The Beretta Model 84: An Also-Ran or Smart Design?

One of those firearms I always had an interest in back in the early 90s was the Beretta Model 84. There are several iterations of the pistol. Basically, it is a blowback-operated 380 ACP that takes a double-stack magazine. They often go by the commercial name “Cheetah.”

The price was not insanely high, but when I asked my FFL buddy at the time if he could get one his answer was, “Why? It’s about the same size as the 9mm version and not that much cheaper.”

I kept those words in the back of my head for many years as I looked for other firearms closer to my wheelhouse and never gave it much thought until I fell into a used one. The problem was that it came with no magazine and the only one I could find was a post-ban 10-round mag.

The Beretta Model 84 is an interesting model.

Beretta Model 84BB with CRKT knife
The Beretta Model 84BB is a double-stack 380 pistol that shoots more comfortably than any other in its class.

This one was not the more common commercial variant that was made for the US and marked “Cheetah”. This was made for the international market and is simply marked “Model 84 BB” and the caliber is listed as “9mm Short”. It was imported from Israel and most likely saw use as a security guard’s pistol.

What the BB designation indicates are subtle changes over the Model B such as plastic grips instead of smooth wood, white dot sights (which were now faded completely), and improved cocking serrations on the rear of the slide. Beretta would go on to design an “F” and “FS” model which can be identified by its squared-off trigger guard along with other slight changes.

Eventually, I found a proper-sized magazine, albeit an older one made in the 90s that was blocked to 10 rounds. I would come to find out that I gave more for it than what it was worth. I had no idea that not only was Beretta still making the magazine, but I could buy them from GunMag Warehouse and it held the full 13 rounds.

13-round magazine
The Beretta 84 series magazine holds 13 rounds of 380 ACP.

I’ve since learned that Beretta was importing small runs of the Model 84FS as late as 2017. They have recently upgraded the Cheetah as the Model 80X and displayed the pistols at the 2023 Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. These new pistols have a slightly different angle to the grip frame and do not use the older Model 84 magazines.

If you have one of these older pistols, you should take a look at these magazines as they seem to solve feeding issues for some people where their old magazine springs have lost a bit of tension and the pistol does not feed reliably anymore.

Range Trip

So, with a new magazine for the Beretta Model 84 and a few boxes of CCI Blazer Brass 380 ACP, I headed out to the range.

At 25 feet, you can shoot an inch and a half inside the X-ring all day. That’s about the limit I recommend for 380 ACP for my ability and the characteristics of the round. If I could figure out a good way to replace the milled in factory sights, I might change that.


The Beretta Model 84BB is a simple double-action blowback-operated pistol. The sights are molded into the open slide and the trigger pull is long and typically in the 9-pound range with a long pull in double-action mode. Single-action is much lighter with a 4-pound break, but still on the long side with noticeable resistance.

My preference is to carry this one in condition one with a round in the chamber, hammer to the rear, and the safety engaged, much like you would carry a 1911.

Performance is the hallmark of these pistols. On my range excursion, I experienced zero issues with regard to feeding and firing and liked the accuracy.

The extra weight and wide size of the frame are great at mitigating felt recoil and help make for a very accurate and reliable pistol. If these guns have an Achilles heel, it is the finish can quickly go to hell if it is not maintained properly, as you can see from the pics.

beretta 84, left profile
This Beretta 84BB shows a lifetime of hard use beyond holster wear.
380 pistol right profile
The loss of finish on this Beretta 84BB makes it a good candidate for a custom Cerakote finish.

Still relevant?

A double-stack 380 ACP handgun with a similar profile to most of the single-stacks in this category was an idea that was years ahead of its time. It was popular in countries where civilians are not allowed to own firearms chambered in 9mm, and of course, with shooters in the US who liked Beretta and found the Model 92 a bit too big to carry. Beretta has me very interested in trying out their new Model 80X, it should offer a bit of a longer grip, a rail, and of course an optic mounting plate for a red dot.

Beretta 92S and Beretta 84
As you can see, the Beretta 84 is quite a bit smaller than the classic Beretta 92 pistol.

Many shooters write these pistols off as an “also ran.” I think it’s a mistake to dismiss them like that. They are priced a bit on the high side. The older models had an MSRP of $500 when they were in production. Over the past few years, you either get a beater like this one for about $200-$300 or you can find a pristine one that was hoarded in a safe for closer to $900. That approaches the MSRP of the Beretta 80X at $999.

As 380 ACP has become more potent over the years, this really makes for a very well-thought-out contender for a modern concealed carry handgun. Low recoil, somewhat smaller size, and 10-13 rounds in the magazine makes for something easier to shoot than a Walther PPK or SIG P232.

Beretta 84 BB Specifications

Make: Beretta
Model: 84BB (Cheetah)
Caliber: 380 ACP
OAL: 8.8-inches
Bbl length: 3.8-inches
Weight: 23 oz.
Capacity: 13 rounds

Beretta Model 80 Series
The Beretta Model 80 series is sized midway between the Beretta Model 90 Series (Top) and the smaller Model 70 series (bottom).
Mike “the Mook” Searson is a veteran writer who began his career in firearms at the Camp Pendleton School for Destructive Boys at age 17.  He has worked in the firearms industry his entire life and is both an experienced gunsmith and ballistician. Mike has been writing about guns and knives for numerous publications for years- over 3,000 articles worth, for a wide array of titles. He also consults with the film industry on the subject of weapons. You can learn more about him at or follow him on Twitter, @MikeSearson. He's also on Instagram @mikespartansearson.

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