I went to the Indy 1500 this weekend in the hopes of scoring a ’34 Beretta in .380 ACP, and had an outside hope of grabbing a 1951 Beretta, mostly because I’m love with the idea of a single-stack, single action 9mm Beretta.
I had thought the show was going to be a bust until right before I left, when I spotted a ’51 in a guy’s case, which I snatched up right away. At the time, I figured it was “just another M951”, and went home quite happy. It wasn’t until I got home and was looking at it side-by-side with my Jetfire that I realized this wasn’t just any old ’51 Beretta.
When looking at it next to the Jetfire, all of a sudden my brain clicked into gear; I realized that my new 1951 had a heel-type magazine release, instead of the push-button type that was standard on most ’51 Berettas. I then noticed that the barrel seemed a little longer than it should have been, which was mental trigger number 2.
The only members of the 1951 family that had a heel type mag release were the 1951E-series, the “E” indicating that they were issued to the Egyptian army. My pistol’s serial number is correct for it to be part of the E-series as well, and it even has the slightly shorter frame which makes the barrel appear to be longer than on the standard ’51 models.
I am a little sad though – the 1951E models also had a lanyard ring where the mag release would have been on the rest of the 51’s, as you can see in the pictures, the grip panels cover up where the lanyard ring should be on this model of Beretta. I popped the grips off, and sure enough could see two little faint marks of where the lanyard ring had been cut off the gun at some point in its life.
My specimen was made in 1955, and from what I can tell has not been fired very much. The magazine is aftermarket, and the grips are not original to the gun, however the mechanicals are in magnificent condition. I have to wonder what kind of journey it took to get into the United States, especially considering that it’s not wearing any import stamps. I also wonder about the history of the gun – who cut the lanyard ring off? Did some Egyptian officer decide he wanted different grips on the gun? Did the original grips get damaged, and the lanyard ring have to be cut off to install replacement grips from a non-E model ’51? Questions like this are why I love C&R collecting.
As a collector’s piece, it doesn’t have the kind of value that it would have if it still had the original grips, magazine, and lanyard ring, but it makes an interesting addition to my collection. It should also make a pretty decent shooter as well; like most single action Berettas, the trigger is wonderful with a crisp letoff and very little creep. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to take it out blasting this weekend.