My new love, the Beretta 84.

Sorry Smith & Wesson, but I love Beretta now. The .380 ACP and the guns chambered for the round have never really held any desire to me. Had you asked me what I thought of the .380, my answer would have been “meh.” Especially after .380 prices rose so significantly a few years ago. It just seemed like an over-priced, weak caliber that really didn’t serve much of a purpose. We each have a bias against certain calibers. The .380 was mine, but not anymore.

When S&W released the Bodyguard .38 Special revolver and .380 semi-auto pistol, it was a no-brainer for me to purchase the revolver. My friend decided to purchase the pistol. My friend knows a lot about guns and the .380 was going to be his pocket pistol. I trust his judgment and he judged that the .380 is a sufficient self-defense round. I hate my friend’s .380 Bodyguard, but it’s not the caliber I detest, but the operation of the gun. It is hard to hold, the trigger pull is incredibly long, and it has a pretty feisty snap to it after a few rounds.

I shot the .380 S&W Bodyguard again at a recent self-defense pistol clinic. We compared three guns, the Bodyguard, the SIG P238, and the Beretta 84, all chambered in .380 in a quick-response drill. The instructor of the drill described the Bodyguard and the SIG P238 as great concealed carry guns. The same instructor compared the Beretta 84 to the SIG and S&W saying, “you wouldn’t carry this one.” I beg to differ.

The Beretta 84, currently in production as the

Beretta 84FS Cheetah, is classified as a “compact” pistol on Beretta’s website and though it looks like a clunker next to the Bodyguard and the SIG, it isn’t anywhere near the size and heft of some other compact guns I’ve shot. Modeled after the famous Beretta 92, the 84 was introduced in 1976. The 84 is a blowback operated semi-automatic handgun that holds 13 rounds in a double-stack magazine. The first round you shoot is double-action and follow-up shots are single-action. The open slide design prevents jams and other ammunition malfunctions. The 84 is certainly reliable.

Though the recently released small pocket .380s do have an excellent and legitimate place in the world, I have learned my lesson on spending my hard-earned bucks on a gun I do not particularly enjoy shooting. If I bought the SIG P238 or the Bodyguard, I know I would not put many rounds through them. Even for practice. What good is your carry gun if you get rusty shooting it? The Beretta 84’s full-sized plastic grips and larger frame make recoil much more manageable, therefore making the gun more fun to shoot. My follow-up shots on the Beretta were significantly more accurate than with the Bodyguard and the SIG. Even after 10 rounds on either, I was done and the web of my hand was already hurting. I’m a big believer in loving your carry gun. It is the most important gun you own. And who loves a gun that hurts you? The Beretta 84 I shot was older than current production and was not the improved FS model. The older, well-loved model I shot had a classic, military look that is quite pleasing to the eye. The current production as well as the older model 84s are handsome guns.

Smaller guns do not feel comfortable in my hand and unfortunately, the smaller they get, the more perceived recoil I anticipate. Therefore, I am never proud of my groups when I shoot the smaller-framed handguns. The Beretta’s larger size gives me a secure grip on the firearm and its ambidextrous safety is in a place that I do not have to fumble around to manipulate. The sights make aiming easy because of their white three-dot outline. The current production Beretta 84FS has an enlarged trigger guard, which the older models do not. The 84 I shot did not have the reshaped trigger guard. This improvement makes no difference to me. I would not complain about owning a new or old Beretta 84. Brand new models retail for around $650 and used for about $415. In fact, Mr. Bodyguard, we might just be parting ways soon.

I like the Beretta 84 because I do not believe it is too bulky to carry and I have confidence in its reliability. It is also a fun target gun. It serves a multi-purpose and in my opinion that is money much better spent. All the Berettas I have had the opportunity to shoot have run smoothly, handled well, and have been very comfortable for me to shoot. Beretta makes a highly accurate, reliable, well-made firearm.

Beretta 84FS Cheetah Specifications and Features:

  • .380 ACP
  • 13 round capacity
  • 3.8″ nickel chromium-molybdenum steel barrel
  • Chromed bore
  • Double/single action
  • Ambidextrous safety
  • Double action trigger
  • Combat style trigger guard
  • Hammer decocking device
  • Reversible magazine release
  • Open slide design
  • Auto firing pin block
  • Aluminum alloy frame
  • Plastic grips
  • 3 dot sights
  • Staggered magazine
  • Matte black finish
  • Corrosion resistant
  • 6.8″ overall length
  • 1.4″ wide
  • 4.8″ tall
  • 4.9″ sight radius
  • 23.3 oz. empty
Purchase the Beretta 84 in black or in nickel.

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Comments (27)

  1. I owned a Beretta Cheetah 380 that I bought at a gun show for $350 in the mid 1990s. I shot it many times and it was always reliable and great shooting. Unfortunately I sold it when I lost my job in 2008 and wish I had never sold it.

  2. I have owned the 84FS for about 20 years and it is my “small” carry gun now after 15 years as my primary carry gun (the crazies convinced me to go to a .45) and it has always been an excellent weapon. I have at least 7500 or so rounds through it and never had a failure that wasn’t due to lousy reloads. Load it with 14 Buffalo Bore 100 grain cast lead +P+ and you have quite the nasty little package; a .45 it isn’t but for the size it packs a lot of firepower and the stopping power of a 9mm in a compact package. If you can find a good one I highly recommend this gun for daily carry or recreational shooting.

  3. I have owned a Beretta 84F Cheetah i .380ACP for 24 years. It is best with 102 grains Golden Saber. 90 grains projeciles has a tendency of not hitting at point of aim at least within my pistol. It is lightweight, handfilling and easy to shoot. 13 shot double stacked magazines, I carry 4 ea.. You do not need a full blown 9mm for self protecion. In this respect the 84F fills the bill. Forget the Ruger LCP; to little, not enough firepower.

  4. Can anyone tell me if the Beretta Model 84 in tungsten is as good as the same gun in blue steel? I know it is sure a good looking weapon.

  5. The wife and I are a bit backwards in gun society. She’s dieing for a proper .45, first a Cimerron and now an American Classic. A week ago, I was gonna buy a Beretta 92fs, slap some matching wood grips to it and that was gonna be us and our daily carry – a decent force to be reckoned with, out and about. Here in the heart of Southern gun culture, it’s still easy to spot anything from the odd highway patrolman proudly carrying his grand-daddy’s .38 Model 10 wheelgun on patrol to cops packin’ way non-standard issue 1911A1s or even citizens with all manner of things strapped to their hip and open carry, to true Southerners, is still concidered “polite”

    All the same, having never owned a small frame pistol before I was eager to try my hand at real CCW and not simply “making it work” when necessasary. You can certainly CCW a 1911, as the wife intends, but a 92fs? I might have been pushing my luck and in Alabama heat I really couldn’t ALWAYS do so. With half my money down already, I was having second thoughts when I came across the Cheetah .84 – I’m a revolver guy at heart, so stopping power from a pistol is nothing I intend to be impressed by. 13 rounds of anything is very appealing to me however and it’s much more concealable + for a smaller pistol it’s a SOLID build and still offers the reliable open slide design that initially drew me to Berettas in the first place. It’s an older model but I’m not to concerned about it having no decocker as, like I said, I’m transferring from revolvers. The stiff slide will take some serious getting used to, but they tell me it’ll become second nature and is entirely necessary given the heavy construction. When I learned that they’d just gone out of production (summer 2013) I knew I had to pick one up for that modest price tag.

    Here’s a link to my research:

  6. I’ve owned my Cheetah since 2007 and fired it hundreds of times with zero malfunctions save a couple of bad rounds. I switched to Hornady in 2011 and haven’t even had a misfire since. The gun looks great, works perfect, very reliable and at close range I can shoot like a pro. I’ve fired in self defense once against a dog. It was about 30″ at the shoulder, must have been pushing 100 pounds he had just ripped a ladies small dog a new butthole, almost decapitated it and then he turned on me. I fired once into his ribcage. He had been charging full bore and was maybe 8 feet away, he slid to a stop 3′ away stone dead. I used to trade off guns for conceal carry but no more my carry is my Cheetah 100% now, I would recommend the Berretta to anyone unless you make a habit of walking into deserted warehouses full of dopers then I would advise on a round that knocks people over and while the .380 is deadly it isn’t a .45 the only thing I would modify were I running Beretta would be to offer the Cheetah in a 9mm version.

    1. Look at the safety/de-cocker and you can plainly see it’s an 84. Carrie Moss is so tiny, she’s basically a pixie. So a 92 looked like a bazooka in her tiny hands. Matrix directors decided the 84 Cheetah looked better in her hands. The illusion is made via the camera angle and some computer tricks.

  7. I’ve shot a Walther PPK in heavy stainless steel and the lighter weight Beretta 84 has less felt recoil and is more fun to shoot. The Walther is a bit more accurate but then my little P64 is even more accurate than that and shoots a bigger round. I own several older Italian-made Berettas and even the sixty year olds still shoot great with zero FTFs. I have over two dozen guns in various sizes and the Beretta 84 is my favorite. They were built to last and get smoother with time. The CZ-82 is another great gun, very accurate with a punchier round. But to each his own.

    1. Two Thumbs up on the CZ-82. Good value in an ccurate compact pistol and as you alluded the round (9×18) is somewhat between the .380 and the 9X19 in power. I just wish there were more choices as to good JHP bullets for reloading for this caliber/bullet weight.
      A personal dilemna of mine is choosing a daily carry gun between the horsepower of my beloved Star Firestars in 9mm/.40/.45 or the CZ’s (greater) 13 round capacity. But it’s a good dilemna, the CZ is slighly bulkier but both have similiar loaded weights (my felt impression only),
      I might add one pont in the Firestar’s favor, is that I merely needed to purchase a slide/barrel/recoil spting in .40 caliber and thus transformed my 9mm Firestar into a two caliber pistol! (The 45 Firestar is a different animal and it’s slide/magazine etc does not swap between calibers)
      As for the Berretta 84 I recall handling a freind’s 84 some years back and I remember it as bulkier than either the CZ or Firestar.
      . .

  8. call me pistol stupid…(pistol Stoopid) (hey i didn’t mean that literally)…my best guess is that a pistol is for lite carry super close cqb…i less worried about the brand and coating of a pistol than i am about funcionality…iwant the pistol to use the same round and mag as my main battle rifle…so here goes (ma…that 22 nut is on CTD again)here’s one option the S&W M&P 15-22 coupled with the 15-22P…neither one is even close to concealed carry but the 15-22p is surprisingly lite weight and easily handled (ergonomically)plus it has the distiniction of using the same round and mag as the 15-22 (Lois L’Amour eat your heart out)

    1. Your conceal and carry gun may not be the most appropriate gun for “combat”. Ideally, you want to be able to pop an attacker a few times and escape – i.e. stop an attack. The 84 is a great gun for that. Regardless of the caliber you use (.380, 9mm .40 S&W or .45acp, shot placement takes priority over bore size. I own 5 Berettas and they’re all great guns. If I could manage to carry my 92a1 around with me, I would. But it’s a really big gun and not practical in that sense.

  9. Have been thinking about updating to the Model 84 or its Browning counterpart; have had a Taurus PT-59 (a clone of the early Beretta 84. My wife had a hard time getting use to my 9mm S&W (Model 39) but loved the PT-58 for all of the reasons the author sited. Will keep the PT-58 even though wife now has her own Walther PK380 and will continue to look for that upgrade at a good price.

  10. I’ve owned both the Browning BDA380 and the Beretta 84 nickel. About 7 years ago I gave my BDA to my son who was turning 21 and about to enter law enforcement. I carried the BDA as an off-duty BUG for years and, as much as I hated to part with it, I felt it was going to a “good home”. Then late last year I found the Beretta at a gun show, and wasted no time in trading in my Sig Sauer 232 for it … the Sig, while a great gun, just wouldn’t feed JHP on a regular basis and I was forced to shoot FMJ. I have never had any feed problems with either the BDA or the 84 … always shoots, always accurate. I do agree that the slide action is incredibly stiff, to the point that I need to cock the hammer before I try to charge the weapon. Hopefully this will improve as I continue to put rounds thru it. My daily problem is choosing between my Airweight S&W 642 and my Beretta as to the BUG of the day!

  11. I agree with your opinion of the Cheetah-84. When I was at the gun shop with this and the Browning BDA in each hand, it was a tough decision. I went with the BDA. They are made by the same people with subtle differences like slide-mounted safety, closed slide, and beautiful cherry-wood grips. Even though the grip-girth of this gun is already thick, I added a Pacmyer sleeve. I have many pistols but this is my favorite. I love the way it feels like a natural extension of my hand. Believe it or not, I can actually hip-shoot with this thing with a 6-inch group at 25-feet. I cannot do this with any of the others.

  12. Buyer Be Aware of the .380 Beretta 84 and the service you may not get it you need it from Beretta.

    I purchased one three months ago. I bought it new from a dealer. And I should have checked it out better. I had the hardest time chambering the shell. It was almost impossible for me to do so and even dangerous because I would have to aim the gun at the ground and pull extremenly hard to chamber it. Mine was the 13 shell mag.

    OK I called Beretta and told them of the problem. I have arthritis of the hands but can chamber both 9MM and 45 Kimber ultras. I also have a glock 19 and no problem. Beretta told me the chambering was tight but to have the dealer send it in and they would look at it. I contacted the dealer and he did mail the gun back to Beretta. Ok three weeks ago I got the gun back.

    No note or anything from Beretta. But no improvement on the chambering.

    The gun was useless to me. I sold it at a loss in a gun show this past weekend (6/30/12).

    I would never buy another Beretta. AND I plan on telling my story as much as possible.

  13. Had an 84. FAIL! Field teardowm, A+, Accuracy, F-. Hipoint blew it away at 100+ yds. Kept moving up until the 84 would print and at 7 yds. it hit the pie tin. Again, 84= Fail!

  14. I meant to say sound levels at the range w/ear protection will be way LOWER than real life.

    My wife said I need new glasses—I guess she is right ( Ooooh! It hurts to say that)

  15. I agree with the comments about small auto’s being hard to love. Even my PPK is a bit hard on the hand. I also own a Walther PPQ in 9mm which is at the upper edge of concealable. It has a really advanced DA trigger with a short pull and short reset.
    This is great but I usually practice with my Walther P22. It is similar in size and shape to the PPQ and I can do all the important drills with cheap ammo. At the end of the session (sometimes at the start) I shoot a full mag or two from the PPQ 9mm. Its important in developing that muscle memory to shoot both guns/calibers.

    As well, don’t forget the sound level with ear protection will be WAY higher than a real life situation. I don’t suggest dropping ear protection at the range, but be aware that a .380ACP or 9mm inside a room or automobile can temporarily deafen you. Not like the movies/TV where it seems they blast away w/o aural affect.

  16. I have not shot the Beretta 84FS Cheetah as yet. I own a Bersa Thunder 380, and cannot imagine the Beretta being that much better. The Bersa is the sweetest smaller framed pistol I have ever shot. Stays in your hand, accurate as hell, clean handsome lines. Very much like the Beretta with looks leaning toward the PPK. I would love to see a comparison of the two guns done by experts. I would wager the Bersa would hold it’s own against the venerable Beretta. I have owned mine now for about 6 years and never had a foul or mis-fire. It’s like my American Express Card…….I never leave home without it!

  17. I carried one for years but decided that the manual safety and double action trigger first shot were going to get me killed. Unless your training all the time with it, you might as well be throwing that first round away.

    1. Comment to xpo172: Man, you can disengage the safety and cock the hammer when you draw. Easy Peacy.

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