotten when compared to Beretta’s now-classic 92 series guns and the new APX models, the PX4 is still in production and makes seriously reliable firearms for concealed carry or home protection.

Beretta APX series

Beretta APX models

After the Army shrugged its shoulders in 2015 at Beretta’s M9A3 proposal for the Modular Handgun System– a modern replacement for the Beretta M9– the company doubled down on an all-new semi-auto handgun, the polymer-framed striker-fired Advanced Pistol X, or APX.

Using a serialized fire control unit chassis much like Sig’s P320 or Steyr’s MP9, the FCU can be quickly swapped across interchangeable grip frame housings that vary in both size and color, with the latter including black, FDE, OD green, and Wolf Grey. The same can be said for the slide/barrel unit.

Standard features across all models include a double action trigger, a flat trigger guard, the modular chassis design, a reversible magazine release, and prominent slide serrations that run the entire length of the slide, giving it a very “Toblerone” look.

While Sig walked away with the Army’s MHS contract in 2017, Beretta made the most of their research and delivered the APX to the consumer and LE market. With a standard 17+1 shot magazine capacity on full-sized models, which use a 4.25-inch barrel, the APX soon found a bit of overseas success and was adopted by several police agencies in Europe.


A standalone model that is on its way out as Beretta in blending its main feature into other APX variants, the Red Dot Optic-ready or RDO has a factory slide cut to support micro-red dots from Burris, Trijicon, Leupold, and C-More. It runs a 4.9-inch barrel and corresponding slide unit.

APX Carry

APX Carry lifestyle

Differing from the rest of the APX line by its use of a slim single-stack magazine and a very short sub-compact frame, the Beretta APX Carry model uses a 3-inch barrel, and a 6- or 8 (with a pinky extension) shot magazine, and is ideal for — you guessed it — concealed carry.

With a weight of 19.8-ounces, it is one of the smallest 9mm Berettas currently in production– essentially replacing Beretta’s short-lived BU-9 NANO which went out of production in 2018– and is comparable to the Glock 43 or FN 503, making for a concealed carry friendly version of the APX line.

For those who want to put a micro red dot on a Beretta APX Carry, the APX A1 Carry was introduced in 2021.

APX Target

Pitched at competition shooters on the IPSC circuit, the APX Target uses the standard full-sized frame/grip module but drops the 4.25-inch barrel for a 4.76-inch match-grade barrel with a corresponding long slide unit for a more accurate pistol.

It also has stepped-up surface controls including an extended magazine release, a target trigger, target adjustable sights with a fiber optic front, and an ambi extended slide stop. It is also an RDO model as it is red dot ready with four different mounting plates.

APX Centurion

Beretta APX Centurion

Borrowing from the company’s Centurion concept as seen on the 92 and PX4 series, Beretta chopped down the frame and 4.25-inch barrel of the standard duty-sized APX to a more compact 3.7-inches and arrived at the APX Centurion.

There are also crossover models in the Centurion, such as the Centurion Combat which includes an extended 4.2-inch suppressor-ready threaded barrel, and the Centurion RDO which is Red Dot Optic-ready to support micro-red dots from Burris, Trijicon, Leupold, and C-More.

APX Combat

Introduced in 2018, the APX Combat has the same frame/grip module as the standard APX but substitutes a 4.9-inch extended threaded barrel for use with suppressors. It also has a slide cut for four different optics plates.


So, which of these Beretta 9mm pistols are the best? Well, that depends. Legacy designs on the secondary market such as surplus M1951s or 92S models can be extremely friendly when it comes to pricing but may have already used up most of their practical service life.

While swapping out springs and magazines can refresh these old warhorses, it is still unlikely they can withstand several thousand more rounds, especially if using full-house self defense loads.

Newer Model 92 pistols, especially when talking about the 21st Century’s 92A1, M9A3/A4, and 92X series, are not your father’s Beretta. While remarkably similar on the outside to past variants, they are the product of lessons learned after decades of hard use seen by earlier models.

Besides having “the bugs worked out,” they still have a tremendous variety of accessories and magazines available at great prices. Plus, when it comes to customizing and upgrading, there are dozens of shops with an excellent reputation on the 92 series.

The Cougar 8000 and PX4, now that the APX has been introduced, are likely to be on the chopping block soon.

Let’s face it, manufacturers can’t make four different series of pistols to meet roughly the same need and expect all four to endure forever. As neither the 8000 nor PX4 have seen the outpouring of support or adoption that the 92 series have enjoyed, our bet is they won’t be around much longer.

While this can lead to some deals in the short term as dealers and distributors move to liquidate their old stocks of discontinued guns, keeping these guns supported long term could be problematic.

Finally, the APX seems to be where Beretta is focusing all its spare polymer energy over the past few years. We’d bet these are here to stay.

Importantly, the APX hasn’t seemed to capture the public’s imagination that other MHS contenders such as the FN 509 or S&W M&P M2.0 have. This isn’t because they aren’t just as good, because the APX guns are the subject of almost universally positive reviews. It could just be that Beretta isn’t particularly good at getting the word out on these guns.

This sort of lackluster impression on the market has chilled demand for these new pistols and, as a result, APXs are very affordable. Like on the same price point as Taurus pistols affordable. Something to consider.

Pistol or Carbine?

While Beretta has been in the 9mm pistol biz for over a century, they are also well-versed in carbines of the same caliber and have been making them almost as long.

The company designed the Model 1918 9mm submachine gun that was just slightly too late for use in World War I then built over a million improved MAB Model 1938 burp guns that saw extensive use in WWII and the Cold War. They followed this up with the M12 SMG in the 1960s. Today, the company makes the new PMX sub-gun, augmented by the semi-auto PMXs series which debuted in mid-2021.

While the PMXs aren’t available yet in America, the company’s CX4 Storm– developed from its full-auto cousin, the MX4 Storm– is a popular semi-auto pistol-caliber carbine that takes Beretta’s 92 series handgun magazines.

The CX4 has a reputation as a tack driver with its 16-inch barrel yielding exceptional accuracy. At the same time, it is easy to control and remain on target, making the gun well-liked on the PCC competition circuit.

Of course, its 6-pound weight and 31-inch overall length make it a bit too big for concealed carry but that doesn’t stop its use for home defense, self defense or even hunting.

Life cycle, or "How long will a Beretta last"

The internet story was that the original U.S. Army specs for the life span of an M9 (92F) were about 5,000 rounds, giving it a bit of a bad rap in a few echo chambers. To compound this, some early M9s put through the wringer by the SEALs suffered slide cracks with stories running amok that the group’s unofficial motto was “you aren’t a real SEAL ’til you’ve eaten Italian steel” after slides started separating while in use with components hitting commandos in the face.

Then, GIs in the sandbox had problems with magazines failing. Gratefully, these issues were all worked out and the pistol became dependable enough for over 800,000 guns to be delivered to Uncle Sam and his allies between 1985 and 2021.

Plus, these days that old 5K number is just a myth that’s been busted numerous times. Subsequent government testing established the M9 series at least had a lifespan more typically in at least the 15-30,000 round range— and that is in endurance tests firing spicy NATO ammo back-to-back until breaking.

The first time you fire a round through a barrel, it starts to erode and will continue to do so until the barrel is “wrung out,” and fails to adequately stabilize bullets anymore, translating to “keyholing” on target and destroying consistent performance.

How long does this take to occur? Most pistol barrels will last 10–20,000 rounds or more before accuracy begins to suffer.

Other parts, such as springs, should be considered consumable items and replaced regularly. By regularly, I mean around the 5,000-round mark for the recoil spring and perhaps the 25K mark for the other springs. When it comes to locking blocks, the bane of the old M1951’s existence, its descendant 92 series will often start having the same issue with blocks cracking at the 10-20,000 round mark.

Just keep an eye on it, especially with older guns.

On the bright side, kits to replace the block, plunger, and pin only cost about $35 from Midway and include a recoil spring to boot.


Beretta has been in the 9mm semi-auto game for over a century, setting them up to be an expert in their craft. With designs appreciated enough to remain in production in some cases for almost 50 years with only minor changes, they must be doing something right.

That century in the game means lots of options, so head on over to the gun store and see how they fit in your hand, if you like the feel and trigger pull, and see which one is the right one for you.

Choosing the best of these depends on the features the user is looking for to fulfill the purpose desired, but one thing is for sure: Beretta has something for any firearms enthusiast interested in a quality 9mm pistol.

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