Review: Beretta 92XI Squalo

Building on the base 92X series, this sleek new 9 mm pistol from Beretta stands out in the sea of competition.

by
posted on April 2, 2024
Beretta Squalo92xi 1
Beretta’s new 92XI Squalo 9 mm tactical competition pistol is as feature-rich as it is beautiful.
Photo by Peter Fountain

Beretta’s new 92XI Squalo is the company’s first aluminum-framed competition gun, and this race-ready 9 mm pistol is a real predator that’s tricked out from the factory to win matches out of the box. As a performance-oriented race gun, with the usual Italian flair, Beretta emphasizes this aspect with the name “Squalo,” which means shark in Italian. Going beyond the unique name, the 92XI Squalo is legal for USPSA competition straight from the factory in Limited Optics division, along with being a viable option for use in IDPA Carry Optics division.

Beretta 92XI Squalo
Building on the base 92X series and designed for competition, Beretta’s 92XI Squalo 9 mm pistol is optics-ready and comes equipped with a flat-faced trigger, skeletonized hammer, flared magwell and adjustable mag release.

 

Starting with the 92XI Squalo pistol’s frame, it’s a Vertec-style one that’s similar to other Beretta 92 models, including a railed dust cover and slimmer grip. Made of aluminum, it’s lighter than the steel frame found on the 92X by slightly less than one pound, but this doesn’t affect performance like you may think. Instead, I found this helps make it a well-balanced pistol while shooting, since you don’t have to fight the weight, especially during transitions. Front and rear checkering on the grip is much like other models in the 92X lineup. The grip checkering, along with the upswept beavertail and undercut trigger guard, make the 92XI Squalo fit quite well in your hands. Rounding out the the pistol’s frameis a three-lug Picatinny rail located on the bottom for mounting accessories like lights or lasers.

The slide is made from steel and has an attractive Cerakote finish that adds durability. It also has vertical front and rear cocking serrations that make it easy to manipulate. Additionally, the 92XI Squalo has competition-style iron sights, with a red fiber-optic front sight and black serrated rear notch sight.

92XI Squalo side view
The single-action-only 92XI Squalo has a flat-faced trigger, custom Hogue textured grips and lightweight skeletonized hammer.

 

Regarding the 4.7-inch barrel, it’s black colored and made from cold-hammer-forged steel. The barrel is fixed and does not tilt, which helps with lowering recoil. Since the 92XI Squalo sports an open slide, you can opt for a ported barrel to further mitigate recoil, although that would disallow it for competition use under USPSA rules.

The Xtreme-S trigger group’s internals have a performance DLC coating, which in conjunction with the lightweight skeletonized hammer, provides noticeable smoothness while shooting. The flat-faced, single-action trigger is textured and has about a 4½-pound pull, with a crisp break and short reset. In addition, since it is single-action-only, the 92XI Squalo can be carried cocked and locked.

With a manual frame-mounted safety, the 92XI Squalo has no decocking lever like those found on other Beretta 92 pistols. The ambidextrous safety is mirrored on either side of the grip frame. While the safety is located slightly higher than my usual preference, this isn’t a deal breaker.

Extended takedown lever
The extended takedown lever is useful as a gas pedal (thumb rest) for action shooting.

 

Custom made by Hogue for Beretta, the grips have an aggressive texture that feels solid in your hands. As for aesthetics, the dark grey color and texturing really does evoke the look of a shark. The 92XI Squalo is a distinctive pistol that gets noticed at the range.

The extended takedown lever functions like a small shelf for your thumb, which can help to mitigate recoil and drive your support hand into the gun. This “gas pedal” is one of my favorite features on the 92XI Squalo.

Another extended control on the 92XI Squalo magazine-release button. Competitive shooters will like the fact it is adjustable, so you can fine-tune it to your personal preferences. The mag release is also ambidextrous, so it can accommodate left-handed shooters with a little work. For me, a right hander with average-sized hands, the mag release button in the stock position worked perfectly.

Sporting a large, flared magazine well supplied by Toni System of Italy, inserting a magazine in the 92XI Squalo is effortless and easy to do on the move. Attached to the frame by a single screw, the magazine well is removable. Three magazines from Mec-Gar are included in the box, and they are equipped with Toni System base pads that provide a beefy 18+4 capacity. Since they are from Mec-Gar, the magazines have a low-friction Teflon non-stick coating. Paired with the sizeable magazine well, reloading the 92XI Squalo is not only quick, but highly satisfying.

Textured grips and magazine well
The textured grips—custom made for Beretta by Hogue—provide excellent purchase. Additionally, the Toni System flared magazine well is wide and makes reloading the supplied 18+4 Mec-Gar magazines a breeze.

 

For mounting optics, there are two Beretta factory cuts on top of the slide and the MDRS (Mini Red-Dot Sight) system to equip your preferred model of red-dot optic.

Fit and finish is what you would expect for a high-volume pistol costing more than a grand. Despite the Beretta 92XI Squalo being lightweight for a competition gun at 33.3 ounces (unloaded), I experienced no challenges while shooting it.

AT THE RANGE

For my evaluation of the Beretta 92XI Squalo, I mounted the Trijicon RMR Type 2 red-dot sight. Getting it on the pistol was simple enough, thanks to the company’s MDRS mounting system. As mentioned, the slide has two factory cuts with top plates secured by two small bolts; I used my Fix-It Sticks pistol armorer kit’s torque wrench to remove them and mount the RMR red dot. Beretta supplies different mounting plates that fit most popular optics and provided one to me for testing.

As for accuracy testing, I selected 9 mm loads from Blazer, Federal and Fiocchi. The 92XI Squalo liked the Federal Syntech Action Pistol load the best with a 1.134-inch group size (averaged), and one group that measured slightly less than an inch at 25 yards from an indoor sandbag rest. Next best was Fiocchi’s Range Dynamics 147-grain full-metal jacket load, with a 1.265-inch average group size.

After shooting approximately 400 rounds through the 92XI Squalo, I experienced no malfunctions or other issues.

ACCURACY TABLE

92XI accuracy table
Accuracy testing was conducted indoors from a 25-yard sandbag rest with a Trijicon RMR reflex sight installed. Results are averages from four consecutive five-round groups measured center to center. Temperature 49° F. Humidity 30%.

 

Pointing the 92XI Squalo is effortless. While there is a bit of muzzle rise, it quickly returns to zero, mostly due to the fact there is not much muzzle weight and most of the mass is located towards the hands. This pistol provides a stable shooting platform and has more than enough accuracy. Felt recoil is nearly identical to the heavier Beretta 92X model. Since the red-dot sight does sit a bit high and forward on the slide while using the factory mounting plate, the dot will dance a bit more, so there is a slight honeymoon period while using an optic. I didn’t consider this a problem, and there are aftermarket plates available that can remedy this. Not to be overlooked, the 92XI Squalo’s iron sights are also formidable, with the red fiber-optic front sight and black serrated rear notch pairing well.

Some other things to note—for IDPA Carry Optics, the 92XI Squalo won’t fit in the regulation box with the supplied Mec-Gar magazines and Toni System extended base pads. To get around this problem, you can remove the base pads or purchase smaller ones. Also, if you are planning to run a red-dot optic, the factory plate is a bit tall for co-witnessing with the iron sights. However, the slightly-too-tall mounting plate shouldn’t be much of an issue for shooters relying on their optic for competition use.

BERETTA 92XI SQUALO SPECIFICATIONS

Beretta 92XI Squalo specifications

 

Whether for competition or for carry use (sans magwell), the Beretta 92XI Squalo is a versatile option for beginner and veteran shooters alike. Experienced competitive shooters will likely want to fiddle with the trigger, but the 92XI Squalo’s athleticism, customizable controls and excellent return-to-zero capability make it a best buy for match use, especially when equipped with a red-dot optic. A lightweight pistol that’s ready to race out of the box, if you’re looking for a new USPSA Limited Optics or IDPA Carry Optics gun, you really can’t beat the Beretta 92XI Squalo. MSRP: $1,329. Go to beretta.com.

GEAR LIST

All photos by Peter Fountain.

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