by B.B. Pelletier

The 92FS with wood grips is a big, beautiful handgun. With its weight and size, you’ll be hard-pressed to imagine that it’s an air pistol.

Okay, time to look at an airgun you can actually buy, if you’re so inclined. We’ve certainly been reporting on a lot of vintage guns recently — and I love them, but there’s also the real world to consider.

The Beretta 92FS is the latest iteration of the Beretta 92F, which is the civilian equivalent of the U.S. military sidearm, the M9A1. It’s a 15-round 9x19mm semiautomatic pistol that replaced the M1911A1 beginning in 1988. I won’t go into the controversy of the choice of 9mm over .45 ACP caliber for a handgun, which has been argued at length for the past 50 years, but I’ll be comparing the 92FS with the 1911A1 in terms of ergonomics and performance. And, I’m doing that only because I come from a background of the 1911 model.

The letter S was added to denote a larger hammer pin that stops the slide from flying backwards off the frame if it cracks. That was a problem the Army fixed in the late 1980s, so if you buy a civilian firearm, make sure you get the FS version. The new M9A1 has a Picatinny rail, a beveled magazine well for faster reloading and a reversible magazine-release button.

The first thing that strikes anyone picking up a 92FS for the first time is that this is a very large handgun. It’s not Desert Eagle large, but the wide double-stack grip frame of the 92 makes the 1911 feel like a much smaller handgun. For shooters with average-sized hands, grabbing a 92FS is like holding a two-by-four.

Again, the 92FS is an impressive gun with its black-hole weight. The pistol I’m testing for you today weighs 2.75 lbs., compared to 2.40 lbs. for the Colt 1911. When it’s loaded with 15 rounds, it’s going to be even heavier than the Colt with its 7-round mag.

As a result of being both wide and heavy, as well as shooting the very mild 9x19mm handgun round, the 92FS is a sheer delight to shoot. Recoil is almost negligible, especially when compared to the larger, more powerful .45 ACP. No doubt, this was one of the factors that balanced out the size and weight of the gun in the military acceptance test.

The airgun is a realistic copy of the firearm
Everything I’ve said about the firearm applies to the Beretta 92FS airgun, as well. It’s large, heavy and a chunk to hold and shoot. Under the skin, it’s the same 8-shot revolver mechanism that Umarex uses in most of their lookalike pistols and rifles. The slide separates for access to the rotary 8-shot clip (it’s not a magazine, because it contains none of the ammo feeding mechanism).

By pushing down on what would be the disassembly latch on the firearm, the slide opens like this to accept a loaded 8-shot circular clip.

I chose the nicest version of the gun for this test. Over the years, I’ve tested many other Umarex pellet pistols and one rifle for you:

Walther Lever Action rifle
Colt M1911A1 Tactical — Part 2
Colt M1911A1 Tactical — Part 1
Walther CP 88 Tactical — Part 3
Walther CP 88 Tactical — Part 2
Walther CP 88 Tactical — Part 1
Walther PPK/S
Walther CP99 Compact
Magnum Research Desert Eagle — Part 3
Magnum Research Desert Eagle — Part 2
Magnum Research Desert Eagle — Part 1
Beretta PX4 Storm
S&W 586/686 revolver

Now, I’ll test one of the last models of Umarex guns, the Beretta 92FS. The wood grip model I’ve selected to test comes to you in a hard case with the wood grips installed and the standard plastic grip panels in a plastic bag, in case you want to install them at any time. With them on the gun, you have the standard blue model.

General description
The 92FS is a double-action pistol that also operates in the single-action mode. When the firearm version fires, the slide comes back to the rear, ejecting the spent 9mm case and stripping a fresh cartridge from the top of the 15-round double-stack mag (double-stack means the cartridges are almost side-by-side in the magazine, to fit more rounds into a given height). The slide also cocks the hammer when it comes back, making the pistol ready to fire in the single-action mode on the next shot. So, you carry the gun with a round in the chamber and the hammer down. Then, you pull the trigger double-action for the first shot, but after that all subsequent shots are single-action, which gives a much nicer trigger-pull.

The airgun, on the other hand, does not feature blowback. So, while it’s also both double-action and single-action, the hammer must be manually thumbed back to make the single-action work.

The airgun’s sights can be adjusted for windage but not for elevation. To adjust for windage, you first loosen the setscrew in the center of the rear blade, then push the blade in the direction you want to move the next shot.

Loosen the setscrew and the rear sight notch can be slid in either direction to adjust the impact of the group.

The ambidextrous safety does not uncock the hammer. When you put it on, it rotates the end of the valve stem away from the hammer line; when the hammer falls, it doesn’t impact the valve but is stopped by a metal block. So, the hammer still falls when the trigger is pulled with the safety on, but the gun doesn’t fire.

The safety is on, and the valve stem end (that silver half-circular thing in front of the hammer) has rotated up and out of the way. When the hammer falls, it’s blocked by a steel part that houses the end of the valve stem.

Here, the safety is off, and the end of the valve stem has swung down to line up with the hammer. It’s almost out of sight in this shot.

The disassembly pin that’s always so cool in action movies when the hero grabs the gun away from the bad guy and disassembles it in a fraction of a second is the part that opens the slide on the airgun so the 8-shot clip can be accessed. That’s why the airgun Beretta 92FS doesn’t come apart like the firearm.

What would be the slide release on the firearm is just solidly cast into the frame of the airgun. Although very realistic looking, it doesn’t move and has no function. The button that would be the mag release on the firearm is pushed in on the left side of the airgun to release the right grip panel, which gives access to load the CO2 cartridge. I’ll show that in Part 2.

I must say that I’m impressed by the sheer bulk and weight of this handgun. I’m now fascinated by the Beretta 92FS and will probably acquire a firearm later this year (gotta buy this air pistol, too). I know Edith and I will love it for its low recoil. Although the M9 pistol has the reputation for not being that accurate, Army armorers have discovered the ways to tighten the groups to the point that I have heard that one-inch groups are possible at 50 yards. Like anything else, I accept that claim with a grain of salt, but if this gun can hold a two-inch group of 5 at that range, it would be spectacular! And, with the same amount of gunsmithing that has gone into the 1911 over the decades, I’m sure the 92FS is going to continue to get even better.

The gun has a very enviable reputation for reliability in combat. The single operational drawback today being that the Army is procuring cheap, substandard Check Mate magazines that soldiers in-country are replacing with their own genuine Beretta mags as soon as they can. The Army has also changed magazine specifications to try to correct this problem.

As I test the air pistol, I’ll see how reliable it is. Though, with all my experience testing Umarex air pistols, I think it’s safe to say this is a proven system.