Beretta Pico review

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The story.

I have a regular need for pocket carry. Either as a backup or if I’m in a situation where I can’t easily carry anything else. At one time, my only real option was an NAA .22 magnum. It’s a good gun and I carried it confidently day after day. Still, seven .380 ACP rounds are better than five .22 magnum so I started looking at some of the small .380’s out there. Several looked like they’d do the job and I eventually settled on the Pico. Its size, particularly its width, coupled with a known, quality manufacturer convinced me to get it. The fact that it was inexpensive didn’t hurt.

Since I got it I’ve learned that a lot of people don’t like it. They complain about reliability for some reason. That baffles me. This is the only autoloader I’ve owned that has had zero malfunctions. Literally. It’s never failed once. Always ejects, always feeds, always fires.

I can’t speak to anyone else’s experience. I can only tell you my own, and my experience says this is an excellent, reliable pistol.

The basics.

Beretta Pico

The Beretta Pico is a hammer-fired, Double Action Only, .380 ACP autoloader. It is, or was (more on that later), the slimmest real caliber gun you could find. By real caliber I mean at least .380. It’s small. Really, really small. It’s very easy to carry and conceal. With the extended magazine in it it’s also easy to shoot. Somewhat less so with the flush fit magazine.

Beretta’s manual has a line recommending against “regular” dry fire. I’m not entirely sure what that means. I did my trigger pull test dry fire but somewhere around here I have some snap caps I bought when I first got the gun since I routinely dry fire a new gun a lot. Snap caps (Amazon link) are cheap so you should probably get some if you intend to practice dry fire.

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I’ve put a full specs list at the end of the article for reference.

It’s designed for concealed carry above all else.

That’s its wheelhouse. It’s less than 4” high, 5” in length, and a slim .7” in width. Everything is smoothed and rounded off. I happen to have two good holsters for it. One pocket holster and one ankle holster and it’s very comfortable in both of them. I’ve taken 20, 30 minute walks with it in the ankle holster and it worked great. The Pico’s light weight and slim profile work to minimize its impact.

It’s the same story with the pocket holster. It doesn’t try to pull down one side of my pants. In combination with the DeSantis, the Beretta doesn’t print. My motion is unimpeded. I’ve had this in my pocket during 10+ hour days doing delivery work. 17,000 or so steps and 50, 60 floors. It was never a problem.

Ergonomics.

This is a mixed bag, as you might expect from so small a gun. The sights are excellent for a pistol this size. Some of its competitors don’t really have sights worthy of the name, but these are white three dot sights that are easy to pick up and use. Which is good because it doesn’t point for crap. That angle between barrel and grip is almost perpendicular. If I ever have to shoot someone by point shooting I hope he’s close so I might at least get his ankle.

Paddle magazine release

The magazine release is a little weird. I know there are others like it but I’ve never had a gun with this style release before and it took some getting used to. As you can see in the picture, it’s just a little paddle assembly at the back of the trigger guard. You press it down and the magazine drops free. It works just fine. It’s as effective as the button by the thumb we’re all used to. And it’s ambidextrous. Left hand, right hand, it doesn’t really matter. You can use your thumb or your trigger finger. For that matter, It works just as easily with your support hand if the situation calls for it.

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If there’s anything I consider difficult about this gun, it involves the slide. All that slimness and rounding makes racking it harder than most guns. Releasing it using the lever is all but impossible so all of you, “it’s a slide stop not a slide release,” people should be happy. There is a slight ledge built into the lever but it’s not terribly effective unless you hit it in precisely the right spot so I ignore it. It works well enough when manually locking the slide open.

One other little quirk that affects absolutely nothing but I always found curious: when I pull the slide to the rear and release it, the slide hesitates for a fraction of a second before going forward. Again, it doesn’t affect anything. It goes fully into battery. There’s just that very slight pause.

Disassembly.

I don’t normally mention this in my reviews but there is one thing: it’s not completely toolless, unless you have a really impressive thumbnail. See that little screw under the slide? You have to turn that 180 degrees after locking the slide back in order to release the slide.

It’s not difficult and since I routinely carry a Swiss Army Knife I always have something. You can use the rim of the cartridge, too.

How does it shoot?

If you line the sights up correctly and pull the trigger smoothly the bullet will go where it’s supposed to. I’ve fired it out to 20 yards and gotten good hits. That is far beyond what I bought it to do. I carry this as an off hand gun. I’m right-handed but my ankle holster is left-hand and my pocket holster has been set up for left-hand. The pocket holster is technically ambidextrous but it’s had this gun in it so much it’s formed to the Pico in a left-hand configuration. I would likely get a new holster if I wanted to do a different gun or for right hand.

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As I mentioned above there’s a significant difference between the two magazines that come with it and it’s not round count: they have identical, six-round capacities. It’s the grip size that’s different. With the flush mag I have about 1.5 fingers on the grip. With the extended magazine I can get all my fingers on it and it’s significantly easier to shoot that way. This is a mild recoiling gun but even mild recoil is easier to manage when you have a good grip.

Conclusion.

Again, I’ve no idea why so many dislike this gun. Maybe I just got lucky. Sometimes you get a lemon on a good gun; maybe I got an anti-lemon. I have to say I’m a bit confused by the idea of Beretta producing a bad gun. All I can really say is that I’m very happy with mine and would recommend it to anyone.

Assuming you can find one. As I implied at the top, they’re hard to find right now. Beretta’s site doesn’t show them as discontinued, but “Out of stock,” seems to be everyone’s favorite phrase. I did see some at gunbroker if you’re not allergic to auctions. Guns.com has spare magazines and some used ones, but that’s it at the time I’m writing this. Cabela’s is empty. Palmetto State Armory might be a good place. Maybe your local gun store has some.

Based on my experience, I’d recommend this gun unreservedly. Only you can decide if it’s right for you.

Specifications.

  • Caliber: .380 ACP
  • Capacity: 6+1.
  • Empty weight: 11.5 oz
  • Loaded weight (95 gr JHP’s): 14 oz
  • Barrel length: 2.7”
  • Length: 5”
  • Height, flush mag: 3.8”
  • Height, extended mag: 4.8”
  • Width: .7”
  • Trigger pull: 9 lbs., 6 oz. (average of five pulls)
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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>