The Beretta PM-12 series of sub-machineguns has been representing for about fifty years now the quintessence of the modern Italian automatic weapon, and can definitely be described as an icon of the guns world, with countless of movie appearences. It also once used to be a “must” for the replica industry: in the golden age of Airsoft, all throughout the 1980s, when Japanese companies such as MGC or Marushin manufactured almost-perfect replicas, the Beretta PM-12S was one of the best, and most sought-after, representants of such production. More specifically, a PM-12 Airsoft reproduction was manufactured by the Model Gun Corp.; it featured an external gas feeding system, and was cap-operated: the metal magazine held the 6mm BB bullets stored in plastic caps resembling 9mm shells, holding one pellet each, and said caps were ejected just like real brass when the pellet itself was fired. Of course all those replicas featured several weaknesses that made them less then ideal for MilSim or Airsoft skirmishing (a practice that, to tell the truth, was not yet that popular back then): the powerful gas system tended to consume the internal gaskets, seals and O-rings of the “gun” pretty quickly due to the extreme levels of pressure, requiring extensive maintenance; and the caps ejection itself was a downer as them tended to go lost or to break when landing, making the replica itself useless. Nonetheless, those little masterpieces of the toy industry still represent the dream of every Airsoft collector, and even well-worn, used samples can come with a hefty price tag, especially given how few (if compared to the overall production numbers) were the exported samples: it is no wonder that the notorious strict Japanese firearms laws always left the local gun enthusiast with no other choice than to resort to Airsoft collecting − not to mention how the extremely high level of realism (and once again, the strict local gun laws that also apply to stage props) made this kind of replicas a favourite of the Japanese movie industry.
The advent of the Tokyo Maruiʼs electrically-operated Airsofts and the work of companies such as KWC, KSC and many others led to the birth of a new generation of Airsoft replicas, definitely more practical and apt to be used for the increasingly-popular practice of survival games, military simulation and skirmishing in general − yet it also caused the death of the early all-metal, external gas-operated, cap replicas, meaning that some models that literally made the history of the golden age of early Airsoft basically disappeared from the market almost overnight; the Beretta PM-12S sub-machinegun was unfortunately one of these, as appearently nobody was suddenly interested in it anymore: all airsoft skirmishers wanted UZIs, MP5s and later models, or − much like real armies replaced most sub-machineguns with assault carbines − they wanted small-sized variants of assault rifles.
Yet the Beretta PM-12S sub-machinegun made a great comeback on the Airsoft market at the 2012 SHOT Show, when a replica was spotted at the UMAREX booth; the German airgun and airsoft company, owner of the legendary Carl Walther GmbH gun manufacturer, has recently acquired the exclusive rights for the manufacture of replicas based upon the most notorious firearms of several firms including Heckler&Koch, Colt, IWI, and Beretta itself. The samples shown at the SHOT Show were mere prototypes, yet the commercial distribution started barely two months later, with official introduction during the IWA 2012 expo in Nuremberg (Germany). The UMAREX Beretta PM-12S is a “Budget” product, going for a retail price of about 30€ in Europe and about 35US$ in the United States, yet it bears fully licensed Beretta markings and is a very good quality product.
The UMAREX Beretta PM-12S replica is a single-shot, spring-operated Airsoft featuring full ABS plastic construction and small internal metal parts (most notably in the mechanisms). This makes it extremely light, with an overall weight standing up at barely 555 grams (19.57 oz.) that might make heavy-duty Airsoft replica enthusiasts raise more than an eyebrow. Connoisseurs of the UMAREX Airsoft production won't be easily tricked by that, as the “Budget” products of the German company are pretty sturdy, high-quality and performant for the price − so to speak, the Author found the recent UMAREX Browning High-Power Airsoft spring-operated pistol replica, and others such as the UMAREX Beretta Px4, Heckler&Koch P30 and Walther PPS, to be at least as good as some of the legendary Tokyo Marui spring pistols, more specifically the top-notch Cz75 and Glock 17.
To tell the truth, the UMAREX Beretta PM-12S actually sports several distinctive features and differences from the original firearm that will easily identify it as a replica, more specifically a “Budget” replica. So to speak, the UMAREX Airsoft clone isnʼt cocked through the small handle located on the left side of the frame, which is inert, but through the foregrip, which must be pulled back all the way to the end and then released to cock the air piston and chamber a 6mm BB bullet, much like the handguard of a pump-action shotgun; this choice might be arguable under the points of view of aesthetics and realism, but is definitely technically understandable, since such a small and light plastic part linked to leverages, if operated repeatedly, might be more subkect to breakages.
Furthermore, the UMAREX Beretta PM-12S is slightly longer than the original sub-machinegun, although this might be appreciated only if one could put the replica and the original side-by side. The replica is in fact 43 cm. (16.92 inch) long, while the original gun is 42 cm (16.53 inch) long with stock folded: at perceivable 10 mm/0.39 inch., the difference is thus barely perceivable.
Last, the UMAREX Beretta PM-12S Airsoft replica lacks the side-folding stock; yet it features both rear and front sling rings (made in plastic), this meaning that aimed shots can be performed holding the replica with the bare force of the user's arms (not hard, given how light it is), or by straining the sling to the maximum.
Basically all controls and other features are where them are supposed to be. The fixed sights reprise the look of the originals, and so does the fire selector, although it lacks the third (full-auto) position and only works as a manual safety − not strange, since this is a single-shot, spring-operated Airsoft. The grip safety is only “half functional”, meaning that it can be pushed, but even when it is not, it will not prevent the trigger to be pushed all the way down and thus the replica to fire. The magazine release paddle is realistic and located under the trigger guard, right behind the magazine well. The magazine is made out of plastic and features a metal spring and a plastic elevator, much in line with the standards of all spring-operated Airsoft replica magazines. The frontal column can host up to 21 6mm BB pellets at the time, while the rear tank can hold up to 145 more. Once the replica is out of pellets, the frontal column wonʼt need to be reloaded manually if the rear magazine tank is full: the user will simply need to pull the magazine elevator all the way down with his/her thumb, tilt the magazine downwards, and the pellets contained in the tank will automatically fall into the frontal column, ready for use.
The UMAREX Beretta PM-12S Airsoft replica features a fixed, non-adjustable Hop-Up mechanism whose operation will result in a slight upwards deflection of the pelletrs trajectory. This replica will however feature a good accuracy up to 20 metres (approx. 65 feet), making it ideal for plinking or handling and marksmanship training for Airsoft newbies before passing to higher-level replicas for skirmishing and MilSim. The muzzle energy for this replica is limited to 0.5 Joules, perfectly matching the legal limits enforced in several individual European countries, in the European Union as a whole, and elsewhere in the world − and given the new European regulations regarding import of Airsoft replicas, all European enthusiasts who might wish to purchase this ASG off the Internet are urged to do it from an European nation, so to avoid unpleasant problems with the Customs. UMAREX distributes the Beretta PM-12S in two variants, a totally black standard version and a secondary model with clear plastic body and black grips and magazine for export and sale in those Countries whose laws limit the commercial availability of realistic gun replicas.
Overall, the UMAREX Beretta PM-12S Airsoft clone is definitely a must have for all beginners and for those replica owners whose interest in ASGs concerns rather mere collection than their use in survival games. It has in fact a lot going for it: itʼs sturdy, itʼs usable, and itʼs a bargain. Yet, even die-hard skirmishers might want to consider owning one. After all, it is the only MilSim reproduction of the legendary Beretta PM-12 series sub-machinegun currently available on the market.