Beretta is one of the most famous small arms manufacturers in the world. Fabbrica d'Armi Pietro Beretta is an Italian company which was founded in 1526 by gunsmith Mastro Bartolomeo Beretta (1498-1565) from Lombardy in Italy. He produced 185 arquebus barrels for the Arsenal of Venice and the original invoice is still in the firm’s archives showing that he was paid the sum of 296 Ducats for these early gun barrels. Beretta is in fact one of the worlds oldest corporations and is still owned by Bartolomeo Beretta’s descendants, with Ugo Gussali Beretta as president and his sons Pietro and Franco Beretta also running this successful business which employs about 2700 staff world wide and has an annual turnover of over £200 million. The direct line of the Beretta family can be traced from Bartolomeo (1498-1565) to Pietro (1791-1853) who started the first expansion of the business, to his son Giuseppe (1840-1903) who first expanded the company into the international market, to Pietro (1870-1957) who introduced modern manufacturing techniques, to his sons Giuseppe (1906-1993) and Carlo (1908-1984) who made the company the multinational it is today.
In 1918 the Beretta model 1918 became the second sub machine gun to be used by the Italian army, and Beretta continued to produce pistols and rifles for the Italian Armed forces until the Armistice between Italy and the Allied forces in 1943 during World War II, although some production facilities were seized by the German forces in Northern Germany and continued in use until the German surrender in 1945.
Beretta also produced weapons for the Imperial Japanese forces during World War II. In 1938 a delegation of Japanese naval officers travelled to Italy to buy weapons for the Japanese special landing forces. Three Italian arms manufacturers, one of which was Beretta, produced over 100,000 rifles for the Japanese special landing forces. The Japanese classified these 6.5mm weapons as the Type “I” rifle; they were a Carcano action rifle in a Japanese style wooden stock. The last delivery of such weapons left Venice by U Boat in 1942. After the Second world War Beretta won the contract to repair American M1 Garand rifles which were given to Italy, these weapons were modified to become the Beretta BM-59 rifle which was considered a fine weapon and more accurate than the similar American M14 rifle.
Beretta now produces over 1500 guns a day and exports to 100 countries, the most famous weapon being the Model 92, 9mm Pistol made popular in action movies and a weapon which has been adopted for use by the American Armed forces, and elements of the French armed forces. Other police and military clients include Italy and Turkey.