Firearms

Beretta U22 NEOS Review — The Future of Rimfire Handguns?

Beretta Neos with magazines and ammunition

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.

 

[dave]

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (27)

  1. 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.

    1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. Macll, I too have a High Standard heavy barrel. As U stated, it is a very accurate pistol. Mine is not retired yet, but is not shot much. Just enjoy it ever so often. Having trouble finding another Mag. for it. May have to check out this Neos, not a bad looking weapon. I’d want it in all black.

    1. @ Souther Bread
      Try Gunclips.net. I’m pretty sure they have what your looking for.

      Pete sends . . .

  4. @ BjI
    I’m not sure what Internet your using but I’m having no trouble finding “Goldens” at prices that are nowhere near what your saying you can only find them at. I just bought 525 for $49.95 and I see that the buckets are available again too.
    Perhaps you need to take another look?

    1. @ Pete in Alaska
      $49.95!!!??? RIDICULOUS! My last purchase in 2011 was @ $19.95 per 525 @ Dunhams which store ALMOST NEVER gets GB525s any more even though in 2011 they useusaly had CASES of 525s in stock.
      I frequent a Sports Supermarket named Scheels about once a week and my last trip I found one brand TARGET ammo for $9.95 per 50 rnds and another brand target ammo for $19.95 per 50 rnds. THEY HAVE NEVER HAD Golden 525s when I visited and the help says it is gone ALMOST INSTANTLY when it DOES come in!!! Also, they sell it for LESS THAN $25 per 525.
      Scheels is a LARGE chain and has literally HUNDREDS of rifles, shotguns and handguns in stock at ALL TIMES. They also have large stocks of EVERYTHING BUT .22 LR ammo.
      I WAS lucky enough to buy 1 (LIMIT, ONE) Federal 36 gr copper plated @ $19.99 per Nitrogen packed can of 325 rnds ($32.99 per 525).
      Another visit netted 1 (LIMIT, ONE) Winchester 40 gr super speed, 1300 fps, copper plated @ $7.99 per plastic box of 100!

    2. @BJI
      LOL!! You can call it whatever you like! I didn’t say it was a great price just a better price, an lot less than the $100 plus noted in the comments. Oh and this is 2014 not 2011. Three years makes a bit of a impact. I was pleased to see you were able to find a deal or two on some rim fire ammo however. Always nice to feel that you got what you paid for and expected.

      I often visit Scheels in Sparks or the one in ND when I’m there. Get a lot of my .17HMR from them. When it comes to .22LR I go on line, you should try it. Prices are steadily declining and availability has increased quite a bit in the last six month. Most of the stores I frequent have it more often than not now and at nearly the pre-hoarding price point too. I’ve found that that as far as store bought .22 is concerned that Bass Pro and Cabelas have it more often than Scheels. Maybe you should try them. Also most Walmart seem to get a shipment on Tuesdays or Wednesdays but it goes pretty quick. The two small shops I frequent have gotten in shipments once a week although they limited the number one customer could buy for a time and their prices remained fairly low.

      You shouldn’t get so worked up about this issue you could hurt yourself like that and I seems to be improving I don’t know where you live but it seems that where ever it its may be on the long end of the supply chain. It was hard to get for awhile in Alaska but could always be found if one looked hard enough for it.

      I haven’t run out and for the most part have have been able to keep my magazine level full up and still rotate my stockpile. There was a time in 2012 where supply got a bit thin but didn’t last to many months.

      I hope that supplies and low prices in your area will return in the near future as they have or are in most other places. Until then best of luck in your bargain hunting!

  5. I have had a Neos for quite some time and love it! It is accurate, will fire any ammo and is still very accurate.

    One of the things I like best about it is its looks. It does not look like a glock or a ruger and that was OK with me. The safety is a safety and like all my safeties, I only use them on range but being both left and right handed, I like the safety on both sides.

    Excelent shooter and after 5 or 6 thousand rounds, still works like a champion.

  6. This sounded like a great gun until I noticed that it weighs 36 oz.

    I wonder why all thee companies try to get their 22s to weigh so much?

    It should weigh more n the neighborhood of 12-18 oz. Someday they mfgs will wise up.

    1. Sounds like you want the Ruger LCR in 22lr ! I don’t mind the extra heft, especially in the full sized guns. My GSG 1911, P229 and NEOS are all pretty stout, as is my 1950s H&R breaktop Sportsman.

    2. @faultroy @CoachRick

      Weight … Weight … and … Weight ….. It’s always about weight.

      If one is looking for an accurate, more accurate than most shooters will ever be, .22LR pistol But are also looking for light weight AND still also want the feel and reliability of a large frame THAT also has the ability to mount a suppressor, for instance and still carries well either open or concealed carry . . . . then I would suggest the Ruger UltraLite at 1 pound, 3 ounces out of the box, nearly a feather. Add a “can” to it like say the GemTech Outback II and the weight moves up to a “hefty” . . . . 1 pound 7.5 ounces. Add a loaded magazine and it becomes a bruiser weighing in at approx 1 pound 10.5 ounces!!! You will forget that you are carrying it!
      If your not looking for quite all those options and don’t mind a little more heft and want to keep the legendary accuracy then just stick with the Ruger Mk II OR III in ANY of their iterations. Can’t go wrong with the Ruger .22 Pistol. It was a hit when it was introduced, it set the bar for others to come and remains an American favorite today and will for as long as this country allows up to continue to own them too I would think.
      The Walther P22 is also a good plinker and suppressor capable a bit heavier but I’m not nearly as pleased with its accuracy and its avoided by most Comp shooters, Still . . . A fair choice.
      The Browning Buck Mark is also a highly thought of platform with a high price to match. In this case one does indeed get what they pay for however. If your not looking for quite all those options and don’t mind a little more heft and want to keep the legendary accuracy then just stick with the Ruger Mk II OR III in ANY of their iterations. Just can’t go wrong with the Ruger!

  7. Oh My . . . Where to start?
    I’m not sure where the inigma is in the .22 caliber story. Although, frankly, if your paying $125.00 to $150.00 per 525 rounds I will be happy to sell you a bridge in Ney York that you can call your very own, really!
    I think we can all agree that the .22LR and its many serving platforms have served as a major part of the backbone of modern shooting since nearly its introduction to the cilivian market in 1887 by Stevens Too as the .22LR. It’s certenly a caliber found thurout the world.
    My sister has one of these U22’s and I found it accurate and for the most part enjoyable to shoot. I was a bit bothered by the safety placement as it bit the web between thumb and fingers from time to time but other than that it functioned well and would hit the target it was aimed at. Yes, it seems to have a number of features that are either quite like, reminiscent of or just a direct copy from another platform we already know. . . . So what? One could say the same about the AR platforms and not have nearly the spectrum of varying design ideas and concepts from which to choose from! The shoulder stock has possibilities from several view points I would think. It’s not a new idea but even old ideas and some old tech never seem to go out of favor or use.
    My leanings have always been towards the Ruger’s. The Single Six with the Mag cylinder and/or any of the auto Mk I, II, III, 22/45, and the 22/45 UltraLite. The two faveroits from my collection are my 50th Annerversy
    Mk II and my 22/45 UltraLite with its accompanying supressor. Of all the firearms that I have collected over the years I still have every Ruger pistol I ever acquired. I still buy them today when I can find the older ones. There are still a number of vereations that I don’t have but there on
    “The List” and are being checked off one by one. There have also been a Browning or two and a very nice Stainless Steel Rossi revolver pack pistol that I still have in the collection a Beretta an a wonderful High Stanard Target that still gets a great deal of use when teaching young shooters basic pistol craft. I don’t think that any one platform defines a caliber. From the comments to date that would also seem to be the concencise, So, let’s see where the U22 might go. . . .
    If your finding .22LR hard to find still, then I’d suggest you aren’t looking hard enough. Prices are coming down and for many offerings are at or near their pre-scare and hoarding price. . . . You just have to dig a little deeper.

  8. I do not own and am not familiar with the Neos. However, I do own three splendid .22LR handguns — a Browning Buchmark, a Ruger Mark 1 heavy barrel and a High Standard from my days on the Navy shooting team. All three are amazingly accurate although the High Standard is rarely shot and occupies a place of retired honor.
    We shoot sage rats/aka digger squirrels in alfalfa fields in eastern Oregon and the pistols provide more sport than my 10/22. Used to shoot jackrabbits but they seem to be thinning out and are just not as readily available as they once were. I am still living off my mixed bag of Federal, Winchester and Remington stuff from some years ago. It doesn’t seem to spoil. I even sold some to a couple friends for a whole lot less than they could buy it anywhere else.
    We used to play a game of lighting match heads from different distances and kept score, wagering on the outcome. Good times. I have spent probably several hundred hours of almost pure enjoyment shooting the .22 at various pests of in contests with friends, wagering money or beer on the outcome.
    I recommend either the Browning Buckmark or the Ruger Mark 1 heavy barrel to anyone. I have trained 4 sons on it.

    1. Hey MacII – I too have a Browning Buckmark, 7.25″ barrel, and I love it. I
      mean, I absolutely love this gun. It’s the most fun I can have with my pants on! I also have a Ruger MK II with 10″ barrel that I got from a now
      deceased friend which is also one hell of a nice .22. Both of these guns
      are deadly at 25 yards, and nearly so at 50.

  9. A few months ago, I was in the market for 1 new .22 semi-auto pistol so that I could “retire” my 1958 vintage Colt Woodsman. The sear had broken and been replaced recently, and I needed something to take the usage without further wearing out a pistol with sentimental value. I looked at S & W, Ruger, Beretta, and Browning. I did not like the Neos at all! The ambidextrous safety dug into my hand, and felt clumsy to disengage. I ended up with a Browning Buckmark URX, which feels and operates almost exactly like my old Colt. The Browning was the most expensive pistol of all that I looked at, but I am very happy with it.

  10. There is nothing unique about the NEOS, it’s nearly identical to the Colt Cadet .22 which I about 25 yeRs ago. It was renamed and now called “Colt 22″ … I’ve owned both as well as a 6” NEOS … They are so similar the NEOS mags will fit the Colt and if you cut back the front edge of the NEOS floor plate, it would fit the Colt. Not to mention the grip angle, another of the big similarities is the way the barrel is secured to the frame, the difference being the Colt uses a cap screw, I NEOS has a threaded stud & a thumb nut … Lastly, the Colt has a near target grade trigger while the Beretta trigger is long, gritty and around 6-7 pounds thanks undoubtedly to their staff of lawyers.

  11. Not sure I get the enigma bit. I am 72 and my fellow shooters and I have understood and used .22 caliber pistols for many years. My father and grandfathers passed many .22 cal pistols down to me. I hunt and target shoot a Sig 1911 .22, a Combat Masterpiece, a High Standard Military Target model, a Colt Buntline .22 WMR,. a K 22, and a Ruger Single Six convertible along with a Mark III with suppressor. I have many very similar pistols in larger, center fire calibers and the .22 allows me to train cheaply with a similar gun. A fine example would be my S&W Combat Masterpiece in .22 LR which I have the same frame in .38 Spl.. I carry a Ruger SR 1911, SS and so can train with the Sig 1911 .22 since it has the same controls. Gun writers are NOT the only shooters privy to the enjoyments and benefits of the .22 pistol. I do recommend a .22 similar to ones carry pistol as an economical way to maintain proficiency with the carry gun. j

    1. I’ve recently added a NEOS to my small collection of 22lr firearms. It stands in stark contrast to the 1950s H&R breaktop 9-shot revolver that was in our home from as early as I can remember. Both are fun shooters, for sure. Others include the SIG 522SWAT, GSG 1911-22 and my SIG P229r that is chambered in 22lr as well as 9mm. I hope to add the SIG P938-22 to complement my 938 9mm EDC weapon. I’m also working on a Beretta 70s in 22lr.

      It wouldn’t hurt if quality 22lr ammo were a little easier to find(and just a touch cheaper, if you please). Hard to obtain quality without paying a premium for Mini-Mags(but they are a pleasure to handle, load and shoot compared to the bulk stuff!). Still, 8-9 cents a round beats the pretty solid quarter each for 9mm. I can shoot a couple hundred rounds of 22 and not feel like I need to budget for the next range trip :). ! 200 rounds of 9mm would cover quite a few lunches, finance-wise!

      I do find the recent interest in 22 Magnum to be odd, given the scarcity and high price of the ammo. I know it has a place, but I don’t think the range is it!

    2. I shoot Remington Golden Bullets. My Ruger 22/45, Ruger 10/22 Take Down and S&W 15-22 LOVE them! I get 1 inch 10 shot groups at 25 yards from my 22/45 shooting the Golden Bullets. I am still shooting my last box of 525 that I purchased at Dunhams in July 2011 for $15!!! IMPOSSIBLE to find now ANYWHERE on the internet for less than $125-$150 PER 525.
      I WAS fortunate to buy 1000 rounds CCI MINI-MAG 36 GR – COPPER-PLATED HPs for $7.99 per plastic box of 100!!!

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