Last week, we took a look at the Beretta PX4 Pistol in .40S&W. In my opening comments I mentioned how, on occasion, it takes several years for a new design to evolve. While that is certainly not an issue--given that one of the most popular pistol designs in history remains little changed after about a hundred years--in this case Beretta was smart and developed a new pistol design that worked hand in hand with a new carbine design. This week we're going to take a look at the Beretta CX4 ("C" for Carbine instead of "P" for Pistol), its features, niceties, and which of those features enable it to work efficiently with the PX4 pistols. In today's law enforcement environment, given the reality of active shooters (and we've seen two school shootings just in the past week alone) and the potential terrorist threat that is near impossible to predict, I think it's imperative that law enforcement professionals at least examine their handguns and long guns to predetermine deployment configurations and challenges.
As you can see from the picture shown at right, the CX4 is a highly futuristic looking weapon. Not quite on par with phaser rifles from Star Trek or blasters from Star Wars, the Beretta CX4 design makes extensive use of polymer in the stock and frame. The sleek design, while being wonderfully ergonomic and comfortable, actually has several practical qualities to it.
Inside that polymer stock is a 16.6" barrel from which you can shoot (depending on which model you buy) a 9mm, .40S&W or .45ACP bullet. This multiple caliber availability goes a long way toward ensuring that you can use the same ammo in your carbine as you do in your handgun. Further, if your duty handgun is a Beretta 92/96 or a PX4, the magazines from your duty handgun will fit and function in the CX4 carbine. That's even better. Not only can you use the same ammo, but you can load it into the same magazines and always have reload capability for both weapons.
To fit different body sizes and types, Beretta designed in an adjustable stock. Through the use of spacers, the stock length can be varied from just under 13.5" to 15". Even bigger officers might like to remove the spacers to keep the 13.3" stock so that when they're wearing external (not concealed) body armor the reach still works out the same.
To keep the weapon as ambidextrous as possible, Beretta designed in a reversible manual safety and magazine release button. Both can be switched (by an armorer or gunsmith) for right or left handed use. The 2.5" width of the weapon is the same for all calibers, and due to the polymer design, it's near impossible to get the gun's fore end even warm to the touch. The post-in-circle sights are shielded on each side to protect them (because Beretta knows that many a patrol officer will just put this gun in his trunk until he needs it).
The entire length of the top strap of the weapon is Picatinny rail equipped. Putting on optics is as easy as the throw of a lever or tightening of a screw. Additionally, since you can't have a light in front of your optics, a slide out Picatinny rail--perfectly sized for M3 or M6 type lights--slides out of the fore end under the barrel. Mounting positions for additional Picatinny rails are available on both sides of the gun's fore end. This weapon can be "dressed up" as much as you want--certainly as much as an AR-type equivalent. You can put your EOTech or ACOG on top, a light on one side, a laser or the other, and just because you're bored, an infrared light on the other.
So, with all this versatility, how well does it shoot? Across the past several weeks I've had a couple of police agencies at the range that were testing these weapons for patrol use. Now, while I feel that a patrol rifle should be exactly that--a RIFLE in .223, .308 or other RIFLE caliber--I know the challenge many police administrators face in getting such weapons approved by their governmental ruling bodies. But getting a long gun that is the same caliber as the duty handgun approved is much easier. After all, it's just increased accuracy which equates to reduced liability, right? And let's face it, the gun doesn't look aggressive like that nasty old "assault weapon"...we won't go there.
Zeroing the weapons proved easy. Recoil was so light that the officers expressed surprise. The difference in point-of-aim/point-of-impact from seven yards to fifty yards was less than two inches. That was with a Beretta CX4 in .40S&W using Federal HydraShok 165g JHP ammo. One shooter used a BSA red dot optic while another used an EOTech 522. With either of them, once zeroed, the shooters were able to put out accurate shots (head shots) from rest to shoulder to fire in less than two seconds. The mechanical function of the weapon is almost identical to the PX4 pistol.
Accuracy was good. From a bench-rested position, multiple shooters were able to put out ten-shot slow fire groups that measured less than two inches from the fifty yard line. One shooter--a former Marine and accomplished marksman--put out a ten-shot, one-hole group that measured just under 1.5". I was impressed.
Again, while this wouldn't be my first choice in a "patrol rifle" as an option to a handgun in longer range situations, this is definitely an acceptable option. The ability to use the same magazines in both pistol and carbine is handy. The administrative ease of "selling" such a non-aggressive looking weapon to city or county councils is another selling point. The ease of training and comfort of handling is another. All in all, it's an excellent long gun option where true patrol rifles aren't practical for whatever reason.