Born less than a decade ago from a lineage that includes the Beretta 8000 and the NATO military-standard 92F pistols, the PX4 is the latest and greatest design by the ancient firm of Fabbrica D’ ArmiPietro Beretta. Using short recoil, locked-breech action, it has an innovative rotating barrel lock first used on the Beretta Cougar to close up the chamber. The company’s first polymer framed pistol, the nearly forgotten Model 9000 debuted just a few years before the PX4, so you could say that the Storm is Beretta’s first successful polymer.
Ergonomics and Recoil
Beretta has been known to make beautiful and very sleek guns in the past, such as the Cheetah and the classic Marengoni-designed M1951. However, it would seem that the company has abandoned this practice with the Storm. It’s a rather short and chunky design when compared to the other pistols in its class, having one of the shortest barrels of a full-sized pistol while simultaneously chalking up one of the widest frames due to the oversized ambi levers. Gone are the smooth lines of yesteryear, replaced with styling very similar to a Chicago red brick. Even the so-ugly-its-pretty Glock has a svelter feel.
Despite the design flaws, the gun handles and shoots rather well. The fact that it is offered in DA/SA with a slide mounted ambidextrous safety/decock and in a double action only model (DAO) with a bobbed hammer is a selling point for lefties as is the switchable magazine release. A series of changeable palm swells lets you adjust the grip with the aid of a screwdriver and a little patience.
Trigger and Accuracy
Unlike most of the guns in this comparison, the PX4 is not striker fired and instead uses an exposed and quite traditional hammer that cocks after the first round. For those with military experience with the M9/92 pistol, the trigger will be very familiar. In double action it breaks at about 9-pounds with an average travel and at single-action is closer to a 4-pound trigger, which is downright enjoyable. The rotating barrel, almost unique to this pistol, contributes to less felt recoil.
Accuracy is better than you would expect for a 4-inch barrel and the resulting short sight radius. The Super-LumiNova sights are rechargeable alternatives to more expensive night sights.
Reloading and Disassembly
The magazines, like that of a new Glock, are hard as a coffin nail to load fully without the aid of a loader and very strong thumbs. This will bring a smile to those same former Joes and Devils who are used to weak and unreliable springs in worn out military M9s but are attracted to the trigger of the Storm. The magazine well is cavernous and takes well to indexing the feed lips by feel in field conditions.
Field stripping the PX4 is rather similar to that of the Glock, using two small pegs, one on each side of the frame, as a takedown lever. When reassembling you will notice the exceptionally tight tolerances under which the gun was designed – This is where your accuracy comes from.
Reliability and Durability
The Storm uses a matte Bruniton finish over parkarization. Bruniton is an epoxy type coating similar to Duracoat that can wear over time and scratch away in field conditions. While our test gun functioned fine, you have to feel that long-term hard service will give the end user a two-tone pistol. However, for those who plan to use their PX4 for civilian carry/home defense or the occasional range trip, this should not matter. The modular design of the trigger and hammer group lends to rapid exchange as long as replacement parts are available. A chrome-lined barrel that uses a deeply recessed combat muzzle crown will likely outlive the user.
Beretta has been around for five centuries and probably isn’t going anywhere, which means their warranty is like money in the bank.
Beretta has taken several legacy designs and merged them together to form this polymer-framed pistol. Its rotating barrel locking system and combat quality barrel arrive at the party ready to dance. However, the rather stubby overall feel of the pistol counterbalances this. When the two factors are weighed and measured out, it places the Beretta PX4 in the average category.