This is not my current duty weapon but, at some point during my career, I carried a standard all black Beretta 96. Working evenings, I finally decided to purchase night sights. I found out that the stock sights were permanent on my particular model. Trijicon makes a type that actually covers up the permanent sights. Putting these on would raise my sight height a little. I wasn't too hip on that.
My father who owned a Beretta 96 Vertec Inox, generously offered to trade guns with me. The 96 Vertec is the same caliber but, with modern features such as removable sights, a rail, and a slimmer grip with a different angle. I took him up on his offer. His Vertec had somewhat dim factory night sights already installed from the Beretta. I immediately purchased fresh Trijicon Night Sights from Marksman Firearms. Marksman graciously installed them at no extra charge. I also purchased one 15 round mag and two 13 round mags from Mec-Gar.
I took the Vertec to the range to test it with my department issued duty rounds. We use a round restricted for civilian use called Winchester T Series. The Vertex did not immediately perform flawless. I had a malfunction about every 10 rounds. I suspected the Vertec didn't like the 15 round Mec-Gar rounds. I didn't bother to clean it before the range because I though it looked clean enough. I took it home and thoroughly cleaned and lubed it. From my experience, Beretta's hate to run dry, despite what some people say about only needing a "little lube".
I was very pleased with my second range test of the Vertex 96. It ate up duty hollow points as well as target ammo, with no malfunctions whatsoever. I was relieved that it only needed a good cleaning to function as it should.
The accuracy of the Beretta Vertec 96 was about on par with my older standard 96 model. Definitely not as easy to bust out bullseyes as with the 9mm model 92 but, still accurate enough for close range. I always test my pistols between 8 and 25 yards. At 25 yards, I must be able to hit within an 8 inch circle without problems. In my opinion, when one's adrenaline gets pumping, one can loose about 20% of their accuracy. So, its important to set personal standards as far as accuracy at 25 yards. I believe its also important to train in tactical scenarios, not just standing still while shooting at paper targets.
After determining that the Beretta 96 is duty-worthy beyond a shadow of a doubt, I decided to spend a little money to make it awesome. Here's a list of my Vertec upgrades:
- Wilson Combat G10 Grips
- Wilson Combat Short Reach Trigger
- Wilson Combat Fluted Guide Rod
- Wilson Combat Low-Profile Single Lever Safety/Decocker
- Wilson Combat Oversize Steel Magazine Release
- Mec-Gar 15 round (pictured) and 13 round mags
- Wilson Combat Delux Spring Kit, Duty Use which includes:
14# Recoil Spring
14# Hammer Spring
16# Hammer Spring
Firing Pin Return Spring
Trigger Return Spring
The Wilson Combat Delux Spring Kit comes with two different hammer springs. I installed the number # 14 hammer spring and installed the # 16 in the Beretta I traded my father for. I will provide a review on the standard model 96 with # 16 hammer spring later.
My 96 Vertec is now better than new. I took it for a third range test. I found the first double action pull to be noticeably but not significantly lighter than standard. Not so light that I have to worry about a light primer strike. The stock hammer spring was a # 20 to give you an idea about the difference between a # 20 and # 16. The real magic is after the first round has been fired and the Vertec is in single action mode. The trigger is nice and crispy, something like a 1911 trigger pull. My accuracy on follow up shots was never bad with the Beretta but, even better after installing the Wilson Combat springs. Shooting full power duty rounds was a breeze with this full sized, heavy, upgraded Beretta 96 Vertec.
You've heard of "trigger sobs". I am not a trigger snob. I can shoot any quality pistol well by using decent shooting fundamentals. However, I am now a self proclaimed grip snob. I am totally spoiled on G10 grips. The Wilson Combat G10's than I installed make a great gun even better. I feel that G10 grips help eliminate a chance for error when doing fast drawls from the holster. Sometimes when doing a fast drawl under stress, you may not always grip the gun perfectly and subsequently fire off a round with imperfect aim. In the heat of the moment, you may not have time to readjust your grip, take aim, then fire. Most likely, you will have to get the round off quickly in a bad situation. The G10 grips are too good that even if you don't grip the receiver perfectly, you can still easily and quickly manipulate the pistol back into your normal point of aim. This is hard to explain without actually showing you in person. If were ever considering G10 grips for your gun, just get 'em. Its money well spent.
Some time has passed since I stopped carrying the Beretta Vertec. I now carry a 1911 on duty. Not because I think the 1911 is superior to the Vertec. I simply opted to start carrying the 1911 just because I can. I still use the Beretta Vertec as an off-duty weapon option. It's a big pistol to carry and it isn't light. Regardless, it still carries well in a good holster and with the proper belt. There's something that feels nice and cozy about carrying a full sized pistol and knowing that I have 16 total rounds of full power .40 cal at my disposal.
Gun photography by: ralphrodriguezjr.com