Bernardelli P-018: A classic Italian designed pistol from the 20th century

Author: Eric Sof

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In 1865 as gun barrel makers, Bernardelli manufactured service revolvers for the Italian army, 1929-33, and entered the commercial pistol market in 1945. Bernardelli first produced the Bernardelli P-018 pistol in 1982.

Bernardelli P-018: A classic Italian designed pistol from the 20th century


Bernardelli P-018 is intended originally as a military and police pistol. It is usually found in 9 mm caliber, though it has also been produced in 7.65 mm Parabellum and 9 mm Largo chambering in small numbers. The breach is locked by the familiar Browning dropping barrel, controlled by a shaped cam slot beneath the chamber, which engages with the slide stop lever pin.

There is an automatic firing pin lock, whereby the hammer cannot drive the pin forward unless the trigger is pulled completely through; the final movement before the release of the hammer raises the safety device and frees the firing pin.

Bernardelli P-018 pistol parts
Bernardelli P-018 pistol parts (Photo: XY)

Firing mode

The pistol can be fired in either single or double-action modes, but there is no hammer-drop function on the safety catch, and lowering the hammer on the loaded chamber must be done manually. It reminds me of the Beretta 81 pistol.

Versions of Bernardelli P-018

Shortly after the introduction of Bernardelli P-018, requests for something more easily concealed led to the development of the Bernardelli P-018 Compact. This is mechanically the same, but smaller in all dimensions (the barrel is 102 mm, the overall length 198 mm, and the weight 950 grams), and a magazine holding 14 rounds.

A third model is the Bernardelli P-020, intended for competition shooting. It is chambered for the 7.65 mm Parabellum round. It is generally the same as the Bernardelli P-018 but has a somewhat more luxurious standard of finish, with checkered walnut grips instead of plastic and a micro-adjustable rear sight.

Unlike many of today’s weapons, the Bernardelli maintains the tradition of building from steel forgings by machining. As a result, they are solid and reliable weapons and are available in various finishes from highly-polished blue to dull black Parkerised.

Technical specification

Manufacturer: Vincenzo Bernardelli SpA, Gardone Val Trompia, Italy
Type: Locked breech, double-action, semi-automatic
Caliber : 9 mm Parabellum
Barrel: 4.8 in (122 mm)
Weight (empty): 35.2 oz (998 gm)
Magazine capacity: 15 rounds
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1 thought on “Bernardelli P-018: A classic Italian designed pistol from the 20th century”

  1. Bernardelli PO18 Full Size
    You stated that a small number of the PO18 full size model were produced in 9×21. This seems like an ideal weapon. I was wondering:
    1. Do you have any information as to how many were made?
    2. Can the 9mm para PO18 be modified to fire a 9×21?
    3. Do you know if the 9×21mm models can fire a 38 super cartridge or be modified to do so?
    Also it is a little bit off subject but so are my prior questions and it never hurts to ask.
    4. Can the Benelli b76 9mm para be modified to fire the 9×21 or the 38 Super? The reason I ask is eithèr gun would be incredibly accurate while delivering and a hit with effective energy to a considerable range.
    5. Do you know of any modern pistols that have been modified to extract maximum power and accuracy from either the 9×23 or 38 Super?
    Thank you for your time and attention regarding my questions.

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