Beretta M92 Elite 1A - Western Arms
My much-used WA Beretta M92FS developed some problems firing properly and in an attempt to obtain some spares for it, I acquired this Elite 1A as a spares gun (it arrived with a broken trigger arm).
However, as is often the way, there was little else wrong with the Elite 1A and a call to the ever helpful Mike Cripps at Elite Shooting Centre yielded a replacement trigger arm and bought the Elite 1A back to full working order (one day I will find a WA Beretta only fit for spares!).
Having tested virtually every other type of WA Beretta, it seemed to make sense to add a review of this Elite 1A model, although, aside from some cosmetic differences, it is essentially the same as the silver 1A and CQB Elite I reviewed some years ago.
In the Box
My gun didn't come with a box, but the usual collection would be much like any other WA Beretta.
The box is a typical Western Arms brown box with a Beretta logo and some text.
Inside offers nothing unusual either, for those familiar with older WA products, just the usual speedloader, manuals (including an addendum to the 92FS exploded diagram for the unique parts), allen keys and set of manuals.
The gun itself sits in a polystyrene within the carboard box and is securely held, if not quite as snuggly as some more modern boxes. Suffice to say, I've never seen a WA gun damaged in transit.
I have seen a lot of Western Arms Berettas since my interest in airsoft began and this one looks as good as most.
It feels heavy and solid in the hand and feels tight, but not overly so, in operation, with no slack in the slide/frame interface.
It features a silver barrel almost flush with the end of the slide, which I find appealing against the black slide and frame.
The slide is the cutaway Brigadier style, rather than the full 92FS style, which means the front sight is dovetailed in.
The grip is the Vertec style, which is supposed to be better for people with small hands, but which I don't personally find as comfortable as the full size grip.
External metal parts include the trigger, trigger bar, hammer, safeties/decockers, sights, take-down lever and slide lock.
The Elite 1A is a good solid gun, although it feels a little lighter than the normal 92FS side by side, something the figures bear out, especially without the magazine, although it's nowhere near as mag heavy as some TM designs.
If your GBB experience is restricted to TM guns, you will find the WA Beretta Elite 1A remarkably realistic to handle.
With double action, a decocker and ambidextrous safeties, the Beretta is a very user friendly gun. Some will point out that the Beretta is less 'special' than some custom 1911s, but sometimes something you can just pick up and shoot is just what the doctor ordered.
Other than the different shaped frame and grip, everything here is familiar M92FS/M9 Beretta. The Brigadier style slide is just like that on the other Elites and only the chrome barrel differentiates this immediately from the Elite CQB.
Markings on the gun are complete, but nothing extraordinary. The verbose WA/Beretta licensing agreement is on the front right of the frame (above the rail), whilst the front left bears the serial number "BER051502".
The left side of the slide is marked with an Elite IA logo with "BERETTA USA CORP ACKR.MO. USA" below it and the right features the same logo, with "92 BRIGADIER -F- CAL. 9 Parabellum" beneath it. There is an ASGK mark above the trigger on the right side of the frame and the grips both bear the Beretta logo.
The barrel is presumably plated, but is a much classier looking finish than on (for example) TM's Chrome Desert Eagle or SIG P226. The barrel has the word 'STAINLESS' cast into it and experience has shown that the barrel finish is not particularly prone to wear.
The decocker/safety (ambidextrous), disassembly lever, trigger, slide lock, trigger bar, serrated (skeletonised) hammer, magazine release (reversible as on all Beretta 92s and Cougars), recoil rod and front and rear sights are all metal.
The grips feature the trademark Elite 1A finish, described by Beretta as "Dual-textured thin polymer grips. Designed by a team of experienced pistol shooters, the innovative new grip panels on the Beretta Vertec have two different style gripping surfaces. Checkered at maximum friction points and pebbled exactly in those places where you need some freedom of movement, this revolutionary design improves both controllability and comfort. "
Whether they are identical on the WA is impossible for me to say. They feel like simple plastic, but the appearance certainly looks accurate to photographs of the real thing. Personally, I still found the Vertec grips too small to be truly comfortable. When I grip the gun, with distinctly average sized hands, there is a gap between the palm of my hand the back of the grip. I guess my hands are just made for the normally shaped Beretta grip.
The rear sight is a metal unit dovetailed into the slide with two white dots - It is quite similar to those found on SIG P226s. This is matched to the removable dovetail front sight, which features a larger white dot for quick acquisition.
This all works well enough for a tactical, rather than target, pistol.
Finally, the recoil rod is worth a look. On this example, it is fluted, but unlike the complicated two spring affair of the other Elites I've tried, it has a single spring, so is more like a standard 92FS recoil rod assembly with a fluted rod.
Click on image for bigger version in separate window.
Carrying out my standard 5m/6 round, off hand test, the Beretta performed pretty well.
My best 5 shots from the first 6, fell within a 45mm diameter. All were in the centre circle of the A4 (210mm x 297mm) sized target, although a tight cluster of 3 was just 23mm across.
A second set, shown as squares on the target, were more tightly grouped overall, but higher. The best 5 from 6 here were 48mm across.
Over 10 shots, the Elite 1A averaged 285 fps (using Propane gas) indoors (at 24C).
Experience suggests this would equate to around 265 fps at 20C, which is a little down on the other Elites I have tested. Not bad, but not exceptional, so perhaps this gun was a little worn or maybe the magazine was cold from test shooting.
There is no reason not to expect 280fps or more (at 20C) from this gun, in line with the other Elites I have tried.
Trigger pull was 1225g (43 Oz), which is a medium to heavy weight pull for a GBB. As mentioned earlier the gun came with a broken trigger bar and the replacement, or possibly the hammer mechanism, may be worn requiring more travel and effort than is the norm on the WA Berettas.
Take down will be familar to anyone who's ever seen a GBB (or real) Beretta 92.
First remove the magazine and then push the disassembly lever down in a clockwise direction, whilst pushing the oval button on the other side of the frame.
With this done, simply slide the slide, barrel and recoil spring/rod forward off of the frame.
The recoil spring and rod can be removed as a unit and the barrel can then be slid forward and then down and back to remove it from the slide.
Refitting, requires you to press back on the barrel before rotating the disassembly lever back up into position, as with all WA Beretta M92s, although I've never confirmed if this replicates the real thing or is simply a WA quirk. Certainly no other airsoft Beretta I've encountered does it, but then no other airsoft Beretta is as realistic as a WA.
Overall, another great WA Beretta.
The usual points about the licensing trademarks and, maybe, concerns over running on Green gas in inappropriately warm temperatures apply.
I'm not a huge fan of the Vertec grip, but some may find it better than the standard shaped grip, so it seems unfair to hold this against the WA replica.
Ownership of a WA Beretta is something everyone should consider, especially when they seem to be available used as absurdly low prices.
Weight : 990g (340g Magazine)
Realism : 85%
Quality : 90%
Power : 75%
Accuracy : 80%
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