The Type-C Beretta Px4 Storm is noticeably different on first look due to its lack of safety decocker. The gun is classified as “single action only” because its hammer rests at half cock when you rack the slide, not unlike a stiker fired pistol.
This half-cock holds the hammer at partial tension, similar to a single action revolver half cock, but the trigger squeeze both finishes the full cocking of the hammer and fires the pistol.
Firing the pistol (or dry firing) is the only way to leave the hammer at full rest. There is no way to have a live round in the chamber with the hammer at rest. There is no de-cocker and you can not drop the hammer manually with your thumb. There is however, a firing pin block visually connected to the trigger of the gun.
Using a caliper I measured the trigger travel to full reset on the Px4 Type-C as compared to a Smith & Wesson Model 66 Revolver and a Springfield Armory XD .45.
The Px4 came in at 4/10ths of an inch. This was almost exactly between the revolver and the XD. The respective measurement pictures for the revolver are here and
here. For the XD they are
The distinctive Px4 rotating bolt is unlike any pistol in the current mainstream American market and has purported advantage in both recoil management and accuracy.
Taking down the Px4 is much like striker fired guns plastic guns. There is no cross bolt to remove. You just pull down the spring loaded catches. The big difference however is that you don’t have to fire the trigger before taking apart the gun unlike striker fired guns.
Like most modern autos you don’t have to take the Px4 down any further than this for cleaning. It does however have a special hammer group that comes out as one so you can clean it deeper without springs flying all over the place.
The block you see in the takedown picture has a little nub that slides in the rotating bolt. You would think that this is a wear part but apparently the Px4 never breaks.
Nobody wants to shoot someone by accident, not even if you already shot them once. But something that many people don’t understand is the criminal and civil liability that can arise from doing just that. It is hard to think about a concept such as “gunfight safety.” It is an oxymoron of sorts because a gunfight by nature is not safe. But when you choose a firearm, for concealed carry or as a duty gun, as a police officer or private security, you have to consider how likely is that gun to get you in trouble if you are in the heat of a potential or actual gunfight. Even if you are protected by statute from criminal liability as a police officer or if you live in a state with castle doctrine laws, lawyers can find a way to sue you regardless, and your ability to not fire the gun under stress could potentially affect your life as much as being able to fire the gun under stress.
Buried deep in the Beretta catalog is a version of the PX4 Storm called the “C-Type” for “constant trigger pull.” It is considered “single action only” which is usually a label applied to cowboy revolvers and 1911 style pistols. The action of the Type-C is unique, and it may be the ultimate happy medium that many people are looking for between a revolver, an automatic, and the different trigger and safety combinations on automatics.
The easier it is to fire a handgun, the more the potential there is for an “accidental discharge” where the gun goes boom unintentionally. Go google your favorite handgun name and “accidental discharge” and see what you get. It happens all the time to people who thought they were handling guns safely and you can never be too diligent in this regard. Fundamental gun safety is always important. Never point your gun at anything you don’t want to shoot, and always treat any gun as if it is loaded, even if you think you checked it enough to know that it is not. Also, never put your finger into the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot and the gun is safely pointed downrange.
Guns themselves, and handguns in particular, have a number of features built in to avoid accidental discharges. Each one has its pluses and minuses, and I’ll go over them briefly here.
Carrying a gun with a manual thumb safety engaged is perhaps the easiest way to avoid an accidental discharge while carrying the gun in its holster or upon drawing, but once you un-holster the gun and point it at a hostile target, expecting a possible gunfight, most training is going to tell you to drop that safety and hold your finger outside of the trigger guard until you are ready to actually fire. When your finger enters that trigger guard, the ease with which you can fire the shot will vary depending on the action type of the gun. On a 1911 type, it can be a very slight motion to fire that round, and it it is easy to mess up and fire a shot accidentally.
A Heavy Trigger Pull
Revolvers, like the famous Smith & Wesson Model 66 I’ve used in testing here, in .357 Magnum, are thought to be the simplest and safest guns to carry, even though there is no external safety on the gun. The long and heavy trigger “double-action” pull makes it impossible to pull the trigger unless you mean to, and as long as you don’t cock the hammer back manually with your thumb (a big mistake made in many movies), you should be protected from an accidental discharge, even if you prematurely place your index finger into the trigger guard. A squeeze of the trigger both cocks and fires the gun, and the additional force required to cock the hammer is enough to prevent the gun from going off by mistake.
That safety aspect of a double-action revolver for many people is reason enough to carry them alone. Many states even require that security guards carry revolvers, though that has been reversed recently in some states. The disadvantages of the revolver is that without extrensive practice it is difficult to fire them accurately without jerking the gun, because your hand does have to struggle against the heavy trigger pull. Another problem is that the “reset distance” is very long on a revolver. You have to let the trigger all the way out before you are able to squeeze off the next round. With training both of these can be overcome, but training takes time and money that many people don’t have.
Some autos, like the Sig 226 line, the Beretta 92 and regular Px4 F-Types, all of the CZ-75 types, the Browing High Power types, and many other hammer fired guns, have what is called a “double-action/single-action” trigger pull system. The first pull of the trigger both cocks and fires the pistol, like with a revolver, but recoil of the first round racks the slide back, cocking the hammer, so that subsequent trigger pulls are single-action, and easy to fire.
The difference in the two trigger pulls first shot to second shot can be a problem with DA/SA guns. You have just pulled so hard on the first shot that your finger naturally wants to take up the now spongy single action trigger, and you can fire a second shot very easily without meaning to. That unintentional second round can be a source of civil litigation. It is generally un-aimed, so it can hit stuff you don’t want to shoot. And if a lawyer can argue that your first shot disabled your attacker and that the second shot was not required, both criminal and civil negligence can be charged against you. Nobody wants to be in a gunfight and nobody likes to think about these things, but these are the realities of life, and without proper training and practice the DA/SA system may not be the best choice for many shooters.
A Long First Pull
Striker fired pistols like the Glock, Springfield Armory XD and many others employ something of a half-cock, where the spring that drives the striker is held under some tension, and the take up of the trigger finishes the spring tensioning and then fires the gun.
The pull on a striker fired gun is substantially lighter than the first pull on a double-action/single-action pistol, and it is also always the same. So that jerky unintended second shot that can happen with an untrained shooter of a DA/SA guns isn’t an issue with striker fired guns. The issue with these guns is the ability to fire that first shot too easily. Some striker guns are available with a manual safety. The XD is available with one, as are the Taurus striker guns. But Glocks and regular XDs and XD(M)s dominate the market for these guns, and a manual safety is not a standard feature on either gun.
The Beretta Px4 Storm Type-C
The Type-C is a happy medium between all of these actions. It is hammer fired and has its own version of half-cock, which is more of a true half-cock the way you think of it with single action revolvers. When you rack the slide, the hammer is suspended half way through its travel, so it is under tension. A squeeze of the trigger finishes cocking the hammer and releases it.
This might seem a little scary when you think about it at first, because you have a hammer at partial striking potential above the chambered round, but when you understand what is going on in the gun, it is really no different that the partial tensioning that we are all so used to in striker fired guns. The difference is that unlike the Glock and XD, the Px4 doesn’t have that little thingy on the trigger as a safety. Instead it has a actual physical firing pin block that you can see as it raises when you pull the trigger all the way backwards. It sticks out of the top of the gun.
You can see in the pictures that the Type-C doesn’t look like a regular Px4 because it doesn’t have the safety de-cocker on the side. This is a feature on double-action/single-action guns that is built to drop the hammer safely for you after you have racked a round into the chamber. The standard Type-F Px4 that you see in the gun shops generally has this, and it is noticeably absent on the Type-C. On the Px4 Type-F the decocker is also a manual safety, though I don’t think most people would carry it on safe in most duty environments. It is difficult to disengage with one hand.
So devoid of an external safety and in half-cock position, the Px4 Type-C is not that different from a Glock, but it also retains the safety advantages of a revolver, without the compromises of a double-action/single-action heavy and light first and second shots. Every trigger pull is the same, and somewhat heavy, much heavier than a Glock or XD. In fact when I measured this gun against a standard Px4 sub-compact (which they don’t make in Type-C), they both broke at around 12 pounds. Theoretically the Type-C should be a little lighter than a Type-F, but my test gun wasn’t as light as it potentially could be.
Reset length is something that is rarely advertised in duty firearms. I don’t know why, because it is one of the things that people naturally do and don’t like about individual guns. The Px4 Type-C is very interesting in this regard. Reset, if you didn’t catch it before, is the distance you have to let the trigger back out before you can pull it again for the next shot. I measured an XD .45 for this article at .176 inches. So after you fire a shot, you can let the trigger out less than 2/10ths of an inch when you hear and feel a click, letting you know that you can pull for the next shot. On a Smith & Wesson Model 66 revolver, that distance is .660 inches, which is basically all the way back out. On the Px4 Type-C, the reset was .399, right between the two. This is something that you will want to go to a gun shop and try yourself of course. But I personally found the reset to be as solid and comforting as any striker fired gun I have shot.
You’ll have to excuse me if I sound like a sales guy on this one. I am not a huge fan of either plastic pistols or double-action/single-action (or the Beretta 92 for that matter), so when I encountered this gun I was quite enamored with it. It doesn’t even appear on their website that I can tell. The Px4 micro-site makes no mention of it either. This is strange, because unlike many other “double action only” models of DA/SA guns, the Type-C was a completely unique design for the Px4.
About the Px4 Storm Line
Introduced in 2004, the Px4 Storms have become the anchor product of the Beretta pistol line. They were designed for actual military tests to replace the Model 92 (M9) that are in current use by the US Army, but in the end none of the guns that applied where selected and that was the end of that.
One thing that escaped many people though was that the Px4 was the only gun in all the testing to pass all of the tests. So even though nobody was selected, the Px4 is arguably the best of the bunch. I learned from an inside source at Beretta, (back when they were advertising heavily on the website), that the Px4s were tested more than any gun in the history of the company and did not fail through over 24,000 rounds with only minimal cleaning. They have been adopted by the Maryland State Police (Beretta is located in Accokeek MD) as well as in many city police deparments, as well as military units worldwide as far flung as Malaysia, South Africa and Portugal.
Something that makes the Px4 Storm somewhat novel is a rotating locking barrel design. On the US market there hasn’t been a gun like this since the Colt 2000, and that was a commercial failure. I never got the whole story of why Beretta chose this design for the Px4, but the basics were accuracy, reliability, and flip control. Part of the recoil is used up in the twisting motion of the barrel as the slide travels backward, and it directs it downward. The solid lock of the rotating bolt also theoretically makes the gun more accurate. I don’t know how much the average shooter could judge either of these things, but side by side the muzzle flip is less on the 9mm Px4 than a similar plastic 9mm. Accuracy on a pistol is a very difficult thing to judge regardless because of the small sight radius, so how the gun fits you and how you shoot it are really the only things that matter.
Other features that have become standard among polymer pistols are also standard on the Px4 line. There is a removable backstrap. In front of the trigger guard is an accessory rail, and a luminescent 3 dot sight system is standard. Standard magazine capacity is 17 in 9mm, 14 in .40S&W, and 9 in .45ACP. New this year at SHOT was a compact size Px4, that has the same rotating barrel design. I do not know whether they make this Type-C in anything but the full size 9mm.
This actual review gun had a unique treatment that I have never done with another gun. I sent it out to a reviewer who then lent it to his local range to use as an occasional rental gun. The range and the reviewer collected overall impressions on the gun and this is what they came up with. The reviewer has asked to be identified by his internet handle “hso” and many of you may know him as a moderator of The High Road, which is the most popular internet gun forum.