Parts Interchangeability

Parts Interchangeability

Beretta 92 Models

By Dennis Adler

When you fieldstrip all three of these Beretta 92FS-style CO2 pistols you end up with the same parts. The only difference is that the Crosman (far right) has a better magazine for loading, but the other mags work in the Crosman just as well. The full auto setting is selected by the safety when moved to the lowest position, allowing one pull of the trigger to fire the gun continuously until you let off. The select fire Umarex Beretta 92A1 has a different selector switch apart from the thumb safety.

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.

The Gletcher select fire version of the Beretta 92FS is no longer available but Gletcher lists a new version as the TAR 92. The Swiss Arms Model P92 is a semi-auto only version with the Swiss Arms brand name. The Crosman PFAMB9 is their version of the select fire model like the Gletcher, so even though the select fire (semi-auto/full auto) Gletcher is on the hard to find list you can get the same features with the Crosman. But there is more to it that just another version of the Beretta 92FS, all three of these guns are made for their respective retailers in the same factory using the same parts.

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.

This photo answers a lot of questions about different companies having what appears to be the same gun but with a different name. All three Beretta-style 92FS pistols bear different brand names and none of them are allowed to call their gun a Beretta, because the trademark for airguns is held by Umarex, and the Model 92A1 that they sell, with a select fire mechanism, is a completely different gun than these three.

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.

Since Umarex has the license from Beretta to use their name, Umarex is going to kick off 2019 with a new military version of the 92FS model based on the U.S. Armed Forces M9A3. This is also a select fire gun, and in this case, one picture tells the whole story. This will be an impressive addition to the CO2 air pistol marketplace.

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.

Parts interchangeability not only means easy replacement parts but that the same gun from different brands like Swiss Arms and Crosman are also interchangeable. Here I have taken the slide from the semi-auto only Swiss Arms P92 and put it on select fire Crosman PFAMB9 frame. The slides and magazine work on either gun, but the Crosman adds the full auto option that Swiss Arms does not offer. The swap is simply because I have both guns, like select fire and the Swiss Arms slide looks better.

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.

The difference between the Swiss Arms and Crosman (Gletcher) 92FS designs is the thumb safety. Pushed all the way up it put the gun on SAFE. Lowered as shown, the safety is off and the gun fires semi-auto. Push it down all the way into the grip slot and this lower detent puts the action into full auto. The Swiss Arms P92 has this same detent and you can even push the safety down all the way, but the gun is not built with the same firing mechanism and will not fire on full auto.

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.

So my hybrid is a Swiss Arms upper and a Crosman lower. Mostly this is to prove the point about parts interchangeability and that similar guns from different companies are more often than not, the very same gun with a different name on the slide.

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.

5 thoughts on “Parts Interchangeability

  1. I have the Swiss Arms model but I made it full auto simply by filling a small part. There are videos on how to do this, very easy. Ops, I almost forgot to mention that the slide is now duo tone, without any lettering, after your articles. Thanks again.


  2. I’m not a Techno Geek but this article speaks volumes towards Manufacturing Practice by the actual MFG of the various Air Guns and their Brand name Principals…..
    It specifically brings to mind, for me, Tokyo Marui and Sig Sauer’s various Pistols and other Lookalikes…???
    I am personally amazed at how inexpensively these various Air Pistols can be Produced and Sold…

    Chuck


    • U.S. manufacturers and arms making companies have relied on Japan, in particular, as a manufacturing partner. I can cite as a prime example the decades old relationship between Winchester and Miroku Ltd. which has produced many fine shotguns and rifles for Winchester (and Browning). These partnerships are much deeper than some, where a company like KWC in Taiwan produces guns of the same design for a variety of brand name clients. Quality is also a part of these off shore manufacturers in the firearms industry and airguns alike, building guns to a price point. In dealing with foreign manufacturers it is truly a case of getting what you pay for. I have toured the Umarex facilities in Germany and manufacturing in house is very different than guns marked Made in Taiwan or Made in Japan. There’s a reason an air pistol marked Made in Germany costs more. Taiwan and Japan can also deliver high quality but they produce on a scale that allows lower costs of manufacturing. And yes, you will find that many brand name air pistols are made in the same factory and with the same tooling for different companies.


  3. I have the Umarex Beretta M92A1 semi/full auto BB pistol. Apart from the color difference and the threaded barrel muzzle, I don’t see any difference between the M92A1 and the new tan colored M9A3. When you do your review of the M9A3, please highlight all of the differences between these two pistols.


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