Beretta 92FS

The Beretta 92FS was the second gun I bought myself. Shortly after I bought my Walther PPK/s for concealed carry, I wanted a full-size 9mm for gravel pits, competitive shooting, stuff like that. The Glock was the 'new darling' (in the mid-90's), but I didn't like the way the trigger felt. The Beretta had substantially the same "switchology" (location of safety, mag release, etc.) as my Walther, so I gravitated to it. It helped (in my mind) that the Beretta was the newish choice of the US Military for a standard issue sidearm.

I had many early problems with the Beretta. My first time at a range with it, I unfortunately chose an outdoor range with a 50 foot minimum target distance. I had a memorable conversation with the rangemaster, where he stopped by my station to ask me what my "major malfunction" was. I was not hitting the target at all, I was shooting into the dirt (at 50 feet). I tried to explain to him that I was shooting a brand new gun, having some problems getting it sorted, and that I "sucked" for lack of a better word. He invited me to leave.

I now know that I was "pulling" the trigger badly, but it sure would've been nice to work it out at 15 feet indoors. This Beretta was in many ways the polar opposite of my beloved Walther PPK/S. It did not point instinctively, I couldn't hit crap with it, etc. It *was* blessed with a big honkin' magazine (15+1 of 9mm), at least for the time.

Desperate to get this Beretta into the "instinctive" zone my Walther was in, I finally tried a grip wrap, or 'condom' as I came to call it. This provided finger grooves, and moved the grip a little away from the non-pointing 'bar of soap' that I was loathing.

The condom helped. What helped more was a little informal instruction and social "league" shooting. That got me more fixated on "sight picture" and less on instinct. To this day, I still evaluate guns by how the "instinct" point angle matches the sight picture, but I can work around it. I think I started that league shooting mid-70 scores, but a year later, I was shooting mid-90's.

I did have one mechanical failure with the Beretta. Shooting at the range one day, nothing special, maybe fifty rounds in, and the gun jams. I can't get the slide back, nothing. One of the range staff guys helps me, and he ran some "slim jim" like tools down the sides of the open top slide. That freed up the mechanism, and we could take down the gun. Turns out I had broken the locking block. Beretta wanted a ridiculous amount for this part, $175 (just for the part, no labor). This was not quite half what I paid for the gun in the first place! I sucked it up, bought the part, and fixed the gun. I later chatted with a buddy of mine who was an armorer for the US Army. He said that part broke in army trials around 22,000 rounds fired, and that armorers have bins full of spare locking blocks (he thought the army price was around $0.75 each....). He also told me the part is prone to failure due to heat stress if the weapon is oiled too little. I'm probably guilty of that.

The Beretta was the gun that I taught Mrs. Peach to shoot with. It's a nice friendly "machine" with low recoil, and even tolerates more "limp-wristing" than the average full-size 9mm due to the wide open (180 degrees) ejection port. Still, if you go out of your way to limp-wrist it, it will stove-pipe a case. She liked that gun, and still misses it.

Which brings us to the unpleasant ending: We had a home break-in in May 2006, and the Beretta was one of the losses. I hate to think of one of my guns out there as a crime gun, but there it is. I had the S/N and description to give the cops, but it was never recovered.

My insurance company gave me replacement value, and I replaced it with a Sig Sauer P226, a roughly equivalent high capacity 9mm handgun favored by law enforcement. Interestingly, as I did a little research for this page, I found a Wiki article on the 92 that states the Navy Seals used the 92 for a while, but it failed for them too many times due to extremely high duty cycles. They ultimately switched to the Sig P226.

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