Sunday, February 9, 2014

Pietro and Me: How I Became A Beretta Fanboy

When I was a teenager, shooting in the junior division of an action-shooting league, I lusted after the M9. A few years later, I joined the Army and found out I had a love-hate relationship with that particular firearm. The M9 is too big and heavy for a meager 15 rounds of 9x19. It is very bulky and soldiers with smaller hands (especially females) had a lot of trouble with it. However, everyone I trained on it shot "Expert". For all of its shortcomings, the M9 is very accurate and has a really nice trigger for a combat piece.

Last year I started looking for a new carry piece that could also spend time on the nightstand, and be competitive if I ever went back to action-shooting seriously. I ended up getting a PX4 compact 9mm, and while the trigger won me over, it was the incredible accuracy that opened my mind to Beretta as a brand. The very first time I shot my PX4, I was hitting a 3" circle at 25-30 yards from DA. And the recoil feels like you're shooting a much larger gun. The front sight just wouldn't leave the target.

My 87B, serial dates from mid 1980s. I got it NIB from an estate sale.

I happened into a Beretta 87B a few weeks ago, and that solidified my status as "Beretta Fanboy". The 87B was part of a very beautiful and interesting line which included the 81-88, aka the "Cheetah" line. This line came in .32 ACP (81-82), .380ACP (83-86), and .22LR (87 and 89. 88 was omitted.). In addition to being very, very pretty, the Cheetah points better than any gun I've ever owned. Period. It's no wonder that Paul Kersey used one in "Death Wish II". This gun is absolutely the perfect size for carry while maintaining enough mass to be nice to hold. Oh, and the trigger is glassy smooth.

Perfect, you say? Let me break this down by the numbers. I compared my 87B to my PX4 and P64 (think PPK/S but communist).

PX4 Compact: Height- 5.15"     Width- 1.57"     Length- 6.75"
P64: H- 4.53"     W-1.05"     L-6.125
87B: H-4.75"     W-1.21 (at grips, .875" at slide)     L-6.75"

Left to right: P64, 87B, PX4C

So the 87B is as long as a "compact" but has the height of a "sub-compact". The grips are a little chunky, but I can easily hide it under just a t-shirt. Also, the Cheetah is very light. In it's 84F incarnation, it held 13 rounds of .380ACP. I bet that if Beretta re-released the 84F in a 9mm that held 8-10+1, it would sell like hotcakes--even though it would probably cost about $750. 

With the explosion of concealed carriers in the last few years, it's safe to assume there are a lot of novice shooters who are buying their first handgun--and probably buying the wrong one. There's no shortage of options for pocketguns that are very easy to hide. Unfortunately, pocket guns are also usually very hard to shoot well. The Cheetah is small enough to be easy to hide, but large enough to be fairly easy to shoot well. Granted, there are other guns that fit this category as well, there aren't as many of the "just right" size as there are of teeny micro-blasters that are obnoxious and frustrating to shoot. And the Cheetah is also a work of art.

Next on my list of Berettas to acquire is the "Nano" in 9mm, which will replace my P64 as a pocket gun. I fondled a Nano in a local gun store just the other day, and I liked it more than its competitors. Check out this video where Hickock45 shoots the Nano to 100 yards (fast forward to 10:30). The only gun of this class I've shot to that kind of distance was a modified LC9, which is also a very good micro-9. 

Don't forget about Beretta. You don't have to get lost in the sea of tactical lego guns. Arrivederci!


James said...

The barrel falls off my Beretta if you shoot it long enough. That is because the part that holds the barrel on also fell off, and being much smaller is lost in a field somewhere.


The Flatland Gun Nut said...

We'll have to see how the PX4 holds up over time. Our issued M9s were unstoppable. The NEOS is not representative of Beretta's body of work. I'll break out the 87B next time we're at the range.

mass firearm school said...

GuiIt is nice to know your experince with Beretta 87B. Beretta pistols need an expert to handle it well. It is difficult for the beginners to shoot with it. I prefer guns which are easy to handle, compact and not much expensive. Glocks are very reliable.