In 1526 Mastro Bartolomeo Beretta (1490 – 1565/68) of Gardone received 296 ducats as payment for 185 arquebus barrels sold to the Arsenal of Venice. Already in production in the early 1500s, Beretta products were chosen by the highly discriminating Republic of Venice because of their excellence. As the Beretta name became synonymous with uncompromising quality, design, materials, construction and performance, word spread beyond the Italian borders, establishing a tradition that has carried over, uninterrupted, through fifteen generations of Berettas. The trade secrets and attention to detail Jacopo (1520/25 – ...) inherited from his father Bartolomeo were passed on to his own son Giovannino (1550 – post 1577), then to his grandson Giovan Antonio (1577 – post 1649) – on and on from one century to the next.
In the early 1800s Pietro Antonio Beretta (1791 – 1853), in spite of difficulties arising from constant wars and foreign domination, traveled throughout Italy to demonstrate the superior quality of his products and collect orders. Pietro Antonio’s son Giuseppe (1840 – 1903) continued the arduous effort begun by his father, creating new opportunities for the company through international distribution.
In the early 1900s Pietro (1870 – 1957) took the Company reins, introducing modernized manufacturing methods, many patents for mechanisms and simplified construction, consequently establishing Beretta, the first Italian firearms maker, as one of the most modern firearms production facilities in the world. The modernization process was continued by the sons Giuseppe (1906 – 1993) and Carlo (1908 – 1984), securing the Company’s multinational character with commercial and production activity in numerous European countries and the United States. These efforts created successful ventures in the military, law enforcement and private sectors.