Pietro’s pellet-pusher

Mike Morton picks up the Umarex Beretta 92 FS and finds a solid handgun that was built to last – while having a blast

Firearms manufactured by Fabbrica d’Armi Pietro Beretta are used all around the world by civilian, law enforcement and military shooters, with the Beretta 92 FS being one of the company’s most successful handguns.

This pistol has been in production for more than a quarter of a century, and Umarex has had its own version of the FS in its CO2-powered inventory for well over a decade.

So the Umarex FS is a bit of an oldie, but is it a goodie? Grab any modern CO2 handgun and it’ll quite possibly be a BB-firing blowback – Umarex even has a blowback rendition of the US military version of the Beretta 92 called the M9A3 (see Airgun Shooter issue 113). The Beretta 92 FS, on the other hand, fires .177 pellets from a simple but efficient rotary magazine, with no blowback action at all. 

Instead, the gun is decidedly old school, coming in a clamshell case with two eight-shot rotary magazines and a tool for adjusting windage on the rear sight.

But in this case, old school means precision engineering and high quality. Pick up the 92 FS and you’ll be amazed by how it looks and feels – the quality really is first-rate, with a uniform finish and a precise fit of all components. The magazine is a doddle to use too, but more on that later. Action CO2 guns don’t come much better than this.

While original production models were in blued steel, post-1985 versions of the 9×19mm Parabellum powder-burner feature a matt black finish called Bruniton, and the Umarex model seen here follows suit, with an expertly and evenly applied all-black finish. 

If you don’t want to go back to black, the 92 FS is also available in satin nickel-plated and polished chrome finishes, with optional wooden grips too.

Being all-metal apart from the grips, the Umarex Beretta 92 FS is often described as being a heavy gun, but how heavy is heavy? And how heavy is this pellet-pusher compared with the original? The gun itself weighs 1,260 grams unloaded. 

The magazine holds eight pellets, weighing around eight grains each, or four grams in total, giving a loaded weight of 1,264 grams – and that’s not taking into account the weight of the CO2 capsule and magazine.

Take up the slack by rotating the cartridge screw until it just touches the capsule, then close the cartridge lock to pierce the seal and release the gas

In contrast, the Beretta 92 FS in 9x19mm Parabellum weighs 945 grams unloaded. A typical modern Parabellum cartridge weighs 182 grains, or 11.79 grams, and the gun can hold 15 rounds, adding 177 grams for an overall weight of 1,122 grams. So the Umarex gun is slightly heavier than the original, meaning the handling of both guns is very similar.

The 92 FS takes a single 12 gram CO2 capsule that sits in a well inside the grip. Push the grip release button on the left of the gun and the right-hand grip will pop off, after which you can swing open the cartridge lock, which works on a camming principle, and looks like the bottom of the 9x19mm magazine.

With a capsule inserted, wind out the brass cartridge screw until it makes contact with the capsule, then close the cartridge lock. 

This may take you unawares the first time, as minimal pressure is needed to pierce the capsule and there’s no telltale hiss of gas to let you know it’s flowing freely – which just means the seals are working well.

To insert a magazine, press the slide catch lever down to make the slide pop forwards automatically

I wasted a capsule the first time I did this by not realising it had already been pierced, and opening the cartridge lock to have another go! With the gun gassed up, the right-hand grip just pops back in place.

Each of the two supplied magazines holds eight pellets. I used QYS Training Grade wadcutters, which worked flawlessly, but domehead pellets can be used too – provided they are not longer than 6.5mm, otherwise they may foul the indexing of the magazine. 

The mag can be loaded into the 92 FS whether or not the gun has been put on safe, so take care to apply the safety before inserting it.

With the slide release catch depressed, the slide will shoot forward, after which the magazine can be gently dropped in place with the rotor facing back towards you. 

When you close the slide, the rotor will automatically engage with the pawl – there’s no need to line anything up manually – and you are ready to begin shooting.

The safety catch itself is ambidextrous, but while it can be operated from either side, I found it easiest to reach over the back of the pistol with my non-shooting hand and operate it with both my thumb and forefinger. You’ll soon find a system that works best for you.

When you load the magazine into the pistol, just ensure the indexing rotor is the correct way round – it should be facing back towards you

The pistol can be shot in either single-action mode with the hammer back at full-cock, or double-action, with your trigger finger cocking the gun and indexing the magazine.

Trigger-pull is a little over 5lb in single-action mode, but rises to 9lb when shot double-action  although it’s still fairly easy to hold on target, thanks to the 92 FS’s hefty weight.

With a paper target set out at 10 metres, I proceeded to take slow, deliberate shots in single-action mode. I was pleased to find the sights needed no adjustment out of the box, all shots nicely hitting the black bull on my Bisley target. 

Shooting the 92 FS this way produced some very decent groups with an average centre-to-centre size of 19mm (0.75”). 

Windage can be adjusted by loosening the rear sight with the supplied tool and drifting it into place before retightening

After shooting eight magazines’ worth of pellets, group size, even when rested between shots, had expanded to 46.5mm (1.83”), showing the CO2 capsule was nearing the end of its useful life, having given me 64 really good shots.

I repeated the test in double-action mode, again at 10 metres, but this time shooting at a rabbit’s head spinner. The 92 FS delivered hit after hit until, again, having finished the eighth magazine, a couple of pellets missed the mark and I knew it was time to stop. 

Windage can be adjusted by loosening the rear sight with the supplied tool and drifting it into place before retightening

As always, you could probably squeeze out a few extra shots, but I prefer to shoot conservatively, playing it safe and avoiding any risk of a jam due to loss of power.

Umarex’s Beretta 92 FS is a fun-gun on steroids. While it’s not a full-blown paper-puncher, it’s good for taking on virtually any kind of plinking paraphernalia – with a spot of informal target work thrown in for good measure. 

But it’s more than just a good all-rounder: it’s a modern classic. 

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