Beretta Invests Big With New 92X, APX Pistols

Beretta has invested big with its new 92X and APX pistols. Find out more about them from this range test.

Beretta Invests Big With New 92X, APX Pistols

The new Beretta 92X Compact is available with a smooth dustcover. It can be ordered with a rail, as well. (Photo: Tom McHale)

There’s always something special about your first. Mine was full size, a bit on the heavy side and conceived in 1972, but at least it was comfortable and had generous capacity. Yes, my first carry pistol was a Beretta 92FS. Big? Yes. Heavy? Moderately. Reliable? Without question. Of all the pistols I’ve owned and tested, I’d be hard pressed to name one that never gave me a jam over thousands of rounds.

Since that time, we’ve seen a lot of change. The 90-series M9 just completed a 30-year run as the sidearm of the U.S. military. Beretta re-upped its effort to win the next generation contract with the APX striker-fired pistol but lost out to Sig Sauer in the end. In between, the company produced its double-action/single-action PX4 line. 

Beretta now finds itself with an interesting, and I think compelling product mix. Arguably a result of competing for two different U.S. military contracts over the past 30 years, the company has an all-new lineup of double-action/single-action pistols and a new family of striker-fired models. Add to that a growing partnership with Langdon Tactical and we’re seeing a plethora of new products. 

So what are they? And more importantly, who do you sell them to?

The 92X Family

Since the new 90-series members share most features in common, let’s consider those first before we get into a discussion of specific models and configurations. 

You might say that the new 92X series folds in all, or at least most of, the things that Beretta fans have been wanting for years. Perhaps the most vocal request has been the grip size issue. Those with larger hands tend to love the 92 and M9 pistols. Those with smaller hands have difficulty with the large grip circumference. Reaching the trigger with proper clearance and operating the magazine release without adjusting the firing group are important considerations when choosing a defensive pistol. The 92X solution is to use a Vertec-style frame and low-profile side grip panels on the default configuration. 

This results in a pistol with a slim grip for a 9mm double-stack and a perfectly straight back strap. However, if you like that larger palm-filling classic grip, the company includes a one-piece wrap-around grip in the box too. Four quick Allen screw changes and you now have a pistol with a larger grip and the classic back strap swell. Both styles have been dramatically retextured and are ultra-grippy, for lack of a better word. I’d liken them to a sandpaper-like finish. Even when sweaty, this handgun will not move once you take a firing grip. I love them. 

Another big change is in the design of the factory sights. Both front and rear now mount with dovetail cuts, so if you need to adjust for windage or change out the sights completely for some other style, that’s easy. The cuts are M9A3 compatible. The front sight housing contains a dark orange dot while the rear is all black and serrated on the back side to eliminate glare. I like the new sights and find them highly visible and fast to acquire in bright or moderate lower light conditions. 

With the 92X family, the company is also embracing the growing popularity of the “G” de-cocker only configurations. They’ve been around forever, but you had to do a bit of legwork to get a pistol so equipped. Now, you can order a 92X as an “F” or “G” style, or you can order a conversion lever and spring kit to convert from F to G. The standard slide is out-of-the-box compatible with both. 

There are some less noticeable enhancements across the board too. All family models except one come with forward rails (hold that thought for a second) and the trigger guards are now reverted back to the classic rounded design. If you like to place your support-hand index finger on the front of the trigger guard, you won’t find a flat, serrated surface to do so. Magazines are compatible from previous models. Holsters may or may not be, depending on the level of trigger guard shaping. 

92X Compact

There are two variants of the Beretta 92X Compact. One has an accessory rail like its big brothers, the Centurion and Full-Size. The other has a smooth dust cover like the original 92 series pistols. Both are identical in all other ways. 

The “free state” version of the 92X Compact ships with three magazines, each holding 13 rounds of 9mm for a total carry capacity of 14. The Compact magazines have a pinky extension. Without the magazine inserted, I can fit 2 1/2 fingers on the grip. With the magazine installed, I can fit all three comfortably. 

The 92X Compact is sized for “real shooting” carry. It’s not a micro gun that’s easy to carry but no fun to shoot. It’s plenty hand-filling to serve as a primary for carry, home defense, competition or even duty use. You won’t have any heartache about shooting this one a lot. It’s comfortable. Overall length is 7.75 inches, 4.25 of which is the barrel. Height and width are 5.25 and 1.5 inches. Weighing in at 27.2 ounces unloaded, it’s a gentle shooter. MSRP is $800.

92X Centurion

The 92X Centurion shares overall height (5.4 inches) and magazine capacity (17 rounds) with the Full-Size model. The difference is the overall and barrel length. Those follow the Compact model standard at 7.75 and 4.25 inches. 

With its forward rail and full-size capacity, the Centurion is a great larger carry or duty pistol option. MSRP is $899.

92X Full-size

The big guy in the 92X family has an overall length of 8.5 inches thanks to its 4.7-inch barrel. Magazine capacity is 17 rounds, but you can order both F and G models with 17, 15 or 10-round magazines. As with the other 92X pistols, you’ll get three magazines in the box. The 92X Full-Size does weigh in a bit more at 33.3 ounces empty. MSRP is $899.

APX Centurion RDO

Prior to the launch of this portable optics pistol, I’d been experimenting with the full-size APX RDO for carry. It’s a solid design with plenty of optics flexibility, if slightly large for summer concealment. Now, Beretta has taken the plunge and offers a perfectly proportioned APX model that’s ready to go with your pistol red dot of choice. 

The new Centurion variant offers a 15-round 9mm capacity paired with a shorter barrel and optics mounting system. The APX optics kit, included in the box, is perhaps the most complete I’ve seen from any manufacturer. You’ll get adapter plates for Trijicon RMR, Burris FastFire, Leupold DeltaPoint, C-More, Docter and anything compatible with those. Additionally, Beretta includes a variety of mounting screws appropriate for each sight and mount. This small addition makes all the difference—you won’t have to hunt for compatible screws before heading to the range. 

This model is ideal for discreet carry. Even with a Trijicon RMR installed I had no trouble toting it around inside the waistband using nothing but a t-shirt for a cover garment.

APX Combat

The APX Combat is virtually identical to the APX RDO with one big difference. The Combat model includes a factory-installed 1/2x28 threads per inch barrel, so it’s suppressor-ready. This configuration makes a lot of sense. When adding a suppressor to most pistols, the standard sight configuration is rendered useless thanks to the oversized diameter of the suppressor body. You’ll need to install suppressor-height sights or come up with some other sighting method. That’s where the optic configuration shines. Unless you’re mounting a small wastebasket up front, any supported optic configuration will provide plenty of visual clearance over the suppressor tube, so precise sighting isn’t a challenge. If you want to add suppressor sights to build a co-witness backup plan, that’s easy enough to do, and it presents a nice upgrade sale opportunity. MSRP is $775.

92G Elite LTT Centurion, LTT Compact

The LTT pistol family designed in conjunction with Langdon Tactical is also expanding. New in the lineup are smaller versions of the full-size Elite LTT. 

The 92G Elite LTT Centurion marries a Vertec M9A3 slide with an M9A1 frame, adds forward cocking serrations and “G” de-cocker-only operation. The front sight is fiber optic and sits above a 4.3-inch stainless-tone barrel (Centurion and Compact) with a target crown. You’ll note a few other touches including a stainless guide rod and trigger, beveled magazine well, ultra-thin VZ grip panels and custom checkering patterns on the front and back strap. The LTT Centurion ships with three 18-round Mec-Gar magazines while the Compact model includes three 15-round mags. Both new LTT models carry an MSRP of $1,100. 

Range Performance

I’ve spent a lot of quality time with the new APX and several models of the 92X family. 

Without delving into the minute details of range evaluation of the 92X pistols, I can make three high level observations. First, these pistols run every bit as well, if not better, than previous 90-series models. That’s partly because of the open-top slide design; you can limp-wrist to your hearts content and the pistol operates as normal. I like that in a defensive handgun as the ability to assume a textbook isosceles or Weaver stance is never a guaranteed thing. 

The other thing I’ve noticed is that the company has upped the inherent precision of the 92X models. Shooting both the Compact and Full-size models, I had no trouble printing tiny groups. Using Speer Gold Dot 124-grain and Federal HST 124-grain ammo from a 15-yard sandbag rest, every single five-shot group measured between 0.54 and 1.38 inches. 

Last but not least, the triggers on the 90-series pistols have always been good but now they’re better. The double-action pull is a smooth eight pounds while the single-action measures just about four pounds. 

As you’d expect with the APX line, everything is different about the trigger and controls setup. The pull weight on the wide, flat trigger averages 6 1/2 pounds. The travel is about 3/8 of an inch total, of which the first 1/8th is take-up. Reset happens at 1/4 inches and you’ll both hear and feel it clearly. 

Accuracy is also solid with the polymer APX pistols. Using a variety of 9mm ammo including Federal HST, Speer Gold Dot, Sig Sauer V-Crown and Sig Sauer 365, all groups from 15 yards ranged between 0.74 and 1.60 inches with most falling in the 1.3-inch vicinity. Reliability isn’t a factor either. With well over 1,000 rounds through an APX RDO, APX Compact and APX Centurion RDO, I’m still waiting on my first malfunction. 

Product Positioning

By breathing new life into the 90-series family, Beretta is clearly a believer in the metal gun, double-action/single-action market. With all new 90-series pistols covering a range of applications from carry to home-defense to competition, the company has something for virtually every segment of the pistol market. Note the previous release of the 92X Performance pistol designed for extreme speed and accuracy. 

For the plastic gun and striker-fired crowd, the APX family continues growing with new models and functionality. With the addition of the APX Centurion RDO and Combat models, the company clearly believes that pistol-mounted red dots are here to stay and represent the next market opportunity for tactical pistols. 

There are several differentiation points that make the pistol families unique and applicable to different segments of customers. The double-action vs. striker-fired model sets the 92X and APX lines apart — that’s a given. What is less obvious is the optics angle. Without either major redesign or the emergence of ultra-narrow optical sights to fit the 90-series 7/16-inch-wide top strap, we’re not going to see red dots on those pistols anytime soon. 

Modularity is another differentiation point. While the new 92X pistols arguably feature a degree of modularity thanks to the new frame and grip designs, the complete customization package is only available via the APX family with its stand-alone fire control system and the corresponding ability to swap frames, barrels or slides. 

I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Beretta execute a gradual shift toward the polymer pistol world with increased emphasis on the APX family. What did surprise me was the level of investment in both the APX and 90-series product lines. I’m glad to see it. 


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