Israeli Mossad .22 LRS: The Reliable Pistols of the Mossad

Beretta Model 70 and 71 — special purpose favorites of the Israeli Mossad and sky marshals.

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    Israeli Mossad .22 LRS: The Reliable Pistols of the Mossad
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    Israeli Mossad .22 LRS: The Reliable Pistols of the Mossad
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    Israeli Mossad .22 LRS: The Reliable Pistols of the Mossad
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    Israeli Mossad .22 LRS: The Reliable Pistols of the Mossad
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    Israeli Mossad .22 LRS: The Reliable Pistols of the Mossad
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    Israeli Mossad .22 LRS: The Reliable Pistols of the Mossad
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    Israeli Mossad .22 LRS: The Reliable Pistols of the Mossad
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    Israeli Mossad .22 LRS: The Reliable Pistols of the Mossad

An enemy of Israel believes that he has successfully slipped away from the Mossad after his heinous act of terrorism. It’s a beautiful evening and time for a stroll. As the terrorist steps out of his apartment his chest is peppered with a handful of .22 Long Rifle bullets that immediately end his terrorist career. The only thing that the local police find is a dead terrorist and a small pile of .22 LR brass casings sprinkled close to the deceased, courtesy of the Israeli Mossad .22 LRS.

The Beretta Model 70 and the functionally identical Model 71, both in .22 LR, have served with great distinction as the signature terminator pistol of the Mossad, the premiere intelligence agency of the State of Israel. The Beretta 70 was also carried by Israeli Sky Marshals.

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The Beretta Model 70 and 71 are compact single-action .22-caliber semi-automatic pistols that accommodate an eight-round magazine, weigh 17 ounces with an unloaded magazine and have a 3.5-inch barrel. The Beretta Model 71 and the 70 are basically identical in every respect except that the Beretta Model 70s come equipped with a low-profile, adjustable rear sight. One feature that appears on both models is either a thumb safety or a cross bolt safety. These pistols also have the magazine release on the left side of the grip, near the bottom of the frame. According to a reliable source in Israel, the .22-caliber Beretta 70 was taken out of service in the mid 1970s and was replaced by a 9mm Beretta.

Small-Bore Efficiency
One of the most famous incidents involving the use of a .22 caliber Beretta 70 “Jaguar” pistol occurred in February of 1969. After the 1968 hijacking of an El Al airliner by Palestinian terrorists, the Israeli government decided to dramatically increase aviation security by placing sky marshals on board. Eventually, the decision was made to place armed veteran Israeli soldiers aboard El Al aircraft. This Israeli sky marshal program was top secret and never publicized.

beretta2.jpgDuring the incident that took place in February of 1969, Israeli Sky Marshal Mordechai Rachamim engaged several heavily armed Arab terrorists as they attacked an EL Al airliner on a snow covered runway in Zurich. Despite the odds against him, the young Israeli sky marshal expertly used his issued Beretta Model 70 pistol to kill one of the Palestinian terrorists, moments before the Zurich Police arrived and took the remaining terrorists into custody. The three surviving male Palestinian terrorists received 12-year jail sentences for attacking a commercial airliner with machine guns and explosives that resulted in the killing and wounding of several passengers and crew. Sky Marshal Mordechai Rachamim became an instant hero at home in Israel.

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Rachamim told the author that during this engagement at least two of the rounds fired from his Model 70 hit the mark and were responsible for one of the male terrorists being KIA—pretty good shooting, considering that Rachamim single-handedly charged the enemy position while he emptied his .22 caliber pistol at the heavily armed terrorists. Even though Israeli Sky Marshal Rachamim was only armed with a .22, far too much was at stake for him to miss his target. Failure was not on option.

In May of 1972, Rachamim participated in another daring and equally dangerous tactical operation involving aviation security when he and other members of Israel’s elite Sayert Matkal commando unit rescued passengers and crewmembers onboard a hijacked Sabena Airline flight at Lod Airport (now, Ben-Gurion) in Tel Aviv. At the time, this unit was under the command of Ehud Barak, a future Prime Minister of Israel.

Effective, Compact Tools
During this operation, Rachamim and other Israeli commandos assigned to Sayeret Matkal disguised themselves as airline mechanics before storming the hijacked Belgian airliner. As the signal to move was given, Rachamim once again used his issued Model 70 to kill one of the Palestinian terrorists. A second male Palestinian terrorist was also gunned down.

Once again the Israeli sky marshals and Sayert Matkal commandos proved that you do not necessarily need to be heavily armed with sub-machine guns and major-caliber pistols to stop terrorists and criminals. Just like David killed Goliath with a slingshot and a small rock, the Israelis in more modern times used .22s to eliminate a different type of monster from the field of battle.

beretta.jpgRanhamim recently advised Tactical Weapons that during the commando raid on the Sabena Airline jet in 1972, he carried two spare magazines for his issued Beretta. After drawing his pistol and racking the slide, Rachamim recalls charging at one of the male terrorists while he “stabbed” his pistol out in front of him toward his target as he “released rounds.” As he fired his pistol, Rachamim remembered being close enough to see some of his bullets hit the mark. The sight of blood draining from the dead hijacker’s mouth confirmed that the terrorist that he engaged inside the crowded cabin would no longer pose a threat.

Back in the late 1960s and 1970s even the Israelis were still learning how to improve security. Israeli’s selected the Beretta 70/71 because this .22 caliber pistol is a compact, accurate and flawlessly reliable performer that could easily be used to quickly and accurately deliver multiple rounds into vital parts of a human body. The Beretta Model 70/71 in .22 Long Rifle has virtually no recoil and can be easily controlled in rapid fire. There was also little chance that a .22 caliber bullet would cause significant collateral damage inside the crowded cabin of an airliner. No group of armed professionals ever used a .22 caliber pistol as effectively as Israeli Mossad operators and Israeli sky marshals.

Multi-Mission Capable
Although the Beretta 70 & Model 71 are no longer being manufactured, you can still find these outstanding pistols on the used gun market. Like the Beretta family, I share a proud Italian heritage but that doesn’t influence my thoughts on these fine .22 pistols (had I been king, I would have chosen the 9mm SIG 226 or the 9mm SIG 228 over the 9mm Beretta M9 as the standard-issue U.S. military handgun). But for the record, the Beretta Model 70 and 71 are two of the best .22 caliber pistols ever produced.

The .22 caliber Beretta Model 70 & 71 were not designed to serve as a traditional personal defense handgun in a military or police application. However, just like other handguns that have been pressed into government service, the Beretta 70 and 71 proved their effectiveness as an up-close-and-very-personal specialized weapon for certain Israeli government operatives.

After many years firing these pistols, it is easy to see why the Beretta 70 and 71 in .22 LR were identified as a favorite of Israeli Mossad officers and sky marshals of yesteryear. Due to their lightweight design, they are incredibly easy to operate using the Israeli technique of drawing the handgun, then quickly racking the slide to load the weapon, before punching the pistol toward their target and opening fire—a fast way to empty an eight-round magazine of light-recoiling .22 Long Rifle ammunition. To use the Israeli method all you have to do is carry a pistol with a fully loaded magazine and the chamber empty.

I suspect that Israeli Mossad operators and sky marshals liked using the Beretta 70 and 71 because these pistols do not feel like a dainty little handgun that a lady would use to make a mugger take his business elsewhere. When you grip a Beretta 70/71 you feel confident that you are holding a pistol that is capable of winning a gunfight, even though it is chambered in a caliber that is not known for significant stopping power. Israeli operators have proven that, when used properly, a .22 can be very effective in stopping a terrorist or an enemy of the state dead in their tracks.

The Reliability Factor
My pair of Beretta 71s were reliable at all times. In fact, one of my Beretta 71s was flawlessly reliable even though it was fired several times without being cleaned. Both of my Beretta 71s have digested CCI Mini Mags, Remington 40-grain soft leads, Federal 36-grain hollow points and Remington Golden Bullets in 36-grain HP without a problem.

Even though my Beretta 70 does not like CCI Mini Mags, this pistol works flawlessly when used with standard velocity Federal, Remington and Winchester .22 LR ammunition. The Beretta 71 and 70 are designed to be carried with the hammer on safe, fully cocked and ready to fire. All the operator has to do to fire a cocked and locked pistol like a 1911 or a Beretta 71/70 is lower the thumb safety and pull the trigger. This means the Beretta 71 and 70 can be carried cocked and locked with a live round in the chamber just like a 1911. You can also use the Israeli method to load and fire the Beretta 70 & 71.

Over the years the Beretta 70 and 71 have proved to be an excellent platform to train young shooters how to safely operate and use a single-action semi-automatic pistol. Both of my sons trained with a Beretta 71 when they were young: The Beretta 71 and 70 are tremendous confidence builders because they are amazingly accurate, flawlessly reliable and exhibit virtually no recoil. The Beretta 70 and 71 are also excellent pistols for people who suffer from arthritis and find it difficult to operate the slides, or tolerate the recoil of handguns that are chambered in more potent calibers. These pistols are very easy to hold onto, especially during rapid-fire drills. Even with rudimentary fixed sights you will impress yourself with the level of proficiency you can display with a .22 caliber Beretta Model 70 or 71 in a CQB (Close Quarter Battle) drill.

Whether practicing rapid-fire drills at point-blank range, or trying your hand at long-range plinking, the Beretta 70 and 71 are more than capable pistols to train with and use in an emergency. Like other Berettas, the Model 70 and 71 are easy to dissemble and maintain. Anyone who is interested in a reliable and compact .22 LR caliber pistol should try to find a Beretta 70 or 71 on the used gun market. I promise you that you will not regret adding this to your arms chest.


  • jim leinen

    Can the slide of the 70.71 be locked for single shot/suppressor use

  • ke4sky

    The Model 70 was also made in .32 ACP.

    I own one which has both 3.5 and 7 inch barrels. The 7-inch barrel offers a very useful velocity increase compared to the shorter one, RWS, PPU, Fiocchi and Sellier & Bellot 73-gr. FMJ chronographing approximately 1050 f.p.s. This pistol is highly accurate, and quick repetitions some easily. It is fitted with a quick-detachable telescopic sight on a rail mount which slides over and clamps onto the muzzle end of the barrel where it protrudes from the slide. The scope rail extends rearward to the face of the breech. The long eye relief telescope is positioned at the balance point of the pistol, leaving the ejection port unobstructed. A lanyard stud on the rear face of the scope rail permits carrying the pistol slung under the armpit using a standard military-issue pistol lanyard. The pistol can be quickly raised to eye level from under a coat and multiple targets engaged with both alacity and precision.

  • routan1

    I have a Model 71 manufactured in 1961 that was the family “house gun” since Dec. 1968. It has an interesting story attached; In 1968, my cousin was a rookie Baltimore cop (just in time for the riots following the assassination of MLK) and whilst making a pass through the train station on a warm April evening, observed a nervous young black man in a heavy all-weather coat with a gym bag beside him. They shook him down and discovered a sawn-off 12 gauge in the inside pocket. When asked about the gym bag he denied ever seeing it before. (It was completely full of handguns.)They said “Well then, it must be ours.” They ended up as Christmas gifts, circa 1968. Dad chose the Beretta and a Colt Cobra. Flawlessly reliable for forty-one years, every single time.

  • steve pick

    I purchased my model 70S in the early 70′s and what a great buy. I’ve shoot this gun most out of the dozen that I own. I will carry this because of all the things you mentioned. Thanks for this very fine and informative artical.

    Steve Pick

  • Glen Golden

    Very interesting stories. I was very fortunate to find my 71 at an auction sale. The farmer who owned it had died and it was found in its originl box in a root cellar. The slide would not work and it was covered with mildew. I knew it was a real opportunity, knowing how easily Beretta semiautos are to field strip and clean. I bid $100 and got the pistol. I took it home an soaked it in light oil, then field-stripped it, cleaned and oiled it and let it dry for a few days. When I had it apart, I had to clean mildew from every external and internal area. It has fired perfectly with no jamming through several different rounds including some subsonic ones. What a great little pistol!

  • Peter

    I have been searching for a 3.5″ barrel for a Beretta Jaguar model 71 .22 caliber. Can anyone help. Please note, not he entire weapon, only the barrel. Please contact me at Thank you.

  • serhan

    hi.who have know about kimber 8400 police tactical? Is the rifle’s very too backfiring?thank you…

  • http://BerettaJaguarModel.22Pistol abdalhh

    im not have please giveme Beretta Jaguar Model .22 Pistol / and many

  • Darvin

    I am looking to buy a model 71 22LR. If you know of one,or have one, would you please call me.


  • eddie f

    Bought a #71 in 1966 @ $49.95 new. The pistol was a flawless performer for a .22 rimfire pistol. Can never remenber a failure to fire or a feedjam.
    My gun cleaning skills were not that good at the time. Wish I would have kept it. Impossible to find a similar pistol today that was as reliable.

  • Darvin

    Guess it would be good to leave a phone no.513-207-3289

  • Ismael

    I have on of these guns and they shoot very well.

  • ron

    what is the last year that the beretta 70-71 was made i’d like to purchase the newest model available in 22 cal

  • Steve D

    I have a Beretta model 70 which I traded for. I love the gun and fires great and feels good in my hand, the only problem is when I got it the magazine was worn out and has now gotten to the point it won’t function any longer and I can’t find a replacement. Does anyone know where I can find one or have one I could purchase? Please contact me at or by phone 515-661-2126
    Thank You

  • Internazionale

    Very interesting stories. I was very fortunate to find my 71 at an auction sale. The farmer who owned it had died and it was found in its originl box in a root cellar. The slide would not work and it was covered with mildew. I knew it was a real opportunity, knowing how easily Beretta semiautos are to field strip and clean. I bid $100 and got the pistol. I took it home an soaked it in light oil, then field-stripped it, cleaned and oiled it and let it dry for a few days. When I had it apart, I had to clean mildew from every external and internal area. It has fired perfectly with no jamming through several different rounds including some subsonic ones. What a great little pistol!

  • Lior

    Interesting article on this pistol. It was the first handgun I shot, and one that I still plink with on occasion. By the way, Israel still uses them. They are issued to uniformed Civil Guard volunteers, administrative staff and female police conscripts. I carried one for a year or so as a police volunteer here in Israel. While they are accurate, comfortable to carry and shoot and easy to learn on, their lack of stopping power is a major liability. Twenty years ago a policeman shot a terrorist with his issue Beretta 71, only to be stabbed to death by him immediately afterward. Today I prefer to use a Glock 19 for duty and concealed carry, but my son has been shooting using an M71 at the local range since the age of seven.

  • Bob12

    I own a 70s in .380 with thumb rest and extended finger rest. It was my first gun and still my favorite to shoot. It was a pocket pistol back in the seventies and is still a great carry gun in a pinch.

  • pappysbuddy

    I am looking for a recoil spring and guide rod for a Model 71 Beretta.
    Thanks for any help.

  • http://N.A. Joe Palluzzi

    Having owned and shot ALL if not most of the .22LR pistols made in the last 50 years I have found the Beretta model 71 .22LR pistol 2nd model with the 1911 type safety to be the most reliable .22LR pistol ever made bar none.I have owned both the 3 1/2 barrel fixed sight version and the 6 inch target sight versions(still do) I have yet to encounter a much more reliable pistol out there regardless of make or cost that will give you ZERO jams or malfunctions with any kind of quality ammo that you feed it.Experts out there know about this dirty little secret and will never let their beloved little Model 71′s (again second version) out of their hands at any price.They will never ever make a small .22LR pistol like this again.Treasure yours if you have one so the next generation will enjoy shooting this gem for thousands of rounds to come.Bravo Beretta!!!

  • Matt Beals

    I just shot 550 rounds of Federal HP this weekend and didn’t have a single FTF. It’s been in the family for 50 odd years and we’ve never had a problem with it. I can’t remember a time where we’ve had a FTF or a stove pipe. Gunsmith friend said to just spray it out with WD-40 or break free after firing. Works perfect every single time. If it weren’t for the long barrel I’d carry it. Shoots a bit high at 20 feet but it’s an awesome gun. As reliable as my Detonics Combat Master MKVI.

  • JLS

    I own a mod75 an is great gun my son said to sell it cause he has his sig so when i get to old to see the sights i will think about it.I turn 67 this Sept.As long as i have it i feel safe enough to take with me.Can still hit apple at 48 ft

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  • scotthom

    I know a guy that has a model71 with a 5 or 6 inch barrel and wants $200 for it. What’s it worth?

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  • dave brannon

    I have a model 70s and would not trade it for the world. Having a hard time finding magazines, any thoughts?

  • Ron

    I am looking for a magazine article that I read And would like to find again but,can’t remember what magazine I read it in.It was about a 70s or 71 baretta being used as a nazi hunter if anyone knows which magazine it was please call me so I can get a copy. thanks Ron 941-875-1679

  • Ron

    correction being used by a nazi hunter to foil a plane hijacking.he would pepper them in the face with 22 cal bullets from this gun
    thanks Ron 941-875-1679

  • Ron

    correction; to above comment the gun was being used by a nazi hunter to foil a plane hijacking.he would pepper them in the face with 22 cal bullets from this gun
    thanks Ron 941-875-1679

  • rosen

    I am a Bulgarian citizen, rather than have such weapons and I can say I felt very good impression:)

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  • scaatylobo

    I have owned and carried a 70S since about 1978,and that was due largely to the use to avenge the Mucich attack.

    I will keep it till I cannot shoot as that is a GTG choice,even for an old man.

  • Danny

    I personally carry a Walter P22 w a 10 rd mag–I love it, still watching online auctions for a Beretta 71 LR.

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  • Brett

    A great article, I am about to purchase my first mod 70 in .22lr. With what i have read, it has re-enforced my choice to add one to my collection.

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  • Marauder

    I’ve had a Beretta Jaguar Model 71 (presumably; rear sight not adjustable) since the late 60s and have adopted it as my carry weapon, loaded with stingers. I’m now looking for a 6″ barrel for the extra power.

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  • Marauder

    I’ve had one of these little weapons for a long time, and have never had trouble with it. It’s never even jammed, because the ejection port has nothing but wide open spaces to throw the casing. Been looking for a long barrel for some time.

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  • Juan Reynoza

    I am hoping to purchase this pistol in the next month and I am looking for parts and cleaning tools. I need online stores in order to purchase due to my location. If anyone knows where I can shop for this, please reply. thanks

  • Dan Michlig

    I had one in the 3.5″ that was stolen and currently have one with the 6″ barrel. Great fit in a 220 lb shooter. Reasonably accurate and very reliable. I have taught many people to shoot for the first time with this weapon. really miss the 3.5″ barrel.

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  • Lee Smith

    nice article. very good read. ill have to look into getting one of these and try it out for myself

  • Zenchan

    Nice story, but only half of it: The Israeli love affair with the Beretta 70/71 started in the 1960ies, when an American Expatriate by the name of Dave Berkemann, a US- Marine, became a shooting instructor with Israel’s Shin Beth aka nowadays Shabak, the internal security agency, also protecting El Al planes, offices, consulate etc. His technique caught on, and he was leased to other agencies, Zahal’s Specfor units etc. Berkemann was legend, his order “Tachpitz poo shtaim!” (give it a doublette here) in heavy accentuated Hebrew became a wellknown saying in certain units. Even back then, not everybody was totally convinced by his favorite pistol or its puny calibre. But you cannot argue with success: Berkemann disciples came out of his courses shooting straight and true, and where one bullet did not do the trick, two, three or four would end the career of every evildoer. Back then there was no tradition of pistol carrying/shooting in the IDF, officers were issues Uzis. There was an abundance of pistols, mostly old Webley revolvers around in the Police and Army, along with Lugers from WWI and WWII – but ammo was scarce. Some Beretta 51 and FN Hi Powers existed, booty from the Six-Day-War, carrying Egyptian and Syrian crests. How do I know? I was there at the time, when Berkemann was still around. I used the Beretta on occasion, even had one … but for serious work I carried a double action HK P 9 S in Nine-mil, one of the first ones, which came out of the Oberndorf factory. It was my own, not service-issue, paid for it myself. It was only in the 80ies and 90ties, that the Berettas 70/71 were phased out of the security services, being replaced first by FN Hi-Power, later Glocks and Sig-Sauer 226. But some are still around, in conjunction with silencers.

  • StevenBBBack

    I got my Beretta 21A in SS. It loves mini-mags, but after 50 or so round it needs a goto cleaning. Plenty of shots for what it’s designed for. Otherwise it’s time for 230 gr. of American persuasion.