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Beretta Storm CX4 Carbine

Written by Scott Oldham

The tactical usefulness of carrying a rifle and a pistol of the same caliber was realized long ago. As far back as the Old West cowboys, lawmen realized that carrying only one caliber made supply easier. To them, it simply made good sense to carry only one caliber cartridge that could be used in either firearm as it assured that they would be able to feed either weapon with ammunition that they were already carrying on their belts.

While the Old West lawmen re-supply issue had much to do with time and distance from ammo supplies, for modern lawmen, this same caliber practice remains a solid tactical concept. For a modern officer to have a long gun that is able to be fed from spare magazines that are already on the gun belt means that the long gun is now essentially “grab and go,” with no need to secure spare ammunition stored in a bandoleer or pouch that is kept with the weapon.

Some agencies have issued a pistol-caliber long gun, rather than a rifle-caliber (223 Rem) long gun simply to keep the pistol caliber ballistics. Many administrators, in spite of published wound profile data from the ammo companies to the contrary, still have concerns about over penetration from a true rifle caliber.

Some officers feel “short changed” with a pistol caliber carbine. However, it is important to remember that modern pistol caliber ballistics have improved dramatically. While it is true that these pistol calibers have less energy than a rifle caliber and fall behind in terms of both range and the ability to penetrate body armor, they can be quite effective in the scenarios that predominate officer-involved shooting instances across the country.

As most officer-involved shootings occur well within 25 yards, the range factor that a rifle caliber provides is essentially moot. Although criminal body armor use has without a doubt risen within the past decade, in reality, there are still very few officer-involved shootings that see a criminal so attired.

The one factor that has actually given rise to the patrol rifle phenomenon more than any others is precision. The simple fact is that a carbine or a rifle is much more accurate than handguns in the hands of most end users. Where the usefulness of the patrol carbine comes into play is the precision with which it can deliver its payload. Keep in mind that many pistol calibers are ballistically useful to far greater distances than where most officers are capable of accurately placing them with the handgun, so it is the delivery system, not the caliber, that really needs to be improved upon.

Over the years, there have been many pistol-caliber weapons brought to market, ranging from actual submachine guns to sub-caliber rifles. The difference, of course, is barrel length. Because a true submachine gun or even a semiautomatic version of one brings the problems of both cost and ATF licensing into play, many agencies looked to the sub-caliber carbine or rifle as a replacement.

While there a few such weapons on the market, most were developed for the civilian market and lacked the needed ruggedness that should be endemic to a weapon that is fielded for law enforcement use.

A few years ago, Berretta noted this and saw that there was a significant need for a rugged weapon for officers that fired a pistol caliber and that was not restricted by ATF guidelines. As a result, Beretta developed the CX4 Storm.

This lightweight carbine is available in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. Each of these weapons is fed from magazines that have already been proven in the Beretta pistols in each of these calibers. With a barrel length of 16.6 inches, the weapon measures just 29.7 inches in total length.

The CX4 Storm has a very futuristic look, which is comfortable and exceedingly well designed. The weapon uses a significant amount of polymer in its construction, which not only keeps the weight down, but also allows for a great deal of flexibility in design.

Despite the fact that the CX4 Storm comes with a set of rifle-type ghost ring sights, the weapon also features a Picatinny rail across the top, which allows for mounting red-dot style optics commonly seen on law enforcement weapons. The carbine also has several points along the bottom and sides of the weapon where other Picatinny rails can be attached for use with accessories such as grips, lights and lasers.

When the test weapon arrived, we immediately noted the size and weight of the carbine. The published numbers do not do the weapon justice. This weapon is the ideal size for a law enforcement patrol issue weapon. It is easy to maneuver within the confines of a home or other structure where an officer might routinely find himself. As most patrol vehicles leave very little room for securing a larger weapon, it is very welcome trait that the overall “footprint” of the CX4 Storm is quite small.

The test weapon was delivered in 9x19mm and set up to utilize the ubiquitous Beretta 92 series magazine. It fired several hundred rounds of various brands and bullet weights of ammunition without any malfunctions.

This particular rifle showed an affinity for Federal’s 124-grain JHP. At 25 yards, the weapon easily tore the “x” ring out of a standard B27 training silhouette. In fact, five rounds of this Federal 124-grain JHP loading went into just 1.5 inches. While this is not sniper-grade quality, it is definitely well within the capabilities required for its designed use.

We then attached optics, first an EOTech 552 and then an AimPoint 5000. Hitting targets out to 50 yards was simply child’s play. With the weapon weighing just 5.75 pounds, officers who tested it thought it flowed well between targets and with almost zero recoil. The analogy of firing a paintball gun kept coming up as multiple shot strings between several targets were a breeze.

In the past few years, there has been a good deal of renewed criticism within the media and others of the Beretta 92, most of which has been linked to the magazines. Almost all of this has come from the active theatres of Armed Forces combat. While there are several valid reasons for the criticism (including substandard magazines not manufactured by Beretta, as well as aging magazines that are well beyond their known service lives) few American law enforcement officers will find themselves fighting sand and dust storms on a regular basis.

Despite the fact that most of the problems associated with these failures did not involve Beretta-manufactured magazines, steps were still taken to improve upon the product.

In early-2008, Beretta introduced the “sand resistant” magazine, which has become the issued magazine for the U. S. Marine Corps M9A1 pistol. This magazine uses a PVD coating as well as a low-friction follower to help ensure reliability under adverse conditions.

During our testing of the CX4 Storm, we used both the standard magazines and the improved, sand-resistant magazines. Also used were several 20-round magazines originally designed for the Beretta 93R machine pistol. These 20-round magazines improve capacity and the speed of an emergency reload as the magazine sticks out from the bottom of the pistol grip by well over an inch. This helps to ensure positive seating.

None of the magazines or the weapon itself gave any problem during the evaluation period. Everything functioned flawlessly. The only concern that some officers had was that a normal length magazine (92 series) fits flush with the bottom of the pistol grip. Because of the way that the thumbhole style stock attaches to the base of the grip, positive seating is sometimes difficult, especially when wearing gloves.

Along with that, the design of the stock may prevent some officers from reaching the magazine release button with the firing hand. In this instance though, all of the controls of the weapon, including the cocking handle, safety, ejector and magazine release are all reversible, making it possible for the end user to move the magazine release so it can be accessed quickly by the trigger finger.

Other than these small issues that should be addressed in training, everyone who tested the weapon found that it was more than capable of being used for law enforcement duties. Several law enforcement agencies around the country have adopted the carbine. These departments want their officers to have a higher degree of precision available at a moment’s notice than what the issue handgun is capable of delivering in most hands.

Even with its futuristic looks, the Beretta CX4 Storm delivers exactly what contemporary law enforcement agencies and officers need in a duty firearm. The weapon is capable of giving each officer the ability to quickly intervene when a situation calls for the precise application of deadly force.

Scott Oldham is a supervisory sergeant with the Bloomington, IN Police Department where he is assigned to the Operations Division as patrol supervisor, as well as being one of the team leaders for the department’s Tactical Unit. He and his partner, Sergeant Mick Williams, provide contract instruction on a wide range of subjects, including tactical and patrol-based skills. He can be reached at oldhams@bloomington.in.gov.

Published in Tactical Response, Jan/Feb 2009

Rating : 10.0


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