Beretta 85F: the Cheetah

June 14, 2017  
Categories: Learnin'

Note – every time you read the words Beretta 85F Cheetah, we want you to do so in Morgan Freeman’s voice. 

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WTW: Beretta 85F Cheetah

For today’s WTW, I’ll tell you about my former backup and off-duty carry gun: the Beretta 85F Cheetah. It’s basically a mini M92F chambered in .380 ACP or 9mm short.

It has a 3.81 in. barrel and is fed with single-stack metal magazines. It was a nice, compact and accurate little pistol that wasn’t too small when compared to other subcompacts out there.

The Beretta 85F Cheetah.

The Beretta 85F Cheetah is a part of Beretta’s Series 80 line of pistols, which includes multiple calibers from .22 lr (models 87, 89) to .32 ACP (models 81, 82) and .380 ACP (Models 83, 84, 85, 86). All are unique in their own ways besides their caliber, with different barrel lengths plus single and double stacked magazines.

Beretta began making the Beretta 85F Cheetah in 1976 and it’s still in production today. It was designed for shooters with smaller hands more suited to the reduced grip radius of a single stack weapon, but who didn’t want a subcompact. Its .380 caliber gives better ballistic performance than the .32 ACP, and the frame is made of an aluminum alloy to save weight. They definitely had the conceal carry market in mind.

I chose it as a backup and carry gun for some of its unique features, mainly its mid range size. It has a decent length for a barrel; being almost four inches allowed for some extra velocity and better ballistic performance out of the .380 (it’s not much but I’ll take anything I can get), and the length also gave it a longer sight radius. I never had trouble getting a good two handed grip on it without any magazine pinky extensions. It also had a manual safety, something I used when it was stored in my vest holster under my uniform shirt.

The Beretta 85F Cheetah.

It has a DA/SA trigger that was not great on double-action (with the first pull), but the single-action was nice. It served me well, got the job done, and was fun to shoot. But alas, those are all the good things I’ve got to say about it…

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There were many things about Beretta 85F Cheetah that were a pain in the ass…that’s why I called it my ‘former’ back-up gun. Let’s start with the price: I bought it off a friend (legally of course) for a great deal…if you can call $700 for a compact pistol in .380 a great deal. But it actually was a great deal, since it normally has a price tag of nearly $800 at the local gun store. That’s a steep price for such a little pistol.

The Beretta 85F Cheetah.


The trigger wasn’t too bad but lacks a positive reset or any reset at all. You have to let the trigger back to its original position which seems like a mile away, making it somewhat difficult to fire rapidly.

It was the only pistol I owned in .380 ACP. My department doesn’t supply .380 for practice and I usually didn’t have any on me when I went to the range at work, so I didn’t get to shoot it as often as I wanted. I didn’t like to buy .380 ammo just to feed one pistol.

The Beretta 85F Cheetah.

It has a magazine disconnect safety, which I’m not a fan of. I’d like to have a firearm that stays live while I do a tactical reload, but I see why they exist. It’s just not a feature I want in my firearms.

Accessories for it were scarce. I had my friend make me a kydex holster for it, but he didn’t have the exact model to match. It worked but it was nowhere near perfect, so I mainly relied on generic IWB soft holsters, which I hated.

The Beretta 85F Cheetah.

When more single stack 9mm subcompact pistols became available, I decided to sell my Beretta 85F Cheetah to a partner who wanted it for his wife as a range gun. I then got a Beretta Nano, which happened to be a gun I owned for a very short period of time before it too was replaced with my current back-up gun: a Glock 43.

As much as I’m hating on the Beretta 85F Cheetah, it was a nice little weapon to have and shoot. I just didn’t have space for a gun I rarely shoot in my collection. It’s a niche gun for those who can afford such things, especially with that full-sized pistol price tag. If you’re a Beretta fan and want a mini-me of your 92F, the Beretta 85F Cheetah could be your new little friend.

Fifty Shades of FDE

Fifty Shades of FDE

About the Author

Fifty Shades of FDE is a full-time LEO in California with about a decade's service in a very large metropolitan agency. He’s a husband, father and firearms enthusiast. He is a supporter of the Second Amendment and a proponent of law abiding citizens’ right to defend themselves with concealed carry permits. He runs his @fiftyshadesofFDE page on Instagram and writes gun/gear reviews on - when he's not writing for Breach-Bang-Clear, of course.


  1. Tony Cotten

    Very accurate, easy to conceal in my riding vest. Look forward to a longtime carry on partner in future motorcycle rides as I’ll be proud to show other riders I carry a Barreta.

  2. VF

    Great gun. I have small hands and still find it small. But it shoots great, is made well and is probably the best looking semi auto one could own.


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