Beretta U22 NEOS Review — The Future of Rimfire Handguns?

By Dave Dolbee published on in Firearms

Rimfire handguns were an enigma to most until the great ammo crunch hit us a few years ago. Gun writers had been shooting .22 caliber alternatives for some time and it was a great a secret until we all started encouraging readers to pick up a rimfire and save a few bucks. Unfortunately, that success resulted in .22 LR becoming harder to find than 9mm.

Beretta Neos with magazines and ammunition

The NEOS fills a unique niche within the rimfire handgun category. It isn’t a mouse gun, or a budget gun.

The news isn’t all-bad though. More shooters are being introduced to the shooting sports with appropriately sized calibers and manufacturers have responded with conversion kits for popular offerings. There are times though when a dedicated, purpose-built platform still reigns king and Beretta’s U22 NEOS is just such a handgun.

The NEOS fills a unique niche within the rimfire handgun category. It isn’t a mouse gun, or a budget gun. The 6-inch barrel model retails right around $300, while the 4.5-inch barrel model will save you about $75. However, due to the longer barrel length and grip design, it is a quality target pistol and prints the groups to prove it.

A quick glance at the NEOS is enough to conjure images of Buck Rogers (or whatever is the modern super equivalent would be for you younger tykes). The futuristic design is for more than looks. The NEOS features a high grip angle and when you consider your stance and form—shoulders rolled forward and extended toward the target—you can easily understand how the NEOS becomes part of that natural extension.

Beretta U22 NEOS with blue grips, slide open, left side view

The Beretta NEOS is a relative newcomer, and unfortunately a well kept secret. However, performance on the range is quickly changing its status.

The NEOS is ready to rock the irons straight out of the box, but is also optic ready. My preference would be to top it with a red dot sight. For speed and accuracy, putting a dot on the spot beats aligning three points any day. However, I like the option of iron sights as a backup or for specific training and competition.

Ergonomics

When introduced, Beretta showed a lot of pride in its efforts to design the NEOS’ ergonomics. Consumers were somewhat lackluster though. That is not an indictment to ergonomics, it merely states a fact and is largely based on a first glance and certainly not a firsthand experience. Once the U22 NEOS is solidly in your hand, you will realize immediately to speed past the looks. If you were a new shooter, you would not know the difference, nor be at a disadvantage.

The U22 NEOS features an ambidextrous safety, which is a positive. Pay attention though. Unlike many external safeties, the NEOS safety is up to fire and down for safe. This may take some getting used to regardless whether you are the shooter or the coach. The design actually allows the shooter to feel the safety with the web of the hand. This was by design and acts as a tactile reminder. After the first magazine or two, it becomes completely intuitive.

Beretta U22 NEOS with blue grips and magazine well

Rimfire pistol magazines are ultra thin, but that does not mean Beretta overlooked designing an easy-loading magwell.

The mag release is another oddity of sorts. The mag release sits where your hand trigger finger would extend if not in the trigger guard. Again, this takes a little getting used to, but keeps the shooters finger away from the magazine when swapping mags. The only downside is for lefties of course.

The NEOS striker is exposed when cocked giving both a tactile indication as well as visual. The safety does not act as a decocking device though. The single stage trigger is smooth out of the box and designed for target shooting. Firing was smooth with a stout ejection of the brass. This is great for the shooter and reduces the chance of a stovepipe, but be kind to those on the line next you. Hot brass is no fun for anyone.

After several months of league practice with several different loads, the NEOS is obviously capable of varied diet and readily accepted, loaded and fired a host of different options during testing. An occasional failure was experienced, but nothing that could be blamed on the U22. .22 LR does not have the highest manufacturing standards and the NEOS performed as well as my Ruger Mark II.

Disassembly

Breaking the NEOS down for maintenance is not hard at all once you get the hang of it. The key is to first fold out from the front cover of the manual and review the pictorial of removing the barrel. Hold the pistol in your left hand while depressing the barrel lock nut button above the trigger guard (in front of the barrel nut), using your other hand; unscrew the barrel nut. It is easy once you realize you must keep the button depressed during this action. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find the procedure to be much easier than breaking down a Ruger Mark II. Putting it back together is a bit more difficult. Grow a third hand and it would be a snap!

Beretta U22 Neos pistol with carbine kit.

For a few extra dollars, you can upgrade the U22 NEOS with Beretta’s carbine kit for longer range plinking.

 
Beretta U22 NEOS (as shown)
Action Single action, semiautomatic
Barrel Length 6.0 inches; 4.5-inch also available
Caliber  (Long Rifle)
Striker Cocking indicator
Rifling R.H. 6 grooves, pitch 13.8 inches
Overall Height 5.2 inches
Overall Length 10.3 inches
Overall Width 1.2 inches across safety levers; 1.5 inches across bottom of grip
Weight Unloaded 36.2 ounces
Sights Front and rear, removable; adjustable rear
Grip Polymer
Magazine Capacity 10 rounds
Receiver Fiberglass reinforced technopolymer
Slide Alloy steel, matte finish, blued; also available in stainless
Barrel Alloy steel, matte finish, blued; also available in stainless

Click Here to Shop Now for a Beretta U22 NEOS Handgun

Are you a fan of Beretta’s U22 NEOS? What about rimfire pistols in general? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

 

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SLRule

Growing up in Pennsylvania’s game-rich Allegany region, Dave Dolbee was introduced to whitetail hunting at a young age. At age 19 he bought his first bow while serving in the U.S. Navy, and began bowhunting after returning from Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Dave was a sponsored Pro Staff Shooter for several top archery companies during the 1990s and an Olympic hopeful holding up to 16 archery records at one point. During Dave’s writing career, he has written for several smaller publications as well as many major content providers such as Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Outdoor Life, Petersen’s Hunting, Rifle Shooter, Petersen’s Bowhunting, Bowhunter, Game & Fish magazines, Handguns, F.O.P Fraternal Order of Police, Archery Business, SHOT Business, OutdoorRoadmap.com, TheGearExpert.com and others. Dave is currently a staff writer for Cheaper Than Dirt!

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Comments (27)

  • Best Ammo For Beretta U22

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    […] Beretta U22 Neos Review — The Future of Rimfire Handguns? – Don't let the futuristic looks fool you, Beretta's engineers put in the time to make the U22 Neos a top performer. […]

    Reply

  • Steve

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    Is the conversion kit still availble

    Reply

  • Thomas Smith

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    anyone know if U22 NEOS carbine kit is still available?

    Reply

  • Jeff H

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    I really wanted to love the NEOS: 6 inch barrel, sight rail, easy dis assembly for cleaning. But it was not so. The trigger pull is long and tough, throwing off any accuracy gained via a rail-mount sight. After-market magazines, though labelled “Beretta” feed poorly. And the ejector is unreliable, even after extensive dis-assembly and cleaning.

    End result is this may be a fun gun for plinkers, but is totally useless for NRA Bullseye shooters at any level.

    Reply

  • Ten Cheap Firearms for Sale

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    […] It might look real funky, but the Beretta U22 NEOS has been around a long while and I know quite a few people who learned how to shoot with a Beretta NEOS. Though “cheap,” the NEOS is anything but. It is a true target gun—from its extreme ergonomic design to its excellent accuracy. It comes with a target-style rear sight, but also rails to add an optic. The Beretta NEOS reliably shoots a variety of .22 LR ammo without many hiccups at all. It is also made in the U.S.A. Read more about the Beretta Neos here. […]

    Reply

    • Chris B

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      The neos 22 pistol that will shoot anything put in it I have a Smith and Wesson M&P 22 that’s a nice gun but finicky as hell thought I would like the Smith and Wesson better but I don’t I prefer and like the neos more and love the fact that It will shoot any ammo I put in it. Paid $285, bargain and really nice gun for that price no

      Reply

  • What Is The Best 22LR Pistol? - The Smoking Barrel

    |

    […] “A quick glance at the NEOS is enough to conjure images of Buck Rogers (or whatever is the modern super equivalent would be for you younger tykes). The futuristic design is for more than looks. The NEOS features a high grip angle and when you consider your stance and form—shoulders rolled forward and extended toward the target—you can easily understand how the NEOS becomes part of that natural extension.” – Dave Dolbee on cheaperthandirt.com […]

    Reply

  • SeaJay

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    Does anyone know if they are still making and distributing the Carbine Kit. My son bought the Neos in 6″ and I was thinking it would be a nice gift to find him the Carbine set up for him. No one seems to have it in stock, and some even list it as a “discontinued” item.

    Reply

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