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Beretta Pico Review

by G&A Staff   |  July 29th, 2013 26

Introduced at the 2013 NRA Convention last May, Beretta’s new Pico is a very small concealed carry semi-auto initially chambered for the .380 ACP, with a .32 ACP version scheduled to follow. A caliber conversion can be accomplished by merely swapping barrels, which will be offered by Beretta as accessory items. Like many recent guns of its type, the double-action-only Pico has a polymer frame and a stainless steel slide and barrel, but it also provides several features not commonly found on other pistols of its class.

The Pico follows Beretta’s successful introduction of the slightly larger 9mm Nano in 2011 and shares many of the Nano’s design characteristics, but not all. Unlike most small DAOs, the Pico is fired by a conventional hammer instead of a striker, has restrike capability and does not have a magazine-disconnect safety. By contrast, the Nano is striker-fired with a slide-activated pre-load and does not have a restrike trigger mechanism. The Pico’s DAO system does not store any energy until the trigger is pulled, eliminating the potential of accidental discharge if the pistol is dropped.

When the Pico trigger is pulled, the trigger bar rotates the hammer to the rear. As full trigger travel is reached, the chassis cams the trigger bar out of engagement and releases the hammer. The hammer travels forward under tension and strikes the firing pin. The firing pin travels forward under inertia. After the firing pin reaches its full forward position, the firing pin return spring rebounds the firing pin to a neutral position. Thus, the Pico does not require any drop safety built into the trigger itself to stop the trigger from traveling rearward should the gun be dropped onto a hard surface.

The Pico has the same cam-ramp, tilt-barrel, recoil-operated mechanism any John Browning fan will instantly recognize. When the pistol is fired, recoil energy causes the barrel and slide assembly to move to the rear. After a short distance, the barrel is forced down and stopped by the operation of the barrel cam and disconnect pin interface. The slide continues its rearward travel under inertia, extracting the fired case from the barrel and kicking it out through the ejection port. The recoil spring then pushes the slide forward, feeding the next cartridge from the magazine into the chamber. Continued forward movement causes the barrel cam to raise the barrel into its locked position.

Beretta makes something of a big deal about the fact the Pico’s barrel only tilts up 1.4 degrees when the handgun is fired, which is claimed to increase feeding reliability for cartridges coming from the magazine into the chamber. Company engineers will also tell you that felt recoil is notably reduced because of this minimal barrel tilt. I can’t really speak knowledgeably to the physics involved on that point, but I do know that the Pico was remarkably pleasant to handle and quick to recover on target in my firing review, even with the hottest .380 loads.

Like the Nano, the Pico’s slide is designed to remain open after the last round has been fired. Unlike the Nano, however, the Pico employs a very low-profile slide-release lever for closing a locked-back slide, while the Nano has no external slide latch lever at all (requiring the slide to be pulled to the rear and released). The only way to lock open the Nano’s slide is by putting an empty magazine in the gun and pulling back the slide. The external slide catch is snag-free, adds no width to the gun and can be engaged manually to lock back the slide without a magazine.

The Pico has an easily removable single-column magazine that allows for rapid reloading. Standard magazine capacity is six rounds. Each Pico comes with two magazines, one with a flush-fit basepad and one with an extended basepad hook that allows an all-fingers grip on the gun. The magazine-release lever is fully ambidextrous and operates by a straight-down (not inward) push from the thumb of the firing hand, meaning it cannot be accidently released from grip side-pressure or a misplaced finger on either side of the pistol.

The Pico’s grip frame is constructed from the same glass-fiber-reinforced technopolymer as the Nano, with rounded, snag-free surfaces to ensure trouble-free holster insertion and extraction. The ergonomic grip design features an optimal grip angle for sight alignment. It looks more “straight up and down” than the classic Model 1911 angle, but the deep curve of the upper rear part of the grip is contoured such that, in my hand, it points just as naturally for me as does a 1911. Both the front and rear grip surfaces feature a comfortable textured surface to ensure a firm hold.

The Pico also has what I consider to be “real” sights. Unlike many other small .380s, the high-visibility three-dot “Interchangeable Low Profile” system is designed for quick target acquisition and a crisp sight picture. The rear and front sights can be easily removed by a (supplied) 1.5mm hex wrench for replacement with other types (or heights) of sights. Trijicon is providing night sights for the gun, so standard — or tritium — sights will be available as factory options.

The Pico is one of the smallest, lightest, thinnest concealed carry .380s in existence. It’s less than three-quarters of an inch thick, with no protruding buttons or levers. It weighs only 111/2 ounces empty, including the flat-base magazine (a birthday-party helium balloon will float it). Overall length is 5.1 inches, and its height at the rear sight (with flat-base magazine) is just four inches. The Pico leaves no excuse for ever answering “No” to the question, “Is that a pistol in your pocket?”

Options Abound
The mechanical heart of the Pico is its stainless steel internal subchassis, which is the only serialized part of the pistol. This means, under federal law, that this little steel parts-mechanism holder is the only part that is actually defined as “a firearm” and is the only part of the Pico that is regulated by law. Not the barrel, not the slide, not the grip frame. This means that any other component can be exchanged or customized without affecting the serialized part. So you can swap barrels and have a different-caliber “gun.”

And you can swap grip frames. Entirely. Just by following the detailed instructions in the owner’s manual. Don’t like black? How about Flat Dark Earth, white, pink or even purple? Beretta offers them all as aftermarket accessories in three different styles. Want a laser? A weapon light? Beretta has designed two other types of Pico frames in cooperation with LaserMax. One integrates a laser; the other integrates a white light. By integrating the laser and the light into the frames themselves, the result is a much smaller and more carry-convenient package than an external accessory-rail laser or light could ever provide.

The Pico is designed to be fieldstripped quickly and simply, thanks to that well-illustrated owner’s manual, which also includes clear instructions for more advanced disassembly as well. Reassembly is easy and basically intuitive, since incorrect reassembly is, essentially, prevented by the distinctive, simple design. However, what you don’t want to do is go fiddling around inside the serialized subchassis or screw around with the trigger pull, because that will void the warranty.

A Pocket ProtectorI put our review sample through its paces as soon as I opened the box, firing a series of groups at 50-foot, street-width “defense distance” and reviewing its ballistics with five commercial .380 loads commonly used in small, concealed carry .380s. How did it shoot? Like you’d expect any Beretta to shoot: accurately and reliably. For a point-and-shoot, close-up crisis pistol, I’ve always figured that being able to dump a full magazine into a coffee saucer shooting unsupported at about 25 feet in a hurry was more than good enough. The Pico beat that standard in spades.

How did it handle? Very comfortably. The recoil-spring tension was less stiff than many other small pistols, making the slide easily operable for shooters of lesser hand strength without diminishing functional reliability at all. The grip fits my average-size hand naturally, and its sleek, projection-free profile and sides make it ideal for inside-the-waistband or inside-the-pocket CCW holsters. I personally prefer the extension-pad magazine for a full-hand grasp, but even with the “deep concealment” flat-pad magazine, the ergonomic configuration and mild recoil make the Pico easy to grab and shoot.

Made entirely in the USA (the “BU” in the official model name stands for “Beretta USA”), the Pico is scheduled to begin shipping to dealers in the fourth quarter of this year. In addition to the two magazines and the owner’s manual, each gun will ship with a soft-sided, zippered carry case and safety lock. For such a small gun, the Pico offers a surprising set of features at a very reasonable cost. And for not much additional cash, an owner can have a few extra frames; laser or weapon-light capability; night sights; or even swap calibers.

I liked the Beretta Pico better than I expected to. It is a minimalist concealed carry tool, no frills, no protruding levers, no bells or whistles. It’s slim and sleek in the extreme, with a clean, smooth trigger pull. It’s as convenient to carry as your wallet. When its $399 MSRP translates into real-world street price (once the world returns to normal), it’s going to give all the other palm-size .380s on the market a real challenge. I’d definitely carry it.

Oh, about that name. “Pico” is not Italian for “little,” though it might as well be. “Pico” is actually the internationally recognized metric prefix for one-trillionth of a unit (10 to the -12th power), as in a “Picometer.” A “Nanometer” is one billionth of a meter. So, in the world of science and engineering, a Pico-unit is one size smaller than a Nano-unit. And now you know the rest of the story ….

  • Matt

    Did the pocket holster shown in the picture come with the gun? If not, where can i get it? I looked all over the Beretta site and didn’t see it.

    • IronBuddha

      I doubt it’ll come with the pistol. Also the reason why it’s not available on their site as of yet is because the pistol isn’t even available to buy yet.

    • Northshorehomedoc

      From the picture, it does look like that pocket holster is a Beretta product but in reality, there are numerous, numerous holster suppliers. I suggest you buy the Pico, make sure you like it, then expand your search for your best means for concealed carry.

  • Tracy Thorleifson

    Dang. First time I ever got the jones for a mouse gun! ;-)

    • Hauptmann

      The Pico will definitely be my everyday carry gun (when I can get it).

  • Byrd666

    DeSantis for the holster

  • wayfarer

    I want one! I carry my Nano ALOT, but there are times when the Pico would be just the thing!

  • Don Mowzoon

    Really annoying to get jazzed about this gun and then see that it won’t be available for months!

  • mike

    Thanks , the most thorough review and explanation I have ever read.

  • Leigh Rich

    Nice review

  • JRJ21

    Nothing cooler than a gun that a simple barrel change gives you another gun.

    • Northshorehomedoc

      Seems cool but what’s the purpose? Exchangeable barrels doesn’t mean you get two guns at once and you can’t shoot both calibers at once. There’s little ballistic difference at the range between 32 and 380, so for defense, I’d stick with the 380. And I don’t believe there’s much price difference between the two calibers so you won’t save money by using the 32 for target practice. And the gun doesn’t get smaller or lighter with the 32 barrel. So why even fool around with the 32? Not to denigrate the Pico’s quality, but I think in this case, exchangeable barrels is little more than a novelty feature.

      • adam

        you don’t have to convert, it is merely an additional option. it seems to me that in addition to outclassing every other pocket 380 on the market, they are trying to make this as highly customizable as possible to appeal to a wider range of shooters (including women and the elderly).

  • 2ThinkN_Do2

    There are a couple things I like about this over the LCP. The night sight capability and the locking back slide after last shot. The only reason to use 32 cal. would be to have less recoil for those who think it’s still too much. I don’t like the giant finger extension, I prefer the style Ruger has for the LCP or the Pearce aftermarket ones. Other than that, it looks like this might be a very nice firearm, but Re-Strike capability scares me. I’ve had two Sigs with it, and they both needed it too often : (

  • Douglas Fehan

    Just got mine today after 2 years of waiting and ran 200 rounds through it. Initial thoughts as follows:
    1. The first thing I noticed is that the trigger itself has a very aggressive curvature to it which is extremely uncomfotable, as the tip of the trigger has sharp edges which dig into your finger. Then, upon pulling the trigger, the final result traps and pinches the bottom edge of your finger between the trigger tip and the trigger guard.
    2. The trigger pull is wildly heavy…I mean you have to actually “pull” the trigger really hard to intialize firing. I am not sure additional “breaking in” will fix this.
    3. Intially I could not rack the slide with either of the two mags fully loaded with six rounds. This did clear up to some degree.
    4. On several occasions, on initial racking, the round would not fully load into the chamber. I am guessing this will improve uopn further “breaking-in”.
    5. The mag realease design is a good idea. But, the implentation is TERRIBLE. The release lever is really tiny and VERY, VERY hard to move. I literally could not operate it with my thumb or my finger tip. I had to use the finger nail of my left index finger to move it down (it isa lever and not a push release) to release the mag. NO WAY could you ever do this with the thumb of your shooting hand…it just wont move. I do hope this gets better.
    1. This weapon is surprisingly accurate even with the terrible trigger pull issues.
    2. Less than .750″ thick and conceals very, very well.
    3. Very simple to breakdown and clean.
    4. The BEST sights of any .380 I have shot.
    I am not going to give up on this weapon…I waited too long to get it. I have the Ruger LCP, and the S&W Bodyguard…right now the Bodyguard is my favorite, feeling so well machined, comfortable in my hand and so smooth and easy to operate….terrible sights. The LCP comes in second. I have to run a few hundred more rounds through the PICO before I render my final opinion,…and maybe give the factory a chance to work on the things that may need a little massaging. Stay tuned.

    • Dave Canter

      Thanks Douglas. This is exactly the kind of review I want to read. For the real world shooter. Seems like most “professional” reviews only discuss the cool, whiz-bang things. Very positive and rah-rah. My main question about this gun was the trigger and you answered that much better than the review above. Thanks again.

    • Sideliner1950

      Our 3032 Tomcat broke. We’re now in the market for a replacement gun in .32 acp. One with an appetite for +P ammo would be nice. The very nice folks at Beretta are presently unable/unwilling to say when the Pico will be made available (stock – not converted from .380) in .32 acp but they did say the Pico is designed and built to withstand the pressures of heavier loads (>130 foot pounds of kinetic energy, the factory-recommended upper limit for Tomcat ammo.)

      In the interim, I’d be interested to know how it’s going for you in the .380 verson, since the two guns will likely share most characteristics. If you get a chance, please update your post from time to time. Thanks.

    • Grits McCall

      We took two of these and 500 rounds to the range today. Brand new, shooting Federal Hydrashok. I agree with virtually all of Douglas’s comments except that in our case the trigger pull on both guns was worse than his – horrible. I’m not sure any trigger pull gauge goes that high. Not only is the pull very hard, in pounds, but it is very long and to me, the reset was too long as well. Four of us shot these guns and all had the same exact impression – the trigger was terrible – it seemed way more than 12 pounds. Accuracy (given the tough trigger) and recoil were OK. Mag release was odd but didn’t bother us. Sorry to say, unless that trigger can be fixed I’m glad I don’t own one (these were my buddy’s).

    • CLove

      I totally agree with all your comments about the Pico – Minus the mag release. After shooting the pistol more and more I found that my support hand came down to operate the the mag release just fine and allowing me to retain the empty mag.

  • D Nelson

    My wife wanted a concealed carry pistol. We drank the Pico cool aid. I am no light weight at 235lbs. 1. The slide is very hard to rack. Harder than the Nano which I really like. The video where the guy pulls it back with one hand totally not true. He probably didn’t have a spring in it. I would like to see that done in person. 2. Mag release requires both thumb and index finger, one on each side. Not a one hand operation. One hand to hold the gun the other to release the mag. Plus the shape pokes your fingers. Very uncomfortable. 3. Trigger pull is very stiff. Just as hard or harder than the Nano. 4. Looks good, feels good in the hand. My wife hasn’t fired it yet but is ready to make you a deal. Beretta hit a home run with the Nano. Struck out with the Pico.

    • Michael

      THANK YOU! I’m so glad someone else had the same issues I’m having! The slide is VERY difficult to pull all the way back. THEN, once you do, it doesn’t return all the way forward because the front of the round gets stuck. It almost takes some anger to get that first round “racked!” I can’t even rack the first round with my left hand (like I always do and always have). I have to switch to my right hand (which is my shooting hand and stronger hand). The slide has to basically be slammed shut for the round to be shoved into the barrel. I don’t get it. And, yes, you have to use both thumb and finger to pull the slide release down. I haven’t shot it yet, but I can see how the trigger pull will be annoying.
      With all of that said. Remember what this gun was made for and why you most likely bought it. It’s not made for, and you didn’t buy it for shooting at the range for fun. Most or all of these features that are user UNFRIENDLY were put there that way for reasons that make sense for personal carry/self-defense carry. Don’t buy this gun to take to the range for fun and to go through many rounds. Buy it to load and then carry. If it comes time to use it to defend your life, the trigger pull and slide release will not matter. It’s thin, small and light!

    • Ray Houthuysen

      The gun needs to be broken in and oiled in the proper places. My Nano trigger measures just under 7 lbs.

  • Giovanni Cerone

    December 31, 2014

    I enjoyed doing Safaris in Africa and I was also in Lebanon during the Civil War therefore everybody will understand that I know firearms, probably a little better that the majority of firearms owners.
    I collect firearms since many years and I own more than 30 pistols and revolvers and more that 30 rifles between shotguns, carbines, machine guns and sophisticated rifles.

    In Summer 2013 I heard that Beretta was coming out with a new “revolutionary” gun called Beretta Pico. I have a great respect for Beretta. I have been to visit their Factory in Italy and sincerely it has been an extremely pleasant experience. Does not matter is there is one visitor or 50, the guide showing – with great pride – the various Departments make the Tour a unique to have experience. Not for nothing Beretta has the reputation to be one of the very best firearms manufacturers in the entire World. Actually during my visit to the Beretta Factory, I purchased a Beretta 92/ 9 cal. And still up to this day that Beretta is absolutely the very best gun I own. With that Gun, you do not need to know where the target is. The gun itself knows where the target is and all the time shoots the center of the target, A bull’s eye every time all the time !

    However, I as very intereste to purchase the new Beretta Pico and since the time that that gun was advertised, I tried to buy one. What a nightmare !

    The gun was not avvailable anywhere. Knowing the reputation of the Beretta Staff, I tried to call the Factory in the US to ask details and information. I called about twenty times without getting any answer and a couple of times someone answered the phone and with the most depressing and bored voice, I was informed that the gun was not available due to the US Government rules and restrictions and that was no time set yet for availability. I had also sent about 10 e-mails asking the same questions and I NEVER got any answer from anyone. I told you already about my experience with the Beretta Establishment in Italy and sincerely the Beretta USA has absolutely nothing to be proud of. The Beretta USA has not yet learned anything from the Mother Beretta in Italy.

    My wife, knowing that I liked to have the Beretta Pico, she promised to buy one for me as a present for Christmas 2013. The gun was not available. She promised then to buy one for me for my Birthday (May 2014 ), but still the gun was not available. We decided to stay still and wait and finally, a few days before our Wedding Anniversary (November 2014) the owner of the gun Store where I buy all my guns and supplies called me to inform that the Beretta Pico was available at his Store. You can imagine what we did! We were at the Store the same day and finally my wife was able to give me this long awaited present.

    I am always very busy with my businesses, therefore I have been able to go to the Shooting Range only two days ago.

    What a shock ! What a delusions ! The Beretta Pico is not a gun but a Junk ! After I noticed the characteristics, I have not even tried to shoot the gun. The Beretta Pico is advertised to be a concealable gun. Nothing is near to the truth. It is an unsafe gun with an IMPOSSIBLE trigger. If used as a self defense gun, I am sure that the attacker will succeed against you well before you might be able to load the gun and shoot is defense. That Beretta PICO is absolutely a NO NO and should not be offered for sale to anyone. Judging also from a lot of commets published on the Internet by gun enthusiasts and gun experts, it seems that even after a long breaking session, the trigger will not improve at all. The concept of that gun is dangerously wrong.

    I will try to give back the gun and forget this unpleasant experience !

    • Ray Houthuysen

      If used as a self defense gun, I am sure that the attacker will succeed against you well before you might be able to load the gun and shoot is defense. – G. Cerone SIR, you need to carry it loaded before you leave home.

  • Richard Neva

    Beretta should do some overtime in making these pistols. I was told 4 to 8 weeks wait for one 3 weeks ago and today I was told 4 to 8 weeks wait again. That did not please me on bit as I have paid for it already!

  • JTG

    Have a PICO and it is broken in after 175 rounds of ball ammo. Clean and lube generanouly during break in period. Now eats up all ammo including my personal defense loads. Fiocchi XTP and Precision One XTP for personal defense. LCP vs PICO? LCP has no double strike capability and has a magazine safety! The loudest sound you will ever hear is a click when you expect a bang. In high stress situations, I don’t want to have a gun like the LCP that I might accidently drop the mag and can’t shoot the chamber round or if I have an ammo malfunction have to tap,rack, bang vs just repull the trigger. Training is key but you never know how you’ll react when needed…period. Training doesn’t mean going to the indoor range and shooting 100 rounds at a stationary paper targer at 10 yards for 1 hr in a modified weaver stance two handed. Practice malfuction clearing with dummy rounds and dry firing. Shoot offhand, one handed, holding a bag in other hand. This is where the controlability of the PICO excels!

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