BY: NICK JACOBELLIS
If you doubt the effectiveness of a flawlessly reliable .22 LR caliber pistol, consider that Israeli Sky Marshals used .22 LR caliber Beretta Model 70S/71 pistols to engage armed hijackers/terrorists, during the early days of their air marshal program. If armed Israeli government personnel were able to successfully engage several armed terrorists, on the ground and on board hijacked commercial aircraft, while armed with a reliable .22 LR caliber Beretta pistol, you should also be able to use a flawlessly reliable .22 LR caliber pistol, to effectively engage armed aggressors in CQB situations.
*Back in May of 2009 I wrote an article about the use of the .22 LR caliber Beretta 70S/71 pistol by armed Israeli government air marshals for Tactical Weapons Magazine. As referenced in this article, an incredibly brave Israeli Sky Marshal, who also served as an Israeli Army commando, used a .22 LR caliber Beretta Model 70S pistol to effectively engage armed terrorists on two occasions in 1969 and 1972.
As he relayed to me in an interview, Israeli Sky Marshal Mordechai Rachamim stated that when he observed several armed individuals on the tarmac, near the commercial El Al airliner that he was protecting, he got off the aircraft to challenge the terrorists. During this armed encounter at least two of the bullets fired from his .22 caliber Beretta Model 70 hit the mark and were responsible for one of the male terrorists being killed in action. Under the circumstances, this was pretty good shooting considering that Israeli Sky Marshal Rachamim single-handedly charged the enemy position as he emptied his .22 caliber pistol in the direction of the heavily armed terrorists. Even though he was only armed with a .22 caliber Beretta pistol, far too much was at stake for this Israeli Sky Marshal to miss his target. As far as Mordechai Rachamim was concerned, failure was not an option.
Mordechai Ranhamim also advised me that during the Israeli commando raid on the Sabina Airline jet in 1972 he carried two spare magazines for his issued Beretta 70 .22 LR pistol. After drawing his pistol and racking the slide, Mordechai Rachamim recalled 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, Mordechai Rachamim remembered being close enough to his target 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 Mordechai engaged inside the crowded cabin of a commercial airliner would no longer be a threat to anyone.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THE BERETTA 70S/71
The Israeli’s selected the Beretta 70S/71 because this .22 LR caliber pistol is a compact, accurate and flawlessly reliable performer, that could easily be used to deliver multiple projectiles quickly and accurately into the vital parts of a human body. This is the case, because the Beretta Model 70S/71 in .22 Long Rifle can be easily controlled in rapid fire by someone who is trained to shoot under stress. There was also little chance that a .22 caliber bullet would cause significant collateral damage when fired inside the crowded cabin of a commercial airliner. The incredibly low/soft recoil produced by their issued .22 LR caliber Beretta pistols also enabled Israeli operatives to quickly drill a target with enough lead to stop a threat from continuing to be a threat.
Clearly, the .22 LR caliber Beretta Model 70S & 71s were not designed to serve as a traditional Compact Personal Defense Weapon in a military or police application. However, just like other handguns that have been pressed into government service, the Beretta 70S & 71 proved their effectiveness as an up close and very personal specialized weapon for certain Israeli government operatives.
I suspect that Israeli Sky Marshals liked using the Beretta 70S/71, because these pistols do not feel like a dainty little handgun, that someone would use to make a mugger take his business elsewhere. When you grip a Beretta 70S/71 you feel confident that you are holding onto a pistol that is capable of winning a gunfight, even though it’s chambered in a caliber that is not known for producing significant stopping power.
Before I end this section, allow me to formally recognize the Israeli government personnel who went into harms way to fight terrorists, long before the United States entered The Global War on Terrorism with full force. In the very early days of this conflict, Israeli Sky Marshals like Mordechai Rachamim gave an incredibly good account of themselves, when they engaged terrorists armed with a relatively low quotient of firepower. Shalom!
SIDEBAR: The Beretta Model 70S is an all-steel pistol with a thumb mounted safety on the left side of the frame, a 3.5 inch barrel and low profile adjustable rear sight. The Beretta Model 71 has an alloy frame and fixed sights and was only manufactured in .22 Long Rifle caliber. Both pistols had an 8 round magazine capacity. Variations of the 70S/71 were also made that included a longer barrel and the repositioning of the safety to the lower portion of the grip.
About the author: Nick Jacobellis is a Medically Retired U.S. Customs Agent and a former NY police officer who was physically disabled in the line of duty while working undercover as a federal agent. To date, the author has published over 220 magazine articles and ten action-packed non-fiction, historical military fiction, and fiction police procedural books: Controlled Delivery Books One and Two, The Frontline Fugitives Books I, II, III, and IV, Buck Banderas U.S. Marshal Books One, Two and Three, A Special Kind of Hero and The K9 Academy-The Second Edition. These books have received 5 Star reviews and are available on Amazon.com (US), and (UK). The author was born and raised in Flatbush section of Brooklyn N.Y. and has an BS Degree in Police Science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.