Saturday, December 6, 2008

Beretta Firearms: Pure Lombard Steel

Beretta has been mentioned numerous times here, but we have not, until now, actually placed an entry for Beretta Firearms. Our friend Eurika reminded us, and he used the term "Pure Lombard Steel." Beretta is thought of by most to have long been, and still is, the finest arms manufacturer in the world. In particular, the finest hunting shotgun in the world. The company was established by the Beretta family in 1526, and has been in continuous operation since that time. Almost five hundred years. It could be said that the Brescians invented the gun, or the "hand held cannon" as it was called in the early era of development. The company armed the Venetian Republic during it's days of glory, and today arms all five branches of the U.S. military.

"If it bears the Beretta name, it will be the best" (longtime Beretta motto)


Beretta (from Wikipedia)

Fabbrica d'Armi Pietro Beretta is a major Italian firearm manufacturing company. Its firearms are used world-wide by civilians, police, and armies. Beretta is one of the world's oldest corporations, it has been owned by the same family for some five hundred years. The Beretta company was established in 1526, when gunsmith Maestro Bartolomeo Beretta, of Gardone Val Trompia (Brescia, Lombardy, Italy), was paid 296 ducats in payment for 185 arquebus barrels by the Arsenal of Venice. The bills of sale for the order of those firearms are in the firm's archives.


In 1918, the Beretta Model 1918 was the second submachinegun the Italian army fielded. Beretta manufactured rifles and pistols for the Italian military until the 1943 Armistice between Italy and the Allied forces during World War II. With the Wehrmacht's control of northern Italy, the Germans seized Beretta and continued producing arms until the 1945 German surrender in Italy. In that time, the exterior finish of the weapons was much inferior to both the pre-war and mid-war weapons, but their operation remained excellent. The last shipment of Type I rifles left Venice for Japan in a U-boat in 1942.

After World War II, Beretta was actively involved in repairing the American M1 Garand rifles given to Italy by the U.S. Beretta modified the M1 into the Beretta BM-59 rifle, which is similar to the M14 battle rifle; armourers consider the BM-59 rifle superior to the M14 rifle, because it is more accurate.


Today, the company is owned by Ugo Gussalli Beretta, a direct descendant of Bartolomeo, and is run by him and his sons, Franco and Pietro. (The traditional father-to-son Beretta dynasty was interrupted when Ugo Gussalli Beretta assumed the firm's control; uncles Carlo and Giuseppe Beretta were childless; Carlo adopted Ugo, son of sister Giuseppina Gussalli, and named him a Beretta.)

Beretta is known for its broad range of fire arms: side-by-side shotguns, over-and-under shotguns, self-loading shotguns, hunting rifles, express rifles, assault rifles, submachine guns, lever bolt-action rifles, single-action revolvers, double-action revolvers, and semi-automatic pistols. The parent company, Beretta Holding, also owns Beretta USA, Benelli, Franchi, SAKO, Stoeger, Tikka, Uberti, the Burris Optics company and a twenty per cent interest of the Browning arms company.

This pistol is the official side arm of several first world armies. The 92FS model is the official side arm of the United States military, designated the M9 Pistol.

In 1985, Beretta was chosen after a controversial competition to produce the M9 9mm Parabellum side arm for the U.S. military, winning a contract for 500,000 pistols. A condition of the original agreement was domestic fabrication of the M9 military pistol. The Beretta USA factory, in Accokeek, Maryland, manufactures military, police, and civilian pistols.

Wikipedia Beretta entry link with more links and information


A Dynasty for Over Four Centuries (from

In 1526 Mastro Bartolomeo Beretta (1490 – 1565/68) of Gardone received 296 ducats as payment for 185 arquebus barrels sold to the Arsenal of Venice. Already in production in the early 1500s, Beretta products were chosen by the highly discriminating Republic of Venice because of their excellence. As the Beretta name became synonymous with uncompromising quality, design, materials, construction and performance, word spread beyond the Italian borders, establishing a tradition that has carried over, uninterrupted, through fifteen generations of Berettas. The trade secrets and attention to detail Jacopo (1520/25 – ...) inherited from his father Bartolomeo were passed on to his own son Giovannino (1550 – post 1577), then to his grandson Giovan Antonio (1577 – post 1649) – on and on from one century to the next.

In the early 1800s Pietro Antonio Beretta (1791 – 1853), in spite of difficulties arising from constant wars and foreign domination, traveled throughout Italy to demonstrate the superior quality of his products and collect orders. Pietro Antonio’s son Giuseppe (1840 – 1903) continued the arduous effort begun by his father, creating new opportunities for the company through international distribution.

In the early 1900s Pietro (1870 – 1957) took the Company reins, introducing modernized manufacturing methods, many patents for mechanisms and simplified construction, consequently establishing Beretta, the first Italian firearms maker, as one of the most modern firearms production facilities in the world. The modernization process was continued by the sons Giuseppe (1906 – 1993) and Carlo (1908 – 1984), securing the Company’s multinational character with commercial and production activity in numerous European countries and the United States. These efforts created successful ventures in the military, law enforcement and private sectors.

Beretta Today

Today, under the leadership of Cav. Ugo Gussalli Beretta (center) and his sons, Franco (left) and Pietro (right), Beretta embarks on the 3rd Millennium with the benefit of centuries of experience. That experience, combined with investments in technology, organization and growing product lines, has prepared Beretta for the demands of the global market of the 21st century.

For more information about the history and heritage of Beretta, please visit our Beretta International website at:

Doing Business with Beretta U.S.A.

Beretta U.S.A. solicits and encourages small and small disadvantaged businesses to compete for our subcontracts. Review our policy online.


The Beretta (taken from the book 'Famous Pistols and Hand Guns'; 1977; A. J. R. Cormack)

Formed before 1680, the firm of Beretta has a history that follows closely the development of the pistol from its beginnings. A family firm which has always been and still is in the Beretta family, it continues to reflect in the mass-production age the pride of craftsmanship which was lavished on the first hand-made weapons.

From a notebook dated 1732, which is now in the Beretta archives, it can be established that the firm as such was originally founded in 1680. However, as the Valley of Trompia, where Beretta was established, had been a center for arms makers much earlier, it is more than possible that the forefathers of the founder Pietro Beretta had been engaged in the trade. As early as 1420, the tradesmen of the area had united into a guild to manufacture muzzle-loading weapons. The forge used by the Beretta family had a door lintel dated 1500, which would indicate that the family was in the trade from the start. This lintel is now incorporated in the present factory building as part of the tradition handed down.

Pietro Beretta de Lodovico at the age of 30, founded a barrel shop in 1680, following his family's long association with firearms and specifically with forging. The one fact above all, which made the continuance of the family concern possible, was that each of the marriages during the early years turned out to be blessed with large numbers of children. Pietro Beretta was succeeded by the eldest of his eight sons, Pier Guiseppe, who in turn had nine children, all of whom worked in the firm. Pier Antonio Lodovico, born in 1729, the eldest of Pier Guiseppe's nine children, assumed command and in turn produced eight children, the eldest of whom--Pier Guiseppe Antonio, took over the firm upon this father's death.

In succession there followed Pier Antonio, a further Pier Guiseppe Antonio, Pietro, and finally the present Chairman Pier Guiseppe and his brother Pier Carlo his assistant. Under these energetic leaders the factory grew, and in 1880 the first of the modern production plants was set up. The number of employees also mounted from 118 in 1903, to 300 in 1918, and today to 1,600. The present factory, which produces every part of the weapons including bolts, springs, woodwork, and barrels, now covers 49,000 meters and uses some fifteen tons of iron and six tons of wood per year. Because Beretta produces every part of the weapons the quality, which was evident in the early days, can be retained today and assured in the future.


A few other links:

Beretta Defense (military arms)

Beretta World (information site)

BerettaWeb (information site)


We will continue to cover any Beretta related subjects in the future. If you check into it, and/or order the Beretta USA catalog, you will see that they produce a whole line of other products. These include superb knives, clothing, hunting products (shoes, camoflague, etc.).
You can find retail dealers in your area which carry these products. Also, if you check, there are many book about Beretta, such as 'The World of Beretta: An International Legend' (R.L. Wilson; 2006; hardcover).

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