May 23, 2016
By Reid Coffield
The Beretta 92 FS 9mm semiauto pistol has been with us for many years. For the most part, it has served well and has a considerable following among handgunners. A lot of these pistols have been used by police departments, not to mention the many military versions used by our armed forces.
Many of the Beretta 92 models used by police agencies have been replaced by pistol designs that are more compact and more advanced. That has created a tremendous opportunity for civilian shooters who are looking for a reliable, economical, full-sized 9mm because as those surplus police guns have entered the used-gun market, you can often get a really great bargain. I took advantage of one of those opportunities not long ago and traded for a well-used Beretta 92 FS that had been used by a police department.
Like a lot of police handguns, it was carried a lot and fired very little. I could find no indication of extensive use or wear due to firing.
I could have used the Beretta 92 as is, but I wanted to give it a few simple upgrades and make it even more reliable. None of the upgrades required a lot of work, extensive pistolsmithing, or significant cost. Anyone should be able to handle them.
The first thing to look at is the magazine, especially if it's a low-cost, used G.I. magazine that you often run across at gun shows. Any used magazine should be completely disassembled and thoroughly cleaned. Brownells offers a shaped nylon brush specifically designed to remove dirt and crud from the inside of the magazine tube. Most magazines are seldom, if ever, cleaned, and you'll likely be the first to disassemble and clean your pistol's magazine.
The Beretta 92 factory magazines, as well as the military-contract magazines, are super easy to disassemble for cleaning and maintenance. Just insert a small punch in the hole in the center of the baseplate, push up on the baseplate retainer, and push the baseplate forward and off the magazine tube. The retainer is under spring pressure, so don't let it get away! With the baseplate removed, just remove the spring and follower and you'll have free access to the inside of the magazine tube.
I encourage you to replace the magazine spring. Over time and with use, the average wire magazine spring compresses. It actually shortens and loses strength, which can cause feeding malfunctions. It's especially important to replace the original spring in any older military-surplus magazines.
The Recoil Spring
While we're talking about springs, the magazine spring isn't the only one that should be replaced. The recoil spring controls the movement of the slide both forward and back as the Beretta 92 is fired and so is subjected to a tremendous amount of stress. If the recoil spring is weak or worn, the slide can slam to the rear upon the discharge of a round with excessive force and possibly damage the frame, or the slide may not return to battery or the locked position with enough force to properly strip a cartridge from the magazine and feed it into the chamber. A lot depends on that one spring.
There is a lot of debate as to when this spring should be replaced. Some say after 3,000 rounds, others 5,000, and some give even higher figures. Generally, you can't go wrong by putting a new Wolff spring into a used pistol whose history you have no way of knowing. It's a case of better safe than sorry.
Finally, you need to clean under the Beretta 92 extractor. Fouling in this critical area can cause major problems. Keep in mind the slot in the slide for the extractor also extends into the hole for the firing pin. During the course of normal use, carbon, dirt, and bits of brass from the cartridge cases build up under the extractor.
If enough fouling accumulates, it can affect the functioning of the extractor, and it can actually work its way down through the open slot and into the firing pin hole. This fouling in the firing pin hole can cause the firing pin to be jammed forward, leading to slamfires, or it can block the movement of the firing pin, leading to misfires.
The Beretta 92 slide should be completely stripped and disassembled. However, it's a fairly complex job, and there are lots of little pins, springs, and spring-loaded detents involved. Unless you have access to a detailed Beretta armorer's manual, consider having a gunsmith do this.
If you are only removing the extractor, that's no problem. Just remove the slide from the frame and take out the recoil spring and guide and the barrel. You can then place the slide upside down on a nonmarring bench block and drive out the extractor pin. This will allow the extractor and extractor spring to be removed.
Use swabs to remove as much crud as possible, and then blast out any fouling you can't reach with an aerosol cleaner, such as Birchwood Casey Gun Scrubber. Ideally, you will take out the firing pin and spring, but if you can't do that, removing the extractor and its spring is better than a poke with a sharp stick!
With these tips you can definitely improve the performance and reliability of your Beretta 92. It's a darn good pistol, and these simple steps will make it even better.