One of the most famous pistols ever created, the Beretta 92 has been the flagship handgun in Beretta’s pistol lineup ever since it was first introduced in the mid-1970s.
The Beretta 92 holds the distinction of serving as the US military’s sidearm from 1985 to 2017, as the sidearm for many other law enforcement and military units all over the globe, and for being featured in more movies than any other semi-automatic pistol in history.
Needless to say, the design of the Beretta 92 is equally as high quality as it is highly recognizable. Furthermore, Beretta has manufactured and is manufacturing multiple different variants of the Beretta 92 as well that go beyond the standard Beretta 92FS model.
This article will serve as a guide on the primary variants of the Beretta 92 with a quick description of each one so you can learn the differences.
Here are the current variants of the Beretta 92 pistol:
The first ever entry in the Beretta 92 lineup was the Beretta 92, released in mid 1976 and produced until 1983. This variant is notable for its blued finish, rounded trigger guard, frame mounted safety lever, lack of a decocker, and the presence of a magazine release on the bottom of the grip (known as a heel magazine release).
The Beretta 92S was an improved version of the Beretta 92. It maintained the blued finish, heel magazine release, and rounded trigger guard, but moved the safety lever from the frame to the slide at the request of the Italian police forces. Furthermore, a decocker lever was added, which meant that the gun could be safely reverted to double action from single action when the safety lever was engaged.
The next evolution in the Beretta 92 line was the Beretta 92SB, which was built specifically for the United States airforce trials. The 92SB kept the rounded trigger guard and blued finish of the 92S, but it made the safety and decocker lever ambidextrous, added a firing pin block, and moved the magazine release from the heel to an American-style release on the lower part of the trigger guard.
A smaller variant called the 92SB Compact was also produced.
The Beretta 92SB evolved into the BerettaF, which squared off the trigger guard, added a curve to the bottom of the grip to make the pistol easier to hold, chromed the bore to increase service life, and replaced the blued finish with a much more rust and corrosion resistant finish called Bruniton.
The Beretta 92FS is simply a 92F with a larger firing pin, located in a groove on the underpart of the slide. This prevents the slide from flying off and causing potential injury in the event that it cracks. The 92FS remains in production today and represents the base model of the 92 series. Beginning in 2005, all standard versions of the Beretta 92 come with a slanted dust cover on the under side of the frame.
Beretta 92FS Compact
The Beretta 92FS compact is a slightly more smaller version than the 92FS, featuring a shorter grip and barrel and slide. Standard capacity of the 92FS is 15 rounds, whereas the Compact is 13 rounds.
Beretta 92FS Centurion
The Beretta 92FS Centurion is essentially a hybrid between the 92 full size and the 92 Compact, featuring a full size grip with the Compact’s shorter barrel and slide.
The 92D is a double action only version of the 92FS, and features no safety or decocker lever. The standard version has since been discontinued, but it survives today in the form of a double action only version of the 92X.
The Beretta 96 is a .40 caliber variant of the 92FS, with a standard 11 shot magazine. The standard 96 model has since been discontinued.
Beretta 92 Vertec
Built from 2001 to 2007 and again from 2014 to 2018, the 92 Vertec is a 92 with a straight backstrap, removable sights, an accessory rail, and a flared magazine well.
Built from 2006 to 2012, the 90two pistol featured a poylmer frame and curved trigger guard, with an accessory rail and thicker slide.
Beretta 92A1 and 96A1
The Beretta 92A1 combined elements of the 90two with the aluminum frame of the 92FS. It features a curved trigger guard and accessory rail under the frame, and ships with a standard 17 round magazine from the factory.
The 96A1 is the same pistol only in .40 S&W, and is currently the only version of the Beretta 96 still being made today.
The Beretta M9 is essentially a military version of the 92FS that is also available to civilians. It comes with a straight dust cover like the originals, in addition to two white dots on the sights rather than the three white dots of the 92FS.
Introduced in 2006, the M9A1 is an improved 92FS with more aggressive checkering on the front and back straps of the grip, along with a beveled magazine well for faster reloads and an accessory rail. For a time, it was issued to the United States Marine Corps.
The M9A1 eventually evolved into the M9A3 in 2015. It features a tan finish, three slot Picatinny rail, thinner vertical grip like was featured on the 92 Vertec, night sights, and a threaded barrel for adding a suppressor. The M9A3 was submitted by Beretta to the US Government has the successor to the M9, but the government ended up going with the SIG Sauer M17 and M18 instead.
Introduced in 2019, the 92X was built to be an improved Beretta 92 Vertec and M9A3. It features a thin vertical grip, removable wrap around grips, fully removable sights, and the ability to make the gun decocker only without a safety. It’s available in compact, centurion, and full size versions.
The fact that Beretta is continuing to manufacture multiple variants of the 92 series alone just goes to show how successful the design has been…and how this classic pistol design that is likely to stick around for many years to come.