Beretta's new 92X Performance 9 mm pistol ($1,399, beretta.com) is a nice-looking handgun with the kind of eye appeal that demands it be picked up and handled. When you first pick it up out of the case you cannot help but notice its heft. This is no wonder nine polymer pistol; it is a steel-frame handgun with a little bit of heft that lends to its durable and rugged feel. This isn’t your ordinary 92, but a race-ready-built model packed with features.
I owned a Beretta 92 back in the mid-1990s, and I liked the pistol. It was reliable and it was accurate. During my days as a reserve officer, the Beretta 92 was my duty gun, so I have a little experience with Beretta pistols—just not lately. The Beretta 92X Performance is a well-designed and engineered handgun, and it is an enhanced pistol from the one I previously owned. The features that come standard on this gun will make it ready to run right out the box. It comes with all the features that are common for a competition pistol, but it also fits the bill for a carry gun or home defense pistol.
The 92X Performance pistol comes in a fine case that includes two 15-round magazines with a nice rubber basepad. In the case are the owner’s manual, cable lock and sight adjustment tool. The gun comes equipped with a thin pair of grips, moderately tacky in feel, but if you need a thicker pair to fill your hands better there is a pair supplied.
The 92X Performance blends parts of other 92 variants to build the ultimate race-ready firearm. The dual tone look of the gun is achieved, according to the Beretta website, by using a Nistan finish to treat the frame and slide surfaces, with the contrast provided by the black burnished barrel, black grips and small parts. It starts with the Vertec steel frame and the Brigadier slide, which take the weight of this hefty beast to 48.4 ounces including magazine. The weight increases pistol stability and reduces muzzle flip. Also found on the frame are the oversized magazine release button as well as nicely machined checkered front and rear that grab the hand when firing. The trigger guard is relieved and the beavertail is extended, allowing for a very high grip. The fiber-optic front sight is a proven performer in daylight conditions. The black rear sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation. The sights on this handgun are fine right out of the box.
The slide has the traditional Beretta look of being very light and exposing most of the barrel of the gun. The Brigadier slide with barrel and the steel recoil rod system weighs 19.3 ounces. There are front and rear cocking serrations that Beretta refers to as a saw-tooth pattern on the slide, allowing for a good purchase by the hand on the slide for cocking the gun. The front end of the slide is beveled in front of the cocking serrations, as is standard with Beretta pistols, which also makes racking the slide easy. The 92X comes with an ambidextrous thumb safety, which allows the pistol to be carried cocked and locked. There is no decocker on this handgun. The supplied safeties on the gun out of the box are too wide for the gun to be able to fit the Production division box, so you will need to replace at least one side or modify it. As of this writing, Beretta is aware of this and is working on offering a solution. The ability to have this pistol in a cocked and locked ready condition is a big deal and a departure from the days of old. While not something that is legal in USPSA Production division, you can do this safely without having to fire the first-round double action only in Limited or L10 divisions. If this doubles as a carry or home defense gun, the ability to have the single action first shot is a welcome improvement.
The frame of the gun is another place where improvement is observed. The grips of Beretta pistols were great if you had large hands. Beretta pistols tend to have a grip with plenty of girth, which can be problematic. The 92X has slim Vertec grips that allow for any size hand to use this pistol well. There is a thicker set of grips supplied if needed. The frame features a rail for accessories, which is nice for any handgun that is going to serve in the self-defense role. The magazine release is oversized, which provides for the thumb to cleanly hit the release. It is also reversible, and there is an adjustable version available from the aftermarket. I was able to hit the magazine release without breaking my firing grip on the gun. During live-fire testing, there was not a single inadvertent release of the magazine, so the size seems to be just right. Thus, I can say without fear of being wrong this magazine release is the proper size. However, the 92X will fire the round in the chamber without having a magazine in the gun, so do not be complacent and rely on a magazine safety to keep you safe.
The trigger on the 92X Performance is wide compared to most pistols; it is metal and has grooves placed vertically along the trigger surface, permitting the trigger finger to stay in place without any slippage. It is easy to reach, and I believe sits at rest closer to the grip than the old 92 pistols; the thinner Vertec grip makes reaching the trigger easy and comfortable. The trigger is smooth as butter on this model and breaks crisply and the reset is short and sweet. The pistol is accurate, and a great trigger is a big reason why. Ten pulls on the Wheeler Engineering trigger pull gauge in double-action average four pounds, 15.4 ounces, and three pounds 13.6 ounces in single-action.
Part of this trigger comes from the skeletonized hammer with a competition standard hammer spring. According to Beretta, the faster cycle time of the gun is a result of the new hammer and the new Extreme-S trigger mechanism that keeps the striker automatic latch active, ensuring the safety of the pistol in case of a drop but decreases trigger rest up to 40 percent.
To summarize the features, the 92X Performance has everything the competitive shooter and the defensive shooter needs right out of the box. It is a fine-looking pistol and it has great ergonomics. The trigger is good to go as well. This is not just a new model of Beretta, it is an enhanced and improved Beretta pistol designed to take the podium in competitive pistol matches.
At the range
The range session with the 92X Performance was a hybrid session, hybrid meaning that Jake Martens completed the drills from the holster and I completed the drills from a loaded table start. The ready condition of the gun was hammer down with the first shot being double-action. The first drill was a 1x6 drill. The targets were a mixture of 10- and 12-inch plates at 14 yards spread out across a large bay roughly 20 yards wide. We were standing in the middle of the array. Jake’s times on this drill were 4.16, 3.94 and 3.61 seconds total time; he achieved all of his hits on the middle run but not so much on the first and last attempt. The draw times on these runs were 1.72, 1.76 and 1.59 seconds with a double-action first shot. My times with the tabletop start were 4.79, 4.26 and 3.99 seconds with no recorded misses. My times for the first shot were 1.43, 1.52 and 1.39 seconds. The trigger pull on the first shot even in double-action mode was smooth and broke nicely. Accuracy was not a problem on the first shot for either of us.
The second drill was a front sight forward drill with four steel USPSA targets with the delta zone removed. The targets were also 14-yards distant, with one yard between each target. We shot each target with two rounds each for a total of eight rounds. Jake’s times were 3.72, 3.55 and 3.43 seconds from the holster. His best draw among these three runs was 1.59 seconds—with no misses. My times were 4.35, 3.90 and 3.95 seconds on the drill. My best draw time was 1.40 seconds coming off the table—securing all the hits.
The third drill was a 6x2 array. The first target at 10 yards was shot six times and the second target at 14 yards was shot twice. We used the no-delta-zone targets for this drill as well. Jake went first with times of 3.35, 3.15 and 3.10 seconds without a miss. His draw times were 1.58, 1.51 and 1.48 seconds respectively. My times on the drill were 3.43, 3.14 and 3.19 seconds from the table; my draw times were 1.32, 1.24 and 1.24 seconds. We were impressed with the gun’s performance.
The fourth drill was a Near to Far array. The target distances used were nine, 10, 14 and 20 yards. Jake’s times were 3.93, 3.85 and 3.60 seconds; the draw times were 1.71, 1.70 and 1.71 seconds. My times were 4.21, 3.98 and 3.74 seconds, and my draw times were 1.50, 1.45 and 1.40 seconds. Both Jake and I had all of the hits on this drill. The Beretta 92X Performance is certainly accurate enough for the distances frequently encountered in USPSA shooting.
The range session proved that the 92X Performance is a very nice-shooting pistol that is capable of competing with any pistol out there on the USPSA circuit. We shot a couple of other pistols on this particular day and were pleased to find the Beretta was their equal. Being a heavy gun made it soft-shooting and allowed for really rapid splits. The weight of the gun did not seem to detract in any way on transitions.
Article from the November/December 2020 issue of USPSA’s FrontSight magazine. Photos by Isabel Martens.
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