Most replicas are based on successful and well-known pistols; The Colt 1911, Beretta 92 and various models of Glock have long and distinguished histories and all have spawned lots of popular replicas. The Anics Beretta A-9000S however, is a Russian-made replica of the Italian Beretta 9000S-F pistol. The original was an Italian sports-car of pistols – styled by a prestigious design house, it featured fantastic styling but sadly wasn’t terribly practical and was quietly dropped from the Beretta range after less than four years. The replica shares all the flaws of the original, but it’s an interesting pistol and fun to shoot.
Real steel background
For more information about Beretta, please see the WE Bulldog review (link at the bottom of this article).
In 2001 Beretta launched their first polymer framed pistol; the Beretta 9000S. Technically, the 9000S was fairly straightforward – it was a compact, polymer framed semi-automatic pistol with the traditional Beretta open-topped slide. It was available chambered for either 9mm or .40 S&W rounds. The Pistol was offered as the model D, with double action only and without a safety catch or de-cocking lever, or as the Model F with double and single action and complete with combined safety catch/decocker. The pistol was intended chiefly as a concealed-carry weapon for civilian use.
It’s the visual design of the 9000S that is particularly interesting – it would probably be fair to describe this as a designer pistol. Beretta contracted out the visual design to another Italian concern – the Giorgietto Giugiaro Design group based in Torino. This group was responsible for such iconic automotive designs as the Lotus Esprit, De Lorean DMC-12 and Maserati Spyder though it had very little experience of firearm design.
Looking at the pistol, it’s easy to see that something other than strict functional or engineering requirements dictated the design. Take that odd, elongated, egg shaped takedown button/lever – it must be much more difficult and costly to manufacture than a regularly shaped item. Same with the slide release, safety catch and magazine release. All share swoopy, curved styling cues which reference features on the frame and grip. Compare this to the brutal simplicity of something like a Glock and it’s easy to see that the 9000S is the product of a very different design philosophy. This is a pistol designed specifically to look good in a Gucci handbag or a Salvatore Ferragamo shoulder holster.
Sadly, though it looked good, the 9000s had a number of practical problems. Ergonomically it’s not great – the grip is both chunky and rather short, so it doesn’t really suit large or small hands and there is a long reach to the trigger in double action. The hammer is small and recessed into the slide, making cocking imprecise and the foresight is large and angular, providing a potential snagging hazard for concealed carry. The smooth, curved shape of the slide may look good, but the small grip area is not easy to hold firmly, making racking the slide difficult. In operation the 9000S proved to be less than totally reliable, gaining a reputation for frequent jamming. It was also very heavy for a concealed-carry weapon at almost 1kg loaded. It didn’t sell well and was dropped from the Beretta range after less than four years (though some of the visual design cues were repeated on the much more successful PX-4 Storm pistol).
The Anics A-9000S
Anics Group JSC is a Moscow-based engineering company which has been producing CO2 powered replica airguns since 1995. The company uses a process known as Metal Injection Moulding (MIM) to produce accurate large metal parts without machining (this process is used to produce the slide of this replica). The Anics A-9000S is a licensed replica of the Beretta 9000S-F. It shoots either .177 pellets or 4.5mm lead BBs from a 22 round conveyor style magazine through a 4.5″ rifled barrel. CO2 is stored in the grip and the slide is moveable (though not blowback). The frame and grip are of polymer construction while the slide and internal parts are metal.
Calibre: .177mm pellet/4.5mm BB
Capacity: 22 round conveyor type magazine
Barrel length: 4.5″ rifled
Weight: 1.2 pounds
Sights: Non-adjustable, white dot
Packaging and presentation 4/5
The Anics A-9000S comes in a good quality black hard case lined with eggshell foam. In addition to a brief user manual and conveyor magazine, the package also includes a useful tool for tamping down pellets into the magazine and a cleaning rod.
Visual accuracy 9/10
Beretta 9000S (left), Anics A-9000S (right)
The Anics A-9000S is an extremely accurate visual replica of the Beretta 9000. Every curve and whorl of the frame, grip and slide are accurately reproduced. The complex shapes of the safety, magazine release, slide release and takedown button are also all faithfully replicated. The overall size and profile are very close to the original. In fact, the only visible differences between original and replica are a shiny slide on the Anics version and painted rather than engraved markings on the slide.
As a licensed replica, the Anics A-9000S includes a Beretta logo on the lower part of the grip.
Functional accuracy 10/15
Functional accuracy is good on the A-9000S. All controls (safety/decocker, magazine release, slide release and takedown button) look and operate as they do on the original. The slide on the replica is movable and can be locked back, but this isn’t a blowback pistol so the slide does not move when shooting.
Beretta 9000S with slide locked back (left), Anics A-9000S (right)
This pistol has a drop-out magazine, though this isn’t full sized. The only feature on the original which isn’t replicated is the distinctive upward tilt of the barrel when the slide is pulled fully back. It’s also notable that the slide on the replica can be pulled back only around ½” compared to over 1″ on the original.
The A-9000S can be field stripped as per the original through use of the takedown button on the lower front of the left side of the frame. For such a small pistol, the 1.2 pound weight feels good, though this is just half the weight of the real pistol!
Before shooting the Anics A-9000S you must first master the slightly idiosyncratic CO2 and pellet loading procedure. Loading CO2 involves lifting the piercing flap, which allows the CO2 retaining gate to open. The CO2 cartridge can then be inserted and the retaining gate closed. A knurled screw is then finger tightened and finally the piercing flap is closed. Generally loading CO2 is done without loss of gas, though it’s best to give the piercing flap a sharp slap to close cleanly. I have occasionally found that tightening the screw and closing the flap fails to pierce the CO2 – particularly on those cartridges where the piercing face is slightly recessed. In these cases, a blade screwdriver can be used to further tighten the screw, and this usually achieves leak-free piercing. Overall, loading CO2 isn’t difficult, just different to most other CO2 pistols.
Loading the conveyor magazine is a little fiddly. A plastic window in the magazine is opened to reveal four pellet chambers. Pellets are pressed into the chambers, though they must also be carefully tamped down to avoid jamming. The conveyor is then moved on to reveal the next four chambers, and so on. Due to the design of the magazine, the Anics A-9000 can only accommodate .177 pellets of up to 7.6mm length – anything longer simply won’t fit. When all chambers are loaded, the plastic window is closed and the magazine inserted in the grip. Loading requires a degree of care and isn’t particularly quick, but at least when you’re done you have 22 shots before re-loading. Loading lead BBs is done in precisely the same way.
Just as on the real weapon, the ambidextrous three-position safety catch incorporates a de-cocker. The lower position is “fire”, the middle position is “safe” and the upper position safely de-cocks the hammer to a half-cocked position. Moving the catch to the “safe” position then safely drops the hammer all the way. The non-adjustable front and rear sights include white dots, with the foresight incorporating a particularly large and easily acquired dot.
Cocking the hammer for single action shooting, or the first part of the trigger pull in double action also indexes the conveyor magazine to bring the next pellet to the firing point. The movement of the conveyor can clearly be felt even when manually cocking the small hammer and the DA trigger pull is very long and fairly heavy. The long, heavy DA trigger action is exacerbated by the shape of the trigger, which is broad and angular. However, the action is notably smoother than an Anics Berkut pistol which I used to own and which had a similar design.
Slide locked back – this requires more effort than you might imagine
With the hammer cocked, the single action pull and release are light and crisp with no creep. It would be nice to have the option of pulling back the slide to cock the hammer for SA shooting, but sadly this isn’t really feasible. The slide features a very strong return spring and racking the slide also cocks the hammer and indexes the magazine. A fair amount of effort is thus required and this, combined with the curved shape of the slide, shallow serrations, small grip area and slippery black paint mean that racking the slide requires the grip and tenacity of an angry gorilla.
The grip on the A-9000, just like the original, is rather short but also fairly broad. So those with average to large sized hands may find that it’s easier to hold with the little finger below the grip. People with smaller hands may not have this problem, but they will struggle with the broad grip and long reach to the trigger in double action.
The pistol shoots with a loud and satisfactory bang. Power is reasonable; using RWS Hobby 7.0gr pellets on a very chilly December day I got an average fps of 365 for a six shot string (with a high of 374 and a low of 356). I haven’t tried shooting with lead BBs. I can generally get 80 – 100 shots from a single CO2 without any major loss of power.
22 rapid shots, six yards, RWS Hobby pellets.
I generally get groups in the order of around 1” – 1½” at six yards, and at that range it’s hitting on target for windage, but about ½” above the point of aim. However, within any full magazine I tend to get two or three flyers which can strike anything up to 3” from the point of aim. These are unpredictable, though it does appear that the more shots I fire in quick succession, the more accurate it gets. I generally shoot in single-action only. I do find that for some reason this pistol is very sensitive to grip and technique. It is necessary to be very focussed on stance, breathing and aimpoint to get the best out of it.
Quality and reliability 14/15
The Anics-9000S gives the impression of very high quality construction and finish. I bought my A-9000S as a well-used second-hand example and it shows almost no signs of wear internally or externally. I have had no misfeeds or jams with this pistol, though I know from experience of other Anics pistols that this is dependent on carefully tamping down each pellet while loading the conveyor magazine.
I’m not aware of any reported reliability problems with this pistol.
Overall Impression 10/15
The Anics A-9000S reminds me strongly of the Baikal MP-654K Makarov air pistol. It has the same sturdy, well finished feel though the DA trigger pull on the Makarov is better and the slide on that pistol can be racked relatively easily.
The moving slide on the A-9000S is so difficult to rack that it is almost pointless. This is easier if you first cock the hammer (and index the magazine), but in that case why would you want to rack the slide? The grip is too short for big hands and too wide for small hands. Accuracy isn’t bad, though with occasional flyers. And yet, despite all this, I really enjoy shooting the A-9000S. It’s a challenge to get decent groupings, but very satisfying when you do.
The A-9000S has a number of flaws, many of which are inherited from the original pistol. The Beretta 9000 is a polymer and metal testament to why visual design should not be allowed to dictate the ergonomics of a pistol, though having said that I do think that it looks good and very distinctive.
The CO2 and pellet mechanisms in the A-9000S are quirky and less than perfect in operation. And yet for reasons I struggle to explain rationally, this is one of my favourite replica air pistols to shoot. While other more technically proficient pistols gather dust at the back of the gun cabinet, this one gets taken out often. It’s certainly well made and finished and it’s a pleasant pistol to handle and shoot. Perhaps the fact that this is a replica based on a little-known and not terribly successful original firearm probably doesn’t make it attractive to many potential buyers?
Overall, I’d recommend anyone who wants something a little different, and which is a challenge to shoot, to consider adding one of these to their collection.
Total score: 72/100