Guns Girsan Regard: A Turkish Riff on a Beretta 92 That Looks Like it Came Straight off the Set of Narcos Tamara Keel March 6, 2021 1 Comments, Join the Conversation This review started out as a joke. We found it in the flood of press release emails that inundate the in-boxes of registered media in the run up to SHOT Show. In amongst the pressers touting everything from better bore cleaners, revolutionary holsters that look just like every other revolutionary holster, to USB-rechargeable duck calls and stinkier doe urine was one for an expansion of EAA’s line of Girsan Regard autopistols. Unless one is a devotee of a particular brand among the several that European American Armory keeps as captive imports, this wouldn’t necessarily cause much of an eyebrow raise before getting bulk deleted along with the rest of that morning’s batch of press releases. However, with Turkish arms manufacturer Girsan being fairly new to the EAA stable, its role expanding in the wake of fellow Turkish gunmaker Sarsilmaz having headed off to form its own U.S. importer under the SAR USA label, we were curious to see what they were offering. What they were offering, in this email at least, was an expansion of the models offered under the Girsan Regard model line; the one that is, on the surface at least, a Beretta 92 copy. ROOTS Keep in mind that the Turkish firearms industry goes back a rather long way. It goes back farther than the nation of Turkey itself, to the early 15th century when the army of the nascent Ottoman Empire was one of the first in that corner of the world to make organized, systematic, and extensive use of gunpowder artillery. Neither is bringing in outside designs a new thing for the Turkish firearms industry, either. That fine tradition goes back before even the 19th century, when the Ottomans were such a large customer of Mauser Werke that the Germans built an onion-domed residence in Oberndorf to help the Turkish delegation feel at home. It’s a tradition that goes clean back to Sultan Mehmed II’s hiring of a late-medieval private military contractor, Orban of Hungary. Orban was the cannon maker and artillerist enlisted by the Sultan to help turn Constantinople into Istanbul … but that’s nobody’s business but the Turks’. Anyway, all this talk of the late medieval period and early Renaissance is appropriate because the particular Girsan Regard MC model featured in this email was the new “Deluxe,” which means it was engraved and plated with a gold-toned finish. If you were watching movies in the ’90s, this can only make you think of one thing, and that’s watching John Leguizamo’s sinister Tybalt trying to smoke-check Dash Mihok’s guileless Benvolio in the opening gas station scene of Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 Romeo + Juliet. THE DELUXE In light of this cosmetic flash, we’ll look at the things that differentiate the Deluxe from the regular Girsan Regard MC, before getting all technical and digging into the details of the blaster beneath the bling. The Girsan’s slide-top, finger grooves, and accessory rail is a mash-up of classic Beretta 92/M9 features resulting in a pistol that approximates what you’d expect when ordering up a Turkish-made M9A1. For starters, the Deluxe doesn’t arrive in anything so pedestrian as a cardboard box, zippered nylon pouch, or blown plastic case like a garden-variety service pistol. Oh no. Instead, the top-of-the-line Regard variant is borne inside a fairly upmarket-looking miniature attaché case, covered in presumed-real leather with corner reinforcements and carry handle stitched from definitely real leather. (We know the latter two areas are made from real steak wrappers because the case immediately had to be placed on a tall shelf to keep the cat from trying to eat the corner reinforcements.) The accents on the case, including the three-digit combination lock with its spring-loaded latch, are all gold-colored, heightening the anticipation of the contents. Coming from EAA, a company known for sci-fi themed ads featuring cyborg athletes sprinting on gun legs and time-traveling Old Western bounty hunters on robot horses, one might have expected some bonus special effects on opening a case this deluxe. Alas, there’s no golden glow inside like the famous McGuffin in Pulp Fiction, other than the one that might occur if you open the thing with a bright light beaming over your shoulder. That would indeed happen because, wow, are these contents shiny and gold. Gold-colored finishes on handguns have two effects to the observer. On a little gun like a .25ACP pocket pistol, they’re merely cute. Sort of a “Isn’t that twee? It’s like pocket jewelry!” On a big handgun like, say, a Desert Eagle, they make one want to pick it up and start quoting lines from Scarface or Sicario, and the Beretta-derived Girsan Regard MC is definitely a lot closer size-wise to the Deagle than to a Vest Pocket Colt. When you first heft the golden-hued Girsan out of its red velvet-like cradle, you can’t possibly feel more like you were LARP’ing as a cartel heavy unless you had a brick of Peruvian marching powder in the other hand. The engraving on the test pistol is ornate, combining vaguely floral motifs and crosshatched “banknote”-styled areas. EAA and Girsan both claim that it’s engraved by hand. Without standing over the production elves while they make the pistols, there’s no way to verify that, but it certainly doesn’t appear to be roll-marked, and it’s almost certainly not laser-etched. Given the variety of detail differences in photos of various Deluxe models, there’s no real reason to doubt the claim. While it’s not the deep and rich engraving one would expect from, say, a Nimschke Colt, getting a hand-engraved pistol at this price point is pretty cool. Also nested in the plush red interior of the case are a brass-bristled, wire-handled bore brush, a cable lock, and an extra magazine (more on the magazines later). THE PISTOL So, aside from the Sicario cosplay value of the ornate finish, how does the Girsan Regard MC Deluxe stack up as a regular old pistol? At first glance, the pistol would seem to be a bitwise copy of the Beretta M9A1. (Although the classic scooped-out trigger guard shape, with a serrated rest for the support hand index finger for when you want to pretend that you’re an ’80s action movie hero or Eric Grauffel, hearkens back to the original unrailed M9.) Likewise, the slide is the classic slim contour with an integral front sight blade as found on the M9A1, as opposed to the beefier slide with a dovetailed interchangeable front sight like the 92A1. The Girsen’s gilded features include hand engraving that cries for more bling than the stock G10 grips countenanced. We obliged. This is where the flashy finish does trigger some real-world range drawbacks. While it has a red dot to match the pair found on the rear sight blade, the gold front sight makes for a busy sight picture centered in the notch of the black rear … and that’s when shooting at dark-colored targets, like black-painted steel or a B-8 bull’s-eye. Shoot at a lighter target like white-painted steel, and the front sight becomes easy to lose, and it nearly vanishes against the buff-colored background of a cardboard action pistol target under some lighting conditions. Were we to use this pistol for anything other than a range toy, blackening the front sight blade would be near the top of the to-do list. Another external difference between the Turkish offspring and its Italian progenitor is in the accessory rail on the dust cover. The M9A1 and 92A1 sport one and two lateral slots on their Mil-Std 1913 rails, with the M9A1 having a longitudinal slot as well. The Girsan Regard MC Deluxe, on the other hand, has four lateral slots on its accessory rail. The final — and biggest — external difference is in the shape of the grip. While the backstrap features nine vertical serrations machined into its surface to assist in the shooter being able to maintain a good grip, the frontstrap is devoid of any serrations or checkering. Instead, the glassy smooth gold-toned alloy has two gentle ridges that form finger grooves, giving the Turkish pistol its most distinguishing visual difference from the Italian original. The Achilles’ heel of the Beretta 92 design has always been staying on top of locking block maintenance, and the locking block is one area where the Girsan Regard MC differs internally from the 92. Unlike the original, the “ears” of the locking block on the Girsan have a slight bevel to them. While this may improve durability, it also means that it uses proprietary locking blocks, and you can’t just prophylactically throw a fresh Beretta one from Brownells in there every 15,000 or 20,000 rounds. How much of a down check this is will be left to the buyer. Hopefully by the time you’re reading this article, training classes, pistol matches, and indoor shooting ranges are packed again, but the testing of our sample Girsan Regard was done during the height of The Time of the ’Rona in April of 2020. Instead of putting a few cases of ammunition through it over the course of months in classes and matches, the pistol was subjected to a handful of fairly high-round count outdoor range trips in the pistol bays of Marion County Fish & Game in Indianapolis. AT THE RANGE As mentioned earlier in the review, the pistol ships with a pair of magazines. Happily, these aren’t any kind of strange, third-party clone mags, but genuine Mec-Gar 17-rounders, just like you’d find in the box with an original Pizza Pistol these days. Given the high-quality magazines and the fact that the pistol is a near-clone of the well-proven Beretta 92 design, the results of the shooting tests shouldn’t have been a surprise. The Girsan Regard MC chewed through 840 rounds of 9x19mm ammunition without any stoppages of any sort to report. Test ammo ranged from 147-grain +P Federal HST down to fairly soft-shooting 115-grain Federal Champion full metal jacket range ammo, and, despite the latter loading struggling to top 1,100 fps over the chrono and ejecting weakly, it still managed to function the pistol. Yes, malfunctions probably could’ve been induced with such weak-sauce ammo by holding the pistol with two fingers or something like that, but given the limited time and round count, and the known underpowered nature of that case lot, that seemed pointless. The double-action pull was fairly heavy, north of 13 pounds, stacking noticeably at the end of its travel. The single-action pull was a little crunchy, but reasonably light and consistent, breaking at 4.5 pounds, allowing for boringly easy hits on 8-inch steel out to the 25-yard limit of the bays. The only open question remaining with the gun is durability over the long haul, as its reliability seems proven. Hopefully EAA will have a supply of locking blocks in inventory, but ultimately, we don’t see the average buyer of this particular model running a butt-ton of rounds through it. LOOSE ROUNDS For the price, the Girsan Regard pistols already have a pretty decent reputation at my local indoor range, and the Deluxe version has eye-catching looks like few others in the price bracket. If you want a bit of flash, you could certainly spend more money and wind up with less pistol. Platinum Hi Point, anyone? Girsan Regard MC Deluxe Caliber: 9x19mm Weight Unloaded: 34.5 ounces Capacity: 17+1 rounds Length: 8.25 inches Barrel: 4.9 inches MSRP: $705 URL: eaacorp.com Wicked Grips The grip panels that come on the Girsan Regard MC Deluxe are quite good as grip panels go. They’re fairly aggressively textured and constructed of a G10-like substance; their grippiness goes a long way toward mitigating the slipperiness of the smooth front strap. But the Tactical Dirt Color clashes with the golden-engraved motif of the rest of the blaster, so to fulfill our cartel LARPing dreams, it was off to Wicked Grips for a set of grip panels. Specifically, some clone-correct copies of the ones used by Leguizamo’s Tybalt in Romeo + Juliet. Sure, they’re a hundred bucks ($101.50 to be specific), but the original design is actually anodized into the aluminum grip panels; this isn’t hydro-dipped junk that’s going to peel off. We’re saving the factory panels for actual use, though; they’re grippier. URL: www.wickedgrips.com More From RECOIL On The Far-Out And The Famous Book Review: “To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth” by Jeff Cooper Beretta 92FS: Breathing New Life into an Aging Warhorse. The Strasser RS14: A Different Kind of Austrian Perfection. Next-Gen Rifles: Scar Killers. 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