The Vektor Z-88 was developed to fulfill a requirement by the South African Defense Force for a new standardized sidearm and became a license-production copy of the Italian Beretta Model 92 (M92) semi-automatic pistol which itself was introduced in 1975. South Africa began local manufacture of the Z-88 pistol in 1992 and, by all accounts, the pistol maintains virtually the same appearance and function of its Italian counterpart and many of its key successful features and quality.
Development of the Z-88 system began in 1986 and was approved for the South African Army in 1988 with production beginning the following year. Though the pistol is based on the Model 92, there is no known direct link between LIW Denel and Beretta. The action, internal workings and outward appearance mimic the Beretta 92 almost to a tee and, if following specifications of the Model 92 from Beretta, the Vector Z-88 features a double-action firing mechanism, 15-round detachable box magazine and a muzzle velocity of 1,280 feet per second. The designation of "Z-88" is spawned from the last name initial of T.D. Zeederberg, a serving general manager of LIW. The "88" within the designation is derived from the year in which the firearm was approved (1988).
Externally, the Z-88 features clean lines and slab-sides consistent with the M92. The curved trigger lever is held within an oblong trigger ring. The pistol grip sports rubber sides with patterning to promote a firm grip. The magazine is inserted at the base of the pistol grip as in conventional semi-automatic types. There is a spur above the grip rear and the hammer can clearly be seen at the rear of the slide. Sights are mounted atop the slide at the front and rear and the ejection port is situated between them.
The Beretta M92 also makes up the US military's "M9" series semi-automatic pistol (Beretta M92F) which was adopted in 1985 after extensive trials.