Few handguns have achieved the iconic status that the Beretta 92FS holds. With a history dating back to 1976, the Beretta 92 series has undergone several transformations, culminating in the legendary Beretta 92FS that is celebrated today.

Let’s take a closer look at Beretta’s ubiquitous pistol.

M9A1: A Historical Evolution

The journey of the Beretta 92 series began with the original 92 pistol design in 1976. But it didn’t take long for Beretta to refine and enhance the design of the gun. In the same year, they introduced the 92S, featuring a slide-mounted safety/de-cocker instead of the frame-mounted safety.

Throughout the years, Beretta continued to improve the design, making it more versatile and reliable. The 92SB, with an ambidextrous safety/de-cocker and a firing pin block, was introduced in 1981. Four years later, in 1984, the model was further refined with a reshaped trigger guard, chrome-plated chamber and barrel bore, and Beretta’s proprietary no-glare Bruniton™ finish. This version, designated as the 92F, was submitted for military testing and became the basis for the iconic 92FS.

M9 stripped
M9 pistol, derived from the Beretta 92 series, partially field stripped. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

Debate and Endorsement

The Beretta 92FS achieved widespread recognition when it replaced the M1911 A1 as the standard issue sidearm for the U.S. military in the late 1980s. However, this decision sparked debates among firearms enthusiasts, with some questioning its suitability. Early models had issues, with some reports of slides separating from the frame during shooting.

Beretta, responsive to feedback, addressed the problem by enlarging the hammer pin head, ensuring the slide remained connected to the frame even if it broke. The improved model, introduced in 1989, is now known as the Beretta 92FS, or the M9, in its military designation. The M9 A1 variant followed suit, featuring a rail, aggressive backstrap checkering, and PVD-coated (physical vapor deposition) magazines.

Specifications and Prolific Presence

The Beretta 92FS boasts impressive specifications. It fires 9x19mm rounds and has a capacity of 15+1 rounds. With an aluminum alloy frame (or stainless steel for INOX models) and a steel slide, it strikes a nice balance between weight and durability, making it a favorite for both civilian and military use. The 5.0-inch barrel offers exceptional accuracy, and the pistol’s price ranges from $410 to $780 (in 2023), making it accessible to a wide audience.

Inox stainless steel pistol
(Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

Beyond its technical excellence, the Beretta 92FS has achieved pop culture fame. Its distinctive appearance has graced the silver screen in numerous blockbuster movies, with memorable appearances in Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, Terminator 2, and Boondock Saints, among others. The pistol has also become a staple in popular TV shows like The Sopranos, Lost, and The Walking Dead.