Beretta 92 Models
By Dennis Adler
The concept of parts interchangeability was pioneered by Samuel Colt in the 1850s to facilitate more efficient and precision manufacturing at his Hartford, Connecticut, South Meadows Armory. In a way, Colt even pioneered the moving assembly line with revolver and rifle components progressing along dedicated production lines, minimizing unnecessary movement. As noted in the book, Samuel Colt – Arms, Art, and Invention by Herbert G. Houze, within the Colt’s factory buildings there were “fifteen hundred machines, the majority of which were both invented and constructed on the premises. Every part of a pistol or rifle is made by machinery, and being made to gauge, is an exact counterpart of every other piece for the same purpose.” Every part was inspected for uniformity before going to assembly, and thus you had parts interchangeability. The efficiency of the Colt factory allowed guns to be built and assembled in large numbers, and for guns in the field (remember much of this occurred just prior to and during the Civil War) an armorer in a military unit or company could replace damaged or broken parts with spares that were identical and required very little hand fitting, if any. Henry Martyn Leland, the founder of both the Cadillac and the Lincoln Motor Car companies in the early 20th century, had worked for Colt’s during the Civil War where he learned the value of parts interchangeability. After Colt’s he took this skill to Springfield Armory and later Brown & Sharpe in Providence, Rhode Island, a precision tool making company, before setting off to Detroit and America’s emerging automobile industry. The significance of parts interchangeability has been realized globally by virtually all manufacturing, whether in the form of firearms, automobiles, hand tools, or appliances, and to the point of this article, air pistols.
Parts is parts
It was a famous line in a 1980’s Wendy’s commercial about chicken; what kind of parts? Chicken parts…parts is parts. What we have here is Beretta 92FS parts that are made in one factory in Taiwan but used in a variety of different Beretta Model 92FS pistols under different brand names and different features. And none of them are marked Beretta. What kind of parts are they made of? Beretta parts.
As examples, I have chosen three different manufacturers/retailers all either now offering, or in the past, having offered, a non-Beretta licensed Model 92FS style blowback action pistol. They are all made by KWC, though only one has a KWC logo on its grips, the Gletcher BRT 92FS Auto, now listed on the Gletcher/SMG (Sport Manufacturing Group) website as the TAR92. Gletcher is a bit of an enigma because only certain models seem to be offered in the U.S.
The three Beretta 92FS copies I have, is one of the original Gletcher BRT92 select fire (full auto), the Swiss Arms Model P92 (semi-auto only), and Crosman’s offering of the same Gletcher TAR92 select fire pistol, marketed as the Crosman PFAM9B. All three guns share the same external design, varying by manufacturer’s marks and warning text on the right side of the slide. But there is that one significant difference between the Gletcher and new Crosman, when compared to the Swiss Arms model; it is the only one that does not have an automatic firing mode, even though the third detent in the safety lever is there. Which brings me to the most important point about parts interchangeability; if all three guns have the same components, can a semi-auto slide fit on the full auto frame? Of the three guns the Swiss Arms has the best looking slide for verbiage and the best looking brand logo. And yes, it fits the Crosman select fire frame and the gun works perfectly.
Now, there is a reason why I am doing this. The Crosman P92FS style pistol is rated at “up to” 400 fps, the Swiss Arms model at 312 fps. If the guns are the same, why is one advertised at 88 fps higher velocity than the other? When I chronographed the Crosman and Swiss Arms models, they both averaged around 320 fps with their own respective slides attached. If the Crosman is supposed to hit 400 fps, it’s not with .177 caliber steel BBs, and I ran the test with a fresh CO2 cartridge.
Test 2 was with Air Venturi Dust Devils and a fresh CO2 cartridge in the magazine for the Crosman. And yes the magazines from all three guns are also interchangeable; however, the Crosman has a locking follower and a loading port above it, while the mags from the old Gletcher and the Swiss Arms load BBs through the firing port and you have to hold the follower down with your thumb, one small advantage to the Crosman magazine. With Dust Devils the Crosman clocked an average of 340 fps. Then I switched out the slide with the Swiss Arms P92 and the Dust Devils averaged 335 fps. A velocity of 400 fps is nowhere in sight, but my little Swiss Arms Crosman hybrid is a pretty sharp looking gun and if I were going to leave it that way I would also switch the grips from the Swiss Arms to the Crosman frame.
The moral of this story is simply that just because someone’s name is on the slide or frame, doesn’t mean it isn’t the same gun as another with a different or better name. Parts is parts.