The Beretta 92 series.
The 92’s (and 96’s) are good guns, accurate, reliable and carrying a decent ammo supply.
While large for general use, CCW is difficult, it’s an easy gun to shoot accurately and is a ‘soft’ shooter normally.
What wears out or breaks?
First and foremost, the locking block is something to watch.
A number of .mil guns shot with “Nato” spec ammo have shown accelerated wear and cracking of the locking blocks. This has the effect of taking the gun out of commission when the block breaks. With high pressure ammo, the “Nato” loads, as well as +P, and +P+, the wear is noticeable and issues can happen within 5000 rounds, sometimes within 1000.
Beretta even addresses it in the manual as such:
http://www.berettaweb.com/Munuals/M%2092FSCO2.pdf (on page 20)
Get the upgrade parts also:
Springs are a consumable. Get used to replacing them if you use the gun.
Try to get to them every 3000 rounds. 5000 on the outside.
Why so often? You change the shock absorbers on your car before they blow out for the same reason, to keep the machine working right and not battering other parts.
Most full size pistols can go the full 3-5000 rounds with no issues, compacts and subcompact versions of the same guns can have issues earlier, more on this in another posting.
The factory weight is 13lbs, if you are going to run +P, or +P+ ammo, I’d recommend going with the 15lb springs or higher, check for reliability in your gun if you bump the pressure up.
A critical part, some mag springs can go decades without fail or losing proper tension after taking their initial ‘set’.
Others, not so good.
On my defense guns, I replace them yearly.
Having had quality mags fail within 2 years because of bad springs, this is one thing I am highly critical of.
In other firearms, tube fed shotguns for example, I ‘have seen springs fail (left loaded) within a couple of years, again while others seem to last forever. .22 rifle magazines seem highly susceptible to being left loaded for long periods of time, the thinness of the spring wire seems to be the main culprit.
Beretta 92 extra power +10% magazine springs
Brownells #969-740-730WB $18.00
This is one part many don’t think of, outside of the ‘hammer back 1911′ people.
Yes, the hammer spring is part of the recoil system, slowing the unlocking of the gun. And they do wear out eventually. So before you start getting light FP srikes, look into replacing the hammer spring.
Now for a dirty gunsmiths trick:
Get yourself a Beretta 92D hammer spring.
Brownells part number 913-100-493WB $6.00
The hammer spring on the standard F and FS models is way too heavy for a good trigger pull.
This is one of the secrets of a good trigger job on the 92/96 series.
The other main issue in the gun itself is the trigger return spring.
Brownells #913-100-487WB $3.35
The Border Patrol has more than a few issues with their 96’s and the spring breaking.
Wolff makes a drop in unit that will probably outlast the rest of the gun, in both standard weight and ‘lighter’ versions for $26. Worth every dime.
And lets not forget magazines.
The new design 15 round Sand Resistant mags are probably the best designed/built today.
There are some that will still dig and scrounge for the older “Italian” made mags, and do a gut and replace of the internals, these have replaced the old mags for many users.
The new 17 round factory mags are decent, but the added baseplate length for some is just too much.
Bar-Sto and Jarvis make some of the best aftermarket barrels out there, if you want to upgrade.
The newer 92’s (and 96’s) have plastic triggers and recoil spring guides, I highly recommend replacing them with either the factory metal parts or aftermarket metal versions. Wilson Combat makes a ‘short reach’ trigger that’s highly thought of. And for only $29, it’s worth a look.
Brownells normally stocks the steel replacement part kit, but appears to be out.
Personally, the VZ or factory wood grips are about 200% better feeling and for grip, but that’s just me. Many like the Hogue grips with the finger grooves, especially those with smaller hands, odd because it increases the grip size, but to each his/her own.
Other parts to look for/at?
In a few high mileage guns, the extractor was well worn, but still worked. Mind the extractor spring though.
The firing pin/firing pin block, but few if any will shoot enough to do appreciable wear on these.
Grip screws, these seem lost almost as often as Sig’s. Get a couple extras.
Crimson Trace Lasergrips are a nice addition, especially for what has to be done to put night sights on the older 92’s.
Remember, the 92’s are an older design and like to be run wet, oil them regularly, put a little white lithium grease on the locking block and in it’s recesses. It does make a difference.
A 92 (96) is a good gun, fed good ammo, it will get you through the night.