Gun Review: Beretta 93R «Raffica»

It seems I can’t throw a rock these days without hitting someone who swears up and down that the Beretta 93R is the best gun ever created…because they’ve used it in a video game. Despite the limited use of the firearm in the wild, its unique design and ubiquitous inclusion in first person shooter games have made it one of the more commonly used and discussed machine pistols ever designed. Hype aside, though, is it any good? I mean in real life. Ardent fanboy testimonials aside, I had to find out for myself . . .

Let’s get this out of the way up front: yes, the 93R in question really is nickel plated. I know, it’s positively pimp-tastic. Apparently this gun came into Kevin Brittingham’s posession after it was used as a prop in a movie, hence the blinged-out color scheme. But the internal parts are all original, and that’s what really matters.

93R, c Nick Leghorn

The 93R (R for “raffica” or “burst”) was Italy’s answer to the need for a concealable firearm that could put a whole lot of lead downrange very quickly. When the 93R came along, the MP5 was a still recent invention and apparently despite the H&K’s cool design, the Italians needed something less controllable and more concealable. So Beretta took their then-relatively new model 92 handgun, added a few bells and whistles and called it the 93R.

The safety for the gun is mounted on the same pin as the mode selector (and mounted to the frame instead of the slide, for once). but the two look and feel very different to keep possible confusion to a minimum. The safety is rounded and the mode selector is a flat switch. The gun is available in only a 3-round burst option, not the traditional full auto. The switch is slightly difficult to engage on a flat range, so I’m guessing that trying to switch from semi to burst under pressure would be downright impossible.

93R, c Nick Leghorn

First on the list of unique features is the skeletonized stock. In order to make the gun more controllable in full auto mode, Beretta added an optional stock that attached to the toe of the grip. The stock itself folds up into a package roughly as long as the barrel of the gun and not much thicker. It’s a nifty design and actually works pretty well. Then again, the shape and location of the stock make getting a cheek weld damn near impossible. It’s more of a brace than a stock, really.

Another change to the external design is the elongated triggerguard and angled foregrip. Long before Magpul made them cool, the 93R sported a folding angled foregrip that allowed the shooter to apply some downward pressure on the muzzle and keep it from rising too fast in burst mode. The triggerguard was also elongated to allow the shooter to hook his support-hand thumb in there, providing a little more stability.

93R, c Nick Leghorn

The 93R’s barrel was also extended to allow for the addition of a compensator to re-direct the gasses in an upward direction. The idea is to help reduce barrel climb. Unfortunately, despite all of those changes, none of them really help much. The gun is still the least controllable full-auto firearm I have ever fired.

The 93R near impossible to keep on target. Anything over 10 yards and all bets were off after the first round. In a close quarters environment, especially where stealth is required, I could see it being an effective firearm and a good choice. But if there is any other option available — and I mean ANY other option — I’d take it. Given how hard it is to control, I might actually prefer a Smith J-frame over this thing in full-auto.

The ergonomics of the gun itself are actually pretty good, especially the angled foregrip. It’s a very well thought out design and the fit and finish on the gun are excellent. It looks like the slide was milled with a little more meat left on the gun, probably in an effort to increase durability. Machine pistols have a nasty tendency for the slide to snap in half while firing and cause serious injury to the operator, so extra material there is much appreciated.

93R, c Nick Leghorn

Overall, the Beretta 93R is a good gun for what it is. It’s nicely designed, works well enough and is downright pretty to look at. But when you actually get a chance to get your hands on one, you find out pretty quickly that it’s more trouble than its worth. Which, strangely enough, describes Italian women pretty well, too.

Let me put it this way: I had the 93R on a range for a couple hours with a practically inexhaustible ammo supply and after two magazines, I didn’t feel the need to shoot it anymore. It’s a nifty design and a great looking gun, but when you’re actually shooting it the novelty wears off fast. It may be the king of the machine pistols, but it’s not something that I’d use in combat except as an extreme last resort.

Beretta 93R

Caliber: 9mm
Barrel: 125mm
Size: 240mm
Weight: 2.5 lbs. empty
Capacity: 20 round magazine
MSRP: $65,000

Ratings (Out of Five Stars):
All ratings are relative compared to the other weapons in the gun’s category.

Accuracy: *
Accurate at “bad breath” distance, but not much further.

Ergonomics: * * * *
The stock sucks, but the handgun is golden otherwise.

Ergonomics Firing: * *
Did I mention that the stock sucks?

Customization: N/A

Overall Rating: * *
It’s pretty…and that’s about all it has going for it. There’s a reason that the 93R never went into widespread usage, namely, it sucks. Except when used in video games, apparently.

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