Snow Storm Part Two
In Part One I shared some ideas about the niche and benefits of Pistol Caliber Carbines and began discussing how the Beretta CX4 Storm is a solid choice for that role. Here's Part Two...
The Storm has been around since 2003, so I won't go into all the gun details. However, here are a few items I find noteworthy…
Caliber and Magazines
The 9mm and 40 S&W CX4 models are designed to be compatible with magazines for several Beretta pistol models - the 92/96, the PX4 Storm, and the 8000/8040 Cougar.
In other words, a 9mm or 40 S&W gun will accept multiple mag types; all that's required is changing a magazine insert and a mag release button (they’re reasonably cheap when in stock). The inserts are conveniently stamped to tell you which mag type they accept.
The table below displays the part numbers needed for a given mag type, as well as the available mag capacities. Just buy the appropriate insert and release button, and you can switch mags.
Beretta offered a nice variety of 9mm mag options with the 92 and PX4 styles. Perhaps there's a good reason they don’t offer more than 17 rounds of 40 S&W, though it seems to me it wouldn't have been such a stretch to cook up a 20ish round mag. And they didn't even bother with more options for the 8000/8040 Cougar.
As for the 45 ACP...8 rounds? That's it??
The 45 CX4 Storm takes the 8 round magazine of the immensely popular 8045 Cougar pistol (that's sarcasm for those who don't speak it).
I guess we can't fault Beretta too much for the lack of foresight on this one, but with the 8 round Cougar/CX4 45 mag, Berreta managed to make a magazine that is useless both in New York and everywhere else. (More sarcasm.)
The least Beretta could have done was offer an insert option for the PX4 45...it IS called the PX4 Storm after all (CX4 is for Carbine, PX4 is for Pistol). That would have at least allowed a 9 and 10 round option. Maybe they just got tired at that point. I certainly got tired just writing this section.
Sierra Papa has an aftermarket solution to this problem that looks promising. It's a little spendy, and there's effort required to modify the factory magazine. But if you like 45 ACP, and like even better the sound of 16 rounds in the magazine, maybe that's just the ticket for you.
The version I shot was a 45, and since this gun seems destined to stay in the family I ordered two of the mag conversion kits. I haven't had the opportunity to convert the mags yet, but the parts look very solid and the quality looks excellent. Plus, the folks at Sierra Papa are very friendly, helpful, and informative.
Except for the cut outs in the grip, the factory 45 mags are actually shorter than the mag well. This is yet another reason it's silly there isn't an extended 45 magazine (though I'm sure the compatibility is a driving feature for the hoards of Beretta 8045 users out there).
I found the best way to get these to seat was a hard palm strike: hit it with the heel of the hand lined up with the grip cut-outs.
Somebody offers a 10 round extension for the 45, but at this point I'm sick of researching magazine options.
1. Remove the mag. Hopefully you don't need to be reminded of that step.
2. Cock the hammer by pulling back the charging handle (necessary because the polymer spring guide rod and buffer can be broken during disassembly…this is an argument for purchasing the steel guide rod).
3. Push out the "Disassembly Latch;" it can be pushed out from either side.
5. Pull the bolt assembly back until the charging handle is lined up with the round area just in front of the ejection port. Remove the charging handle.
6. Pull out the bolt. I didn't have time to disassemble it further but this much is adequate for most cleaning.
It's not quite as easy as an AK, but it's close.
While we've got it apart, let's discuss the bolt. Warrior Talk member Goodspeed(TPF) shared a good deal of information on the Storm with me. (At one point he owned six of them! Two each of 9mm, 40 S&W, and 45 ACP. I have Storm envy.) He describes this better than I can:
Many people may not realize just how heavy the slide mass is in the Storm, especially compared to other similar carbines. This aids in a few areas.
First, it allows the recoil springs to be lighter which makes the bolt easier to cock enabling those of weaker stature to still easily charge the weapon.
Secondly it helps to soften felt recoil as a heavier slower moving mass is easier to control than a much faster, lighter one. Enabling much faster follow up shots. It also helps to lengthen the service life of parts compared to other PCCs. One example would be a Marlin Camp Carbine, which will beat its stock to death if not properly maintained.
And finally it aids in proper safe and reliable function with the use of +p or +p+ ammunition. I am a big lover of faster moving bullets for certain purposes and I have to say the Beretta Storm has never let me down. I have fired high pressure 9mm from many other Carbines and experienced not only bulged cases but also case ruptures, and that was with standard pressure ammunition. When you introduce +p, +p+ and NATO pressure ammunition to some other PCCs they fail miserably and even become dangerous to the shooter. I have never experienced this type of failure (or any failure for that matter) with either my 9mm Storms, or my .45 Storm when shooting higher pressure ammunition (no +p is available for the .40).
This bolt is set up for right side ejection. This is the left side of the bolt, the ejection port cover can be moved to the other side for left handed shooters.
The right side of the bolt with the empty ejection port.
Another view of the bolt, this time in comparison to the bolt of a Marlin Camp Carbine.
A view from the top this time, also next to the Camp Carbine bolt. Besides giving you a good idea of the mass in the Storm's bolt, this also givea a good view of the spring guide rod. This piece is polymer, offers a weight savings over steel, and is plenty strong enough during operation of the gun. However, it can be broken during disassembly if the gun is not cocked prior to starting the breakdown process. Aftermarket steel guide rods are available.
Beretta's website says the gun weighs 5.75 pounds unloaded (most of that weight is the bolt). When comparing to an Uzi, which I think is surprisingly handy and quick on target, the Storm is a featherweight. If weight is an issue - often the case for family members - the Storm is a better choice hands down.
The Storm is the perfect lefty gun: with the exception of the bolt release, EVERYTHING is reversible. I didn't have time to mess with changing the extraction, mag release, or safety. As a right hander, things are laid out pretty much where they should be (it's sort of a pistol/rifle hybrid), so personally I probably wouldn't change anything. For righties, shooting left will just require some practice to access all the controls fluidly. (Though I intend on running the gun with a lefty set up before posting Part 3...)
One thing I did experiment with was switching the charging handle. It's simple and takes seconds:
1. Follow steps 1-5 for disassembly as noted above.
2. After you pull it out, stick it in the other side. (Don't take that step out of context.)
3. Reverse the disassembly steps to reassemble. You can do all this faster than it takes to read these instructions.
I would keep the handle on the left, though as an AK guy I don’t mind it on the right side at all. I've seen a few guys who have modified their AKs for charging handles on both sides; I always thought this looked like fun but it's not something I'd spend the money on. With the Storm I'd do it in a heartbeat. The hardest part is going to Beretta's website and ordering one. I found it on their site without even looking for it (they call it a cocking handle by the way, and as of this writing it's only $19). While you're at it, you can ask them why they don't offer higher capacity .45 magazines...I'm sure they've never seen that comment before.
Double charging handles - looks kinda funny but it gives you options.
Reassembly is easy and fast. With practice I think it could be done quick enough to make the Storm a viable concealed carry option for response to an active shooter event.
I rarely carry an Uzi, but when I do I remove the barrel and stow it in a laptop bag (SBRs are illegal in WA, so I must retain the 16 inch barrel). Retrieving the gun from the bag, reinstalling the barrel, and tightening down the barrel nut can be done very quickly. Particularly with TSD’s RMR UZI top cover, you have a much better weapon platform than a pistol and it can be in service almost by the time you've gotten behind cover.
Is reassembling the Storm as easy as screwing in the barrel of an Uzi? No, it takes a bit more dexterity than that. Under stress, especially on the move, it would be easy to drop and misplace the disassembly latch. In terms of fast and easy reassembly, the Uzi wins without contest.
But in terms of actually carrying it around all day…at roughly three pounds lighter than the Uzi…there's no question I’d rather carry the Storm. Three pounds may not sound like a lot, but that strap on the laptop bag does start to wear on your shoulder after awhile.
The Storm above has obviously had the barrel cut. Less obvious is that the stock has also been shortened. The upper is roughly 16", the lower is 17.5", assembled it is 23.5" long. With the accessories it is just over 6 lbs. The barrel is 11.25". Chronograph tests revealed a roughly 20% decrease in velocity after being chopped, but still much higher than the average 4" pistol barrel.
The Storm's overall length is 29.7" (without the buttstock spacer). A 30 inch rifle is a little big to pack around in a non-descript way. (The Storm is actually just a shade longer than the FS2000, though lighter and less bulky.)
Broken apart, the upper and lower of the Storm are almost 21 and 19 inches respectively. Unless they're modified that's too long to fit in a laptop bag, but with proper foam packing they could certainly work in a small gym bag. Slide the halves together, insert the disassembly latch, load the mag, and run the charging handle...BANG. You're in business.
Responding to an active shooter event falls into two categories, reactive or proactive. In a reactive scenario, the problem is up close and personal, and you have little or no time to think. You either run for cover, or you draw quickly from concealment and deal with the problem as best you can. A proactive scenario scenario means you have time, at least a few seconds, to decide how you should respond...run away, sit there like a fecklessly wondering WHY...or take out the b*stard who is shooting people. (If given the opportunity, I know which choice I will make.)
In the proactive scenario, the Storm will give you a better tool than a pistol. If it is carried broken down, it will require fast assembly. The concern here is the potential to lose the disassembly latch. It would be easy to drop and lose this piece while assembling under stress. Keeping an extra on hand, perhaps even attached to the gun in some fashion, is good insurance.
Here's another look at the disassembly latch. Ridiculous 8 round 45 magazine looking forlorn in the corner.
Beretta offers a top rail for optics, a removable tri-rail allowing for attachments on both sides and the bottom, and a retractable rail under the barrel. To extend this rail you simply push in the sling attachment and pull out the rail. I like the retractable rail option, and though I doubt it would take a lot of punishment I would probably use it to attach a light.
Personally I'm not a fan of hanging lots of stuff on my guns; I like to keep it as light and snag-free as possible. But if you like rail options, the Storm has easy buttons.
This gun came with a Burris SpeedDot. It is...okay. There are much better options. I would go with an RMR instead.
We went to an outdoor range the day after Christmas. It was cold, really cold, but it was clear and bright. Good for what we intended. We didn’t have long and just came out to function check it and make sure the thing was zeroed.
Dad took his first shot, aiming at a small black bullseye at 25 yards. Neither of us could tell where the bullet hit…until I looked through the spotting scope. Dead center of the bullseye, we just couldn’t see it. Yep, it was zeroed.
We did some more shooting. Nothing technical and no measurements so I can’t tell you what the spread was, but it was plenty accurate enough and very consistent.
I’ve seen some complaints about the plastic peep sights on the Storm. I’d prefer steel but honestly I didn’t have a problem with them. (At least on a bright clear day. I need to run the Storm in less light.) I shot mostly using the wider aperture (labeled “SR” for “short range”…you can guess the smaller aperture was labeled “LR”) and found they were decent and worked well enough at the ranges we shot at. They fold down for use with the red dot, a nice feature.
The Burris SpeedDot was okay. It was certainly faster than acquiring the sight picture with the “irons." And while we could certainly hit the target with decent accuracy, we didn't get the same consistency as with the peep sight. I zeroed them to the point they were “close enough” but I didn’t get them to a point I was happy with. The adjustment knobs felt cheap and did not inspire any confidence. Does it work? Yes. But for the kind of consistent accuracy and confidence I want in this weapon -- you should be able to hit eyeballs with a dot at room distance -- I wouldn’t count on this optic. The Storm is plenty accurate, and it needs a dot that's up to the task. I would choose a Trijicon RMR.
The trigger could be better. The trigger and hammer are both polymer, and while time has proven that they are durable, it's definitely not a satisfying trigger to run. The gun itself is clearly accurate and a better trigger would help the shooter take advantage of that. I’m told the Sierra Papa trigger/hammer upgrade is a worthwhile investment and plan on trying it. The SP trigger is aluminum and the hammer is steel, and I'm certain they give a much crisper feel.
Mag Changes and Malfunction Clearing
The range didn’t allow for any movement drills, so all our shooting was stationary. I did some snap shots, shooting more for speed than accuracy. No problem at 25 yards. The Storm almost points itself.
I also did some speed shooting with mag changes. This wasn't so easy thanks to the short 45 mags, and the fact that my fingers were really cold by that time didn’t help. If this were my gun I would spend a lot more time working mag changes.
Dad also had some old, crappy 45 ammo…I actually regret that we put that stuff through the gun at all. However, it provided a great opportunity to clear malfunctions, because much of it wouldn’t fire. Running that bolt to get a fresh round in couldn’t be easier. We only ran it with charging handle on the left side…I wish I’d thought to change it over to the right.
Given that Goodspeed(TPF) has experience will all calibers of the Storm, I’ll quote him on recoil:
I have to say that the 9mm Storm shoots the softest followed by the .45 which "pushes" more than it "hits" you. I think I enjoy shooting the .45 the most just because of how it recoils. The .40 has the snappiest recoil of the 3, especially when shooting loads such as the Cor-Bon 135gr loading (which works very well on Deer). Now keep in mind, this is relatively speaking, of course. Compared to a 30-30, the .40 is a pussycat.
Comparing the Storm and the Uzi - I still enjoy shooting the Uzi more, both for fast shots as well as more carefully aimed shots. Part of that may be the caliber difference; the heavy Uzi soaks up all the 9mm recoil, and while the 45 Storm has very tame recoil, it does jump a bit. Mostly I think it's the trigger. The Uzi trigger won’t win any prizes but still feels better to me than the Storm. I will say this, however: shooting in the temperatures we were, the polymer stock and rubber cheek piece of the Beretta Storm is much more comfortable than the cold steel of the Uzi’s folding stock. That may be an important consideration in your area of operations.
My overall impression is that Storm is very accurate and easy to shoot. It’s very handy, quick on target, and easy to clear malfunctions. I would have liked to shoot it more, but didn’t want to shoot up all of Dad’s ammo. Besides, I was cold and feeling soft right after Christmas.
What I find most interesting about the Storm is how it handles. I’ll discuss that in Part Three.