To wrap up my evaluation of the Beretta PX4 Compact 9mm, today I’ve got the results from my bench-rest accuracy testing, and some details on the modifications that are available for this gun.

Occasionally, someone will ask, as a reader of last week’s post did, why I don’t just leave these guns in their factory configuration and review them as they are. I think that’s a valid complaint, and I don’t really have a good answer except to say “that just ain’t how I roll.” There are plenty of gun writers out there who will give you their impression of a firearm based exclusively on what they get in the box. Sometimes I do that, but I don’t think it’s necessary, or even beneficial, to always evaluate a gun that way. For a long-term review like this one, I don’t think of the pistol in the box as the final product. It’s more of a blank slate on which I can build a carry gun to suit my needs and preferences. I’m not just evaluating the gun itself, I’m evaluating its potential. For many dedicated shooters, the available accessories and options for modifying the gun are a major factor in deciding whether to invest in a new platform, and I consider it a bonus when I can give them as much relevant information as possible.

Just to be clear, I’m talking about non-essential modifications and improvements that help the shooter get the most out of the pistol. If the gun doesn’t actually function properly without some extra help, I’d consider that a big fat fail right from the start. But in terms of taking advantage of readily available drop-in parts, I think of it like optics on a rifle. You wouldn’t expect to read a review of a long range bolt gun without a scope and I would feel equally handicapped in honestly reviewing a self-defense gun if I couldn’t add some grip tape or install some better sights.

Okay, with that digression out of the way, here’s the second part of my PX4 Compact review. Enjoy…

Beretta PX4 Compact Review, Part 2

Video transcript below:

Last week, I covered my overall impressions of the Beretta PX4 Compact 9mm. After spending a few months carrying it concealed, and running it through the gauntlet at the range and in some shooting classes, it’s been reliable and soft shooting with great ergonomics that make manipulations really easy. So now let’s take a look at a couple of other important aspects of a self-defense gun; accuracy and aftermarket support.

Unfortunately, the only real way to try to determine the gun’s mechanical accuracy is by engaging in one of my least favorite activities at the range — shooting groups from a bench rest at 25 yards. I used seven different types of ammo and shot two five-round groups with each load. Most of the loads averaged between 3.5 and 4.5 inches with the best groups coming from the 124 gr +P Speer Gold Dot. Oddly enough, the CorBon match ammo and the Federal 124 grain HST didn’t do quite as well.

I know some other PX4 Compact owners have reported groups well under 3 inches, and I have no doubt that’s possible. It could just be that this particular sample is not quite as accurate as some others, or it’s entirely possible that it’s just the shooter’s fault. But either way, I’m satisfied that this gun is mechanically accurate enough to make the kind of hits I know I’m capable of under more practical circumstances.

Having said that, the sights that come with this gun are the bottleneck that’s going to prevent me from taking full advantage of that accuracy potential. Realistically, they are probably adequate for most purposes. They’re the white three-dot style sights we’ve come to expect on most self-defense handguns. So like I always do with these kinds of sights, I blacked out the rear dots and put some bright orange paint on the front sight. But most experienced shooters are going to want to upgrade those sights to whatever style they’ve found works best for them, and that’s going to be something a little different for everybody.

Personally, I’ve really come to like the sights I’ve got on my full-size Beretta 92G. For the rear sight, it’s got a Wilson combat U-notch and a red fiber optic rod installed in the factory front sight, which is fairly narrow. These sights are quick to use on large close-range targets and the narrow front sight really helps with precision shots on smaller targets. Unfortunately, nobody makes a narrow red fiber optic front sight for the PX4 Compact. Or any fiber optic sights, for that matter. In fact, there are really only two or three aftermarket sight options, period.

One of those options is the Trijicon HD night sights. I’ve had these on a few other guns and normally, I really like them. It’s got a tritium front sight with a bright ring around it, available either in yellow or orange and the rear sight has a nice wide u-notch with smaller tritium dots. But Trijicon clearly did not do much testing with the PX4 Compact before they released these sights. The front sight is much wider than I’d like it to be and that makes them slow to use on those precision shots. But more importantly, the point of impact was way off. It was shooting several inches high even on targets as close as 10 yards. So I filed down the rear sight almost to where the tritium vials are, and it was still shooting high, so I just gave up and put the factory sights back on it.

So, the lack of sight options is kind of frustrating, and that’s sort of the price you pay for using a gun that’s a little more obscure. Decent holsters were also difficult to come by for a while, but the list of holster makers that support the PX4 Compact does seem to be growing. I’ve been using this appendix holster from JM Custom Kydex. This is one they call the “George”, which is a model I’ve purchased for several pistols now and I think it works really well.

Fortunately, if you want just about anything for your PX4 other than sights or holsters, Beretta probably has some options available right from the factory. I’ve changed out several parts on this PX4, starting with the safety levers. I replaced the right side lever with Beretta’s low profile version that’s nearly flush with the slide. The lever does come as a set so you can install it on both sides to minimize the overall width of the slide. But I kept the original lever on the left side to make it easier to decock.

When I installed this lever, I also converted the gun to decock-only. Beretta has made this really easy to do just by removing a spring and a ball bearing from the internal portion of the safety lever. That instantly converts the PX4 from the default F model to a G model, which means this lever now functions only as a decocker, and not as a safety. The conversion is not that difficult to do yourself — there are a lot of videos online with pretty detailed instructions, but you can always have a gunsmith take care of it if you have any doubts.

The original ambidextrous slide release levers are pretty wide, so I replaced them with the slimmer low profile lever that is still easy for me to reach but doesn’t get in the way. Also, since I’m right-handed, I don’t need the slide release on the right side, so I removed that and filled the hole with a frame plug from Beretta.

I was having a little trouble reaching the magazine release without breaking my grip, so I picked up the PX4 mag release kit that includes three different size buttons. I like the high button the best, but the edges were a little sharp and it was digging into the palm of my support hand, but that was easily fixed with a couple of minutes and some sandpaper to round it off.

And finally, I replaced the original hammer spring with the Beretta “D” spring, which lightens the double action trigger pull by a couple of pounds. Out of the box, the double action trigger was 10 pounds with a 5-pound single action. With the D spring, I now have an 8-pound double action and the single action came down just a little bit to about 4 and a half pounds.

All of these parts are made by Beretta and most of them are available right on their website, including a few others that I didn’t mention. With most pistols, if you want to do any kind of customization, you have to use third-party products, and that can be kind of a gamble. But I’ve got this PX4 set up just how I want it and I can still be reasonably confident that it’s going to work because all the parts I’m using came from the same company that made the gun.

You might have noticed that despite the highly stylized lines of the PX4, this particular gun is not much to look at. That is partly thanks to the Talon grip tape I installed. The PX4’s grip is really slippery, especially with sweaty hands. Normally, that doesn’t bother me a whole lot because you can always add texture to a polymer pistol, but it’s a lot more difficult to remove if the texture it comes with is overly aggressive or in the wrong place. But the frame of the PX4 is so slick that I think the Talon grips or some other kind of custom texturing is a must. They don’t look like much, but they really help keep a stable grip on the gun.

This PX4 is also a little rough looking because of the finish wear. After just a couple of months, the black Bruniton finish started to come off the high spots on the slide, and it also seems to be really susceptible to scratches. I haven’t seen any actual corrosion, so it’s probably just cosmetic, but I think it’s reasonable to expect a more durable finish on a carry gun. This is something most of Beretta’s competitors seem to have figured out by now and it would really be nice if a gun of this quality actually looked the part.

So, at this point, it might sound like getting a PX4 Compact set up just like this one would be too much of a hassle, especially since you’d still have limited sight availability and a weak finish. But Beretta already has a solution in the works. Based on suggestions from Ernest Langdon, they have put together a semi-custom version of this pistol called the PX4 Compact Carry.

This version already has the G decock-only conversion done, it’s got the low profile safety levers, the single side low profile slide release, extended mag release, the Talon grips, an upgraded trigger group and a brand new set of sights from Ameriglo. These have a tritium front sight with a bright orange outline and a plain black rear sight. The slide comes Cerakoted in Sniper Grey and it’s packaged with not just two, but three 15-round magazines.

The standard PX4 Compact has an MSRP $650, and you can usually find it for closer to $500. The Compact Carry edition is rumored to be priced about $200-300 higher, and that’s for a bunch of upgrades that would cost you about $400 if you were starting with a standard PX4 Compact model.

The Compact Carry should be coming out any day now, and as soon as it’s available, I’ll be trying to get my hands on one and let you guys know how it is.

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25 thoughts on “Beretta PX4 Compact Review, Part 2

  1. Thank you for acknowledging my comments. I still don’t agree with you, but it’s your house and your rules, and it’s America. And, of course, you stated right up front what changes you made. You can go to your church and I’ll go to mine.
    I was dismayed to read about the Trijicon sights. My experience with them, though limited, has been positive.
    The Bruniton finish is not durable at all. I don’t know why they still use it. My issue Beretta had the same finish and every sharp angle that touched the holster was silver after about three draws. I expected to find black Bruniton powder residue inside my holster. But it’s a carry gun, not a museum piece, and holster wear adds to its lived-in look.
    I like the G conversion. It makes decocking quicker and much less awkward.
    (Incidentally, I haven’t seen you mention it, but the spring-loaded decocker was developed for the French police. The “G” is for “gendarme.” At least, that’s the story I heard. When the Indiana State Police used the 92 several years ago, they also used the G version.)
    Looks like a nice little carry package. I’m glad you like it. But I’ll stick with my Colt Dragoon.

  2. Hi Chris, I’m new to Lucky Gunner and really like your posts. I have plenty of long guns but only two hand guns… a Ruger LCR in 38+P and a 1969 S&W model 66. The PX4 compact was on my short list of 9mm carry pistols. I use a vertical shoulder holster and am not concerned about a fast draw. I like the idea of DA/SA, hammer fired, de-cock plus safety. But, I will probably carry it without a round in the chamber anyway, so does all that extra “safety” even matter. Should I just get a Glock 17? Thanks, Chuck

    1. Please forgive me for jumping in, but I flatter myself by thinking my 40 years of experience in carrying revolvers and autopistols of all action types justify it:
      Why would you carry with an empty chamber? Modern autopistols are as safe to carry with a round in the chamber as modern revolvers are. (You do carry your revolvers fully loaded, right?)
      Negligent discharges are extremely rare (impossible if you follow the four rules), and most negligent discharges with autopistols come from bad-touching a light trigger, either of a striker-fired pistol or a 1911-style pistol with the safety off. A hammer-down DA/SA autopistol with a long, 8-to 10-pound trigger pull (similar to your revolvers) is no more prone to negligent discharge than your revolvers are.
      In addition, you may not be concerned about a “fast draw,” but the need for one may come to you without your invitation. Chambering a round during a fight is slow and malfunction-prone. The gun may be moving violently backward, forward,or side-to-side, and you could easily end up with a failure to feed and a useless gun. And you may need your slide-racking hand to fend off an assailant. Carrying a loaded chamber has no minuses and a ton of pluses.
      But, it’s America. You go to your church and I’ll go to mine.

    2. Chuck, I’m in agreement with retfed here. I’m not sure what your reasons are for wanting to carry a gun, but most of us do so primarily in order to defend against the most common type of violent assault, which is armed robbery. The overwhelming majority of these attacks begin with the assailant at conversational distance — between 5 and 20 feet away. That kind of distance *barely* allows a practiced shooter enough time to draw the gun from the holster and fire the first shot. If your gun is not even chambered, you’re adding another second or two to an already critical timeline, and that’s assuming you successfully chamber a round on the first try. But instead of suggesting that you carry your gun loaded, I would instead recommend you go and take a one or two day defensive handgun class. With some training under your belt, you will immediately begin to develop some confidence in your own skills and your ability to safety carry a loaded gun.

      1. Chris, Thanks. I did not intend to crowd your blog with comments that are off topic, but I will answer your post after my own thoughts about the PX4 Compact. I find the full-size Storm to be better balanced. According to Beretta’s site, the full-sized gun is only half an ounce heavier, three-quarters of an inch longer and the same width.

        My reason for carrying a gun has more to do with potential civil unrest rather than armed robbery. I would engage an armed robber to defend my life but not my wallet.
        Chris, in your blog about why you switched to double action, you devoted several paragraphs to bad things that can happen when drawing or holstering a loaded pistol.
        There are also several commonly cited rules about gun safety that I am, apparently, taking too literally. One rule (NRA) is keep your gun unloaded until you’re ready to shoot. Another is never point a loaded gun at anything you don’t intend to shoot. Here are a few things I don’t intend to shoot… inside my waist band, outside my waist band, my butt, down my side under my arm pit.

        With all respect…

  3. I will probably buy the PX4 Compact. I like the Speer 115 gr Gold Dot as a carry load. Is there a less expensive practice round that you would recommend?

  4. Nice review — I wish S&W would make a polymer DA/SA M&P auto, like to see a DA/SA Shield too (the 3913 was a very good auto)…again thank you for the two reviews…

  5. Hi RETFED, I appreciate your respectful response. I was reluctant to post, figuring most folks who frequent these sites are pretty comfortable carrying guns and would deride me for my comments. In my 63 years of experience around guns, I’ve seen them fire when they shouldn’t because of operator error and mechanical malfunction. Maybe that has made me too cautious, but I choose to carry without a round in the chamber. I carry my revolver unloaded as well. I plan to stay away from situations that require a split second response but if I plan poorly, I will risk the consequences. I asked about the Glock 17 as an alternative because of its popularity with LE and the public.. and because it fits my hand better than the Glock 19. I will probably buy a PX4 Compact because of its safety features and many positive reviews. Again, thanks for your comments.

    1. Thank you for your reply. Personally, I think you are solving a nonexistent problem. In your first post you stated that you own “plenty of long guns but only two handguns.” Most long guns are designed for hunting and the designers never meant for them to be carried with a chambered round. Modern revolvers and autopistols, on the other hand, are designed for self-defense and are designed to be carried safely with a loaded chamber. Most modern autopistols (including both the Glock 17 and the PX4) have three passive safeties that all must be defeated before they can be fired, intentionally or not.
      But, as I said, it’s America. I disagree with your position, but I respect your decision.
      Good luck.

  6. Chris,
    I’ve been enjoying your reviews very much. Especially your run down of .357 revolvers for CCW and your SR762 video.
    In regards to the PX, you may want to try dropping in a competition hammer group (Beretta OEM) and a Wilson Combat chrome silicon hammer spring, according to Langdon this should further drop the weight.
    Also, in regards to DA/SA decock only auto loaders, I’d love to see your take on a Walther P99 or P99C with the “AS” or Anti-Stress trigger.
    Regardless, glade to see the PX4 getting some screen time, especially the Compact.

  7. Hi Chris, I’ve been looking at buying a da/as gun for some time now for my primary ccw and I’ve been seriously considering the H&K P30sk with a safety. After seeing this review I will have to look into the px4 compact. Have you had any experience with the P30sk? And/or do you have an opinion on it? Thank you for a wonderful well thought out review!

    1. After much deliberation, I bought the the PX4 Inox and couldn’t be happier! Such a smooth shooter… and yes, Chris’ reviews of the PX4 and DA/SA philosophy weighed heavily in my decision 🙂 . Whenever you do get a chance to shoot the PX4, just know this – two of the changes mentioned by Chris (Talon grips and D-spring swap) really did a lot (IMHO) to sweeten this gun. Notable difference in feel and operation! Good luck with your decision!

  8. Chris awesome review(s) on the PX4 Compact. Led to a few questions if I may.. What of the modifications do you view as most important (grip tape)? Any issues running steel sleeve ammo through it? (I’ve heard Tula has had some issues?) What other da/sa guns are you comparing it to? Did Trijicon comment on the issue you had with their sights? Thanks in advance for your answers.

    1. Bare minimum, I would convert the safety to decock only (no cost, assuming you already have the tools and are comfortable tinkering with it). And because it’s cheap, I’d do the grip tape and black out rear sights with hi vis paint on the front sight. The other changes are mostly for convenience and don’t drastically alter the usability of the gun.

      I haven’t fired any steel case ammo through the PX4 but I wouldn’t expect any problems beyond the usual issues with Tula ammo (dirty and you’ll encounter dud primers and other QC issues more often).

      For the time being, I’m not making any direct comparisons of the PX4 to any other DA/SA pistols because there are so few that are similar in terms of size/weight/features. For compact 9mm polymer DA/SA pistols, it’s basically the PX4 and the CZ P07 (which I will be testing at some point, but haven’t yet). Most of my comments in the review are in the context of the PX4 Compact among the more popular striker-fired polymer compacts like the Glock 19, M&P9c, etc. I have been trying out some other compact DA/SA pistols (not polymer) that I’ll be reviewing in the near future, but you’ll have to wait for the details.

      I haven’t heard anything from Trijicon on the sights issue, but I haven’t contact them about it. Others have reported POI issues with those sights on the PX4 Compact so I know it wasn’t just me. Even if the POI issue was fixed, I really just wasn’t happy with the sight picture, especially on distant targets, so I was eager to get the sights off the gun.

      1. Thank you so much for the reply. I will be removing the spring to make mine a “G” model. Very well thought out review and response. Keep up the awesome work!

  9. I appreciate your admission that you look at a CCW pistol the same as I do, a starting point. I do the same things, only I like the two dots in the rear sight, and Traffic Cone Orange Nail Polish on the front sight for faster sight acquisition. I think a person should set up their pistol to be able to manipulate the controls to their comfort and accuracy, and then evaluate it for suitability. I don’t think an “out of the box’ eval is useful or even reliable. Keep up the good work.

  10. Hi! FYI – I swapped to Trijicon tough and bright night sights on my 9mm full size PX4, and the POI was 2 inches above the POA. I called Trijicon and they had me mail the slide with sights to them along with targets I shot at 10 yards. The replaced my rear sight with a custom size, aligned them better in windage, and sent it back to me in 4 weeks free of charge as a warranty repair. Great result!

      1. I am also interested in your review of the compact carry. Will you be special ordering or waiting for availability?

        You also mentioned reviewing other double/single action autos for CCW…. is this still in the works?

        Apreciate all that you do. I enjoy the articles and the videos. Thank you for the canded reviews AND professional quality…. very rare on youtube.

  11. Chris, Thank you for the review on the PX4 Compact. I appreciate your through review and candid remarks. You stated that you have not review other DA/SA pistols because there are so few offered with similar size/weight/features and you also prefer doing reviews on pistols that you have a personal interest in. Here is one that should fit the bill for your. Grand Power rotary barrel pistols manufactured in Slovakia (just down the road from CZ) and imported by Eagle Imports. They utilize a patented Helical cam on the barrel that rotates on a steel pin on the frame. Polymer lower with a steel chassis insert. A very robust and reliable design that has been well received in the European market for military, LE, civilian and competition shooting. STI imported the K100 model as the G6 for IPDA competition shooters.

    GP’s have a frame mounted decocker that most find to be more ergonomically functional. They are know for an amazing DA/SA trigger with a very short, positive, audible reset that is often mentioned as the best out of box. They offer 4 back strap options on their compact and larger pistols and have fiber optic sights on some models (P1 Ultra) and readily available for other models. They have a P11 subcompact model with 12 +1 capacity designed for concealed carry. The P1 is just slightly longer and taller with increase capacity to 15 +1. I thought you may have a personal interest in looking at this option as it may be even a better option than the PX4 with their standard factory offering. You and your readers may be interested in a review of this pistol to compare another DA/SA option.

    Thank Chris

  12. Hi Chris. Have you tried the subcompact version? I find it the most shootable subcompact pistol around. largely due to it being a big sub compact if that makes sense.

  13. I’m coming late to this discussion, but want to thank Chris for his excellent review (along with some of the commenters). As a 70 year-old who hadn’t fired a pistol in nearly 50 years, I wanted a gun to learn (or re-learn) with at the range and eventually use for EDC. This review was the tipping point in my decision to go with the PX4 Compact Carry. I couldn’t be happier having done so — from day one it’s been déjà vu all over again. The PX4 Compact Carry is a joy to shoot, with smooth, consistent trigger action both DA and SA, minimum recoil, and extraordinary accuracy, without even a hint of a malfunction. I showed the targets from my first shooting session to the range manager and he refused to believe I hadn’t been shooting regularly. So Chris, thanks again for the excellent, honest review! (And yes, I order my ammo here.)

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