February 18, 2015

Beretta Cheetah 84 LS .380 ACP, $652

Smaller guns have always had a certain appeal. In some cases it was just the aspect of miniaturization that captures our imagination. In other cases it was the reassurance of a highly concealable weapon. One niche of such guns were semi-auto .380s, which have long been popular sidearms because of their flat, short footprint and sufficient, if not outstanding, power.

Beretta Cheetah 84 LS .380 ACP

Courtesy, Gun Tests

This is an easier-to-handle subcompact version of the Beretta 92 series pistols in 9mm Short. It has more class and charm than heavier recoiling polymer pistols.

Even in the small world of 9mm Shorts there is a pecking order in terms of size, with the Beretta 84LS being one of the largest.

This would account for the most sight radius, barrel length, the most generous grip area, and the highest capacity, (10+1). This model line starts with an MSRP of $576 for a blue finish with plastic grips, but ours cost $652 with wood grips and nickel finish. We bought ours at Fountain Firearms in Houston, TX.

The finish had a burnished hue that matched the beautifully checkered grips. The classic “PB” (Pietro Beretta) insignia was inlayed on the left grip panel. Appearance and handling may appear to be identical to the 92 and 96 series Beretta pistols, but the Cheetah operated by a blowback system rather than locked breech. But what was most important was that there were no malfunctions of any kind.

The frame was an alloy that made a plastic-like click when we tapped it with a fingernail, but the top end was steel. While the 84LS weighed the most of our quartet of pistols at 25 ounces, this was only 3 ounces more than the considerably smaller North American Arms Guardian. The Cheetah 84LS was completely devoid of any sharp edges, and even with a top end busy with a variety of levers, we found holstering and presentation to be snag free. The safety and decocking levers were blended into the profile and did not interfere with racking the slide. Rear cocking serrations were plentiful.

The two supplied magazines matched the frame and offered two windows for checking loading status at 5 and 10 rounds. The base pad was heavy polymer and did not add to the front strap. Breakdown of the magazine to mag-body, spring, and follower was a simple procedure of depressing the base pad retainer and sliding off the pad. This revealed a stout spring and polymer follower encased in a hard steel body. We felt the price of this pistol reflected quality construction that carries over to accessories such as the magazines.

The trigger mechanism was traditional double action, with the first shot double action followed by single action fire. The Cheetah 84LS will not fire unless the magazine was in place, but we did have a great deal of trouble locking the slide back unless an empty magazine was in place. We attributed this to the way the slide release was blended into the grip profile. This lever was easily accessed for downward motion to release the slide, but difficult to get underneath and push upward to set the lock. After chambering a round, the gun can be fired single action, or the hammer can decocked by pushing the safety upward. This lever was ambidextrous. Leaving the safety/decocker lever in the upward position also disconnects the trigger. Lowering it to the firing position made the trigger ready for a double action first shot.

It was possible to raise the safety to a position half way up leaving the hammer back. But, this did not create a single-action cocked and locked state of readiness. Depressing the trigger will not fire the gun but will instead activate the decocker, drop the hammer and disconnect the trigger. At the range we found the transition from double to single action to be smooth, which in some measure was a product of the comfortable hand position which did not tempt the shooter to readjust one’s grip between shots.

In terms of 15-yard accuracy, the Cheetah M84LS shot the only 1.0-inch group of the session, and it had an average just under 1.9 inches for all groups fired. We credit this to an above-average trigger and sights that offer a clear view of the light bars created by the front and rear sights but also a dot on the front sight that mates visually with a defined area in the rear notch. The Beretta also produced the most velocity from each test round and average muzzle energy measured 195 foot-pounds firing the Federal American Eagle 95-grain FMC round. This was 11 foot-pounds higher than its next competitor.

With its double-column design assuring maximum capacity and wide grip frame offering maximum control, the Cheetah 84LS was not the most concealable weapon, But it did offer the kind of ergonomics that smaller-handed shooters will appreciate. It had all the accuracy, reliability, and capacity of the full-sized Beretta 92, but in a more manageable package.

Though .380 ammunition was in some cases more expensive than its 9mm big brother, we found Hornady’s 90-grain XTP hollowpoint to be economical (20 rounds for $11.95 retail). The Cheetah handled our choice of hollowpoint ammunition with ease and comfort. With many good frangible rounds also available in .380 Auto, we feel the viability of this pistol for self-defense deserves

The Beretta Cheetah M84 LS .380 Auto, $652, was an Our Pick. This was an easier to handle and easier to hide version of Beretta’s signature pistol, the model 92. While the .380 was not a big stopper, the Cheetah was still a higher capacity option with more class and charm than heavier recoiling plastic guns.

Comments (27)

Beautiful gun I think I'm going to put one of these babies on layaway and take home a bersa thunder for the mean time. You can't beat $280 retail. License to carry man.

Posted by: Fs2003 | September 10, 2015 2:35 PM    Report this comment

Muffdiver, you've been too long without air. This Springfield Armory is NOT the US Govt armory of yore. and the XD's are designed and built in Croatia. Their 1911's are made in Brazil by Imbel. Not that both are not fine guns....just NOT American made

Posted by: Hondo | February 19, 2015 5:43 PM    Report this comment

It has been a long time since I logged on here, hope y'all remember this Ol Bear. I sure like my little Bersa Thunder and the better half liked mine so well I had to get her one.
God Bless Our Troops, Past, Present and Future.
Keeping to my oath locked and loaded.
Get the US out of the UN and the UN out of the US

Posted by: bear1 | October 23, 2014 9:42 PM    Report this comment

Bought the Browning BDA version of this over 4 years ago at Cabela's. A double stack 13 round 380 that shoots excellent, feels nice and looks awesome. Why did I buy it, all of the aforementioned. Do I carry it today, no; I might in the future though. A 380 is a capable round and certainly having 2x's the capacity of a std mini 380 is a plus if you think it's anemic. Size wise, it is similar to my Sig P938, but it is a much smoother shooter with less recoil and holds 5 more rounds. It also has a decocker which is nice. The only flaws in the weapon in my opinion were the protrusion of the decocker and the slide lock levers. So I took my Dremel and reshaped them; also rounded the beaver tail a bit more. When I carry this, it's a backup to my 9, 40, or 45 that only packs 7 to 9 rounds. It's not a pocket carry gun, but if you can afford it, it's a nice piece to add to your collection.

Posted by: ThinkN_Do | October 23, 2014 11:52 AM    Report this comment

Hi guys. I'm finally back. Lost my weekly emails, worked out of state for nearly a year and mostly with no computer access, but I'm back now. Y'all know me as dave from CT, but I tried to change that, so let's see what name pops up below.

Posted by: belmont | October 23, 2014 11:00 AM    Report this comment

hymmmn, i was a Glock enthusiast, for years! Carried, a Glock 19, [15, in the magazine, one, in the "Throat"]. [Berreta's, have a tendancy to stovepipe, ie., older 92f model], bought the new, at the time, Springfield .45 XD, this weapon[ 13 in the magazine, another in the chamber. Taking them both, to the range to shoot, 250 rounds thru each; 146grain hollow point, "Black Talons", in my Glock; 250 grain hollow points, in my Springfield.

The recoil, between the 2, was incredibly, minimul!... I was amazed!
I don't care to shoot another,[i will, if provoked to defend myself]; and, i'd much rather shoot with the stopping power of a .45 caliber, than any other! especially, with such a light recoil!... And the Springfield, is American made...[they've been making weapons, for the United States Army, since the time of George Washington!
My other carry gun, is the "New", Taurus Judge Revolver, .45 long colts, and .410, ooo buck shot!... 5 shots, no waiting!...never can jam!
Any "Attacker", would have about 2 chances, coming up, against this Gun!...[Slim & None!...].
Be Safe, and Stay Alert!...
Captain George Dowling

Posted by: muffdiver | March 7, 2010 7:30 AM    Report this comment

A beautiful gun but one wonders, WHAT FOR? Today there is a plethora of more powerful 9mm and .40 and 45acp guns of the same size.

Posted by: wild romanian | February 12, 2010 3:37 PM    Report this comment

A beautiful gun but one wonders, WHAT FOR? Today there is a plethora of more powerful 9mm and .40 and 45acp guns of the same size.

Posted by: wild romanian | February 12, 2010 3:37 PM    Report this comment

A beautiful gun but one wonders, WHAT FOR? Today there is a plethora of more powerful 9mm and .40 and 45acp guns of the same size.

Posted by: wild romanian | February 12, 2010 3:37 PM    Report this comment

Make sure you remember me in your will Col. Novack, I'll call it a collection!

Posted by: Robert J | February 12, 2010 1:24 PM    Report this comment

I detect from JonSE's post that he and I are likely kindred spirits when it comes to our choices of firearms. As I stated in my post of 11 February, my only use for the .380s in my collection is in the role of back-up to my major caliber pieces that I always carry on my strong side hip. That said, I do appreciate the little pistols, and they have respected places in my overall collection of firearms.

I no longer shoot as much as I used to, but I still get a lot of satisfaction and pleasure from simply handling, working the actions, and periodically cleaning all of the weapons in my collection. I was once told by a dedicated collector that I was not really collecting as much as I was accumulating firearms. His rationale was that because I do not concentrate on a particular make and/or model of firearm, my collection is an accumulation. Well, OK, I can go with that. However, with four safes plus numerous other pieces hanging on walls and in other locations around my home and in my automobiles, I still feel like I am a collector. The idea is that I acquire what interests me so I can play with my "toys", and for those that I particularly like as defensive pieces.....well, those are the ones with which I maintain proficiency for the purposes of concealed carry.

One of my great
pleasures is in attending gun shows, seeing what interests me, and if possible, purchasing that piece. It's all part of what we are guaranteed by the Second Amendment.

Posted by: canovack | February 12, 2010 10:58 AM    Report this comment

Very eloquently stated, Jon

Posted by: REX B | February 12, 2010 8:14 AM    Report this comment

I recently picked up a like new Browning .380 BDA, a Beretta-made pistol based upon the 84 but with the ambi decocker mounted on the closed-top slide. It has a really fine bright nickle finish and beautiful walnut grip panels. It is quite accurate and both fun and easy to shoot. It is too big for a .380 by today's standards, and not enough gun for standard hip carry, not even counting the shiny finish. All that said, for hip carry I normally carry at least 9mm and preferably .45 ACP. For pocket carry I use a Ruger LCP, and before that a Kel-Tec P-32, both using marginal rounds, but one little one in the pocket is better than nothing when hip carry isn't appropriate. So, why did I acquire the Browning-Beretta? Because it is a beautiful, well-designed, and finely-made pistol which is a delight to possess, own, and then shoot now and again. If I could have only one handgun, this probably would not be it. But as a pretty, I am glad I have it and likely will die with it still in my possession. As an old and long-time married guy, I cannot indulge myself with a different beautiful girl every day, but I can fondle a different beautiful gun whenever I get the urge. Some things are worth having in this life simply for the pleasure they bring.

Posted by: JonSE | February 12, 2010 5:22 AM    Report this comment

With so many "real" calibers available in similar and even smaller sized pistols, it is hard for me to imagine why I would carry such a pistol. My standard carry guns are at least 9mm, but most of them are .40 or .45. I also like the .357 Sig. My .380s are Ruger's LCP, Kel-Tec P3AT, and North American's Guardian .380.....all of the .380s serving in the role of back-up pistols to my other "real" caliber guns.

Posted by: canovack | February 11, 2010 7:56 PM    Report this comment

But they don't have Porsche or the Doge Viper.

Posted by: sivispace | February 11, 2010 7:33 PM    Report this comment

Sometimes I wish I was Italian and not British, I mean come on, they have it all Beretta,Benelli,Donzi,Ducati,Ferrari,Lamborghini, Olive Garden lol Seriously, Beretta is top notch.

Posted by: Dave R | February 11, 2010 6:49 PM    Report this comment

a big .380 is like a fast harley. got no use for either. perhaps italians have a love for big, underpowered pistols.


Posted by: TOM GARRETT | February 11, 2010 6:07 PM    Report this comment

Meh. I'm waiting for the .32 version.

Posted by: Squirmydad | February 11, 2010 4:29 PM    Report this comment

Makes. No. Sense. There are way more size appropriate .380's, if you want a 25 ounce pistol, you would be just as well off shooting 9mm. For the price you can get a 9mm and a .22 to practice with.

Posted by: Squirmydad | February 11, 2010 4:27 PM    Report this comment

Look at the CZ 83 to compare price and size.

Posted by: gobs1 | February 11, 2010 2:36 PM    Report this comment

My first gun was the blued SF version of this pistol. It was very accurate and quite reliable. They are beautifully made and I believe there is still a version with a tip-up barrel. That version is very helpful to the elderly defender because the user can simple tip up the barrel and place a round in the chamber. Then close and latch the barrel and insert the magazine and the defender has 14 rounds of .380 ready to go without having to rack the slide. I finally sold mine due to the scarcity of .380 ammo at the time. Since then there are chambered in 9mm, .40S&W and .45 that carry much smaller than the Cheetah. I now carry a Glock M27 and have stuck with that as my carry pistol ever since.

Posted by: sivispace | February 11, 2010 2:30 PM    Report this comment

How come it has a double stack magazine but, it only came with a Politicaly correct Clinton 10rd mag?? If memory serves me well, it should have a 15rd capacity. Check the Berreta web site.

Posted by: lotoofla | February 11, 2010 2:09 PM    Report this comment

I have not tried the Beretta, but have owned two Bersas. The transition to SA trigger required me to change my grip, or it would double. No more for me. I suspect the Beretta would not have that issue.

Posted by: REX B | February 11, 2010 1:32 PM    Report this comment

Price is too high
Try a Bersa in 380

Posted by: Dwm | February 11, 2010 1:26 PM    Report this comment

Yet another outdated report since the M84 LS is no longer made. Current .380 from Beretta is 84 FS. Some of the review's comments may or may not apply to the newer model and I have yet to see a LS on the used market. But the 84 FS is a class gun based on my 50 rounds through one and in nickel it is a beautiful thing, but for the money the Bersa .380 is a better buy at less than 1/2 the price of the 84 FS.

Posted by: BUTTERFINGERS | February 11, 2010 1:18 PM    Report this comment

Twice the ammo capacity?
Lower recoil?
Cheaper ammo?
DA/SA trigger?

For that matter, why not carry a P32, if weight is your only criterion.

Posted by: REX B | February 11, 2010 12:43 PM    Report this comment

My Kimber ulta carry wieghs 25 oz. Why would I by this gun?

Posted by: Robert R | February 11, 2010 11:43 AM    Report this comment

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