By Sara Ahrens, Women’s Outdoor News
My first introduction to shooting handguns came when I started my career as a police officer. I had to adapt to the challenges that my duty-issued firearm presented. It took me years to undo the bad habits I developed, in order to achieve competency with a firearm that did not fit me. Since those early days, I’ve spent hundreds of hours on the range, working with police and civilians alike. I volunteer with new shooters, mostly women and children. I like teaching those who have yet to be contaminated with bad information and habits. I feel excitement when I educate them on shooting, and more importantly, handgun selection. Throughout the years, I’ve learned which firearms features benefit novice shooters.
There are some key characteristics that I tell women to look for in a firearm. These features will ensure proper fit and minimize felt recoil. A couple of these characteristics include interchangeable backstraps, reversible magazine release and a low bore axis. I give other advice as well, but these characteristics are the most important. I have been reviewing the Beretta PX4 Storm, and will assess it based on the above criteria.
For women, interchangeable backstraps are probably the best innovation to hit the firearm industry. If a woman doesn’t know if a handgun fits her, she can choose a firearm with interchangeable backstraps. They are about as foolproof as it comes!
The Storm comes with interchangeable backstraps that make it perfect for female shooters. I have to warn you that changing the backstraps is not an easy task, but my experience with other firearms is that, in time, parts like these will loosen up. Trying to figure out the sizes of the backstraps left me completely stumped. I watched YouTube videos, searched the Internet, looked through the manual and checked on Beretta’s website, and I still could not figure out the sizes. One of the backstraps is clearly marked with an “L,” but the others appear to be unmarked.
Reversible magazine release
One of the best pieces of advice I have received came from professional competition shooter Lisa Munson, who suggested putting the magazine release on the strong side of the gun, so that I don’t have to flip the gun in my hand to reach the release. It saves time and helps maintain a proper grip. As a police officer, I had been told over the years that it is “dangerous” to switch the magazine release to the strong side because under stress, an officer might squeeze the frame of the firearm, unintentionally dropping the magazine. When I became the range master, I asked the training cadre how many times that scenario actually happened to our left-handed shooters. No one knew of it ever happening. I switched my magazine release to the strong side on all of my firearms … and never looked back!
Reversing the magazine release on the Storm is significantly easier than I have experienced with other firearms. It takes just a couple of steps. The manual recommends having an armorer perform this task, but it is easy enough to do if you are comfortable with the task.
Low bore axis
Purchasing a firearm with a low bore axis is often overlooked and under-considered. The more in alignment the bore is with your hand, the less muzzle flip there is. Semiautomatic pistols require the proper management of recoil to keep the gun cycling properly. When malfunctions happen to newer shooters, many times it is due to failing to manage recoil and “breaking” at the wrist. This can cause the firearm to fail to cycle properly, because the body isn’t absorbing the recoil as it should.
The Storm has a low bore axis because it has a rotating barrel. This technology gives the Storm strength, lowers the bore axis and allows for a smooth firing cycle. The low bore axis of the Storm makes it enjoyable to shoot.
The Storm is a firearm that I would recommend to new shooters. It is versatile and fun to shoot. I would be remiss not to mention that it has a fantastic trigger, which for me, personally, is very important. The Storm is a thicker firearm than many others on the market, and I tested the subcompact, compact and full-sized versions in 9mm. I enjoyed shooting the full-sized version the most, which means I would have a difficult time concealing it for on-body carry. I don’t buy every gun for the purpose of carrying it concealed. Some guns I buy just because they are reliable and fun to shoot. For me, the PX4 falls into that category.
The Beretta PX4 Storm has an MSRP $575.
Sara has been in law enforcement, on patrol and on SWAT. She has appeared on Top Shot and on the Outdoor Channel in Shooting Gallery. She freelances several other publications, including Combat Handguns and also blogs routinely at Beretta USA. Take a moment to visit Women’s Outdoor News – click here.