Chris Baker Beretta PX4 Compact


My favorite kind of reviews to do for Lucky Gunner are the ones where I have a vested personal interest in the product that’s being evaluated. There are plenty of guns for which I could offer an honest assessment after trying them out for a few weeks, but it’s not often that the outcome of that process ends up having an immediate impact on what I actually decide to put in my holster when the review is done. However, this review is not a typical review for me.

When I made the decision to switch over to double action/single action pistols for self-defense and concealed carry, it didn’t happen overnight. I had been toying with the idea for several months before I took the step of actually shopping for DA/SA pistols. That’s when I picked up the Beretta PX4 Compact based on a recommendation (the details of which are in the video below). It wasn’t so much a matter of “I think I want to carry this gun” as much as “let me see if I can even shoot a compact DA/SA pistol well enough to seriously consider making this switch.”

I’m not necessarily thrilled with every aspect of this pistol, but I quickly grew to like it enough to confirm that switching to DA/SA was the right move for me. After that, the question became, “do I like the PX4 enough to stick with it, or is there a DA/SA that would work better for me?” So the video below is the first of a two-part review outlining my impressions of the PX4 after working with it for several months, and don’t be surprised if you see some other “challengers” reviewed in the near future.

After you watch this one, be sure to check out part 2 here.

Beretta PX4 Compact Review, Part 1

Full video transcript below:

There is a very good chance that you don’t care about the Beretta PX4 Compact. Because if you’re in the market for a modern compact 9mm pistol, odds are, you’ve probably been lead to believe traditional double actions are obsolete. But if you are among the growing ranks of shooters who are becoming disillusioned with the propaganda of striker-fired “perfection”, the PX4 Compact is easily one of the best alternatives on the market.

This is not a new pistol. It actually came out back in 2011 and  the full-size version was first introduced in 2004, which means the design actually pre-dates a lot of today’s more popular polymer handguns like the Smith & Wesson M&P. But unlike the M&P, the PX4 hasn’t really gained a whole lot of notoriety. It hasn’t seen much use by law enforcement or military, you don’t see it a whole lot in high levels of competition, and the self-defense training community is still having a love affair with the Glock 19.

And there’s a reason the Glock 19 is so popular among people who are serious about concealed carry. It’s reliable, it’s got excellent aftermarket support, and it hits that sweet spot for size where it’s light and compact enough to carry, but still large enough for you to get a solid firing grip and shoot close to your full potential. So when I first considered switching over to double actions for all my self-defense guns, one of my initial concerns was that there aren’t a whole lot of options that are in that Glock 19 size category.

Fortunately, right around that same time I came across a forum thread that was started by Ernest Langdon called “The PX4 Compact might be my DA/SA Glock 19.” Ernest is a highly-regarded firearms instructor with an impressive resume that includes multiple IDPA and USPSA championship wins using Beretta and Sig double action pistols. So even though Ernest is a big advocate of double actions and the PX4 Compact has been out for a while, he hadn’t paid much attention to it, and really, neither had anybody else. But last year, after talking to some of the guys at Beretta, Ernest decided to give it a shot, and now he’s an avid fan of the PX4 Compact, and because of his experience, a lot of other people have decided to try it out, myself included.

Beretta PX4 Compact and Glock 19

The Beretta PX4 Storm Compact weighs almost 24 ounces empty and 33.4 ounces when fully loaded with 16 rounds of 9mm. The barrel is 3.27 inches long, which is on the short side relative to its overall height of 5 inches.

As it comes out of the box, the PX4 Compact has white three-dot sights, an ambidextrous safety decock lever, an ambidextrous slide release, interchangeable large, medium, and small backstrap inserts, and a mag release that can be reversed for left-handed shooters.

But I’ve made a few changes to this PX4. I’ve converted the safety/decocker to a decock-only lever, and I’ve swapped out a bunch of the original parts for aftermarket ones. One of the most important advantages of this model is the amount of aftermarket support Beretta has put behind it to make it a really flexible platform for shooters with different needs and preferences. So even though I’ve made a bunch of changes, with the exception of the Talon grip tape, this gun still has 100% Beretta parts in it.

I’ve done a lot more with the PX4 Compact than just tinker with it. In the last 6 months, I’ve shot it in one of Ernest Langdon’s handgun classes, and I used it at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference in Memphis back in March. In total, I’ve carried this pistol for about six months and I’ve put just over 3400 rounds through it. In that time, it has malfunctioned only twice. Both were classic stovepipe failures to eject and both happened within 100 rounds of each other after the gun had not been lubricated for about 1500 rounds.

Beretta PX4 Compact

So it’s been very reliable so far, which I consider to be the number one priority in a self-defense handgun, but it’s also just been overall easy to use. The slide is really easy to rack, which I know is a big concern for some people. I also think the ergonomics are fantastic —  and I know that’s kind of subjective, but I think most shooters will find the trigger reach is a big improvement over the Beretta 92 series, and that’s really critical for running that double action trigger. The slide-mounted decocker is also much easier to reach than any other slide mounted lever I’ve used.

The double action trigger is not especially light, but it’s really smooth. The single action is nice and crisp and it breaks at exactly the same point in the trigger’s travel as the double action stroke.

Another big highlight of the PX4 Compact is the soft recoil. I mean, it’s a compact 9mm, so there’s not a ton of recoil to begin with, but when you start running strings of rapid fire, that front sight really just seems to pop right back on target. Beretta would probably tell you this is because of their proprietary rotating barrel design. I don’t know if that’s got anything to do with it or not but I think if you’re used to shooting any other compact polymer handgun, you will notice a difference.

Making an objective evaluation of this pistol’s range performance is actually kind of tricky for me. My normal approach for a concealed carry gun is to just compare it to the gun that I would usually carry every day which, for the last few years has been a Smith & Wesson M&P Compact. But since I decided to switch to double actions, I haven’t been shooting the M&P. It’s taken some time for me to learn how to shoot a traditional double action gun at the same level I was shooting a custom striker fired pistol. But doing that work has made me a better shooter overall, and now I can shoot quicker and more consistently with the PX4 than I ever could with the M&P. But I can’t say that’s because the PX4 is objectively better or easier to shoot than the M&P or any other compact 9mm. 

Beretta PX4 Compact

It might make more sense to compare the PX4 to another gun I’ve been shooting a lot recently, and that’s my full-size Beretta 92G. This gun is also a traditional double action, but it has a much longer sight radius, a professionally tuned action, it’s more mechanically accurate, and it’s heavier so theoretically, it should be much easier to shoot. But targets and shot timers don’t lie, and inside of 10 yards, there’s not much difference in what I can do with these two pistols. I’m still getting used to the single action trigger on the PX4 — it’s a little stiffer than I’d like it to be. And beyond 10 yards, there’s a definite edge with using the 92, but I can carry the PX4 Compact every day, and basically get 90% of the capability I would have with a custom full-size service pistol.

I’m still in the process of evaluating a couple of other double action carry pistols, so I’m not ready to say the PX4 Compact is definitely the gun I’m going to be carrying long term, but I can say that I’ve been really impressed with it and I wouldn’t be at all disappointed if it was the only option I had.

Next week, I’ll talk more about the specific parts I’ve changed out on my PX4, I’ll go over the results of our accuracy testing, and I’ll also share a couple of complaints that I have with the pistol.

Continue to Part 2 of our Beretta PX4 Compact Review.

Leave a Comment Below

22 thoughts on “Beretta PX4 Compact Review, Part 1

    1. I’m using the JM Custom Kydex “George” AIWB holster and I like it a lot. I have a George for four or five other guns and it’s my go-to holster for any mid to full-size gun I plan to carry all day. Ernest Langdon likes the George and also recommends the Shaggy from Custom Carry Concepts (another good holster I’ve used for other pistols) and the Garrity Gunleather InVictus (pricey, but very high quality and comfortable).

    1. There are two others I’ve been working with that I’ll review sometime in the near future, and at least two or three others beyond that that I would like to give at least a quick (~500 rounds) evaluation, but not sure when I’ll get to them.

  1. My father-in-law has a Stoeger Cougar which is based on another Berretta design (the Cougar) that used the rotating barrel. Maybe it is because his is a .45, but I find the recoil tries to twist the gun in my hand just a bit. It isn’t bad, but it is there and I think it becomes more noticeable if the gun doesn’t fit you right (and his doesn’t fit me right). Have you noticed that or does the combo of 9mm and replaceable backstraps (not an option on the Cougar) keep that from being an issue?

    1. I have noticed this “twisting” sensation somewhat when shooting the gun one handed, but I wouldn’t say it’s enough to actually have any appreciable effect on recoil management, especially using a good, firm grip. With a gun of this size/weight, there is a big difference in recoil between a 9mm and a .45, so I don’t think you’d experience the same issue with the PX4 as you did with the Cougar. I actually owned a 9mm Cougar many years ago and it was also a very soft shooting pistol.

  2. Pawl 71
    I have been experimenting with the Sig M11A1 Pistol. I find it to be accurate and reliable. Have you tried this model yet?

    1. The military has been walking away from these because of weight (32 ozs), their is a shift towards the Glock 19 (Marines, Seals).

  3. I too like the DA/SA, but I’m not sure that the PX4 is the best choice since very few LE Agencies use them. I’m a little leery about a pistol platform that’s been around for 10 years with very little real-world experience–I’ll wait and see how you do with yours–good post though.

  4. Do you like SA enough to keep it, or would you go whole hog and go to a DAO slick slide 92, or a Px4 if they somehow made one? I don’t mind a DAO at all, especially if it has second strike capability.

    1. I don’t mind a good DAO, but I’m significantly slower with it than a DA/SA (“significant” being a relative term. I can’t seem to break .25-.30 splits with a DAO versus .17-.22 splits on a good day on wide open close range targets with a DA/SA). I prefer DA/SA if I can get it without a manual safety. There is something appealing about the slick slide 92D, though. I haven’t shot one, so there’s a chance I could be sold on it. I saw some imported police trade in full size PX4 Ds (which I previously didn’t know existed) for sale for dirt cheap not too long ago, and I was tempted to pick one up, but they looked to be in pretty rough shape so I had to pass.

  5. I was issued a 96D many years ago and it gave me a new respect and a serious crush on Berettas.
    Pet peeve: If you read a car review in an auto magazine, the car they review is one you can buy, even if it has twenty grand worth of extras on it. But gun reviewers (like this one) love to customize their guns before they review them. Back in the revolver days, it was common to read a review that started out, “After I received this gun, I sent it off to my good friends at [some custom gun shop], where they replaced the hand, polished the action, beveled the charging holes, and replaced all the springs with Wolff springs.” In other words, they were reviewing a gun that nobody could buy.
    You did the same thing here. The customizability of the PX4 is a plus, but I think it would be better to review the box-stock gun first, then discuss the modifications that will improve it.

  6. I agree. I do not have the luxury to either customize my pistols myself or know someone who can do it for me. I own both the Beretta 92 and the S&W M&P 9mm. I can’t warm up to the Shield as I did with my wonderful HK P2000SK 9mm which is a very well-thought-out and well-engineered pistol, though a little bulky for every day carry. Hence my continuing quest for the perfect (for me) concealed-carry sub-compact pistol. I like the size and description of this Beretta PX4 but I can’t get it in anti-gun California. Any ideas?

    1. If you are looking for less bulk than the HK, I’m not sure this is your game, the PX is on the heavy side and is pretty blocky. The 4.0 Springfield XPS may be up your alley. It’s not for my use (I’m a LEO and the department uses DA/SA Sigs exclusively so I’m too well trained on them now to switch over to striker for concealed carry from my trusty 225 M11-A1) but I got my hands on the SPX 4 at the range and was very impressed. Very slim, the 4 inch barrel makes it a 100 percent more shootable to me than the Shield or similar sub9’s (LCP, Glock43, etc.) and the sub-10 round mag and loaded chamber indicator should mean it makes CA’s list. Also- can’t go wrong with a pointable, reliable Ruger SP101. The 3″ is a great medium between carry and range gun and you can pop off .38 training ammo at the range all day without dropping a fortune. California is quickly becoming Revlolvertown.

  7. We both know that LE agencies have many different criteria for why they approve or disapprove a pistol. One is always money. I know quite a few guys, me included, who carry the Px4 compact and subcompact as either a backup weapon or off duty weapon and are very happy with it. I personally carry mine all the time off duty.

  8. What Is the empty weight with the magazine Inside?Is the slide easy to rack and is the trigger pull confortable?

  9. Chris,

    Take a look at the Grand Power line of DA/SA pistols with Polymer lower. Maybe just what you are looking for right out of the box, save grip tape? Helical cut rotating barrel that rides on a roller bearing in the steel chassis that allows for tighter tolerances than the PX4. Stepped chamber with in-line feeding. Highly accurate, reliable and robust design. Frame mounted decocker. Fiber optic sights options available with rear adjustable sights which are standard on some models (P1 Ultra – Compact model). Calibers offered in .380, .40, 9mm, .45 and 10MM. 4 back strap options on the compact and larger models. Smooth DA and very short reset SA trigger. Subcompact 12+1 Concealed Carry model (P1) and 15 +1 on compact and full size models.

    I would like to see you review the GP since it meets your personal interest for a CC DA/SA option that may be even better than the PX4 storm. They have a big following in Europe for civilian, competition, LE and Military. I am not affiliated with GP or any retailer or distributer. I have researched their products extensively and believe they may be a excellent option for CC. Now just trying to decided if I want the smaller sub-compact P11 or step up to the P1 or P1 Ultra to get the upgrades that include a serrated slide that looks really nice too. The Excalibur model has a beautiful slide and fluted bull barrel that makes this competition and target model one of the most impressive I have seen.


  10. Excellent review. I recently acquired the Px4 Storm subcompact for lawful concealed carry. I like the relatively large safety levers and tilting barrel, which some believe requires less frequent lubrication than the full-size and compact variants having rotating barrels. Mine is chambered for .40 S&W and it’s recoil not as severe as I’d expected. 100% reliable in the 14 months I’ve had it. My accuracy obviously isn’t as good as with my 92Fs; apples to oranges there.

  11. I’m intrigued by the PX4 compact, especially now that they’re selling a Carry model, but has anyone shot both the PX4 and Bersa’s Ultra Carry? Bersa has one of the smoothest triggers out there and I’d be interested to hear comparisons.

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