After a long and drawn out wait, Beretta has finally unleashed the Pico–their latest pocket pistol. This diminutive .380 is tiny. It isn’t much bigger than a cell phone. But don’t let the absurd dimensions fool you. The Pico is exceptionally capable. We’ve put more than 500 rounds through this one and even pushed it through part of a handgun training class. The Pico started strong and has only gotten better. I’ve shot a lot of the mouse guns, and the Pico may well be the easiest on the hands.
- Caliber .380
- Height 4″
- Barrel length 2.7″
- Overall length 5.1″
- Overall width .725″
- Sight radius 3.3″
- Weight, empty 11.5 oz.
- MSRP $398
How does it handle?
I’d like to start off this review by extolling the virtues of the Pico–which would mean talking about how well it shoots. But that isn’t a realistic first impression. Almost all of us will buy a gun after handling it in a gun store. After that purchase, most of us take the gun home. We don’t immediately shoot it. We play with it, and handle it, and clean it, and dry fire it, and later we get out to the range.
My first impressions of this Pico were not so positive. I shot a prototype of the Pico more than a year ago at the factory in Maryland. I shot it at SHOT show last year. I’ve had some experience with the prototypes, and with the development of the gun. In the early models, I had issues with the length of the trigger pull. But this production model has fixed that. Still, the whole gun felt way too stiff out of the box.
What do I mean by stiff? The slide spring is heavy, and the slide is very hard to pull back. This isn’t made any easier by the size of the gun. I found the slide hard to manipulate, and harder when there were rounds in the gun. Inserting a magazine into the Pico when the slide was not locked back is easy enough, but then racking the slide was even harder. The slide drop is sufficiently textured, but small–using it was difficult also. The best way to get a round into the gun was to insert a magazine into the Pico with the slide locked back and then pull the slide to the rear and let it go.
Dropping the magazine was complex, too, as the gun is just damn small. I couldn’t get mags to drop free, mostly because of the size of my hand. But changing mags is easy enough with a bit of manipulation. What I’m identifying here isn’t a problem with the Pico so much as it is a limitation of the platform’s size constraints.
So what does the Pico do better than the competition?
The first thing I’d point to is the gun’s sights. These are real sights, not grooves cut into the slide. Not that you’ll use them much, but they’re there if you need them.
And the rest of the gun has been dehorned, completely. There isn’t much to hang up on. This makes it an ideal gun for pocket carry. Even with the protruding sights, the Pico moves into and out of a pocket with ease.
The trigger pull, which is up above 10 pounds (which is where my scale stops), is heavy. This is a safety of sorts, as it requires a lot of pull to drop the hammer. While the trigger travels a good ways back, it is clean. After the first couple of magazines, I found I was able to stage shots easily enough, though the Pico responds better to hard intentional pulls.
So how does it shoot?
When I began with first impressions, this is really where I was going. The gun shoots very well. I had a hard time getting exacting point of aim hits from the gun, but I’m not at all concerned about that in a pocket carry pistol. If I’m an inch wide at 7 yards, I’m not going to blame the Pico.
We shot staged shots from 7 yards. I also pulled the Pico from concealment and ran single shots and double taps. It shoots incredibly well. Double taps empty the magazine quickly, but are more effective than you would expect from a gun this size, as Beretta has worked some magic when it comes to reducing recoil. There is very little muzzle flip, so the second shot will hit just slightly higher than the first.
If I were to compare this to some of the other pocket .380s on the market, I would easily put the Pico at the top (at least when we’re talking about actually firing the gun). There is no bite. The recoil, which is hefty in a gun this small and light, doesn’t generate excess muzzle flip. This means follow-up shots are faster and more accurate–which can be important with a .380. The Pico is more responsive than any of the other mouse guns I’ve shot. If it were as easy to manipulate as it is to shoot, I might use superlatives like perfect.
Consider it this way–how it shoots is important. I’m stating something obvious here, but I’m not talking about accuracy. I’m preaching about practice. Screw the sights. You need to point shoot. Draw from the holster. Stage the trigger. Take longer shots. Shoot on the move. Shoot one handed. Shoot two handed. Shoot with your off hand. Make contact shots…. If the gun bites your hand, you will be less likely to actually practice like you should. But the Pico doesn’t hurt. Practice with this gun is easy and rewarding, and I can’t say that about any other striker-fired .380 that I know of. I could compare it to the GLOCK 42–which is an unfair comparison, I feel, because the 42 is a much larger .380. I can say similar things about some of the single actions–but they’re wider and heavier and longer. But when we are talking about shooting truly small polymer framed .380s, the Pico stands out.
And off the range?
The Pico gets dirty. We ran it hard, and had no problems, but it does get dirty. Disassembly could not be any easier. This is important for a gun that you may carry in your pocket without a holster. Think of all the lint and pocket detritus that will find its way into the gaps and crevices. You aren’t going to shoot this gun that often. You will likely carry it everyday. That means you may need to do regular maintenance even when you aren’t shooting, just to keep things clear.
One thing that is interesting about the Pico, and a trend we are seeing in the industry, is modular inserts. The Pico has an “Inox” slide, and a black frame, but there are other colors coming. This steel insert can be moved from one frame to another. This will, hypothetically, allow one serialized gun to change colors and calibers easily. If purple is your thing, I bet you’ll see one soon.
Let’s look back a minute. The Pico is a pocket .380. It is tiny. It is light. Accuracy is good. The price, which should settle out around $350, is competitive. The gun shoots well, performs great. All told, I’d say Beretta is onto something.
We got the Pico in last week and took it to the range and blew through about 200 rounds of .380 without a hiccup. Loading and unloading and manipulating the controls was frustrating, but not impossible. At the end of that day, we were impressed with the way the gun shot, but not in love with the way it handled. But the entire focus of the shoot was basic function testing.
This past weekend, we took the Pico up to a training class at the Nighthawk Academy. There, we put the Pico through some more practical drills. While capacity was an issue, and mag changes didn’t get much easier, I was amazed by how well the Pico performed. One drill required a draw from concealment, and then two shots from 25 yards, two shots from 15 yards, and then two from 7. We were moving and shooting at 12″ steel plates. It took two magazines to do it, but the Pico was up to the challenge. Shooting on the move with a tiny ass little gun isn’t easy. Shooting a 12″ target from 25 yards is hard enough.
I took it back to the range again this week, and finished up all of the ammo I’d allotted for the testing. Not one problem. No stovepipes. No failures to extract. No light strikes. Nothing. Every round ran fine. As close as I came to an actual problem was a round that didn’t feed all the way when I half-assed the slide drop. A quick (thought painful) crack on the heel of my palm seated the round and it fired and extracted as expected.
The one thing I keep coming back to is the physical strength needed to manipulate the slide. After several outings with the Pico, I’ve gotten more accustomed to how it handles, but it hasn’t loosened up. If I were looking for a handgun for someone with negligible hand strength, this wouldn’t be it. Yet this would be the best pocket .380 for that same shooter to actually shoot. These paradoxes aren’t easy to solve, either. For the rest of us, though–those with decent hand strangth–the Pico is a contender.