Beretta 92 vs. Taurus PT92

Coke and Pepsi. Ford and Chevy. Chocolate or strawberry. I could keep going with the clichéd comparisons, but you already know where we are heading.

No matter what you are discussing, you can rest assured the topic will eventually turn toward a rivalry. A feud. Two giants in their category squaring off, each with their diehard fans who will not accept that the other has even a scrap of merit.

Guns are no different. I could name a dozen such rivalries right off the tip of my tongue. But today, today we are talking about handguns, specifically double action (DA/SA) handguns, and one of the most enduring arguments in the pistol world will, perhaps, be settled here.

Today. Well, perhaps not, but I am at least going to throw some more wood on the pyre. Our subjects today are the Beretta Model 92 FS, the original, and the Taurus Model PT92 AF, the clone.

Beretta’s Model 92 is a classic, an iconic pistol, at turns greatly loved or greatly hated depending on who you talk to.

In its 30 years of service as the U.S. Military’s standard issue handgun, the 92 in one guise or another has seen combat on every continent except Antarctica (that we know of) and has further served dependably in the holsters of countless beat cops, security forces and armed citizenry.

It is the image of a handgun for people who grew up in the 1980’s and early 1990’s and it remains a thoroughly reliable and competitive DA/SA handgun today thanks to constant upgrades.

In the other corner, Taurus’ PT92 is no mere bootleg copy. Made in a former Beretta factory in Brazil using former Beretta plans and blueprints, the PT92 should have all the chops to be a worthy competitor, and it is greatly liked by enthusiasts.

It lacks the widespread use and adoption of its distant relative, but there are few handguns that do measure up to the Big B’s service record.

So the question is which of these handguns is better? Is one better, or are they two sides of the same coin? I have considerable experience with both pistols, and today in this article I will strive to answer that question. But first, let’s meet the makers of our contestants.

beretta 92fs
photo credits: Tim Dobbelaere from Ieper, Belgium under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

The Original: Beretta

Beretta (fully Fabbrica d’Armi Pietro Beretta, or Pietro Beretta Gun Factory) is the oldest continually operated and family owned firearms manufacturer in the world. They are, very literally, ancient. A living legend.

Founded in the 16th century, in Gardone, Italy, Italian archives hold proof of receipt for primitive long gun barrels made by Beretta to be purchased by the Republic of Venice.

They have equipped ancient wooden sailing navies with cannons and supplied armies. Their products featured in every major war in Europe since the mid 17th century. A full description of their history and exploits would require a book, not even a separate article.

While their sporting arms have for a long time been hugely successful and their military weapons a constant presence on battlefields throughout the ages, including the 20th and 21st century, it was the adoption of their Model 92 as the U.S. Military’s M9 pistol as a replacement for an increasingly ramshackle and aging fleet of 1911s that saw their popularity surge in the U.S.

A saying goes, “As the Army goes so too do the police and the citizens” when it comes to guns. The M9 proved that. Civilian sales skyrocketed in tandem with its regular issuance with police departments nationwide who reasoned that if the new pistol was good enough for the Army it was good enough for them.

The 92 started showing up in action movies and on TV screens all over, and its distinctly and radically opened slide and Italian styling making it as much a star as the big name actors wielding it.

A few years before, in the 1970’s, Beretta founded a factory in Sao Paulo, Brazil, under government contract to produce the model 92 for the Brazilian Army.

That contract ended in the year of 1980, at which time Beretta sold that plant, along with tooling, machines, plans and so forth for the 92 to a small Brazilian manufacturer of firearms, known as Taurus…

Taurus PT 92
photo by Vitaly V. Kuzmin under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

The Clone: Taurus

Taurus, or Forjas Taurus S.A., began manufacturer of dies and tooling, they are today a conglomerate manufacturing guns, armor, metal products and plastics.

They began firearms production in 1941 with a small revolver, and focused mainly on wheelguns in the decades between the 1940s and the 1980’s when they purchased the Beretta factory, and that emphasis on wheelguns continues today, though they produce many semi-auto pistols as well.

When Taurus purchased Beretta’s Sao Paulo factory, they turned around and immediately began producing one of their most successful models, the PT92, a clone of the Beretta 92 in nearly every detail except the location of the safety-decocker lever.

Other minor changes including the location of the magazine release and shape of the trigger guard, or addition of a rail on the dustcover have not impacted the essential design of the pistol which is, again, a near total clone of the Beretta.

Taurus makes guns known primarily for low cost and some innovations. They claim a lower cost of labor as well as the ability to manufacture almost everything needed for their guns in house keeps costs low and that their quality is on par with any of the world’s premier gun manufacturers.

The PT92 is certainly popular, and has been throughout its life, but is it the equal of the Beretta original? Let’s get to the analysis.

92 and PT92AF Feature Comparison

FeatureBeretta 92FSTaurus PT92
Caliber9mm Para.9mm Para
Capacity15 Standard17 Standard
SafetySlide located, with decockerFrame located, with decocker

Were you to lay a 92 and PT92 beside each other with no maker’s marks, you would notice only a few essential design differences: the most obvious, the placement of the safety, is easily spotted with the PT92 having a frame mounted safety-decocker while the Beretta 92 series guns all stay with the slide mounted affair.

The other differences are the shape and width of the slide serrations and the style of the rail on the dustcover (if comparing the PT92 to a railed M9 variant).

One interesting thing to note is that that Taurus safety lever arrangement is fundamentally different from the Beretta. The Taurus safety is Up for Safe, Down for Fire, and Full-Down for decock which rebounds to the fire position.

The Beretta is down for safe, which simultaneously decocks the pistol, and up for fire. The Taurus safety also allows for single action on-safe carry, whereas the standard Beretta does not.

Note that the magazines, while very close in design, are not cross compatible. Aside from these obvious differences, the guns are functionally identical: trigger mechanism, action, method of disassembly, you name it.

Aside from the different safeties, the manual of arms is the same. Their pertinent major features are identical: the iconic open slide, tilting locking block action cribbed from the Walther P38, and (today’s) hooked trigger guard are all identical.

The comprehensive safety systems are identical in function. The large, long external extractors are identical. There is not much more to say about their form factor and functionality.

All of the variation in the performance of these two pistols stems from how they are made. The materials, quality control and quality assurance.

Skilled manufacture of parts and assembly. Some intangibles. If all you care about is design, then these guns will be interchangeable for you. If you care about best then keep reading.

But the Military Hated the Beretta…

One elephant in the room that must be addressed concerning the 92 family of pistols is its lingering bad reputation among some members of the military that were issued these pistols in the form of the M9.

This bad reputation, naturally, has spread to and convinced some civilian and police users (those that inform their own choices off of the prognostications of soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen) that the Beretta is a dud, that it is junk, unreliable, inaccurate and so forth.

What we need to know is if these assertions are true or not. So what’s the verdict?

The answer is, as always, complicated. The truth is that many servicemen did indeed have terrible experiences with the M9 (the military designation for the closest civilian analog of Beretta’s 92F/FS).

Many of these guns proved to be highly unreliable. Some even flat out refused to work in field conditions. Why is this so, and knowing so, how can I continue to give the Beretta such high marks?

Simply stated, the view of these pistols held by most men and women in military service is so far removed from baseline that it is non-indicative of the typical performance of these guns.

This is not to say they are being dishonest about their experiences, far from it, but in a sense their “evaluation” as it were was rigged from the start through no fault of their own.

As anyone who has spent considerable time in the military will tell you, much of the issued equipment is beaten half to death and still trotted out year after punishing year, despite being within a hair’s breadth of permanent decommissioning.

Punishing firing schedules, overzealous cleaning, deferred maintenance and more all add up to pistols that are, frankly, worn completely out and incapable of performing their best whatever the conditions. Worse, at soon after the adoption of the pistol the military contracted a huge supply of notoriously unreliable magazines for the M9 made by Checkmate Industries, now rightly infamous for their poor finish, build and material quality.

That classy move undoubtedly contributed to the massive number of experienced malfunctions in service.

So, later on, if you take guns that are beaten half to death, not maintained properly, in dire need of parts replacement and issued with faulty magazines and then throw them into a harsh environment you should absolutely expect a whole lot of problems. This is simply an unfair mark to level against the design of the pistol as a whole.

Concerning the magazines, even novice shooters know that no automatic or semi-automatic firearm is good enough to function properly despite a defective or poorly designed magazine.

Talk to users who are issued or choose Berettas that enjoy at least a modicum of maintenance and routine parts replacement when required, that are also issued with factory magazines, and the results are quite different.

These are heavy-duty pistols more than capable of running well and hard in virtually any environment.

Full Disclosure

I am no great fan of Taurus pistols. I have shot and seen students shoot and struggle to shoot their guns for too long to hold anything but a decidedly unimpressed opinion of most of their semi-auto pistols. Their revolvers fare somewhat better, and the PT92 has typically been a solid performer.

In my classes and in training I have attended, to say nothing of the countless hundreds of hours of competition and informal shooting I have participated in I regularly see Taurus guns malfunction, stop working or otherwise break far more often across all models than other major competitors guns.

Now, many Taurus owners are happy with their pistols. Fine, I do not intend to rain on their parade. The facts are this though, for the vast majority of Taurus guns they do not work well for long when shot hard and fast.

Most are not expected to last for a long service life because your average owner will only put perhaps a 1,000 rounds through their pistols in the course of their lives.

So part of this grievance stems from what is expected of the gun. If you are a committed practitioner or professional user, a thousand rounds is nothing. Training, qualification and demoing alone will consume thousands and thousands of rounds. I have pistols with well over 30,000 rounds through them, and they are still going strong after parts replacement.

It’s Not Just a Name, Folks

I assert that Taurus products as a whole are not intended to be heirloom grade guns. As a company, their lack of QA/QC is legendary or, rather, infamous among serious users. Just because a company is using Beretta machinery in a Beretta factory and with Beretta plans does not mean they will build a gun like Beretta does.

Worker expertise in design and assembly counts. Materials count. Servicing, calibration and ongoing quality-of-program improvements for the machinery and assembly line counts. Taurus is known as lacking in all of these areas.

In 2015, they issued a recall for over 1 million guns manufactured over 15 years. They proudly advertise a lifetime warranty, and if you shoot it regularly your gun will likely have cause to use it. In 2012, the wait time for a factory warranty serviced handgun was measured in months. This was due to backlog.

That being said, I can say that I believe the PT92 is undoubtedly their best product. While it is not perfect, it is a far sight beyond their Millennium series and other semi-auto guns, which are almost universally garbage.

Does it stack up against the original Model 92FS? No. Is it a decent gun? Yes, and until recently just about the only gun I would consider owning from Taurus.

The Beretta on the other hand is a finely made handgun in all regards. If you do not believe it pick up and run the action on both guns in a gun shop, box fresh.

If you claim you cannot tell a difference in the smoothness of the action you are either a neophyte or a liar. That is not just a finish you are feeling, that is the difference quality makes: materials, machining, fitment, all essential ingredients in producing a superior firearm.

This is not snobbery. The Beretta is objectively better and more reliable across a far larger established sample size than the Taurus copy.

Don’t take my word for it. Consider that the Beretta, not the Taurus, has been adopted and issued by dozens more militaries and agencies than the Taurus clone. If price were the sole difference, as champions of the cheap proclaim, why on earth would any single organization or user group ever choose the Beretta over the Taurus? Hm?

Bottom Line Up Front

The PT92AF is a nice enough pistol, and one of the only consistently good products from Taurus, a company with an established track record among serious users for churning out sub-par (at best) guns.

But the PT92 does not hold a candle or a prayer to its progenitor, the Beretta 92 when it comes to punishing usage tempo and service life.

The frame mounted safety is easily actuated by the shooting hand thumb and is arguably a better location than the original’s slide mounted affair, but one small revision to a control does not a superior pistol make.

Beretta’s proven track record for durability, longevity and reliability is light years ahead of Taurus, and no amount of re-purposed equipment can make up that difference until Taurus fully commits to similar excellence in manufacture.

And on that note, perhaps they will do just that in the very near future. More on that in a moment.

Considering these two nearly identical pistols, if the chips are down and lives are on the line, you would be best served by the Beretta 92 if given a choice.

The Beretta 92 and Taurus PT92 families of pistols have been vicious competitors in the commercial space for decades, and neither showing any signs of slowing down or giving ground. But for discerning users, be they professional or just plain serious shooters, there is a clear victor in this showdown:

Beretta is the winner, however:

Taurus is Shaking Things Up

I’m updating this article with what I predict will be very, very good news for Taurus as a whole. The company is undergoing a significant shake up with the hiring of Bret Vorhees as the new CEO.

Mr. Vorhees recently departed Walther Arms where he, among other forward thinking and hard-charging employees, was responsible for knocking the rust off that prestigious brand and fast tracking a campaign and internal culture of innovation, exceeding quality and knockout products for the past few years.

Walther quickly shot to new fame and recognition among hardcore shooters as a result and word on the street is he has plans to do the same at Taurus.

Also noteworthy is Taurus hiring Caleb Giddings, known to some readers from Gun Nuts Media and also as a writer in various gun publications both online and in print.

Mr. Giddings is an excellent shooter and especially noteworthy for his vast knowledge and expertise with revolvers. Considering that revolvers have long been the flagship product of Taurus his hiring, in conjunction with Mr. Voorhees and others, bodes extremely well for the company’s future offerings.

Already their Executive Grade 856 revolver is garnering good marks from wheelgun aficionados, even from those who have long been critical of Taurus as I have.

What is the point of all this, if not just to talk about current events? The point is that gun companies can and do change over time, good and bad, and being loyal to brand image alone is always a bad idea.

With new people come new ideas, new company culture and new procedures. Following that, new and hopefully improved products! 

Many prestigious manufacturers that were once seen as pillars of the industry have been through the wringer in the past decade or so, and are now shadows of their former selves. Others, once thought to be “less than” or just shambling off into irrelevance have come roaring back.

Based on what I know about the people getting on board with Taurus, the stage is certainly set for their renaissance.

Whether you like Taurus or you don’t is irrelevant. Whether I like them or don’t is irrelevant.

What is relevant is that we are likely to see a significant increase in the quality of their guns, and I for one would be thrilled to see a generational upgrade and attendant increase in overall quality for their PT92 line to compete with the various iterations of the Beretta M9/92- M9A3, M9A4, et al.

Time will tell, but we shouldn’t have to wait long.

beretta 92fs vs taurus pt92 pinterest

18 thoughts on “Beretta 92 vs. Taurus PT92”

  1. Why don’t you include a price comparison, so that people can see that you are comparing two Fords, with one at Lincoln pricing? For the cost of a Beretta, you can pay a gunsmith to fine-tune a Taurus to a jewel and have enough left over to make yourself a decent shot.

  2. The 2nd Generation of the Millenium appear to be much better, correcting the 1st Generation shortcomings. The G2 PT-111 9m compact is of what I speak of.

    Back in 1980’s, my Uncle was a fan of Taurus handguns. Considered them ‘poor boy S&Ws’.

    1. I really liked the article and in my opinion Taurus is not even worth the time spent comparing with Beretta. I am a police officer in the state of Rio de Janeiro with a 15-year career and until 2018 the standard pistol used was the Taurus PT 100 .40 S&W so the police started to switch to GLOCK G22 as well .40 S&W. For my personal use I use the GLOCK G17 9mm. What I have to say about Taurus in police use is that it failed several times and several colleagues reported failures during shooting when it was not about paper targets. Decocker anda firepins broken, are common. Poor finish quality is also another point that TAURUS is ridiculous. Rust is a big problem. In models with oxidized finishes, a little rain is enough to rust the gun. Here in Brazil they buy TAURUS only for the price, even paying double for a glock I would not buy a TAURUS.

      1. You Brazilian should be proud to have a genuinely national manufacturer. I see you as another expatriate who lives in Brazil and has no affection for the country. Why then go to another country and be discriminated against for being Brazilian? Taurus, like you (I believe), seeks to improve and perfect. Do not throw stone on your own roof that is already full of leaks 🙂
        Or do you think that developed countries that manufacture the weapons you like will accept you just because they buy their weapons?

  3. While I enjoyed the read, you never mentioned your personal experience with the gun. You just said what you saw. While I agree, Taurus has had issues in the past. There quality over the last few years has greatly improved. My wife’s carry gun is a G2c, and I’d shoot that any day. The average person is looking at 3 things when the purchase a weapon. Form, function, and price. The newer Taurus guns meet all of those qualities. I’d take a PT 92 over a Beretta. I’ve shot the 92FS and absolutely abhor the safety on the rail, but that is just my opinion. I wish you would have put shooting data in the article, to actually compare the 2. Then you could actually say one is better than the other.

    1. I actually own six of these two firearms 3 of each and with a little bit of time love and attention you can get 92FS performance out of the PT92 AF but remember that is with a little TLC not outta the box. Both 92’s are fine weapons and the FS is a beast but for a man who lives on a budget like myself the 92AF with some affordable upgrades is more than a sub-par pistol I’d bet my life on mine and do since I also carry one on occasion. I am a budget guy I inherited 4 of these pistols including all of the Beretta FS models I couldn’t afford one either I just was fortunate that my grandfather could and chose to leave his firearms to me when he passed away. Just wanted to give my opinion but like I said it’s just an opinion.

  4. I am no neophyte, but I am no expert either. I have experience with dozens of different semi-auto pistols [and revolvers] that includes hammer/trigger/sear modifications [polishing internals or stoning new angles] on many of the most common/popular striker-fired, SA, and DA/SA semi-autos. I know what a good trigger feels like- from the takeup, through any creep to the breaking point/let off.

    That said, this year I bought a Taurus over a Beretta because the trigger pull felt both smoother and had a crisper break point-with less DA trigger bobble feel due to weight of pull. Sure, it was used, and the Beretta was NIB. So, the Taurus may be ‘broken in’ and the Beretta may get to that point or better. The point is that the Taurus was obviously smoother, with less stacking, and a crisp break point- in either DA or SA mode. And, I do know something about handgun actions.

    Add to that the fact that it was a safety-only model, allowing me to use it cocked and locked, and it was a slam dunk.

    Here is what I don’t get about this post. This article writes from ‘experience’, but then it seems to simply rely upon ‘beretta is made better, by better technicians, with better tools’. And, I’ve used both for long enough to know.

    I was expecting something like, I don’t know, real data to use for comparison. I could write the exact opposite viewpoint from my experiences/impressions. Neither has any supporting evidence.

    If you really want to convince us that the Beretta is superior, use data in support.

    What is the difference in the aluminum alloy used, the forging process, or the machining process in making the frames?

    How is the anodizing better on one than the other? or, are they both to the same standards?

    What about rockwell hardness number differences? You could get a measuring tool and compare them from samples in hand. How about hardness of locking lugs or barrel lugs?

    Also, there is absolutely no sign that you are aware that the ORIGINAL Beretta 92 design had a frame mounted safety, and then moved to slide mounted around 1979-ish. IF the factory equipment in Brazil was set up by 1976/77, it was producing firearms with the same frame mounted safety as Berettas had in Italy in that year. The Beretta company just changed the design while the Brazilian plant stuck with the existing safety design.

    I was disappointed because there wasn’t even a ‘shoot out’ between the two, that evaluated accuracy. Sure, it would have been from two ‘samples of one’- but it would have given something more than ‘Trust me- Beretta is better.’

    I don’t disagree with your conclusion. I just wish it were based on some actual data, rather than your impressions. As they do not match my impressions.

    1. (What is the difference in the aluminum alloy used, the forging process, or the machining process in making the frames?

      How is the anodizing better on one than the other? or, are they both to the same standards?

      What about Rockwell hardness number differences? You could get a measuring tool and compare them from samples in hand. How about hardness of locking lugs or barrel lugs? )

      Jason, Charles Yor can’t answer you about the technical data cause he has no clue. He is just a Beretta fan like the ones that think Glock is the best pistol in the world.

  5. Jason,
    I agree 100% with your comments! I started reading the article with great interest because I was on the fence as to which pistol to buy. The author cited Beretta being the “original” and his preference for where the safety was places as his reason for choosing the Beretta. Like you said machining techniques, metal alloying and parts processing are much more relevant factors! The Beretta t is a nice weapon, and we were issued these in the Navy while on ASF, but I ended up buying the Taurus because of the price.

  6. Our local gun club has a new Taurus PT92 for $439.99 and a used Beretta 92FS for $449.99. I read this article with great interest, hoping to gain an ‘experts’ opinion and insights. But what we have here is a pretty one-sided, biased article with no real facts. Just an opinion based on historical reputation of Beretta and Taurus. That doesn’t really tell me anything relevant about THESE guns.
    And since Beretta has issues with frames breaking, by your own historical precedence, wouldn’t that tell us that all Beretta’s would be garbage? Companies make mistakes, learn from it and make better models in the future – so why wouldn’t you believe that could happen with Taurus too?
    I have no bias, but try not be drawn in solely for the name — but for the actual gun’s fit, features, accuracy, dependability and functionality.
    But, I did learn something from this article. I learned that I’m not really interested in reading any more of Charles Yor’s pre-determined, biased firearm reviews. So I guess it wasn’t a total waste of time.

  7. I have both the Beretta and the Taurus. The Taurus is better than the Beretta. Just the safety is a thousand times better than the Beretta. Accuracy is the same, quality is in the same region. I paid 400 for my Taurus with 3 mags and case. I paid 700 for the Beretta. IMO the Beretta is not worth the extra money.

  8. Maybe today Taurus is on a New chapter. A range in Brasil(called Recife Pistol) owns a Taurus TS9 9mm pistol and these pistol looses their accuracy after 63000 rounds and before this only a small part broked (not related with safety).

  9. I own both a PT99AF and a Beretta M9. I love my Taurus far and above my M9. M9 shoots well but hate slide mounted safety/decocker.PT99AF has frame mounted safety/decocker. I love carrying my PT99AF cocked and locked as my EDC gun. I love my Taurus better than my Beretta. I am looking to sell my M9 for a reasonable offer so I can buy a PT 92 as a brother to my PT 99.

  10. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, pick the crappiest, low budget gun and the best high quality gun. You take the high quality one, and I’ll give you two shots, I get one; but I go first.

    Most people are not in a desert or jungle putting scores of rounds through their guns daily. A lower quality is perfectly acceptable for most civilian firearms use.

    I have some very expensive and high quality firearms and I have some budget guns. Were someone to threaten me or my family the closet one in reach will do just fine.

  11. I was trying to decide which one to buy. After reading this article and the comments below, i am none the wiser. The article is not so much as an information piece as an anti-taurus rant with no actual tests conducted.

  12. I can say that I have experienced nothing but trouble with any Taurus I have ever owned or shot. Having tried one of their 9mm pistols from the ’90s, I was unable to run through a 10-round magazine without a failure using 2 different brands of fmj ammo. I owned 2 revolvers from Taurus, one new ond one used. The new one was sent in for timing issues twice, but the problem was never corrected. The used one was sent in because the barrel came loose from the frame during firing. Upon return, the entire cylinder and arm assembly came off on the 2nd time back to the range. Sorry Taurus, but never again.

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