By J.D. Charles
Having carried the 1911 as my primary self defense auto for some years now, my hand has become accustomed to the flat mainspring housing and narrow grip. I also appreciate the concealability of this set up. For many years, I was a dedicated wheel gunner, but while working in industrial security the advantages of the semi-auto became more apparent – flatter, more compact, withstands abuse that will knock the frame and crane out of alignment even on the best of wheel guns. My first carry semi-auto was the Beretta 92. I liked the accuracy and reliability of the gun, which could rival a good long barreled wheel gun for accuracy and seemed to be every bit as reliable. However, the Beretta was a wide load and I soon replaced it with a Smith and Wesson 645. The big Smith equaled the Beretta for reliability but it was about as accurate as a hand grenade and heavy as the anchor for the Queen Elizabeth II.
I dabbled with the Glock for awhile for the sheer joy of not worrying about things like corrosion of finish or dings from use, as to me the Glock is not a handgun; it is a tool. Rugged and reliable and adequately accurate, the Teutonic Tactical Tupperware never felt good in my hand and I never much cared for the lack of thumb safety.
Finally, good quality 1911′s with rust resistant finishes became affordable about that time, and I switched to the 1911 a gun that looked good, shot good and felt good. My Springfield, Kimber and 1991 A-1 pistols all offered accuracy in the Beretta Ball Park, were as hard hitting as the big 645 (but felt about five pounds lighter) and were even more concealable thanks to the slim slides and grips. I was a happy camper indeed. Soon, I found myself content with the 1911 for street carry and the Beretta for home defense.
Still, as a born and bred wheel gunner, I often missed that double action capability. When the new Para Ordnance’s with DA first shot hit the shelves, I felt that perhaps this would be my own personal holy grail of auto pistols.
Having handled the Para Ordnance, there was just something about the trigger linkages that for me at least, did not feel quite right. The old Colt Double Eagle not only had a better “feel” but actually seemed less cobbled together in my grasp. The P-O does have a good light trigger pull, but it just did not really impart any feelings in my breast but disappointment. Why? Just my own subjective feelings, I reckon, as I haven’t heard anything bad about the P-O designs, which is a rarity in brand new gun designs. However, a new version of a time-proven gun is now out on the market that has the “right” feel and is one that I am familiar with and comfortable with. A few days ago, I stopped in at my favorite gun shop to look around for good buys on traded-in wheel guns. Usually around Christmas time the locals tend to upgrade their ordnance and I figured there had to be some nice buys on classic revolvers that were opted off in trade on the latest high-tec tactical tupperware. While scoping out a nice Ruger Security Six with a three inch barrel, I noticed an odd looking gun that looked like a cross between an H&K USP and the Beretta 92. I asked the pistol purveyor for a closer gander…
I don’t know why Beretta calls their new tactical operator’s pistol the Vertec. Probably stands for Vertical rails and Technical accessory or some such. To me, the name Vertec sounds similar in vowels and consonants to the historical name Vercingetorix. The Celtic warrior who stood up to the might of the Roman empire and Julius Caesar himself. Back then, the Gauls inhabited large portions of Europe including what is now Belgium, France and parts of the Rhineland. Maybe fanciful thinking for a history buff, I suppose. For me, the appellation is appropriate as when it comes to military side arms their was some exchange of culture back then between the Celts (known as Gauls back then) and the Romans. The gladius short sword itself may have been a Celtic design adopted by the Romans. The Spathan infantry sword most definitely seems to have been. Caesar wrote of the terrible long slashing swords of the Gauls in his campaigns. Today that cross exchange of cultures continues with the Beretta pistols. The original Beretta 92 itself featured several ideas borrowed from other cultures. The trigger linkage and tilting under-barrel lock were from the Walther P-38 from the Rhineland and the high capacity magazine was borrowed from the Belgian Browning.
The new Beretta Vertec pistol features a beefed up dust cover with grooves for tactical light and laser accessories, but it also features a grip configuration that feels and even looks very similar to a 1911 pistol with the straight back strap. The gun has a newly configured trigger that has to be pulled almost to the rear of the trigger guard area before the trigger releases, making it, in single action, very much like a 1911 trigger! Other features of the new gun included the best high viz sights I have ever encountered on the M9 breed and a flattened off slide top (well, what part of the slide is not machined away). The barrel is blackened stainless steel, and with the aluminum frame that means the only rust problems would be the slide itself and the small parts.
Needless to say, I had to have it. Returning to the old homestead I looked around for some trade goods and settled on my old Glock 17 and some custom knives that a friend had his eye on for a long time….
In some way,s this impulse buy made more sense than even my raging hormones realized. I suppose I should have waited for the .40 version in full stainless finish to come out, but then again, I already had a 92F at home with plenty of high capacity magazines and holsters. That meant that the only new gear would be required would be leather holsters as I found out, some of my nylon rigs fit the new Vertec pistol well enough.
Upon taking my purchase out to the range I noticed other features that were not quite as apparent, especially with a 1988 vintage Beretta 92F for comparison. The grip frame is deeper towards the trigger guard as well as shaped differently making the new Vertec Beretta pistol much easier to handle and shoot. The gun was very accurate, despite being hampered by an unusual (for Beretta) heavy Double Action trigger pull. My older 92F had a much lighter DP pull but the Vertec equaled it in accuracy. I can only imagine how much better it would be with a good pull….
The single action just felt right for this 1911 shooter. With the handle and new trigger design the gun felt almost identical to a 1911 on the firing range while shooting.
The shorter barrel and slide did not increase the minimal recoil any at all. Even though I am not a tactical light using kind of guy, I like the beefed up dust cover which should ease the mind of those of us who worry about things like our carry pieces taking a whack in the field and possibly damaging them. For this same reason, I really like Springfield’s new “Operator” 1911 a-1. Most 1911′s are very thin in this area of the frame. If you are a worry wort like I am, these integral frame dust covers will ease your mind. The gun fired everything without a hitch. Part of me was tempted to attempt to make it jam by pouring sand over the barrel or run over it with my truck or some other salesman’s trick, till I came to realize that I never had to defend myself from a sandstorm or jeep. Maybe I started to suffer a little from Glock withdrawal there…
The only complaints I have with the new pistol are (1.) it’s not a .45. (2.) It’s not stainless and (3.) Those damn politically correct 10 round Clinton clips are a bitch to load. Thank the gods I stocked up on high capacity clips before the Clinton administration. All in all the new Beretta Vertec pistol is a proven double action design that has a traditional single action feel in the hand. For a nine, it is built like a bank vault. In .40 caliber it would be good substitute to the traditional .45 for other 1911 pistoleros who find themselves wanting (or being required by departmental regulations) to carry a DA piece.
Comments, suggestions, contributions? Let me know