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Beretta 92 Longevity

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Confederate, Oct 26, 2006.

  1. Confederate

    Confederate Well-Known Member

    Years ago I was a huge proponent of the Beretta 92 9mm. It was a time before the ultra-reliable pistols started hitting the market and the 92 was big, beautiful and ate anything one fed it. The military trials came and the second place winner in reliability went to the Smith & Wesson 459 (I think the model was). It was later released in the all steel 559, then the stainless 659.

    Anyway, in the military trials it was said to have malfunctioned once on an average of 952 times. The Beretta, on the other hand, only malfunctioned once in an average 2,000 rounds. Smith & Wesson was unhappy with the results, of course, and engaged in all sorts of legal action saying, if you can believe it, that it was impossible for any pistol to live up to the government's expectations. But the Beretta just had. And the government wanted the pistol to have a life of at least 5,000 rounds.

    But then stories began circulating about the 92's slides popping off the frames and hitting users in the face. A friend of mine at Beretta assured me this was poppycock, but then I ran into a fellow at the Naval Sea Systems Command who had been in charge of the Navy's acquisition of the new Beretta. He was very emphatic in saying the stories were not poppycock at all and that he was retiring because the Navy and the rest of the military were catagorically ignoring his warnings that the pistols could fail at any time without warning after about 2,500 rounds or so of conventional 9mm.

    Meanwhile Beretta was beefing up a key part of the frame, even as it continued to try to discredit the stories.

    The NAVSEA fellow said that stress tests done after 2,500 rounds were not able to predict which pistols would fail. A pistol could pass at one point and then fail 100 rounds later, he said. I found it all fascinating, especially when told that none of the Italian Berettas had (as then) not failed. I also have not heard of any of the Taurus 92/99s failing.

    My question is: What is the average life of the in-service 92s presently? I would think 5,000 rounds would not be acceptable to modern shooters, though many will never shoot that amount. Have there been any civilian failures of the gun?

    Thanks for any info.
  2. FortyFive70

    FortyFive70 Active Member

    From a private owners viewpoint, I've owned three: two blued models and one with stainless slide. I shot the ever-loving-hell out of one of the blued models - well over 10,000 rounds. It may sound like BS, but I can't, for the life of me, ever remember a malfunction. The finish had a lot of wear on it when I finally gave it away, but it was still working fine. Nothing ever broke, either.
  3. 10-Ring

    10-Ring Well-Known Member

    I have 2 Italian 92's - a Centurion & an inox fs. I have 20,000+ rounds through them respectively....I am not exactly sure of the round count in the fs because I bought it used. Both have been very very accurate & extremely reliable YMMV but from my experience, the 92 rocks :D
  4. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Well-Known Member

    From what I've been able to determine, about 10 slides broke, most of them in testing after two incidents (with injuries) prompted the investigation. The issue was overpressure ammunition, according to Beretta, or improper metallurgy, according to the U.S. military. Probably some truth to both stories--rumor has it that the SEALs were "testing" the new guns to see what they could take and found out. There was also a rumor that the slides in question had too much of a particular metal which resulted in a weakened part.

    Again, from what I've been able to gather, there were changes made in the parts replacement guidance and tighter restrictions were placed on the slide metallurgy to eliminate the problem.
    Beretta replaced the hammer pin with a modified pin that has an oversize head. The head prevents the slide from coming off the rear of the gun in the event of slide breakage. This modification effectively prevents injury in the unlikely event of slide failure. To my knowledge, Beretta has not beefed up any part of the frame--that would have been pointless anyway since the issue had nothing to do with frame strength.

    Based on the demonstrably flawed information provided by your friend, I would take what he says with a grain of salt.

    The Beretta 92/96 pistols are not superstars in the handgun durability contest, but they hold up well if they're not abused. One fellow on the Beretta forum claims to have shot more than 100K rounds through his 96 before it finally broke the frame.

    That's definitely on the high side, but I think that 5K is definitely on the low side.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2006
  5. STAGE 2

    STAGE 2 Well-Known Member

    If you are good about maintenance and replace the locking block at proper intervals then you should be able to make over 30,000 easily. The beretta isn't the most robust handgun ever, but its not a delicate thing either.

    There is no magic formula. Take care of your guns, don't shoot bubbas handloads and all will be well.
  6. GRB

    GRB member

    I have three Beretta Model 92 series pistols. One 92SB and two 92FS's. The 92SB, the one made just prior to the military testing has had at least 8,000 rounds (probably many more) though it. One of the FS's has had at least 4,000 rounds though it. The other is pampered with only about 400 or 500 through it.

    As I recall, the Navy testing was done using highly charged military machine pistol ammunition. Ammunition that was not meant for a normal 9mm pistol. In addition, it was not failures after only 2,500 rounds, but 20,000 rounds; and this was after continuous fire - and I do mean continuous. This was reported to me by several firearms instructors at Ft. Benning, GA, and by folks who got to examine some of the failed slides.

    Beretta fixed a problem that would not be a problem under any normal usage of these fiine pistols, as far as I am aware. It only goes to show dedication to real quality, and just how much the sharks make people worry over nothing. I have yet to hear of one single Beretta 92 series pistol fail this way in commercial or law enforcement use, or even in military use when using standard ammo, or + P ammo.

    All the best,
    Glenn B
  7. Croyance

    Croyance Well-Known Member

    I bought mine used, ran over 5K rounds in the first year (my first gun).
    No undue wear. Time for new springs though, as in any gun.

    I think it was Langdon that got over 100K through his?

    Anyways, no worries here.
  8. Geronimo45

    Geronimo45 Well-Known Member

    Just a question here - does the military need a gun that goes 5000 rounds? Not really clear on what they're used for. Need a little enlightenment... they've got M16s M4s, SAWs... do pistols get used much at all?
  9. TestPilot

    TestPilot Well-Known Member

    Withstanding 5000 round means nothing for a military firearm. This is not to say M92FS only last 5000 rounds.

    I may not have shot 5000 rounds with my own pistol. But,when I was in better financial situation than I am now,I had two 100 round range session a month. That means 5000 round mark would be easily passed in 3 years.

    I was in the army,and I can admit that in peace time rounds fired through a pistol is nowhere near how much I practiced in my own time,unless we are talking about special forces. But,if I am iussed a pistol,I don't want to goto war with a pistol that was fired time to time over many years and accumulated near 5000 rounds if it only lasts about that long.

    It depends. For some,a pistol is all they have. So even if it's not used much,it has to work if it ever does need to be used. Some wants it just in case,even if they have a rifle. Some considers it a uesless baggage to have a pistol in addition of a rifle,but experienced fighters like people in special forces does it,so I guess they think that have a good enough reason to pack a pistol.
  10. Onmilo

    Onmilo Well-Known Member

    Simple answer.
    If the US Military is using a firearm and has continued to do so for more than twehty years then you can bet the firearm is a good one.
    Yes I know the Military has plenty of weapon repair depots but here in civilian life we have plenty of gunsmiths and lots of lifetime warranties.

    Take care of your Beretta 92 and it will long outlast you.
  11. Whitewolf 508

    Whitewolf 508 Well-Known Member

    As I recall, the problem was with the locking block assembly and cracking of the slide in that area. Beretta changed some of the processes in the slide manufacture and the problem went away.
  12. Dave Rishar

    Dave Rishar Well-Known Member

    I have never seen a slide come apart -- ever. Never saw it, never saw message traffic on it, never heard anything official about it, nothing. I've only seen things on the internet about it.

    The locking block's another matter. They seemed to kick the bucket after a few thousand rounds. I've seen locking block failures from a hairline crack in one lug to both lugs shearing off simultaneously and it never resulted in an injury or a junked weapon; the lugs are angled and tend to "peel" outwards as they fail, essentially wedging everything together during what would have been the recoil cycle. Simply replacing the block always restored the weapon to operation.

    'Course, it can be a real PITA getting the thing apart if the locking block goes. I never saw an official description of the preferred method for doing this. If a hammer (or similar) wasn't handy, we'd brace the end of the slide just above the muzzle against a corner and hit or stomp on the grip until it came loose. I don't recall this ever breaking anything either but I certainly wouldn't do that to a pistol that I owned.

    We did not track round counts on most weapons but some of those M9's had been in service as training weapons, seeing anywhere from several hundred to over a thousand rounds per week, for at least a few years.
  13. mpmarty

    mpmarty Well-Known Member

    Interesting article in the new Taurus Tactical Military catalog. They have "changed" the design on the 92 and 99 Beretta copies so that the "slide can't come off in your face, something that the other manufacturer can't claim".
  14. Ohen Cepel

    Ohen Cepel Well-Known Member

    While I was getting ready to ship out last time everyone had to qualify before we left with the weapons at Benning. These were range weapons that looked totally abused and were very well used! Only issues I saw that day were from novice shooters.

    This qualification goes on most days with probably 200 rds (min) put through each pistol every day. This isn't normal for a military weapon. However, it happens. If they weren't switching them out they would have around 60,000rds through them in a year (200x300)! Would be interesting to talk to the range staff, about what they do to the pistols and when do they "retire" them. I never thought to ask.

    I'll ask next time.
  15. Confederate

    Confederate Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the skinny. I've been trying to separate fact from fiction about the Beretta off and on ever since its functioning became an issue. In a recent news article in the Army Times, it was reported: "9mm pistol: Soldiers generally disliked it, saying it lacked significant stopping power. The 9mm’s magazines also performed poorly, with soldiers stretching the spring to get sufficient force to feed rounds into the chamber."

    The above isn't surprising in the failure to stop complaint and, unfortunately, it adds to the 9mm's bad reputation in that regard. Still, when JHPs are used, the results should change. It's maddening that the U.S. military won't let soldiers carry the best ammunition available. (I doubt whether the terrorists have any rules that they abide by.)

    My NAVSEA friend was not the one who told me about Beretta's beefing up of the frame. That came from someone else who showed me a photo of the modification, probably the hammer pin with the modified head, I don't know. My only real gripe with Beretta was that their commercial prices suddenly soared to six hundred dollars and more. I sold mine at a huge profit, but resented the gouging of the company. Yeah, I know, supply and demand and all that, but I had previously thought of the 92 as a bargain. Now it was vastly overpriced for what the user got.

    I have Smith & Wessons now, though I didn't consider them as reliable. Still, I don't ever recall a malfunction, though I haven't shot huge numbers of 9mm or .45.
  16. Confederate

    Confederate Well-Known Member

    That's interesting. Where can one get this catalog? Taurus only has its 2006 general catalog.
  17. Shipwreck

    Shipwreck Well-Known Member

    I have heard that the 92FS can go thousands of rounds. I think a changing of the locking block is recommended every 15-20K. But, the gun should be able to go 50-100k easily. I'm sure a spring or 2 would probably need to be changed. But, I've owned 92s before - and I am confident U could put 100 k in it if U did the maintenance.
  18. Slaytera666

    Slaytera666 Well-Known Member

    My issued M9 i would guess has around 20k rounds through it and has more than a handful of problems every time I fire with it. Mostly short recoils. It's spring and guide rod have been replaced twice and the problem is still there.
  19. Geronimo45

    Geronimo45 Well-Known Member

    I see... qualifications, SOCOM folk, and probably a lot of abuse besides. I guess the military wanted a pistol that would last a few decades before it needed replacement.
    I was thinking purely in the "what kind of situations would require 20,000 pistol rounds to be fired?" It's more of a desire for extreme reliability and the desire to not have to replace the thing for many years to come.
  20. Boats

    Boats member

    If the SIG P226 had replaced the M1911, we'd be long accustomed to hearing random reports of how they suck going on two decades, especially when saddled with the same piss-poor aftermarket Checkmate mags the M9s routinely get issued with.

    There have been four or so major changes to the pistol we call the M9. The 92F is the model derived from the 92SB. That is the one the SEALS cracked a few of. The 92FS is the one with the oversized head on the hammer pin that keeps a slide from flying off anymore if the slide grenades. The dustcover has been changed. The locking block got its "wings" better radiused to reduce instances where the older sharp-edged ones broke off bits and locked up the action. The guiderod has gone to polymer, and the trigger, mag release, and safety paddles are now a polymer coated metal part to reduce apparent wear.

    That's it. Otherwise it is the same pistol that has always been issued since the mid-80s. If they sucked as badly as they get trashed for on the internet, the Army would have dumped the M9 by now. Instead, they keep buying new procurements of the weapon. In the grand scheme of things, pistols are a cheap weapons system to change if poor performance makes it necessary.

    The problem faced by any small arms manufacturer supplying one of the few actual fighting forces on this planet is an old one--if there is a way to break something, the American serviceman will find a way to do it.

    Community property gets treated as such. Based on the examples I saw and used in the Navy, I would have never bought a rattle-trap POS like those 1911A1s when I got out.

    I have the same attitude towards the 92. Take care of one right and it will never fail you.

    The 92 is not the fragile jammomatic its detractors portray it as.

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