Beretta 92X Performance pistol

An updated classic pistol impressed Daniel O’Dea

The Beretta 92 would have to be their most iconic handgun ever. Introduced in 1975, almost 50 years later it remains both a viable and competitive pistol option for many. Be it Hollywood fame from the 1980s in classics such as Lethal Weapon and everyone’s favourite festive flick Die Hard, or its adoption by the US military in 1985 as the M9 (replacing the venerable 1911A), it has always held appeal among pistol shoots as a must-own or try at some stage in their handgun journey. Ongoing updates and revisions during the past five decades have kept it relevant and are testament to the integrity of the fundamental design.

I’ve had the pleasure of both owning a few variants and reviewing quite a few more during my own firearms lifetime, so when offered the latest reiteration for assessment I naturally jumped at the chance.

The Beretta 92X Performance ‘Custom’ is literally a customized version of the 92X Performance Pistol released in 2019. Beretta claims: ‘The 92X Performance was created to satisfy two requirements: Speed and Accuracy. A new competition pistol that’s uncompromising and aims for top performance, offering the world of competitive dynamic shooting one of the most reliable and world-renowned locking systems together with a steel frame, heavier Brigadier slide and the new Extreme-S trigger mechanism.’

Of the above features the steel frame presents quiet a departure from the 92’s traditional lighter alloy version, with Beretta openly admitting they set out to make the pistol heavier for better stability and muzzle-rise control when shooting. The steel frame also differs to include an extended beavertail design.

Likewise the Brigadier slide is a heavier (meatier) option which, depending on what story you choose to accept, was either developed at the request of US special Command – who’d allegedly suffered some slides cracking on in-service M9s with extremely high round counts – or alternately for the increased pressures developed in the .40S&W round at the request of law enforcement in the Beretta 96. Either way we end up with a heavy-duty slide with more mass which also incorporates serrated slide rackers front and rear of a parallel sawtooth design. All this delivers a pistol tipping the scales at 1350g in 92X Performance base spec.

The other big departure from the standard of arms when it comes to the 92X Performance over your average 92 is it’s Single Action only as opposed to the usual double action/single action. To that end the familiar slide-mounted decocker-safety lever is replaced by a frame-mounted one positioned in similar fashion to a 1911. More subtle improvements include an extended magazine release and extend and modified take-down lever which doubles as a thumb rest.

All up the 92X Performance provides just about everything you might want in a competition pistol, though with this Custom version Beretta Australia takes it a step further. So what exactly do they do? Quoting from their website: ‘The product has been fine-tuned and customised by Beretta Australia’s head gunsmith to create a top-performing, stunning pistol.

‘The trigger has been converted to single action only and lightened to a 3.5lb pull weight. Reset, take-up and creep have been minimised to provide a crisp, repeatable class-leading trigger system. The pistol has also been augmented with performance parts from the famous Italian brand, Toni Systems. New grips, magazine base plates, extended magwell, oversized magazine release and a lighter hammer spring add practical performance and look fantastic.’

Toni Systems are a manufacturer of high-end accessories and ‘go fast’ parts for a whole range of different firearms and competition disciplines from dynamic pistol sports through to clay target shooting. They have an established relationship with Beretta so the use of their products for such a project makes sense.

The pistol arrived in a classy Beretta case secured by an integral combination lock. It contained both the Customized 92X Performance resplendent in its new Toni custom grips and gear, and both the old standard grip panels and oversized grip wrap. Other items include a spare magazine, loader, gunlock, small sight tool, hex key and the usual manuals and warranty cards.

The gun can be ordered in one of two grip colours in blue or red. Lifting the lid on the case, the red grips are accented against the Nistan finish of the frame and slide and, contrasting with the matt black barrel, magwell and fire controls, this one’s flashier than a Milan fashion show and every bit as Italian.

Make no mistake, this a very heavy Beretta 92 and about 45 per cent weightier than the M9A4, definitely built for competition and certainly not a ‘carry’ gun. The Toni System machined alloy grip panels sport aggressive texture, so once you have it in hand it’s not going anywhere and although heavy, on presentation it feels firm and well balanced.

At the range that additional weight has the desired effect as it deadens recoil and keeps the gun flat for quick shot-to-shot recovery. Physics will tell you a heavier item takes longer to get moving and stop so technically, all other things being equal, a heavier pistol should take longer to draw and be slower to transition between targets, though in practice that doesn’t necessarily translate. For starters, it doesn’t matter how quickly you get to the next target if your sights are still high from recoil. For many, weight equals controllability which in turn equals smoothness which equals speed so it’s the old adage: Sometimes you need to slow down to go faster.

In static competition, weight can be a no-brainer as in general terms heavier guns are easier to shoot and more accurate. In dynamic competitions where score is measured across both speed and accuracy, you can never miss fast enough to win. Again, in very general terms accuracy will normally out-do speed.

I found the gun easy to shoot. With heavy pistols the weight tends to be barrel forward, yet with this one seems centered in the grip and moves with your hands as opposed to whipping around out front. For me that meant smooth between targets and easy to control. Last word on the weight would be horses for courses and the 92X Performance Custom will of course favour shooters with the muscular fortitude to best take advantage of that weight without concern of fatigue.

Fully adjustable competition sights with a square notched blade and bright red fibre optic front dot are easy to find on presentation and provide a good sight picture on target. The Extreme X Trigger has a slight curve and pre-travel takes up to a firm wall before a clean break. Reset is short, tactile and audible while pre- and over-travel adjustment screws are accessible from the top of the magazine well.

Front and back straps on the grip frame are checkered and as a full-sized framed pistol it does fill the hand, though my medium-sized fat-fingered mittens had no issues connecting with all controls. The high beaver tail and low extended ambidextrous safety, combined with the extended take-down lever thumb rest, all make for perfectly firm alignment for a thumbs forward two-handed grip.

The Toni System extended flared well easily funnels magazines into position and the extended bases make it easy to palm them home. Likewise, the extended release makes punching them out a breeze and they eject and fall free cleanly. The 92X Performance Custom is a well-featured competition pistol, ergonomics are excellent and with a more high-end feel than standard Beretta, you get the benefits of their locking system and clearance of the open slide and ejection port in a great-looking functional and accurate package.

Pistol: Beretta 92X Performance Custom
Action: Single action
Trigger: Extreme X
Calibre: 9mm
Capacity: 10-round extended base plate magazines (2)
Barrel: 125mm (4.9”)
Rear Sight: Square notched adjustable
Front Sight: Red fibre optic
Length: 222mm (8.7”)
Height: 147mm (5.8”)
Width: 33mm (1.3”)
Slide: Steel (Nistan finish)
Frame: As above
Weight: 1350g (47.61oz)
RRP: About $3799 (ask your dealer)


All News