By: Greg Chabot
Photos By: Sasha Steadman
As a gun writer, I try to be different from my peers, preferring to go against the current trends and fads in the shooting world. Keeping that in mind, this article will cover what I feel is a very underrated weapon using a unique operating system: the Beretta PX4 Storm.
The PX4 debuted in 2004 to challenge Beretta’s competitors in the LE and civilian markets, which the 92 series had held a fair share of for many years. With the rise of polymer framed weapons that were lighter and more ergonomic, many agencies made the shift because of weight and cost savings.
The PX4 was designed to be a simple, reliable handgun that is easy to operate and cost effective. It features a polymer frame with changeable backstraps. The PX4 comes standard with an accessory rail. A DA/SA trigger is also standard with the option of DAO or de-cocker only models. The weapon is simple to disassemble and impossible to reassemble incorrectly. I give Beretta points for keeping the design as simple as possible for end users.
Another feature that drew me to the PX4 was the rotating barrel locking system. Unlike the Browning tilting barrel system, the PX4’s barrel rotates on a cam, producing less felt recoil and a low bore axis –
which in theory, should result in good accuracy.
The PX4 is rated for +P, as the chamber fully supports the case. Test weapon was an F model with a DA/SA trigger de-cocker/safety. Trigger weight in DA came in at 9lbs with some stacking. The trigger is very wide, which helps, in my opinion, to negate some of the weight. In SA, trigger weight was 5lbs; it did have some free travel before breaking smoothly. The magazine well is beveled to aid in reloading under stress. The outside has a small indent to aid in stripping the magazine in case of malfunction.
Sights are white, three-dot type with a sight radius of 5.75”. Barrel is 4” with an OAL 7.55” and height of 5.51”. Weight unloaded is 27.7 ounces. The PX4 comes with two, 17-round magazines of excellent quality; 10, 15, and 20-round magazines are also available for purchase. The slide has both front and rear cocking serrations with all edges de-burred. The slide is coated in Beretta’s Bruniton finish. I have no complaints about the fit or finish of this weapon.
Testing took place over the course of a year using mixed ammo. Weapon was tested in various temperatures and conditions. Holster used during testing was “The Liberator” from 2aholster.com with steel targets from Defense Targets being used exclusively. Weapon was cleaned and lubed every thousand rounds with SEAL-1 CLP.
I was impressed by the trigger on this weapon; it was smooth and broke cleanly. Due to the wide trigger, it felt considerably lighter than what it weighed. I started all drills in DA with follow up shots in SA. Shooting this weapon was a pleasure, with the rotating barrel, it was very flat shooting, and recoil was very mild with little muzzle flip even while shooting weak-handed. With a light attached, it barely moved in my hands. During rapid fire drills, the low bore axis kept the shots close and tight on the steel. In the accuracy department, the weapon was dead on if I did my part. The sights were easy for my aging eyes to pick up. I had no issues while practicing IA drills with unintentionally de-cocking the weapon and leaving it on safe, which can result in a “dead” trigger.
I found the “wings” on the de-cocking lever helped me while manipulating the slide. For end users who are concerned with that feature, the F models can be converted to the G configuration, which is de-cocker only with a smaller lever. The PX4 has second strike capability. I personally believe in racking in a fresh round if I experience a misfire and train accordingly.
During testing, the weapon ran flawlessly for 3k total rounds fired. I attributed this to the low feed ramp angle on the weapon and quality magazines. After testing was complete, the weapon was checked for unusual wear; none was found. I have heard some complaints about the durability of the Bruniton finish. I found some wear, which is to be expected if you train hard with your weapon.
Ergonomically, this is a comfortable weapon to shoot. The grip angle allowed the PX4 to point naturally for me. The front and back strap texture allowed me a firm grip with dry hands. The sides of the PX4 are too smooth though, in my opinion. After coating my hands with mineral oil to simulate blood, I had a difficult time keeping a firm grip on the weapon. I was able to hit my target, but I constantly had to adjust my grip. With gloves, it was a tad better. I ended up applying grip tape to remedy this. Stippling is an option, as are rubber sleeves. Beretta should update the PX4 with a more aggressive texture on the sides of the grip.
I had little difficulty concealing the PX4 under a loose-fitting shirt. I prefer to carry full-size handguns and dress accordingly. The one issue I can see for folks who like IWB or AIWB is the de-cocking lever digging in. Overall, the PX4 is a fine option for concealed carry.
I am glad I took a chance and purchased a PX4. It is a very underrated weapon that meets my standards for reliability and accuracy. The trigger is one of the best out of the box DA/SA that got better as it was used. Price-wise, it was a bargain, going for under $500 USD before the Wuhan virus caused the market to go wild.
Would I recommend this weapon? Yes; it went bang every time the trigger was squeezed. It comes with excellent safety features and is easy to maintain. I carried this weapon concealed and have no qualms about trusting my life to the PX4 Storm.
Big thanks to Zero Foxtrot and Coyote Creek Outfitters LLC.