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The Budget Pistol That’s As Accurate As The Military’s M9

Image source: thetruthaboutguns.com

Taurus PT92. Image source: thetruthaboutguns.com

Just as much a classic design as it is a proven one, the Beretta 92FS has a well-deserved legacy.  In service in various environments with multiple militaries around the world, including our own (as the M9 and M9A1), the Beretta 92FS is without a doubt one of the most heavy-duty and resilient wonder nines produced. The Beretta 92FS does have its detractors, but it’s a gun that’s going to stick around for many years to come and is destined to live on in the history books regardless of whether we love it or hate it.

Having a dependable sidearm that stays at your side is essential, and you’ll want something that’s reliable, accurate, is big enough to fight with, has a large magazine capacity, and fires a common round. The Beretta fulfills all of these roles to become one of the combat pistols you should consider.

But there’s one thing that the Beretta does not have going for it, and that is price. If you’re on a budget, chances are the Beretta 92FS ($600 to $700-plus) is too pricey. There’s no shame in that, but if you are still married to the 92-series of pistol design, you do have an alternative and budget-minded option: the Taurus PT92.

The Taurus PT92 is a clone of the older Beretta 92. The story goes that Beretta was supplying older 92s to the Brazilian military in the 1970s and 80s, and when they left once the contract was up, Taurus took over Beretta’s factory … along with the blueprints, employees and machinery.  Thus, the Taurus PT92 was born, and quickly became known as a cheaper clone of the Beretta and with nearly, if not the same, level of quality. In 2005, the PT92 evolved into the modern-day PT92AF that comes standard with a 17-round magazine and a tactical rail, something only upgrades of the 92FS such as the M9A1 or 92A1 feature.

But is it really worth saving on cash to pick up the cheaper Taurus now, or should you take the time to save your dollars and eventually go with the more classic Beretta? Only you can determine that for yourself, but hopefully this brief guide to the differences between the two pistols will help you make a decision.

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Note: Both guns are also available in .40 S&W as the Beretta 96 and the Taurus PT100, with standard 11-round magazines each.

Safety/Decocker

The first difference between the Beretta and Taurus is the position and function of the safety/decocker. While both are ambidextrous, the Beretta’s is located on the rear of the slide, making it somewhat of an inconvenience to reach, and the safety and the decocker are the same thing, meaning that every time you engage the safety, the decocker engages itself. When you draw the pistol and disengage the safety, you either have to manually pull back the hammer or fire a heavy 12-pound DA pull before the lighter single action is engaged.

The Taurus’ lever is located on the frame in the same position as a 1911, making it much more convenient to reach. The safety and decocker are also two separate actions: To engage the decocker, you press the lever down, and to engage the safety, press the lever up. This allows the PT92AF to be carried cocked and locked just like a 1911 as well.

Winner: Taurus

Fit and Finishing

One of the reasons Taurus is able to keep its prices down is because the fit and finishing on its guns is typically not as nice as higher-end manufacturers. The PT92AF is no exception. While the Taurus doesn’t feature a bad finish, it’s nowhere near the same level of craftsmanship as the 92FS. In adverse conditions, the Beretta’s finish will hold up better and be less likely to scratch.

Winner: Beretta

Firepower

The 92FS comes standard with a 15-round magazine, and the PT92AF a 17 rounder. However, there are plenty of aftermarket magazines for both that increases capacity to 18 rounds and beyond, and the Beretta 92A1 comes standard with a 17-round magazine and also accepts the 92FS’ 15-round mags.

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Winner: Draw

Grip

Image source: AR15

Beretta 92FS. Image source: AR15

It’s no secret that the Beretta 92FS has a wide grip that is mostly suitable only for shooters who have medium to large hands. This is why many servicemen and women of smaller stature in the military find the Beretta’s grip uncomfortable. As a clone of the Beretta, the PT92AF is no different. However, the bottom of the 92FS grip is curved, whereas the PT92AF is not. There’s little difference here, but the straight grip of the PT92AF means that some aftermarket magazines with a larger baseplate can extend slightly out of the bottom of the grip, which some shooters may or may not dislike.

Winner: Beretta, but only slightly

Cost

You can pick up a new Beretta 92FS or M9 for $600 to $700 at a dealer, but it also can be found new for between $500 to $600 on gun auction sites. The PT92AF will cost you roughly $450 new at a dealer, but on gun auction sites, you can find it selling at just $350-375 for a new one.  The bottom line here is that you can plan on saving $150-200 if you go with the Taurus.

Winner: Taurus

Accessories/Aftermarket Options

The 92FS is a popular pistol with civilians, and also thanks to the fact that it is the current US military sidearm, there are quite a few factory and aftermarket accessories for it. Spare magazines are also in great abundance; some gun shows will sell 92FS magazines in bulk at just $10 a piece! The 92FS does not feature a tactical rail, but the M9A1 and 92A1 models do, permitting you to add a flashlight or a laser under the dust cover if you wish.

Spare accessories and aftermarket options do exist for the Taurus, ranging from grips to lights to holsters to magazines, but are not in as great abundance as the Beretta. Magazines for the Taurus are also not quite as common as they are for the Beretta.

Winner: Beretta

These are only the primary differences between the 92FS and the PT92AF. In terms of reliability and accuracy, there is very little difference between the two pistols. But if you’re on a budget and want a 92 series of design to be your sidearm, the Taurus will serve you well. It’s not quite as classic or as smooth as the Beretta, but it is definitely a good value, and the safety/decocker on the Taurus is certainly a huge improvement over the Beretta. Or if you can’t decide, you can do what most gun owners would probably do: Really save up your money and buy them both!

Which gun do you prefer? Share your opinion in the section below:

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2 comments

  1. You can find the Smith and Wesson M&P 40 / 9 cheaper and we’ll built. They run any were between $298-380.

  2. Girsan makes an 92f clone that is imported into the states by Chiappa. It has a better fit and finish than the taurus out of the box and uses beretta mags. The girsan is cerrokoted, the taurus is parkerized.
    I replaced all the turkish springs with actual berretta springs and put in a wilson combat trigger. It was a good shooter out of the box, but with 50 bucks worth of parts and springs it became a sweet little shooter.

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