Select Fire Beretta Pistols Part 3

Select Fire Beretta Pistols Part 3

Faster than a speeding BB

By Dennis Adler

The original select fire design used for the new Crosman Full Auto P1 predates both the Umarex Beretta 92A1 and M9A3 because it is built on the same platform as the old Gletcher BRT 92. The 92A1 is a better built and more authentic looking Beretta pistol and the newer M9A3 (also a new 2019 model like the Crosman) takes the design a step further in exterior appearance. But there is a lot more going on between these three blowback action CO2 models which are all competitively priced, the 92A1 at $129.99, the M9A3 at $119.95 and the Crosman at $129.99 including a rail mount laser.

Select fire pistols have always been a curiosity because few of us will ever get to try one and for the most part, that is just as well, they are hard to control (except in movies) and not that many are in use by military and law enforcement. It’s some pretty rare air where full auto pistols come into play, but make no mistake, there are elite forces that use the Glock 18 and 18C as well as other select fire pistols, and of course during WWII there was the M712 Broomhandle Mauser, again not a particularly accurate handgun when fired on full auto. Given that one can have a select fire pistol in .177 caliber, you have the opportunity to experience a little (very little when it comes to recoil) of what it is like to shoot a full auto handgun. With the trio here, none of which have actual select-fire counterparts in this exact configuration, it is more just a shooting experience with a very high performing, blowback action CO2 pistol. These three don’t exist as centerfire arms. The two noteworthy exceptions in CO2 firearms are the Umarex Legends Mauser M712 and the Mini Uzi submachine gun, which are direct copies of actual select fire pistols.

The surprise with the two Umarex Berettas is that the newer gun is $10 less and that is rationalized by a slightly lower cost of manufacture with the M9A3 using an impressive polymer frame, rather than alloy. The M9A3 also has an updated grip design, improved white dot sights, and matching magazine, which make it a bargain at $119.95. But there is more here than just more modern looks and a little lower price.
The M9A3 was meant to be a military pistol but like the rest of the guns in the U.S. Army’s MHS trials that lost out to the Sig M17, the Beretta became a new civilian model (2016). The 9mm comes as shown with an MSRP of $1,100. Really makes one appreciate the CO2 model for its attention to detail. 

Velocity bursts

Find a Hawke Scope

Today I am going to test all three for average velocity since there is a significant disparity (in print) between the two Umarex Beretta models and the Crosman Full Auto P1. When you’re talking 310 to 320 fps it’s not that big a deal. A difference between 310 to 320 fps, and say, 350 to 376 fps, is a little bigger deal (like the Glock 19X and Glock 17 Third Gen vs. just about any other blowback action CO2 model), but when you have very similar designs like the Beretta 92 Series being used by Umarex and Crosman and Crosman claiming “up to 400 feet per second” on the box, you have to wonder what they have done differently with essentially the same parts.

Into the Umarex Beretta 92A1 and M9A3 mix, with their unique select fire feature not found on the centerfire guns comes the older Gletcher design in new Crosman livery. In what can only be considered a decision made by Crosman’s designers, the white warnings usually put on the right side of slide, (both Umarex models have it on the right), the Full Auto P1 bears the verbiage on the left side and the name on the right. It is just as bad on either side but we have come to expect it on the right. It’s a coin flip, heads or tails, but I think the left side of the P1 lost the toss. The gun is shown with the select fire lever all the way down for full auto. It is a big lever and looks closer to the real Beretta select fire 93R’s selector.

I am starting with two new out of the box guns (the 92A1 and Crosman Full Auto P1), so these have not been velocity tested before and if the results are a little different for the 92A1 from my previous articles, it is because it is not the same gun. The M9A3 is the same gun that performed quite well a couple of months back. Still, there should be a consistency from one production gun to another but a little variation is also not unusual. As a baseline, the M9A1’s previous velocity tests gave me an average of 320 fps, and the M9A3 an average of 330 fps (and an impressive high of 353 fps). That’s still a long way from 400 fps, and as another baseline, the Swiss Arms P92 that I tested back in 2017 had an average velocity of 310 fps, with a high of 321 fps. I mention this because the basic components and design of the Swiss Arms P92 and the discontinued Gletcher BRT 92FS select fire model are identical to the new Crosman.

Aside from external differences, the Crosman uses a different design CO2 BB magazine with an open side that exposes the CO2 cartridge. It also has a flat seating screw which is easier to thread back on compared to the angled cap used on the Umarex magazine design.

Let’s start by running a new 92A1 through the ProChrono’s screens and see what it delivers. I am using Umarex High Grade CO2 and Umarex Precision steel BBs. I put a drop of RWS Chamber Lube on the tip of the CO2 cartridges for each gun. With a fresh CO2, the 92A1 averaged 310 fps for 10 shots fired at 30 second intervals, which is 10 fps slower than the last 92A1 I tested. The M9A3 has already shown itself to be a better performer than its 92A1 predecessor but this test gun set a new benchmark for the Beretta CO2 model with an average velocity of 344 fps and a high of 352 fps bettering the average velocity from the first M9A3 test by 14 fps. I even went back and ran the M9A3 magazine in the 92A1 and it did not perform any better, still sending shots downrange at 310 fps, then I switched it back into the M9A3 and the last two shots in the magazine clocked 344 and 342 fps. Now the onus is on the Crosman to beat the Umarex M9A3.

While the CO2 may be a little easier to load into the Crosman magazine, the Umarex has the advantage of a locking follower on the magazine (left) rather than having to manually hold the follower down while loading BBs into the Crosman magazine. There is a big price spread on the magazines with the Crosman selling for $35.95, and the Umarex 92A1 for $45.99. The surprise is that the M9A3 mag sells for $39.95 which is less than the 92A1 magazine. They are the same and interchangeable.

First off, the Crosman has a slightly different design CO2 BB magazine (same as the Swiss Arms P92 and old Gletcher); it is an open side mag that allows the CO2 cartridge to be exposed. It also has a different type seating screw (actually a little easier to thread back on than the Umarex mags), and a slightly different valve. The Umarex mags have a locking follower, the Crosman do not. Internally, the air nozzle is slightly different on the Crosman, as is the smoothbore barrel’s feed ramp, which is more refined on the Umarex models, so the Crosman has inherited all of the previous Gletcher model’s features, good and bad. How then will it perform better than the Gletcher or Swiss Arms models? The answer is that it can’t. Average velocity was 316 fps with a high of 321 fps. Where is Crosman coming up with up to 400 fps? Perhaps with Dust Devils? But steel BBs are not going to come anywhere near 400 fps with the Crosman. So what about lightweight frangible Dust Devils? The answer here is also no; average velocity was 331 fps, so average velocity for the Crosman Full Auto P1 is pretty much the same as the Swiss Arms and old Gletcher select fire Beretta-style pistols, give or take a few fps.

The small things also play a part in distinguishing the Umarex Berettas from the Crosman. The fit and finish are a little more refined on the Umarex (top) which has a smoother feed ramp compared to the Crosman. The P1 also seems to allow more CO2 to escape when it is fired (air coming up from the slide as it recoils) than the Umarex pistols.

Sorting out the Umarex and Crosman models is going to come down to accuracy, and for the next article, that’s going to be testing on full auto. To be continued…

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.

1 thought on “Select Fire Beretta Pistols Part 3”

  1. Looks like the newer Beretta is still king and wears the Beretta name. Crosman should be he held accountable for their advertising. I have the older semi auto Swiss Arms Pistol and was a little skeptical of Crosman ‘s claim.

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