Beretta PX4 Compact Carry Pistol: Gun Review
We take a look at the engineering that made a good carry pistol into a refined concealed carry firearm.
Just over 11 years ago, I bought a Beretta PX4 Storm full-size model chambered in .40 S&W. It was one of those impulsive things because I liked the pistol and it was on sale. Famous last words, right? I wasn’t sure exactly how I was going to use it, but before too long, I had acquired a CrossBreed SuperTuck Deluxe inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster, and I carried it frequently. Like many modern handguns, that PX4 is a hybrid. The frame is polymer but has steel inserts in the required places to provide the necessary strength. The barrel and slide are of course entirely made of steel. So while it is full-size, it didn’t weigh me down too much. The ergonomics are great, and the trapezoidal slide profile lends itself to concealment. Additionally, I tend to prefer double-action / single-action pistols for concealed carry. I just like the comfort of the first double-action trigger weight. Almost all the boxes were checked. Except for just a few little nitpickey things… Apparently, pro-shooter, long-time trainer and Beretta pistol aficionado Ernest Langdon felt the same way. Starting with the Beretta PX4 Compact model as the basis, he worked with the engineering team to create a model specifically optimized for concealed carry. And that was the origin of the 9mm PX4 Compact Carry model we’ll look at today.
What makes this such a good concealed carry gun?
The overall size is just right. In the world of pistol production naming, the word “compact” really means mid-size. Pocket-sized guns are generally called subcompacts. The grip on this PX4 is tall enough to accommodate all the fingers of my firing hand with not a millimeter of extra space. That means I get every bit of recoil control benefit with no size penalty that might make concealment more challenging.
Even though the PX4 Compact Carry is, well, compact, the magazine holds 15 rounds of 9mm ammunition. That gives you up to 16 shots before a reload is necessary. Also, Beretta includes three magazines with this PX4 model—another bonus for concealed carriers.
The next carry upgrade is the sights. In my view (OK, pun intended) they’re outstanding. In fact, they rank right up there among the best I’ve tried anywhere.
The front sight post is filled with a large, square-shaped dark orange insert. The square allows for more orange surface area than a dot as it extends almost to the edges of the steel sight post. I also think that the corners allow your eye to pick it up more quickly.
There’s a Tritium insert in the center, which improves front sight visibility in dark conditions. The rear sight is all black with a traditional notch. It has enough of a vertical edge that you can use it to rack the slide one-handed by hooking it on a belt or other hard surface if you have to. The all black rear makes that orange front sight leap into view when you raise the pistol.
Bottom line: these sights are fast to acquire.
As mentioned, the PX4 is double-action / single-action pistol, meaning the first trigger press is double action and much longer and heavier than the subsequent single-action presses. For concealed carry that can be a benefit as you really have to be intentional about that first shot. Of course, the drawback is that you need to learn to manage two different trigger presses for one gun.
It’s one of those personal preference issues—you either love or hate DA/SA. As for me, that’s what I choose to carry most of the time, so you can put me in the “love it” category.
Since DA/SA pistols have an external hammer, there has to be a way to lower that hammer safely if you don’t intend to continue firing after it is cocked.
The decocker lever on this PX4 is for that function alone (that isn’t a manual safety lever). Unlike other Beretta models, the lever does not also disconnect the trigger.
When you operate it, the hammer drops safely and the lever springs back into position, so the pistol is ready for the next double-action shot. One more thing that’s been changed on this PX4 is that the decocker levers on both sides are low-profile. Barely exposed from the slide insets, they are easy to operate when needed but out of the way when drawing or racking the slide.
If you carry inside the waistband, you’ll appreciate the latest grip design. While the early models had a stippled grip texture, this newest version has texture on the front and back of the grip area.
The sides are smooth except for an embossed Beretta logo. It’s another one of those personal preference tradeoffs. An aggressive grip texture is great for shooting but shreds clothes and skin when you carry concealed. Take your pick. There are also Talon grips available for the Compact Carry model if you want to add some extra grip texture.
There are some nifty hidden features as well. For example, if you look at the base of the grip, just behind the magazine well, you’ll see retractable lanyard loop. This is a clever feature. If you’re a professional (military, law enforcement, or security) user and need the extra gun security of an attached lanyard, just extract the loop, and you have it. If this is a feature you don’t need, it’s completely out of the way, and you’ll never know it’s there. The wire loop is firmly in place and won’t be extending on its own.
As for general-purpose features, the PX4 Compact Carry has a Picatinny rail up front with one slot so you can install a light or laser.
Like the decocker levers, the slide lock/release lever is also low-profile but easy to operate as it’s placed perfectly for shooting hand thumb operation. The magazine release button is larger on this model (by design), and it’s reversible. If you’re a lefty, just move it to the opposite side. The decocker levers are already present on both sides of the slide.
Like many new pistols, the PX4 Compact Carry comes with three grip panel inserts, allowing you to adjust the grip circumference and trigger reach to your preference and hand size.
I shared my first range outing with this new PX4 with a couple of experienced shooter buddies. Without exception, we all agreed it is one of the nicest and softest shooting 9mm pistols out there. The unique rotary recoil system keeps the barrel in line with the shot during recoil, so there is no significant muzzle flip.
The well-rounded grip makes it easy to get maximum hand-to-gun surface area contact so handling and controlling the relatively tame 9mm recoil is easy.
The trigger is smooth in both double- and single-action modes. On the PX4 Compact Carry model, the trigger gets more love at the factory. This one breaks after constant pressure between 9 ½ and 10 pounds. The single-action trigger has just under ½-inch of takeup before a super-smooth break with about 3 ½ pounds of pressure.
Before moving on to more mundane accuracy testing, the three of us put a lot of rounds on a couple of steel targets downrange to judge “practical accuracy” or ease of getting rounds on target.
During the same outing, we used at least six other pistols which covered all the action types: striker, double-action/single-action, and striker fired. This little compact quickly rose towards the top of the pile in terms of being able to shoot accurately with ease. As to why, I think it’s a combination of things.
The ergonomics are great, so it’s easy to bring to target and hold steady through the trigger press. The front sight is fantastically visible. Last and certainly not least, the trigger is smooth. Even placing accurate shots in the heavier double-action mode was simple.
On a different day, I did a bit of more formal accuracy testing. I put targets 15 yards down range and proceeded to shoot five-shot groups. Here’s what I found.
- American Eagle 124-grain FMJ: 2.5″
- Federal 115-grain FMJ: 2.3″
- Speer Gold Dot +P 124-grain: 2.05
- Sig Sauer Elite Performance V-Crown 124-grain: 1.61″
All in all, plenty accurate to get the job done. I did notice that my shots were impacting just about an inch give or take to the right of my aim point. No worries, that’s one of the benefits of the dovetail mounted front and rear sights. I can either push the front sight a hair to the right (opposite direction from where you want the bullet to go) or tap the rear sight a hair to the left (the same direction you want the impact to move.)
If you do this at home, be sure to cover the tip of your punch with some tape to prevent making any marks on your pistol. Ask me how I know…
Here’s the bottom line. This is an exceptionally easy pistol to shoot well. The ergonomics, size, rotary recoil system, and weight make it easy to control. The trigger and sights make it easy to shoot quickly and accurately. I really, really like this pistol. It’s already worked its way into my daily carry rotation.
Beretta PX4 Storm Compact Carry Specs
- Action: Single/Double
- Barrel Length: 3.2″
- Caliber: 9mm
- Capacity: 15+1
- Overall Height: 5″
- Overall Length: 6.8″
- Width: 1.4″
- Sight Radius: 5.2″
- Weight (unloaded): 27.3 oz.
- MSRP: $899