Umarex Beretta PX4 Storm Redux

Regular readers (hello to you both!) may have noticed that I have already posted a review of the Umarex PX4 Storm back in 2014. That was based on my ownership of two PX4s between 2010 and 2013. So, you might be wondering what more I have to say about this particular replica? Well, here’s the thing; I rather like the PX4 but for me, it was marred by one particular issue – namely an inability to shoot to the point of aim. Both my PX4s shot sufficiently high and to the left at 6m that I didn’t bother with them much.

Which was a pity because there’s actually a lot to like about this air pistol. It’s a licensed blowback replica with full markings and, being a pellet shooter with a rifled barrel, it should be an accurate shooter. I have read on other sites that, somewhere around 2014/2015 the design of the PX4 was changed and that it’s now better. I have also read elsewhere that the accuracy issues on this replica are caused by the plastic outer-barrel shroud interfering with the flight of the pellet as it leaves the end of the barrel, and that over time this decreases as the plastic is worn away.

I intend to re-visit the PX4 to find out whether either of these things are true and, if they are not, to look at how I can otherwise improve how it shoots. So this review will be a little different as it will include comparison between the PX4 I have now and my earlier experience as well as information on how it can be improved as a shooter. Will I end up with an accurate shooter or yet another PX4 that gathers dust in the back of the gun cupboard? Let’s find out…  

Real Steel Background

Beretta launched the PX4 Storm in 2004 as a replacement for the 8000 (Cougar) series of pistols, a more compact alternative to the Beretta 92. The PX4 is a polymer framed semi-automatic pistol that uses the rotating barrel locking system from the 8000 series and the trigger and safety system from the Beretta 92.

This was Beretta’s second polymer-framed handgun and it borrows many of the design cues from the first, the Beretta 9000 which was designed by the Giorgietto Giugiaro Design group. The PX4 is still in production and has proved popular as a law enforcement weapon in the US, Canada, Italy and Argentina amongst many others.

Unlike most other Beretta pistols, the PX4 has a fully enclosed slide. It is available as several models both with and without a manual safety and chambered for 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. Its distinctive looks have led to the PX4 featuring in a number of television shows and several movies Inception (2010), The A-Team (2010), Taken 2 (2012), Robocop (2014), and John Wick Chapter 2 (2017).

Leonardo DiCaprio with PX4 in Inception (2010)

The Umarex Beretta PX4

The Umarex Beretta PX4 was launched in 2008 and was at that time only the second pellet-shooting blowback replica from that company – the first, the Magnum Research Desert Eagle appeared in 2005. This a CO2-powered blowback replica with a polymer frame and a metal slide. It has a four-inch rifled barrel and can shoot both .177 pellets and 4.5mm steel BBs stored in a double-ended magazine that hold up to eight BBs or pellets in each end. This is a fully licensed replica that features Beretta markings.

It is manufactured in Japan on behalf of Umarex, though I don’t know who actually makes it. I have seen a number of claims that this replica was updated and (perhaps?) improved around 2014. I have not been able to confirm this and most claims are a little vague about precisely what changes have been made to the original model. Part of the reason for this review is to find out whether this really is a new model and whether it’s any better than the original.   

Specification:

Calibre: 4.5mm BBs/.177″ pellets

Magazine capacity: Sixteen .177″ pellets or 4.5mm steel BBs

Propellant: CO2

Barrel length: 4″, rifled

Weight: 720g (1.59 pounds)

Overall length: 7½”

Sights: Fixed front and rear with white dots

Action: SA/DA

Packaging and presentation (3/5)

My Umarex PX4 came in a sturdy card box that contains the pistol, a single magazine and a multi-language user manual. The box did seem a little better than most, being strong and provided with things like a small square of foam to stop the manual safety from rubbing against the box lid.

This is not the same box that either of my previous PX4s came in. So, at the very least, I can say confidently that the box has changed…

Visual accuracy 7/10

Externally, this PX4 seems identical to both my earlier models. It’s a pretty fair representation of the original including overall size and shape and full Beretta markings.

The only visual anomalies are the manual safety on the right of the frame, the base of the grip and safety markings on the right of the slide and frame, though at least these aren’t highlighted in white. The slide-mounted manual safety and slide release catch are moulded in place and have no function, but at least they look pretty good and don’t detract from the overall appearance. 

Functional Accuracy 6/15

Functionally, this is identical to my earlier PX4s. The trigger, hammer and magazine work as per the original but the slide doesn’t move through a full range, it doesn’t lock back on empty and the slide release doesn’t work. You can lock the slide back, simply by pulling the trigger while the slide is held to the rear, but this really serves no purpose. The manual safety does feature a decocker – when you move it to the “S” position, it safely drops the hammer, and that’s quite useful if you are leaving this replica with CO2 in it (though you shouldn’t do that for extended periods or it can degrade the CO2 seal). To move the manual safety from “S” to “F,” you have to pull back on the serrated centre section, a fingernail-breaking job. Happily, to move it in the opposite direction, you don’t need to do this.  

Shooting 38/45

OK, so for me, this is the most important part of this review – does this PX4 shoot any better than the previous examples I owned? The first thing I looked at was the plastic outer barrel shroud – I have seen claims that this can interfere with the flight of the pellet or BB as it leaves the inner rifled barrel. It’s certainly notable that this plastic outer barrel is very close to the inner barrel and, if you look closely, it isn’t perfectly circular – there are irregularities that look like mould marks that project inwards. If you look at the image below, you’ll see one at around the two o’clock position.

Is it possible that these deflect the pellet as it leaves the rifled barrel? We’ll have to wait and see. Getting the Umarex PX4 ready to shoot is straightforward. The lower rear part of the grip is removed to reveal the CO2 chamber.

The bottom of the grip is twisted clockwise, the CO2 cartridge is inserted and then the knurled wheel is finger tightened. Then, the base of the grip is turned counter-clockwise and this pierces the CO2. I get full four magazines to a single CO2 – that’s over 60 shots, which isn’t too bad for a blowback replica though the last couple of shots do sound as if they’re a little down on power.

Back in 2008 when this replica was first released, the magazine was pretty novel, though similar designs have since been used in a number of other replicas. It’s double-ended and at each end there are eight chambers into each of which you can load a pellet or BB.

Only two chambers are visible at a time and you then have to click the magazine round to expose the next two. It’s a little fiddly and time-consuming but fairly easy. Pellets are a friction fit and steel BBs are retained by a magnet. With this replica loaded it’s time to shoot, and the first thing I want to talk about is the trigger. It works in both double and single action and the double action pull is predictably long and heavy. However, even in single action it’s a long pull and the first 70% or so does nothing – there is barely any resistance until you come to the point where the next pellet is indexed in the rotary magazine. This isn’t especially heavy, but it happens just before the release point. My technique with this pistol is to pull the trigger past the indexing point and to pause just before the release before the final pull. But,  more than once, I found myself unintentionally shooting as I pulled the trigger past the indexing point and through the release point. This isn’t a nasty trigger, it’s just different and, if you use it as I do, it’s worth being fairly careful.

Finally, it’s time to shoot. And it soon becomes apparent that this new PX4 isn’t as bad in terms of accuracy as my previous versions – it’s much worse! The image below shows the result of sixteen shots at 6m range using Umarex 0.48g Mosquito flat-fronted pellets. The aim point was the base of the centre black circle.

This photograph was taken after more than 150 shots, to give the barrel a chance to lead-in. As you can see, the shots are scattered mainly to the right of the target and not all sixteen have even hit my 14cm square target. I tried a couple of other types of target pellet and all gave similar results. This is very disappointing – shooting pellets through a rifled barrel should give much tighter groups than this. Most of my airsoft and BB shooting replicas can do better than this! Both my previous PX4s were capable of 1 – 1½” groups at 6m, though they were high and to left of the aim point. But, this is also puzzling. You can actually see the pellets deflecting to the right as they leave the barrel. What’s going on here and, most importantly, can it be fixed?

Intermission – Improving the PX4

OK, so it’s time to find out what the problem is. I have read in other sites a suggestion that inaccuracy is caused by the front face of the outer plastic barrel interfering with the flight of the pellet. And, if you look closely, you can see that the inner and outer barrels aren’t quite concentric and that the lower part of the plastic barrel does seem to overlap with the bore of the inner metal barrel. I’m going to describe what I did to improve my PX4, but please do remember that if you do these things, you will void your warranty and you may even end up with a replica that won’t shoot properly or at all. So, don’t do any of this unless you are confident in your ability. You have been warned!

To test whether this is causing the problem, I want to enlarge the hole in the outer barrel. To avoid the possibility of damaging the rifled barrel, I’ll disassemble first and fortunately, this isn’t difficult (you’ll find a link to a disassembly guide at the end of this review). To remove the slide and remove the firing valve only requires the removal of three pins and once the valve is out, you can remove the inner barrel and the plastic breech block.

Then, I widened the opening in the outer barrel and this is the result. Yes, I know, it’s pretty rough – I’ll clean it up later but all I want to do for the moment is see if this makes a difference to shooting. You actually have to be pretty careful when you’re doing this. The end of the plastic barrel is the only thing that retains the inner barrel in place – if you remove too much material, you could make this replica inoperable.

I put it all back together, load up with the same pellets, and here’s the result of sixteen shots at 6m.

That’s quite a dramatic improvement. The vertical spread was previously over six inches. Now, it’s down to around 1½”. So, the the pellets were hitting the plastic outer barrel and that was making a difference to accuracy. Now, I want to look at whether I can move the centre of the group to the left to coincide more closely with the point of aim and to tighten it up further.

I disassemble again and this time, I’m looking at the fit of the rifled barrel into the plastic breech block. It’s notable that the fit is quite loose – the metal barrel pushes into the breech block and I note that it can move around quite a lot and the fit in the plastic block is all that gives it support.

I go for the simplest solution – a small strip of adhesive tape round the base of the barrel makes it a tight push-fit into the breech block and it no longer has any play. I reassemble and try shooting again. Here’s the result, with the aim point still at the base of the inner black circle.

That’s more like it! The group is still a little to the right, but it’s now close to spot-on for elevation and the overall group is just over 1”.

Shooting – Part 2

Now that I have the PX4 shooting reasonably, I enjoy it much more. This is actually a very nice replica to shoot. It has good weight, the blowback is strong and the pellets hit the target with a great deal of power (my chrony shows around 350 – 360fps). And now, by aiming off a little to the left, I can get reasonable groups close to the centre of the target. Here’s the result of a full magazine, fired fairly rapidly from 6m.

These few simple mods to the PX4 have transformed it as a shooter. Out of the box, it was so inaccurate that shooting was basically a waste of time. Now, I can appreciate the good things about this replica and actually enjoy shooting it. I like the fact that it isn’t too loud, I appreciate the fact that I can get 60 shots per CO2 and I especially like that this replicates the feel of shooting the real steel more closely than many replicas. The score for this section is for this pistol after I had done these few mods. As it was out of the box, it would have scored much lower.   

Quality and reliability 11/15

One of the things I didn’t like about both my pre-2014 PX4s was that the slide didn’t fit well and rattled annoyingly from side to side. That problem has vanished now – on this version the slide fits very well indeed and the movement of the slide feels more precise and better engineered. Overall, this feels like a good quality replica and I haven’t experienced any functional problems with loading CO2, pellets or with shooting.

But…

The problem with the plastic outer barrel fouling the pellets as they leave the barrel is pretty poor and any sort of reasonable quality control should have picked this up long ago. It isn’t difficult to fix, but really, you shouldn’t have to think about fixing a new replica. Likewise the loose fit of the rifled metal barrel in the plastic breech block – this means that you are never going to get tight groups and it just shouldn’t have left the factory like this. Like the problem with the outer barrel, it’s easily fixed, but it shouldn’t need this done just to get it to shoot straight.

So, I’m conflicted as to what to say here about quality. This does seem like a good quality replica in many ways, but what I got was the basis for something to work on rather than a pistol that shoots well out of the box. Now, it’s possible that I was unlucky and that I got a poorly finished and assembled PX4, but looking at other reviews online, I’m not the only one to experience a lack of accuracy with this replica (though some people do report getting PX4s that shoot perfectly out of the box). If you are lucky enough to get a good one, this is a great replica. If you get one like mine, you’ll have to be prepared to do a little work to turn it into an acceptable target shooter.   

Overall Impression 8/10

This looks and feels like a well made and finished replica. It’s solid, the action of the slide now feels very good and the trigger, though it takes some getting used to, actually isn’t too bad. I guess the best thing I can say about it is that, now that the problems are fixed, I really enjoy shooting it.

Conclusion

Overall, this does feel a little different to the two previous versions of this replica that I owned before 2014. The fit of the slide and its action are now much better and overall it looks and feels good. However, as a shooter, it was simply dire out of the box. With a little work I have managed to change that and I now do really enjoy shooting the PX4.

Whether you choose to buy one of these probably depends on whether you feel confident to disassemble and make some small changes. You might be lucky and get one that doesn’t need these things done, but if you get one like mine, you will probably not be prepared to put up with its atrocious accuracy out of the box. So, if you’re willing to put in a little time and effort, this can be made into a very decent replica for not a great deal of cash.

Total Score (after modification) – 73/100

Links

Here’s a link to a step-by-step disassembly guide for the PX4. Remember, to do the mods described here, you only need to remove the slide and the firing valve – that means you only have to remove three pins.

Related Posts

Original Umarex Beretta PX4 review

WE Bulldog (Beretta PX4 Storm) review

Umarex Desert Eagle review

Umarex Beretta PX4 Storm

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Launched in 2008, the Beretta PX4 Storm was the second Umarex blowback pellet shooter (following the Desert Eagle).  In addition to .177 pellets, the PX4 also shoots steel 4.5mm BBs.  It’s a popular pistol with action shooters and plinkers alike and it’s easy to see why – it’s reasonably priced, compact and pointable with strong blowback and decent power.  I have owned two Umarex PX4s, and though both had many good features, I had shooting issues which meant that these were never amongst my most used pistols.

Real steel background

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Beretta PX4 Storm

For more information on Beretta and the PX4, please see the WE Bulldog review (link at the bottom of this article).

The Umarex Beretta PX4 Storm

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The Umarex PX4 Storm is a licensed, blowback replica featuring accurate Beretta markings.  The slide, hammer and trigger are metal and the frame and grip are plastic composite.  CO2 is stored in the rear part of the grip and up to 16 pellets or steel BBs are retained in a unique double-ended drop-out magazine.  The pellet/BB loading areas of the magazine are magnetised to retain BBs.  There is no slide lock or release and the slide does not lock back on empty.

A short Weaver style accessory rail is provided below the barrel and a combined safety catch/decocker is located on the right of the frame.  The slide mounted safety and frame mounted slide release catch are moulded in place and have no function.  The PX4 is only available in all-black finish and is manufactured in Japan on behalf of Umarex (unlike the Desert eagle which is manufactured in Germany).

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Umarex PX4 Storm Recon

Although it’s no longer listed as a current product, Umarex also offered this pistol as the PX4 Recon.  In this configuration the pistol featured an olive coloured frame and grip, suppressor (non-functioning), tactical bridge mount (to provide an additional over-barrel mount), red-dot sight and tactical light.  In terms of shooting and function the PX4 Storm Recon is identical to the original.

Spec;

Calibre: 4.5mm/.177″

Magazine capacity: Sixteen .177″ pellets or 4.5mm steel BBs

Propellant: CO2

Barrel length: 4″, rifled

Weight: 1.7 pounds

Overall length: 7½”

Sights: Fixed front and rear with white dots

Action: SA/DA

Packaging and presentation  2.5/5

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Both my PX4s came in typical Umarex sturdy cardboard boxes and included a single magazine and a brief user manual.  However, I have also seen the PX4 sold in a rather less attractive plastic bubble pack.

Visual accuracy  6/10

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Beretta PX4 Storm (left) and Umarex Beretta PX4 Storm (right)

The overall profile of the Umarex PX4 is very close to the original.  Only the angled and slightly extended grip base and pronounced step at the front bottom of the grip look notably different.  Otherwise from the left side, it’s a close visual match, replicating the shape and design of the original frame, slide and grip very well and including identical markings.  The only minor visual differences  are the lack of takedown catches (though the oblong recess is included), different positioning of some pins on the frame and a slide notch cast well to the rear of the original location.

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Beretta PX4 Storm (left) and Umarex Beretta PX4 Storm (right)

From the right, things aren’t quite so good.  The addition of the odd, frame mounted safety catch/decocker is very evident, as is the lack of an ejector pin and cutaway on the slide.  The barrel visible though the slide cut-out is a plain cylinder rather than the distinctive stepped, two-piece original. The moulded-in slide mounted safety catch looks out of place on the right – on the left the recessed area of the slide which allows the catch to move on the original is included.  For some reason this is omitted on the right, making the catch look a little odd on this side.  Markings on the right and the distinctive grip contours and markings are well replicated.  There is safety text on the slide, but thankfully this is fairly discreetly engraved rather than the white text seen on some Umarex replicas.  It’s probably unsurprising that the majority of publicity pictures of the PX4 show it from the left side.

Something that isn’t particularly noticeable in pictures is the difference in finish between the slide and frame.  On both my PX4s, the slide was noticeably more matt finish and a different colour to the frame – more of a very dark grey compared to the black frame.  I can’t say I liked this aspect of the finish, though perhaps I was unlucky and not all Umarex PX4s are the same in this respect?  Also, some photos of the real PX4 seem to show a similar mis-match between frame and slide finish, so perhaps this is an accurate replication of the original.

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It’s difficult to show in photos, but at the rear of the slide in the picture above you can just about see the difference in colour between frame and slide.

The sights are a good match to the real pistol, though with painted white dots rather than the luminous “Superluminova” dots on the original.  The PX4 feels solid and hefty and with CO2 in place it weighs almost precisely the same as the original, always a nice touch in a replica.  However, this weight is carried high and forward and it doesn’t feel well balanced.

Functional accuracy  11/15

This is a blowback replica and the slide moves during firing.  However, it moves noticeably less than on the original (around 1″) and the slide can’t be locked back and doesn’t lock on empty.  The slide release catch is moulded in place and has no function.  The magazine release catch works as per the original, though the drop-out magazine is quite small and made of plastic.  The ambidextrous slide mounted safety catches are moulded in place and have no function and a combined safety/decocker is provided on the right of the frame.  Moving this from “F” to “S” safely drops the cocked hammer.  The single action trigger pull is long and heavy compared to the original as it also rotates the magazine.

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Takedown catches are not included and the Umarex PX4 cannot be easily stripped for lubrication or cleaning.  There is no way of removing the slide without some fairly major disassembly.  If you are confident in your technical ability, there is an excellent pictorial guide to disassembling the PX4 on the Magic Nine Design website: http://www.magic9designltd.com/umarex-px-4-strip-down.

Shooting  28/40

Preparing the PX4 for shooting is fairly straightforward.  CO2 is loaded by removing the lower rear of the grip and twisting the base of the grip clockwise.  The CO2 is inserted and the thumbscrew tightened.  Then the grip base is twisted anticlockwise to pierce.  CO2 loads without leaks or drama.

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Pellets are loaded into the two rotary holders at either end of the magazine.  This is slightly fiddly to do if you have large man fingers, and is certainly slower than loading the eight shot rotary holders found in many other Umarex pellet shooters.  I also found it remarkably easy to load pellets facing the wrong way.  Probably because I’m stupid.  Or old.  Or some combination of the two.  Whatever the reason, more than once I found that I had painstakingly loaded some or all of the sixteen pellets facing the wrong way.  I then had to poke them out with a matchstick and start again.

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The magazine has to be pushed deeply into the grip to lock.  Once it’s in there, you’re ready to go.  The first shot can be fired in double action and there is no need to rack the slide.  In double action, the trigger pull is predictably long, heavy and not very precise.  Blowback ensures that subsequent shots are fired in single action.  However, even in single action the trigger pull isn’t especially pleasant.  Just as in the Desert Eagle, the moving slide only cocks the hammer.  Cueing up the next pellet is done during the first part of the trigger pull.  In the first stage of the SA trigger pull, this can be clearly felt as resistance and a graunchy feel before moving to the much lighter second stage.  It requires a fairly heavy pull in the first stage, and this one of the few replicas I have fired inadvertently when the pressure used to overcome the heavy first stage in single action led me to move through the second stage and fire before I was ready.  The second stage release point is also a little vague.  The slide doesn’t lock back on empty, so you do need to count your shots.

It fires with a satisfying bang and the blow back is crisp and very strong.  Grouping is reasonable – I generally saw 1¼” – 1½” groups at six yards freestanding.  However, both my PX4s fired high and to the left.  On my first example this was most marked – at six yards the point of impact was typically around three inches above and to the left of the point of aim.  I was later offered another used PX4 and I bought this mainly to see if it shot any better.  This one hit around two inches high and left at six yards – better, but still not great.  The non-adjustable sights mean that there isn’t a great deal you can do about this.  I tried several different pellet types and weights, but nothing made a significant difference.  I have read other accounts from PX4 owners reporting similar issues, so I do wonder if this is a general fault of the PX4?

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Six shots, six yards freestanding with my first PX4.  Aim point was the centre of the black inner circle.  Outer circle diameter is 6″.

I spent a fair amount of time trying to resolve this problem and I did notice an odd feature.  Shooting at six yards, rested, the first eight shots were often in a fairly tight group somewhere above and to the left of the point of aim.  Turning the magazine round often resulted in an equally tight group but either closer to or further from the point of aim, though this wasn’t consistent (i.e. using one end of the magazine didn’t necessarily always result in hitting closer to the point of aim).  I really can’t explain how turning the magazine round could affect accuracy, but it certainly appeared to.  The magazine is also retained by a fairly strong spring – it twangs briskly out of the grip when you press the release.  It’s very easy to have it bouncing across the floor unless you keep a hand under the grip.

I fitted my second PX4 with a small laser sight.  With this, tight groupings right on the point of aim were possible.  Personally, I prefer shooting over open sights, but if you’re happy to use a laser sight, it is possible to overcome the tendency to shoot high and left.  Or you could go for the Storm Recon with its bridge mount and red-dot sight.   I haven’t shot the recon version and it didn’t appeal.  Umarex haven’t used the suppressor to hide a longer barrel (as done on the similar Gamo PT-85 Tactical, for example).  So what you get is something as unwieldy as the Desert Eagle, but with no more power or accuracy than the basic PX4.  Though you can adjust the red-dot of course, so it should be capable of hitting the point of aim.

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My second PX4, with laser sight

The PX4 seems very sensitive to pellet choice.  During my attempts to cure the tendency to shoot high, I tried a range of pellets.  Air Arms Ultimate CO2 Pistol Pellets and Dynamix Triple P1 pellets were consistently problem free, but RWS Superdomes jammed so often that using them was pointless.  If you’re having jamming problems, try different pellets.  Because of the risk of eroding the rifled barrel, I didn’t try either of my PX4s with steel BBs.

Umarex claim 380fps for the PX4.  Which sounds about right – my second version shot around 330-340 fps in fairly chilly conditions (I wasn’t able to chrono the first version).  Perfectly reasonable for target shooting, but not close to the power of the Umarex Desert Eagle.  However, for a blowback pistol the PX4 is very frugal with CO2 – I was regularly able to get more than 60 full power shots.

Overall a powerful shooter capable of producing tight groups, but on both my examples this was marred by the lack of adjustable sights and the tendency to shoot high and left.

Quality and reliability  11/15

Overall, this feels like a reasonably well made and finished replica.  The paint on the slide seems thick and resistant to scuffing (even if it isn’t a particularly good match for the finish on the frame and grip).  The plastic used for the frame and grip seems robust and well finished.

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However, the slide on both my PX4s didn’t seem to be well fitted and both rattled annoyingly.  I also didn’t like the long and crunchy trigger pull, the lack of adjustability in the sights or the twangy plastic magazine.  Overall, this just didn’t feel quite as well made as (for example) the similar blowback Umarex Walther CP99 Compact.  Is this because the PX4 is made in Japan, compared to German manufacture for the Compact?  I don’t know, and although it’s better made and finished than many replicas, I didn’t feel that the PX4 matched the quality of the best Umarex replicas.

Other than a tendency to jam when using some types of pellet, I’m not aware of any particular operational or reliability problems with the PX4.

Overall Impression  10/15

For almost every positive with this replica, there seems to be an equivalent negative.  It’s compact and has good weight, but it feels unbalanced.  The finish is good, but the slide and frame don’t look as if they belong together.  It has good power and accuracy, but neither of the examples I owned were capable of hitting the point of aim over open sights.  It’s blowback, so you can do most of your shooting in single action, but the SA trigger pull is long, crunchy and unpleasant.  You get sixteen shots without reloading, but reloading is fiddly.  It looks reasonably like the original, but has a cheap and nasty safety catch/decocker which seems to have been lifted straight from the Walther CP99 Compact.

This feels as if it could have been something very special indeed, but just misses out in several important areas.

Conclusion

On paper, the Umarex Beretta PX4 Storm sounds great – a handily sized blowback pellet shooter with good power and reasonable accuracy.  For me at least, the reality just didn’t live up to the promise.  Most important was the inability to hit even close to the point of aim, but as noted above, there were several other niggling things I didn’t care for.  As a result, both my PX4s spent more time gathering dust at the back of the gun cabinet than being used.

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Of course, it’s possible that the shooting faults in my examples weren’t typical and certainly a PX4 that shot straight would be much better.  Overall it’s a fun and inexpensive action shooter, but you might want to try a shooting test before buying.

Total score: 68.5/100

Related Pages:

Umarex Beretta PX4 Redux

What can I say? I bought yet another PX4, just to see if I could make it shoot better…

WE Bulldog (Beretta PX4) Review

Anics Beretta 9000S review

Umarex Desert Eagle Review

Umarex Walther CP99 Compact review

How to hit what you’re aiming at

Links

Umarex web site

Anics Beretta A-9000S

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Most replicas are based on successful and well-known pistols;  The Colt 1911, Beretta 92 and various models of Glock have long and distinguished histories and all have spawned lots of popular replicas.  The Anics Beretta A-9000S however, is a Russian-made replica of the Italian Beretta 9000S-F pistol.  The original was an Italian sports-car of pistols – styled by a prestigious design house, it featured fantastic styling but sadly wasn’t terribly practical and was quietly dropped from the Beretta range after less than four years.  The replica shares all the flaws of the original, but it’s an interesting pistol and fun to shoot.

Real steel background

For more information about Beretta, please see the WE Bulldog review (link at the bottom of this article).

In 2001 Beretta launched their first polymer framed pistol; the Beretta 9000S. Technically, the 9000S was fairly straightforward – it was a compact, polymer framed semi-automatic pistol with the traditional Beretta open-topped slide.  It was available chambered for either 9mm or .40 S&W rounds.  The Pistol was offered as the model D, with double action only and without a safety catch or de-cocking lever, or as the Model F with double and single action and complete with combined safety catch/decocker.  The pistol was intended chiefly as a concealed-carry weapon for civilian use.

It’s the visual design of the 9000S that is particularly interesting – it would probably be fair to describe this as a designer pistol.  Beretta contracted out the visual design to another Italian concern – the Giorgietto Giugiaro Design group based in Torino.  This group was responsible for such iconic automotive designs as the Lotus Esprit, De Lorean DMC-12 and Maserati Spyder though it had very little experience of firearm design.

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Looking at the pistol, it’s easy to see that something other than strict functional or engineering requirements dictated the design.  Take that odd, elongated, egg shaped takedown button/lever – it must be much more difficult and costly to manufacture than a regularly shaped item.  Same with the slide release, safety catch and magazine release.  All share swoopy, curved styling cues which reference features on the frame and grip.  Compare this to the brutal simplicity of something like a Glock and it’s easy to see that the 9000S is the product of a very different design philosophy.  This is a pistol designed specifically to look good in a Gucci handbag or a Salvatore Ferragamo shoulder holster.

Sadly, though it looked good, the 9000s had a number of practical problems.  Ergonomically it’s not great – the grip is both chunky and rather short, so it doesn’t really suit large or small hands and there is a long reach to the trigger in double action.  The hammer is small and recessed into the slide, making cocking imprecise and the foresight is large and angular, providing a potential snagging hazard for concealed carry. The smooth, curved shape of the slide may look good, but the small grip area is not easy to hold firmly, making racking the slide difficult.  In operation the 9000S proved to be less than totally reliable, gaining a reputation for frequent jamming.  It was also very heavy for a concealed-carry weapon at almost 1kg loaded.  It didn’t sell well and was dropped from the Beretta range after less than four years (though some of the visual design cues were repeated on the much more successful PX-4 Storm pistol).
The Anics A-9000S

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Anics Group JSC is a Moscow-based engineering company which has been producing CO2 powered replica airguns since 1995.  The company uses a process known as Metal Injection Moulding (MIM) to produce accurate large metal parts without machining (this process is used to produce the slide of this replica).  The Anics A-9000S is a licensed replica of the Beretta 9000S-F.  It shoots either .177 pellets or 4.5mm lead BBs from a 22 round conveyor style magazine through a 4.5″ rifled barrel.  CO2 is stored in the grip and the slide is moveable (though not blowback).  The frame and grip are of polymer construction while the slide and internal parts are metal.

Spec;

Calibre: .177mm pellet/4.5mm BB

Capacity: 22 round conveyor type magazine

Propellant: CO2

Barrel length: 4.5″ rifled

Weight: 1.2 pounds

Length: 7.7″

Sights: Non-adjustable, white dot

Action: SA/DA

Packaging and presentation  4/5

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The Anics A-9000S comes in a good quality black hard case lined with eggshell foam.  In addition to a brief user manual and conveyor magazine, the package also includes a useful tool for tamping down pellets into the magazine and a cleaning rod.

Visual accuracy  9/10

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Beretta 9000S (left), Anics A-9000S (right)

The Anics A-9000S is an extremely accurate visual replica of the Beretta 9000.  Every curve and whorl of the frame, grip and slide are accurately reproduced.  The complex shapes of the safety, magazine release, slide release and takedown button are also all faithfully replicated.  The overall size and profile are very close to the original.  In fact, the only visible differences between original and replica are a shiny slide on the Anics version and painted rather than engraved markings on the slide.

As a licensed replica, the Anics A-9000S includes a Beretta logo on the lower part of the grip.

Functional accuracy  10/15

Functional accuracy is good on the A-9000S.  All controls (safety/decocker, magazine release, slide release and takedown button) look and operate as they do on the original.  The slide on the replica is movable and can be locked back, but this isn’t a blowback pistol so the slide does not move when shooting.

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Beretta 9000S with slide locked back (left), Anics A-9000S (right)

This pistol has a drop-out magazine, though this isn’t full sized.  The only feature on the original which isn’t replicated is the distinctive upward tilt of the barrel when the slide is pulled fully back.  It’s also notable that the slide on the replica can be pulled back only around ½” compared to over 1″ on the original.

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The A-9000S can be field stripped as per the original through use of the takedown button on the lower front of the left side of the frame.  For such a small pistol, the 1.2 pound weight feels good, though this is just half the weight of the real pistol!

Shooting  25/40

Before shooting the Anics A-9000S you must first master the slightly idiosyncratic CO2 and pellet loading procedure.  Loading CO2 involves lifting the piercing flap, which allows the CO2 retaining gate to open.  The CO2 cartridge can then be inserted and the retaining gate closed.  A knurled screw is then finger tightened and finally the piercing flap is closed.  Generally loading CO2 is done without loss of gas, though it’s best to give the piercing flap a sharp slap to close cleanly.  I have occasionally found that tightening the screw and closing the flap fails to pierce the CO2 – particularly on those cartridges where the piercing face is slightly recessed.  In these cases, a blade screwdriver can be used to further tighten the screw, and this usually achieves leak-free piercing.  Overall, loading CO2 isn’t difficult, just different to most other CO2 pistols.

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Loading the conveyor magazine is a little fiddly.  A plastic window in the magazine is opened to reveal four pellet chambers.  Pellets are pressed into the chambers, though they must also be carefully tamped down to avoid jamming.  The conveyor is then moved on to reveal the next four chambers, and so on.  Due to the design of the magazine, the Anics A-9000 can only accommodate .177 pellets of up to 7.6mm length – anything longer simply won’t fit.  When all chambers are loaded, the plastic window is closed and the magazine inserted in the grip.  Loading requires a degree of care and isn’t particularly quick, but at least when you’re done you have 22 shots before re-loading.  Loading lead BBs is done in precisely the same way.

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Just as on the real weapon, the ambidextrous three-position safety catch incorporates a de-cocker.  The lower position is “fire”, the middle position is “safe” and the upper position safely de-cocks the hammer to a half-cocked position.  Moving the catch to the “safe” position then safely drops the hammer all the way.  The non-adjustable front and rear sights include white dots, with the foresight incorporating a particularly large and easily acquired dot.

Cocking the hammer for single action shooting, or the first part of the trigger pull in double action also indexes the conveyor magazine to bring the next pellet to the firing point.  The movement of the conveyor can clearly be felt even when manually cocking the small hammer and the DA trigger pull is very long and fairly heavy.  The long, heavy DA trigger action is exacerbated by the shape of the trigger, which is broad and angular.  However, the action is notably smoother than an Anics Berkut pistol which I used to own and which had a similar design.

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Slide locked back – this requires more effort than you might imagine

With the hammer cocked, the single action pull and release are light and crisp with no creep.  It would be nice to have the option of pulling back the slide to cock the hammer for SA shooting, but sadly this isn’t really feasible.  The slide features a very strong return spring and racking the slide also cocks the hammer and indexes the magazine.  A fair amount of effort is thus required and this, combined with the curved shape of the slide, shallow serrations, small grip area and slippery black paint mean that racking the slide requires the grip and tenacity of an angry gorilla.

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The grip on the A-9000, just like the original, is rather short but also fairly broad. So those with average to large sized hands may find that it’s easier to hold with the little finger below the grip.  People with smaller hands may not have this problem, but they will struggle with the broad grip and long reach to the trigger in double action.

The pistol shoots with a loud and satisfactory bang.  Power is reasonable;  using RWS Hobby 7.0gr pellets on a very chilly December day I got an average fps of 365 for a six shot string (with a high of 374 and a low of 356).  I haven’t tried shooting with lead BBs.  I can generally get 80 – 100 shots from a single CO2 without any major loss of power.

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22 rapid shots, six yards, RWS Hobby pellets.

I generally get groups in the order of around 1” – 1½” at six yards, and at that range it’s hitting on target for windage, but about ½” above the point of aim. However, within any full magazine I tend to get two or three flyers which can strike anything up to 3” from the point of aim.  These are unpredictable, though it does appear that the more shots I fire in quick succession, the more accurate it gets.  I generally shoot in single-action only.  I do find that for some reason this pistol is very sensitive to grip and technique.  It is necessary to be very focussed on stance, breathing and aimpoint to get the best out of it.

Quality and reliability  14/15

The Anics-9000S gives the impression of very high quality construction and finish.  I bought my A-9000S as a well-used second-hand example and it shows almost no signs of wear internally or externally.  I have had no misfeeds or jams with this pistol, though I know from experience of other Anics pistols that this is dependent on carefully tamping down each pellet while loading the conveyor magazine.

I’m not aware of any reported reliability problems with this pistol.

Overall Impression  10/15

The Anics A-9000S reminds me strongly of the Baikal MP-654K Makarov air pistol.  It has the same sturdy, well finished feel though the DA trigger pull on the Makarov is better and the slide on that pistol can be racked relatively easily.

The moving slide on the A-9000S is so difficult to rack that it is almost pointless.  This is easier if you first cock the hammer (and index the magazine), but in that case why would you want to rack the slide?  The grip is too short for big hands and too wide for small hands.  Accuracy isn’t bad, though with occasional flyers.  And yet, despite all this, I really enjoy shooting the A-9000S.  It’s a challenge to get decent groupings, but very satisfying when you do.

Conclusion

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The A-9000S has a number of flaws, many of which are inherited from the original pistol.  The Beretta 9000 is a polymer and metal testament to why  visual design should not be allowed to dictate the ergonomics of a pistol, though having said that I do think that it looks good and very distinctive.

The CO2 and pellet mechanisms in the A-9000S are quirky and less than perfect in operation.  And yet for reasons I struggle to explain rationally, this is one of my favourite replica air pistols to shoot.  While other more technically proficient pistols gather dust at the back of the gun cabinet, this one gets taken out often.  It’s certainly well made and finished and it’s a pleasant pistol to handle and shoot.  Perhaps the fact that this is a replica based on a little-known and not terribly successful original firearm probably doesn’t make it attractive to many potential buyers?

Overall, I’d recommend anyone who wants something a little different, and which is a challenge to shoot, to consider adding one of these to their collection.

Total score: 72/100

Related pages:

WE Bulldog (Beretta PX4 replica) review

Umarex Beretta PX4 Storm review