Beretta Pico Pistol in .380 Review – The Other Compact

By John Crump
John reasons why he went back to the .380 in the Beretta Pico Pistol.

Beretta Pico Pistol
Beretta Pico Pistol
John Crump
John Crump

U.S.A.-(Ammoland.com)- It has been a year since I sold my trusty Ruger LCP. I have never been a fan of the .380 ACP round so decided to stick with the 9mm Ruger LC9s then I transitioned to the Glock 43 which was also a 9mm handgun.

I never thought I would go back to a .380 handgun, but then I saw the Beretta Pico.

Some people thought it was ugly, but it was endearing to me. I knew I just had to have it even though it was in a round I really didn’t like.

So for my birthday my wife purchased it for me.

Beretta Pico Pistol

Beretta Pico Pistol comes with two magazine options
Beretta Pico Pistol comes with two magazine options

What first drew me to the double action only Beretta Pico was the module design. The serial number is on the fire control unit and not the frame. This makes the fire control unit the actual firearm. It makes switching out the frame very easy. Beretta calls the frame a chassis and they, as well as third party companies, make many different style options that allows you to make the gun your very own.

Beretta Pico Pistol in Ranger Green
Beretta Pico Pistol in Ranger Green

The replacement chassis comes in the truly ugly yet awesome “ranger green” to pink for the woman in your life. Not only can you change colors of your firearm but you can add a laser. Beretta offers several chassis with integrated lasers. At the time of this article for the chassis with a built in integrated laser it would set you back $99 which is a steal with all things considered.

The Beretta Pico boast the slimmest frame of any .380 pistol currently on the market. This makes the Pico very easy to conceal. I picked up a Garrison Grip leather pocket holster from Amazon. I was able to comfortably carry the gun in my front pocket with the firearm and holster only printing like a wallet.

The Beretta Pico comes with two magazines (see image above). Each of these magazines hold 6 rounds. The first magazine has a flat base. The second magazine has an extension for your bottom finger. I was able to use either magazine with my pocket holster without any issues. I found the magazine with the extension a lot more comfortable to grip. It felt really good in my hand.

With the smaller magazine I could not get a good grip on the gun which was the same issue I had with the Ruger LCP.

One of the things I didn’t like about the Beretta Pico was the magazine release. The the magazine release is on the trigger guard similar to the magazine release on my HK VP9. Unlike my VP9 magazine release which could be easily activated with a single hand, the magazine release on the Pico is almost impossible to use one handed. I don’t think it is lack of practice that made it hard. It is a design flaw. The magazine release is just too small and too tight to be practical.

Beretta Pico Pistol Ambidextrous? Magazine Release
Beretta Pico Pistol Ambidextrous? Magazine Release

Another thing I found troublesome was the slide release. It set flush against the gun making it impossible for me to get a good grip on it. Operating the slide release requires two hands. I had to pull back on the side with one hand while pushing down on the side release with my thumb.

Even doing this wasn’t easy because the stiffness of the slide release. Couple this with with the magazine release issue would cause reloading the gun while under pressure to be near impossible.

I dry fired the Beretta twice and I noticed a piece go flying off the Beretta. That piece turned out to be the firing pin. Some guns are not meant to be dry fired without real ammunition or a fake bullet made for dry firing such as the “Snap Caps.

I called up Beretta and they sent me one free of charge with a warning not to dry fire the gun again. I asked the woman who I was speaking to if anyone else experienced this issue to which she replied that they get the same call everyday.

I looked through the internet for the same issue which I usually will not do so other reviews will not influence my review. In this case I just had to know how much of an issue this has been for other people. It turned out that this was not an isolated incident. Message boards are littered with people with the same exact issue that I experienced.

Shooting the Beretta Pico Pistol

Beretta Pico Pistol Slide Release
Beretta Pico Pistol Slide Release

One issue with the LCP was that it wasn’t fun to shoot. The small light frame of the LCP, weighing in at only 9.4oz, caused the recoil to feel like it had much more of a kick than other .380 handguns out on the market. I wanted to see how the Beretta Pico, weighing in at 11.5oz, would handle the recoil since it is at a very similar weight to the LCP.

I headed to Walmart where I picked up two value pack boxes of 100 Winchester 95 grain .380 ACP full metal jacket ammunition and 2 boxes of Winchester 95 grain PDX jacketed hollow point ammunition to try out at the range. This would give me a total of 250 rounds to test out. The first 200 rounds would be the range ammo. The last 50 would be the Winchester PDX JHP since that is what I would be carrying and I wouldn’t feel comfortable carrying anything I didn’t know would work in the Beretta Pico handgun.

I decided to forgo the quick magazine changes since I was having such a hard time with the magazine changes to begin with, without live ammo. I would be testing three things with the Beretta Pico. The first thing would be comfort. If a firearm is not comfortable to shoot then I wouldn’t carry it. The second thing would be accuracy. I need to know I can put rounds on target if I would ever need the gun to defend myself. The third thing I would be testing out is reliability. If a gun doesn’t fire I would rather have no gun at all in situations where I felt I needed to draw a gun.

Beretta boast that the Pico has low recoil, and it did compared to my old LCP. I tried first with the magazine without the pinky extension, and even though the recoil was less than the LCP you could still feel it. It felt slightly more than my Glock 43 which is a 9mm handgun. Where the Beretta really shines is when you shoot it with the magazine with the pinky extension. The recoil felt truly low with that magazine.

Beretta Pico Pistol with Magazine Extension
Beretta Pico Pistol with Magazine Extension

The trigger pull was a heavy pull on the Beretta Pico. After my trip to the range I tested the trigger pull and it came in at just over 8 pounds. That is insane for a .380. This is the second generation of the Pico. The first generation of the Pico had an even heavier pull. Beretta said they responded to the feedback of the users after the release of the first generation of the Pico by lightening up the trigger, but it is still extremely heavy. In future editions of the Pico I recommend Beretta lighten the trigger up by at least two or three pounds.

I set the target out to 5 yards. My shot was going slightly to the right. Lucky for me the Beretta Pico comes with adjustable sights. I was able to correct the sights and get the firearm centered on target. I then took the target out to 10 yards and I was still able to hit the target. The sights held zero pretty well. I am confident I would be able to put rounds on target if I had to in a stressful environment.

The third and most important factor is reliability. I ran 250 rounds through the Beretta Pico in a single trip without a single failure. I then took it out on a second trip without cleaning it and ran another 100 rounds through it without a single failure. For all this gun’s shortcomings it is a very reliable handgun.

My final thought is that the Beretta Pico feels like a first generation gun before they get all the bugs worked up. I was disappointed to find out that this is their second generation. The trigger pull is still too heavy, the slide release needs reworked, and the magazine release needs to be totally redesigns. Also the gun’s firing pin should not break after two dry fires. That isn’t to say that the Pico isn’t a fun gun because it is. It just isn’t ready for prime time quite yet.

I would love to hear what others who own this same gun thought and what your experience was in the comments below?

About John Crump

John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. He is the former CEO of Veritas Firearms, LLC and is the co-host of The Patriot News Podcast which can be found at www.blogtalkradio.com/patriotnews. John has written extensively on the patriot movement including 3%'ers, Oath Keepers, and Militias. In addition to the Patriot movement, John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and is currently working on a book on the history of the patriot movement and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss or at www.crumpy.com.

  • 12 thoughts on “Beretta Pico Pistol in .380 Review – The Other Compact

    1. I still have yet to fire a 380 I like more than my Pico. I don’t have any issues with the trigger, but I also don’t expect a true double action to be light. The slide release complaint is surprising to me as well, I don’t have any problems releasing the slide with a new magazine. I shift my thumb over and push down. (left handed) It’s never given me a problem, nor have I had to pull the slide back to disengage the lock.

    2. I have a first gen Pico and it is my go everywhere, all the time pocket gun. Carried in a DeSantis Super Fly. I don’t use the pinky extension mags. I *do* train with my Pico a lot and mine has over 3000 rounds of hot hand loads thru it and a variety of factory SD Ammunition. Mine has never missed a lick. yes, the trigger is stiff as is the slide. I don’t have a problem with the mag release. The Pico is awesome for me and I refused Beretta’s offer to upgrade mine for free. I want mine all original. I will eventually buy another/second Pico when they have the final version produced.

      VooDoo

    3. I am a very avid pocket gun shooter. Almost every week many times twice a week. Have shot so many pocket guns. For instance owned four of the Ruger LCP’s. Finally found the Beretta Pico and became totally enamored by this classy firearm. A real lot of craftsmanship with into the making. I Bought the Pico second Gen and put over 12 hundred rounds of mixed ammo through the gun without one single hiccup. Even cheap reloads. I like it so much, that I bought a second one, just because of the quality.
      I find it a extremely MILD shooter. None of the “High Five Slap” notorious with the LCP’s. Easy to put 150 rounds in, in session. The Steel Frame is worth the price of admission alone. I wore out 3 lcp’s and they just do not have the quality of the Pico. Love the modular design, love the trigger, which is very similar to the LCP gen ll, just slightly stronger pull, but is still wearing in. Man I just love the Pico’s. PS. shoot these guns a lot and ditch the extended mags. The designer got it right. It will anchor in the third and fourth finger like it is in cement. The smooth handle will require a tad of grip tape. Do I really like them? Thinking about getting a third. Why? Just because.

    4. I love the Pico. It is my EDC gun. It absolutely disappears in a DeSantis Super Fly holster with the cover flap on. There is no way someone will ever know you are carrying it, even if they frisk you — unless they physically take it out of your pocket and inspect it. Even then, if they aren’t too attentive, they might assume it’s just a wallet. The Pico is incredibly thin and weighs only 13 oz. and some change fully loaded. It is extremely durable and reliable, and I have 1,000 rounds through mine with zero hiccups. Not to mention, it shoots surprisingly mildly for such a small gun, and the sights are best in class. It has no protrusions that can snag (even the slide lock is flush to the frame), is extremely thin, and I can walk around with it in my pocket all day long and forget it’s there until (God forbid) I should ever need it.

      Understand that that level of concealability comes at some cost. Yes, the trigger is heavy. But it’s not creepy or overbearing. I can shoot about 150 rounds in a range session before I’m done. I can’t go all day and shoot 500 rounds; my trigger finger just isn’t strong enough. I took the Pico to my gunsmith to ask if anything could be done about the trigger pull weight, and he explained to me that it almost had to be that heavy to get the hammer to fire reliably. Nothing can be done about it. But given all the plusses of the Pico, it’s a small sacrifice, if you ask me. The Euro-style paddle mag release may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it makes a lot of sense if you consider the gun’s size and purpose. You don’t want to be accidentally engaging a button mag release in a carry gun, and with such a small package, that is a real possibility as your paws will cover the whole gun. But there’s no chance of accidentally dropping a mag with the Pico. Once you get the hang of it, it’s very intuitive. I use my weak hand thumb and forefinger in a “pinch” to pull a mag. I find it intuitive and fast.

      The firing pin is a well-known issue. Don’t dry-fire a Pico without snap caps. I knew about this before I even bought mine, as I’d done my research. You may want to get an extra firing pin (for free from Beretta or $14 from Brownell’s) to keep around the house just in case. I have had zero problems in 1,000 rounds because I only dry fire the Pico with snap caps.

      I don’t have a problem with the slide lock, at all. In fact, I marvel at how Beretta engineered it to be functional and yet completely flush with the frame. Once you get the hang of it, you shouldn’t have any difficulty locking the slide back. Personally, I never drop a slide with the slide lock. I always drop the slide by racking, whether it’s a Pico or a full-size 1911. That’s the way I was trained. If you always drop the slide by snicking down the slide lock, I can see how the Pico could be frustrating. But it’s a non-issue for me.

      In short, I think that people who heavily criticize the Pico aren’t making appropriate apples-to-apples comparisons. You have to bear in mind that this gun is magnitudes smaller even than the Glock 42. It weighs less fully loaded than the Glock does empty. It is the thinnest .380 on the market, also by magnitudes. And it is also very shootable with excellent sights, and it is highly-reliable. Once you learn to appreciate the Pico for what it is (and not think about it in terms of what it is not), you may find yourself marveling at its design and wondering how they did it.

      1. Very nice review. I considered this gun when it first came out and just could not go with it because of the inherent known problems. Time to take a second look. Thanks for the insight.

      2. Excellent review – My 2nd gen Pico with laser fame has never failed to function with nearly 800 rounds fired. Given the Pico’s role as a close range self defense arm I practice at G2T ranges of 3-10 yard, shot patterns consistently within a 6-inch circle using Underwood Ammo Extreme Defender +P ammo. During New Mexico hot summer months, I carry it in the front pocket of my casual shorts. As such the Pico is invisible! I have added Beretta’s tritium sights, Talon black rubber grips & I have shortened & reconfigured the extended magazine extension little by little until I got it right for me and provids enough space for me to grip the Pico with my third & forth fingers. My pinky slides under the floor plate providing me excellent purchase of the arm. The only downside of owning a Pico is my laziness to wear a larger caliber pistol when weather & suitable clothing permits. All to often I chose my PIco instead. Not a good habit. My suggestion – purchase a Pico, put 3-4 hundred rounds through it. You will not be disappointed.

    5. I was looking for a 380 for my fly fishing vest. I like my INOX 92FS and was open to the Pico since it was SS. What made it a no sale to me was I and the staff at the shop couldn’t operate the slide. No point in having a gun you can’t put a round in to the chamber.

    6. I dig my lil Pico. Shoots great with PolyCase, IMO.
      I never thought of the slide release as a release. I don’t use it that way anyways. Tap, rack, go. I never found it too difficult to work around.
      I also picked up the LaserMax frame since it’s a great price, the downside, though, there isn’t a holster made for the Pico with the LaserMax. I had to take mine to a local kydex holder manufacturer and have one made (which was a cool thing to watch and I really don’t mind having to shop local!). Not even Beretta offers a holster option. Blackhawk! size 2 pocket holsters fit, but not a perfect option.
      After only about 100 rounds, my Pico did have a problem with the “new” recoil spring. Somehow it ended up bent-up and out of shape. A short message online and Beretta had a new one to me in less than a week.
      I’m not sure what the deal is with the firing pin, but I know it is a problem. One of the things I do with every new gun is just run the trigger to help break it in. Watch tv, rack, dry fire, rack, dry fire. I did this about 25 times before I read in the destruction manual not to dry fire. Fortunately I didn’t do any immediate damage, though I have heard of these breaking in stores.
      The trigger could use some work. Yes. It’s a long hard pull, but I’m guessing Beretta did this because people too often use pocket guns without a holster. Some owners have found a way to lighten the pull with some spring work. After surveying the trigger group, I was able to make out how the trigger and hammer system work, and will be leaving mine alone. I do like how the trigger breaks, but not the huge amount of take up before that.
      One of more disappointing things for me is that Beretta seems to have forgotten about the Pico after the “upgrade.” Initially they said they were going to offer a .32ACP barrel swap option, but that still hasn’t happened. There are A LOT of Pico owners that are still waiting on that.

    7. Well, the article started off well enough as it does for dedicated buyers. Then there is the honeymoon period, then you start noticing things, then it doesn’t work out like you hoped. This is a road trod by multitudes before you my son, except for us it was finding a 1911 that ran right, welcoming the Coonan, the Auto Mag, the Seecamp, lusting over the original Korth, welcoming the tiny Detonics .45, and watching the mag release move to the grip on the Sig. When I ran into problems I ditched the gun for all I ever wanted was accuracy and reliability. And now here we are again:) but that is what makes it all so interesting.

    8. I had an early version of the Pico , in the low 3,000’s #. Everything Beretta said it would be in Shot Show 2013 , it wasn’t. I couldn’t believe I had 100% reliability with the stiff recoil spring but I only had 1/1400 FTE. The slide CATCH, isn’t a release. The Mag. release didn’t give me any trouble ejecting the mag, and that was the only gun I owned with that type of release. I used my thumb with no difficulty. I regrettably sold it because Beretta “said/promised” that they would make a 32 cal. drop-in barrel and changeable frame. Well, they had Laser Max make the frame for them to sell solely. At a 189.00 price tag for the light /Laser was just crazy. A regular frame is 35.00 bucks! Plus , they had a golden opportunity to widen the grip with the Laser/light frames and didn’t. NO 32 Cal. drop-in barrel ! Way better to shoot than the Ruger LCP2, which I own. Fish scale side serrations would have been way better for this little gun.

    9. So Beretta is trying to emulate Remington now? I’ll stick with my TALO chrome plated LCP thank you very much.

      1. The Pico has loads of features your Talo doesn’t. It’s lighter, more reliable, will last longer, is thinner, and looks better. (that last ones up to personal taste.) Not to mention your LCP is striker fired, which means as long as there’s a round in the chamber the guns hot. The Pico is double action hammer fired. I can load a round and set it on a subwoofer and it won’t pop off. The guns couldn’t be more different.

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