The October 2016 edition of Maxim celebrates Beretta’s 500th year of firearm manufacturing.
Known among twenty-first century hunters for its shotguns and among concealed carry permit holders for its compact, potent pistols like the PX4 Storm, the Italian gun maker has a rich heritage that includes “crafting guns for everyone from Napoleon and Winston Churchill to Ernest Hemingway and James Bond.”
Maxim describes Beretta as “the oldest industrial dynasty in the world, with 15 generations of family ownership dating back to the year 1500–and very likely beyond.” Such a rich history means Beretta’s past is tied to the most recognizable names in world history.
For example, in its earliest days, the company used to take orders for “thousands of weapons” from England’s Henry VIII. And “during Napoleon Bonaparte’s reign, [the company] produced over 30,000 muskets a year for the emperor’s well-equipped armies.” During the 1850s, “the Fabbrica d’Armi Pietro Beretta, as it was then known, produced between 250 and 350 sporting guns annually.” Thirty years later they were making 7,000 to 8,000 a year.
Then came World War I and a June 29, 1915, patent “for Automatic Pistols.” The combination of the two meant that by the time World War II arrived, Beretta was not just an Italian sporting arms maker, but “a multinational [firearm] manufacturer.”
Beretta’s website explains that one of the greatest post-WWII boosts for the company came in 1985, when “the American Armed Forces and State Police Forces started using the Beretta 92 series” pistol as an official sidearm and/or duty pistol.
In 2002 an agreement was signed for the supply of 45,000 pistols (92FS) to the Spanish Guardia Civil. In the same year it also supplied about 40,000 pistols (92 series) to the National Turkish Police Force. In May a new contract was clinched for 18,744 pistols (92 series) to the US Air Force. In September 2007 another contract to supply the US Army and the US Air Force with10,576 pistols (series 92) was signed. In January, 2009 Beretta won the largest US military handgun contract since World War II to supply a total of 450,000 model 92FS pistols. In September 2012 – The US Army announced that Beretta USA has been awarded a contract for up to 100,000 92FS pistols.
Maxim stresses that Beretta is now more than a firearms manufacturer. While it is chiefly and forever a gun maker, it also a company with a focus on craftsmanship and the outdoor life in general. Thus, in 1995, Beretta “opened it flagship Beretta Gallery on New York City’s Madison Avenue, solidifying its reputation as a true outdoor luxury lifestyle brand with a complete array of products for the sportsman and enthusiast.”
Most recently the company launched the “Beretta Trident Program,” which is “a world-class collection of hunting, shooting, and outdoor experiences that encompass some of the finest hunting lodges and safari camps on earth, from Argentina and Oregon to Scotland and Tanzania, where Beretta’s field pieces can be put to optimal use.”
Patriarch and company director Ugo Gussalli Beretta succinctly sums up the company’s five centuries of gun-making and outdoor living: “If hunting equipment, be it a gun or leather cartridge bag, bears the Beretta name, it must, by definition, be the very best.”
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.