You’ve got to hand it to Beretta. For a company that’s been in business for close to half a millennium, it’s remarkably good at adapting to modern times. For the launch of the X series, the latest advancement in the nearly-50-year-old handgun, Beretta chose a state-of-the-art shooting range, Elite Shooting Sports, in northern Virginia. Combining the refined 92X with a modern, upscale range makes a lot of sense, and fits into the overall scheme of Beretta’s plan for its workhorse pistol.
We were given a quick overview of Beretta’s long, storied history: How the oldest surviving documentation of Beretta existence is an invoice dated October 3, 1526. It’s a family-owned business, some 16 generations worth. And it still is family-owned. Of course, over the years, the business has changed and adapted, turning into Beretta USA/Beretta Holding Company with brands Beretta, Benelli,Stoeger, Tikka and others. Beretta USA was founded in 1977 for production of the 92/M9 and, at its largest, had 500 employees. The Gallatin, TN, facility opened in 2016 and added 150,000 square feet of factory space, bringing annual production to a half-million units. There’s also room to grow.
We were introduced to new products next, with APX line extensions first up. There’s an APX Target model, with a 4.7-inch barrel, red-dot slide cut and mounting plates and an upgraded trigger. A Centurion RDO and Centurion Combat are also new, and incorporate the same RDO cuts as the Target. The Combat model includes a threaded barrel. We’ve seen the last APX extension already here at Shooting Illustrated, the Carry model—a subcompact, single-stack 9 mm designed for concealed carry.
Of course, the main focus was on the new 92X Series, with four models: Fullsize, Centurion, Compact and Performance. The Centurion keeps the same grip as the Fullsize with a slightly shorter barrel, while the Compact shares the shortened barrel of the Centurion with a reduced grip. The Performance, introduced at SHOT Show, is an all steel, performance-oriented IPSC gun. Some of the 92X upgrades include a dovetailed front sight, straight backstrap with enhanced grip panels, chrome-lined barrels and front and back cross-checkering. 92X models should be compatible with standard 92 gear with some limited exceptions.
Erik Stern, Beretta’s product manager for tactical products and pro shop, summed up the 92X enhancements, “The 92X is the ultimate entry into the 90 series pistol family, incorporating features that have been offered across a variety of product lines for some time such as the universal slide (F-G), removable front sights, Vertec Backstraps, and enhanced ergonomics, into one family for the first time.”
Once show-and-tell time was over, it was range time with these new Beretta handguns. In no particular order, our thoughts on the new models are as follows:
APX series: APX Target is quite accurate; trigger is upgraded and it shows. RDO version is intuitive and easy to acquire, as long as you don’t chase the dot… The APX Carry was the surprise of the group. A single stack subcompact that made solid hits? The sights help - the front sight is a small white dot, while the rear is an unadorned black U-notch. It makes finding the front sight stupid-easy, and the trigger, while slightly “stacky,” allowed most of the take up to be grabbed before breaking the shot. Staging made for scarily accurate hits at 5 to 7 yards.
APX Centurion really hits the sweet spot for size; it’s not as impossibly large as the full size, but you can get a full firing grip without fingers hanging off the bottom. Fifteen rounds and an accessory rail are pretty much expected in a carry gun, and whether you like the slide serrations or not, they make it supremely easy to slingshot the slide into battery.
92X Performance: The best description i heard for the 92X Performance was that it was “shooting on easy mode.” With a hefty 40+ ounces, it felt like a .22 LR, but it was amazingly accurate. Target sights allow precise aiming, and the smooooooth trigger didn’t leave a lot of time for jerking and flinching. It broke crisp and clean without much thought behind it.
When it came to the 92X Fullsize, Centurion and Compact models, the upgrades were quite evident. The new grip and texturing make for a noticeable difference in shootability. While certainly more aggressive than the standard 92, the 92X just sticks to your hand like it had briars. Edges are a little bit on the sharp side, so be careful with cover garments or when first obtaining a firing grip, but it’s well worth the shredded palms for the significant increase in recoil mitigation and keeping the gun level when shooting rapid strings. The changes made in the “X” upgrades were clearly designed by people who actually shoot pistols.
Look for more in-depth coverage on the 92X series of pistols in the pages of Shooting Illustrated, and in our “I Carry” video series.