The Beretta 92 (also Beretta 96 and Beretta 98) is a series of semi-automatic pistols designed and manufactured by Beretta of [Italy]. It was designed in 1972 and production of many variants in different calibers continues to the present day. It is most famous for replacing the M1911 .45 ACP pistol as the standard sidearm of the United States armed forces in 1985 as the M9 pistol.
The Beretta 92's open slide design ensures smooth feeding and ejection of ammunition and allows easy cleaning of obstructions. The hard-chromed barrel bore reduces barrel wear and protects it from corrosion. The locking block barrel lockup provides good accuracy and operability with suppressors due to the in-line travel of the barrel. This is in contrast to the complex travel of Browning designed barrels. The magazine release button is reversible with simple field tools. Reversing the magazine release makes left-handed operation much easier.
Increasingly, it has become popular to reduce handgun weight and cost (and increase corrosion resistance) using polymers, and polymer parts have started showing up in Beretta 92/96 models too. In 2003, the first internal polymer part to be introduced was a recoil spring guide. New polymer parts include safety lever, trigger, mainspring cap, magazine floorplate, and follower. In contrast some parts have been painted black to match the included polymer parts, these include; slide release, disassembly latch, and hammer.
The Beretta 92 is available in many configurations each with a distinct model name. Combining the various options results in more than 50 different configurations, but the major variants are defined by their operation caliber (92/96/98), operation (F/G/D) and combination of optional items (Inox/Brigadier slide/Compact length):
Each model name starts with two digits identifying the caliber:
- Chambered for the 9x19mm Parabellum.
- Chambered for the .40 S&W, introduced in 1990.
- Chambered for 9x21mm IMI. This option was introduced in 1991 for markets where it is illegal to own a weapon chambered for a military cartridge such as 9x19mm. There were also about 5000 early 98F manufactured in .30 Luger.
- F (standard)
- The current production version of the 92F has a double action first trigger pull, followed by a single action trigger pull for subsequent rounds. The "F" version has a safety lever that also functions as a decocking lever. It is this version that was adopted by the US Army as the M9 Pistol.
- G (no safety)
- This version was created for and adopted by the French Military as PAMAS; it is simply a model 92 with a decocking lever that does not also act as safety lever.
- D (double-action, no safety)
- The double-action-only variant of the 92F or FS.
- (2003 –)
- New vertical grip.
- Short-reach trigger.
- Thinner grip panels.
- Integral accessory rail.
- Removable front sight (can be replaced with Tritium sight).
- Beveled magazine well (to enable easier/faster reloading).
- (1993 – 2006)
- Elite I
- (1999 – 2001)
- Pistols with this option include the heavier Brigadier slide and some modifications to the grip and bevel of the magazine well. It was introduced in 1999 and replaced by the Elite II option in 2001.
- Elite 1A
- This option replaced the standard grip on the original Elite with the Vertec grip but retained the Brigadier slide. A flat hammer spring cap was standard as well as the stainless barrel, decock only feature and dovetailed front sight. This model also came with an integral rail located underneath the end of the barrel. This allows for mounting a flashlight, laser sight, or other accessory.
- Elite II
- (2001 – 2006)
- This option replaced the Elite I option in 2001 and includes the same features of the heavier Brigadier slide and removable Novak type sights, but also an extended magazine release catch and skeletonized hammer. This option is available only with the stainless-steel slide.
- Stainless barrel, slide (frame anodized to match colour).
- Compact L
- (1992 –)
- Shorter barrel, slide, and more compact frame (13-round magazine capacity).
- Compact Type M
- (1992 –)
- Similar to the Compact L, but has a slimmer grip that accepts only a single stacked 8-round magazine.
- (1992 – 1996)
- Shorter barrel and slide of (like "Compact"), but with standard-sized frame.
- (1992 – 1993)
- Single action only. It is designed for sport shooting and includes a front barrel bushing for improved accuracy.
- (1994 –)
- Heavier Brigadier slide. It is also designed for sport shooting and includes a front barrel bushing for improved accuracy.
- (1994 – 2001)
- Heavier Brigadier slide, single-action only and also designed for sport shooting, including a front barrel bushing for improved accuracy. It also came with an additional longer barrel that was weighted.
- (2001 only)
- A limited-edition (2000 copies) commemorative (of the year 2000) model manufactured in the 2001, featuring the heavier Brigadier slide.
- Steel I
- (2004 – 2006)
- Stainless steel, single-action-only, collector's model. [Edit: Both single-action-only and single/double-action variants exist. Also used and desirable for competitive shooting because of its steel frame (for added weight & strength), the frame-mounted safety and/or Vertec-style grip-frame that are all found to be desirable features in a competition gun.]
To keep in line with the introduction of laws in some locations restricting magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, Beretta now manufactures magazines that hold less than the factory standard 15 rounds. These magazines have heavier crimping (deeper indentations in the side) to reduce the available space while still keeping the same external dimensions and ensuring that these magazines can be used on existing firearms. Italian magazine manufacturer Mec-Gar now produces magazines in blue and nickel finishes with a 17 round capacity, which fit flush in the magazine well on the 92-series. Mec-Gar also produces an extended 20 round blued magazine that protrudes below the frame by a couple of inches. These magazines provide users in unrestricted states with an even higher capacity for sporting or self defense purposes.
The Beretta 93R is a significantly redesigned 92 to provide the option of firing in three-round bursts. It also has a longer ported barrel, heavier slide, fitting for a shoulder stock, extra forward grip, and an extended magazine. Unlike the other Berettas in the 90 series it doesn't have a decocker and very few are around today.
The Beretta 92 was designed for sports and law enforcement use and, due to its reliability, was accepted by military users in South America. A large contract for the Beretta 92 was with the Brazilian army, for which Beretta set up a factory in Brazil. This factory was later sold to the Brazilian gunmaker Taurus. Taurus made pistols under license from Beretta based on the original Beretta 92, calling it the PT92.