Among the most respected handguns in the free world is the Beretta 92. Offered in several variations, the Beretta 92 9mm is a formidable, combat-proven firearm. The Beretta also offers something the polymer crowd cannot touch — pride of ownership. There is a lot to like about the Beretta 92, including its storied history.
The Beretta 92 is a double-action first-shot pistol. It features a slide-mounted decocker lever. In most models, the decocker lever also acts as a manual safety.
The Beretta 92 enjoys an excellent reputation for reliability. For the neophytes, reliability is simply the propensity of a firearm to continue firing with each pull of the trigger. Longevity is another matter. The pistol also has a good reputation for a long service life. There are a couple of concerns with high round count pistols.
I think a lot of the reason the Beretta is no longer as popular in police work is expense. The 92 isn’t the least expensive pistol, so low bid guns are ushered in. Another issue is training time. Training a shooter to use a pistol with a manual safety takes time. Some of the police trade-in pistols exhibit modest finish wear. Many were carried much and fired little. Other agencies have extensive training regimens, and these pistols will likely have more wear. Let’s take a look at the main areas of concern for the Beretta 92.
Beretta 92 Checkpoints
Magazines are the first on the list, because they are a consumable resource. I don’t like having ‘range magazines.’ I prefer having reliable magazines that always work. Otherwise, I may have a problem with the pistol and blame it on a well-used magazine.
Check the magazine to be certain the feed lips are true and not cracked. Check the baseplate for cracks. If the magazine spring seems too weak as the pistol is loaded, scrap the magazine. Replacement magazines from Beretta or MecGar should be used. Disassemble and clean the magazine occasionally.
Look at the recoil spring. If the pistol snaps too hard with excess recoil firing standard loads, chances are the recoil spring is worn. Some need replacement at 3,500 rounds, while others may last to 5,000. Recoil springs are inexpensive and easily changed. If the pistol is used, it certainly doesn’t hurt to be pro-active and replace the recoil spring. Keep a spare. If the pistol recoils too much or doesn’t snap into battery when the slide is racked, you need another recoil spring. A worn recoil spring is a common source of malfunctions.
I have never had to replace a Beretta extractor. Just the same, it needs a thorough cleaning. Powder ash, grit, and even pieces of brass may build up under the extractor. Cleaning the extractor is all that is usually needed. Unless, a lot of steel case cartridges were used, or the pistol’s slide was continually dropped on a chambered round, the extractor should not be an issue.
Firing Pin, Safety/Decocker
Be certain to clean the firing pin channel. This is a given with all self-loading handguns. Cleaning the firing pin channel is overlooked. Check the decock lever to be certain it drops the hammer as it should. Take a look and ensure the safety rotates properly, and that the wings of the safety prevent the hammer from contacting the firing pin as the hammer drops.
If you have a problem with the safety, it is usually due to dirt and grime in the safety mechanism. A concern with the Beretta that many overlook is that the Beretta has grip screw washers. This may not be a big deal, but these little washers keep the grips from cracking under grip screw pressure.
Next in line for inspection is the locking block or locking wedge. First used in the Mauser M96, and then famously in the Walther P38, this oscillating wedge is used in the locked-breech Beretta 92 in place of a locking lug. The locking lug sometimes breaks.
Bullet Weight vs. Pressure Related Failures
Interestingly a large gunsmith shop that services pistols all along the Midwest told me that while it did a lot of work with agencies issuing the Beretta, it saw few broken locking blocks. The ones that were all came from an agency issuing the 147-grain load. This means momentum is harder on the part than pressure.
An agency issuing the 115-grain +P+ had no issues. Likewise, pistols that break slides seem to be those used with suppressors or heavy loads. Beretta fixed the slide problem decades ago. Beretta also changed the geometry of the locking wedge.
Beretta claims the locking block is good for 22,000 rounds. That is reasonable as the locking wedge was designed to be a replaceable resource in common with a recoil spring. The replacement may be made every 5,000 rounds to stay on top of things.
Beretta’s change to the locking wedge was a benefit to the design. Beretta sells a refresh kit for the Beretta consisting of the recoil spring, Beretta 3rd Generation locking block, locking block plunger, and locking block pin, but I have not seen these in a while.
Safety first, be certain the chamber isn’t loaded. To field strip the Beretta 92, start by removing the magazine and locking the slide to the rear. Rotate the takedown lever downward and release the slide lock, allowing the slide to run forward. Pull the recoil spring and guide rod out of the slide. This is all that is needed for routine cleaning and maintenance.
The Beretta 92 is a formidable handgun and among the handguns I trust most. Maintenance demands are simple. The pistol field strips easily and is among the most reliable handguns ever made. If you take care of it and train well, it is sure to take care of you.
Are you a Beretta 92 fan or hater? Do you have any other maintenance tips we may have missed? Share your review of the 92 in the comment section.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February of 2022. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and clarity.
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