Anics Beretta A-9000S

96Most replicas are based on successful and/or well-known pistols but the Anics Beretta A-9000S is a Russian-made replica of the Italian Beretta 9000S-F pistol. The original was an Italian sportscar of pistols – styled by a prestigious design house, it featured futuristic looks 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 air pistol and fun to shoot.

This replica is still listed as a current product on the Anics website, though I have no idea how easy it is to find at air pistol retailers.  I certainly haven’t seen any new examples of the A-9000s for sale for quite some time.

Real steel background

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.

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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, manual safety 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 in the pocket of a Salvatore Ferragamo overcoat.

Sadly, the 9000s proved to be an ergonomic disaster in just about every way. The grip is short, so it doesn’t really suit large hands but it’s also chunky, so it doesn’t really fit smaller hands either. Anyone with small hands is also likely to struggle with the long stretch to the broad, angular trigger. The hammer is tiny 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.  The curvy manual safety also looks good, but it has a very small operating surface and it’s very easy for your thumb to slip off when you’re trying to engage or disengage. The Beretta 9000S was an inadvertent polymer and metal testament to why visual styling should not be allowed to dictate the ergonomics of any handgun.

In operation the 9000S proved to be less than totally reliable too, gaining a reputation for frequent jamming.  It was also very heavy for a concealed-carry weapon at almost 1kg loaded.  Considering all these issues, it’s no surprise that the 9000S 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 practical and successful PX-4 Storm pistol).

The Anics A-9000S

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Anics Group JSC is a Moscow-based engineering company which has been producing CO2 powered replica airguns since 1995.  The company uses 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 and can be locked back though this replica does not feature blowback.  The frame and grip are of polymer construction while the slide and internal parts are metal.

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Packaging and presentation  4/5

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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 clearing rod.

Visual accuracy  9/10

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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 manual 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  12/15

Functional accuracy is average on the A-9000S.  All controls (manual 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.

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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 (the barrel is fixed on the Anics A-9000S).  It’s also notable that the slide on the replica can be pulled back only around ½” compared to over 1″ on the original.

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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 only around half the weight of the real pistol!

Shooting  25/40

Before shooting the Anics A-9000S you must first master the slightly idiosyncratic CO2 and pellet loading procedure.  Loading CO2 involves first opening the piercing flap in the base of the grip, 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 it 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 especially difficult, just different to most other CO2 powered replica air pistols.

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Loading the conveyor magazine is also a little fiddly.  A plastic window in the magazine is opened to reveal four pellet chambers.  Pellets are pressed into the three of these chambers, though they must also be carefully tamped down to avoid jamming (the supplied tool is useful for this).  You must then poke a rod (or the tamping tool) into the last empty chamber and use this to move the conveyor on to reveal the next block of empty chambers.  The movement of chambers within the magazine is not particularly smooth or light. Due to the design of the magazine, the Anics A-9000S can only accommodate .177 pellets of up to 7.6mm length – anything longer simply won’t fit. I generally used RWS Hobby pellets when shooting my A-9000S.  When all chambers are loaded, the plastic window is closed and the magazine inserted in the grip.  Loading the magazine requires a degree of care and isn’t particularly quick, but at least when you’re done you will have 22 shots before re-loading.  Loading lead BBs is done in precisely the same way though of course you don’t have to worry about tamping these down.

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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 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, 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 as a result.  The long, heavy DA trigger action is exacerbated by the shape of the trigger, which is broad and angular and not especially comfortable.  However, the action is notably smoother than an Anics Berkut pistol which I used to own and which had a similar design.

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Slide locked back – this requires way 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, a small grip area and slippery black paint mean that racking the slide requires the grip and tenacity of an angry gorilla.

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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 wide grip and the long reach to the broad, angular trigger in double action.

The pistol shoots with a loud and satisfactory bang.  Power is reasonable;  using RWS Hobby 7.0gr pellets 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 BBs.  I generally got 80 – 100 shots from a single CO2 without any major loss of power, enough to shoot four magazines worth of pellets.

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22 shots, six yards, freestanding, RWS Hobby pellets.

While shooting my A-9000S I generally got groups in the order of around 1” – 1½” at six yards, and at that range it was hitting on target for windage, but about ½” above the point of aim. However, within any full magazine I tended to get two or three flyers which could hit anything up to 3” from the point of aim.  These were unpredictable, though it did appear that the more shots I fired in quick succession, the more accurate it got.  I generally shot in single-action only due to the very heavy DA trigger.  However, the hammer is tiny and cocking it also advances the conveyor magazine, which makes this more of an effort than it should be. I did find that for some reason this pistol seemed to be very sensitive to grip and technique.  It was 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 showed almost no signs of wear internally or externally.  I 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 much 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.

Conclusion

The A-9000S is a very good replica of a not terribly impressive firearm and it inherits all the ergonomic flaws of the original.  The CO2 and pellet mechanisms in the A-9000S are also quirky and less than perfect in operation and this isn’t an especially accurate shooter.  And yet for reasons I struggle to explain rationally, this was one of my favourite replica air pistols to shoot.  While other more technically proficient pistols gathered dust at the back of the gun cabinet, this one got taken out often. Perhaps it’s because it was more difficult to get good shooting results with this replica and I enjoyed the challenge? I can’t really give you a sensible reason, I can only say that I enjoyed shooting the little A-9000S much more than the scores in this review probably suggest. And it does look as cute as a puppy with a waggy tail. This is the only replica out of a very large collection which my wife has ever described as looking “nice”. I’m sure that must mean something?

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Although it’s still listed by Anics as a current product, I simply don’t know if this is still in production. However,  there are certainly used examples out there and the fact that this is a well made and finished replica should mean that, if you decide you want one, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a decent used example. And overall, I’d recommend this to anyone who wants something a little different and which is a little bit of a challenge to shoot accurately. Just don’t expect to be able to rack that slide…

Total score: 74/100

Related pages:

Anics SKIF A-3000/3003

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Pellet shooting replica reviews

Links:

A-9000S on the Anics Website

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