The Amazing History of Beretta (Oldest Gun Manufacturer in the World) | Firearms of America
Welcome to Firearms of America! Today, let’s dive, yet again, into a history. The Beretta history. Beretta is a very popular Italian firearms manufacturer, we all know that. But did you know that in 2026, Beretta will be celebrating its 500 year old history? Beretta is the oldest active manufacturer of firearms and firearms components in the world!
Since the times of Roman Empire, a northern Italian river valley called Val Trompia has been the central location for iron mining. After the Renaissance, Val Trompia also became the center of weapons manufacturing. By mid 16th century, Val Trompia had forty different ironworks, that were supplied by fifty different mines and eight smelters. Well, the birth of the Beretta is in Gardone village, in the middle of Val Trompia.
Beretta has been in operation since around 1500s, in fact, the very first recorded contract is dated back to October 1526 for some arquebus barrels, arquebas being the type of a long gun that was around in Europe back in 15th century. According to the contract, the Republic of Venice paid 296 ducats to the Maestro di Canne, which translates to the master gun maker, Bartolomeo Beretta. Yes, the original founder of Beretta, Bartolomeo Beretta.
In the 1698, Beretta became the second largest gun barrel producer in Gardone. By the 17th century, Beretta became the largest gun barrel maker in Gardone.
The knowledge of gun barrel manufacturing has been passed from Bartolomeo to his son, later to great son, later to great great son, it has been passed from generation to generation and that is how Beretta has been owned by the same family for almost 500 years now.
Beretta USA was founded in 1977, when Beretta bought a bankrupt gun factory near Washington, DC. Beretta Model 92 nine-millimeter pistol, one of the most widely produced firearms in history, had been introduced two years earlier; this was the gun that would soon land Beretta a massive military contract and thousands of smaller deals to supply law enforcement agencies. A huge breakthrough to the North American market for Beretta came in the 1980s, when their Beretta 92 was selected as a sidearm for the United States Army to replace the 1911 pistol. The Beretta 92 was designated as the Beretta M9 pistol. The M9 was serving the US Army for quite a while, until it was replaced by the Sig Sauer P320 in 2019.
The deal raised Beretta’s profile considerably in the United States. Its pistols continued to appear in Hollywood movies such as Lethal Weapon. Law enforcement agencies around the country began ordering the commercial version (92-F) of the Beretta Model 92 nine-millimeter handgun, appreciating its ability to fire 15 shots before reloading, versus the eight-round capacity of most large caliber pistols. Civilians also bought them; the pistol retailed for about $600. Smaller .22 caliber pistols sold for $200.
By 2000, the company grew to 75,000 square feet in Gardone and another 50,000 square feet in a few sites in Italy, Spain and Maryland, United States. Also, in early 2000, Beretta bought the remaining shares in Benelli Arms S.p.A., another venerable Italian gunmaker. In March of that year, it bought an 86 percent share in Aldo Uberti & Co., s.r.l., a $15 million a year replica gunmaking business founded in 1959. With a corporate umbrella company in place to oversee its subsidiaries, Beretta Holding next acquired Sako Ltd., a Finnish maker of hunting and sports rifles, from Metso Corporation in January 2001.
Today, Beretta, also known as Fabbrica dArmi Pietro Beretta, is run by Franco Gussalli Beretta, who is the president and the CEO of the company.
Beretta has a wide range of semi-automatic pistols, a few revolvers, plenty of shotgun models, rifles, carbines, submachine guns, machine pistols and even grenade launchers.
500 years of history! One family, from generation to generation! Truly, an Amazing History of Beretta!
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