Having recently re-discovered my passion for the classic Italian “giallo” films of the 60s, 70s and 80s, I often notice the protagonists, especially the intrepid police detectives, are armed with a small, but very handy, semi-automatic pistol. Naturally, I assumed this to be a Beretta and set-out to discover what model it was likely to be and if any replicas were available.
Inspector Tellini (Giancarlo Giannini) comes face to face with the murderer in “Black Belly of the Tarantula” who has a penchant for pins (thereby saving his wife and solving the crimes…) What a guy!
This proved to be more of a challenge than I thought as IMDB does not have many of these more obscure movies listed and in the one that is given, “Tenebrae”, the gun, although clearly belonging to the Beretta Series 80 family of pistols, does the lady in question little good as she is sitting next to a window instead of looking out of it… queue the ketchup!
However, following a little research I soon discovered that in most cases the pistols shown would be either Model 1934s, Series 70s or Series 80 “Cheetahs”. All feature the attractive, smooth curves and characteristic cut-out slide of the Beretta pistol; the question was: were any replicas available? Having been quite pleasantly surprised with both the WE Tokarev and Browning, I thought I would go to their website first and was delighted to see their latest addition was a “Cheetah” Mini-92 which looks an awful lot like a Model 84FS (replicas of which I now realise are also made by Umarex in 4.5mm and Gun Heaven in both 4.5 and 6mm).
A quick word with K.Don, the owner of my local shop, soon confirmed their availability in Thailand and so it was off to Suphanburi to have a closer inspection. I should like to add that since I already owned a KJ Works M9A1, I had been toying with the idea for a while of getting the more “rounded” and, in my opinion, more attractive Model 92. However, justification for another pistol so very similar to that of the M9 was a little difficult to find (even for me!), but a smaller model built along the same lines — well, that was a different story!
Comparison between the much larger, but visually and operationally similar, Beretta 92 (in this case an M9A1 made by KJ Works, also of Taiwan)
Real Steel Background
The Beretta “Series 80” family of pistols was introduced in 1976 and were chambered for .32 ACP (models 81 and 82), .380 ACP (models 84, 85 and 86) and .22 rimfire (models 87 and 89). Differences between pistols in the series, which have latterly been given the collective name of “Cheetah”, include variations in safety and trigger operation, magazine capacity (the Model 84 features a double-stack, 13 round magazine), trigger guard appearance, visibility of the slide-stop “cut-out” and even a forward tilting barrel on the Model 86 (an interesting concept and one which I would like to pursue having recently handled, but not shot, a real “tilting-barrel” Beretta at the Nakhon Sawan Shooting Club).
The WE Cheetah “Mini-92” (Model 84FS)
Packaging and Presentation 3 / 5
The pistol is presented in standard-issue We-Tech “egg-shell” type packaging inside a robust cardboard box. Although being “one-size fits all”, the gun and magazine are unable to come into contact with each other and the box is more than adequate for safe transit (and IMHO is much better than polystyrene). A small Allen (hex) key is provided should you need to remove the piston/ blowback assembly. The manual is useful and details the various parts to the gun, how to fill with gas, load 6mm balls and how to operate the pistol (although it does not describe how to field-strip). These processes are given in Chinese, English, Spanish, German and Italian (although the exploded diagram and parts listing is only in Chinese). Two colours are available; I chose silver/ nickel over black.
Visual Accuracy 8.5 / 10
Whilst still in the shop, I “turned-detective” in order to determine which version of the Series 80 “Cheetahs” this gun by Wei-Tech most closely resembled, if any at all. The first thing I noticed was the trigger guard which is quite prominent and has a serrated front edge.
Then came the lack of a cut-out for the slide stop. Earlier versions of the “Cheetah” had a visible cut-out on the left-hand side, but this is now hidden from view on the more modern guns. Needless to say, it did not take long to deduce that this “Mini-92” bore more than a passing resemblance to a Beretta Model 84FS.
By comparing the photographs given below, it is clear to see that, markings aside, the 6mm replica is to all intents and purposes identical to that of a real 84FS (photo courtesy of “impactguns.com”). The only differences I can see are that the sights are black and the small screw under the rear sight is simply an indentation.
The markings are another matter, but at least some have been included, are relevant to the pistol and are stamped/ engraved along the frame reading “CAT.5802-MOD.8 F-CAL.9 Short”. The grips are black plastic, although I have seen wooden Beretta grips fitted to a Mini-92 which enhance the overall look of the pistol.
The same attention to detail goes for the right-hand side except where the fake extractor is black as against to silver (but full marks for fitting one as an extra item in the first place). Interestingly, the Italian proof marks “BD” (indicating it was “proved” in 1994) are shown on the trigger guard whereas they would normally be found on the frame above the trigger on a real Beretta.
The markings on the outer barrel read “CAL.9 Short” with “360 Auto” underneath… I would have thought “380” would have been more appropriate, although it is very small lettering and barely noticeable. The magazine is appropriately marked “CAL. 9 SHORT”. Again, all these markings are etched or stamped very well (they are not painted) and IMHO go towards the overall visual appeal of this gun.
Functional Accuracy 13 / 15
Functional accuracy is excellent with, as far as I am aware, everything working as it should. The recoil spring is perfectly balanced for this kind of gun and feels very realistic when chambering a round (it also sounds the part, too). The serrations on the rear of the slide have a “sharp” feel to them and allow for a very positive grip between finger and thumb. The gun works in both double and single action. To operate in double action, a ball must first be loaded by pulling back on the slide. The safety switch is then moved up in order to decock the hammer thereby making it “safe”. Pushing down on the safety will then allow the gun to be fired. The trigger pull is extremely smooth in both double and single action. The hammer may also be released manually.
Ready for shooting in “double-action” with the safety applied and the hammer at the half-cock position. The sights are an interesting variation to the more commonly found “three-dot” pattern.
Being a WE gun, one expects the internal mechanism to closely resemble its real counterpart, and it doesn’t fail to deliver. Field stripping is carried-out in a straight-forward fashion by removing the magazine, checking the breech is empty (not really necessary on 6mm “airsoft” as the propellant is housed in the magazine, but good practice none the less), pushing the small button on the left-hand side of the frame and rotating the lever on the opposite side down through 90°. The slide may then be moved forward, the guide rod and recoil spring removed followed by the outer barrel and hop-up assembly which slides slightly forward to clear the loading nozzle and down (the barrel and hop-up are pinned together as one unit). The outer barrel is threaded for a silencer.
Shooting 30 / 40
Green Gas/ propane is loaded in the base of the magazine and I have not experienced any leaks so far. The follower is rather short, but may still be caught and held down by a thumb nail whilst 6mm balls are loaded from the top. The pistol sits nicely in the hand, is well balanced and very enjoyable to shoot. The recoil is crisp and relatively strong for a gas-blowback pistol, producing muzzle velocities in the region of 295 +/- 5 fps using 0.20g ammunition (which I have found to suit it best). The slide locks back when the last shot is fired and may be released by depressing the slide stop or by pulling back and releasing the slide.
IMHO, it would be great if WE were to introduce slightly more powerful versions of their guns, perhaps approaching two joules of muzzle energy, for those wishing to use them for target shooting/ plinking as against to skirmishing.
The following targets were shot using a two-handed stance from 18 feet (5.5m). Both were shot as two sets of five shots at each silhouette. I think it is fair to say that a 1 ½ inch grouping is quite easily achievable, albeit having to aim about 1 ½ inches above POI. The magazine will hold fifteen 6mm “double-stacked” balls with about four full mags (cheers Marc!) from a single charge of gas. It seems to suffer little from the “cooldown” effect.
The hop-up is not very effective, with BBs starting to fall at longer ranges of greater than 15m (although lateral accuracy is still good). In fact, adjusting the hop-up wheel on mine seemed to make very little difference at all.
Quality and Reliability 13 / 15
I have had this pistol for a little over a month and, apart from the hop-up, have not experienced any problems so far. It is made of metal alloy and feels solid and well assembled. Even with the slide removed, there are no extraneous movements to any of the parts; with the slide fitted it feels just right. I was slightly concerned with what appeared to be a very small abrasion to a piece of metal in the hammer assembly (see photo).
However, this was also present on another Mini-92 in the shop and has not deteriorated in any way, even when viewed through a magnifying glass. I would suggest this is part of the original manufacture/ design. The silver/ nickel finish seems to be good and on a par with that of their Tokarev TT-33.
Overall Impression 13 / 15
My overall impression of the WE Mini-92 is an extremely good one. It both feels and operates in a very realistic fashion and, markings aside, should be considered to be a fine replica of a Beretta Model 84FS. One would hope that a licensed version may be introduced at some point in the future. My only other real comment would be to reiterate that slightly more powerful versions be made available, perhaps using an easily identifiable dual-magazine system, for those of us who simply wish to participate in a little informal target shooting at home.
Complete with black gloves and sunglasses (stilettos, Fedoras and of course an alibi come extra!)
Total Score 80.5 / 100
Review by Adrian. Adrian is also a moderator for the Umarex Boys Club Forums.