The Czar begins every firearm review with some variant of the phrase “It has been a while since our last gun review.” Not the next one. But for this one, yes, it has been a while.
|The Beretta PX4 Storm. It’s called Storm to make it sound cool and powerful, but actually uses some pretty old, familiar parts in surprisingly new ways.|
The Czar had an opportunity this weekend to put quite a few rounds through the Beretta PX4 Storm, in .40 caliber. Beretta is certainly keen to promote this weapon as something breath-taking and new, featuring its rotating barrel. The truth is, nothing on this weapon is new; all of these features (although perhaps not in this combination) are available on other weapons.
Some of our readers are not well-versed in firearms, so the Czar will attempt to explain some of this. A “rotating barrell” does not mean the barrel spins around like one of those big quad guns you see on heavy aircraft, although God knows that would be seriously cool and the Czar would cheerfully fire one of them.
The PX4 uses internal parts that move around when fire, as do most firearms. But get this: when you pull the trigger on a PX4, a hammer strikes the back of the bullet. This is interesting because most weapons these days use firing pins—little pieces of metal that spring forward and strike the back of the bullet to fire it. The PX4 uses an old-fashioned hammer to swing down and bang the rear of the bullet. No reason you should or should not use one—it’s just that you tend not to see hammers on new weapon designs.
When the bullet fires, the explosive force of this pushes the barrel backward. As it flies backward, the barrel turns about 45° thanks to a pin in the gun that rides along a curved track in the side of the barrel. As the pin hits the bend in that curve, it forces the barrel to turn slightly inside the gun. This lines up the back of the barrel with the top slide so that the spent bullet casing pops neatly out of the gun. As the slide hits the end of the spring and begins to rocket forward, the barrel turns back to where it started. In the process, it pulls another bullet up out of the magazine and tightly locks it in place in the barrel.
So what. Well, all the torque this produces has to come from somewhere. And it comes from the recoil of the gun—which means you get considerably less recoil from the weapon, and fewer working internal parts to jam up or gum up on you.
One complaint we have heard a couple of times (including from the owner who let us fire it) is that the PX4 is hard to load. The magazine springs are a pain to push against, and the use of a magazine loader was especially recommended. Okay, but the fact is the Czar quickly pressed 10 rounds into the magazine and found it no harder than any other pistol. Yes, the Czar has pretty strong thumbs but the fact is, the Czar loaded about 10-12 PX4 magazines that day and found it no more tiring. We never once used the little loader.
Okay, so we took it out to the firing line and gave it a go. A manual safety—another quaint oddity. You need to take your thumb and move a little lever from S to F on the back of the weapon. The Czar mentions this because a whole generation of pistol shooters has arrived that have never worried about a manual safety; most pistols today use a complex combination of internal safeties that prevent the weapon from firing until you are ready. Seeing a manual one was like firing a weapon from 1960.
Okay, safety off. The gun was raised and fit nicely in the hand. In fact, the grip is nice and round and allows for comfort with a two-hand grip. Some firearms are a little bulky and dig into the palms a bit, but the PX4 was quite easy to hold. Pow. The weapon fired easily on trigger pull and damn if you can’t feel something inside twist a little bit. The recoil was indeed quite light for a .40 caliber.
Compared to the Czar’s preferred benchmark of a Springfield XD .40, this weapon had a lot less recoil. A couple of us shooting agreed that the XD bounced back to dead center a hair faster than the PX4. In other words, when firing quickly, you were more likely to get back to your aiming point with the XD than with the PX4, even with that lessened recoil of the PX4. This is probably because the bigger slide and internal motion making your hand drift a little. Whatever the cause, the PX4’s lesser recoil was balanced out by a little more after-shot correction.
How much less was the recoil? Well, a 9mm is still much less. A .357 firing .38 specials is also less. But there was no question that the comfortable grip and rotating barrel of the PX4 put this as the lightest recoil .40 we have ever felt.
Folks interested in purchasing or contemplating a .40 calibers handgun should certainly see what the Czar has to say about some of them, including the Glock 23, the Smith & Wesson MP 40, the Sig P226, the XD 40 and XDM 40. Definitely add the Beretta PX4 Storm to that list—for the price of $550, it is among the more affordable .40 calibers and would certainly make a great choice for home.
Yes, we quite liked it for its comfort and low recoil. And it was very easy to load and fire.