Ernest Langdon, a noted trainer and 10-time national champion in defensive-pistol disciplines, has long been a strong advocate for traditional double-action semi-automatics (DA/SA) and the Beretta 92 platform. He has been after Beretta for years to bring together features that have been scattered across several models into one high-performance pistol. You see, Beretta has had a maddening habit of "rationing" their most desirable features, leaving shooters to either settle without features or to build "Frankenguns" with a checkered frame from one model, a slide with dovetailed sights from another, and a barrel from yet another. I’m not sure if Beretta finally caught the vision or if Ernest wore them down, but the recent release of the 92G Elite LTT (Langdon Tactical Technology) is the happy result.
A perhaps oversimplified description, the Elite LTT is what you would get if you took the popular checkered and light rail-bearing M9A1 frame and matched it with a Vertec model slide to get the dovetailed (and hence replaceable) sights, added in a match barrel, LTT thin grips, custom sights and some upgrades. That misses numerous key features but gets one close to the idea.
The serious Beretta fan base has been extremely fired up about this model for the reasons laid out above but also some of the finer points. One shooter may key on the beveled mag well while another is excited about the skeletonized Elite hammer and extended mag release. The decocker, as opposed to the traditional 92FS safety, is another draw for many hardcore Beretta shooters.
The Langdon designed .110” fiber-optic front and serrated rear sight jump out on initial inspection. What may miss casual inspection are the steel trigger and small parts (opposed to the plastic in current 92s) and the factory bevels that address some known Beretta hotspots. This feature is unique at this time to the Elite LTT and eliminate points near the trigger guard, the inboard rear of the slide, and the beavertail radius that each seem to bother shooters of certain hand sizes.
The LTT ships from the factory with the lighter weight "D" hammer spring, reducing the double-action pull on the pistol relative to the standard M9 or 92. However, LTT offers a trigger job upgrade on the pistol where Ernest polishes and fits a new trigger bar, sear, etc. Langdon is well-known for his trigger work on the Beretta, and the trigger job upgrade has been quite popular.
The test sample had the trigger job, which reduced the double action to a silky 7.75 lbs. The smoothness and length of the Beretta DA stroke means that the trigger actually felt a bit lighter. There is absolutely no trick to keeping the front sight well-centered in the rear notch throughout the arc, something that surprises many who may have only experienced military or police issue Berettas. The single action has the expected 92 series' takeup and then hits a crisp release of just over 3 lbs.
The Beretta 92 design is consistently accurate in its basic form, and the Elite with its stainless 4.7” match barrel builds on that. The lockup is noticeably firmer by feel and leaves no play to any direction. The accuracy results justified the "match" designation, with 12 of the 15 groups fired beating two inches for five shots at 25 yards, and most of those would comfortably hold the X ring. Translating that precision to actual shooting was simple due to the excellent sights and trigger. I occasionally use a folded 3" x 5" index card as a stand in for the "T Box" on silhouette target heads, and the LTT consistently put the hits inside that small 2.5" x 3" target at 25 yards.
It is hard to express just how smooth a tuned Beretta double-action pull is. Many shooters view the double-action pull as a giant roadblock to good shooting, and while this may be the case with poorly matched technique and an overly heavy pull, it certainly wasn’t with the Elite. For example, I backed off to the 50-yard line and decided to make 10 attempts at rolling the double-action first shot on the LTT against an MGM 8" steel plate, a rather challenging target-distance combo. To make the drill relevant to practical use, I decided before starting that each shot would get a time limit of 2.5 seconds from the ready position. This is a time frame that I would be comfortable in hitting with a good single-action semi-automatic or a striker-fired pistol tweaked to my liking; it would be a challenge for me to connect with a mushy or heavy pulled striker release in such a compressed time. The Elite allowed me to comfortably keep the front sight where intended and roll the shot off in a 1.8 to 2.25 second timespan, and connect with eight of the 10 shots, with two leakers that I rushed a bit. I am comfortable that with a few more sessions I could consistently clang the plate nearly 100 percent of the time with the occasional nine-hit run.
DA/SA pairs fired at 2.5, 5, 10, 20 and 40 yards highlight the smooth trigger pulls in each mode.
The Beretta 92 platform is remarkably soft shooting as is, its unique locking system merging well with just enough weight and a well-shaped grip frame to keep the muzzle down in recoil. I have a lot of time on the system, which is undoubtedly part of it, but find that I can shoot a well-set-up Beretta a little faster than just about anything other than a steel framed 9 mm 1911. The Elite LTT bore this out, giving me near personal bests on plate rack runs and other speed drills.
The G10 LTT grip panels are quite thin and aggressively checkered, giving the Beretta a unique feel. The panels work with most hand sizes, removing the valid complaint from those with smaller-than-average hands about the standard 92 grip. In my case the grips work extremely well and give excellent control of the pistol but allow my support hand to bear on the slide release and affect its function. Knowing this from using the panels on other Berettas, I had Ernest grind the slide release down to an extremely low profile shelf that barely protrudes. This worked well, allowing my large-ish hands to lock into the G10 grips with my preferred grasp and still retain full function of the slide release.
The upgraded sights and the trigger are the main events for the special 92G, but close behind them for me was the additional frame beveling. The hotspots were completely gone and even edges along the length of the trigger guard seemed more radiused than some recent Berettas I’ve handled. The Elite LTT feels great in the hand, with the checkered frame and grip panels anchoring the pistol firmly and comfortably.
One feature that I was completely ambivalent about was the forward serrations on the slide. I assumed that they would be almost entirely cosmetic since the 92 series has always had the pinched portion at the end of the slide, which works for checking the chamber or cycling the action. Drawing the LTT from a Kydex holster I could hear and feel the serrations brrrrrttt-ing slightly across the top of the scabbard on the drawstroke. However, I found myself actually using them more and more with each range trip, and now have completed the transition from disinterest through acceptance and on to appreciation.
I’m closing in on 2,000 rounds through the Elite with no issues of any kind across a wide variety of loads. Whether in one of the three provided 15 rounders, the new 17-round M9A3 style magazines, or one of my well-worn M9 mags that are closing in on antique status the LTT cycled smoothly and without complaint.
The LTT is a striking two-tone with the stainless short barrel, trigger, and screws setting off an otherwise serious black pistol. The only quibble I have on the whole handgun is that the rollmarks on the inboard side of the slide have slightly uneven depths and there is a small spot where the finish has some sort of blemish. My general sense is that the build quality for function and parts fit coming out of Beretta’s new Tennessee plant is as good or better than anything from the old plant but that minor cosmetic issues are an occasional issue they are chasing. Given the overall tight fit, smooth function, and exceptional accuracy I can live with that but it is slightly unexpected from a Beretta.
As I have been reviewing this sample, no fewer than six of my shooting buddies and students have purchased the Elite LTT. The positive reaction from the three seasoned Beretta fans affirmed my sentiments about how the features came together on this special edition. The pistol is everything good about the 92 with a whole lot enhanced and some gaps addressed. The pleasant surprise and enthusiasm from the 92 (and DA/SA) newbies was encouraging and suggests that the Elite model may gain a new generation of fans for Beretta.