Troubleshooter Berlin’s Blowback Taurus 92

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Troubleshooter Berlin, TFB’s favorite German-based amateur small arms designer, has been experimenting out in the Arizona desert with a blowback-operated design based on a Taurus 92 compact. He demonstrates that, strictly speaking, the locking mechanism on the Beretta 92 pattern of handguns isn’t necessary for the gun to work:

He had this to say about the project:

My small project over here is finally done. Took them terribly long to ship the parts I needed. The gun shops over here don’t carry spare parts, recoil springs etc.!
Taurus Compact (no Beretta at hand) with locking block disengaged (cut off), 18lb recoil spring (vs. the normal 14lb) and one or two other small mods.
Frame assy. stays unmodified.
First rounds fired from a bench vice. I believe in what I’m doing but I’m not crazy.
A few rounds fired from the hand – could find only one shell (the one on the pistol) kicks them all over the place.
A bit more smoky than those from my unmodified reference Taurus 92 but that’s normal for blowback.
Otherwise no bulged shells – brass/aluminum or NATO +P ammo. No damage to the frame or elsewhere.

With such modifications made to the pistol, I too would be hesitant to shoot the first rounds myself:

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Troubleshooter is a tinkerer, and it’s experiments like these that can be the beginning of something great. Certainly, he has proven that locking lug failures with the Beretta may not be totally catastrophic – the gun may continue to function.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Esh325

    There have been 9×19 Blowback handguns, it’s just they aren’t as technically feasible as pistols with locking mechanisms.

    • dan citizen

      The Hi point comes to mind.

  • John McPherson

    Nothing new here as noted below. However, as one who owns both blow back and locked breach pistols in several calibers I would say the locked breach guns are far more pleasant to shoot and to operate as well. And they are mostly lighter to boot. The locked breach is a massive improvement. Why go back?

    • Giolli Joker

      Advantages of blowback operation are fixed barrel and simplicity.
      Pistol purposely designed for blowback operation can have a lower bore axis reducing muzzle flip and making the overall recoil not worse than in a recoil operated gun.
      I shot a 9FAR prototype (pure blowback with thicker base casings) and I didn’t feel any unpleasant recoil… of course a conversion like the one in the article has more drawbacks.

  • floppyscience

    My brother has a Llama XI-A, which is basically a blowback government 1911 in 9mm. Even at the full 40oz it is not at all pleasant to shoot.

    It’s really cool what he did, especially considering the lore surrounding the Beretta 92 and its locking block failures. Though I don’t see anybody doing this to their own gun for any reason but necessity.

    • Daniel F. Melton

      I’ve got a Rock Island Armory (Armscor) full size 1911 in 9mm and it shoots about like my .380 “Backup” No heavy recoil or muzzle jump to speak of with either handgun. What kind of ammunition were you using?

      • floppyscience

        Your 1911 is a proper recoil-operated one. The Llama is straight blowback. 🙂 Even with 115gr range ammo it feels like shooting a P-64 or something else like that. There’s a decent amount of recoil and it’s all straight back into the web of your hand.

        • Daniel F. Melton

          Ouch! Sounds like a gun to trade in on an upgrade.

  • billyoblivion

    “he has proven that locking lug failures with the Beretta may not be totally catastrophic – the gun may continue to function”

    When the lugs on mine broke–in the middle of a competition–the slide was completely locked up. I sent it back to Beretta and they fixed it (for free).

    It might work as a blowback, but IME if the lugs break, it’s done for the day.

    • Matt

      If the lug breaks, remove the locking block (As he did) and the gun “can” be used.

      I would strongly advise against this being a common practice, but for emergency use, it is possible. And the block *can* be removed without tools if you fiddle with it.

  • Yep I remember that one. Horrible trigger but decent overall.

  • floppyscience

    It’s not really surprising given the 92 series is one of the things Taurus has always made very well. You can thank them being trained by Beretta and using Beretta designs and tooling for that.

  • WPZ

    Yeah, got to get in here and testify: the Taurus 92 is an excellent, reliable handgun in my experience, and I am nooooo Bull fan.
    I bought a 92C as shown here at a Gander for $175 and it is easily the most reliable 9mm I’ve ever fired.
    I had a ton of dubious-to-bad 9mm ammunition on hand once (a Lee Prog helped) and fired it off in the 92C because a) I didn’t care, and b) you can’t hurt it anyway.
    Stupid thing is as reliable as a rock.

    • dan citizen

      I never get the Taurus bashing. I carried the 92 for about a year and it was great. I’ve had 3 or 4 other Taurus and they all were very well built, and accurate too.

      I had a taurus .357 revolver that got thrown, hitting a metal railing. The cylinder was visibly out of position. I shipped it off to be repaired, being very clear how it was damaged. They replaced the cylinder, mounted a new barrel, slicked up the action and returned it, free of charge under warranty.

  • dan citizen

    Really great article. Thank you.

  • Phaideaux

    You basically just designed the VP70, but with a zinc slide instead of steel.

    For what its worth, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. There needs to be more properly inexpensive guns out there that work.

  • Giolli Joker

    I mean dynamic reactions, that gun is being operated not the way it was designed to, so slide mass, its distribution and bore axis aren’t optimal for blowback performance.

  • Giolli Joker

    Nope. Not the same.
    Those Tanfoglios had lowered bore axis, different barrel angle (iirc flatter, whereas it’s slightly pointing upward on the original), different slide with substantial machining differences (no locking lugs on its ceiling); I’m not entirely sure if there were differences in barrel lenght and bolt face position as well.
    It wasn’t just “fix the barrel and shoot” especially because between a tilting barrel design and a fixed one, feeding geometries vary a lot.

  • the ammo addict

    The Beretta plant in Maryland was new at the time and they were having metallurgy problems with the slides. Later M9s handle NATO spec pressures(slightly higher than standard SAAMI) just fine, even when huge quantities are fired.

  • the ammo addict

    Well said and you can clearly see the more violent recoil in the video.

    • ducky

      When I compare about 4:19 / 6:44 in that video can’t see more violent recoil. And slide weight at the Taurus compact is somewhere below 300 grams… If it would be as simple as the “experts” here claim you wouldn’t see so many bulged shells (feed ramp area) at locked breech pistols.