Select Fire Beretta Pistols Part 2
The same but different
By Dennis Adler
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.