Ernest Langdon and the PX4 Storm

PX4 Brass_zpsrbths31r

Baxter of Gun Nuts Media posted a great article about Ernest Langdon and his choice to use a Beretta PX4 Storm Compact. Click here to check out the original article

Here is the excerpt from Langdon:

The newest handgun on my radar screen is the Beretta PX4 Compact. I’ve never really given it a second thought even though it has been out and available for years. Some people really love the PX4. Some people don’t. I have heard great things about its accuracy and there are still a few police departments carrying the PX4 as their issued side arm. That being said, why is it a gun that almost no one considers as a personal carry option?

I started asking myself this when I was working in the Beretta booth at the NRA Show this year. I was talking to customers about the new handguns from Beretta, like the M9A3, Wilson Combat Brigadier Tactical, and the full 90 series product line. I am fully familiar with all of them, but I was contemplating getting a smaller gun for daily carry. I carry the full-size M9A1 now and while I have become accustomed to it, summer was right around the corner and I wanted something smaller and lighter.

Of course, most would say “get a 92 Compact” and while that was an option, there were a few things that have stopped me from carrying it full-time:
1) No front sight options. You get what you get unless you send it off to Tool Tech and have a night sight put in. No front dove tail!
2) No G model available, or at least not currently. Of course, I could send it down to Wilson Combat and have it converted, but that’s an added cost.
3) 13 round magazines. Not a big deal, but in my opinion, a gun that size should have 15 rounds of 9mm.
4) Hard for me to load with the standard mag. I can do it really well with a full size mag in the compact gun, but a quick reload with the standard 13 round mag often ends up with some of my skin between the frame and floor plate of the magazine. The grip on the 92 Compact is about a ¼ of an inch too short for my hands.

So, this brings me to the PX4. I started playing with the PX4 Compact and realized it had the features I was looking for in a smaller, lighter compact carry gun. The PX4 also has has 15 round mags (17 with extension), dove tail front and rear sights, the safety converts to a G configuration easily and it has the same manual of arms as my full size 92s. Most importantly, I can load it full speed without catching the heal of my hand with the magazine floor plate. Not to mention, the trigger is smooth and shootable out-of-the-box.

The PX4 was feeling like a great option, but there were some other factors to consider. Right off the bat, those huge safety levers! They were way too big for my liking and have some really sharp edges on them. The ambi slide stops are bigger than they need to be and seem to make the gun wider than it should be.

So I started asking the questions…
Ernest: What about those huge safety levers?
Beretta: “We make stealth levers that are much smaller. ”
Ernest: Really? What about those huge ambi slide stops?
Beretta: “We make a smaller single side one.”
Ernest: Really? What about that really little mag button?
Beretta: “We sell a kit with three different size buttons.”
Ernest: Really?

I mean why did I not know this stuff? I consider myself a gun guy and a Beretta guy, but I did not really know anything about the PX4 at all. I knew the safety lever could be converted to G and that it was a rotating barrel design like the Cougar, but that was really about all I knew.

So, when I got back from the show I continued looking into the PX4 with more detail and finally broke down and picked one up from my favorite gun shop, Virginia Arms in Manassas. I drove straight to the range to make sure I wasn’t going to have buyer’s remorse. I put 200 rounds through it right out of the box. Easy to shoot, very flat shooting for the size and weight. (Surprisingly flat shooting, actually). It also hit to point of aim and was very, very accurate!

I liked it, but, of course, I headed home to take it apart and swap out the hammer spring to a 12 pound chrome silicon spring for the 92 (thanks to Bill Wilson for that tip – he likes them too). The DA pull weight decreases quite a bit and I decided to start the 2,000 round-test with this thing. I clean it, lube it, black out the rear sight and add some orange paint to the front dot, slip a piece of bicycle inner tube over the grip and we’re off to the races.

2,040 rounds later and I had no issues; so, 2,240 total at this point and I’m liking my decision so far. (Shot 147 SXTs, 147 grain reloads, 115 AE, 147 AE, 124 AE, 124 Winchester FMJ, 115 grain WinClean, and even some 90 Grain Frangible stuff.) Not a single malfunction.

So, now what? If I am going to carry this thing there are some things that need to be addressed. To start with, I need those “Stealth Levers” I was told about. A call to my buddy Eric Stern at Beretta had those sent my way. I also ordered up as set of Trijicon HD sights and a holster from Custom Carry Concepts. When the sights came in, I did a little bit more trigger work (it’s basically just like a 92 in that respect – lucky for me). I also did a little stipple work on the frame (got rid of the inner tube) and changed out the smaller magazine button for the medium mag button to make it slightly larger.  Lucas Gun Oil is what I use for lubricating these pistols.

So here I am, a couple months later and many trips to the range, and I really like this gun. Not kidding! It is almost exactly the same size as a Glock 19, the trigger is now under 7 pounds DA and right at 4 pounds SA. I really like the Trijicon HD Sights. In fact, I now have over 4,000 rounds through this gun with no problems. The only failure I have had with the PX4 was in firing with the 115 WinClean, but it went bang on the second hammer strike by pulling the trigger again. (I don’t blame the gun for that, however, as I have seen lots of FTFs with WinClean.) I like it so much that I am carrying it all the time now and used it to qualify as my off-duty carry gun with the Sheriff’s Department.

The “Stealth Levers” make it a ton thinner. My my measurements the compact is about 6mm thinner with the small levers, but most of that comes from getting rid of the right side slide stop. I don’t have a standard PX4 to measure. The safety levers are about 5mm thinner than the stock ones. So that should do it if that is the widest part of the gun. If the standard PX4 does not have the ambi slide stops, then the safety levers are likely the widest part of the gun.

I have two more PX4’s that I am playing around with and changing things up to see how it performs with different features. I have modified another one, which also has Trijicon HDs, “Stealth” levers, medium mag button, stippling on the grip, G conversion, and more aggressive trigger work. The DA on this one is just over 6 pounds and the SA is 3.5 pounds. I only have about 300 rounds through this gun, but so far, it is just as good as the other one and the better trigger makes it more fun to shoot. I now have one to carry and one to practice with.

I am going to use the third PX4 as a gun to experiment with to see what can really be done with the trigger. So far it has been really easy to get the DA down and I think I can go a lot lighter on the hammer spring with a bit more work. I would not be surprised to get a sub 6 pound DA on this third gun with 100% reliability if I set it up correctly – I’ll keep you posted.

OK, so I now have just a little over 2K through the second gun. A 1,000 of that was Winchester WinClean (known for not being the most reliable ammo) and now a second PX4 has passed the 2,000 round test. So far the best hammer spring is the Cougar “D” spring. Gun has proved to be super accurate with everything I shoot in it and how I have a little over 6K through two guns and they have both been 100% reliable. Interestingly they both run the Winchester WinClean better than my 92 does. The WinClean gives me fits in the 92 pretty often. The PX4 Compact not only runs it well, it seems to shoot it very accurately also.

I have also heard that there are even more parts for the PX4 than I knew about. Turns out Beretta Italy has spent quite a bit of time developing some accessories for these guns. There are 4 different versions of the safety levers in different sizes. There are steel guide rod kits and even an improved trigger group. Basically it is a whole hammer and sear group that just drops into the frame that includes a better hammer spring. Both DA and SA are improved with this kit. I am trying to see if I can get my hands on one to try. This kit includes a stiffer cage that houses everything as well as plated parts for a smoother action.

All-in-all, I don’t know why this gun is not way more popular. If you are like me and prefer a DA/SA Traditional Double Action gun for carry, this is a great option. I carry AIWB, therefore, I prefer an external hammer gun – this PX4 is treating me well.

Here are a few comparison photos for you:

PX4 4_zpshxkl1snd PX4 6_zps20xp1qpj PX4 7_zpsz7m6uv01 PX4 8_zpsedf6y7fw

 

To be honest, I never thought much of the PX4. I find it heavy and bulky compared to other pistols of similar size. The HUGE wings as safeties kills it for me but it is interesting to learn of available options to alleviate that issue. I wonder if Langdon considered a CZ P07? It is compact like a Glock 19, is DA/SA and has a smaller slide than the PX4.



Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at nicholas.c@staff.thefirearmblog.com


Advertisement

  • Jay

    dat bore axis though

  • USMC03Vet

    Grip looks awful. Trigger looks awful. Slide lock looks like a magnet for thumbs. Slide cuts to rack right next to safety probably resulting in hitting safety every time you rack it. Safety switch on a concealed gun. Why is it hamme fired? Because it’s not large enough already? No loaded chamber indicator? Slanted magazine release. Magazine release placement awkwardly placed looks like they weren’t sure whether they should go trigger frame release or magwell release sticking it in between where you’d normally find trigger well cut for better grip.

    What exactly is the attractive parts of this gun? That it uses the same Baretta slide safety? Yeah……no thanks.

    *edit* Forgot about those bad stock sights.

    • Nicholas Chen

      I do not disagree with anything you point out.

    • Shep Baxter

      You should try…..shooting it sometime, USMC03vet. Just saying, from one 03 to another 😀

      • deanguilberry

        He is a troll. Obviously never shot one and probably never even held one in his hands. Fan of something else and willing to troll knock anything else on any forum.

    • ghost

      Don’t hold nothing back, tell it all brother…………..

    • Bal256

      ETS A TOOOOLLL! WHO CARES WUT THE GERN LOOKS LIEK!

    • Lets see all the answered from the article.
      Slide lock is fixed by a smaller lever
      Safety/decocker is switched with a smaller decocker only
      Sights are replaced by Trijicon HDs
      Hammer is fixed by a normal trigger job, and can be done by anyone that works on 92s.
      You cares about a loaded chamber indicator.
      Hammer fried is because the user prefers hammered fired guns.

      The author, who knows a thing of two about guns being that he has been in the industry for years and has at least two National Championship wins under his belt, isn’t saying that this is the gun for everyone, just surprised how completely ignored it was.

      • USMC03Vet

        So basically it’s not the gun shown or sold but rather something almost entirely custom to fix it….

        Should have bought a different gun. Don’t care how renown the guy is. That’s just being a poor consumer.

        • With exception of the trigger job, those are mostly user level modifications. Even with higher level modifications are armorer level, not gunsmith level.

          And I don’t think I’ve ever purchased a gun that I didn’t need to change stuff on it.

  • Lance

    Id take it a nice feature is that PX4s come in .45 auto.

  • nester7929

    I really want to love the PX4, but the sides are way too smooth. I don’t want to have to buy something that needs to have a dremel tool taken to it for a secure grip.

  • Vitsaus

    I’ve known three friends/coworkers who owned a PX4 in 9mm and all three of them sold it after less than a year. Two were because of sub par accuracy, and one found the gun unreliable.

    • deanguilberry

      huh sub par accuracy? lol they just don’t know how to shoot. or got a bad one jacked up the crown or something.
      You are about the only one I have seen say they aren’t accurate.

  • R

    You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I don’t get the styling. To me it just looks like the Hi-Point’s Italian cousin.

    • USMC03Vet

      Actually you can. Instantly showing zero useful features for conceal carry and features you don’t want for conceal carry is enough to get a good idea regarding its value to someone. It could have the greatest trigger in the world on it and I’d still consider it awful for conceal carry especiall when there is no shortage of vastly superior handguns with features people want. Nobody wants a slide mounted safety lever for example yet Baretta is still gong with it as though if they try hard enough it’s going to become fetch.

      • no
      • deanguilberry

        Its better than NO safety which is missing on pistols most people recommend. The safety is mounted there as it actually rotates the firing pin away from being inline with the round. To each their own however it is obvious you have never even shot one and don’t know much about them… i wont go on.

  • W.P Zeller

    I can answer the gentleman’s questions about the lack of popularity of this gun.
    The trigger is awful. It’s blocky and uncomfortable to wear. The decocker is clumsy. Racking the slide isn’t easy for our female shooters; some can’t at all.
    And the trigger’s awful.
    If you have to spend your next $400 getting the gun to where it’s usable, it’s a bad deal. For Joe and Jane Average, upgrades aren’t on the radar.
    We do a large and successful class called Handgun: Phase II. It’s a gun-fit-and-try class at the largest dealer in the region- which has the largest rental rack in the area, about 200 guns. We spread 28 centerfires out in the Gun Buffet for the attendees to check out and fire on the range.
    No one has ever gone on to buy a PX4. We can’t track every “graduate” but none have been sold that anyone can tell.
    Why? It’s blocky, clumsy, and the trigger’s awful.
    This is the gun that could make me buy a G19 (if I was interested in 9mm guns).

  • no job

    xdm is a better choice

    • deanguilberry

      This discussion is about hammer guns with safety. XDM is a good gun but I want a real hammer and safety DA and SA.
      I searched and looked for about a year as to an alternative to the glock for a pistol with a hammer and real safety as I carry inside waist and dont want any chance of discharge. The safety mech on the PX4 not only disables the trigger but rotates the firing pin away from impact with the round. I have a .40 and my wife has a 9mm and have shot MANY (lost track after over 1000) on both and not only have never had a lock up in fact have had only 3 FTF and that was crappy cheapo ammo.

  • john huscio

    Wish they’d make a constant action (type c) compact

  • Chase Buchanan

    Should I feel terrible that I love mine? Am I an idiot?

    • Dan Atwater

      Nah. Most people I know who’ve owned them like them quite a bit.

    • deanguilberry

      I love my .40 and wife’s 9mm. Both have never given a moment of trouble. Glock stays in the house for midnight BS and the PX4’s (mid size compact) are the conceal carry of choice.

  • mig1nc

    In the discussion thread about this post on pistol forum he mentions another successful rotating barrel action. That would be Grand Power from Slovakia. Great ergonomics, great trigger, slide mounted safety. It beats the PX4 in pretty much every way. I’m now an owner and a believer in the system.

  • nobody

    Doesn’t the PX4 have problems with the magazine baseplates working themselves off the magazine from recoil, or have they finally got around to fixing that?

  • nova3930

    The biggest turn off for me with the storm line is that rotating barrel action. It is possible to lock it up so tight on a malfunction that it requires a mallet to get it back in action. One for my collection would be nice but I don’t think I’d use it as a carry piece….

    • Jack Burton

      How many people has this happened to? As far as I know, the owner of Pistol-Forum is still one of the only sources of these catastrophic lock up issues with the PX4 involving mallets. Maybe it was a bad batch of guns, maybe it was a maintenance issue…who knows. Considering the PX4 has been in production for over a decade now, if this was still an actual problem we’d be reading about it a lot more often don’t you think? Personally, I wouldn’t worry about it at all.

      • nova3930

        While it may not be a common problem, it is still a possible problem. All pistols have their issues and have the possibility of malfunction but one of the few I’ve ever heard that require tools to fix. When Glocks, M&Ps, etc etc, aren’t documented to have even one failure like that, why risk it with a pistol you’re betting your life on? However small the risk may be, it’s one you don’t have to take unless you choose to, and I choose not to.

        • Joshua

          I’ve heard of Browning style tilting barrels locking up so hard they could not be returned to action in the field, I’ve never heard the same of a rotating barrel handgun. not saying your wrong, just that both incidents are so unlikely as to be non-factors.

          if you really wont a self-defense implement that cannot be jammed up? get a fixed blade knife. or a baton.

  • Jeremy Star

    Love my full size PX4 Storm in .40. Replaced the safety with a stealth decocker and put some night sights on it and it’s awesome. Vrey accurate, and I like the trigger. (The reset needs to be a bit shorter, but I am used to Sig’s SRT triggers.)

    Bought a compact because I loved the full size so much. HATED it. Shot great, but Beretta decided the beavertail section should be smaller and the hammer bit me every time I fired it. Sold it.

  • denner

    Absolutely the best pistol in it’s class over H&K, S&W, GLock, and XD and XDM, XDS, Walther, etc….. Don’t believe the negative hype from those who don’t know too much if anything. Even took legendary Ernest a little while to discover.

  • Toons

    If you switch to the stealth slide ears, it turns it into a G decocker only and makes it easier to grip. That was first change I made to my full size PX4. Much better.
    Style! Sig 320/CZ p07/09 copied the PX4. Double action trigger is very smooth @ 9lbs. Reliable. Any design has a remote catastrophic failure in it. Ever try the slide serrations on H & K USP, P30? No traction but no one complains about that. Ever. Seriously, check any review.

  • Dan

    I own one in 40. Over 2000 rounds down range and not a single issue with this weapon. It again, it is very accurate out the box. I open carry so I never had a problem with the dimensions, haven’t replaced anything.