When I first picked up the Beretta 80x Cheetah handgun, I loved everything about the gun except the method of operation and the caliber. And to be honest, it took the advice of a friend who put the gun’s philosophy of use into perspective to really get my head wrapped around the gun.
Because for me – at least when it comes to self-defense handguns – it’s 9mm parabellum or bust. Yes, smaller calibers can and do work to stop threats. But if I’m carrying a gun for the same reason I own a fire extinguisher, I want as much fight-stopping capability as I can feasibly handle and conceal.
This means I’m not going to strap a .44 Magnum revolver on when going for a jog, but I’m also not going to carry a .25 ACP pocket pistol. This is why I initially scoffed at the 80x’s size and caliber – it’s not much smaller than the compact 92, while being chambered in a less effective cartridge. This had me scratching my head as to why someone would choose this gun over something smaller, lighter, and more powerful.
You might have the same questions I did, so let’s take a look at the new Beretta 80x and delve into what it is and, more importantly, what it is not.
Beretta 80x Cheetah Handgun – .380 ACP
The Beretta 80x Cheetah is a semi-automatic, direct blowback, magazine-fed pistol chambered in .380 ACP. The magazines are stagger-column and hold an impressive 13+1 rounds of ammo. The 80x is a double/single-action handgun with a frame-mounted safety (unlike the full-sized 92FS) that also functions as a de-cocker when pushed all the way upward.
On a related note, I really like how small and slim the magazines are. They practically disappear in a pants pocket, to the point where a shooter could store one in each pocket to have an extra 26 rounds at the ready.
The double-action trigger pull feels around six pounds, with a lighter four-pound break to drop the hammer. But both are very shootable.
The 80x features the same iconic post-and-notch iron sights (with white dot accents) as the full-sized 9mm Beretta 92FS/M9, but the rear sight hides an interesting new addition: an optics plate. The original Beretta Cheetah obviously lacked this since compact pistol optics wouldn’t be invented for nearly another 30 years.
That said, much of the gun’s design is unchanged from the original 80-series handguns – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While sure, this does mean that the gun is going to be larger and heavier than its contemporary competitors – but does that mean it’s not a viable carry pistol?
No, because it still retains more than just the charm of the original gun.
Put simply, if you’re a fan of the ergonomics of Beretta’s 92-series pistols, you’re going to love the way this gun feels in your hand. And that’s not for the most obvious reasons either; the 80x’s grip isn’t just similar to a 92’s; it’s nearly identical. So much so that with the grip panels removed, the frames on both pistols are the exact same width. This is a tremendous boon to the shootability of the gun, as it easily fills the shooter’s hands and gives them an excellent grip on the gun. But simultaneously, it also makes the gun very difficult to conceal compared to more modern designs.
Just like the spotter big-cat the pistol is named after, the new Beretta 80x runs incredibly. I fired nearly 500 rounds of mixed .380 ACP Ammunition through the 80x without a single malfunction whatsoever. I primarily used Winchester FMJ, Fiocchi FMJ, and a few mags of Hornady defensive ammo mixed with 200 rounds of Norma NXD (Non-Expanding Defensive Ammo) 56gr high-velocity ammo. Accuracy was excellent with the exception of at one point, the rear sight plate started to come loose – but that was user-error since I removed said plate and didn’t tighten the screws to spec.
Even without an optic, I was able to run my competition plate rack easily – although not with the same speed I would with a full-sized handgun. Still, compared to another all-steel .380 carry gun like the Walther PPK, this thing is very pleasant to shoot and manipulate overall. That said, it does have more felt recoil than you would expect from a hefty, compact gun due to its use of direct blowback operation.
Another benefit of its size is how easy it is to reload; the magazine release is easy to find but not so large that you’ll drop mags on accident, and the slide release is much the same. But given its diminutive slide and how the safety partially obstructs the rear serrations on it, I would recommend using the slide release over a sling-shot technique.
Final Verdict: Beretta 80x Pros VS Cons
I want to preface this next part with the statement that I really like this pistol – and not just because I’m a gun-hipster with a taste for the odd and esoteric. But if you’re looking to buy a concealed-carry handgun, it’s important to find the best gun for you. That means taking both the objective facts and features of a gun and weighing them against more subjective elements like how the gun feels.
- Grip fills the hand and feels great.
- Magazine release is easy to use.
- Sights are very usable, and the pistol can accept an optic
- Smooth, crisp trigger.
- Good capacity.
- Very reliable.
- Too large for deep concealment.
- Disproportionately stout recoil for its caliber.
- Chambered in .380 ACP.
- Doesn’t include an optics plate.
Overall the Beretta 80x Cheetah is a great, reliable, and accurate gun that suffers from an identity crisis. It’s too large and heavy to stuff in a pants pocket, and despite being large enough to be chambered in 9mm parabellum, isn’t. Yes, I know that 9mm para is too much for blowback operation in a compact handgun, but if the engineers had made this gun single-stack, 9mm and using the same locked breech (albeit shrunk down) from the full-sized 92FS, it would be my ideal carry gun. One that would have the sexy Italian lines of the M9 is a concealable package.
That said, Beretta 80x Cheetah Pistol makes for a fun gun to plink targets with at the range, but with the plethora of smaller, lighter 9mm handguns on the market today, it’s a tough sell as a carry gun.
Beretta 80x Cheetah Pistol Specs:
- Model Code J80XBLK13
- UPC 082442969411
- Model Name 80X Cheetah Black
- Brand Beretta Arms
- MSRP $799.00
- Caliber .380
- Rounds 13
- Action Single/Double
- Barrel length (mm)99
- Barrel length (in)3.9
- Caliber 380 auto | 9 short
- Historical N
- LockingSystem blow back
- Magazine 10 -13
- Overall height (mm)123
- Overall height (in)4.9
- Overall length (mm)175
- Overall length (in)6.8
- Overall width (mm)35
- Overall width (in)1.4
- Weight unloaded (g)680
- Weight unloaded (OZ)25
About Jim Grant
Jim is one of the elite editors for AmmoLand.com, who in addition to his mastery of prose, can wield a camera with expert finesse. He loves anything and everything guns but holds firearms from the Cold War in a special place in his heart.
When he’s not reviewing guns or shooting for fun and competition, Jim can be found hiking and hunting with his wife Kimberly, their son, and their dog Peanut in the South Carolina low country.