Berettas CX4 Storm and 92G-SD Make a Great Match Battery
Photos & Story
by Scott Smith
Every once in a while a new piece of equipment or firearm comes along that makes people stand up and take notice. The Beretta CX4 Storm and new 92G-SD, introduced in 2003, were such firearms.
At the Beretta/Federal writer's demo held prior to the 2003 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show, this carbine and pistol were on the must shoot list. The reasons for this attraction were simple; the Storm uses Beretta pistol magazines (M92 for 9mm, M96 for .40 S&W, and M8045 for .45 ACP), and the carbine is compact, accurate, and is priced right.
The 92G-SD combines the best features of other members of the 92 family from Beretta. The frame is from the IDPA and USPSA popular Elite II, with the heavier Brigadier slide to tame recoil and speed shot-to-shot recovery. It uses the G series decocker and adds the light rail from the 92 Vertec. All things that are attractive to the end user; be they civilian, military or law enforcement.
Let's start with the Storm since it is an entirely new venture for Beretta. The CX4 Storm has several really impressive features, but the biggest one is that it is ambidextrous. Many firearms make this claim, but the Storm lives up to it. Not only does the charging handle change sides, but so does the ejection port and the extractor/ejector system. This ensures reliable extraction of spent cartridges; a must for a duty/self-defense firearm. Changing the ejection/extraction system eliminates the need for a brass deflector to keep the shooter from being showered with spent cases.
The feel of the Storm is another of the carbine's strong points. The Storm is butt heavy, which means that you are not working to balance the beast during sustained firing. According to several of the members of the Williamsport, PA, PD SRT, the Storm "feels" right when it is shouldered, even better than their beloved MP5s. That's pretty high praise for a carbine that is literally just hitting the market as I sit here writing about it.
Not only does the Storm feel good, but it looks great. Polymer components abound in this carbine and they give it a very distinct look. The body-receiver and buttstock are of a gunmetal gray color, while the barrel and recoil pad are black for that two tone effect. Adding to the Storm's distinct looks are the protective wings for the front and rear sights; they give this carbine a Buck Rogers ray gun look.
The futuristic look of the Storm adds to the fun of shooting and owning one. This little rifle is a conversation starter at the range; sorry for getting off on a tangent. Even though the carbine weighs nearly six pounds, it does not feel that way.
Since most of the weight is in the butt close to the operators body, the Storm handles and balances very well. With the weight being near the user, this little rifle tracks very well from target to target, or on a moving target such as a Bianchi-style mover. This makes the CX4 carbine portable and fast handling. Both characteristics are needed, be it on duty or the range of a 3-Gun Match.
During our field testing of the Storm, its compactness allowed for easy cornering of buildings, moving around furniture and allowed the operator to fire it out the driver's side window without putting the barrel through the windshield. If used for 3-Gun Matches, the Storm will easily clear tables and chairs that are popular props in these matches.
The overall length of the carbine and its balance (the butt weight kept the carbine high on the chest) keeps the Storm from interfering with manipulation of your handgun when transitioning to it from the Storm.
Slinging the Storm in a muzzle down attitude is easily accomplished with a Quake Jungle Sling. This makes the transition to the 92G-SD, fast and easy. A Quake Industries Jungle Sling kept the Storm out of the way and readily accessible during the Storm and 92G-SD range sessions. This would be a good combination for carrying the Storm doing checkpoint duty, on an SRT call out, or at the range for close-range 3-gun matches.
Since this is a firearm, I could pontificate for days on how cool it looks, how nifty it feels, and how it handles, but how it performs is what you need to know. Initially we could not get the lightweight blaster to run.
When the Storm arrived, it was in left-hand use configuration. No sweat to change the charging handle and move the cover for the ejection port and it's ready for right-handers again. Note: Read the instructions. The ejector and extractor must also be changed or the spent brass ejects back into the port, not out of it and clear of the firearm.
After changing the ejector/extractor, the Storm ran fine. Some quick plinking with a variety of 9mm ammo proved the Storm to be absolutely reliable. Bullet designs were flat-points, hollowpoints, and round nose. Weights were 115-147 grains, and the bullets were lead, jacketed, and frangible. None of this mattered to the Storm, it shot them all well.
During our test and evaluation with the CX4 Storm, several loads of 9mm ammunition were used. International Cartridge 110-grain HP Sinterfire Bullet; Cor-Bon 115-grain JHP; Federal 9BPLE 115-grain JHP; Speer 124-grain Gold Dot HP; Black Hills 124-grain JHP; Winchester 147-grain SXT HP; PMC 115-grain FMJ, and Remington 147-grain Gold Sabre, as well as a mixed bag of reloads, were used to wring out the Storm. This ammunition represents a variety of training, duty, and self-defense loads from the major players in the field.
Many rounds were fired using the factory peep sights and accuracy averaged 4-5-inch 10-round groups at 50 yards. To see how the Storm rates in the accuracy field, a Trijicon Reflex ACOG was added and mounted on the optional picatinny rail. The Reflex is an easy-to-mount, and adjust dot sight. Most likely this is how the Storm will be deployed and be used either on duty or for matches. The factory peep sights will most likely be used as a back-up to a dot sight.
Accuracy testing was done at 50 yards from a field-supported standing position. A solid tree was used for a field-expedient support, ala Daniel Boone. Believe it or not, gripping the tree and resting the rifle in the crook between the tree and your thumb is very stable, and it was all that I had at the time.
The best group fired was with Speer 124-grain Gold Dot with 16 rounds going into less than 1.25 inches. International, Federal, and Winchester loads came in at 1.5 inches with Remington, Cor-Bon, and PMC running 2 inches. All in all, that's good for 16 rounds. The Storm should be more than accurate enough for any close-range situation and if need be, body shots out to 100 meters are not a problem.
For CQB work, the Storm really shined. It handles well in tight quarters and double taps are not a problem, thanks to the weight and the proven blowback design. Both factors make the recoil seem more like shooting a .22 LR and not a 9mm carbine. For added recoil control during the speed/CQB shooting phase of the testing, I added a First Samco Vertical Forearm Grip.
Splits for double taps with the Storm were under 0.50 of a second at targets at 15 meters, while dumping a 16-round magazine at contact distance can be done in under 3 seconds and keep all rounds in the "0" zone of an IDPA target. Even when on the move the Storm gives good accuracy, with 16-round groups running around 3 inches while Groucho walking into (from 15 meters), out from, and across the target.
After sending several hundred rounds down range, the Storm needed a field stripping and cleaning. To accomplish this, remove the magazine and ensure the Storm is empty. Then push out the locking lug. At this point the barrel/action should slide off the receiver/buttstock. Next retract the slide and remove the charging handle. This will allow the bolt assembly to slide right out, and you now have a field stripped CX4 Storm carbine.
Clean and lubricate with your preferred CLP and lubricant. To reassemble the carbine simply reverse the take-down order. I found the Storm to be virtually impossible to put together wrong, save for installing the ejector/extractor in the wrong configuration for which side you want it to eject spent cartridges.
Overall the CX4 Storm is a fine, light carbine; accurate, durable, and easy to maintain. Not only is the CX4 Storm a reliable firearm, but it is designed to meet the user's needs. The Storm has a forward-mounted light/grip extension. This is stored in the forearm and is released by pushing in on the front stud swivel.
An additional mount is provided for mounting a flashlight or laser on the side of the forearm. Lastly the Storm has an optional full-length picatinny rail that will allow the mounting of numerous styles of optics from red dots, to telescopic sights, to fit the user's/mission's needs.
If you own a Beretta 92/96 or the 8045 series of pistols, the CX4 Storm would be a great addition to your arsenal. This carbine will feed from your handgun's magazines. It is lightweight, will easily store in the trunk of your cruiser, and will increase your effective range.
If you are looking to compliment the Storm, the 92G-SD would be an excellent choice. The 92G-SD (G for decock only, SD for Special Duty) could be the apex of this successful series of pistols. With the Elite II frame, the pistol fits those with smaller hands, offers a bit of a dovetail to allow for a higher grip, and is factory checkered for a better purchase.
Its heavy Brigadier slide tames even the hottest loads from
Cor-Bon or Triton. The dovetailed front and rear sights allow
the user to install a number of after-market sights such as Heinie
or Novak models. The integral light rail accommodates combat lights
like the M3 from Streamlight and there are several holsters available
to fit the 92G-SD for duty, concealed carry and competition. All
in all, a nearly perfect pistol. So let's see how good it is.
Since the 92 series is a tried and combat-proven family, the 92G-SD should carry on that heritage and then some. One of the biggest improvements made was the recessed target crowned barrel. This adds to the pistol's inherent accuracy and protects the crown from damage in extreme use such as duties encountered by SWAT cops or INS Border Patrol officers.
On the range, this crown helped the 92G-SD shoot groups under 3 inches for 15 rounds offhand at 15 meters. While that may not sound great for a fully tricked out 1911 or Ruger MK II, this is an out-of-the-box duty pistol, and that's an impressive group for 15 rounds, at least in the humble opinion of the author.
Thanks to the Elite II frame's shape and size, the pistol fits users that have small hands or who are wearing gloves. This is no easy feat considering that many shooters of small stature have installed a short trigger and flat mainspring housing on their 1911s to yield a proper fit. The 92G-SD even fits those operators who think the large-frame Glock 20/21 series is just right. It goes to show that a lot of thought went into the ergonomics of this pistol.
The checkering on the frame appears to be 25 lines-per-inch (lpi), but I won't swear to it. The checkering gave a secure grip when the 92G-SD was shot with gloves on, or when my hands were sweaty, thanks to a few humid and hot late summer days.
Beretta installs Trijicon night sights on the 92G-SD to give the user a clear, sharp, sight picture in daylight or low light conditions. If you prefer Novak's, XS Sights and Heinie Specialty Products offer replacement sights to fit the front and rear dovetails cut into the slide. This gives the user a wide range of options to meet individual requirements or preferences. Again, a lot of thought went into a factory duty handgun.
Performance wise, the 92G-SD can run with the best pistols out there. Like the Storm, a wide range of factory ammo was used for testing and evaluating the pistol's capability. The ammo used was from: International Cartridge; Speer; Federal; Cor-Bon; Black Hills; Winchester; Remington, and PMC. Bullet weights ranged from 110-grain Sinterfire frangibles to 147-grain hollowpoints.
The 92G-SD shot all of our choices well. The pistol did not show any real preference for bullet weight or bullet style. The worst group-if it can be called that-was a hair over 4 inches for 15 rounds at 15 meters offhand. For what it's worth, this was with mixed Cor-Bon and its Triton 115-grain JHPs. I will attribute this to the velocity and increased recoil of the loads, and trying to shoot these as fast as a 147-grain American Eagle FMJ.
The best overall group was fired with mixed Remington 147-grain Gold Sabers and International Cartridge 110-grain SF bullet; with 15 rounds coming in at just under 3 inches and several of the rounds in both cases, going into 4- and 5-shot clusters. This is good, out-of-the-box accuracy, and should meet most people's needs for personal protection, duty, or IDPA/USPSA competition. Thanks to the proven open slide of the 92 family, there were no malfunctions throughout the nearly 500 rounds that were fired.
Like the rest of the 92 family, the G-SD is a snap to break down and clean. Remove the magazine and ensure the firearm is clear/empty, lock the slide to the rear, rotate the slide lock lever down, and remove the slide. After that, remove the recoil spring and barrel from the slide and the pistol is ready to clean and lubricate with your favorite cleaner and oil. Reverse this procedure and you're done.
How impressed with the 92G-SD am I? Well, I have carried it in a Blade Tech Kydex for daily carry and have slipped on my Streamlight M3 and holstered it in a Blackhawk Omega thigh holster when conducting training for a couple of local PDs. If I were to travel into harm's way for a living, be it in the military or in law enforcement, I would not feel under-gunned with the Beretta 92G-SD. The Storm/92G combo would be ideal for local 3-Gun Matches because of the shorter ranges most clubs shoot. All in all, the Storm/92G will fit most users' needs.
Check out Beretta's website at: www.berettausa.com, or call them at: 301-283-2191 to get more information on the CX4 Storm or the 92G-SD, and the other firearms in the Beretta family.