Pic of the Day: A Pair of Beretta Pistols

A Pair of Berettas: The 92FS 9mm and 3032 Tomcat in .32 ACP.

A Pair of Berettas: The 92FS 9mm and 3032 Tomcat in .32 ACP.

A primary and backup gun perhaps? Shown here are the Beretta 92FS and Beretta 3031 Tomcat.

The Beretta 92FS is a full size 9mm with 15+1 capacity and perhaps the most comfortable to shoot 9mm I own. The Tomcat is a .32 ACP pocket gun with a unique tip-up barrel design. While you can rack the slide to chamber a round, you don’t need to. Just insert a loaded magazine, flip the barrel release and it will open, exposing the chamber. Drop in a round and you’re good to go. Couldn’t be simpler. You can read more about the Tomcat here.

Pic of the Day: Choke Tubes All Choked Up

SCTP Florida Shoot Beretta-4

When you shoot competition shotguns, like this Beretta 682 Gold Trap, gunk accumulates quickly. While one might shoot a half-dozen rounds while hunting, a moderate day on the competition clay fields easily numbers in the hundreds. These are a pair of Pure Gold choke tubes, both Light Modified, used a the recent SCTP Collegiate Florida shoot. Nine colleges, 133 student competitors and some very experienced choke tubes.

Pics of the Day: The Breaking of a Clay

I had the pleasure of attending the SCTP Florida Shoot today where nine southeastern colleges gathered to compete in three clay disciplines: trap, skeet and wobble trap. I caught this sequence from one of Clemson University’s squads.

Pull!

Pull! Note target leaving the bunker…

Target Acquisition

Target acquisition…

Gun is moving and about to cross the anticipated path of the target...

Gun is moving and about to cross the anticipated path of the target…

Boom! Note in ascending order the wad, lead shot cloud and clay in it's last moments.

Boom! Note in ascending order the wad, lead shot cloud and clay in it’s last moments.

Target destroyed!

Target destroyed!

Photo Gallery: Beretta’s 692 Sporting Shotgun with B-Fast Comb

Here are some photos of the first Beretta 692 Sporting model with B-Fast comb and 32″ barrels to make its way to the US. Look for a full review soon!

Beretta’s ARX100: A Quick Tour

 

The Beretta ARX100 is designed to be a Transformer.

The Beretta ARX100 is designed to be a Transformer.

I’ve never watched the Transformers movies, but if my understanding is correct, those flicks were about 1974 AMC Gremlins morphing into deep fried banana splits, thereby earning free admission to the Texas State Fair. Or something along those lines.

Even if I’m a bit off in my understanding of the Transformers plot, you have to admit the idea of effortless transformation on demand is a pretty cool thing. Politicians do it all the time based on poll numbers and density of cameras within 25 yards, so why shouldn’t rifles be able to perform the same feat?

Getting back to the point, since I’m writing this on the Beretta Blog, let’s talk about transformation with respect to the new Beretta ARX100 rifle. Its family heritage is the ARX160 – a 21st century rifle designed for the Italian (and other) militaries and law enforcement organizations. As a result, some mondo engineering has been applied to make this rifle fit not only a wide variety of potential shooters, but also easily adapt to a broad range of requirements. If you haven’t noticed, people come in all shapes and size. Some do most things, including shooting, with the right hands, while others buck the trend and use the left side. Folks are also tall, short and everywhere in between. Don’t even get me started on accessories preferences as it seems no two people on the North American continent can agree on exactly how a rifle should be equipped with optional gear.

Apparently the main design goal of the Beretta ARX100 is to not only accept all these physical and opinion differences, but embrace them. The rifle has been designed to be instantly customizable in many, many ways. Most importantly, all this customization can be done without tools – that’s where the engineering magic comes in.

With all that said, let’s take a quick tour, from back to front. In a future article, we’ll do a deep dive on how the ARX100 operates and shoots. For now, we’ll focus on how it’s put together.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

Beretta’s ARX100: A Closer Look

As the exterior appearance indicates, the Beretta ARX100 is a complete redesign.

As the exterior appearance indicates, the Beretta ARX100 is a complete redesign.

If you made me describe one thought about the Beretta ARX100, it would be something along the lines of “ambi-flex-trous.”

Yes, you can easily reconfigure this rifle in all sorts of ways, which we’ll discuss in a minute, but the interesting thing is you can do all of it with a bullet. Macho, isn’t it? So far, I have yet to use a single tool of any kind for reconfiguration. Well, there was one exception. I did need a wrench to remove the factory flash hider, but I don’t think that counts as it doesn’t fall into the category of routine maintenance. Don’t tell the Beretta folks I applied wrenches and a bench vise to their loaner rifle, OK?

Let’s take a closer look.

As the ARX100 is a pistol-operated rifle, there's no buffer tube to prevent a folding stock. It shoots in this configuration too.

As the ARX100 is a piston-operated rifle, there’s no buffer tube to prevent a folding stock. It shoots in this configuration too.

The ARX100 looks large and potentially heavy, but it’s not. Judicious use of polymer keeps weight down and unloaded, it tips the scales at just 6.8 pounds. While the stock appears monolithic in design, it breaks into an upper and lower receiver, although the dividing lines are different than the upper and lower components of an AR rifle.

The butt stock is connected to the upper receiver half through use of a hinge, which allows the rifle to operate like a pistol. While the intent is easier transport, shooting with a folded stock feels very Buck Rogers. Since the rifle is piston operated, there’s no buffer tube in the way of pistol operation. The butt stock itself has four different positions to adjust length of pull.

The rifle is covered in web sling attachment points. A rotating swivel is in front of the gas block. The butt has a web sling loop. There are two flat sling loops on each side of the receiver for a total of six.

Rails are also abundant. The entire top surface of the rifle is a continuous rail, so there is no “joint” between receiver rail and forend rail as with an AR rifle. Four-inch rail segments are located up front in the three and nine o’clock positions. There’s a 1 ½ inch rail segment on the bottom in front of the forend cover. If you need to attach a 40mm grenade launcher, remove the lower cover and you’ll find a proprietary rail segment for this purpose. Because military-style rifle. Word is that Beretta may offer a Picatinny adapter at a later date.

It comes with non-standard height sights. They'll get you going, but may not co-witness with your optic.

It comes with non-standard height sights. They’ll get you going, but may not co-witness with your optic.

The ARX100 comes with polymer flip up sights so you can shoot it out of the box. The front sight features a standard, height-adjustable post while the rear has a rotating aperture dial where apertures are calibrated for ranges of 100 to 600 meters. Be aware that these sights are taller than standard AR models, so they may not co-witness as you like. No worries, by pressing a button on each, you can slide them right off the rail if you don’t want them present.

The trigger is all military all the way. It’s big and wide, set in an oversized trigger guard for easy access with gloves. The pull weight leaves something to be desired, measuring 8 1/2 pounds for me, but at least it was smooth and not gritty. The trigger components are held in place by pins, so assuming demand is there, aftermarket companies like Timney should be able to offer replacements.

Read the rest at GunsAmerica!

Wanna learn more about guns? Check out The Rookie’s Guide to Guns & Shooting, Handgun Edition. It’s on sale now!

Beretta’s ARX100: A Lesson In Flexibility

Beretta's ARX100 may look like a space gun, but its primary feature is easy configurability.

Beretta’s ARX100 may look like a space gun, but its primary feature is easy configurability.

There’s ambidextrous, and there’s ambidextrous.

Some rifles have safety levers on one side, or at least a safety lever that can be relocated to the opposite side of the frame. Others might have a way to move the magazine release button or even bolt release to the opposite side.

The Beretta ARX100 takes configuration flexibility to a whole new level.

The left side looks... almost exactly like the right side.

The left side looks… almost exactly like the right side.

I just got my hands on a sample unit of this rifle and have been shooting it, taking it apart, and shooting it some more. Rather than waste words here with the specs like weight and length – you can find those here – I’ll focus on how this rifle operates and handles.

For starters, let’s take a look at the many components of what I think is the ARX100’s standout feature: flexibility.

Barrel

Once the bolt is in the maintenance position, pull down these tabs and the barrel pops right off.

Once the bolt is in the maintenance position, pull down these tabs and the barrel pops right off.

You can swap barrels on a standard AR-type rifle, it just takes some doing.

On the Beretta ARX100 with its default 16-inch barrel, it takes no doing and no tools. Just move the bolt to the maintenance position – I’ll describe that in a minute. Then you can pull two spring-loaded levers downward, and the barrel and extension will release and pull right out the front of the stock. The gas piston assembly comes out attached to the barrel.

The process could not be easier. Unlike an AR-type rifle, you have complete and unobstructed access to the barrel and extension with all those nooks and crannies for easy cleaning. Wow. Impressive simplicity and functional too.

Seeing how this works, I was concerned about the ARX’s ability to hold zero through a barrel change. Hold that thought until we get to the shooting report.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

Be sure to check out Tom’s latest books! They are ON SALE now for a limited time!

Shooting the Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun in the Dark

The business end of the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun, shown here with a Crimson Trace Rail Master Pro light and laser and two-round magazine tube extension.

The business end of the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun, shown here with a Crimson Trace Rail Master Pro light and laser and two-round magazine tube extension.

Recently I wrote about my first experiences with the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun. I love the “shotgun carbine” idea of a short, light and handy defensive shotgun. What I didn’t get into before was the idea that if you ever had to use a defensive shotgun, it would probably be in the middle of the night, meaning in the dark.

I decided to take a shot at gearing up the Beretta 1301 for night time use and testing it in dark conditions. The perfect opportunity was the recent Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational competition. If you’re not familiar, it’s a three gun event with one important twist of the rules. The competition takes places in the middle of the desert outside of Bend, Oregon, but the shooting doesn’t start until after 9pm. If you haven’t been in the middle of the high desert in the middle of the night recently, I can tell you, it’s dark. Really dark. No residual light from nearby towns. No street lights. Heck, the range doesn’t even have electricity or running water. When the International Space Station passes overhead, they have to pause the match because of the glare.

Anyway, in preparation for my midnight rendezvous, I added some goodies to the Beretta 1301. 

First, I called the nice folks at Crimson Trace and politely explained to them that since I was risking life and limb to compete in this match, they should loan me a light or laser for the shotgun. They sent a Rail Master Pro, which offers both 100 lumen light and a red laser that activates with a simple paddle switch. You can configure the light and laser to operate in different modes – a strobe light, for example, but set mine up so that movement of the paddle would turn on both light and laser until i hit the paddle again to turn them off. I mounted this on the barrel with a Nordic Components magazine tube extension and barrel clamp with rail so that I could reach it with my support hand. As I’m right-handed, I put it on the right side of the barrel, so it’s out of the way of my support hand grip, but easily accessible with my support hand fingers when I want to flip it on.

Next, I called Kristi at Aimpoint. Like my Aimpoint PRO, Kristi has never let me down when it comes to good advice about optics. She loaned me an Aimpoint Micro H-1 optic. I guessed that it would line up perfectly with the iron sights on the. Beretta 1301 and it did. I could see the iron sights through the bottom half of the Aimpoint Micro. If my optic ever failed, then I would have a backup option of using the iron sights. This seemed like a good idea until Kristi reminded me that the whole deal about Aimpoint optics is that the batteries run 75% of forever. In this case, you can leave the Micro on for about 5 years non-stop. I figured I could remember to change batteries every couple of years or so to avoid any risk of downtime. 

Aimpoint_Micro_H1_Beretta_1301_Tactical-1

The Aimpoint Micro H1 mounted on the Beretta 1301 Tactical’s rail.

Now, when I turn out the lights, I have a compact shotgun with a forward-looking tactical light and I see two red dots out yonder – one from the laser and the other from the Aimpoint. 

For ammo, the choice was easy. I needed something reliable with shot size with a dense enough pattern to break stationary and flying clays at high speed, but with enough “oomph” to knock down steel targets with one shot. I chose Federal Premium Gold Medal Target loads with 7 1/2 shot

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

Be sure to check out Tom’s latest books! They are ON SALE now for a limited time!

Shooting In The Dark: Reports From The Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational

Everybody knows siblings shouldn't share toys! Here Lanny (left) and Tracy (right) are politely discussing who gets to use the Beretta 1301 Competition shotgun next.

Everybody knows siblings shouldn’t share toys! Here Lanny (left) and Tracy (right) are politely discussing who gets to use the Beretta 1301 Competition shotgun next.

As I write this, I’m coming down off a major high. I’m sitting on an airplane on the way back home from the high desert miles outside of the beautiful town of Bend, Oregon.

I’ve been out there all week at the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational competition. Like last year, the event was held at the COSSA range which is located miles and miles from nowhere. This works out pretty well as neighbors in more populated areas might get a bit upset about hearing gunfire all night long for four straight nights.

The event runs most of the week with two consecutive matches. Wednesday and Thursday, media members and the volunteer range officer staff shoot together. This allows the range staff to shoot the whole match, yet be available for dedicated range safety and logistics duties when the professionals shoot Friday and Saturday nights. All results from the two matches are consolidated into a single overall results tabulation, so everyone is eligible for the same prizes regardless of which nights they shoot.

As the name implies, shooting doesn’t even start until it’s fully dark. Competitors, range staff, media and visitors are all required to illuminate themselves with chemical glow sticks. One on the front and one on the back ensures that anyone still downrange from a target refresh will be clearly visible. As a result of the range staff’s care and attention to detail, the event boasts a perfect safety record.

Crimson_Trace_M3GI-32

Lanny Barnes blasts a clay target with her Beretta 1301 Competition. Or is that Tracy’s gun?

As a media hack, I shot the Wednesday and Thursday match. One of my goals was to really kick the tires of the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun I’ve been evaluating. In my next article, I’ll go into detail about how I configured it for nighttime use, but for now, I’ll note the following. I chose the Tactical version even though there is a 1301 Competition model that offers competitive tweaks like higher shell capacity and larger loading port. The environment was great for really exercising a defensive shotgun – dirty, dusty and dark. Three of us shared the Beretta 1301 Tactical as wanted to run as much ammo through it as possible during the match. Since receiving the gun, I haven’t cleaned it, nor did I do any maintenance during the match. No matter, it ran like a champ with zero malfunctions of any kind. The super compact design of this gun made shooting and moving very easy. I chose to run first rate shotshells through the gun as a prize table was on the line. I used Federal Premium Gold Medal Target loads with 7 1/2 shot. I could stuff seven shells into the magazine tube plus one more in the chamber. More importantly, the 1 1/8 ounce shot load knocked down steel with authority. The pattern from the Beretta 1301 Tactical’s cylinder bore was even and blew up the clay targets consistently.

One of the benefits of shooting the pre-match was that I could focus on following the big shots during the main match. Big shots like Tracy and Lanny Barnes. You know them, right? Yeah, they are (now retired) Olympic biathletes, so they know a thing or two about shooting under stress and conditioning. You might also recognize the name as Tracy is a writer right here at Beretta USA. Tracy and Lanny both used the Beretta 1301 Competition shotguns. I’m convinced that my deliberate choice to use the 1301 Tactical, with its lower shell capacity, is the only possible explanation for Tracy and Lanny blowing right past my scores in the first few minutes of the competition. But let’s move away from that topic. At least I got some great trigger time with my home defense gun.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

 

Be sure to check out Tom’s latest books! They are ON SALE now for a limited time!

A Closer Look at the SilencerCo SWR Octane Pistol Suppressor

SilencerCo SWR Octane 45 mounted on a Glock 26

SilencerCo SWR Octane 45 mounted on a Glock 26

After waiting long enough for three additional square inches of my hair to turn gray, I finally received my permission slip from the BATFE to take possession of my SilencerCo Octane 45 suppressor. Having collected dust in my local FFL’s safe for over 10 months, it’s now mine.

The Octane is a silencer made by SilencerCo, or more accurately SWR. SWR is now a part of SilencerCo, although the brand still appears. The Octane model is designed for pistol calibers, yet is rated for full automatic pistol caliber carbine use. It can also be used in the 300 AAC Blackout, provided you stick to subsonic rounds – it’s not rated for supersonic projectiles. If you try to fire supersonic cartridges through it, the moon is likely to plummet into downtown Possum Kingdom, South Carolina. But seriously, don’t do it. It’s not made for those high-pressure spikes.

Caliber choices

The Octane is available in 9 mm and 45 ACP. I chose the 45 model for flexibility. You can shoot 9 mm, 40 caliber, 45 caliber, 300 Blackout or even 380 ACP. You can also use it on a .22, but that might be a bit silly given the size of the unit.

The only drawback to using the 45 model with smaller calibers is that you lose a couple of decibels of sound reduction because it has a bigger hole in the front. For me, that trade-off was easy. I have incredible flexibility on which guns I can mount a suppressor. Buy one, and cover all of your compatible handguns.

By purchasing different pistons and/or fixed mounts, you can use the Octane 45 with a variety of pistol calibers.

By purchasing different pistons and/or fixed mounts, you can use the Octane 45 with a variety of pistol calibers.

Shooting silently

I’ve used the SilencerCo SWR Octane 45 on four different guns so far including a Glock 26, a Glock 31, a Beretta 92FS and a Daniel Defense DDM4v5 300 Blackout rifle.

For use with the Glock pistols, I used Lone Wolf threaded barrels. These not only provided extra length and threading for silencer attachment, they also use traditional rifling which allows for more liberal use of lead bullets in the Glock. In the case of the Glock 31, which is a .357 Sig chambering, I cheated a bit and ordered a Lone Wolf .40 S&W threaded barrel. As magazines and recoil springs functionally the same, this barrel swap converted my .357 Sig to a .40 S&W. A Glock 31 is now a Glock 22, at least until I swap the barrels again. One more thing on the Glock configurations. Use of Crimson Trace Lasergrips on both models allowed for a great sighing option. The laser is offset just enough to bypass the suppressor.

I converted this Glock 31 to a Glock 22 using a Lone Wolf threaded barrel. It worked beautifully with Winchester Train subsonic ammunition.

I converted this Glock 31 to a Glock 22 using a Lone Wolf threaded barrel. It worked beautifully with Winchester Train subsonic ammunition.

The Beretta 92FS solution is relatively simple. The 92FS doesn’t come with a threaded barrel, but the barrel does extend far enough past the slide to allow a qualified gunsmith to add threading. Companies like Gem-Tech or Tornado Technologies can thread your existing barrel, or you can buy a second barrel which is pre-threaded and that’s what I elected to do so I could keep my factory barrel in its original configuration. Oh, the Crimson Trace Lasergrip solution works great on the Beretta 92FS as well.

A classic combination: Beretta 92FS + Silencer

A classic combination: Beretta 92FS + Silencer

The Daniel Defense rifle was the easiest of all to configure. Remember, the Octane 45 is a pistol silencer, so use subsonic ammo only if mounting it on a 300 Blackout rifle. Using some heat to loosen the factory Loctite, I removed the flash suppressor and direct mounted the silencer using a fixed mount on the Octane. Be sure not to use the compression washer that might already be in place as that can prevent your silencer from mounting perfectly parallel to the bore.

The standard Beretta 92FS barrel extends far enough past the slide to add threading.

The standard Beretta 92FS barrel extends far enough past the slide to add threading.

While any pistol ammo is fun with a silencer, the best solution is subsonic ammo. For the 9mm guns, I particularly liked American Eagle’s 147 grain flat point full metal jacket ammo. With a velocity of about 950 feet per second, it was super quiet using the Octane. Function was also perfect in both the Glock 26 and Beretta 92FS.

For the Glock 31, now converted into a Glock 22, I used subsonic hand loads and .40 caliber Winchester Train ammo. Use of an 180 grain projectile at 925 feet per second resulted in some seriously quiet shooting.

For the 300 Blackout, I used a variety of hand loads constructed with 220 grain Sierra Matchking bullets and factory ammo from Gorilla Ammunition. Gorilla offers a great subsonic round made with Hornady 208 grain A-MAX bullets.

Pieces and parts

Figuring out what parts you need is a little bit confusing. Let me see if I can simplify things here.

First, you will need to know which kind of mount you need based on your gun’s design. Your gun will come in one of two configurations. Either the barrel will be fixed to the frame, and not move upon firing or it will have a recoil operated action where the barrel moves, tilts or rotates as part of the recoil process.

If you have a recoil operated action gun, things are a little complex. Successful operation of a semi-automatic handgun requires many forces to balance in perfect harmony. When the cartridge fires, the slide moves backward a short distance, carrying the barrel with it. The barrel tilts downward, disconnecting from the slide, and the slide then continues on it’s own all the way to the back of it’s cycle. At this point, the recoil spring starts to push the slide forward again. This choreographed movement of the bang-bang process has to be perfect for a gun to function reliably every time.

Adding the weight of the silencer to the barrel can disrupt this perfectly orchestrated routine. So now, when the gun recoils it has to drag the weight of the silencer along with it. The rearward travel may be slower to the point of not completing the cycle. Forward motion from recoil spring pressure may also be slowed.

The solution in the case of the SilencerCo SWR Octane is what’s called a booster mount.

The booster mount makes this Glock 26 function perfectly.

The booster mount makes this Glock 26 function perfectly.

Instead of a rigid connection to the barrel, a free-floated pistol is connected to the gun barrel. The pistol is spring mounted inside the silencer body, allowing movement back and forth. The piston can actually move a little bit, with resistance provided by the spring. The spring action of the pistol inside the silencer actually assists the recoil action of the gun, increasing the likelihood of reliable function.

Here’s how the pistol system works. Pardon the complete bastardization of scientific principles OK?

If you hold the pistol frame with one hand and pull the silencer away from the gun with the other, the piston remains fixed in position, but the silencer body and internals move away from the bore under pistol spring tension. When you fire the gun, the explosion of hot gas coming out the muzzle pushes the body of the suppressor forward against booster spring pressure. At that point, the suppressor piston spring starts to bring the body of a suppressor backwards. This is a good thing, as the barrel is also wanting to move backward as part of the recoil action. The net result is that the silencer is moving on its own, so the barrel doesn’t assume the full burden of lugging the extra weight. All this fancy movement make sure that your gun cycles correctly.

The piston is the only part that attaches to your gun barrel by design. This means you can use one suppressor with multiple pistons to fit different gun barrel diameters and threading types. I ordered three different pistons for the Octane 45 so I can mount it on 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP barrels. Pistons are inexpensive and not regulated like the suppressor body, so you can get them anytime.

Now let’s talk about the other scenario for a minute – a fixed barrel situation.

When the barrel doesn’t move, you don’t want to use a booster. Like the barrel, you want the silencer fixed in place. Rather than using a pistol and spring, you order a fixed mount that is rigidly attached to the silencer body without use of a spring or piston. Using a piston in a fixed barrel scenario will beat up your expensive silencer.

Make sense?

Maintenance

The SilencerCo SWR Octane is designed for easy maintenance. As you can see by the photos here, the insides are easily removed for cleaning and maintenance. The interior baffle structure is made of a series of connecting pieces that come apart when removed from the silencer body. If you want to clean the easy way, take the unit apart and dump the interior pieces into an ultrasonic cleaner like the Lyman Turbo Sonic cleaner like the one I use. Use the ultrasonic on the internals only – clean the body and end caps by hand.

All of the guts are easily removable for cleaning. That's especially important if you shoot lead bullets.

All of the guts are easily removable for cleaning. That’s especially important if you shoot lead bullets.

You won’t need to obsess about cleaning your suppressor, but if you like to shoot lead bullets, you will need to deal with that more frequently. I’ve cleaned mine once, mainly out of curiosity, and have fired somewhere north of one thousands rounds of mixed ammo through it. No worries.

Closing thoughts

The most surprising thing about adding a pistol silencer to my collection is how it changes the whole feel of shooting. The sharp bangs turn to more of a whoosh. You can hear bullets zinging through the air. Recoil feels less abrupt. Newer shooters are less likely to flinch. Depending on your ammo selection, you may be able to remove hearing protection.

All in all, use of a silencer dramatically improves your shooting experience. Bite the bullet. Pay the feds their highway robbery extortion of $200. Get one.

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