I used to be a gun purist. I never made any changes to a factory gun. If I did tweak it, swap out parts or add things, then it wouldn’t be original any more, now would it? And that would be… wrong? For some reason, having a perfect, factory-configured gun was important to me. Perhaps for the same reason I’m reluctant to pull that tag off of new mattresses.
Fortunately, I got over the compulsion to leave my guns as is.
To be honest, part of the reason for my attitude change was that I, umm, dropped my Beretta 3032 Tomcat .32ACP. Hard. So hard, it broke the grips. Oops. As I started to order a factory replacement set, I got a sudden urge to do a little Googling just to see what other options were out there. Just in case.
To make a long story short, I found a beautiful set of wooden grips. I took the plunge and decided it was time to consider going custom.
After all, we’re talking about my handguns. Why not make them my own?
When it comes to customizing, you can make cosmetic changes, performance changes, or both! Your customizations can be internal, external or both!
Just for fun, I’ll share some of the things I’ve done on my Beretta 92FS - and some of my future customization plans.
The Beretta 92FS
Although this was my very first centerfire pistol, bought brand spanking new, I opened up to the idea of doing some personalization after the great Tomcat destruction incident.
The very first thing I did was add Hogue wrap-around grips. The factory grips were perfectly nice and fit my hand fine, but there was something catchy about that rubberized grip with front finger grooves. I picked up a friend's Beretta 92FS configured with the Hogues and instantly fell in lust. They were not just grippy, but super comfortable. I have large hands and long fingers so the size was still perfect for me. I could reach the trigger easily with a properly centered grip.
Next on the list was a stainless steel recoil spring guide rod. Why? I can't really give you a good reason for that. Well, if I get really nitpicky, the stainless guide rod smooths out the recoil action just a bit. It also adds a little weight up front to help balance out the gun. Hey, it’s my gun, and what’s important for me is important.
Next on the list?
As much as I love the Hogue wrap-around grip, I’m thinking that my 92FS needs Crimson Trace Mil-Spec Lasergrips. Or perhaps some walnut checkered grips with a brass Beretta medallion insert. If I go with the wood, I could use a LaserMax guide rod laser. Hmmm.
Obviously I need to replace the factory hammer with a skeletonized hammer. Because it looks cool. Plus, it’s lighter and increases lock time - allowing me to fire the gun just a hair faster. But mainly I need to add the hammer because it looks cool.
Sights? On my 92FS, the front sight is fixed, but I could easily swap the standard rear sight with two white dots for a Novak Elite II ramped rear sight with two red dots. If I’m really feeling adventurous, I might even have XS Sights mill out a dovetail so I can use a Big Dot front sight. But that requires services of a gunsmith. Maybe later.
I'll almost certainly swap out the standard magazine release button for a larger-sized one. With all these custom grips I’m adding, I want to reach the mag release a bit easier.
A silencer for the Beretta 92 is required gear, right?
The 3032 Tomcat
Back to that Tomcat.
Since I added grips to mine, the Beretta store has added a beautiful set of laser-checkered walnut grips. Unlike the pair I found years ago, this provides a non-slip grip and look good. So that will give me cosmetic and performance upgrades.
If you like the 3032 Tomcat, you also might want to consider adding a laser. For a pocket (or backup) gun like the Tomcat with its small sights and short sight radius, laser grips can make all the difference. Crimson Trace offers replacement grips with a front instinctive activation button. While they’re not available in the Beretta store yet, you can get them directly from Crimson Trace.
The bottom line is that there is no reason your gun can’t be a highly-personalized thing. After all, you depend on it for your home safety. Or perhaps you carry it every day as your personal defense option. In any case, it makes a lot of sense to tweak the features to your exact preferences. And in the process, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with making cosmetic upgrades that make you happy.
Just be sure that your customizations are safe, reliable and factory approved. Almost all of the upgrades we’ve discussed here are available in the Beretta store, so you’re good to go with any of those.
This is my Beretta pistol. There are many like it, but this one is mine.