BERETTA Model 92 / "M9"
Beretta is one of the oldest firearm companies in the world, with a history that can be traced back to 1526. Today Beretta is a leading maker of small arms and rifles, and highly respected as such for the simple reason that everything it makes goes "bang" when it's supposed to! The Beretta 92FS has become one of the company's leading products.
The 9mm Pistol Program was a Congressionally-directed Non-Developmental Initiative to standardize DoD with NATO and field one handgun for all United States armed services. Beretta of Italy was awarded a multi-year contract for delivery of over 500,000 pistols. Beretta's 92FS and its many clones and copies (like Taurus) are also in service inBrazil, Chile, Egypt, France, Italy, Mexico, South Africa, and Spain. It is also extremely common among police, being used by the French Gendarmerie, Italian police, and a hugh number of US police agencies.
1) Open Slide Design Open top slide virtually eliminates jamming or stovepiping. Allows the user to load the chamber one cartridge at a time should the magazine be lost or damaged.
2) No Glare Finish Beretta's exclusive Bruniton non-reflective matte black finish is a superior corrosion resistant coating.
3) Automatic Firing Pin Block The front part of the firing pin is blocked from any forward movement until the trigger is pulled completely back. Even if the pistols falls and strikes the ground, muzzle-down, the firing pin will not strike the primer.
4) Ambidextrous Safety Easily accessible by the thumb of a right- or left-handed shooter, it is spring loaded so it's either positively "on" or positively "off." (Does not apply to D or G Models).
5) Sure, Firm Grip The front and back of the grip are grooved, and the grip frame is flared slightly at the base to enhance pointability and control.
6) Reversible Magazine Release Positioned next to the trigger guard for either right- or left-handed shooters. Allows rapid reloading. Magazine drops clear when released.
7) Light Aluminum Frame with Combat-Style Trigger Guard The trigger guard is squared off and grooved for a firm grip using one or two hands, even when wearing gloves.
8) Disassembly Latch Conveniently located to simplify field stripping and maintenance, the latch makes the 92 FS one of the easiest guns to disassemble.
9) Unique Ultra-Safe Design The safety levers on the slide also function as the pistol's decocking levers. When pushed down, the rear part of the firing pin (striker) is rotated out of alignment with the front part of the firing pin.
Exploded View of Double Action Version
Exploded View of Single/Double Action Version
One of the interesting features of most Beretta pistols is the open top slide. This was a feature Beretta had used on almost all previous designs, including most prominently the Beretta 1934, a 9mm Short calibre blowback pistol widely used during World War Two, which later evolved into the 9mm Beretta 951 "Brigadier". The Brigadier was also a popular pistol, and to retain the distinctive open-top slide, Beretta copied the locking mechanism off the Walther P38 in order to accommodate the more powerful 9mm pistol cartridge:
As the barrel recoils after firing, it moves backward in a slot in the frame, until reaching a cutout into which the ears at the back of the lug drop down into the cutout, arresting the movement of the barrel. This provides the delayed blowback mechanism necessary for the 9mm cartridge. Beretta carried this feature over to the model 92.
Beretta launched the model 92 in 1975, amid the introduction of a number of other designs, notably the SIG-Sauer P220 and the Brno CZ-75, both classic designs themselves. Initially it was sold to the Brazilians, who later built their own factory to manufacture it. After the military contracts were finished, Beretta sold the plant to Forjas Taurus, who continue to make their own version of the 92 to this day.
In the late 70s, the US Air Force decided they needed a new pistol to replace their aging 1911A1s, and held trials. Beretta submitted the 92S, but although it did well, the USAF wanted a more traditional magazine release like that on the 1911A1, so Beretta redesigned the 92S into the (extremely rare) 92S-1, with a magazine release at thumb level. The release was made reversible for left-handed shooters.
Although the Beretta won the USAF trials, politics got involved for various reasons, (mainly that some Americans didn't want Italian guns, 9mm guns, or yet another different gun, depending on whose version of the story you listen to) and the whole project went on the back burner for awhile. However, Beretta incorporated the design changes the USAF had wanted into the Beretta 92SB, and this was a very successful pistol and you will see them fairly often.
However, as noted above, the US had finally decided it was time to buy a new pistol, and the Joint Services Small Arms Program (JSSAP) had decided that all branches of the US military should use the same pistol wherever possible. This led to the XM9 pistol trials, and later, another round of trials, and then after Smith & Wesson complained, yet another round of trials and so on. In early 1985 the Beretta 92F was adopted as the US Armed Forces new sidearm.
Problems were reported early in the adoption procedure. The most alarming appeared to be reports of slides breaking around the recess for the ears of the locking lug. This resulted in the rear end of the slide coming off the pistol and hitting the firer in the face. I've heard many reasons for this malfunction. The official reason is that the ammunition the Americans were using was over-pressure, Beretta proved this and was compensated for all the money they had poured into getting the pistol to work. However, the French have also had problems and it is also possible that a batch of slides made for a French contract got into the supply chain for the Americans on some of the earliest. The metallurgy of these slides had been specified by the French and was too brittle. Consequently, the slides fractured. However, the number of slide breakages was actually quite small. However all the controversy about the adoption of the pistol in the first place, there were many people fanning the waves of discontent about the new pistol. Beretta was forced to redesign the pistol to solve the problem. This redesign took the form of a new hammer pivot pin that extends upwards and mates into a cutout in the underside of the slide, that you can see on the left-hand side of the slide. The idea is that when the slide breaks in half, the rear part of the slide will be arrested by the pivot pin in the slide cutout. Interestingly, the French have only recently adopted this change (2002) despite the problem presumably being more pronounced with a portion of the 50,000 slides Beretta supplied to MAS, if the story about the brittle slides is correct.
In reality, a more serious problem was due to the metallurgy of the locking lugs used in
the early US-made pistols. The ears had a tendency to fracture and break off from the
locking lug. This was later solved, by using metal with a higher fracture toughness and
an inlet at the corners of the ears. This was never a problem with the Italian-made gun. After
these changes were made the gun was renamed the Beretta 92FS, the current base-model
of the gun.
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