There are plenty of modifications that you can do to enhance the performance of your firearms these days. The Beretta 92/96 series of pistols have their own of modifications available. Some are inexpensive and others are costly. Wilson combat is a big producer of products for 1911 and Beretta 92/96 series pistols. Usually the upgrades and services that they offer are not known to be inexpensive in the least. The Shok-Buff for the 1911 and the 92FS/96 is one of the few products that seems to fall in the category of affordable upgrades.
The first thing we should look at is the intended purpose and concept behind this product. With metal framed pistols, the slide and the frame are constantly enduring high impact stresses that over time will cause cracks. The idea behind this product is to provide a buffer between the two metal pieces and sort of mediate the stress. Basically, as the name states, the product sacrifices itself in order to lower the stresses to the frame and the slide and hopefully extend the life of the pistols as long as the product is used.
The test I ran on the product was only 250 rounds. The product is supposedly rated for about 5000 rounds before they recommend replacement. That is basically the round count that is recommended for recoil spring replacements. So, in general, 250 rounds is chump change for this product. But my question is how the product handles high heat and constant firing. Usually products are tested and rated based on mediocre usage and reasonable rates of fire. Polymers can tend to become malleable when applied to high heat, and deform somewhat, depending on the type that is used. So, that was the point of the test.
The Shok-Buff is almost exactly 1/8th of an inch thick and the polymer is slightly flexible, almost like a hard rubber. The installation is very easy. Simply put the legs of the product around the barrel like riding a saddle, and thread the recoil spring and guide rod through the hole. Pretty self-explanatory. Once assembled, you will notice that the slide does not reciprocate as much as it does without it in. Obviously that 1/8th inch will make as difference. The good thing is that this does not prevent the slide from being locked back or being released by slingshot or power-stroking.
During the rapid fire session, I did notice a slight difference in both the shock felt in hand and the muzzle flip. Being slightly flexible, it does make sense that it would absorb the shock slightly and therefore slow the slide before it gets a chance to smash the frame to a complete halt and then force it upwards from the transfer of the remaining rearward forces by the slide. Though, as the gun heated up, I believe this caused the product to soften a bit. I experienced more felt recoil and muzzle flip later in the testing. It still didn't equal the sharp snap experienced without the buffer, but it was noticeable. Just something to consider if you are going to run your pistol hot and ragged.
After firing, I decided to allow the pistol to cool a bit before removing the Shok-Buff and evaluating the wear and tear. As you can see above, there are markings on the product from where the slide impacted the buffer on the unmarked side. The marked side of the buffer did not seem to endure as much deformation. The product to the left is a lightly used buffer that I used in my 92 clone while shooting at longer range. This naturally caused me to have a slower rate of fire. Though I also did not shoot much more than 50 rounds through the pistol at the time.
In all, I think that this product is well worth the $5 that it costs. Heck, if it lasts for thousands of rounds, I think it could be one of the best enhancements to any variant of the 92 in order to increase the durability of the frame and slide. I also like the slight buffering and easing it gives me in overall recoil that is felt. Not a bad product if you are a fan of the Beretta 92/96 series. If you own a 96 series pistol, I think this product only increases in value. Stellar value if I do say so myself.
Do It Rite
Alaska-Based Youtube Vlogger, Retired Marine, gun enthusiast, and his wife