Beretta .40 PX4 Storm Pistol – A Closer Look – Range Report

With an assist by Italian design firm Giugiaro, the PX4 Storm looks pretty nifty.

With an assist by Italian design firm Giugiaro, the PX4 Storm looks pretty nifty.

For more information, visit http://www.beretta.com/en-us/px4-storm-full/.

To buy a PX4 Storm on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=Beretta%20PX4

By necessity, most gun reviews offer a quick look at features and cursory reports on a couple of hundred rounds of shooting over one or two range trips. That’s the nature of the beast when a gun is new on the market, and people want to know about it – quickly. While it’s a necessary thing, you have to admit that’s a little bit like turning the Daytona 500 into the Daytona 3½ to figure out who won a little quicker.

Beretta PX4 Storm, full-size, .40 S&W, right side.

Beretta PX4 Storm, full-size, .40 S&W, right side.

The Beretta PX4 Storm is not a new pistol – it’s been on the market for several years. That and its unusual design features are exactly the reason we’re taking a close look at it now. We’ll talk about the variants in the PX4 Storm family later, but the sample gun shown here is the full-size model, chambered in .40 S&W. As a high-pressure round compared to 9mm and .45 ACP, .40 S&W heaps more abuse on a pistol, especially over time. That’s one of the reasons we thought it would be interesting to review and old “new” gun.

Left side.

Left side of the PX4 Storm, showing its magazine and slide-release controls.

Tour of the Storm

Like the Beretta 92 and M9 standard models, the PX4 Storm is a classic double-action, single-action (DA/SA) pistol. That means for the first shot, the trigger press both cocks the hammer and releases it (two actions), thereby firing the shot. The recoil sequence from the initial shot cocks the hammer while reloading a new fresh cartridge from the magazine, so subsequent shots are single-action. Using my Timney triggers scale, I measured the initial double-action trigger press at 8 ½ pounds on average. The single-action press weight measures 4 ½ pounds.

On this "F" model the frame-mounted lever serves as a safety and decocker.

On this “F” model the frame-mounted lever serves as a safety and decocker.

SPECS

  • Chambering: 9mm, .40 S&W (tested), .45 ACP
  • Barrel: 4 inches
  • OA Length: 7.6 inches
  • Weight: 27.7 ounces
  • Grips: Interchangeable backstraps
  • Sights: Windage adjustable
  • Action: DA/SA
  • Finish: Matte black
  • Capacity: 17/14/9 +1
  • MSRP: $650

 

The PX4 ships with two magazines. The .40 S&W model holds 14+1 while the 9mm packs 17+1. There’s also a standard full-size model chambered in .45 ACP that holds 9/10. You can order a higher capacity magazine from Beretta. In some of the photos here you’ll see the extended .40 S&W magazine, and I can pack 17 rounds into that for a total of 18 including one in the chamber.

The Storm ships with three backstraps to adjust grip size to shooter preference. They’re easy to change without tools. Just remove a “u-shaped” wire from the bottom of the magazine well and the panel snaps off.

The PX4 Storm .40 S&W ships with two 14-round magazines. The extended magazine on the right holds 17 rounds.

The PX4 Storm .40 S&W ships with two 14-round magazines. The extended magazine on the right holds 17 rounds.

The PX4 Storm shown here with the extended magazine inserted.

The PX4 Storm shown here with the extended magazine inserted.

Overall length is 7.6 inches and height is 5.51 inches. Width comes in at 1.42 inches, so it’s not the narrowest pistol out there, at least by the numbers. However, specs can be deceiving. While 1.42 represents the maximum width, the majority of the pistol is well under 1.2 inches wide. It’s only the corners of the decocking levers and slide lock lever that extend past 1.4 inches. The unloaded weight is 27.7 ounces. Just for reference, a Glock 22 .40 S&W weighs in at 25.59 ounces. MSRP of the .40 S&W full-size PX4 Storm you see here is $650.

There are four action types available in for most PX4 Storm models. The “F” type is the traditional double-action/single-action. It features and spurred hammer and a combination decocker / safety lever. In addition to safely decocking the hammer, this lever disconnects the trigger so it operates freely without engaging. The “G” model is very similar to the “F” and only varies in that the decocker lever does not double as a safety – it decocks the hammer only. The “D” model is a pure double-action with no decocker or safety, and there’s no spur on the hammer. Last, but not least, is the “C” constant-action model, also with a spurless hammer and no decocker or safety.

Field Stripping

The PX4 Storm has a slightly different takedown procedure than the Beretta 92 models. While the 92 and M9 pistols using a swing lever to release the slide, barrel and recoil spring from the frame, the Storm relies on a pair of small spring-loaded levers on both sides just forward of the trigger area. Regardless of the cocked or uncocked status of the gun, simply pull both levers down and the slide, barrel, recoil spring, and the central lug will slide off the front of the frame. The levers are inset and the need to use both ensures that this operation isn’t going to happen accidentally.

Field stripping is simple. The spring is captive, so nothing flies when you take it apart.

Field stripping is simple. The spring is captive, so nothing flies when you take it apart.

Once the slide assembly is removed, you can lift the captive recoil spring and central block away from the barrel. There is virtually no spring pressure holding those components in place and nothing is going to go flying across the room. For cleaning, you can slide the central block off the still captive spring if you like. Once the spring is removed, the barrel will drop out of the bottom of the slide. The entire hammer and mainspring assembly is modular and can be removed as a single unit.

Recessed levers on both sides release the slide from the frame.

Recessed levers on both sides release the slide from the frame.

The magazines are easily accessible for cleaning too. Just press the button on the base to slide off the base plate.

The magazines are easily accessible for cleaning too. Just press the button on the base to slide off the base plate.

Rotary Action

One of the standout features of the Beretta PX4 Storm is the rotary action short recoil system. Like most other 9mm and up centerfire pistols, it uses a short recoil system that temporarily locks the slide and barrel together for a hot second during recoil, allowing the pressure to drop to manageable levels. After a fraction of an inch of rearward travel together, the slide and barrel separate, allowing extraction of the cartridge, recocking, and chambering of a new one. The PX4 just goes about that locking and unlocking process in a very different way with the rotary system.

While the PX4 features the same type of rotary barrel system as the Model 8000 Cougar pistols, it retains the fire control assembly of the Beretta 92 / M9 models. Part of the design goal was to make a more compact pistol that retained some of the benefits of the 92 and M9 design.

One of the benefits of the rotary action is that cartridges feed almost straight in. Note the small feed ramp.

One of the benefits of the rotary action is that cartridges feed almost straight in. Note the small feed ramp.

The lugs on the barrel engage with the ejection port and ridge inside the slide. The barrel rotates to unlock from those points on the slide.

The lugs on the barrel engage with the ejection port and ridge inside the slide. The barrel rotates to unlock from those points on the slide.

In theory, the rotary movement during recoil does three things. It’s intended to reduce felt recoil to the shooter as energy is bled off via rotation rather than straight back at the shooter as with the tilt breech system. As the barrel can be mounted lower to the frame, the design can also reduce muzzle flip. Also, the rotary system is intended to increase accuracy as barrel movement is linear with a more consistently repeatable lockup. Last, the design is inherently strong.

If you insert a full magazine while the slide is open, you’ll notice that the top cartridge rides high, almost right in line with the chamber. This is why the PX4 Storm requires such a minimal feed ramp. All you’ll notice is a small polished ramp on the bottom edge of the chamber, so the cartridge is fully supported – there is no need to cut into the chamber wall for feed ramp real estate.

Ergonomics

The Beretta PX4 Storm was one of the first mainstream pistols to jump cross the chasm from blocky, industrial look and feel to ergonomic elegance. In fact, Beretta retained Italian design firm Giugiaro to help with the ergonomic part of the design process. As a side note, that firm, well known for spiffy automobile concepts, also helped design the space-age Beretta Neos rimfire pistol. Anyway, the result of this partnership was a gun that functions reliably, but that is also pleasant to handle. The grip contours are rounded with texture in all the right places. The slide has subtle yet effective front and rear cocking serrations. The top of the slide tapers towards the center approximating a pyramid shape, presumably to reduce weight and facilitate concealed carry. It’s not only a beautiful pistol, it’s exceptionally comfortable to shoot, which means it’s easy to handle during rapid fire strings.

The pistol is beautifully designed. Every curve and contour is there to facilitate control of the gun while shooting.

The pistol is beautifully designed. Every curve and contour is there to facilitate control of the gun while shooting.

If I had to pick one gripe about the PX4, it’s the profile of the frame mounted safety and decocking levers. They’re on the sharp side. That’s unusual because the rest of the pistol is so beautifully and ergonomically shaped. The decocking levers don’t impact shooting, but you will feel them when vigorously racking the slide, especially when using an overhand grip to do so. You can convert the standard “F” model to a “G” model which eliminates the safety function of the decocking lever. That makes the “G” model a double-action / single-action system with a decocking only lever – just like a standard Sig Sauer P226 or P229. As the lever is no longer a critical part of every draw and fire scenario, it doesn’t have to be as pronounced. It’s a low profile (much flatter) design. Most people who have used this configuration observe that the “sharp surface” gotcha basically goes away.

Note the rounded trigger guard and recessed areas to provide better reach to the trigger.

Note the rounded trigger guard and recessed areas to provide better reach to the trigger.

The PX4 ships with three replaceable backstraps to size grip circumference.

The PX4 ships with three replaceable backstraps to size grip circumference.

Shooting Up A Storm

As I’ve had this particular PX4 for years, there’re not many varieties of ammo I haven’t shot through it. As a reloader, I’ve cooked up 140-grain lead flat point loads chugging along at just over 900 feet per second. In addition to lead, I’ve fired soft plated and jacketed rounds at both low and high for weight velocities. I’ve run more than a dozen types of factory practice and self-defense ammo through it. So far, the round count is somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000. I’m still waiting on my first gun part failure or breakage, and I’m still running all of the original factory springs. I figure I’ll swap those out in another couple thousand rounds or so.

I've found the PX4 to be very easy to control, even when shooting higher power defensive ammunition.

I’ve found the PX4 to be very easy to control, even when shooting higher power defensive ammunition.

I did do some semi-formal accuracy testing, shooting five-shot groups from 25 yards. I set the pistol up on a rest weighed down with a 25-pound bag of lead shot, so my platform was stable enough for government work.

AmmoAverage five-shot group diameter
Winchester Train 180-grain1.85”
Winchester PDX1 165-grain4.2” **
Winchester Defend 180-grain2.12”
Hornady Critical Duty 175-grain3.36” **
Barnes TAC-XPD 140-grain1.96”

** Recently, I installed XS Big Dot sights on this particular PX4 Storm. As the sight picture is more coarse (by design), I didn’t expect to get exceptionally small groups as the front sight covered the target circle at that distance. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to get three to four-inch groups using that sighting option.

Recently, I installed XS Big Dot Tritium Sights. I was pleasantly surprised that I was still able to shoot decent groups at 25 yards with the more "coarse" sighting.

Recently, I installed XS Big Dot Tritium Sights. I was pleasantly surprised that I was still able to shoot decent groups at 25 yards with the more “coarse” sighting.

The rear sight on XS Big Dots is a simple shallow "V" shape with an illuminated vertical post.

The rear sight on XS Big Dots is a simple shallow “V” shape with an illuminated vertical post.

The Barnes load was particularly well suited to this handgun. Felt recoil was a fraction of that of the other loads owing to the light, all copper bullet. Not surprisingly, muzzle flip was a fraction too and follow up shots were quick and easy. I’ve always felt that the Storm is a very comfortable gun to shoot, even in the snappier .40 S&W caliber variety, but the Barnes load made it feel like a 9mm. Accuracy also was stellar, with two-inch groups being the norm at 25 yards. Using the XS Big Dot Sight configuration, the Barnes load literally shot right through the center of the dot at 25 yards. And I mean right through it, with no detectable lateral of vertical shift.

Variants

There are three categories of PX4 variants: size, action-type, and, for lack of a better word, cosmetic.

While we’ve looked the PX4 Storm Full model, there are three other models with different form factors. The PX4 Storm Compact shaves ¾ inches from barrel length, almost an inch in overall length, and a half-inch in height. The PX4 Storm Subcompact takes barrel length all the way down to three inches. However, the subcompact model doesn’t use the rotary barrel system of all other PX4 models. It operates with a traditional tilt breech recoil system, presumably due to challenges of implementing the rotary system in the small package. The last size variant is the PX4 Storm SD (Special Duty) Tactical Pistol. Offered in .45 ACP, this pistol was developed as a contender for the Joint Combat Pistol program. The barrel extends about a half-inch outside of the slide and technically be threaded, although there are challenges to adding a suppressor with a standard thread mount. The rotation of the barrel will either loosen from the silencer or overtighten it depending on the threading orientation.

If you like gold trim, there's a model for you.

If you like gold trim, there’s a model for you.

On the cosmetic side, you’ll find the PX4 Storm Deluxe. Instead of the traditional black Bruniton finish on the steel components, they’re a polished gold color. To each his own, I suppose. The PX4 Storm Inox sports a stainless steel slide that complements the traditional black frame. Now that’s a look I can appreciate.

Closing Arguments

I’ve been shooting this particular PX4 Storm – a lot – for several years now. Unlike a normal new gun review scenario, I’ve had the opportunity to put thousands of rounds of punishing .40 S&W ammo through it – everything from pussycat hand loads for practice and plinking to full power self-defense rounds. It’s handled all bullet weights from 155 to 180-grain and a variety of full metal jacket and hollow-point profiles without complaint.

The safety / decocker looks cumbersome to operate, but it's not. Since it's spring-loaded, a quick swipe down and forward flips it up into fire mode.

The safety / decocker looks cumbersome to operate, but it’s not. Since it’s spring-loaded, a quick swipe down and forward flips it up into fire mode.

A single-slot rail allows attachment of a light and/or laser. I've used it with Streamlights and the Crimson Trace Rail Master Pro.

A single-slot rail allows attachment of a light and/or laser. I’ve used it with Streamlights and the Crimson Trace Rail Master Pro.

As noted earlier, my only minor gripe with the PX4 is the edges on the decocking levers. I’m going to swap the existing “F” models out and replace them with the low-profile “G” versions, thereby changing this particular gun to a double-action, single-action with decocking only functionality.

If I were to buy again, I’d probably opt for the 9mm version of the PX4 Storm. While the .40 S&W version is surprisingly controllable due to the focus on ergonomic features, the 9mm adds three rounds that’ll produce even less recoil and muzzle flip.

{ 24 comments… add one }
  • alan September 1, 2017, 3:32 pm

    I recently purchased the px4 storm. Love the gun but I really dislike the safety decocker. It really sticks out and catches your fingers when operating the slide. Anyone know where to get a replacement/ low profile safety for this gun?

  • ATM March 22, 2017, 10:28 am

    I have a PX4 full size 40 cal. I recently removed the extractor and noticed that the small internal spring, that goes inside the larger one was missing. Now, I watched many of the videos where the PX4 is field stripped and has that 2nd internal spring. My pistol has extraction issues with certain ammo, specifically range reloads. So I decided to just buy the small spring, install it and be done with it. Anyway, long story short, another forum stated that Beretta upgraded to a single spring. Cool, OK. Anyway I am posting this because if I determine that this resolves any and all of my remaining FTF issues, I am going to be very happy. I will let you know. I will want every PX4 owner to know. Worst case scenario, I’ll have a extra smooth, strong, extraction while firing. Sweet.

    • SkankHunt42 June 4, 2017, 1:56 am

      You\’re a whiney bitch……………..

  • AndreP March 10, 2017, 12:34 am

    Of all the handguns I own, the PX4 has given me the most grief. I first bought a 9mm and it took some time before the FTF problems went away. I gave it another shot with a 40sw, and the FTF issues have been constant, although with a bit of a break in, a good swift slap on the ass seems to push the cartridge into place. I’ve not had these issues with any other handgun I own. These are not guns I’d bet my life on.

    • Denner May 6, 2017, 11:10 pm

      Interesting, all the Storms I own have been 100% reliable with anything i’ve shot through them. 9mm sub, 9mm compact and a 40 compact. I would indeed trust my like to anyone of them, exceptional accuracy from these pistols as well.

  • John February 9, 2017, 8:51 pm

    I purchased one of PX4 and went to shoot it with friends all Liked the gun more than there’s two wanted to trade I said not but told them where to get it and two of them purchased the same thing a 40 cal. Then my son took mine and didn’t give it back so I purchased another one. I have several pistols and have had similar guns to PX4 but buy far this is the on I like the most until Berretta make a better one I will keep this one.

  • Cbeez.40 January 1, 2017, 1:49 am

    Does anyone know which hogue ect grips fit best on the px4 subcompact and if threaded barrels are avaliable in .40s&w? And last but not least how does the rotary barrel system work as far as quality, longevity, and managing (recoil/muzzle flip) I’m no competition qualified expert but I have plenty of experience with various firearms though new to px4 series with limited options especially for the subcompact. Any info appreciated

  • Chris October 24, 2016, 7:30 am

    I own the 40 cal PX4storm sub compact, as former military and a gun collector I love this firearm. My wife purchased it for self-defense. And i was sceptical at first but I fell in love with it quickly. I love everything about it I can’t say enough about it.

  • Shawn September 10, 2016, 9:19 pm

    As a Private military contractor i have found the px4 storm to be a quality fire arm . Thousands of rounds and no problem

  • Mike L August 4, 2016, 9:18 am

    I have several Storm pistols and am happy with them(1 9mm full size, 1 9mm compact and 1 full size in 45 unfired). I shoot the compact every time I got to the range. The bat wing safety/decocker is harsh but the G kit is small for useage. Someone suggested keeping the original safeties but making them decocker only and I’m strongly considering that.

  • P. A. Dick August 2, 2016, 6:02 pm

    I have owned a PX4 Sorm in .45 caliber for a few years. It is by far my favorite pistol. There is minimal muzzle rise. I am able to keep on target easily. I can say that I shoot that gun better than any other in my collection.

  • Rich August 1, 2016, 11:21 pm

    Also, fit and finish are excellent, easy to field strip, has different size magazine release buttons too. Night sights and magazines are readily available.

  • Rich August 1, 2016, 11:04 pm

    I’ve owned a PX4 chambered in .40S&W for several years now. It operates flawlessly and I’m not exaggerating. The only malfunctions EVER were ones that I set up to practice clearing malfunctions. I added a slip-on Hogue rubber grip, a “D” hammer spring to lighten the DBL action press and converted it to de-cock only. Partly because I NEVER used the safety lever to put it on safe but PRIMARILY because the de-cock only kit flush mounts to the slide. That’s my only complaint was that the stock safety lever (the “ears” that stick out have sharp edges) does beat up your hand when racking the slide. Otherwise, very comfortable to shoot and handles the recoil of .40 extremely well…..

  • Scotty G. August 1, 2016, 2:49 pm

    Funny, so many customers wanted that when I worked in a retail gun shop. Until they picked it up. The Storm tends to be very top heavy and a thick wide slide to house the rotary bbl. Many ended up buying something else (usually a Glock).
    The Nano, Pico, Storm,etc. I like Beretta, but sometimes wonder if they need to start drug testing their designers….

  • W.P. Zeller August 1, 2016, 10:12 am

    We have a full-time instruction business in a large metro area. One of our most popular classes features a “gun buffet”- anywhere from twenty to thirty 9mms (and a few revos) for the attendees to check out cold in the classroom and hot on the training range.
    At the larger store/range we do this class at, we get a PX-4 as part of the buffet from the house’s rental rack. I have seen many dozens of moderately experienced shooters deal with it and the other guns on the tables and we’ve formed some pretty solid and repeatable conclusions from years of doing the class.
    The handle ergos are indeed nice, and shooting the 9mm version is indeed fairly pleasant when firing from the single-action condition. Outside of that, our people struggle with this gun.
    While the handle ergos are good, the slide ergos are really bad. A large proportion of our people either have significant difficulty with operating the slide or simply can’t. Needless to say, this applies more to the women we see, and we get a high percentage of women students since my partner is a woman (and semi-pro action pistol competitor).
    The placement of the decocker is just plain bad. While the slide-racking effort is not too high, getting a reliable, and non-painful grip on the slide is close to impossible. The decocker is viciously shaped (the only way I can think of to describe it) and right where the racking hand needs to be strongly attached to the slide.
    Operating the decocker is also not good. True, most people who own DA/SA guns rarely, if ever, shoot them from the standard “safe” condition, DA. That’s another story and something that drives us nuts, too, like revo shooters who only thumb-cock their revolvers. Why buy a gun for self-defense if you refuse to operate in the manner which will be used in self-defense? Another story for another time.
    The Storm’s decocker is pretty hard to use; one can argue the wisdom of slide-mounted decockers, but decockers as hard to reach as the Storm’s only make it worse.
    What I can say is that after running our “Phase II- Gun Buffet” class for almost six years and about sixty-plus of those classes including the PX-4, we are not aware of single student going on to purchase one after shooting it in the class alongside two dozen other semis. (And we try to track purchases, for the benefit of the hosting store/range.)
    That pretty much sums it up.

    • Paul Molloy September 26, 2017, 12:03 am

      I own a PX4 full size and a 92 FS both in 9mm F type DA/SA. The fantastic 92 FS was my first a Beretta and I learned to rack the slide Israeli fashion using thumb and forefinger to grip the rear of the rack only. It’s easy to do since the machinery is beautifully snug and moves like glass. Racking this way on the 92 FS is essential…it has an open barrel and after any full magazine is shot, the barrel will burn you if you grip overhand. Needless to say I maintain this learned technique on the PX4 and avoid the decocker issues mentioned here. Just a tip. Overhand racking is for Glocks and the like but once you go Israeli you’ll see why the IDF teaches this way to rack, it’s fast, ergonomic and doesn’t tangle with a safety or a decocker…Beretta puts serrations on the back for this reason. Give it a try, you will be converted.

  • Kivaari July 2, 2016, 9:31 pm

    I believe the issues with the .40 wearing out some pistols faster than 9mm is not due to the “higher pressure”, since it runs at a lower pressure than 9mm, .357 SIG or .38 Super. The combination of heavier bullets, at a modest reduction in pressure compared to the others, but built on a 9mm sized-frame, causes premature wear. Or it would be normal wear considering the cartridge. Like .45 ACP, a low pressure round, throwing heavy bullets, the masses moving around beat parts up. Slide velocity and not pressure seem to be a bigger factor in wear and tear.

  • Kivaari July 1, 2016, 11:39 pm

    I have a PX4 in 9mm. It recoils quite a bit more than a Glock 17 or 19.

  • Kivaari July 1, 2016, 11:38 pm

    9mm runs at higher pressures than the .40 S&W. .40’s run at 32-33,000 psi, while 9mm runs at 35-36,000 psi. 9 +P+ runs 38-39,000 psi.

  • Chief Slowroller June 30, 2016, 8:22 pm

    I like my PX4 shoots great I did have some issue with vibrations thru the handle and trigger I believe it was not cleaned as well as it should have been with another cleaning the vibrations went away I thought it might have been the ammo but I shoot American Eagle or Winchester only I called Beretta they did not know so if any of you folks have experienced the vibrations let me know

  • Mike June 30, 2016, 5:32 pm

    I have the compact and I love it, it is my edc. I agree with your gripe and will also add the grip on it. While not horrible, threw many rounds it does get sweaty and slick, but I bought talon grips for it and now it is near perfect. I also changed it to a G model and like you said it makes it a lot easier on the hands for racking the slide. Great article!

  • Roy June 30, 2016, 3:16 pm

    I am a traditional guy as far as preferring metal and wood for my guns. I have had many different firearms over the years and still blessed to keep (and shoot) a very healthy collection. The Storm is one of my first ‘plastic’ guns. I bought it because of Berettas quality. It is my opinion that this is one of the finest most comfortable semi-autos I have owned. Very easy to find target with these sights, very minimal recoil. Easy to break down to clean. I don’t shoot it everyday or for hours when I do shoot it so I’m not at all concerned about it’s self destruction. I believe Beretta compensated for the high pressure round with the rotating barrel. When you’ve been shooting awhile, I believe you can feel when a firearm is beating itself up. This firearm simply shoots to “smooth” for me to believe that Beretta didn’t over compensate the strength of the barrel for the higher pressure .40 cal rounds. In my opinion this PX4 Storm is hard to beat for home protection, open carry and for flawless performance. Personally I am very pleased with the price and the product.

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