Saturday, March 19, 2011


I'm happy with this gun, and were I to do it over again, I'd still buy this gun over the Sig Sauer P250 subcompact, which was the main competitor in my considerations at the time. That was a close competition that went to the Beretta side after Billy Ray experienced some FTF's with his compact Sig Sauer P250. Billy Ray solved that issue, btw, by using Winchester black label 9mm Nato ammo, as tested by four boxes of that ammo.

I was in the market for a small but high capacity 9mm. I wanted a safety, if possible a decocker and an external hammer. The Beretta PX4 Storm met these requirements. A friend's sister bought one of these last year and my friend, a knowledgeable shooter and law enforcement gun toter, became very interested in this gun and knowing of my safety/decocker/external hammer desires, recommended this gun to me.

I wanted 9mm for several reasons. Although for decades I derided 9mm as a second choice to either .45 ACP (in a pistol) or .357 Magnum (in a revolver) for a defensive round, an increasing amount of shooting the 9mm in the past few years softened my previous hardcore opinion about the 9mm round. Secondly, availability and affordability of good 9mm ammo meant I could shoot 2 or 3 times the amount of rounds in 9mm that I could in other calibers like .45 or .357.

The last high capacity 9mm I owned was a Browning Hi Power Practical. A gorgeous firearm, with a mixed satin nickle and gloss black finish, it was a nice shooter. However, it's a big gun and with the high capacity of the HP, it's much easier to conceal a full size 1911 than the HP. As a shooter, it was certainly nice shooting, but even with the Pachmayr grips it never felt right in my hand. Just a bit big.

I also considered the Springfield XD subcompact, and although I have not shot one of those in 9mm, I have been duly impressed with the .45 ACP big brother that I have shot. There is a nice kit that Springfield sells that has the subcompact 9mm XD along with some extended mags from it's big brother, holster, and extra mags. These guns are very reasonably priced and I look forward to shooting one of them in the near future.

It should be noted that although the main selection was between the Sig Sauer P250 and the Beretta PX4 Storm Subcompact, they share little in common. The Sig P250 is a hammer/striker fired gun with no safety, a DAO trigger and no decocker. Frankly, I really enjoyed shooting Billy Ray's P250 and out of the box it was punching bullseyes, even though I don't have a lot of experience shooting DAO pistols. Perhaps my long history of DAO revolver shooting comes into play, but I'm more inclined to credit my excellent performance with the P250 from shot one with the trigger mechanism and not the shooter's skills.

So what I wanted was an alternative to the Glock that had some kind of safety feature other than the trigger system used by Glock. As I've said before and I'll be writing soon in a review on the Glock 19, carrying a Glock is like carrying a cocked and locked 1911. Lots of gun specific handling experience and a proper holster are mandated for the Glock. Although I like carrying my Glocks, I wanted an alternative for the family and also for me with something a shade smaller than the Glock 19 and with a safety.

Due to the repeated FTF's with Billy Ray's P250, and lots of internet reports of the same, I chose the Beretta PX4 Storm Subcompact. Made in America (and there is an Italian made version sold overseas I understand), it's an extremely well made gun. Solid construction. The heavy weight of the slide and barrel, I think, contributes to the good holster balance this gun enjoys. Of course, there is a lot of weight in the handle of this gun with 13 9mm rounds in the magazine, but in a good holster it rides like any other well balanced pistol.

I contrast that with my old HK P-7. Although not a high capacity 9mm, it is a very handle/grip heavy gun, and even with a gunbelt, it never seemed to ride right for me in a belt concealment holster like an Askins Avenger, one of my favorite holsters. It rode better in a belt slide type holster that lowered the carry height on the belt of the gun.

But the Beretta shines in digesting all kinds of ammo, cheap or expensive. I've yet to have a single malfunction with the Beretta using probably 10 different types of ammo, from cheap PMC to a few rounds of Cor Bon. Interestingly enough, I shot the best groups recently using Sellier and Bellot ammo.

My first few times at the range with this gun, using Winchester ammo mostly with some Remington JHP's thrown in, led me to shooting groups that were about 1" left of center and several inches down. Good enough for stopping an attacker if your aim is steady, but not what I want out of a pistol out of the box.

Glock has spoiled me. Three new Glocks that each shot dead on center out of the box, regardless of the ammo. More on Glock later at the conclusion of this review.

I've also had some issues with the decocker lever, when moving from fully cocked to safety, where operating the decocker did not drop the hammer the first time. The second time this operation was tried, the hammer safely dropped. A good cleaning revealed some hardened grease in this area from the factory that must have been inhibiting the decocking action. This issue has not occurred again since the cleaning of the gun.

A small tap to the rear sight blade with a wood dowel (with the slide in a vise removed from an unloaded gun, just to spell it out for newbies) made remarkable changes in the accuracy of this pistol, somehow even correcting the elevation issue. Of course, when I was shooting the gun previously, I felt I might be pulling a bit to the left and down as well, because it's been nearly 20 years since I have shot a gun that had a DA/SA trigger. Again, I've gotten used to the Glock trigger and shoot very well with it.

The last DA/SA gun I carried on any regular basis was the Walther PPK/S in the 90's. In the pre-Glock days of my life, about 20 years ago and more, I generally carried a small list of autoloaders: The Colt Combat Commander, The Browning Hi-Power and the H-K PSP and P7. The only DA/SA pistol I had ever owned before the stainless Walther PPK/S in .380 was another Walther PPK/S, this was imported by Interarms in .22 caliber in the 70's and 80's. My farm/snake plinking gun.

So I'm not an overly familiar shooter with DA/SA semiautomatics. They're different from DA revolvers, of course, and it seems like I'm just settling into a groove with the Beretta.

Last week, El Fisho Jr. and I went to the range and just took two 9mm's with us. The Beretta PX4 Storm Subcompact and the newly gifted Glock 19.

We spent a lot of time with both pistols, and El Fisho Jr. and I were both partial to the Glock. I did shoot much better this time with the Beretta, coming in on the first magazine with one bullseye and the rest grouped about an inch left and down from center. I managed to tighten these groups up closer to the center with several subsequent magazines full, but I felt like I was having to put a lot of effort into getting those bullets back toward center.

To digress a moment, after shooting three magazines each from each pistol, El Fisho Jr. and I marveled at the high accuracy of the Glock 19. Look for a review on the Glock 19 soon, as it has taken over the place intended for the Beretta PX4 Storm Subcompact, even though the G19 is a compact and not a subcompact.

To sum up, the Beretta is not the Glock when it comes to out of the box accurate shooting for me. Actually, I'm impressed with the build quality of the Beretta and the more I shoot it, the more I like it. Felt recoil is lower than many larger hi capacity 9mm's I've shot but again, it's not as low as with the Glock 19. Like the Glock, however, the Beretta has digested whatever I've fed it with no complaints and no problems, no even a burp.

I've been carrying the Beretta PX4 Storm Subcompact in two holsters: The High Noon IWB Mr. Softy Holster, and the Tagua belt slide. Both work well and pull the gun in to conceal it. It's a bulky gun, no doubt but if you want to carry a hi capacity 9mm you're going to have bulk. It's not a heavy gun, coming in less than most other guns in it's catagory when fully loaded. I'd like to see some more holsters for this gun. Beretta sells a nice Askins Avenger type holster on their website and I've thought about ordering one of those, but thus far the Tagua belt slide has been filling all needs for a belt holster.

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