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The .32 ACP (7.65 mm) Beretta Series 81FS Cheetah double-action only (DAO) semi-automatic pistol dates from the mid-1970s but still looks fabulously engaging and modern. The lines are different, yet sleek, superbly intelligent combining functionality, durability, accuracy, reliability and ergonomics into a stylish, Made in Italy package.

How, you ask? First, the 81FS’ 12-round staggered magazine provides good capacity in a medium frame gun whose dimensions are 4.8” tall, 6.1” in overall length and 1.4” wide. The 81 is optimized for conceal carry, two-hand hold courtesy of an oversize glove-friendly Combat-style trigger guard. Its corrosion-resistant alloy frame is one-third the weight it would be if made of steel. Indeed, total weight (unloaded) is 24.2 ounces or just over 1.5 pounds. The frame is matte black and anodized for durability and to mitigate against wear and tear.

The Cheetah’s 3.8” chrome-lined barrel is nickel-chromium-molybdenum steel; it’s strong and corrosion-resistant.

The slide is cut open at the top, so you get a good view of this barrel. The muzzle area’s frame flanks are cut back for conceal carry. The sight radius between the white dot sights is 4.9”. Moving back, the slide has a raft of forward leaning grip serrations. In back is a loop hammer and below that a medium-length beavertail.

In back you’ll find an intuitively placed frame-mounted ambidextrous manual safety and a hammer decocking device. FS models also feature an automatic firing pin block that prevents inadvertent firing if dropped or banged on a hard surface.

All the surfaces that need a good grip or intuitive operation have textured surfaces. Thus, the trigger, curved backstrap and frontstrap have vertical serrations while trigger guard has horizontal ones. The safety, magazine release and slide catch are also nicely textured.

You can get the pistol with either wood or plastic grips. Either way, they look great. The plastic ones have diamond hatching punctuated by an oversize Beretta three-arrow logo. The grips are fastened by large flat head screws.

Disco is gone, but 1970s stalwarts like the 12+1 .32 ACP (7.65 mm) Beretta 81FS Cheetah semi-automatic remain popular for good reason.

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