Beretta 96

Description

The Beretta Model 96 is a semi-automatic pistol chambered in .40 S&W. The M96 has a larger caliber than the 92FS (aka the M9, the US military’s standard issued handgun) otherwise it has almost exactly the same features such as an open slide design, so the barrel shows through. An external hammer that when cocked back changes the trigger pull from double-action (long pull) to single-action (short pull). Its ambidextrous safety acts as a de-cocking lever. A second safety feature is its visible automatic firing pin block, which prevents any discharge if it’s accidentally dropped. It has three-dot fixed sights, but tritium night sights are available.

Where it evolved from the original, the front sight post is interchangeable and it has a Picatinny rail for mounting a light or laser.

Beretta recommends the M96 for law enforcement and personal defense.

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Specifications

96A1
Caliber:.40 S&W
Grip:Plastic
Capacity:12
Sights:Three-dot fixed sight
Features:Picatinny rail; interchangeable front sight; chrome-lined bore; tritium sights available; reversible magazine catch; manual safety doubles as de-cocking lever
Action:Semi-auto
Material/Finish:Aluminum/black
Size:Large
Trigger:Double-action/single-action
Website:http://www.berettaus…
Weight:2.15 pounds
Barrel Length:4.9"
Length:8.5"
Height:5.4"
96FS INOX
Caliber:.40 S&W
Grip:Plastic
Capacity:12
Sights:Three-dot fixed sight
Features:Picatinny rail; interchangeable front sight; chrome-lined bore; tritium sights available; reversible magazine catch; manual safety doubles as de-cocking lever
Action:Semi-auto
Material/Finish:Aluminum/stainless
Size:Large
Trigger:Double-action/single-action
Weight:2.15 pounds
Barrel Length:4.9"
Length:8.5"
Height:5.4"
MSRP$690.00

Editor Review

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I first shot the Beretta 96 while I was testing the Heckler & Koch HK45C for a review. I had the HK on loan from the manufacturer and it had caught the attention of the man two lanes to my right. It stood out to him even in that dim basement of a range. He was surprised at how small yet powerful it looked – and the noise it created. Anyway, he asked about it and we here at Guns.com have enjoyed its stay with us so much that I offered him a chance to shoot it, which he humbly accepted.

He popped off a few rounds, thanked me and stepped back to his lane. I didn’t expect anything in return, yet, he returned anyway offering me a full magazine. “Would you like to try my gun?” he asked.

I didn’t. Not really. Mostly because I thought he had something I’ve already tried. But then, out of politeness, I said, “Ok.” He reached over and grabbed his Beretta, which was locked to the rear, and handed it to me. At first glance, I thought it was a 92 – one of my favorite guns that I don’t own – and I really was excited.

I popped off a few rounds and it had a little more kick than I remember. I said, “Thanks. I love the 92s.”

He shook his head, “It’s a 96. A .40 caliber.”



Shortly after the man disappeared, the gun remained on my mind. Fortunately though, the Beretta 96 was a rental option at the range, and I couldn’t leave without testing it out.

A Less Popular Model

For some reason the Beretta 96 isn’t as popular as its older, smaller sister mostly because it is the identical to the Beretta 92 but chambered in .40 S&W.

The family of pistols has a very distinct design. It has an oversized grip that’s straight up and down, it’s hammer fired, most have a double-action/single-action trigger, an ambidextrous manual safety that doubles as a de-cocker, an open slide design meaning the barrel can be seen through the slide, and three dot sights. But the design was intended for the 9mm.



The Beretta 96 was introduced in 1990 to balance the high-capacity restrictions in the civilian market. The trade is a you get a larger caliber for more bullets. To be fair though, the 92’s design is rather heavy and bulky in turn great for handling and accuracy. But how does it handle with a .40 caliber round? Well, fine. Recoil with the Beretta 96 is more than manageable, however, if you’re familiar with the Beretta 92/M9 at all than it is more noticeable.

The family also handles recoil in a very pronounced way. It feels like all the rearward force directs the muzzle to jump instead of traveling back towards my grip. In essence, recoil is redirected so I don’t feel it on my hands rather the gun pulls my hands.

The Features

The grip is rather large, but easy to hold. It has a straight up and down design and is rotund. The grips are actually one of my favorite features, but the trigger is a different story.

Using single-action the trigger is great. It’s a very light pull with almost virtually no creep, but double-action is more than a tad annoying. The double-action pull has too much creep and when it finally breaks I’m usually off my mark.

The ambidextrous safety is conveniently located where the thumb naturally rests and, like I mentioned earlier, it doubles as a de-cocker. The de-cocker on it is my second beef with the series because it’ll de-cock the trigger, but engage the safety rather than simply de-cock and be ready to go. On other guns, the HK 45 Compact for example, the de-cocker allows the user to swing the safety lever down to set the trigger for double, but then it goes back to the fire position.

Accuracy

When I tested it out I used Remington’s .40 S&W 180 grain rounds.


And shot three sets at ranges 10, 25 and 50 feet.



The Verdict

I haven’t changed my mind because I still like the Beretta 92 more than the 96. But there are people who swear by the 96. I think they may buy it by mistake. However, the 96 is a decent enough gun. If you’re a fan of the 92 like I am, than you’ll more than likely have the same feelings.

Check out what others say about the Beretta 96: