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
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