by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Fabbrica d’Armi Pietro Beretta is one of the oldest companies in the world. They were founded in 1526, at a time when wheellock guns were high-tech and the flintlock was still a century in the future. On top of that, the company has remained under family control all that time!
Before the U.S. military adopted the model 92 as their sidearm, all I knew about Beretta was that they made some odd-looking handguns in small pistol calibers and they made fine shotguns. Since the 92 became the M9 pistol, Beretta has forced its way into the limelight in the U.S. gun culture. Still, what I know about the handgun models they make is very limited. So, when I first saw a picture of the Beretta model 84 FS BB pistol, it looked like a rehash of the 92 FS to me.
Well, it isn’t! The 84 FS is two-thirds the size of the 92 and more closely related to a pocket pistol, though the width of the frame that accommodates a double-stack magazine makes it too fat for such a role. The firearm is called the Cheetah and comes in .380 a.c.p. caliber. Given the width of the grip frame, it must be a mild gun to shoot with such a light cartridge. The double-stack magazine holds 13 rounds, so buyers living in states with magazine capacity limits have to either get a smaller mag, or avoid this gun altogether. Or, they can enjoy it in this BB gun version!
The BB gun
I am looking at the BB gun, which is powered by CO2 and has blowback that moves the slide and cocks the hammer for the next shot. The trigger operates only in the single-action mode, so the hammer must be cocked every time for the gun to fire — you can’t just pull the trigger and fire the gun unless the hammer is cocked.
The trigger-pull is unusual for single-action. It’s a long pull that has an increasing resistance as the blade nears the back of the triggerguard. It feels more like a smooth double-action pull; except that with the hammer being cocked by the slide, it cannot be by definition. There’s no pause before the sear releases, so the double-action pull metaphor holds all the way until the sear releases.
The safety is ambidextrous and is a thumb-actuated lever at the top rear of the slide. As small as this pistol is, the safety is easy to put on and take off with just the thumb of the firing hand.
The magazine is a drop-free design with the thumb-release button on the left side of the frame, behind the triggerguard. The bottom black portion is synthetic, while the silver top portion that contains the firing valve is metal.
At the bottom of the magazine, the CO2 tensioning screw handle is spring-loaded to cling tight to the floorplate of the mag until you need it. Although it’s visible from the outside of the gun, the designers have taken steps to ensure that it isn’t obvious. This is a big red flag to BB pistol buyers, and it looks like the designers knew that.
I said this pistol is small, so the weight of 1.4 lbs. is lighter than that of a larger handgun. The overall length is 7 inches, and the smoothbore barrel is 3.6 inches. The single-stack BB magazine (single-stack for BBs, double-stack for .380 cartridges) holds 17 BBs plus the CO2 cartridge.
The sights are a fixed post in front and a fixed notch in the rear. The rear sight is cast with details to look like it drifts side-to-side, but it doesn’t. Given that the 84 FS is a self-defense type pistol, the sights are in keeping with that theme.
The majority of this gun is made of metal; and the grips are plastic, held on by two steel screws, each. Besides the safety, the slide hold-open lever and the disassembly lever are both functional. And that’s all the controls there are on this handgun.
The Beretta 84FS is at the high end of the price spectrum for a BB pistol. It has blowback, which shooters desire, but the rest of the gun is as basic as the firearm it copies. It will take this review to determine if this will be a desirable BB gun for the target consumer.
Another thing buyers want to know is the gun’s pedigree. The gun is made in Taiwan and distributed by Umarex. Those are 2 positive marks, because Umarex is known for distributing realistic airguns, and Taiwan is known for making many other fine airguns.