For a long time, Beretta series 80 pistols have been considered M9’s little sisters both in size and prestige, sometimes even a kind of “wish but can’t” alternaative to larger size pisstols. This is far from true, and the Series 80 is perhaps one of the best designed handguns in Beretta’s long history.
The widespread diffusion of the series 80 in countries that severely limited the use of larger 9mm calibers has contributed to the “wish but can’t” aura of the series 80, which is totally undeserved, because the series 80 handguns are probably some of the best designed in the long history of Beretta.
Though not as compact as many .380 ACP handguns of today, the Series 80 size makes them still easily concealable and very comfortable to grip and shoot accurately, while you can’t say the same of most .380 ACP pocket guns, and the double stack magazine holds 13 rounds, for a total of 13+1 available shots, should one carry with one in the chamber which is, again, something well beyond the reach of pocket .380s.
While we can’t call the 9x19 a harsh recoiling cartridge, it still may be too much for some: the .380 chambering, on the other hand, is very easy to shoot for most, and modern loads not only have boosted its performance as a self defense cartridge, but have actually made it a very good caliber for this purpose, with milder recoil but plenty of penetration, with reduced risks of overpenetration compared to the 9 Luger even where local laws forbid the use of expansive bullets.
Even nicer, the series 80 has a frame mounted safety, like the original Beretta 92, instead of the annoying slide mounted one cherished by the military and adopted on the M9.
Finally, and pretty relevant to a lot of people, they always have been much more affordable than the M9.
To these characteristics, shared with its “ancestors”, the new 80X adds a host of new features already seen on the M9 family.
One of the best ones, which I find even more relevant than the cornucopia of modern tricks the 80X is capable of (such as mounting a red dot, as we’ll see in a moment), is how Beretta made racking the slide much easier than on the previous 80 series guns, which were known for their stiffness, to the point that those wishing to leave the chamber empty used to leave the hammer cocked, to somewhat ease the process.
Not so much on the 80X, which to this end seems like a locked breech handgun.
Speaking of which, there have been many criticizing Beretta on this subject: why make a blowback .380 ACP handgun with the size of the 80X when a locked breech mechanism would easily have fit in the gun?
The answer again lies in the affordable purchase price of this line of handguns: A locked breech design would surely have been possible, but it would have also meant rising the price point quite close to the M9, precluding many from being able to afford the 80X.
I think Beretta made the right choice here.
Easier racking apart, Beretta added several features seen on most modern handguns to the 80X.
The dust cover is now milled with a picatinny rail to allow accessories to be mounted under the barrel, the safety has been made ambidextrous, the slide is milled to accept the plate for a MRDS and the grip has a straight mainspring housing and the front and backstrap are checkered for better purchase of the shooting hand.
The sights are also new, with a high contrast, well squared rear sight with twin white dots and a front sight sporting a larger, glow-in-the-dark dot that makes front sight acquisition lightning fast even in low light conditions.
While still well within the weight limits of a defense firearm, the trigger is crisp and smooth, with a short reset.
Finally, from an aesthetic point of view, there is also a dual tone version, with black slide and FDE frame.
Is the Beretta 80X just an attempt to revamp an old, underrated hendgun with a few gimmicks, as some say?
I most definitely don’t think so: while the 80X is clearly part of the series 80 handguns (hell, the name itself says so), it’s also been redesigned focusing on the needs of a modern carry or home defense handgun, and it can perform very well in both roles, as a compact carry gun or valid home defense implement with good ballistic performance and lesser risk of overpenetration.
It handles well, shoots well and it’s much easier to carry and conceal than an M9, while being considerably more affordable. If a full size is too much, you want something softer than a 9x19, less prone to overpenetration, and you are not into pocket guns due to their usually nasty recoil, skimpy grip and scarce capacity, look no further than the 80X.