REVIEW-RETROSPECT: Surplus Beretta 92S

Here’s a retired 9mm with still a lot of fight left! READ MORE

beretta 92s
For a pistol manufactured in the early 1980s my example shows surprisingly little wear.

beretta 92s

Robert Sadowski

“Surplus” has different meanings depending where you are in the world. Surplus firearms in the U.S. means extra on-hand or dated equipment, in other countries it could mean scrap metal. I try to avoid the latter, but I am always on the look out for a diamond in the rough and thought I’d look at the Beretta 92S. I have seen these advertised by a variety of online gun sellers. This 9mm is an early generation of 92FS so it is more of a European gun than the 92FS which definitely has U.S. influence. This is what I found with this old pistol.

The Model 92S is basically a Model 92FS with slight differences.The original Model 92 was introduced in 1976 and had a frame mounted safety similar to the Taurus 92 pistol or a 1911 style pistol. Police and military in Italy wanted a slide mounted safety and in 1977 Beretta introduced the 92S, the second generation 92, and started to sell these pistols to police and law enforcement agencies around the world. Where the 92S differs from the 92FS is in the grip, hammer pin, receiver shape, and magazine release. The 92FS has an enlarged hammer pin to stop the slide from flying off the receiver if it cracks. This was done at request of the U.S. military after testing with high pressure loads. The 92S has the safety lever mounted in the slide. Rotated up it exposes a red dot and the pistol is ready to fire. Rotate it down and the trigger is disengaged but the slide can still be manipulated. The hammer cannot be cocked. With the pistol cocked, rotate the lever to allow the hammer to move forward. The safety is not ambidextrous.

beretta 92s
The 92S was the first of the 92 series to have a slide mounted safety lever.

The receiver has a rounded trigger guard and the magazine release is located in the butt. Press the button and the magazine falls free. If you have ever fired a pistol in snow or tall grass you will understand why the magazine release was located here. Using the support hand to manipulate the magazine drops the empty magazine into the palm of the support hand. Here in the U.S. we are used to dumping the empty magazine and while it is falling insert a full magazine. This is a European trait of the 92S. It’s really all in the training. Most magazines made for the 92FS are compatible with the 92S, so finding extra magazines — both factory and aftermarket — is simple.

beretta 92s
That button is the magazine release, which took some getting used to.
beretta 92s
That D-shaped hole in the magazine allows the magazine to be used in 92s with a magazine butt release. Many current manufacture 92 magazines have this cut out.

The front and rear grip straps are smooth and there is a lanyard loop attached at the butt. The 92S feels rounded in hand, different than the 92FS. The plastic grips were checkered on the bottom portion but not the top which is odd. I would have liked fully checkered grips to better grip the pistol.

beretta 92s
The 92S did not have any front or rear grip strap serrations. They were missed.

My example showed signs of holster wear but little actually firing. The bluing was worn and I would rate this pistol 80-75 percent by NRA standards. The slide had no wiggle — it was tight. The trigger measured 11 pounds in DA mode and felt like it. In SA mode there was a lot of take up and a bit mushy. Not show stoppers by any means, just a typical used service pistol. The sight were small, fixed, and without contrasting dots or lines. On a dark background the sights can get lost.

Since this is an older pistol I did not test with +P+ loads. This pistol was not designed for that type of high pressure ammunition, not that I am implying this is a sub standard pistol. The 92S is safe when used with ammunition originally intended. What I did want to find out was if performance would be affected if I fired different bullets types — meaning FMJs and hollow points. I used off the shelf 9mm ammo consisting of Hornady American Gunner with 115-grain XTP jacketed hollow points, Aguila 124-grain FMJ, and SIG Sauer 115-grain FMJ.

beretta 92s
Sights are small and glare when used in full sunlight.

For accuracy testing I used a bench rest at targets set at 25 yards.

All ammunition cycled flawlessly through the 92S. Magazines seated easily. I would have liked more slide serrations to make the slide easier to rack.

Bench rest accuracy was good, averaging about two inches for five rounds at 25 yards. The 92S had a pleasant recoil. The pistol magazine release took some getting used to and slowed me down when it came to rapid reloads.

beretta 92s
If you’ve spent time under Uncle Sam’s tutelage you know a 92 field strips quickly.

The 92S is no 92FS but still provides an excellent example of Beretta’s 92 series performance, and is a little piece of history too. The 92S is about half the cost of a new 92FS.


7 thoughts on “REVIEW-RETROSPECT: Surplus Beretta 92S”

  1. Skip this one. I’ve own 2 of them. Nether was worth the price. The mag release was a real pain, the sights are nearly useless and the grips leave a lot to be desired. It is no light weight and my top gun is a 1911 / I have 9 of them. Keep looking, pass on this gun.

  2. Skip this one. I’ve own 2 of them. Nether was worth the price. The mag release was a real pain, the sights are nearly useless and the grips leave a lot to be desired. It is no light weight and my top gun is a 1911 / I have 9 of them. Keep looking, pass on this gun.

  3. I have this exact pistol that I bought for $200. Its worked flawlessly for 3 years now and its my EDC. Im right handed and carry IWB, only problem i ever had was the mag release rusting up in the summer from sweat (Nevada summers). Even with sweat and lint build up it still goes POP every time. I have nicer pistols but if I ever have to use it in self defense, I would rather the police confiscate a $200 gun rather than a $1100 gun.

  4. Beautiful! The Beretta 92 was a beautiful gun, before being aesthetically ruined at the request of the US Army. The convex trigger guard looks much better than the concave one, which is useless (who keeps the non-firing index on the trigger guard nowadays? that’s uncomfortable and unnatural). The thin mag base looks much better than the thick one (also useless). And I always found the heal mag release button more comfortable and quick to use than the one placed behind the trigger. I also don’t really like the ambidextrous safety. So what you have here is the real Beretta 92, the Italian Beretta 92, before being spoiled by the Americans. That’s splendid! Congratulations!

    By the way, the heal mag release button is not an European invention, but an American one. The first Colt models had it (Model 1902, Model 1903). And also the first Browning models (1900, 1910). And the “American” mag release button is, in fact, European. The first pistol to have it was the Luger P08.

    1. “the heal mag release button”

      Correction: “the HEEL mag release button”, of course. I know perfectly English, but it’s not my maternal language and I was in the hurry, when I wrote that comment, so I had a moment of confusion. Sorry!

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