The Beretta Model 92 was adopted as the M9 by the US military in the mid-1980s, and though it was replaced last year by the SIG P320, those Berettas will be in the hands of America’s fighting men and women for some years to come before the transition is complete all-service-wide.  It was a huge contract, and the gun-makers who lost the bid weren’t good sports about it. They literally made a Federal case out of it…and in every subsequent re-testing, the Beretta still won.

We have an administration under which 100,000 1911 .45 pistols long since declared obsolete will be sold to the American public through the Civilian Marksmanship Program. . If all goes well and things continue in this vein, a huge number of Berettas may one day find themselves decommissioned into the civilian sector the same way.  The Beretta was one of the most popular police service pistols during the sea change from “revolvers to automatics” in American police service going back to the early ‘80s, and with striker-fired plastic pistols dominant in that market today, police trade-in Berettas sell for cheap…often “carried much but shot seldom,” as the late Col. Jeff Cooper used to say.

Which brings me to good news.  No one captured more championships in “combat shooting” with a Beretta than Ernest Langdon, who started as a Marine and went on to win national and world championships with Berettas, at one time working for Beretta itself.  Langdon became the acknowledged past master of customizing the Beretta for maximum performance in this sort of work, so high on that totem pole that when Bill Wilson at Wilson Combat started customizing Beretta 92s, he brought Langdon in as a consultant to train his staff of gunsmiths.

After a while pursuing other things, Ernest Langdon is now back in the Beretta customizing business! He can work his magic on any of the classic 92 series 9mms (or their .40 caliber cousins, the Model 96 series), and will also customize their later PX4 design. I was among the first to try the PX4 when Beretta brought it out in the early 2000s, and was underwhelmed by its ergonomics. In recent years, Ernest upgraded this newer Beretta and a Langdon PX4 has become, in some quarters, the carry gun of the cognoscenti.

I’m a fan of Langdon’s work.  Years ago, I sent him a 92G I had won at a police conference, and he turned it into a pistol with double action trigger “smooth as buttah,” with target pistol crispness in single action, without losing the reliability that Beretta had so exhaustively proven in stringent government testing. I’ve won a bunch of matches, PPC and IDPA, with my Langdon Beretta.  Some of my friends I’ve shot with a lot tell me I shoot the Langdon Beretta better than anything else.

He can now do for you what he did for me. Langdon is back in the Beretta modification business in a host of ways, and that is A Good Thing.  If you or anyone you know wants to “make a Beretta betta,” check out his website at

Mas’ Langdon Beretta:


  1. A timely article for my household. A few years ago I read an article in which the author asked his readers, “Do you know which is your best pistol?” The question intrigued me. I “thought” I knew which was my best pistol but had never put them to any kind of rubric. I devised a testing battery which utilized an 8″ Action Targe Evil Roy plate and timed shooting on the move starting from ten yards (both strong hand only and freestyle); weak hand untimed best 3 of 5 group shooting at fifteen yards; and freestyle best 3 of 5 group shooting at twenty-five yards. My initial testing’s winner was a 5″, pencil barrel Model 10 ca. 1962. After the announcement of Sig’s win in the MSH, I bought out of nostalgia for my early service days a commercial M9. When that M9 was put through the testing battery, it bested the previous champ by some 13 points (the top 5 pistols had been separated by only a few seconds, best to worst). The M9s head and shoulders superiority piqued my curiosity and led to my reading deeply both your and Mr. Langdon’s writings about the 92 series. I’m now a convert, daily carrying a 92c (with one of Beretta’s new G Conversions; D spring; and Wolf return spring conversion) in a Blade-Tech IWB at the 3 o’clock. I’ve also rediscovered the late Messers. Cirillo and Awerbuck’s videos Panteao acquired from Paladin and carry my old primary gun (G26) in a Glock ambi slide at the 9 o’clock. Bottom line, I think the P38 dropping block system allows the 92 front sight to “track” like few other pistols. Nothing new under the sun.

    Shane Morris
    LFI I, Winnimac APR ’99

  2. Unlike most people who visit this page, I didn’t grow up in gun culture, and I didn’t get into firearms until mid-thirties. The first gun I bought was a Px4 before I didn’t know any better, and I lucked out. In that first year, I put a minimum of 100 rounds a day (often much more) for a minimum of five days a week though it, and it never failed to feed, or fire. Somewhere after 20,000 rounds, I spent a couple hours in 100+ degree heat shooting other guns on my farm, and left it on the hood of my car which resulted in needing to get a new guide rod for it. That’s literally the only problem I’ve had with the pistol, and it has seen thousands more rounds since without a hitch. It is the only gun I own that I will never sell, or trade because I know that anything else is a gamble in reliability compared to it.

    Because of my experience, I became so enamored of Berettas that I named my new puppy Beretta, but even stopped short of drinking Bruniton flavored kool-aid. I even got you to sign my copy of the first edition of the book pictured above when I took LFI-1 back in 2006.

    All that said, I agree on the Px4’s ergonomics. I don’t carry it because, while I find it reliable, the slide-mounted, thumb-safety is too stiff, and too difficult a reach for my stubby thumbs. When I next have some extra money, I might need to get in contact with Mr. Langdon.

  3. Hmmm.. managed to happen across a small handful of those old 92’s and a coulle 96’s back when no one wanted them. I like them a lot. I can’t imagine how cool it would be to have one “made right”……. maybe some day when ,y ship comes in. Have to save this piece so I can find it again when its time.

  4. I so dislike the way the Beretta fits my hand that I can not imagine it being betta enough for me to own (another)one. I thought something was wrong with me that I could not operate it well. I do well with the XD though. Differnt strokes my guess.

  5. I have used my langdon custom Beretta 92A1 to win one of only four Turbo pins from trainer Gabe White and Top Shot at the Rangemaster instructor reunion conference! proving you can shoot a DA/SA gun both fast and accurately !!! Contact mr langdon at

  6. I’ve got three Berettas breathed on by Mr Langdon currently. Two 92s and a PX4cc. I never thought i’d be interested in the PX4 early on but when Earnest released his version of the pistol I went straight for the “Mod4” offered by Robar. Its almost replaced my G19 as my EDC piece.

    The 92 pistols are indeed “Smooth as Buttah” and have no equal (to me) in the world of quality DA/SA pistols. I really enjoy shooting them and they are beautiful to look at as well.

    To be completely transparent, I shoot 1911s and Glocks alot better than my 92s but I also have alot more trigger time on them.

  7. > the gun-makers who lost the bid
    > weren’t good sports about it.

    I followed all that in places like “Machine Design” and other engineering and manufacturing publications. The story I remember was that the Federal requirements were a moving target, changed every cycle to favor the Beretta more strongly. By the end, they hadn’t *quite* come down to “must say ‘Beretta’ on it”, but it was a near thing.

    The Beretta might be a fine pistol, but the entire acquisition process was… I’ll be nice and call it “questionable.”

    It was also noted in many places that the Beretta couldn’t pass the same test suite the 1911 passed.

    • It was a political purchase. The Italians did something for the US/NATO?, and this was the payoff. Might have been allowing nukes to be based there, but my memory is bad now.

    • TRX,

      Your recollection of the selection is the same as mine. I took several “gun” magazines at the time that followed the process as it took place. The consensus was that Sig and Glock finally threw up their hands in disgust saying it was obvious that the government had made the decision that Beretta was going to get the contract before the testing ever began.
      Having said that, soon after the selection was made, my department decided to reverse it’s decision forcing officers to carry revolvers and began testing high capacity pistols with the objective of naming those that would be approved for duty carry. Not surprisingly, our firearms training center chose the Beretta, Sig, and Glock. Billionaire H. Ross Perot, who spearheaded the effort to convince city leaders to allow officers to carry semi-auto pistols offered to purchase the first 500 pistols as gifts to be given to officers wishing to convert, but only if the department agreed to make them standard issue for new officers at departmental expense. I chose the Sig over the other two because it fit my hands better (it’s cost being $200 more than either of the others didn’t hurt either, being it was a gift). Surprisingly, the city agreed to our range master’s recommendation of the Sig to be the standard issue as it’s price tag was significantly higher than the others.
      I am not denigrating the Beretta. It’s a great weapon, but like shoes, it’s paramount that it fits you. It’s just too bulky in my hands and it’s weight is a consideration for officers already heavily burdened with other equipment hanging off their Sam Browne.

  8. Ive known Ernest a very long time. Hes an exceptional teacher, instructor, and humble sharer regarding his knowledge and craft. He can and will continue to make Beretta’s exceptional in many ways. Good to see him still having impact. Well done.

  9. Its fashionable for some people to bash Berretta 92s. I shoot them as well or better than any other pistol. Ive introduced amatures to pistol shooting and many get hooked on shooting the 92s, it has soft recoil and is accurate out of the box.

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