By Jeff Gurwitch
August 12, 2015
Last updated on 8/13/15.
Wilson Combat, long known for their highly accurate and reliable custom M1911’s, is now offering custom work and accessories for Beretta 92G’s and 96’s. Like many, this is the last thing I expected from a company that prides itself on single-action semi-autos in .45 ACP. So, upon learning that I would be able to shoot and evaluate a Wilson Combat customized Beretta for DefenseReview (DR), I was very interested in seeing Wilson Combat take on this classic Italian semi-auto.
Left and right side view of the pistol; fit and finish is what you would expect from Wilson Combat. The Wilson Combat G10 laminate grips feel just as good as they look. Providing an excellent non-slip grip without being too rough on your hands.
Pistol came with a slightly oversized magazine release. This addresses one of the major complaints of the 92, that the grip is too large for those with small hands, making hitting the mag (magazine) release button difficult. The mag release button actually extends farther towards the shooter’s grip than it sticks out. Sometimes extended magazine releases are designed around competition shooting, and stick out too far for normal everyday carry. After using this one, I found it to enhance the shooter’s ability to perform a faster reload, while still being lo-pro (low-profile) enough for normal carry.
Attention to detail; The serrations on the back of the rear sight are intended to help cut down on glare from the sun, and offer some contrast between the body of the rear sight and the notch, which can aid in faster sight acquisition.
Shooting the Beretta/Wilson Combat Beretta 92G Brigadier Tactical
While I did not put thousands of rounds through the Beretta/Wilson Combat 92G Brigadier Tactical 9mm (9mm Parabellum/9x19mm NATO) combat/tactical pistol during the time I had it, I did put a few hundred rounds of mostly 124gr. +P ball ammo though it, and it ran flawlessly, with no jams or malfunctions whatsoever. Accuracy-wise the pistol is more accurate than I am. Now, I’m no bench rest or bullseye-style shooter, so I did not sit down and try and see exactly what it could group at 25-50 yards.
Being a competitive action-pistol shooter. To test how accurate the pistol is the way I would use it, I shot it as I would need to shoot it in a normal pistol match. I had no problem stacking rounds on top of each other in the head A-zone box of USPSA pistol targets at 15 yards and ringing steel plates out to 25 yards.
Why choose a Beretta to begin with?
With all the modern polymer guns on the market today it might seem strange to some that Wilson Combat chose the Beretta 92/96 series to begin with. I have not asked Wilson why they decided to go with the Beretta [Editor’s Note: Bill Wilson is apparently a big fan of Beretta pistols, including the Beretta M9/92F/96/Brigadier-series pistols, to DR’s understanding], but to me it makes perfect sense. Wilson Combat got their start with all-metal M1911A1’s to begin with, so who better than Wilson Combat to customize the all-metal Beretta 92G Brigadier tactical pistol?
Plus, there’s an advantage to an all-metal gun compared to polymer pistols, and that is felt recoil. The overall heavier weight of a metal frame and receiver does help with muzzle rise. Plus, with most polymer pistols, there’s some frame flex that occurs when firing the pistol. This frame flex transfers into more felt recoil. One reason I don’t prefer Glocks is that when shooting them, to me, it feels like I can feel the recoil straight down into the trigger. I feel a quick, sharp vibration on my trigger finger on every shot. I blame this on the polymer frame of the gun, which seems to transfer the felt recoil to every part of the pistol when shooting it.
A Note on Reliability
Let me stray off the subject of Wilson Combat for a moment and address the reliability of the Beretta 92-series design as a whole. The Beretta 92-series (92FS, 92G, etc.) design itself I think has gotten a bad rap over the last 20-some-odd years. This bad reputation, I think, comes exclusively from the military. Reports of locking blocks breaking and other parts breaking at excessive rates have given the Beretta M9 and 92F/FS a bad reputation as unreliable. To give a proper assessment of the reliability of the Beretta you must take into account how the military version, the Beretta M9, is treated and used. Additionally–and this is not known to most Beretta owners–the M9 is not a current civilian Beretta 92FS.
Having carried a Beretta M9 pistol as my duty side arm for over 16 years, yes, I have indeed seen some locking blocks break, and have experienced one break on my own pistol. Now, one might think, “Why would you keep on using a pistol that is prone to breaking?” Well, you must look at the circumstances. First off, the sad fact is, in the military, the only maintenance most pistols see is when something breaks on them.
In the civilian world, if you shoot a lot, most shooters replace wear-and-tear items such as recoil, hammer, firing pin springs and such on a regular basis. As a competitive pistol shooter, I change the recoil springs on all my pistols every 5,000 rounds. In the military, this does not happen. A M9 can go its entire life (10 plus years) with the same springs in it! As long it goes bang when you pull the trigger it’s good to go. This lack of real maintenance, like not changing out worn recoil springs, can of course take a toll on other parts of the pistol. Plus, usually not taken into consideration is the fact that in the military, all the 9mm ammunition is at +P pressures (more like +P+). So, shooting 10,000 of +P ammo in one year is a lot harder on the pistol than most of your target ball ammunition shot in the civilian world, which can account for excessive wear on a pistol.
I’ve seen some brand-name pistols from other manufacturers not last over 2,000 rounds of military ammo without some sort of failure. In the case of the locking block that broke on my M9, it was after a year I had the pistol. I was at around 10,000 rounds of 9mm ammo through it when it broke. So, in my mind, not too bad, considering it was not new when I was issued it–and who knows how many thousands of rounds the pistol had seen before me.
Speaking of locking blocks, the current one that is on civilian Beretta 92’s, to include the Beretta 92FS and Wilson Combat 92G Brigadier Tactical, is a 3rd generation design. (The Beretta M9 is still issued with the original version.) One person who I consider the subject matter expert on the Beretta 92 design here in the U.S. is Ernest Langdon of Langdon Tactical. Aside from working at Beretta USA/Beretta Defense Technologies (BDT), as a U.S. Marine, Ernest taught the M9 in the military, and is one of the few competitive pistol shooters to ever win multiple National pistol shooting championships with a Beretta 92. He currently has one Beretta with a modern locking block in it that’s at well over 40,000 rounds, and still going strong.
Benefits of a 92G
Aside from extending the magazine release, making it easier for people with smaller hands to reload, I think Wilson Combat’s decision to go with the 92G decocking version [no manual safety] is a smart move. Another issue that shooters with small hands raise with the 92-series pistols is the poor placement of the slide mounted de-cocker / safety. With it being up high, and requiring a somewhat awkward push forward to put the pistol in firing mode, it makes it hard for a shooter to go from “Safe” to “Fire” quickly, especially if they have small hands.
By going with the 92G version, Wilson Combat not only makes it easier for shooters with smaller hands , as I will explain, they also settle one giant misconception with the manual of arms of the Beretta 92, and that is the misconception of using the de-cocking lever as a manual safety in the first place.
The fact is, this method is not the true intent for the slide mounted manual safety/decocking lever. Using it both as a manual safety and de-cocker was adopted to fit a U.S. Military requirement of a frame -mounted safety. The truth is, like many of its polymer striker-fired counterparts, what makes it safe is all in the trigger. That’s one reason why it has such a long, deliberate double-action pull on the first shot. It is intended for the pistol to be carried with the manual safety/decocker lever on fire, not on safe (de-cock). The treating of the de-cocker as a manual safety has come from the way the military teaches how it should be employed, thus resulting in a lever that is backwards to most manual safeties (normally frame-mounted), where you naturally sweep down with your thumb to place the weapon on “Fire”, instead have to push forward with your thumb.
When employed this way, compared to most other pistols, the Beretta can seem ungainly. To solve this problem, the Berretta/Wilson 92G Brigadier Tactical model pistol is a decocker-only lever version, meaning once you manipulate it to drop the hammer, it automatically goes back to “Fire” mode, now making the lever work the way it should work, and that is as a decocking lever only. Wilson Combat’s adoption of this model now takes the confusion out of the manual of arms with this pistol. Like other pistols, “safe carry” is accomplished by having to be deliberate with the long pull of the double-action first shot.
Who should consider the Beretta/Wilson 92G Brigadier Tactical as their next (9mm) pistol? If you’re looking for a 9mm for action shooting, such as USPSA or IDPA, then I would give this pistol a serious look. Wilson Combat was started due to the need for reliable and enhanced pistols for USPSA to begin with. The Beretta/Wilson 92G Brigadier Tactical shoots exceptionally well, has very soft felt recoil compared to many other 9mm’s, and is very accurate. Whether it’s Production Division in USPSA or Stock Service Pistol in IDPA, Wilson Combat’s Beretta 92G is an awesome option for those in search of a reliable and accurate pistol.
Company Contact Info:
Wilson Combat® & Scattergun Technologies
2452 CR 719
Berryville, AR 72616
Order Toll Free: 1-800-955-4856
Technical Questions: 1-870-545-3618
Email Contact Page: http://wilsoncombat.com/new/contact-us.asp
17601 Beretta Drive
Accokeek, MD 20607-9566
Toll Free 1: 800-237-3882
Toll Free 2: 800-929-2901
Email Contact Page: http://berettausa.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/147
Website 1: http://www.px4storm.us
Website 2: http://www.berettausa.com
Beretta Defense Technologies (BDT)
Email Contact Page: https://www.berettadefence.com/index.aspx?m=58&did=85&f=2
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