By Dan Kidder
Building upon the success of their Nano design, Beretta has gone even smaller with the introduction of their .380 pocket pistol, the Pico.
Typically in a review, I start on the strengths and move to the weaknesses, but for this gun I am going to reverse the usual order of business to explain how some of the weaknesses actually work together to create strengths.
This gun is very small, which makes it difficult for those with larger hands to properly grip and operate. Couple that with an especially stiff double recoil spring and minimal grip serrations and you have a gun that is difficult to cycle for those with weak hands and difficult to hold for those with large hands. Additionally, the gun had issues cycling anything but the stiffest +P ammunition we fed it.
On the plus side, the gun is very small. It is ideal for slipping discretely into a pocket holster or in a Flashbang Holster beneath a bra as it practically disappears. At just over ¾ of an inch wide and only 5 ¼ inches long, it vanishes when concealed. The weight is minimal as well at only 11.5 ounces with an empty magazine. This makes this little guy easy to carry and conceal.
The Pico comes with two magazines, a flush fit that adds nothing to the 4-inch high grip and a finger extension version that adds about an inch of gripping surface. Both magazines hold six rounds.
Because the Pico uses a tilt barrel, it helps minimize felt recoil over other small .380s with fixed barrels. It also means the slide doesn’t have to travel as far to the rear to eject spent casings. With ammo under 850 FPS we saw several failure to eject malfunctions. This was an easy issue to fix once we took the gun apart. Inside, the recoil spring is actually comprised of two non-captive springs, one inside the other. By removing the internal spring and replacing the guide rod and outer spring, we were able to easily feed and eject less powerful ammo. My suggestion is to remove the internal spring unless you plan to carry stiffer +P loads.
Because the gun is designed like most Berettas, to be free from sharp edges and snag points, it is sleek in the hand and has a very smooth finish. This can make cycling the slide difficult, but is easier when the internal recoil spring is removed.
The magazine release can be a bit tricky to figure out, as it resembles the trigger guard-mounted ambidextrous release found on many HK and Walther firearms. By pinching it with the support hand and sliding downward at the same time as you pull the magazine away, it quickly ejects the empty magazine.
The gun shot amazingly well for such a little package. The sights on the gun are real sights, not a channel cut into the frame. These white dot sights give the shooter a quick sight picture and make target acquisition and follow-up shots faster.
The trigger is one area that could use some serious work. The thin and narrow grip causes those with larger hands to have difficulty pulling the trigger the last quarter of an inch to fire. It runs at about 8-pounds up until that last quarter inch, then jumps to about 12.5-pounds. Normally, I am okay with a hefty trigger pull on a defensive gun, but this trigger is a bit gritty at the end, though ultimately, the break is clean and crisp.
As I mentioned previously, the gun is difficult for those with large hands to manipulate, but that actually works in favor of those with smaller hands. There are plenty of self-defense guns available for those with beefy mitts, but not many designed for the smaller hands out there. All of the controls and there aren’t many, are accessible for those with diminutive paws. The slide lock lever is slick and the magazine release is easily accessible. Other than those two controls, the Pico has no external safety, de-cocking lever or any other accoutrements to confuse or snag; a clean simple design.
The true double-action mechanism requires no cocking to fire, so it is an ideal gun for practicing dry-fire. The semi-exposed internal hammer stays flat when not in use and only travels rearward when you pull the trigger. It is recessed within the frame, so no danger of accidently dropping it on the hammer and causing an unintended discharge.
Overall, I was impressed with this gun, though it would not be an ideal fit for me or anyone who wears a medium or large glove. For those with smaller hands and thinner bodies, this gun is the answer they have been seeking to be able to carry a concealed firearm for self defense.
The inclination is that this is a ladies gun, but there are plenty of men with small hands and many women who like the beefy feel of a larger framed weapon, so this gun will be enjoyed by users of both genders.
If you are looking for a reliable, proven and quality firearm for self defense, then you can’t go wrong with the world’s oldest continuous gun manufacturer. Beretta has been making guns for 500 years and their fit, finish and overall feel is second to none. Check out the Beretta Pico at your Sportsman’s Warehouse gun counter and see if it is a good fit for your self defense needs.