Beretta 96A1 .40 S&W Pistol Review

Beretta 96A1 Review: Summary

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What’s not to love about a combat proven design with a built in frame buffer? Reliable is the real name of the Beretta 96A1.



With a hammer forged barrel, and the ability to quickly change sights without a gunsmith, the 96A1 is going to be as accurate as you need it to be, and then some.



Ok, open slide handguns aren’t for everyone. The Beretta 96A1 does look a little odd, but it is a time proven design, and feels good in the hand. Maybe you have to get different grips, maybe you don’t. It’s a great gun and based on decades of design. You’ll probably like it.



Form follows function, and the things that make this a highly ergonomic handgun make it good looking too. There is something timeless about Beretta pistol designs, and the 96A1 is no exception. It’s old time classy, but still modern, in a way only an Italian design team could pull off.



There are plenty of high end performance parts available from third parties and from Beretta, as well as other upgrades and accessories. You could rebuild nearly this entire gun with aftermarket parts, so even a picky shooter will be happy.

Bang for your Buck

Bang for your Buck

If you want a 92A1 style gun with more punch and more power, this is it. You get all the function and looks of the current US Army issue sidearm, but in .40 S&W, and at a reasonable price. What’s not to love?

Sure, .40 S&W isn’t as trendy as it used to be, but it is here to stay, and it is rare to find it in a full sized, metal frame double action pistol. Let alone one as exquisite as the Beretta 96A1. Affordable, powerful, easy to use. Get one if you are in the market for a gun like this.

Did you know Beretta makes a .40 S&W version of their famous Model 92 pistol? This Beretta Model 96A1 review digs deep into this amazing handgun, and lays bare the truth about this hard hitting, classic design.

It was only logical that Beretta would build a .40 S&W version of the Model 92. After all, it is a combat proven handgun, popular with military, law enforcement and private citizens. Because the .40 S&W was designed to work on 9mm frame handguns, it was only a matter of time before Beretta developed a forty caliber version of the venerable 92 series.

Who is it for?

Law enforcement and civilian shooters alike will appreciate the Beretta 96A1. With large 12 round (10 in restricted jurisdictions) magazines, this is a rare full sized, metal frame .40 that is based on a popular design. For that reason, anybody who needs a full sized, combat handgun in .40 S&W will take great interest in our Beretta 96A1 review.

Beretta 96A1 Features

This feature rich handgun is a triumph of engineering. In preparing our Beretta 96A1 review, we found a built in buffer protects the lightweight alloy frame. Corrosion resistant finish, user changeable front sight, built in Picatinny rail, ambidextrous safety, reversible mag release, and more, all come together to make this a superior fighting handgun. It even ships with three magazines, where other manufacturers often ship just two as a cost cutting measure.

Beretta 96A1 - recoil spring assembly

Recoil Spring Assembly

Beretta 96A1 - hammer

External Hammer

Beretta 96A1 Review: Breakdown

The Beretta 96A1 takes down without tools, using a built in take down lever. After removing the magazine and clearing the chamber, you can take the gun down, and remove the slide assembly. A captive recoil spring and guide rod assembly make takedown easier than ever, and there is no real need to field strip beyond this level in most cases, as all key parts of the gun are now accessible for inspection and cleaning.

Beretta 96A1 - rail

Picatinny Rail

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Beretta 96A1 Maintenance

After field stripping the gun, you are free to wipe down carbon and powder residue, and lubricate the moving parts. You should clean and lubricate your gun after every shooting session, or every couple months when carried, or a couple times a year when stored. The ease of field stripping facilitates maintaining the Beretta 96A1, and you’ll appreciate the simplicity of design as you clean it.

Frame Integrated Recoil Buffer

Beretta 96A1 Safety and Reliability

The Beretta 96A1 is a double action pistol with an exposed hammer and ambidextrous safety. That makes it incredibly safe, as the long double action pull serves as a safety feature, so the gun is even as safe as a revolver without the safety engaged. The safety adds an added layer of protection when carrying in double action mode, and serves as a decocker when in single action mode (hammer back), making it safe to lower the hammer without manually manipulating it.

Beretta 96A1 - safety

Ambidextrous Safety

Because it is based on the combat proven model 92A1, and features a built in frame buffer, the Beretta 96A1 is also incredibly reliable. Properly maintained, this is a gun you can literally take to war.

Beretta 96A1 - trigger guard

Rounder Trigger Guard

What’s in the Starter Kit?

Beretta ships the 96A1 with three 12 round (or 10 in jurisdictions that limit magazine capacity) magazines, a trigger lock and owner’s manual.

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Accessories and Upgrades?

Beretta sells a number of performance parts, and upgrades to help customize your gun. In addition, famous names like Wilson Combat build high end replacement parts, as do others. You can readily get new sights, threaded barrels, different grips, even suppressors that will fit your 96A1. There are plenty of ways you can tune and upgrade your gun, and even make it into a competition “race gun” if you are so inclined.

The built in Picatinny accessory rail allows you to mount lasers, lights, or even silly things like a bayonet. You probably should just stick with the laser or light though!


The market is awash in high quality full sized fighting handguns of all kinds of calibers. But if you are  looking for a full sized .40 for duty or concealed carry, why not go with a decades old classic based on combat proven technology? Military and law enforcement the world over trust their lives to Beretta pistols, and the chance to get one in .40 is just too good to pass up. If you like classic design, all metal construction, and demand the best things in life, this is the gun for you.

Thanks for reading and I hope you found this Beretta 96A1 review helpful. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

Beretta 96A1

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4 thoughts on “Beretta 96A1 .40 S&W Pistol Review”

  1. This gun has been utterly reliable. I have put more than 1,500 rounds down range without a single malfunction. It is built like a tank and is very accurate. Field stripping is quick and easy. While I prefer a safety like that of a 1911, with swiping down for off, the 96A1’s safety (swept up to disengage) also serves as a decocker. This gun easily earns 5 stars.

  2. I own one upgraded to A-3. Everything upgradable that beretta sells is on or in there.
    Then it was disassembled, metal on metal moving parts were polished and re blued.
    Now it’s a smoooth machine used for uspsa limited major.

    • The Beretta Model 96A1 is 100% CA legal.

      However, it is not on the CA DOJ approved list for handgun sales.

      A CA FFL dealer can only transfer it via LEO sale, PPT, out-of-state intra-familial gift or as a dimensionally compliant single-shot pistol.


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