One of the most popular handguns was a former U.S military sidearm (they switched to the Sig Sauer in 2017), the Beretta 92FS/M9 and related variants. The Beretta 92 has firmly established itself as an accurate and reliable pistol that serves well in hostile environments. The Beretta is a great choice as a home defense weapon or as a SHTF sidearm. The Beretta 92FS can be price prohibitive for some.
Fortunately, there is a less expensive clone of the Beretta 92-series called the Taurus PT92, which has been around since the 1980s and uses the same profile. Is it wise spending less money on a PT92, or should you save up your money and get the Beretta?
While we won’t tell you what to do, we will list the differences between the two so you can make that decision.
History and Development
Many people believe that the Taurus PT92 is a recreation of the modern day Beretta 92FS, when it is in fact a clone of the earlier Beretta 92 pistols.
In the mid-1970s, Beretta released the very first Beretta 92 pistol that utilized a heel magazine release, and a framed mounted safety similar to a 1911. Brazil decided to use the new 92 as the official sidearm of the Brazilian Army, so Beretta set up a factory in Brazil to begin producing the 92.
Taurus was an incredibly small Brazilian gun manufacturer that had been most well known for making economic revolvers. When Beretta’s contract for the Brazilian military ended in 1980, they sold the factory (including the blueprints, machines, and workers) to Taurus. It’s a decision Beretta has probably regretted, as in a few years, Taurus went from a small gun company into a major competitor.
The Beretta 92 later evolved into the Beretta 92S, which placed the frame mounted safety to the slide like we see in today’s modern Berettas. The 92S evolved into the 92SB, which moved the magazine release from the heel to the traditional position behind the trigger guard.
The 92SB developed into the 92F and then the 92FS, which squared off the trigger guard and replaced the blued finish with Beretta’s tough Bruniton finish. The Beretta 92FS serves in the U.S Army designated as the M9. Beretta has since developed many more variants of the Beretta 92FS since then, such as the 92A1 and the M9A1, but the 92FS has remained the mainstay in their 92-line.
The Taurus PT92 has undergone many developments in its history. Unlike Beretta, Taurus kept the frame mounted safety but moved the heel magazine release to the traditional location behind the trigger guard. Later, a decocker was added to the PT92 that allowed you to decock the gun without engaging the safety.
PT92 pistols remained in this configuration until 1997, when the cocking serrations on the slide were widened and an internal trigger lock was installed into the gun (all Taurus guns have this). The next major change came in 2005, when Taurus added rails to the PT92 increasing the magazine capacity from 15 to 17 rounds.
Today, the new Taurus PT92 pistols are sold with rails and available in either a matte bluing or polished stainless steel finish. They are consistently available for $150 to $250 less than the Beretta 92FS.
Here is an actual demonstration of the Beretta vs. Taurus:
Advantages and Disadvantages
While the Beretta 92 and Taurus 92 are definitely in the same family of guns, significant differences exist between the two.
The most significant advantage to the PT92 is the location of the safety. Granted, if you prefer the Beretta’s slide mounted safety, you may disagree. The safety of the PT92 is located on the frame like a 1911, making it more accessible than the Beretta’s slide safety.
Decocking and safety
The decocking and safety are separate on the PT92. Press the lever down to decock the pistol, and press it up to engage the safety. This means it is possible to carry the PT92 ‘cocked and locked’ like you do with a 1911. The decocking and safety lever on the Beretta are the same: press the lever down, and the gun decocks and engages the safety simultaneously. The Beretta cannot be carried cocked and locked like the PT92.
Both can have the corrosion and rust resistant Bruniton finish, of have one of several finishes including stainless steel,
Both use aluminum alloys in the frame construction. While the PT92 is slightly more lightweight in build, the Beretta’s is still slightly longer (though both pistols will probably last longer than you can shoot them).
The two pistols have minor differences. The forward part of the grip frame on the PT92 is straight, whereas the Beretta’s is curved at the end (it’s been that way since the U.S military requested it) for a fuller grip.
While the Beretta 92FS is not railed like the PT92, Beretta does sell a railed option called the M9A1.
The 92FS also ships with 15 round magazines out of the box, in contrast to the PT92’s 17 round mags. Factory Beretta 17-round magazines are available for purchase separately. Mec-Gar (an aftermarket supplier of pistol magazines) manufactures 18 round magazines for both pistols. Firepower between the two pistols is equal.
Which is more reliable: the Beretta 92FS or the Taurus PT92?
In terms of reliability and accuracy, the Beretta and Taurus seem to be on equal footing. The Beretta definitely has a superior track record having served the U.S military servicemen and law enforcement officers, and military units all over the globe. The PT92 has seen military and law enforcement service across the world, but not nearly as much as the Beretta.
Quality and accuracy
This isn’t to say that the Taurus is a worse gun than the Beretta. The two pistols are nearly identical in basic design. After all, the PT92 was constructed based on Beretta 92 blueprints with the same machinery and workers, and what they perfected Taurus went back and added details to their newer ones. In that regard, overall quality and accuracy between the Beretta and the Taurus should be considered on equal ground as they used one another to improve the original design.
Optimizing the Beretta 92 for Self-Defense:
When it comes down to it, if you’re on a budget or have been trained to use a 1911, you’ll probably prefer the Taurus due to its lower price and safety position respectively. If you want the original manufacturer of the 92-series, prefer the slide mounted safety, or feel more comfortable with Beretta’s track record go with the Beretta 92FS or one of its variants.