Back in the 1930s, J. Henry “Fitz” Fitzgerald became the most renowned armorer at Camp Perry and the father of concealed-carry pistols. One of America’s great instructional shootists and having worked for Colt, he once wrote, “The front pocket is a good place to carry a revolver.” He was, of course, referring to the standard among pocket pistols of the time, the .38-caliber Colt Detective Special and the various Colt models he personally customized for police officers for concealed-carry use. No doubt Fitz would be amazed at what has become of pocket pistols today. Nevertheless, his statement remains fundamentally true.
What A Pico Is
For the record, a pico is one-trillionth of any measurement; a picosecond or a picogram is really, really small. Logically, the .380 Beretta Pico’s predecessor in the company’s ultra-compact line, by about one year, is the 9mm Beretta Nano, and a nano is one-billionth of any measurement. Aside from sharing numerical epithets, the Beretta Pico and Nano also share their basic construction: an interchangeable, one-piece, molded Technopolymer frame (or chassis) surrounding a separate, stainless steel fire control subchassis containing the frame rails, trigger and firing system. This subchassis can be removed from the frame, is serial numbered and for all intents and legal purposes is the gun, not what surrounds it, though you’d be hard-pressed to shoot the subchassis. The point of the Pico is that, like the 9mm Beretta Nano, the chassis can be changed either for another color or for a chassis equipped with a LaserMax laser sight or tactical light. The little .380 even has interchangeable, dovetailed, white-dot sights, a feature that sets it apart from most of the other .380s in this size and price range. The gun also shares another Nano feature: a remarkably simple field-stripping procedure. The Pico has no levers to rotate, pins to press out, alignment points between slide and frame, or required tools—there is just one large, slotted screw on the right side of the frame, which, with a quarter-turn counterclockwise using only the edge of a shell casing, allows the slide, barrel, recoil spring and guide rod assembly to unlock and be pulled forward off the subframe. After the assembly is separated for cleaning, when the slide is replaced on the frame, the screw automatically rests in the locked position. The bottom line is the Pico is the easiest gun to field-strip I have ever tested.