Good info guys. Much appreciated.
I've been reading up on this here and in other forums. Beretta introduced the change from steel to plastic in 2003. It seems that the main benefit to a "fluted" plastic rod over a steel one, is that there would be less of a chance of the weapon getting "jammed," as a result of the accumulation of dirt or dust around the recoil spring. I suppose that's a good thing in a desert or dirty environment. And it is flexible, and thus less likely to bend or warp, but then again, never heard of a steel recoil spring guide bending or warping during normal use?
Aesthetically though, it sorta cheapens the weapon having plastic parts not necessary!
I am taking your recommendations for changing it out for a steel one. I'll keep the plastic one as a backup. Thanks.