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Surplus Specials: Beretta M1951

Lately there have been lots of emails floating around about great surplus rifle and handgun deals, many of them I have been able to ignore but our friends at Palmetto State Armory once again made me an offer I couldn’t refuse and I took the bait. This time they enticed me with a fun piece of history the Beretta M1951 Pistol chambered in 9 x 19 millimeter.

These budget priced single stack 9mm pistols have been pouring into the hands on importers for about the last 12-18 months and prices have fluctuated wildly, but why has this Italian produced pistol that hasn’t been made in nearly 40 years captured the attention of so many shooters in the United States ? Well lets break down by the numbers what $279.00 can get you.


Model: M1951

Caliber: 9 x 19 mm

Capacity / Magazine: Single Stack 8 rounds


  • Beretta
  • Iraq (Tariq)
  • Egypt (Helwan)


  • Barrel Length: 4.5 ”
  • Overal Length: 8.0″
  • Weight: 31 Ounces


  • Slide: Steel
  • Frame: Steel
  • Grips: Wood or Polymer


  • Italy
  • Iraq
  • Egypt
  • Haiti
  • Iran
  • Israel
  • Libya
  • Tunisia
  • United Kingdom
  • Nigeria
  • Mali
  • Yemen
  • Thailand
You can tell from the lack of wear on the feed ramp this pistol didn’t see much range use
Photo:Rick Dembroski

First Impression

Our first impressions of the Beretta M1951 are almost identical to an Egyptian Helwan that I use to own and regret trading a few years ago. The M1951 looks like at the smaller grandfather of the iconic Beretta Model 92 that so many of us are familiar with. Slightly smaller in size but with a few odd quirks like a cross bolt safety and the magazine release in a weird spot, but looking at it you can see easily see the influence of the Model 1951on the Model 92

Aside from the cross bolt safety which I can’t recall seeing on another pistol the secondary “European” characteristic that I noticed on the gun is the magazine release located on the lower section of the grip panel. Many older European pistols like the Sig P210, early P226, to name a few featured a heel mounted magazine release on the bottom of the pistol, but this is different. To my recollection the only other pistol Ive shot with the release in the grip is the Russian IZH-35M target pistol. The magazine release on the side however is easier for me to use on this pistol than a traditional heel mounted one. It’s nothing that should stop anyone from giving this pistol serious consideration, just something to note.

Fit Finish & Trigger

This is where things get a bit odd for me, the outside of the pistol featured a fair amount of handling and wear marks. This was most evident on the grips as you can tell from our photos. However when we broke the pistol down it showed almost no wear on the slide, barrel, locking block, or feed ramp. Looking closely at the frame there also seemed to be a lack of wear. The overall finish was what you would expect from a former service pistol, solid deep bluing with no signs of thinning or corrosion. I attribute this lac of rust to the fact this pistol at some time was dipped in cosmoline and wrapped in wax paper.

Overall I can’t state enough how shocked I am this pistol had little to no wear on the friction points or slide, and that even the checkering on the rear of slide was nearly clean minus one small individual blemish. This pistol while 30 years older than the surplus FN FNS-9 I received earlier this year featured far less wear or signs of age.

When it came time for a trip to the range I brought along my Lyman digital trigger gauge so I could give our readers an accurate idea of the trigger pull. The Beretta M1951 features a very wide trigger that lacks any texturing on its face. In terms of trigger pull I would classify it as saying the M1951 features a rather heavy pull breaking at an average of 7 lbs 2.6 Ounces (5 shot average). While this is longer than what we are use to today, it’s important to remember who this pistol was designed to serve and when.

Because of the 2020 Presidential Election and the ammo chaos I chose to feed this pistol 150 rounds of 115grain Wolf steel cased full metal jacket ammunition for it’s abbreviated range session. I can report that the Beretta M1951 ate all 150 round from its 8 round magazine with zero issues. The groups from the 7 and 10 yard line were respectable considering its small small sight picture. Also it is worth nothing on this pistol changing out sights will most likely be impossible due to how it’s built.

Plain black front sight molded into the slide makes upgrading almost impossible
Photo: Rick Dembroski

Final Verdict

The Beretta Model 1951 in 9x19mm , is it worth the price of admission ? I would say Yes, with a stipulation attached. The first stipulation is price, if you can get one for between $279-375 I would say yes all day long. Above $375 I would shop around. There are plenty of these in the United States now with deals from AIM, Palmetto State Armory, Classic Firearms to name just a few who brought these in by the boat load. There are a few other very unique Beretta quirks or concerns that a potential shooter must think about before picking one of these up.

  • Intended Use ? (great range toy, not great for conceal carry)
  • Magazines can be expensive (expect to pay $40 or more per magazine)
  • Replacement parts availability
  • Location of magazine release and presence of lanyard loop

Overall if you look at the pro vs the cons of the Beretta M1951 for me it was a must buy. I used my own non refundable money to purchase this pistol from Palmetto State Armory. Having owned the Egyptian Helwan version of this pistol I knew exactly what I was getting. I will mention though that the Beretta version is light years better in terms of slide tightness, and overall construction. The Helwan was a very dependable pistol for me.

In my experience this pistol has been very dependable and I would consider it a must buy especially when you consider the political climate. We don’t know how long any importing of firearms will be allowed and being able to get a 9mm from a trusted company that has 500 years of experience at around $300 is a great deal. If you are interested in one I would advise checking the below listed retailers who routinely have these in stock.

Some dried cosmoline on the frame rails. Again you can see very little use on the frame
Photo: Rick Dembroski

Sources for Beretta M1951

About the Author /

Rick Dembroski spent 10 of the best years of his life as a USAF Civil Engineer, traveling the globe, drinking beer, and causing chaos. His superiors dubbed him "King of Useless Knowledge" a title that he still loves to this day. After his military career he chose to stay in the frozen north of Alaska and currently works as an Emergency Management Specialist combining his love of chaos with preparedness to ensure people know how to survive disasters.

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