Not to be confused with BARRETT, the oldest firearms maker in the world, Beretta has built weapons that have been used in every war fought in Europe since the 1500s. And while today the company is most well known for its military firearms such as the Beretta 92FS, the truth is that the company’s history as a firearms maker is such more interesting than the typical gunmaker.
Beretta builds everything from semi-automatic pistols to world class sporting shotguns to military submachine guns and assault rifles. Their firearms are widely regarded as being among the finest in the world, and the Beretta name carries a significant amount of prestige with it as well.
With over fifteen generations of family ownership, Beretta is one of the oldest industrial companies in history. From the beginning, the company has had its iconic logo of the encircled arrows, which represent three shots fired at a potential enemy.
Beretta’s history officially began in 1526, when a craftsman by the name of Bartolomeo Beretta was tasked with supplying new gun barrels to the Venetian Arsenal. This was the first transaction in Beretta’s history and served as the formal beginning for their company. Following this transaction, Beretta began building more gun barrels and arquebuses by the thousands. Initially sold to the militaries of the various Italian states, it didn’t take long for their reputation to be gradually built up. Soon, Beretta was exporting weapons to different countries around the globe.
When the flintlock rifle was first invented in the 1600s, it represented a significant step forward in firearm’s development. Beretta was a part of that development, building single shot muskets for both military and sporting usages alike.
This went on for literally hundreds of years, until World War I erupted in 1914 when Beretta began to produce semi-automatic pistols for the Italian military. The Beretta 1915 pistol, chambered in .32 ACP, featured the distinctive open top design that Beretta would become well known for.
In the 1930s, Beretta released their next pistol, the M1934, which was a development of the Beretta M1915. Chambered in both .32 ACP or .380 ACP, the M1934 served as the standard issue handgun for the Italian military throughout World War II and beyond.
But the pistol that Beretta is most well known for, by far, is the Beretta 92 series. This is a semi-automatic 9mm pistol (the .40 caliber variants are called the Beretta 96) that combined the look of the Beretta M1951 9mm pistol with the internal design mechanisms of the successful Walther P38.
The Beretta 92 evolved into the 92S (which had the addition of a slide mounted safety), which then turned into the 92SB with the magazine release moved from the heel of the frame to the traditional American location. The 92SB then developed into the 92FS with a squared trigger guard, rust resistant Bruniton finish, and a slight curve at the bottom of the grip.
The 92FS was chosen as the United States Army’s new sidearm in 1985 to replace the 1911 as the M9. Today, there are countless variations and competitors of the 92FS out on the market, including but not limited to the 92FS Compact, the M9A1, the M9A3, 92X, and the 92A1. The 92 series is noted for its double action single action mechanism, slide mounted safety/decocker lever, exposed barrel, and locking lugs with a fixed barrel design that helps aid in accuracy.
Another interesting pistol that Beretta later developed and released in 2004 was the Beretta Px4 Storm. This futuristic looking pistol has the same manual of arms as the 92, but also features a rotating barrel design that helps to mitigate recoil significantly.
Additional firearms made by Beretta today include the APX striker fired pistol, Cx4 Storm carbine (that accepts either 92 or Px4 magazines), the ARX automatic rifle, and the A400 series of shotguns.
As one of the premier firearms manufacturers in the world, Beretta has a phenomenal reputation for building well-made, innovative, and quality firearms. The 92 is a pistol that is likely to be around for many decades to come as an iconic piece, but it remains to be seen what their next gun will be.