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Old August 12, 2014, 04:42 PM   #1
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A 92 tale

Six months ago I took a friend who was relatively new to the sport shooting, at his request. He fell in love with my HK P9S and wanted something similarly classic while also being high quality. I suggested a really nice Beretta 92SB that I saw for a decent price, and he jumped on it.

At the range, I was pleasantly surprised how nicely it grouped, after you got used to the trigger. A recent HK USP 9mm purchase just made the qualities of the 92 all that much more obvious.

I decided to sell the USP and buy something 92. I prefer the aesthetics of the older 92s, but want the American style mag release. I decided to find an old Taurus, on the theory that the quality was highest when the Beretta tooling was still relatively new and things like MIM weren't used yet. I picked up this minty 2nd gen PT92 for $350 with 3 mags:

Having meaty hands and medium length fingers, I immediately popped the medallions off and stripped the factory wood grips, then sanded the edge contours down to make them more form fitting and reduce the circumference. The final result is the attractive wood grain you see, and a very natural reach to the DA trigger. To help with mag changes I reversed the mag release, and now push it with my index finger, a little like you would with an HK or Walter paddle release. I'm going to lower the factory 18 lbs mainspring to either 16 or 13 (Beretta Competition weight), whichever is most reliable with CCI primers. (To contrast, Beretta 92FS mainsprings are 20, with the 92D being either 16 or 17, depending who you listen to.)

Overall, the quality of this 1989 gun is really nice. The frame and slide have both polished and matte sections, no real too marks and a really nice trigger feel. I prefer the old Beretta and Taurus curved trigger to the 92FS trigger shape.

I believe the 92 series is often very misunderstood. First, the barrel and slide do not really touch each other the way a Browning does. The front of the slide does not stabilize the barrel - its function is to locate the front sight and the recoil spring. The accuracy of these guns largely comes from the fact that the barrel attaches directly to the frame - they have their own inner set of rails. In effect, this is more like a Luger or Broomhandle than a Colt. This arrangement is most obvious if you're familiar with the P-38 the 92 is descended from.

A little timeline:
1951. Beretta combines the classic look and construction of the 1934 model with the P-38 recoil locking block system.
1975. Beretta modernizes the 1951 into the 92 with an alloy frame, DA/SA trigger, 1911 style safety and a heel release 15 round magazine.
1975-ish. Beretta sets up a 92 plant in Brazil for a military contract, like they will later in the US.
1976. The 92S moves the safety lever to the slide and adds a decocker. Adopted by the Italian police forces in '77.
1978. In response to US military tests, Beretta creates a reversible thumb mag release on the 92S-1.
1980. The 92SB adds an automatic firing pin block to the 92S-1 and an ambidextrous lever.
1980. Brazilian contract ends and Taurus, known for their revolvers built on old S&W tooling, buy the plant and technical drawings. They begin producing a pistol just like the original 92, but with a hooked trigger guard.
1982. Taurus introduces the PT99, with taller front sight and adjustable rear.
1985. The 92SB-F is finalized for M9 production. On a recommendation from the SEALs, who had been shooting earlier 92SBs for some time, the Taurus style hooked trigger guard is added, along with a flared mag well. New baseplates are designed to match the frame changes.
1985. Taurus updates their 1975 92 design by also adding their own version of the reversible thumb mag release, ambidextrous safety and an automatic firing pin block - PT92AF
1989. In response to some of the old 92SBs the SEALs were using break their slides (apparently, bad French steel), Beretta adds a part that will prevent the broken slide from flying off the back of the gun - 92FS. Taurus and other 92 makers do not copy this feature.
1991. Taurus adds a frame decocker that drops the hammer to half cock. PT92AF-D. The design causes the right grip upper screw to be moved down, and the internals were further altered in 1992 to the present lock work.

Of course, there were also compacts, competition models, single stacks, short slides, .40s, stainless, beefy Brigadier slides and other fun variations. But the above history illustrates the relative stories of the two most common 92 manufacturers sold in the US.

On a side note, the reversible mag releases from Taurus and Beretta are of completely different designs and different mag cuts. The Taurus cut is taller, but located closer to the front of the mag body. The Beretta's is thinner and reaches further to the rear. You can make a Beretta mag out of a Taurus and vice versa. Both pistols with heel releases use an identical cut out. Some aftermarket mags will work in all three versions.
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Old August 12, 2014, 06:23 PM   #2
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Interesting post...

I used to have a Beretta 92F Compact, I got it while stationed in Germany back in 1985. Wish I never sold it.

I now have a 96 INOX which I really love.
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Old August 12, 2014, 07:11 PM   #3
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Congrats on the 92!
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Old August 13, 2014, 07:59 AM   #4
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My PT92 looks just like yours. I bought it new in 1990. I tried the 16 pound spring and it would not feed right.
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Old August 13, 2014, 01:45 PM   #5
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16 lbs mainspring or recoil spring? I'd be surprised if the mainspring affected feeding.
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Old August 13, 2014, 02:02 PM   #6
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I got my PT-99AF in 1994 and purchased it simply because I had a few extra bucks at the time and I thought it would be a good idea to buy a hi-cap 9mm with the Crime Bill/AWB looming. As I was an avid reader of Guns & Ammo at the time, the handgun editor (Jan Libourel) sang the praises of Taurus guns quite often.

I went to the gun store and paid for the new handgun and did the Brady wait and returned a week-plus later to pick up my pistol and before I left with it, I tried both the DA and SA trigger break and it was train-wreck awful. The SA felt worse than any I had come across before and the DA was nearly a two-handed affair. I told them that I couldn't believe it and I wanted to feel another. They were more than happy to dig out another box-fresh 99AF and the trigger on that one was far, far better.

So I told them that I simply wanted THAT one and I wouldn't accept the other one. They were also fine with that... however, a different serial number did NOT jive with the moronic Brady waiting period. So I paid for another moronic Brady waiting period and then I waited again, seemingly forever.

The pistol I took home a week-plus later was better. Though I was a handloader back then, I hadn't even considered rolling 9mm as it was quite low-cost. But being on a "young dude" budget, I simply bought THE cheapest fodder I could find, which was often Norinco, but sometimes I stepped up to UMC or WWB. Frankly, the Taurus never really ran all that reliably. I could expect some manner of a feed failure 1-3 times in a 50-rd box. But for a handgun to throw lead down range for fun, it did do that.

Fast forward a number of years and I began rolling my own 9mm ammo and I found shortly after that my ammo made the pistol just run like a top. My log claims 2,837 through this Taurus, but that is only since I've kept the strict log and this one pre-dates the log, so the round count is higher.

Mine has the sweep-down decock feature, I didn't realize until the OP that the earlier PT92/99 didn't have this, but it certainly makes sense.
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Old August 13, 2014, 05:28 PM   #7
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Sorry RX, I swapped the recoil spring.
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Old August 13, 2014, 08:10 PM   #8
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RX, nice looking Taurus, classy! Had one like it many moons ago, think it came in a basket weave looking box.
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Old August 14, 2014, 04:28 PM   #9
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Not completely germane to this thread, but Norinco makes a Taurus 92 copy which I saw for sale in gun stores in the Philippines.
As always, YMMV.
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Old August 14, 2014, 05:51 PM   #10
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You can get a 92 that was built on Beretta tooling from Brazil, South Africa and Turkey. You can buy copies from Spain and China. And a bunch of other companies have Beretta tooling, but use them for the military, only, like Taiwan and France (92G).

I never heard much about the ATI AT92, but they sold for $299 new, and was like a later 92F.

I had a Vektor SP1 - a very modified 92 design. I had so many other guns at the time that I didn't explore doing something about the so-so trigger. Neat gun, otherwise.
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