Shooting the Beretta PX4 Storm 9mm
Beretta’s PX4 Storm is a polymer-framed locked-breech pistol available in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. The slide is Bruniton-coated to prevent corrosion while the barrel and magazine have blued finishes. The frame is “plastic” (Beretta calls it “technopolymer reinforced fiberglass”), but I have no idea if that’s better, worse or the same as other polymers used in gun-making.)
Let’s take a look at some of the PX4’s characteristics:
Length Overall: 7.55”
Empty Weight: 27.7 oz.
Barrel Length: 4” (chrome-lined bore)
Twist: 1: 9.8” (6-groove conventional rifling)
Finish: Slide has the company’s Bruniton finish, which resists corrosion and wear. Barrel and magazine are blued.
Magazine Capacity: 17 (Two magazines come with the gun.)
Double-Action Trigger-Pull: This one measured a smooth 12-lb.
Single-Action Trigger-Pull: Measured 4.5-lbs and breaks cleanly
Bore Axis: 1.82” measured from centerline of barrel to approximately the middle of the trigger.
There are several versions of the PX4 available, but this one is conventional DA/SA with the slide-mounted ambidextrous thumb safety that also drops the hammer when applied. On this version (“F”), the safety must be manually disengaged to fire the pistol. On the “G” version, the safety acts only as a decocker and automatically returns to the “fire” position without shooter assistance.
This Beretta PX4 9mm is a conventional DA/SA autoloader having a slide-mounted thumb safety. In the up position, the pistol is ready to fire. When down (“on safe”), the trigger will not move the hammer at all. In this picture, the safety is in the “off” position. This slide/barrel assembly is removed by pressing the small plunger at the front of the trigger guard downward. There is one on the other side and both must be simultaneously pressed downward while the slide/barrel assembly is slid off the front of the frame, just as with Glocks. Note the somewhat unusual tapered slide and that the pistol has forward slide serrations, something favored by many. I normally do not care for them but am ambivalent about them on the PX4. On this pistol they seem “normal” to me. I measured (midway up the trigger face) single and double-action “take-up” at approximately 0.279” and 0.10”, respectively. Reset distance was roughly 0.350”.
As the trigger is pressed rearward, the firing pin block can be seen rising above the slide to free the firing pin in a similar fashion as with the company’s better-known 92-series. It is not visible through the rear sight.
Like some of its competition, the PX4 has changeable back straps and comes with three. I left the one that was on the pistol in place; it felt just fine, but two others that come with it so that shooters can easily make the pistol “fit” them better. (Changing the back strap on the PX4 is easily accomplished.) Of course, it also has the accessory rail with which many are enamored.
Like other 9mm semiautomatics, this Beretta uses a locked-breech to hold the barrel and slide together during the firing process. The 9mm’s working pressure is too high for blowback unless fitted with a massive slide and/or hellacious recoil spring; the vast majority of 9x19mm pistols have been manufactured with some sort of “delayed blowback” or locked-breech design.
The PX4 uses a rotating barrel design to accomplish this.
The Beretta PX4’s rotating barrel has a “different look” to it and is clearly visible in the ejection port.
Here you can see the removable locking block next to the chamber end of the PX4 barrel. Note the grove milled into the barrel and the corresponding lug that fits it on the locking block. Unlike Glocks, Hi Powers, or 1911’s, the barrel does not tilt to unlock from the slide during its rearward movement; it rotates.
Here is how the barrel and locking block fit together in the pistol. The picture above is with the barrel in its most rearward position.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that from the muzzle rearward 0.436”, the barrel OD is wider, measuring 0.555” compared to 0.545” farther back. This means that when the slide is completely forward, barrel play has been significantly reduced. I didn’t expect this attempt to better mechanical accuracy in a pistol of this type and I really appreciate it. Barrel-to-slide fit exhibits zero movement and frame-to slide fit is very tight, yet slide movement is extremely smooth.
The recoil spring is captive with a polymer recoil spring guide and what appears to be either some sort of spacer or buffer, which is made of what appears to be a very tough polymer. The recoil spring assembly fits inside the breech block. I am not sure what the factory standard recoil spring is; it feels like 16 to 17-lbs.
The gun’s fixed 3-dot sights are not unique and are dovetailed to the tapered slide. There’s plenty of light visible on either side of the front sight via the generous notch in the rear and I had no problem quickly attaining a proper sight picture.
In these pictures, the PX4’s front and rear sights are clearly visible. The front sight measures 0.142” wide.
The PX4’s external extractor takes a substantial “bite” of the case rim, insuring reliable, positive extraction.
This pistol’s hammer has been lightened to reduce lock time, but reliability has not been compromised. (Note also the steel rail “shining” where its dark finish has been worn away.)
Shooting: In this session it was done primarily at 15 yards and from a rest using sandbagged wrists and the reason is simple: I wanted to see if I could determine how mechanically accurate this pistol might…or might not be; before today I had never fired a PX4. The one exception was the target fired solely in double-action at 7 yards which was fired standing and using a two-hand hold. It was done to see how useable this particular model’s double-action is…at least for me.
No shooting farther than 15 yards was done. It was just too windy and some folks were on the 25-yard range making initial scope adjustments to their rifles.
This was the first group fired and the first shots I’ve ever put through a Beretta PX4. For my eye, the sights were regulated perfectly at 15 yards. This group was done in slow-fire using a two-hand hold while seated. My wrists were braced with sandbags. Frankly, I figured that this was a fluke.
Standing and using a two-hand hold, I fired each of these shots using the pistol’s double-action. Even though a measured 12-lbs, the pistol’s handling characteristics and I “got along” quite well. The first double-action shot with the PX4 doesn’t necessarily have to be “thrown away” to get to subsequent single-action shots and even 7 yards is probably farther than any self-defense situation I might find myself in.
A magazine-full of these 1200 ft/sec + handloads were fired next and the pistol didn’t miss a stutter, grouping them within two-inches except for the flyer (my fault) at 11 o’ clock.
This five-shot group was fired using Winchester’s 127-gr. +P+ Ranger ammunition. I only fired a limited amount of this today but it seems to strike slightly left of POA. I’ll have to try this load again another day before I can be sure.
Long discontinued, this Corbon 124-gr. XTP +P load was a favorite of mine and still is. Fortunately I still have several boxes of this squirreled away. I didn’t chronograph this load today but it is usually above its advertised 1250 ft/sec based on past observations in 9mm pistols having slightly longer than 4” barrels. This 9mm load has proven both potent and accurate in a number of my 9mm pistols over the years.
Likewise, the PX4 grouped quite nicely with a “heavy bullet” 9mm load, Speer’s excellent 147-gr. Gold Dot Hollow Point.
Remington 147-gr. Golden Sabers grouped well also.
The PX4 ran fine with the 9mm loads shown above. From left to right: DAG 124-gr. FMJ, Winchester 127-gr. +P+, Speer 124-gr. Gold Dot handload, Corbon 124-gr. XTP +P, Speer 147-gr. GDHP and Remington 147-gr. GS. The pistol didn’t hesitate or fail to feed with any of these loads. Beretta advises that the PX4 is fine with +P ammunition but adds that consistent use will hasten wear and tear, but that would hold true for any make handgun.
The magazines both held the top round at an upward angle and feeding was extremely smooth with all loads fired. These were tough as could be to load at first, though I did (finally) manage to load to the full 17-round capacity. (Beretta does include a magazine loading tool with the PX4.) Witness holes are visible on the rear of the magazine, starting at “4” and ending at “17”, but skipping “5”, “7” and other odd numbers except “17”.
Observations: The pistol ran like a top and I was more than a little surprised at how nicely the thing groups. At least for this session, I found it easy to shoot accurately. I found it very comfortable and really like the “checkering” on the front and rear grip straps. 9mm isn’t known for “heavy recoil” in pistols this size and the PX4 was no exception. In short, in my subjective view, the gun handled very well.
…but I’m still not sure I like it!
Though subjective and meaningless to some, I am not fond of the pistol’s “looks” and I have no base of information on how well the rotating barrel system does or does not hold up long-term. I prefer thumb safeties on the frame (no doubt from decades of shooting P35’s and 1911’s) to the slide-mounted ones common to most DA/SA semiautomatics. Spare magazines cost nearly $50.00 each so I’ll be holding off on those until after shooting the PX4 several more times.
So far, it’s fired 435 shots with exactly zero malfunctions and I do place a premium on reliability.
Primer strikes are well-centered and plenty ample to detonate any quality primer.
The Beretta PX4 Storm proved itself a capable performer in its initial range session. Subjective to be sure, I find that it is more pleasing to my hand than my eye but if it continues to perform as it did today, that won’t matter. Speaking only for myself, this is a very comfortable, easy-to-handle autoloader.
For now, I’ll wipe the thing off and run another few-hundred shots through it before cleaning just to see if it will “run” dirty as well as clean, though I suspect it will.
If anything unexpected occurs, I’ll report it but this pistol will probably wind up worming its way into my safe.