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Sidearms

Beretta 92

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US Army Standard issue sidearm Beretta M9

Originally designed for the Italian army and police, the Model 92 pistols earned most of their fame (both good and bad) as the standard sidearm of the US military. It was developed between 1970 and 1975 as a possible replacement for ageing Beretta M951 pistol, and entered production in Italy in 1976.

First adopted by the Brazilian army in 1977, this pistol was later adopted in Italy in its Model 92S, “SB”, and finally “F” modifications. The US military adopted the Model 92SB-F (later renamed to model 92F) in 1985, as a result of the highly controversial XM9 trials. In the late 1980s and 1990s, these pistols were also adopted in France. It must be noted that, while being entirely adequate as a combat pistol, the Beretta 92 is somewhat bulky for its caliber and magazine capacity, thus less suitable for users with average or smaller hands. Other than the basic 9mm, Beretta also makes these pistols in other calibers, such as .40 S&W (model 96) and 9×21 IMI (Model 98, available for civilian users in certain European countries, including Italy). Beretta also makes a wide variety of models based on the same design; these include not only variations in finishes and sights, but also different trigger types (DA/SA, DA/SA with decocking only, DAO, DAO with manual safety).

Beretta 92 pistols are short-recoil operated, locked breech weapons with an aluminium frame. The locking system is of the Walther type, with a vertically tilting locking piece located below the breech area of the barrel. The trigger is double-action, with an exposed hammer. Original Model 92 pistols had a frame-mounted safety which was applied only when the hammer was cocked; all subsequent pistols (except for some limited production civilian-only sporting models) either had a slide-mounted safety lever or no safety lever at all.

beretta 92 - Beretta 92

On some pistols, such as the Model 92G adopted in France, the levers do not lock themselves in the lowered position but return to the “fire” position once released – their function is limited only to safe decocking of the hammer. Some other models, such as the Model 92D, are double-action-only pistols with no manual safety or decocking. All pistols of current production are fitted with an automatic firing pin block safety. Magazines are a double stack, with the magazine release button located at the base of the trigger-guard on all 92-series pistols made since 1981. Sights on service models are of fixed type, with a dovetailed rear blade, usually with high-contrast inserts.

With the introduction of the Model 92FS in the late 1980s, another unusual safety feature was fitted in the form of an enlarged head to the hammer pin. The purpose of this safety is to prevent the rear of the slide from flying back into the firer’s face in the case of the slide failure. This happened several times during the earlier years of Model 92F service in US military, apparently because of metallurgical problems, combined with the “built-in” weak points in the slide where the locking block cuts are made. Recognizing these weak points, the US INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) requested Beretta to make their model 96 (.40 S&W caliber version of Model 92) with reinforced slides.

This resulted in the appearance of the Model 96 Brigadier pistols, and, later on, the same modification was applied to 9mm pistols, available as Model 92 Brigadier. Beretta also produced a number of compact versions of their basic, full-size Model 92 variations. These compact versions had shortened grips, slides and barrels; Compact Type M versions also featured single-stack magazines with appropriately thinned grips. At the present time, Beretta no longer makes Compact versions of the Model 92; in the firm’s product line these were replaced by the entirely different Model 8000 Cougar pistols.

United States Army Beretta M9 - Beretta 92

United States Army Beretta M9

Below is a brief list of most important modifications and versions produced in the 92-series over last 30 years.

Beretta 92S (1976) – first modification of the basic model 92, with non-ambidextrous slide-mounted safety/decocking and magazine release button set low in the left grip panel. It was replaced in production by the Model 92SB.

Beretta 92SB (1981) – further evolution of model 92S, initially designated Model 92S-1, later designated 92SB with the introduction of the firing pin block. The manual safety is ambidextrous, the magazine release relocated to the base of the trigger-guard. Discontinued since 1991.

Beretta 92SB-C (1981) – Compact version of the model 92SB. Overall length was 197 mm, barrel length 103 mm, magazine capacity 13 rounds (also accepted standard 15-round magazines).

Beretta 92SB-C type M (1983) – slimmer version of the model 92SB-C, with a single-stack magazine which held only 8 rounds.

Beretta 92F (1984) – initially designated 92SB-F, later renamed 92F. Evolved from the Model 92SB during American XM9 trials, with a slightly reshaped grip and trigger guard, also a different finish. The barrel bore and chamber are chrome-plated.

Beretta 92G (1989)- the so-called “Gendarmerie” version, created at the request of the Gendarmerie Nationale de France. Also manufactured under licence in France by GIAT Industries as the PA MAS G1. The pistol is the same as the model 92F except for the operations of the lever, which lost its safety lock function and is used only to safely decock the hammer.

Beretta 92FS (1989) – a minor modification of the Model 92F, with an enlarged hammer pin head which prevents the slide from flying back in the case of breakage. Presently, all US M9 pistols are modified to 92FS standard.

Beretta 92FS-C (1989) – compact version of the Model 92FS, similar in dimensions to earlier model 92SB-C. No longer made.

Beretta 92FS-C type M (1989) – single-stack version of Model 92FS-C, magazine capacity 8 rounds. No longer made.

Beretta 92DS (1990) – Double Action Only version of the Model 92FS, with a spurless hammer and manual safety.

Beretta 92D (1990) Double Action Only version of the Model 92FS, with a spurless hammer and no manual safety levers.

Beretta 92FS Brigadier (1996) – version of the Model 92FS with a reinforced, thickened slide; another change is that the front sight is not integral to the slide, but is dovetailed into it

Beretta 92FS Centurion (1996) – version of the Model 92FS with a shortened barrel and slide, the frame is the same as on the Model 92FS. Overall length is 197 mm, barrel length is 103 mm, magazine capacity 15 rounds.

Beretta 92 Vertec (2003) – version of the Model 92FS that addressed constant complaints about the excessive grip width of Model 92 pistols. The backstrap of the grip on Vertec models is made more linear; another change is the addition of an integral Picatinny rail to the frame.

Beretta 90two (2006) – a most recent face-lift version of the basic Model 92 design. Key changes are modular one-piece grip panels (available in various shapes), integral Picatinny rail under the barrel (with cover), restyled slide and integral recoil buffer built into action.

HOW TO FIELD-STRIP (DISASSEMBLE) BERETTA 92 PISTOL:

1) remove the magazine by pressing the magazine release button; 2) check that the chamber is empty; 3) pull the slide all the way back and lock it with the slide stop lever; 4) depress the takedown lever stop, which is the small button located in the left frame above the trigger guard; 5) while holding the button down, rotate the takedown lever (located on the right side of the frame) downward about 90o ; 6) pull the slide slightly back to disengage the slide stop, then carefully push it all the way forward and out of the frame; 7) remove the return spring by pushing its head slightly forward and then pulling it out of the detent in the barrel; 8) push the locking lever pin (protrudes backwards from below the barrel breech area), then lift up the barrel from the slide.

Reassemble in reverse order.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS OF BERETTA 92

Caliber: 9x19mm Luger/Para; also .40SW in Mod.96 and 9x21mm IMI in mod.98
Action: Double action
Overall length: 217 mm (197 mm Compact versions)
Barrel length: 125 mm (109 mm Compact versions)
Weight (empty): 950-975 grams, depending on model
Capacity: 15 rounds (all 92 and 98 models except compact); 13 rounds (92 Compact); 11 rounds (mod.96 in .40SW); 8 rounds (92 Compact type M)
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Sidearms

Meet the Smith & Wesson Model 39/59: The Navy SEALs Old Gun

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Smith and Wesson Model 5906 - Meet the Smith & Wesson Model 39/59: The Navy SEALs Old Gun

The Odyssey of the Smith & Wesson Model 39/59, from its Germanic origins to the gun shops of America and the jungles of Vietnam, was unique and very much a product of the Cold War. Although out of production and no longer common, Smith & Wesson’s nine-millimeter handgun has earned a noteworthy place in American firearms history .

One of the earliest American 9-millimeter pistols was adopted for wartime service to take out enemy sentries… and barking dogs.

The Smith & Wesson Model 39 semi-automatic handgun served U.S. Navy SEALs during the Vietnam War and then went on to become one of the American nine-millimeter high capacity pistols, the Model 59.

The Smith & Wesson Model 39 had its roots in postwar America. U.S. troops, encountering the Walther P-38 on the battlefield, had a favorable impression of the German pistol. U.S. gunmaker Smith & Wesson decided to make an Americanized version of the P-38 for the domestic market, and borrowed heavily from Walther’s design. Internally, the Model 39 was very similar, to the point where magazines could almost be swapped between guns. Externally there were key differences, including a 1911-type full barrel slide removed with a twist of a barrel bushing. The Model 39 went on commercial sale in 1955.

The Model 39 was a double action pistol. It was 7.44 inches long and weighed just 26.5 ounces empty with a four-inch barrel. It was a recoil-operated handgun using a modified version of the Colt/Browning locking system used on handguns such as the 1911. Like the Walther P-38 the slim metal, single stack magazine held eight rounds of 9-millimeter Parabellum.

During the 1960s the CIA had experimented on a suppressor for the Walther P-38, a pistol which in the Agency’s opinion combined reliability, firepower, and a distinctive non-American lineage. The suppressor greatly reduced the Walther’s report, particularly when combined with a slide lock that prevented the slide to fly backward. The use of a slide lock turned the pistol into a single-shot weapon and caused dramatic wear and tear on the handgun’s components, but the result was a very quiet pistol.

As the Vietnam War ramped up U.S. Navy SEALS requested a new suppressed pistol. The Naval Ordnance Laboratory picked the Smith & Wesson Model 39 and proceeded to adapt the CIA’s P-38 suppressor to it, including slide lock. The pistol used a heavy, full metal jacket 158 grain round developed with the assistance of Remington Arms. The extra weight slowed the normally supersonic 9mm round to below the speed of sound, eliminating the sharp crack of a bullet exceeding Mach 1.

The pistol’s imminent issue to SEAL units required it to be able to work after being transported through water. Plastic seals and muzzle plugs could seal off the suppressor from water and prevent water from entering the pistol barrel. The waterproofing was sufficient to protect the gun up to 200 feet underwater, both with the suppressor installed and without. The gun could be fired without removing the muzzle protection, which was blown off as the bullet exited the barrel.

The resulting weapon was given the Navy designation 9mm Pistol Mark 22 Mod 0 . The weapon could be used by SEALs to covertly take out sentries guarding an enemy-held village or enemy stronghold, or even dogs that threatened to bark and reveal a SEAL unit’s presence. The Mark 22 Mod 0 received the nickname “Hush Puppy” for this reason.

The Model 39/Mark 22 was used by SEAL units throughout the Vietnam War. As the war wound Smith & Wesson turned its attention to updating the Model 39. The company’s designers went back to the drawing board and widened the grip, adding one of the first double-stack magazines ever on an American handgun. This nearly doubled magazine capacity to 14 rounds. While that may sound perfectly normal today, at the time six-round revolvers dominated the firearms scene and other semi-automatics carried a similar amount of rounds to the Model 39. The increased magazine size added only eight ounces to the weight of the pistol empty, in part due to the use of aluminum. The new pistol, called the Model 59, hit the U.S. domestic market in 1971.

The Odyssey of the Smith & Wesson Model 39/59, from its Germanic origins to the gun shops of America and the jungles of Vietnam, was unique and very much a product of the Cold War. Although out of production and no longer common, Smith & Wesson’s nine-millimeter handgun has earned a noteworthy place in American firearms history.

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Sidearms

The Bersa TPR9 – Bersa’s finest handgun

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Screen Shot 2018 04 04 at 12.21.07 PM - The Bersa TPR9 - Bersa's finest handgun

The Bersa TPR handguns were published in February, and the changes they made from the long-standing Bersa Pro Thunder series of pistols are substantial.

Bersa produced their TPR (Thunder Pro Redesign) pistols to be more sleek in the slide and the grip, while shortening the single action trigger pull to the shortest reset I believe ever experienced on a semi-auto handgun. They also added additional slide work that most shooters will find advantageous.

I was able to review the Bersa TPR 45c (the “c” stands for compact) and the full-size Bersa TPR 9, and after a couple sessions of range time with the TPR 9, I believe this model is Bersa’s finest handgun yet. To top it off, the Bersa TPR 9 is a budget-priced handgun with an MSRP of $465, but the standard gun store is selling it between $360 and $370.

The Bersa TPR 9 features a slimmer polymer grip, an ambidextrous thumb safety/decocker and slide discontinue, serrated memory pads for the weak-side thumb, three-dot sights with the rear being drift adjustable, a fore-conclude pictinny rail for accessories, front slide serrations, a raised loaded chamber bar on the top of the slide and a wide trigger guard that allows for additional finger space to reach the trigger. It also sports a 4.25-inch barrel, a steel guide rod, ships with two 17-round magazines and with the alloy aluminum frame, it weighs just 31 ounces unloaded. The Bersa TPR models continue to exercise the disassemble lever from the Thunder Pro series that I believe is the quickest and easiest field strip of any gun in today’s market. A simple downward push of the rob-down lever, and the slide releases from the frame for cleaning and maintenance.

The Bersa TPR 9 models’ (both the full-size and compact size with a 3.25-inch barrel) most significant improvement is the single action trigger. Upon the initial trigger pull, the trigger reset for the following shot is incredibly short. I consider the single action trigger reset equivalent to, if not shorter than, the Sig Sauer STR (short trigger reset). The advantage to a short trigger reset is for quicker and more accurate follow-up shots, which will allow the shooter to remain on target easier.

At the range, the Bersa TPR 9 performed just as I had expected. I shot approximately 250 rounds of Magtech 115 gr. 9mm target loads and a couple magazines of Remington Golden Sabre Black Belt 124 gr. hollow points. The Bersa TPR 9 fed, fired and ejected every round without any failures. It was also incredibly accurate. While shooting from various distances, both two-handed and one, I was able to hit my steel targets with ease and with confidence. I did not need a “learning curve” with this handgun. Straight out of the box, the Bersa TPR 9 performed excellently for me.

This review features the full-size Bersa TPR 9, but Bersa also produces a compact-size TPR 9c that is smaller, lighter and more conducive to carry on an everyday basis. Check out the tabletop and range reviews, and let us know your experiences with Bersa handguns along with your interest in their recent TPR models.

All opinion articles are the opinion of the author and not necessarily of Spec Ops Magazine. If you are interested in submitting an Op-Ed, please email [email protected] 

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