Select-Fire Beretta Pistols Part 1
It’s hard to keep a great idea down,
even when the original is long discontinued
By Dennis Adler
There are a handful of semiautomatic pistols that collector’s truly covet, and not just for their significant designs or contributions to military, law enforcement, and civilian arms history, but for creating a legacy that continues for years, decades, and sometimes even a century or more after they have been discontinued. An even smaller number of those semi-autos were equipped with a select-fire switch, that, with the movement of a lever, allowed the pistol to fire on full automatic or in short bursts. Today that pistol would be the Glock 18, only sold to the military and law enforcement and not for civilian ownership. It’s most famous appearance on the big screen was the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall, but the select-fire G18 has been in more than 20 other movies and television shows, so it is no stranger to modern day gun enthusiasts.
It is, however, not the most famous contemporary handgun with a fully automatic firing mode; that title belongs to the Beretta Model 93R, which has appeared in more than 45 motion pictures and television shows, and is far more distinctive looking than a Glock. A Glock is a Glock, but the Beretta is a classic design.
The other lesser known automatic pistol in current use is the CZ-75 Auto, which lives mostly under the radar in the hands of military and special operations units abroad. What all three have in common, though, is that aside from a few added features, the automatic pistols very closely resemble their semi-auto counterparts.
While I have been begging ASG to work with CZ on developing a CZ-75 Auto CO2 model, (don’t hold your breath either for a Umarex Glock 18), Umarex and Crosman currently have select-fire variants of the Model 92FS (Crosman) 92A1 and M9A3 (Umarex), that while not exactly following the 93R’s overall design, and lacking the extended magazine, forward folding finger grip, and correct left-side selector/safety switch, do provide the only BB-firing option for a Beretta. KWC makes an Airsoft version that looks pretty darn close to the 93R, which makes delving into Airsoft more appealing, but I am still resisting!
Three with select fire
The current trio are not new in design with the platforms upon which they are based going back to the Umarex Beretta 92A1 from 2015, and the Gletcher BRT, which was closer in design operation to the original 93R with a large safety and fire selector on the side of the frame, versus the almost hidden select-fire lever on the right rear of the Umarex Beretta 92A1 and M9A3 models. The Gletcher BRT is long discontinued but the design platform has risen from the BRT’s ashes in the form of the Crosman full auto P1, a much closer blowback action style evolved from the 9mm Beretta.
In comparison, the Crosman is based on the oldest design with the squared 92FS style triggerguard. And here’s something else, unlike the Umarex Beretta models, the Crosman comes complete with a rail-mounted laser. It also has the original design triggerguard. The 92A1 switched to a rounded triggerguard. The military proposed M9A3 (rejected by the Army before the MHS trials began) returned to the squared design developed for the Beretta 92 Series (M9), plus it has a flat, instead of arched, mainspring housing, and the multi-tone tan finish compared to the black finishes on the 92A1 and Crosman. But there’s more to it than that. While the M9A3 is arguably the best looking of the three, the Crosman is boasting a velocity of “up to 400 fps,” while the Umarex 92A1 and M9A3 hover around 310 to 330 fps, which begs the question, “Is the Crosman a better Beretta CO2 pistol?”
In Part 2, we will begin to find out.
A word about safety
Blowback action airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and this is one reason why they have become so popular. Airguns in general all look like guns, blowback action models more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.