by B.B. Pelletier

The Beretta PX4 Storm pistol is a full-sized, semiautomatic pistol that’s now available in three calibers: 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. It’s based on a polymer frame and incorporates features like removable backstraps to tailor the pistol to the individual shooter’s hand. It’s both single- and double-action and features a high-capacity, double-stack magazine.

The airgun version of the PX4 Storm is available in .177 caliber and also shoots steel BBs. It has a 16-shot magazine that has 8-shot clips at either end. When one clip is finished you drop the mag out and flip it over for the other clip. The pistol operates on a 12-gram CO2 cartridge that provides power for the projectile as well as a realistic slide blowback.

Semiautomatic or blowback?
Blowback is a big deal because not very many pellet pistols have it. There are several with semiautomatic action, but true blowback pellet pistols are scarce. I think the Desert Eagle is the only other one. Do you know the difference between blowback and semiautomatic? A semiautomatic gun makes itself ready for the next shot by indexing or loading the next round and cocking the trigger using the power of the previous shot. A semiautomatic generally has a light trigger pull.

Blowback
Blowback is when the slide of a pistol is driven backwards by the force of a shot. Blowback can cock the gun for the next shot and also index the next pellet, so a blowback is often a semiautomatic, too, but a semiautomatic pellet pistol does not need blowback to function. The Drulov DU-10 pistol and the Crosman 600 pistol are both true semiautomatics and neither one has blowback. The Crosman Nightstalker is advertised as blowback, but all that moves backwards is a small operating handle on the left side of the gun. And, the next pellet is not indexed at that time. It takes the force of the trigger to index the pellet, so the Nightstalker is technically not a semiautomatic – though that’s shaving hairs and I don’t suppose most shooters know or care about the difference.

The magazine
The magazine is really the heart of this pistol. Much of the functioning depends on the mag. It’s also more complex than other mags because it’s double-ended. There’s an 8-round circular clip at either end of the mag, so when the first 8 shots are finished, you remove the mag, flip it over and reinsert for the final 8.


Eight-shot clip is rotated by hand to load the chambers. Only one side of the mag has the pellet graphic shown, so that’s the side you load. Two projections on either side of mag are the spring-loaded ears that cause the mag to eject from the pistol when the button is pressed.

Two spring-loaded projections on the sides of the mag at both ends had me puzzled for a moment, because the owner’s manual doesn’t appear to mention them. They’re simply connected to springs that eject the mag when the mag release is pressed. You don’t have to do anything with them – the gun takes care of everything.

The circular clips are held captive in the mag. You load a pellet or BB from the correct side, then index the clip to the next empty chamber. A graphic at each end of the mag reminds you which side is correct and which way to load the pellet.

Safety
While the firearm PX-4 has an ambidextrous safety located at the top rear of the slide, this CO2 version has a separate safety located on the right side of the gun. It’s got a sawtooth central locking lever that must be slid back against spring pressure while the safety lever itself is pushed up or down. It takes force to operate and cannot be worked with just the firing hand.


Sawtoothed block is pushed back to allow safety lever to move.

Sights
The sights are a wide blade front and a notch rear. Both are cast into the slide, so there’s no adjustment. There are three dots – one in front and two in the rear – so the sight is meant to be tactical, which is suited to the pistol’s purpose. The owner’s manual shows the sight picture for shooting a target pistol, so you have the option of doing either, and that will give you two different aim points.

CO2 installation
A 12-gram CO2 cartridge is inserted in the back of the grip, once the removable backstrap has been popped off. What would be the floorplate of the magazine is actually a cammed CO2 cartridge-locking mechanism that pushes the cartridge up into the piercing pin. There’s a tensioning adjustment wheel inside that must be run up tight against the cartridge before the floorplate is swung round to cam the cartridge up. Don’t forget to put a drop of Crosman Pellgunoil on the tip of each new cartridge before you pierce it.


With the backstrap off, the powerlet is pressed into the grip. Tighten the tensioning wheel, then rotate the mag floorplate back to the closed position.

Judging by the rate at which these pistols have flown off the shelves, there are a great number of them in the hands of our readers, so please feel free to chime in with your observations.