Select Fire Beretta Pistols Part 2

Select Fire Beretta Pistols Part 2

The same but different

By Dennis Adler

Crosman has picked up the gauntlet dropped by Gletcher with the new Full Auto P1. However, as you can tell from this photo (regardless of perspective) the Crosman is a larger gun than the Umarex Beretta, which is proportioned exactly like its centerfire counterpart. It is a small difference in size and the weight of the guns is close, with the Umarex weighing 2 pounds, 7 ounces, and the Crosman 2 pounds, 8 ounces. Unable to bear the Beretta name, which is licensed to Umarex, there is no patent on the design, which is used by other CO2 and centerfire pistol manufacturers like Swiss Arms and Taurus (with the PT-92).

The vast majority of blowback action CO2 models work about the same way with the main difference being whether the guns have a fixed barrel, like small to medium caliber blowback action centerfire pistols, the Walther PPK being a good example, or a version of the John Browning-designed, short-recoil, locked-breech, tilting barrel design used in most medium to large caliber centerfire pistols. The Beretta 92 Series is one of the few exceptions because of several distinctive Beretta designs, first the open slide with most of the barrel exposed, secondly, the 92 Series (and some of its earlier Beretta predecessors) do not have a feed ramp between the magazine and chamber, and third, the guns use a falling locking block design with the barrel traveling in-line during recoil, rather than tilting down, like the Browning design. This also makes the Beretta one of the easiest handguns to fieldstrip, and all three of the CO2 models take down exactly the same way as the 9mm pistol.

A centerfire Beretta 92FS is one of the easiest handguns to fieldstrip.

Some will say it is actually too easy to fieldstrip a 92FS and this has been exploited in films like Lethal Weapon 4 where martial arts expert Jet Li grabbed Mel Gibson’s 92FS and pulled the slide off the gun an instant after Gibson drew the Beretta, and worse in From Paris with Love where John Travolta’s character not only did the same thing to a gang member pointing a 92FS in his face but killed him with the slide. That’s pretty extreme but someone with a lot of experience could actually pull the slide off a 92FS by doing exactly what Jet Li did in the film, just not quite that fast, and probably not before the person with the gun could pull the trigger. This is definitely one of those “Do not try this at home” kind of things and certainly not with the CO2 model because unlike a 9mm Beretta, the air pistol will not disassemble with the magazine inserted! (If you just can’t help yourself, take the magazine out and try it. It works just like in the movies).

The Umarex Beretta 92A1 is comparable to the 92A1 centerfire model and brakes down into essentially the same components.

Exactly the same on the inside as the 92A1, the M9A3 disassembles identically. Here the famous Beretta open slide design is clearly shown.

Two slightly different designs

Even with different type selector switches and slightly different parts for semi-auto and full auto operation between the Crosman and Umarex models, after moving the selector to automatic, the selector arm moves out of position and does not engage the disconnector, allowing the pistol to continue firing as long as the trigger is held to the rear (until the magazine is empty). This is where feathering the trigger to allow only a few consecutive shots helps preserve capacity. The 9mm Beretta 93R had a mechanical counter which only allowed three round bursts to be fired, then the trigger had to be released to fire another burst. In semi-auto, the disconnector and sear prevent the gun from firing again until the trigger is pulled. This is essentially how the CO2 models work, only the three dots do not indicate three-round burst fire like the 93R, but fully automatic fire, again making it essential you practice feathering the trigger or your 18 rounds of .177 caliber steel will be gone in a little over a second. It is also difficult to maintain any degree of accuracy with sustained fire, whereas with short bursts you have more control.

It’s all in the switch. Both the Umarex Beretta 92A1 and M9A3 (center) have ambidextrous thumb safeties and a small lever at the rear of the frame on the right side that allows switching from semi-auto (one dot) to full auto (3 dots) very easily. The Crosman Full Auto P1 uses a lever that looks like a manual safety (and it is in the full upright position) but otherwise resembles the select fire lever on the 93R. With the Umarex models the lever in the lower position is semi-auto and raised, full auto, just the reverse of the Crosman.

In terms of quality build, the Umarex Beretta models are a little more refined than the Crosman, but in operation they are pretty much equals. The safety/selector on the Crosman is hard to move, especially into SAFE by pushing it all the way up, while the small selector lever on the Umarex Berettas moves very easily from semi-auto to full auto and is independent of the manual ambidextrous thumb safeties. The actual 93R had a separate safety switch behind the semi-auto/burst fire selector. The Crosman is closer to the 93R in that respect, even with the safety being part of the same selector lever. The KWA M93R Airsoft pistol has it exactly right, which makes it even more frustrating that KWC doesn’t manufacture a .177 caliber version.

Here you can see that the Crosman is a larger pistol than the Umarex with a slightly longer slide and larger barrel circumference.

I’m going to go into more detail on the operation of the Umarex and Crosman models with the photos and captions in this article, and in Part 3 we will get into velocity and the first accuracy comparisons firing on full auto.

This is another “Do not try this at home” example, unless you know how to disassemble the gun. I removed the right grip panel to expose as much of the inner working of the 92A1 (and M9A3) as possible. The trigger plate cover (6) will come off easily and underneath is the trigger bar spring (5) which will fall out. Again, I suggest not doing this unless you can put it back together (and I know many of you can). What you are looking at is the selector switch (1) in the lower (semi-auto) position which pushes the selector arm (2) forward, preventing the disconnector (3) from moving down. The blocked disconnector prevents the slide from cycling again until the trigger is pulled.

Here you see the difference with the selector in the raised (full auto) position. You will notice that the selector arm is moved further back and no longer blocks the disconnector, allowing it to move down and the slide to continuously cycle until the trigger is released.

The Crosman design is slightly different as the lever works in the opposite direction and even with the grip panel removed you cannot see a marked difference from the semi-auto setting pictured…

…to the full auto setting with the lever all the way down. If you look closely the selector arm has moved just far enough back, so this version of a disconnector (spring and disconnector are just above the selector arm) allowing the disconnector to move and the slide to cycle continuously.

The big difference, which may play a role in accuracy, is the sights. The 92A1 has smaller white dots than the M9A3, which, as previous tests have shown, is easier to get on target than the 92A1, while the Crosman has a single center white dot against a black front blade. Some shooters prefer this design over three white dots.

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.

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