Beretta 90-two Type F Pistol
By Chuck Hawks
The Model 90-two, as the name implies, is Beretta's improved successor to their acclaimed Model 92F (M9) military and police service pistol. The latter has been adopted by the U.S. military and numerous American police departments as well as similar agencies around the world. This new pistol incorporates a number of detail improvements without abandoning the proven Beretta formula of a short recoil operated action, exposed barrel, exposed hammer, double action operation, and high capacity. The standard grip shapes and the overall outline of the new and old pistols are very similar.
Like the Model 92, the new pistol uses a steel upper assembly and aluminum alloy main frame. Unlike the old model, the lower half of the 90-two grip frame and the removable grip itself is formed from one piece of polymer and the external surfaces of the pistol are rounded and shaped to be snag-free. There is an accessory rail in the front of the frame, the standard magazine capacity has been increased, the sight radius is 5mm longer, and there is an internal recoil buffer.
The 90-two is available in three variations. These include the standard Double Action/Single Action Model F with a manual safety/hammer drop lever, the double action only Model D, and the SIG-like Double Action/Single Action Model G with hammer drop only lever that does not incorporate a traditional manual safety function. All models have an automatic firing pin blocker safety and a chamber loaded indicator. There is no magazine safety--these are serious combat pistols and they will fire with the magazine removed. The pistol sent to us for review was the standard Type F version.
The 90-two Type F pistol was nicely packaged in a foam-lined plastic carrying case. Included were the mandatory gunlock, Owner's Manual, warrantee card, two 17 round magazines, magazine loading device, and even a cleaning rod and tips. Kudos to Beretta for not stinting on the accessories.
Here are the basic specifications of the Beretta 90-two type F pistol:
Straight from the manufacturer, this was probably the most over-oiled pistol I have ever received for review. There was an excess of gun oil squirted into every nick and cranny. The first order of business was to field strip the pistol and sop up all the oil I could using numerous paper towels, then an old handkerchief, and finally Q-Tips. Even so, at the range the next day, firing the 90-two produced oil from all of the pistol's inaccessible nooks and crannies.
I dislike oil in any firearm, as it attracts dirt and powder residue, gums up the action, reduces reliability, and accelerates wear. I much prefer modern lubricants such as Prolix, which evaporate and leave a clean, dry surface protected at the molecular level.
The Beretta's take down (field stripping) procedure is the simplest and easiest around. Just remove the magazine and clear the pistol. Press the little release button that frees the takedown lever in from the right side of the frame and rotate the left side frame mounted takedown lever 90 degrees clockwise. The slide then runs forward off the frame. The captive guide rod/recoil spring assembly and the barrel can be lifted out of the slide. No further disassembly is normally necessary.
To reassemble, drop the barrel back into the slide and wedge the guide rod/recoil spring assembly back into place. Then just run the slide back onto the frame and the takedown lever automatically returns to its normal (latched) position. The safety position and hammer position actually don't matter, although the Owner's Manual calls for the safety to be "On" (and therefore the hammer down). All in all, removing the slide couldn't be easier.
Most Beretta pistols use an open top slide to minimize the possibility of ejection problems. This design also reduces the weight of the pistol. It is such a good feature that I wonder why more manufacturers have not copied it. (Taurus has, of course, but their pistols are Beretta knock-offs from the word "go.")
My initial impression was of high quality and overall good ergonomics. The grip is comfortably shaped and the pistol balances solidly in the hand. The various controls (safety lever, slide latch, takedown lever, magazine release, and trigger) are well shaped, easy to operate, conveniently located, and fall readily to hand. The heavy gauge steel magazines drop freely from the pistol when the release button is depressed.
The slide-mounted safety is easy to work and drops the hammer safely from full cock, but is backwards to most U.S. shooters. Up is "fire" and down is "safe" on the Beretta, typical of European pistols. And, by the way, the 90-two is made in Italy. The safety is no big deal, as on a DA auto the safety can be ignored except when being used as a hammer drop lever. In fact, if I were ordering a 90-two pistol, I'd get the "G" model, in which the safety lever is only a hammer drop and has no other function.
The big new Beretta also has a half-cock safety hammer notch to prevent inadvertent discharge if the burr type loop hammer slips from under the thumb while being manually cocked. The DA trigger pull can be used to being the hammer back to the half cock notch quite easily, which then makes the hammer somewhat easier to thumb cock or the slide a little easier to rack.
The trigger pull initially measured 5.5 pounds, but had dropped to 5.25 pounds by the end of the review. There is a lot of take-up before you get to where the actual SA trigger pull starts, but its fine from there with only moderate creep and a single glitch or hesitation in its release. It is continuing to smooth with use. If I purchase this pistol for my personal use, being impatient, I will probably polish the trigger engagement surfaces.
The hammer spring seems unnecessarily heavy to me. I suspect that it could be lightened with no loss of reliability, but I didn't attempt to modify the test pistol.
The accessory rail integrated into the lower front of the frame partially spoils the pistol's sleek Italian lines, and the supplied plastic cover merely accentuates the problem. Otherwise it is quite a handsome autoloader. Thank goodness the front of the trigger guard is rounded rather than squared-off. It is past time to do away with that foolishness.
The "Superluminova" sights deserve comment. Superluminova is a photosensitive coating. These are Patridge type, three dot sights that glow in the dark. A short exposure to light makes the sight dots glow in the dark with a long lasting luminescence. The Superluminova dots simply appear white in daylight. The front and rear sights are mounted in dovetails and are removable. They can be replaced with sights of different heights or styles, and tritium night sights are available from Beretta as an option.
This full size pistol is quite a bit larger than the compact Glock 19 we had at the range at the same time, and about 50% heavier; 32.5 ounces for the Italian Beretta compared to 21 ounces for the Austrian G-19 (empty). This makes it more of a pain in the back to carry, but more pleasant to shoot.
The reach to the trigger is actually slightly less than the Glock, even with the Beretta trigger in its DA position. (About 2 15/16" for the Beretta and 3" for the Glock.) With the Beretta's hammer cocked the distance from the middle of the trigger face to the back of the grip frame is considerably less, about 2.5" for the Beretta. The trigger being closer to the grip gives the hand/trigger finger better leverage, making the trigger easier to pull.
The standard Beretta grip is wider than the G-19 grip, potentially making the grip too large for small hands. Beretta does, however, offer a smaller grip to address that problem, and the standard width grip reduces the subjective effect of recoil by spreading it over a larger area of the palm.
I've been carrying the 90-two for about a week in my large Galco fanny pack, and it's more comfortable than I expected. Even though it is excessively large and heavy for a concealed carry pistol, its flat design and melted edges make it a comfortable carry. It would be best carried openly in a military or police style holster attached to a wide gun belt, of course, for which it was designed. But it is practical for occasional civilian concealed carry, particularly in situations where the perceived threat level is high.
If it actually became necessary to use the 90-two in a defensive role, it should be a great choice. Its very large magazine capacity, single action trigger, excellent sights, relatively long sight radius, and heavy weight would all be plusses once the whistle blows.
Guns and Shooting Online Technical Advisor Jim Fleck and I did the shooting for record with the Beretta 90-two. Our experience with modern service type autoloaders has been that the good ones will average about 3" groups at 25 yards with standard factory loaded ammunition, and we were anxious to see how it would stack-up.
As usual, we did our test shooting at the Izaak Walton outdoor gun range south of Eugene, Oregon. This facility offers covered bench rest shooting positions and target stands at 25, 50, 100, and 200 yards. In the case of the Beretta, all of our shooting was done at 25 yards. The weather was warm and sunny with temperatures in the low 80's and moderate winds that probably were not a factor at 25 yards.
The ammunition we used for testing included Federal 115 grain Jacketed Hollow Point (9BP), Remington/UMC 115 grain Metal Case, Winchester/USA115 grain Personal Protection Jacketed Hollow Point, and Winchester/USA 115 grain Full Metal Jacket. All groups consisted of 5-shot strings at bulls eye targets fired at 25 yards from a Pistol Perch rest on a solid shooting bench.
Here are the results of our time at the range with the 90-two:
AVERAGE GROUP SIZE FOR ALL AMMUNITION = 3".
This time out yours truly shot the best group, using Winchester 115 grain JHP loads, which seemed to be the preferred ammunition of the four loads we tried in the Beretta. For comparison we also shot my personal Glock 19, and the best 25 yard Glock group measured 1 3/4", also with Winchester 115 grain JHP ammo. The two pistols averaged nearly identical size groups across the board and both shot to point of aim at 25 yards. The bottom line is that the Beretta 90-two delivered exactly the level of accuracy expected.
The sights were pretty well aligned laterally from the factory, and the elevation was good for Jim and I. Many service/military type pistols seemed to be set up for about 100 meter targets, but the 90-two was pretty much on at 25 yards, which is how we like our pistols.
When I circulated the pistol among the Guns and Shooting Online staff everyone was favorably impressed except Kathy Hays. It's styling, quality, and features got a lot of positive comments. Kathy thought that the grip was too large for her hand. I wish that we had an example of the slimmer replacement grip for her to try. I thought that the standard grip did an excellent job of spreading recoil across a wide area of my shooting hand. For me the 90-two grip handles recoil exceptionally well. It's a comfortable gun to shoot.
For a long time Beretta has been among the "Top Three" service pistols that I regularly recommend to correspondents and the 90-two only reinforces that opinion. (The other two brands are Glock and SIG.) I don't see how anyone needing a full size service pistol could go wrong by choosing a 90-two.
The Beretta Model 90-two Type F is clearly an evolutionary improvement on the previous Model 92F, itself one of the finest autoloaders of the 20th Century. I suspect that the 90-two is the service pistol that Beretta is counting on to keep their reputation bright and sales high in the 21st Century, and I can see no reason why it should not do exactly that.
HANDGUN REVIEW SUMMARY
Copyright 2006, 2013 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.