It’s been a while since Beretta produced a submachine gun. While SMGs might be en vogue mostly amongst the uber-tactical crowd here, they still tend to please European police forces. They’re smaller and handier than most rifles and fire common calibers the departments are already issuing.
The Beretta Model 12 is a fine SMG, but certainly it’s a product of its time with the open bolt design and lack of modularity. To address the aging weapons in use by the Italian Carabinieri, Beretta developed the PMX. Pistol caliber carbines are still hot in the United States, and so are these ‘large format pistols,’ so it was only natural that Beretta would release the PMXs.
Inside the PMXs
The Beretta PMXs is a semi-auto pistol variant of the PMX submachine gun. The PMX and PMXs share a nearly identical design. Obviously, we’ve lost the select fire capability, and it’s a pistol, so there is no stock.
Beretta has told me there’s a brace system, but that hasn’t been released yet. I’m sure they’re waiting for the courts to figure out the ATF’s brace ban madness. The PMs also lacks the rather neat iron sight arrangement of the full-auto PMX. The PMX iron sights are folding sights, but when folded, they still offer a pair of rudimentary open sights across the top.
Other than those changes, the PMXs is a fairly modern PCC-type subgun design. I mean it as a complete compliment when I say it invokes a cyberpunk TEC-9 aesthetic. We get a handguard complete with rails, a big optic Pic rail, and it’s made with a healthy dose of polymer.
The PMXs lacks a stock, but features a rear QD slot that’s there for the easy attachment of a sling. I promptly attached a Magpul MS3. The gun doesn’t come with sights, but Beretta provided me a Fastfire 4 through sister company Burris.
The PMXs uses a simple, straight blowback design. It’s not fancy, but it’s proven. As much as I would have preferred a locked breech, the PMXs’ blowback system will work very reliably with little fuss or maintenance needed.
The PMXs is relatively lightweight at 5.29 pounds, which is isn’t much for a blowback-operated gun. The barrel is 6.9 inches long, and the overall length comes in at 16.4 inches.
The PMXs uses proprietary magazines that hold 30 rounds, and you get two of them with the gun. We also get a very nice hard shell carrying case, which is a welcome add-on to the gun.
The PMXs come outfitted with almost 100% ambidextrous controls. The safety and magazine release are ambidextrous. The charging handle is reversible for right or left-handed use. The controls are all easy to access and work nicely for quick operation. The bolt release is on the left side only. The pistol grip is comfy, and the front of the gun comes with a sling point that acts as a hand stop.
The safety initially concerned me. I thought it might be a case of CZ Scorpion design where the safety digs into the user every time you fire the gun and creates a pain in the finger. I was very pleased to be wrong. It never hurt, rubbed, or poked me while firing.
One thing worth noting is that if you hold the gun by the magwell, you are likely to either pin the bolt release down or up if you aren’t conscious about it. I preferred holding the actual handguard and found that it made the gun easier to control.
The only downside to the ergonomics is a reciprocating charging handle. I’m not a fan of that type of design and the PMXs’s charging handle sticks out a fair bit. It’s large and easy to grab, but I’m curious if there’s ever a chance it grabs on web gear when worn on a sling. It’s not a problem I’ve had, but I’m no Carabinieri.
At the Range with the PMXs
I used the PMXs with the Magpul MS3 sling in a two-point setup. I tightened the sling down a good bit and found it perfectly suited for using the old SAS sling method to create tension and stabilize the pistol.
I fired with and with the sling, and there was a world of difference with the sling in place. Without the sling, the PMXs feels somewhat awkward and clumsy. The blowback action makes the gun rock rearward without a stock or brace (strapped to my arm, of course), so a sling will have to do.
With some good old sling tension, I easily cut my par times in half. This made life so much easier, and I was able to control the gun much better. A good sling and some tension go a long way. I took the weapon out to fifty yards and pinged a 6-gong over and over again, each ping a beg for mercy it wouldn’t receive.
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the trigger. There is some pre-travel, but we get a fairly crisp and light experience. I didn’t even have to think about the trigger when it came to accuracy. Just for fun, I benched the gun the best I could with the 30-round magazine and fired some slow groups at 25 and 50 yards.
At 25 yards, you can create what’s basically one big hole with a handful of rounds fired. Out to 50 yards, I kept every round in the 9 and 8 rings of a B8. That’s more than adequate for such a hefty 9mm pistol.
The only bulk ammo I currently have on hand for testing is 115-grain brass-cased FMJs and 147-grain FMJs. Both rounds performed without any issues. The majority of my shooting was 115 grain for a total of 350 rounds, followed by a hundred rounds of 147-grain ammunition. Following that, a grab bag of various JHPs from Remington, Winchester, SIG, and Speer were fired through the weapon without issue.
The Beretta PMXs has surprisingly light recoil for a blowback-operated gun. If I shoot it side-by-side with my Scorpion, the Scorpion has a more noticeably violent impulse. Additionally, it’s easier to rack the PMXs’s bolt. There is no great buffer spring holding it back and keeping it closed. For a direct blowback gun, it’s fairly refined and easy to handle. I’m impressed by the PMXs, although the MSRP is high, and the street price runs around $1,400 at the time of this writing.
As far as I know, this is the first time Beretta has released one of their submachine guns as a semi-auto pistol, so it’s certainly a new market for them. It’s also a competitive market, so time will tell how well the PMXs does, but base on features and performance, I’d expect it to do well.
Specifications: Beretta PMXs
Barrel Length 6.9 inches
Overall length 16.4 inches
Weight 88 ounces
Height 9.8 inches
Ratings (Out of Five Stars):
Accuracy * * * *
The PMXs proved to be plenty accurate mechanically. The lack of stock or brace makes it tough to shoot accurately. With that said, a sling certainly helped. A brace is probably in the offing and you can get a folding stock as well if you’re willing to SBR it.
Ergonomics * * * *
It’s almost perfect. The controls are ambidextrous, easy to reach, and easy to use. The only downside is a reciprocating charging handle, but that doesn’t seem to bother everyone.
Reliability * * * * *
No issues whatsoever. The PMXs reliably ate through all of the FMJ and JHP ammo I fed it without a problem.
Overall * * * * ½
Maybe it’s because I like subguns so much, or maybe a Beretta subgun has me enamored, but I had a ton of fun with the PMXs. It’s surprisingly effective with some sling tension. The PMXs is accurate, reliable, and modern. The price may sting, but I can live with it.