Gun Test: Beretta Cx4 Storm
By Mike “Duke” Venturino, GUNS Magazine
Photos: Yvonne Venturino
Recently when I was bouncing article ideas off of my good friend Kirk Stovall he said, “Why not do one on the Storm?” Showing off my great firearms knowledge I replied, “Yeah that storm the other night was brutal. It left gullies in my driveway but it’s really not suitable for a gun magazine article.”
“No dummy,” he said, “the Storm carbine.” And then I said, “What pray tell is a Storm carbine?” I had honestly never heard of such a thing. Well it turns out they are a real firearm, actually made by Beretta in Italy with the full name being Cx4 Storm. They are semi-auto currently being chambered for 9x19mm (Luger), .40 S&W and 9x21mm. In the recent past they also offered a .45 ACP version but it’s not listed now. Stovall has all three Storms, so he loaned them to me for some shooting and photography.
Now, let me stress I am no stranger to carbines—especially ones firing handgun cartridges. I’ve owned levergun and pump action carbines in calibers from .22 LR up to .45 Colt. Although I’m partial to firearms crafted of wood and steel, I am coming to accept synthetics to a degree.
My introduction to his Storms went like this. He pulled one out of its case and I exclaimed, “Wow, that thing is ugly!” In true fact the Beretta Cx4 Storm looks like it belongs in a science fiction movie. They have 16.7-inch barrel lengths with only about 5 inches extending past the black synthetic stock. Overall length according to the Beretta USA is 29.7 inches and nominal weight a bit less than 6 pounds.
Beretta says the Storm is accessory friendly. I can see why. As shipped there is a long Picatinny rail atop action and handguard. Supplied with it are short rails easily attached to the forearm sides. Now get this: there is even an extendable rail inside the forearm under the barrel. I broke off my thumbnail trying to pull it out before reading in the instructions that the front sling swivel must be pushed in simultaneously with pulling the rail out.
Duke’s friend Kirk Stovall uses his Beretta Storms primarily for rabbit hunting. Two shot during testing included (below, left) one as issued by Beretta, and the other (right), has been gussied up with vertical foregrip and Aimpoint sight.
Instead of an extending buttstock as seen on so many “black” rifles and carbines nowadays, Storms have a fairly traditional one except it is cut-out behind the pistol grip. That does save weight. Length of pull of Stovall’s 9mm Storm with supplied extender is 14-1/4 inches. It appears without the extender it would be about 13-1/2 inches. As made Storms have a horizontal area with checkering serving as a forearm. However, by means of an attachable bottom rail, they can also be fitted with a vertical grip such as has become favored by our soldiers and Marines on their M4 carbines.
Whereas most semi-autos firing centerfire cartridges have a magazine in front of the triggerguard, these Storms utilize a magazine going into the pistol grip just like most semi-auto pistols. In fact, they use the same magazines as used in Beretta’s pistols of the same caliber. Those are of 10-round capacity for the .40 S&W and 10 or 15 rounds for the 9mm.
There are some other interesting features on these carbines. One is the bolt handle can be attached on either side for right- or left-handed shooters. In fact, Stovall has fitted his 9mm Storm with bolt handles on both sides.
Storms’ operate with a simple blowback system. There are no gas ports or op-rods to contend with. Triggers are single action only, meaning that to fire, the loaded magazine is inserted, the bolt retracted fully and then released. Then the carbine is ready to fire. The safety is a cross-bolt type directly over the triggerguard. Pressed to the left a red band is exposed meaning the safety is off. Pushed to the right and it is engaged. There is a bolt hold open device for when the last round in a magazine is fired. Magazine release is another button on the receiver’s left side behind the triggerguard. Dropping out the empty magazine and pulling the bolt back slightly releases it to close on an empty chamber.
Another accessory Kirk put on his 9mm Storm is this perforated barrel guard.
Duke’s friend Kirk obviously favors his 9mm Storm more highly than the others
because it wears an Aimpoint sight.
The Storm comes with buttstock extender allowing length of pull as long as 14-1/4 inches.
The Storm can be fired with bolt retraction handles on right, left or both sides.
The red banded button is the safety in off position. The button behind trigger
is magazine release.
Sights as issued by Beretta consist of a 2-leaf rear peep with one labeled SR and the other LR which I assume mean “short range” and “long range.” Instead of that rear sight being adjustable as most of us are familiar with, it is the front sight that can be moved for zero. A special spanner wrench is supplied for this. Also worthy of note is that Storms come with a fitted hardcase with extra magazine and supplied accessories in their proper places.
It was easy to tell how my friend’s three Storms rated to him. The 9mm was truly gussied up with vertical foregrip, perforated barrel cover and Aimpoint sight. The .40 S&W version was as shipped from Beretta except for a TruGlo sight and the .45 ACP had an American Defense sight. Both of those are also dot-type sights. To be honest I have next to no experience with such sighting equipment so it was fun to try them. However, on the .45 Auto version I took the optical sight off entirely so I could try the issue peep and post sights.
Storm magazines insert into the pistol grip, which took a while for Duke’s hands to adapt to.
Duke’s average group size for .40 S&W Storm was in 3+ inch range. Duke’s average
group size for 9mm Luger Storm was about like this (below).
In shooting Beretta’s Cx4 Storm 9mm, Duke obviously has not gotten used to the vertical foregrip yet.
Also it was interesting to fire a few handguns of the same caliber with the same factory loads to see how the 16.7-inch barrel’s velocities compared with regular pistols. With my Smith & Wesson Model 39 9mm with 4-inch barrel, Federal 115-grain FMJ’s gave 1,176 fps. The 9mm Storm hit 1,325 fps. My Kimber Pro Carry .40 S&W with 4-inch barrel likewise showed 1,008 fps with Winchester 180-grain FMJ’s on the chronograph. The .40 S&W Storm gave 1,198 fps. And finally for a .45 ACP, an Inland Model 1911A1 was used with 5-inch barrel. It gave 887 fps with Black Hills 230-grain FMJ and the .45 Auto Storm gave 1,026 fps. To me it appears the longer Storm barrels will gain about 150 to 200 fps over normal pistols.
Shooting the Storms to determine precision (accuracy) was interesting. With their strange (to me) stocks and even stranger sighting equipment it was a challenge to print decent groups with them. For instance I was shooting at 8-inch diameter black bull’s-eyes. The Aimpoint on the .45 Auto Storm was giving me a red dot approximately the same size as the bull’s-eye. Furthermore there was a halo around it. So with some fiddling I learned two things. One is the Aimpoint red dot is adjustable. And if you are looking directly square with the Aimpoint the halo leaves the red dot.
The green dot TruGlo sight on the .40 S&W was second so there was some learning behind me making things go faster. With the .45 Auto Storm using its supplied peep sights I learned something about myself. My eyesight has deteriorated so much with age that a front post sight only 13-1/4 inches away from a rear peep sight is a mere blur to me. I had great difficulty shooting groups with the .45 Auto so sighted. In fact I gave up on group shooting with it.
Initially my group shooting with 9mm Luger and .40 S&W Storms was poor also. As light as they are and with such low recoil I tended to just lay them on the stand bags and hold them loosely. That caused them to recoil differently from shot to shot which is a sure way to cause flyers. Then I began to grasp them tightly, more like I would do with rifles giving heavier recoil and groups began to form. I wouldn’t call these carbines tackdrivers but the 9mm and .40 each printed about 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 for 3- and 5-shot groups. Obviously friend Kirk had them sighted in because they hit elevation-wise right on for me. And just as obviously Kirk and I shoot differently because both shot to the right for me. I will say that with the red and green dot optics, standing up with these carbines and hitting my steel torso targets was easier than with iron sighted carbines.
There were no malfunctions or problems of any sort with these borrowed carbines except my muscle memory trained hands kept trying to put magazines in forward of the triggerguard as with more traditional semi-autos.
Maker: Beretta USA
17601 Beretta Drive
Accokeek, MD 20607
Action: Blowback, single-action
Barrel length: 16.6 inches
Caliber: 9×19, .40 S&W
Capacity; 15 or 30 (9mm), 10 (.40 S&W)
Overall length: 31.5 inches
Sight radius: 12.9 inches
Weight unloaded: 5.7 pounds
Price: $800 (9mm), $915 (.40 S&W)