Handgun Review: The Beretta U22 Neos
Is this an assault weapon?
It is a semiautomatic with a fancy stock and a pistol grip and it does look mean, especially with that scope on top. But look closely at the trigger area in the center.
That's a pistol. It's the Beretta U22 Neos. The stock and elongated barrel are part of the kit that Beretta offers to turn the pistol into a carbine rifle. The kit does not make the pistol any more powerful, though it and the optional scope can help you fire it with greater accuracy.
Not that an increase in accuracy is needed. I had the opportunity to fire a Neos at a local gun range recently and found it be extremely accurate right out of the box.
The Neos is Beretta's latest entry into the .22 caliber semiauto handgun market. Without the carbine kit, it comes in three different models. Two are solid black, while one sports silver styling on the grips and the barrel. It also comes in two barrel lengths, four inches and six inches. It is manufactured entirely in the United States, in Accokeek, MD. That's 10 miles outside Washington, DC. Here is the silver-styled model.
The first noticeable thing about the Neos is that it's a very good looking weapon, typical of all Beretta products. The second thing you may notice when you handle it is the way the grips fit and how well the weight is distributed. The grips feel absolutely perfect in my hand, which speaks well of Beretta's attention to ergonomics. The six-inch model feels a little bit front heavy to me, while the four-inch model feels perfectly balanced. It feels like an extension of your hand.
On my test, I and two inexperienced shooters loaded its magazines with .22 caliber lead point rounds and put 150 of them through the weapon. We experienced no failures to fire or jams, or any other difficulties of any kind. The trigger action is extremely smooth. This is a very reliable and easy-to-learn weapon.
The Neos offers almost no recoil at all. Its accuracy from the get-go is phenomenal. I was hitting the bull's eye with it at 10 yards within the first 10 rounds of firing it, and I had no prior experience with the Neos at all. One of my two less-experienced shooting partners also saw very good rates of accuracy very quickly. The other took a little longer, but had no trouble improving with each turn. The Neos is a very responsive semiautomatic, and its rapid rate of fire and ease of loading and changing magazines also mark the Neos as a particularly good weapon for beginners and for self-defense.
At $249 for the all-black model and $299 for the silver styled model, the Neos comes in comfortably at the lower end of semiautomatic firearms on the question of cost. A box of 50 lead point rounds typically sells for under $4, making it an economical weapon for taking to the range for target practice. You can fire it often without breaking the bank. It comes with a case and two 10-round magazines, a chamber stopper for marking when the chamber is empty, a tool for removing the barrel for field stripping, and a lock, along with the manual and warranty information. Field stripping for cleaning consists of removing the barrel, which can be done with a couple of turns of a screw. Very simple.
The bottom line on the Beretta U22 Neos is that as a .22 it is not a one-shot man-stopper, but its great accuracy, ergonomics, rate of fire and 10-round magazine capacity would come in handy in a self-defense situation. The safety is easy to operate and understand. Loading and ejecting magazines is very smooth and easy. The carbine kit can easily turn it into a fun to fire rifle for varmint hunting or control as well as target practice and self-defense. At less than 32 ounces and especially in the four-inch barrel model, the Neos can make a fine concealed carry firearm.
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