Beretta 93R, Explained: The term “machine pistol” is often misunderstood and misused in the firearms world. For example, with the famous German-made Heckler & Kock (HK) MP5 and WWII-era MP-40 “Schmeisser” submachine guns (SMGs), the “MP” stands for “Maschinenpistole,” which literally translates into “Machine Pistol.”
Thing is though, whilst SMGs do use pistol-caliber ammunition – a significant factor in distinguishing them from rifles – they are not true pistols, i.e. handguns.
Oh, sure, in a desperation situation – such as having a wounded hand or arm – you could fire them one-handed, but then again, you could just as easily same the same thing about a true rifle or even a shotgun (as FBI Special Agent Edmundo Mireles courageously demonstrated during the infamous FBI Miami Firefight of 11 April 1986).
That said, true machine pistols do exist. One of the finest examples is the 9mm Beretta 93R.
History & Specifications
If the Beretta 93R looks at least slightly familiar, it should. It’s indeed based off the same Beretta 92/M9 series that eventually filled in some gigantic (proverbial) shoes as the replacement for the time-honored and battle-proven M1911 .45 caliber single-action autopistol as the standard-issue sidearm of the U.S. Armed Forces and went on to serve faithfully in that role for 33 years before being officially replaced in 2017 by the SIG Sauer P320/M17 9mm. The 93R was produced from 1979 to 1993, whilst the Model 92/M9 models remain in production today. Whilst the Model 92 is strictly semiautomatic, the 93R offers a select-fire option, as SOFPREP explains:
“The Beretta 93R fires either in single fire or in three round burst (at a rate of 1,100 rounds per minute), which is from where it gets the designation ‘R,’ short for ‘raffica,’ which means “burst” or “volley” in Italian. To make it [somewhat] easier to control, the Beretta 93R has a short foregrip (which folds under the dust cover) and can be fitted with a folding buttstock. Early models also featured an extended, ported barrel.”
The gun has a steel slide and aluminum alloy frame, with a standard magazine capacity of 20 rounds. Barrel length is 4.9 inches without a compensator and 6.1 inches with the compensator, with an overall length of 9.4 inches and an empty weight of 2.6 pounds.
Literary Fictional Fame: Mack Bolan
The 93R’s arguable first claim to fame in the early 1980s when Don Pendleton’s bestselling The Executioner action-adventure novel series had the hero, Mack Bolan, switch gears from waging a personal war against the Mafia to fighting international terrorists on behalf of Uncle Sam; in the process, Bolan replaced his semiauto-only 9mm Beretta Model 1951 Brigadier with the 93R in the same caliber, using it as the backup to his primary sidearm, the .44 AutoMag. In these novels, Mr. Bolan made judicious use of both the 93R’s skeletonized foregrip as well as the three-shot burst capability whilst snuffing out many a terrorist, thus continuing to prove himself worthy of the book series title.
Cinematic Fictional Fame: RoboCop
This machine pistol would also gain fame amongst fans of action-adventure movies as well, though not under its actual name.
It was the gun of choice for RoboCop (the original character, that is, not that bilious dreck of a 2014 remake/reboot), under the fictitious moniker of the “Auto 9.” The cinematic version had some extra bells & whistles added to make it look more futuristic, as elaborated by Travis Pike of Pew Pew Tactical:
“I’ll give credit to the prop and armory guys. They made the Auto 9 both cool and practical, at least as far as sci-fi props go. On the front, they added a big compensator and barrel shroud, but remembered to include a front sight on a vent rib. To keep it practical, they enlarged the rear sight. The grip was also extended…In general, the gun was huge…Fun fact: RoboCop was originally set to wield a Desert Eagle, but the director found it too small. (I’ve never heard a Desert Eagle described as small…)”
Want Your Own?
If you do, bring a bankbook and be ready to take out a second mortgage on your home, as they range in price anywhere from $15,000 to $55,000 USD per year. Y’see, there are very few transferrable 93Rs on the market, thanks to LBJ and his Gun Control Act of 1968.
Christian D. Orr has 33 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the (GSSF) and the (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011. In his spare time, he enjoys (besides shooting, obviously) dining out, cigars, Irish and British pubs, travel, USC Trojans college football, and Washington DC professional sports.