Swiss Arms The other Beretta Model 92

Swiss Arms  The other Beretta Model 92

The P92 delivers an accurate 92FS semi-auto design

Shop Benjamin Rifles

By Dennis Adler

No second place finishers here, the Swiss Arms P92 version of the Beretta 92FS semi-auto was out a little more than a year before Umarex and Beretta teamed up to produce the newer Beretta 92A1. The Umarex has the newer rounded triggerguard and Mil-Spec 1913 (Picatinny) rail, and of course, a selective-fire switch. The Swiss Arms model is a standard production-style 92FS, which is also still manufactured by Beretta.

Every so often a great airgun comes along, and in a year or so it gets forgotten, or worse, overshadowed by another great airgun…of nearly identical design. This is the case of the first great blowback action Beretta Model 92FS air pistol, the Swiss Arms P92. The Model 92 Beretta design, one of the Italian armsmaker’s most successful pistols (and with more than 500 years of gun making history behind them, that’s a lot to say), has seen many iterations and improvements since it was introduced in 1976. The 92FS variation arrived in1984, just in time for the 9mm model to be adopted as this nation’s standard issue military sidearm the following year. As an air pistol, the Beretta 92FS has been around since 2000 as one of the premier Umarex Beretta models, however, it has always been a non-blowback semi-auto with an 8-shot rotary pellet magazine. Umarex and Beretta did not jointly introduce a blowback action .177 caliber BB model until late in 2015. At that point in time, most Beretta enthusiasts already had or were familiar with the blowback action .177 caliber Beretta 92FS models from Swiss Arms, which preceded the Umarex by more than a year.

The Swiss Arms P92 specs out with an overall length of 8.54 inches, a height of 5.75 inches from the top of the rear sight to the extended base plate magazine, a width of 1.5 inches at its widest point and slide width of 1.0 inches. Carry weight (with empty magazine) is 40 ounces.
This 9mm Beretta 92FS specs out with an overall length of 8.5 inches, a height of 5.4 inches, width of 1.5 inches, and carry weight (empty) of 33.1 ounces. Note the correct thumb safety design built into the rear of the slide, rather than on the frame like the Swiss Arms model.

The Swiss Arms P92 was the first blowback action 92FS. When the Umarex Beretta 92A1 was introduced, it used the design of the newest Beretta military (M9A1) and civilian version (92A1), with a dustcover accessory rail and new rounded triggerguard. For extra measure, Umarex threw in a selective fire mechanism (with a small selector on the right side of the frame) to give the new model even greater appeal. Ironically, even that idea was not entirely new, since Beretta had actually manufactured a 9mm selective fire version of the Model 92 (the Model 93R) and airgun manufacturer Gletcher had briefly built a version of the 92FS (which was virtually identical to the Swiss Arms model), but with a left hand safety selector switch that put the gun into full auto burst operation when pulled all the way down. This is just as it had worked on the actual Beretta Model 93R. That was, however, a short-lived model for Gletcher, leaving the Swiss Arms semi-auto to stand as the best CO2 example of the 9mm Beretta until the 92A1 came along two years ago.

The Swiss Arms has a smoothbore steel barrel with an overall length of 4.5 inches. The cutaway slide exposing the entire length of the barrel is one of Beretta’s most famous designs. This makes the slide much lighter in weight and the front contour allows an easy press check for a loaded chamber.
The contours of the 9mm model (shown) are well matched by the Swiss Arms P92 with the exception of the ambidextrous thumb safety being mounted on the frame rather than the slide like the centerfire models.

How good is the Swiss Arms 92FS variation compared to the 92A1?

Consider first, that the two guns are not identical, even beyond the different triggerguard and Mil-Spec 1913 (Picatinny) rail designs. The Swiss Arms model has the thumb safety located on the frame, rather than on the slide as it should be, and operates in the reverse order. Interestingly, the select fire detent from the Gletcher is still used on the Swiss Arms model. It should work as a decocker when lowered but does nothing. Lastly, the safety on the Umarex (like the 9mm models) can be set to SAFE or FIRE regardless of hammer position (cocked or lowered), while the Swiss Arms can only be set to safe if the hammer is cocked. This seems like a trivial difference, but for training purposes it is anything but. Nevertheless, the Swiss Arms model was the first blowback action CO2 .177 caliber version of the Beretta Model 92FS.

With the slide locked back it is easy to see the magazine and steel BB loaded and ready to chamber when the slide closes. The single center white dot of the rear sight and black front blade are also easy to see in this view.
One big advantage of the centerfire Beretta model (shown) is the use of three white dot sights. This is the same design used on the Umarex Beretta 92A1.

How much gun do you get?

We already know that the Umarex Beretta 92A1 is perhaps the best .177 caliber CO2 blowback action semi-auto pistol on the market for ease of handling, loading, and for accuracy; so where does the Swiss Arms P92 fall in comparison? In price they have the same MSRP of $149.99 but the average discounted prices put the Swiss Arms model at around $20 less. The Swiss Arms P92 has the same build quality and disassembles identically to the 92A1, and both models have ambidextrous safeties. One final difference is the use of three white dot sights on the Umarex Beretta while the Swiss Arms uses a single rear center white dot and black front blade. While this is not the standard arrangement on a 9mm 92FS (they come with three dot sights like the Umarex 92A1), it is an effective enough sighting system that it is used on a number of cartridge-firing semi-autos.

The Swiss Arms disassembly is straightforward like the 92A1. It quickly breaks down into the two main components, frame and slide. The slide houses the barrel, a full length recoil spring and guide rod. They are removable but it is an unnecessary step with the CO2 model. The magazine at left has a total capacity of 21 steel BBs. It is easy to load but is slow, requiring the follower to be held down while BBs are fed into the firing port (at the top of the magazine) one at a time and pushed into the chamber.

The Swiss Arms model is an easy takedown for detailed cleaning and occasional lubrication with RWS air chamber lube, and only takes seconds to disassemble to the two main components; frame and slide. The gun is a true short-recoil operated design with a free floating barrel and lug, recoil spring and guide rod arrangement based on the 9mm pistol design. The internal smoothbore barrel length is 4.5 inches and is recessed from the 9mm muzzle opening by 0.25 inches. A 9mm 92FS model has a standard barrel length of 4.9 inches.

The Swiss Arms P92 has the same frame as the short-lived Gletcher model that had a 3-position selective fire and safety lever. That is the lever used on the Swiss Arms model, which is frame, rather than slide, mounted. It has SAFE, FIRE, but the bottom detent has no function.

The Swiss Arms trigger system is also a 92FS based DA/SA design with the first shot fired double action, if the hammer is lowered (de-cocked manually). Having an exposed hammer, it can be manually cocked to discharge the gun SA. Trigger pull on the Swiss Arms measures 6 pounds, 7.0 ounces average fired double action, and a light 2 pounds, 0.5 ounces average single action. This is a very good DA/SA trigger for an air pistol.

Shots downrange

For the shooting test, the standard range will be 21 feet, optimum for blowback action, smoothbore CO2 pistols, and the ammunition will be Umarex steel BBs. All shots will be fired using a Weaver stance and two-handed hold, and the first round will be shot double action.

The average velocity for the Swiss Arms is rated at 312 fps, the gun chronographed at an average of 310 fps with a high of 321 fps and a low of 304 fps. The gun has a moderate degree of felt recoil with the blowback action, not quite as brisk as the Swiss Arms 1911s but the Beretta has a cutaway slide (over the length of the barrel) so it is much lighter, one of Beretta’s most distinctive design features. The airgun magazine has a total capacity of 21 rounds, for the test, magazines were loaded with only 10. The trigger pull is excellent on this gun which helps keep it on target. This example did, however, shoot 2 inches below POA so all of my shots were fired with a 2-inch hold over.

Two 5-shot groups fired offhand from 21 feet delivered a total spread of 1.5 inches and a best 5-rounds measuring 0.625 inches. At 21 feet the test gun’s sights were hitting 2-inches below POA and this target was shot with a corrected hold over. There were no windage issues. There were no stoppages or failures to fire. I also rapid fired the Swiss Arms, which is very easy with its light SA trigger, putting all 21 shots inside 3.5 inches with a best 10 rounds at 1.95 inches. When rapid firing, however, accuracy suffers and velocity drops off as the gun cools.

The best 10-shot group actually broke into two five-shot groups one measuring 0.75 inches and the second 0.625 inches. Total spread was 1.5 inches. This is equal to the test results for the Umarex Beretta 92A1 in Airgun Experience No. 33, with an equivalent best 5-shot group.

The Swiss Arms P92 can stand its ground against the majority of today’s best blowback action .177 caliber CO2 semi-autos, many of which are variations of Model 1911 designs. In the world of Beretta, however, there are only two, and this was the first.

A Word About Safety

Blowback action models like the Swiss Arms P92 provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts. All arguns, in general, look like guns, but those based on real cartridge-firing models even more so. It is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.

13 thoughts on “Swiss Arms The other Beretta Model 92”

  1. “This example did, however, shoot 2 inches below POA …”

    I observed much the same deviation with the Swiss Arms P92 when I first shot it a year or so ago. The Swiss Arms SA 92 Stainless that I shot this past weekend has an even lower point of impact at 3 to 4 inches below point of aim (center of target) at 18 feet. However, the SA 92 groups very well much like your 1.5 inch groups at 21 feet. I was shooting the SA 92 with a two handed grip, bench rested, not standing off hand, at 18 feet indoors, at about 65 degrees. All steel BBs required a 3 inch hold over to hit the center of the target. The Smart Shot BBs required a 4 inch hold over to hit the center of target, but produced the best group.

    I can’t help but wonder if there is something in the 92 blowback design that makes it inherently shoot low. What do you think Dennis?

    • No, if that were true the Umarex Beretta would also shoot low. I think it is related to the sight design being used by Swiss Arms. I have never been a fan of the single rear dot concept and I think that is a great part of the problem you (and I) have had with this model of the Beretta 92FS. I am going to look at some options for that issue and report back on it later. For now, aim high!

      • Actually, my Umarex Beretta M92A1 does shoot a few inches low despite having white dots on both front and rear sights. I don’t have much skill yet shooting guns of any kind which is why I shoot from a bench rested position when I first shoot a new pistol. I use the bench rest to eliminate myself as a variable as much as possible so that I can see what the gun’s performance is. I believe other Pyramyd Air customers also reported low shots in their customer reviews for the Umarex Beretta M92A1.

        Usually I just attach a laser and adjust it so that I can put the laser dot on the front sight and hit my point of aim.

        I am likely doing something wrong and don’t recognize it as being wrong because I have not had any formal instruction in shooting. But I must be doing something right because when I shot the Swiss Arms SA 1911 TRS from the bench rested position at 18 feet, I leveled the sights at center of target and hit center of target. So what is the difference that lets me hit point of aim with the SA 1911 TRS but have to aim 3 to 4 inches high with either of the Swiss Arms 92 pistols or the Umarex Beretta 92 pistol if the difference is not the choice of pistol?

        • It is difficult to say without watching you shoot but but different guns, not only in sight design, but grip, balance, trigger design, and other factors that experienced shooters learn to manage or overcome can affect beginning shooters. When you find a gun you shoot well, continue to practice with it. As for fixed sights, you learn to compensate, just as shooters did more than a century ago. Others had the sights on their revolvers shaved down, others needed them built up higher. It is a long learning curve and beginning as you are with several different fixed sight semi-auto air pistols will help you learn how to adapt and adjust your shooting techniques.

      • I have the silver SA92 – actually more like a light semi matte gray colour – and the first couple mags shot low but then I started lining the white dot in the center of the rear blades up with the base of the front post, which results in the front post being much higher than the rear blades, and BAM, nailed the target right in the bullseye.
        It’s now the most accurate airgun I own regularly shooting perfectly centered 1.5 – 2 inch groupings from 20 ft. handheld without support.

        • That is a good way to compensate and have your sight picture at POA rather than compensating by holding over or under, just so long as you can be consistent. I will try that myself and report back on how well it works in general as a correction with this airgun.

        • One more thing about the silver Swiss Arms version is that it doesn’t have that ugly block of warning type on the right side of the gun.
          The thing about that warning is, the gun by itself is no more dangerous than any moderately heavy object – a baseball, ashtray, or brick.
          It’s when you insert a loaded magazine into the firearm (in Canada airguns are classified as firearms for legal purposes) that care has to be taken and the gun becomes potentially dangerous or destructive to property.
          So why is that warning uglifying the outside of all our guns? Why isn’t it on the magazine instead? It’s the act of loading and inserting that loaded magazine into the weapon that makes the gun ‘not a toy’.
          There is room for manufacturers to put that warning on both full size and stick magazines, which would put it nicely out of sight when inserted and not marring the replica feel of the gun on the outside.
          Perhaps as a representative of a major airgun retailer who probably has contact with industry executives you could run that idea past them, see what they think.

  2. Picked up the Swiss version during a holiday special with spare mag around 2 years ago . Pretty nice rendition .Two gripes. One the mag is overly heavy and would prefer the lighter flatter Beretta type mag . Two the mag release button is higher and sharper than it needs to be . For a lefty like me it digs into yourtrigger finger and is prone to accidental release .

  3. From the pics it was hard for me to see if there is a notch in the rear sight. If there is, I suggest blacking out the white dots. A small piece of electrical tape should do. Try shooting the pistol using the blacked out sights. That should give an idea if the sights are off or that blacking out the sights permanently will help.

  4. Dug mine out and now know why I don’t shoot it much . The sights are awful even after blacking out the rear and putting red paint on the front . It shoots 3 inches low and at 7 o clock . It is the only bb semiauto that is so off . My others all chew out the the black at 21-25 feet.

  5. Good day,
    My Swiss Air P92 goes into auto-firing mode while I am shooting.
    The pistol has been back at the seller 3 x times to no avail.
    My final reaction was to check the operation of the “striker pin” ( pin hitting valve on the magazine), as the action required in single firing mode should allow for strike and retract action. In this case, the striker pin remains extended against the valve , hence the involuntary continuous release of the CO2.
    I hope that this is not a manufacturing defect, as I really like this pistol.

Leave a Comment