Monday, August 20, 2012

Quality is job 12.

(See edit at bottom for the continuing story...)

A regular brought a Beretta PX4 Storm compact in to have some Meprolight night sights fitted. Gunsmith Bob drifted the old sights out and the new sights in, and said "You're not going to like this," combined with some less-than-kind words about Beretta QC:

 Notice how you can see daylight right through the front sight dovetail on one side of the sight base? Classy looking, no?

Pardon the slightly blurry cell phone pics, but see the two plunge cuts at the front of the slide made by the CNC mill, probably at the very start of the slide machining process? The one on the left, looking from the underside, went too deep, and when the dovetail sight cut was put in, it opened the hole to daylight.

Thing is, these are machined on a CNC mill, and they don't tend to make these kind of mistakes in onesie-twosies, but rather in a whole batch, until someone notices the error. This slide passed through somebody's (actually several somebodies') hands in the QC process, and that somebody approved it for finishing and then ultimate sale on the theory that "Meh, the hole's covered by the front sight base. Who'll notice it?"

Nice job Accokeek.. You should be real proud. The guy traded the pistol off. He also traded off the subcompact PX4 on his hip.


Beretta (in comments) says:
"...the cut you're referring to is NOT a CNC mistake. The cut is present on all Px4 Compact pistols (I'm surprised your gunsmith did not mention it,) and represents a stress-relief cut. The cut is therefore not a flaw in manufacturing, but a planned and justified piece of engineering and designing."
Now, Bob had never put nights on a PX4 Compact before, hence the rather novel appearance of the hole in the slide. (It's not present in either the full-size or subcompact models.)

So the problem now goes to Meprolight. If the asymmetrical hole in the left-hand side of the dovetail cut is standard across all PX4 Compacts, then why in the name of Pietro Beretta does Meprolight not make their front sight with a full-width base?


Dirt Sailor said...

Beretta? With QC issues? I'm shocked.

Weer'd Beard said...

At least CCA can send it back to Beretta to get a proper slide.

They'll still have to sell it as used.

Anonymous said...

This would be why my carry guns are now German. If I found something like this on my Walther, the managers would investigate until they found the guilty tech, then invite me to the execution.

Anonymous said...

Oh, quit yer whinging, woman.

That'll buff right out!

og said...

Mweh. it didn't affect the function of the gun prior to the change in sights, and if a full-dovetail sight was put back, it wouldn't affect the sights.

The area in question is not subject to any appreciable amount of strain, so the liklihood of the firearm failing as a result is almost nonexistent.

You have to be passionate about firearms to manufacture high quality ones, and frankly, there aren't that many left out there anymore. QC? don't look too hard at anything if you don't want to be frightened at what gets past QC inspections, these days.

og said...

And yes, I woulda traded it in too. I probably wouldn't have bought a B to begin with.

Beretta said...

I'm the Web & Social Media Manager for Beretta. I'd like to investigate this issue a little further, and am wondering if I could arrange for the gun to be sent in for evaluation.
I cannot comment on whether this is a problem or not, since I'm in marketing (and we all know marketing doesn't make good gunsmiths) but we take these issues very seriously, even when the structural soundness is unaffected, as in this case. Having the gun here for evaluation could help.

Tamara (remotely) said...


Contact Bob Delmore at Coal Creek Armory (865.966.4545) and he'll make arrangements with you.

jetfxr69 said...

Want a metric for Tam's "reach" in the gun-community?

Just over two and a half hours after she posts pics from her cellphone of a potential QC problem at Beretta, she's got the company asking for the opportunity to examine said potential problem.

Wait, is that "reach", or "velocity"?

Beretta said...

Thank you, Tamara.
I just got off the phone with the following:
Director of QC
Director of Manufacturing
Director of Engineering
and confirmed (drawings in hand) that the cut you're referring to is NOT a CNC mistake. The cut is present on all Px4 Compact pistols (I'm surprised your gunsmith did not mention it,) and represents a stress-relief cut. The cut is therefore not a flaw in manufacturing, but a planned and justified piece of engineering and designing.
With this said, I will be glad to have the gun come in to have a look over it and confirm my statement above.
Please, let me know if you are interested.

Tam said...

Thank you for your prompt response!

So now the question goes to Meprolight, and why didn't they make the sight with a full-width base?

The post has been edited accordingly.

Davebsr said...

This is why I love the Internet.

Tamara (remotely) said...


"Want a metric for Tam's "reach" in the gun-community?"

Actually, it speaks volumes about Beretta's Web/Social Media person being really on the ball.

Jason said...

I gotta' say, I clicked this link because I have never known Beretta to be anything other than top quality. This would be big, big news. Instead I find "PISTOL IS FINE", Beretta's on the ball, and God is on his throne.

Frank W. James said...

I dunno about this "Beretta's on the ball" business because it has come to my attention that Beretta is now picking and choosing to which old line gunwriters they will send product samples (even with editorial assignments).

I know one of individual who sent an FFL for such a request, repeatedly, on at least 3 times and has YET to receive the requested gun. He told me it has been over 6 months now. They just quit responding to his inquiries.

I think presently Beretta only sends product samples to known sycophants and fan-bois; "justified engineering" or not??...

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Bubblehead Les. said...

Wow! Thanks Tam! Whodda thunk it? "MeproLight vs. Berreta!"

Who wants Butter on their Popcorn?

Matt G said...

I'll be interested to see how this goes.

Can we get Gunsmith Bob (or other professional gunsmiths) to weigh in on possible benefits or drawbacks to the stress cut permitting daylight into the slide?

Zermoid said...

Not a 'professional' gunsmith, but......
Anything that lets in daylight is also going to collect dirt, if it's a known design and not a flaw, why wasn't Meprolight on the ball?
Other question that comes up for me is was the sight used meant for a Beretta PX4 Storm compact, or just a Beretta PX4?

fast richard said...

I don't buy Beretta's explanation. I can believe that the cut is supposed to be there, but I think Tam's initial assumption that it was made too deep on this slide is correct. Beretta's response does not inspire my confidence.

Beretta said...

Frank James:
I can assure you that we do not "hand-pick" our writers' consignments. Since you don't give a name, I cannot speculate on what happens.
As you might well imagine, however, we receive hundreds of requests weekly for consignments, and - if we sent a gun to everyone who wants to write about it - we'd have to take down our "Beretta" sign and replace it with "Red Cross". If you'd like to tell me who the writer is, I can certainly look into the status of his requests.

Beretta said...

Let me know if you need our help with anything, and thank you for the kinds words.

Anonymous said...

I recall a Beretta quality problem long ago with "you're not a Seal till you taste Italian steel", but that was corrected. Once in 50 years is not a bad record.

Frank W. James said...

Beretta: Email me at frankjamesgunwriter& and I will provide the information...

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Ed Foster said...

The gentleman from Beretta sounds like a very nice person, but I suspect he has been told to push the B.S. meter to the peg and massage the message as best he can.

I'm still associated with CMT on a part time basis. I've worked as a design engineer at Colt's and Smith and Wesson, have patents working in the field, and do freelance work for several other manufacturers.

It sounds to me, based on a considerable number of years in the firearms industry, that production is pulling a CYA and leaving their Media Manager to play scapegoat.

It's a scary thing seeing firearms made by individuals who often hate the things, and are proud to say the know nothing of them and want to know nothing of them.

I'm thinking of the damage done to another firearms company over decades by management who had never previously made anything but shovels, producing said implements in a country where handgun ownership is essentially nonexistent, and where the people on the company's machines are predominantly bored third world peasants

For reference, the Walther type locking block has never worked well in anything more potent than an 8mm Nambu. As Frank James pointed out from his personal experience as a police armorer, the block binds under load unless kept totally soaked in lubricant. In otherwords, a crap magnet in high dust/dirt conditions.

Remember back in the 80's and '90's, when every badguy and most of the heroes on TV had a Beretta 92 clone, because it was "new" and different and European?

Odd isn't it, that something(s) "new" have taken it's place in the hands of the exciting people shooting the recoilless wonders one sees on the big or bigger screen nowadays.

But Beretta does make some lovely shotguns, and even their technologically challenged handguns usually have a decent fit and finish for production guns.

I think Tam was spot-on with her comment about the "Oh Shit" factor in CNC manufacturing, having had to deal with it myself for more than a quarter century. The most important person in the CNC manufacturing process isn't the programmer, it's the First Piece Inspector.

Anonymous said...

TV always goes for novelty.

A few years ago in Federal Marshalls with Tommy Lee Jones, it was Glock.

Tamara (remotely) said...


It puzzled me until I remembered it was a rotating barrel, and so there'd be asymmetrical forces on the slide top from the time it hit the locking block until it disengaged.

Combine that with the dovetail cut and the thinner slide top necessitated by using common sights with the full-size model and there could have been a stress riser where the dovetail cut broached the slide.

Anonymous said...

Poorly engineered maybe?

Old NFO said...

Meh, one more reason not to buy, their PR response not withstanding...

Skip said...

I've got a O/U Beretta in the safe.
Won't eject. That's why it lives in the safe.

Will said...

Since there is daylight on only one side, I call bullshit on it being designed that way. That just screams mistake. Or, could be an intersection of multiple mistakes by the designer, CNC programmer, and operator.

There are virtually no perfect parts in manufacturing. In addition to the tolerance specs of the design, you get the minor to major boo-boo effects. And those bring out the judgement calls.

There can be lots of wiggle room when a flaw is considered. Functionality should be the first thing considered, but isn't always. Cosmetics plays a big part, sometimes too big. But the biggest mistake, and quite common, is to fail to look at the end result of the end user encountering the flaw out in the field.

The loss of customer confidence in your product, and business, resulting from an attempt to save a few dollars on some flawed parts, is foolish. Especially in this day of instant communication via the web.

What the responsible people should keep in mind is this:
Do I want this flawed part to show up on, basically, the front page of the daily rag/ tv screen of my current and potential future customers? And to stay there forever?

Remember, the web is essentially immortal. What hits, sticks. Your goofs will outlast your company, and may have a real bearing on it's life expectancy, and your compensation.

Roberta X said...

I'm don't think I would be so fast to second-guess a firearms maker with as many years at it as Beretta, once they have come forward and stated why they did it that way. I suspect they can afford to hire first-rate MEs and doping out where the stresses are and how to control 'em is not nearly as much a Dark Art as it once was.

...I do wonder if Meprolight had a chance to lay hands on a production version before they added "fits PX4!" to the list for that front sight. Could be they are going to be as surprised as Gunsmith Bob.

Ed Foster said...

Tam, I'm kinda going with what Will said. I can't see adding a potential stress riser in an area already under torsional load. The meter seems totally pegged.

Rotating barrels are another honker in my experience, although it is second hand only. When I was at Colts I worked on the M-4 design team, and filled in (trust me, a bad joke) over in Commercial on the .22 semiauto pistol. I spent months tweaking the molds on the (lower) reciever.

But I had the pleasure of working with Kevin Kaminsky, Colt's unsung workaholic genius, whose baby the lamentable 9mm Colt 2000 was. Trust me, if anybody on the planet could type improve that doofus Reed Knight abortion and make it function, Kevin was/is the man.

But he couldn't, and they gave the design back to Knight after a monumentally lame sales program. Problem is, with a rotating barrel, you can make it loose enough to function, or tight enough to hit something.

I have one of them, still NIB, with all the employee purchase paperwork, and I doubt it is worth more today than the $185 I paid for it in 1992.

It's actually about as good as most Smith M&P's I've seen, which means it won't blow up like Brand X so often does, and it has an inside the breechface conventional extractor rather than the bouncy S&W external hook that is ticking off so many high volume shooters.

Hartford CT ERT is dropping it's Smith 1911 slides because of the 5 or 6 FTE/stovepipes they get every 1,500 rounds while jumping around and over things, all due to the extractors.

The replacement slides (guess from where) have John Moses's standard extractors, which provide more guidance for the round when hanging upside down like a bat the way SWAT people do. Think old style 98 Mauser extractors vs. push and pop snapovers.

They also prevents most slamfires if there is a sticky fireing pin. If the rim is grabbed and held back against the breechface, there's no chance the firing pin can push the case out of the mag and maybe pop it. Instead, you just get a pin over rim and an easy to clear jam.

In fairness, the Smith hook usually does the same, but not always if it's floating (see the above 5 per 1,500 figure from the Hartford PD).

And more consistent ejection patterns if torsioned properly (I run them about the way Gunsmith Bob does).

All of which is a disambugulation, if not an outright circumlocution, which means I'm not eschewing obfuscatory perambulations.

Anyway, I do feel sorry for the nice gentleman down at Beretta, who's engineering department seems to be pushing him way out on a whippy branch.

Les said...

Man, I wish that Beretta would bring back the Elite 2!

What a fantastic pistol - all the cool points of the FS and a simpler decock-only configuration...

Oleg Volk said...

"Problem is, with a rotating barrel, you can make it loose enough to function, or tight enough to hit something."
So how does Boberg XR9-S combine rotary breech with excellent accuracy? Even their test gun with 13,000+ rounds shot better than 8" at 50 yards -- which is not bad for a pocket gun.

Tam said...


"Let me know if you need our help with anything, and thank you for the kinds words."

Can't find your direct contact info. Shoot me an email at Actually, this comment thread has given me an idea...

Ed Foster said...

Oleg, point well taken. I'm not versed on the Boberg, and I will have to find out what they're doing.

I did see some very bright people at Colt's bust their chops for months trying to wring out the C2000 and make it do it's thing correctly, with no joy at all.

So, I'll follow the idea you've put in my head and try to figure out what Boberg is doing. Everything I've heard about it is quite positive.

Something legitimately new under the sun. A really happy thought. Thank you.

eldo said...

Does a modern mass-produced firearm sometimes leave the factory with a quality control issue?
Yes, but I tend to give Beretta with its 486 years of making the tools we love the benefit of the doubt.

I think the relief cut on the PX4 Compact slide is akin to the relief cut found at the 8:00 position relative to the firing pin on the slide of any common garden variety 92FS.

About once a month a newbie (and occasionally an older hand) pipes up on the Beretta Forum, "OMG! Is my Beretta slide cracked next to the firing pin!!!???"

The common response is, "No. At the rear of the pistol's slide you may notice what appears like a fracture below the firing pin channel. This is NOT a factory defect or crack. Honestly. We mean it. No sh*t. Now go read the other warnings as well and don't shoot yourself in the foot."

Anonymous said...

I love me my Beretta 92, an 85, and a truly superb feeds/shoots/extracts everything semiauto 400 series shotgun.

But every time I look at the original pictures, then try to swallow the Marketing "That's not a bug, it's a feature!" Explanation, polite and prompt though it was, I throw up in my mouth a little.

And as we all await the input from Meprolight, I'm going to fetch some popcorn and butter as well.
Best regards,
- Aesop

the real Mr.O said...

"All of which is a disambugulation, if not an outright circumlocution, which means I'm not eschewing obfuscatory perambulations."


Did you know that the muscles it takes to smile use a fraction of the energy it takes to frown?

Pathfinder said...

In the software biz, it is often recounted that a defect is merely an undocumented feature.

The Beretta response sorta made me think of that.

Mark said...

Was there any resolution to this by Beretta or Meprolight?


Tam said...


Beretta said that the sight cut was normal and the hole was intentional.

I discussed getting a T&E gun and running it through a well-documented test here on the blog. They sent me paperwork, I filled it out, sent them a copy of my LGS's FFL, stocked in a few thousand rounds of some two dozen brands of 9mm ammo on my own dime, and...


I hope Beretta's QC and CS departments have their stuff together better than the marketing department.