The Inside Scoop on the New Beretta M9A3

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Last week, I was waxing poetic about the upcoming Modular Handgun System trials, and I’d put together my list of logical entrants. In that piece, I went on record in defense of Beretta. It’s no secret that I respect the M9 platform, but that wasn’t the reason I included them in the list. Beretta has 30 years of experience with the M9. They know the proverbial ropes. This history isn’t a guarantee that they’ll be awarded the new contract (just ask Colt–they’ll tell you). Still, don’t count Beretta out. They can play this game. Take this week’s announcement of the M9A3.

Beretta M9A35

The M9A3 is suppressor ready, and the frame has a rail.

The M9A3 is suppressor ready, and the frame has a rail.

A break down of the M9A3.

The M9A3 is still a 9mm. That part isn’t easily changed for a contract that had, as one of its core stipulations, use of the 9mm round. The operating system hasn’t changed. It is still a short recoil, semiautomic, double/single action. The tilting locking block, though, is a 3rd generation of the  design, and increases service life.

The M9A3 offers an increase in magazine capacity from 15 to 17 rounds. For continuity purposes, 15 round mags are available, as are 20 round and 30 round magazines. Magazines will be built with a sand-resistant PVD coating, and will have channels inside that move sand away from the walls of the magazine and the rounds inside, which will prevent binding.

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The M9A3 makes significant changes to the M9A1 pistol, but it is still an M9 at heart.

The front sight blade will be dovetailed, and have a tritium dot. This will allow for adjustments, or use of suppressor height sights. The rear sight will be a dovetailed notched bar, tritium 2-dot.

The safeties will still be comprised of a decocking/safety lever, automatic firing pin block, loaded chamber indicator, external hammer, half-cock notch, double action first trigger pull.

Beretta has also moved the safety/decocker up on the slide, out of line with center, and given it a slightly different angle. This prevents the accidental engagement during slide manipulation. Beretta’s new “Universal” slide design allow armorers to convert the “F” style pistols to “G” configurations. This makes the safety/ decocker a decocker only.

As with the M9, the “external hammer provides the energy to the firing pin, virtually eliminating the possibility of misfires due to light primer strikes, even in adverse conditions. As with the other M9 variants, this hammer provides an immediate visual and tactile indicator as to the cocked/uncocked status of the pistol.”

The new M9A3 will be finished in Flat Dark Earth. The whole gun will have a mix of Cerakote, anodizing, Bruniton, black oxide, and PVD finishes and coatings. These “advanced coatings provide high lubricity, corrosion resistance and excellent wear resistance. Reduced visual and IR signature.”

The SERPA holster in use by the Marines will hold the new M9A3.

The SERPA holster in use by the Marines will hold the new M9A3.

The barrel will be chrome lined, and threaded to 1/2″ x28 on an extension. It will also come with a thread protector. This will allow for suppressors for the lucky few. Like the M9A1, the A3 has a 3 slot MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rail.

Shooters with larger hands will have a choice of a wrap around backstrap grip, while shooters with smaller hands can use a “Vertec” grip with a straight backstrap and thinner grip panels. Beneath the grip, the mag well has a more pronounced bevel to allow for faster, easier magazine changes.

  • OVERALL HEIGHT 5.4″
  • OVERALL WIDTH 1.5″ (1.3″ at grips)
  • OVERALL LENGTH 8.7″
  • BARREL LENGTH 5.1″
  • SIGHT RADIUS 6.3″
  • WEIGHT UNLOADED 33.3 oz
The color scheme can now be matched to mission specifics, if needed.

The color scheme can now be matched to mission specifics, if needed.

My conversation with Gabriele de Plano

I recently spoke with Gabriele de Plano, Vice President of Military Marketing & Sales at Beretta, about the M9A3. He was more than generous with his answers to all of my persistent questions. Beretta has released a lot of the details about the gun, but there’s more to the story than what’s currently making the rounds on the net.

To begin with, the M9A3 is being offered by Beretta as an Engineering Change Proposal (ECP). Beretta’s still working toward the fulfillment of an existing M9 contract extension, and the M9A3 will, if the ECP is accepted, be the pistol they deliver for the remainder of the contract. This is not, de Plano explains, an attempt to derail the upcoming MHS trials, as some (myself included) have speculated.

The M9A3 as an improved version of the M9. The M9A1, currently in use by the Marines, made some improvements (like the addition of the rail on the frame). The M9A3 addresses almost all of what de Plano calls “the real or perceived” concerns that vocal critics have made of the M9. From the size of grips to the threaded barrel, some changes are overt. Yet there are more subtle changes, like the positioning of the safety/decocker and the sand channeling capabilities of the magazine that will be just as significant, if not as easy to see.

An extended mag well will make reloads even easier.

An extended mag well will make reloads even easier.

De Plano notes that the Army has not requested that these changes be made. Beretta has made improvements on their own initiative in an attempt to make the guns better. These changes will make the gun more adaptable to mission specifics, more adaptable to the end user’s needs, more reliable, and more effective, and the end units will come in below the current unit cost of the M9.

Which criticisms remain on the table?

The most persistent, and ludicrous, is that the M9 isn’t the 1911. The M9A3 isn’t a 1911 either, so haters (as they say in the parlance of our times) gonna hate. It is also still a 9mm. I’ve long thought that the M9’s detractors were mostly rallying against 115 grain 9mm ball ammo, but that’s what the contract calls for–so there’s no way around it. And Beretta still hasn’t enclosed the slide.

This last point is worth exploring more. Beretta has been hearing this criticism for almost a century. And some of their pistols, like the PX4, do have enclosed slides. Yet de Plano says experiments with an enclosed slide on the M9 made the gun less reliable. The enclosure added weight (close to 20%) to the slide, too. And, as de Plano and others point out, the open slide allows debris, sand, and brass out.

The wrap around backstrap for larger hands.

The wrap around backstrap for larger hands.

As for the Modular Handgun Trials?

Beretta isn’t ready to comment. The M9A3 isn’t a likely entrant in the trials, as the emphasis will be on modularity and could include alternative calibers (or at that’s the speculative talk around the water cooler). De Plano has a pragmatic view of the whole situation. “Legacy weapon systems need improvements,” he said “The M9 can be improved.” That’s the role of the M9A3, and the ECP. “And the M9 won’t be around forever,” de Plano commented. “The 1911 wasn’t around forever, either. Even if a new gun comes along, we will still need to improve existing inventory at the lowest cost possible.”

True enough. We’re 30 years in and still on the M9. Think of other platforms like the M16/M16A2, etc. and you’ll see the potential.

And what about the M9A2?

If the Marines are fielding the M9A1, and the ECP is for the M9A3, where is the M9A2? Turns out this is part of the ECP as well. While Beretta would like to deliver the M9A3 for new contract fulfillment, they can also offer upgrades to the M9s currently in service. Those upgraded M9s could be given the designation M9A2.

Posture, people. Get aggressive. Beretta just did. The M9A3 may be the elephant in the room that no one wants to admit they have to beat.

Posture, people. Get aggressive. Beretta just did. The M9A3 may be the elephant in the room that no one wants to admit they have to beat.

In the end…

The M9 won’t last forever. The Modular Handgun System trials may very well dethrone the M9, as the M9 dethroned the 1911. But if this ECP is accepted, and the M9A3 lives up to the hype, then it will be much harder to justify the expense of replacing it. A new gun will need all new training materials. Armorers will have to be trained. Soldiers will have to be trained. New blue guns. New holsters. New parts suppliers. The list of ancilary expenses gets really long. And these extras add up.

That’s what too many arm-chair experts like myself often forget. The MHS trials aren’t looking for the best gun. Far from it. They are looking for a good-enough gun at a reasonable price. And right now, the M9 (the current M9) has set the bar high. The M9A3 will raise the bar a lot higher. Even if it isn’t entered into the trials, it will be looming there in the background as the one to beat.

{ 60 comments… add one }
  • Rammbo December 8, 2016, 8:36 pm

    The crazy lunatic who killed 22 people in Virginia Tech was not shooting a 45 caliber he had a 9mm glock 19 and a 22 cal. I dare all the 9mm detractors in this forum to stand in front of me while I shoot them with a 9mm beretta or any gun for that matter. A 9mm is a very dangerous round in the hands of a trained shooter. Any round of any caliber is,deadly in the hands of a trained individual. Ask poor Mr. Brady he is paralized due to a .22 round when our president Reagan was almost killled. I laugh when I see civilians and some people who claim to have been in wars say that this or that weapon is garbage. Eventually, they were not in the military nor they know anything about firearms. Any weapon in the hands od a trained individual,is deadly. You could shoot an objective with an RPG and miss. On the other hand a trained shooter can shoot you with a .22 in your forehaed and kill you.

  • Mike September 29, 2016, 5:51 pm

    I love the m9s, always have. I think they are a great looking, and very reliable gun. I don’t know how it would do dropped in sand or mud, but really how well will any gun do in the same situation. I have even seen videos of glocks…yes, I said glocks failing dropped in mud. The fact is I think they m9 is one sexy looking gun ,and beretta has always been a great company. I have a PX4 compact that I have had for 2 years and haven’t had one problem with it. Even not cleaning it for 6 or 7 months (I know not smart) I went to the range blew off 300 rds flawlessly. The m9 is definitely on my list of favorite and hopefully one day will be able to afford guns to get, and now with the A3 out hopefully that will be the one I get

  • gym May 5, 2015, 7:23 pm

    Remember why we switched to the 45 in the first place? The 38, “similar to a 9mm” wsa not stopping those natives, on that island, remember the Moro’s, http://www.morolandhistory.com/related%20articles/legend%20of%20.45.htm. Same thing again, De ja Vu all over again. The 45 put them down and kept them down.

  • Gus February 16, 2015, 11:38 pm

    Anyone know the price of this gun?

    • kyle March 21, 2016, 6:59 pm

      We have only gotten a couple in so far here at EuroOptic.com but the price is $998.00.

      • AP April 28, 2016, 6:50 pm

        You’re an idiot to even make comment such as the one you made! You picked the gun off of a injured motor t? Then you started wearing people out? But, because of all the sand it failed you? I seem to think this has been stated in movies or something. But being left Hi and Sandy in Iraq must have been tough. YOU MUST BE A SPECIAL OPS GUY!!

  • TRON MARINE February 11, 2015, 10:00 am

    I used the m9a1 in combat back in 2003 in the sand box I picked it up off a injured corps man and used that to defend myself out the truck window im a pog motor t. and I quickly found out that that pistol is a hunk of garbage the pistol was less then reliable and in the sand box it would jam all the time even with cleaning it 2 times a day . after using one and putting my life in that pistols hands for defense. I quickly got rid of it and had my old 1911 sent over to me as a second line of defense not only had my 1911 got thru 3 wars (family firearm passed down) but it also saved my life and was way more reliable then the beretta . now to this day I will not trust a beretta for anything except using the handle to hammer nails that’s about the berettas worth IMHO. I will not trust beretta at all and the 9mm has got to be one of the least effective rounds out there for tactical defense and assault. ill take a 40 or my good old tried and true 45acp 1911. over the 9mm beretta. now I havnt shot their newer ones and I haven’t ever wanted to after being left hi and sandy in Iraq by the beretta and almost getting shot because of a jam and not being able to return fire I will trust my life to the 45acp XD, GLOCK, ANYTHING BUT BERETTA. I will never trust them again with my life.

    • Dick Guzinya May 26, 2016, 8:38 am

      This comment should be taken down. You don’t strip weapons off the wounded, nor is it authorized for you to have or carry “daddy’s 1911” through a war zone… You are “issued” a weapon for a reason, anything else is a violating of international treaties and rules of war.
      The most experience this guy has had with an M9, is that of An Xbox video game!

      • Ted August 6, 2016, 12:21 pm

        I agree with the comment; I think that guy is full of it and made up most of that BS, he probably watched too many movies and plays too many video games

      • Steve Chiamulon September 15, 2016, 12:29 am

        And how did this war hero get the A1 in 2003? #stolenvalor

    • Bserss August 19, 2016, 2:01 am

      Wow… you are so full of shit.

  • OleCowboy January 3, 2015, 6:22 pm

    Just some thoughts:

    I carried a 1911 in my military career, note I did not say it was an A1, its was not, it was ‘issued’ to me by my dad, he was issued it in 1934 and it left with him the day after Pearl on an island tour of the Pacific, later Korea, then Vietnam. That 1911 has seen almost 60 years of service from the Horse Cavalry wars and its never failed!

    I also own 5 Beretta 92/M9’s. I can find nothing wrong with them from the eyes of this Infantry soldier.

    I asked my dad one time what he carried besides the 1911. He carried a Thompson SMG, 2, 100 rd drum mags. He chose that as it used the same ammo. He never said much after that. But after his death, I found a box of fotos that were taken in the aftermath of various battles. I can assure you that Thompson saw a lot of duty. Many of the pics were written with notes of the back with things like: “taken from my position after the 2nd wave attack”.

    I like both of them but if I had to say one was the better I would have to say it was the 1911 ONLY because of its incredible long and strong war history. Its weakness I see is in the 7 rd mag, on the other hand if I need to shoot more than 7 times then there are more coming at me that I can take down anyhow.

    As for it being all about “bullit” placement: Then its clear you have never been the bloody arena on the killing fields. I have stared the enemy in the face and trust me, there is not time for bullet placement, its all fly by your gut, instinctive aiming wins the day…

    9mm vs .45 cal wounds: Yea the ballistic jell tells a story, it just not tell it very well. I know and saw soldiers take more rounds than holes in a screen door and the guy next to him takes 1 that should not have caused a death let alone a serious wound, but he died on the way and the other one lived to fight another day. Take away: We aren’t ballistic jell!

    The objective of war is to win by any means possible. If we measured it by killing the bad guys we would have won in Vietnam, and the ME, but those are wars we lost and battles we didn’t…

    Manual of Arms: Tactical Manual…NOT! It shows and teaches how to display the arm for inspection while in formations, on the parade field etc, not on the killing fields.

    Locking block failure: The standard in the tests was to fire 35,000 rds, only 2 weapons pass, Beretta and Sig. The Beretta had 3 failures past 35,000 rds. That said:

    Weapons usage in the military is extremely high stress. They are are fired an untold amount of times and unless they fail they are RARELY sent to a higher echelon for maintenance. The weapon issued to YOU, when you arrived had been issued to someone else before he turned it in, and the beat goes on and on. There is no such thing as a NO FAIL ____________ fill in the blank with anything you want! Even hammers fail sooner or later.

  • Typical January 2, 2015, 12:52 am

    I’m convinced those in love with the .45 are compensating for the small caliber packed in their pants. I can’t see any other reason you would think 7 rounds of .45 ACP are better than 15 rounds of 9mm.

    • tronmarine February 11, 2015, 10:14 am

      I can think of a few reasons why the 9mm is a girls gun and especially the beretta m9. 1. dosnt have stopping power, 2. weak at penetration, 3. over compensating for more rounds then accuracy the 45 is just as accurate if you know how to shoot.and even thou the 1911 is only a 7 round mag and one in the chamber makes 8. there are still other larger caliber pistols with bigger clips then the 1911 the springfield xd has a 12 round clip with 1 in the chamber makes 13 that’s vary usable. ive seen a e-3 take one 9mm to the leg and still habble over to cover but ive never seen a guy take a 45 and hobble anywhere but get dragged to cover by fellow soldiers. 9mm just a girls caliber ill take my 500 bear killer revolver over the 9mm and the 45acp

    • SJ February 28, 2015, 11:28 am

      Yep! Another ID10T that has to pull the genital compensation routine… You want to carry a 9, carry a 9. Just make sure you pack the ammo in the right tool.

  • MegaRog December 25, 2014, 10:09 pm

    Personally, I believe a 9mm to be under powered. Give me a .45 ACP ……..

    • JOHN May 1, 2016, 7:12 pm

      personally i feel the .45 is under powered.it can only penetrate 2 1/2 m-slims standing back to back.the 3rd was scared sh-less.

  • todd December 22, 2014, 2:34 pm

    I’ve had both a Beretta 92F and a 1911. the 1911 is far better. I doubt the m9 will have the long service time the 1911 had, and would still have if we gave our soldiers quality over quantity. only been in service since 1985 and already having to change design? while the 1911 is pretty much the same as it was in 1908. when Beretta can match that history, I might be interested… But most of us won’t live long enough to see that happen, if it ever does. I would rather see 9mm 1911’s in service from American companies over any foreign company! and yes I know Berrettas are now made in the USA, but that does not make them an American company, any foreign company can build a factory in the US. does it make it better importing the parts to assemble here, over just importing the whole gun? No, but it’s how these foreign companies get government contracts. It’s just a shame our soldiers are given cheaper guns instead of better guns!
    We should arm our soldiers with American guns! not italian made guns, assembled in the US

    • SSgt Mas December 22, 2014, 5:07 pm

      I don’t care if they are made on Mars, if it’s a better mousetrap for the money then we should buy it. If HK could provide their level of quality and accuracy in a more affordable package, I would be delighted. The terrorists will have no idea what country of origin the lead (or copper) delivery system came from.

      The Ford Taurus is American made, and I would much rather have my Toyota Camry if my life depended on function first.

    • Kivaari December 22, 2014, 8:50 pm

      From memory the first year contract said the guns were built in Italy, the second year guns assembled with Italian parts and there after all made in the USA. Commercial pistols don’t matter.

    • Army127 January 7, 2015, 3:07 am

      First of all the 1911 is not the same as when it first entered service on that date, they had changed it before WW2 to the 1911A1 so all pistols go through design changes and improvements to make them better, safer, easier to use etc. the 1911 of today is no where near the same pistol as the first 1911’s. Sure it looks the same but the internals, sights, safeties, triggers, and mainspring housing aren’t the same.

      As for the Beretta, the company has continuosly been in business owned by the same family since 1535 I believe, so saying Colt or the 1911 being around longer than Beretta is just a few hundred years off. The M9 is going through improvements and changes to make it a better weapon just like the 1911 did during its service life. Look it up if you don’t believe me. The M9 is a quality handgun that has been in service with the military for 40 years now and is still going strong with the M9A3 providing some very good updates that may keep it in service another 40. I I carried an M9 for 15 years in the Army, 2 tours in Iraq, amongst other places, and never had it fail on me once and yes I was in combat not a FOBIT! I was also the Armorer for our DET and only saw one cracked locking block the whole time, they were beefed up a long time ago. I understand the troops complaints about knockdown power but ball ammo in any caliber that the Army or any other branch would consider using will not have good knockdown power. The problem with the .45acp is that it over penetrates and that can become a real danger in a CQC environment with your team all around you in a room and a bad guy in the middle. There are plenty of operators who will use the 9mm over the .45 with ball or FMJ ammo in a CQC situation. I think the Army wants a handgun that can change calibers on the same frame, so you could use 9mm for 1 mission, change the slide and mag and go out with a .40 cal or .357 sig for the next one. This can be done very easily and some companies already have platforms like this, Sig for one and I am sure Beretta could do this easily, and other companies too. We will have to wait and see what come out of this new handgun trial, or if the Army likes the M9A3 so much they just keep that one. You never know? Until then the US Army will drive on and continue to use what is available to them. Oh one final thought, I think I would want 15 rounds of 9mm with good shot placement over only 7 of over penetrating .45acp that could put my team members in jeapordy in a small room or house with thin walls, no? Oh and 17 rounds now sorry. Just my thoughts.

      SSG G out.

      • Army127 January 7, 2015, 3:18 am

        With the M9 and 1911, I should’ve said bullets on target instead of shot placement sorry, it’s late and my brain isn’t as good as it was before I was injured in ’09. I would rather have the now 17 rounds per mag vs 7 per mag with the 1911 to put on target during the fight and it keeps me in the fight longer, or gives me more bullets to cover my movement to better cover. Sorry dumb mistake on my part. Drive on and keep your heads down, and in the fight guys!

        SSG G out.

  • Nate December 22, 2014, 11:51 am

    a potentially dangerous practice – slide lever manipulation is a much more fine motor skill than sling shotting the slide- and this was a compromise that the USMC had to make

    Why is this dangerous? Those of us in the military that are shooters, vs those who shoot because it’s required, can easily and safely use the slide stop to rapidly return the weapon to RED status. With my semi auto pistols and any M4 variant I can do magazine swaps and continue shooting rapidly and flawlessly.
    IMO, moving the support hand from magazine insertion, to the top of the slide, slingshot the slide, return to the supporting grip position all becomes wasted movements. Plus the weapon moves and rotates all around. Some even end up washing the barrel toward the next guy on the range because of this. Seat the mag with the heel of your left hand, release the slide with your right thumb, return left hand to support can all be done simultaneously, while staying practically on target.
    I do understand that this is different for left handed people, but as for being dangerous I just don’t see it.

    • SSgt Mas December 22, 2014, 4:56 pm

      It’s dangerous because it can and will get you killed in a gunfight. Not my opinion, but a fact reinforced by decades of modern law enforcement and military training/experience. What works on the range, in a nice controlled environment, doesn’t always translate to what works under stress, with the sympathetic nervous system engaged.

      You will experience: loss of fine motor skills, tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, and other symptoms of your sympathetic nervous system dumping adrenaline into you.

      You will not find any current law enforcement training that advocates using the slide release for officers, because it is widely accepted that manual slide manipulation is a more reliable movement to perform under stress. The fact that the USMC needed to compromise on this for the CPP tells you how unsuitable the M9 system is for modern pistol fighting.

      • Raymond wall January 19, 2015, 2:59 pm

        You are an IDIOT! If you are in battle and can not use the weapons you have correctly, then you deserve to have your head blown off. Its only dangerous if you DO NOT KNOW HOW TO USE IT! Just like the people who state they have stovepiped there M9,FS or A1. If you stovepipe one of these pistols then you need to get yourself a little 22 or even a water pistol YOU LIMP WRISTED IDIOTS! HOLD YOUR GUN LIKE A MAN, NOT A SISSY!

    • SSgt Mas December 22, 2014, 4:59 pm

      Also, comparing the “karate chop” or “ping pong slap” movement to send the bolt forward on the M4 to using the slide release on a PISTOL is comparing apples to Volkswagens.

      • Nate December 22, 2014, 10:26 pm

        I don’t slap the bolt catch. I feed the magazine in with a four finger grip, and push the catch with my thumb. I’m accustomed to holding the mag well when shooting unsupported. Practice makes habit, practice it right and you’ll get it right without thinking.
        I can, however, relate to the tunnel vision part. I’ve been there in Iraq and at my regular job here I the States

  • Lee Blackman December 22, 2014, 10:39 am

    So its a vertec? With a paint job, a threaded barrel, and a fancy name?

  • Deano Capristo December 22, 2014, 9:46 am

    It has nothing to do with 40. 45. Or 9mm. It is all in bullit placement.

    • GI Joe December 22, 2014, 2:00 pm

      You say it’s all “Bullit” placement? Lucky it’s not bullet spelling, huh?

  • Wil Ferch December 22, 2014, 9:24 am

    A statement that may have been too glossed-over in this article—-> ” That’s what too many arm-chair experts like myself often forget. The MHS trials aren’t looking for the best gun. Far from it. They are looking for a good-enough gun at a reasonable price.”

    This is a terrible statement to make…and position to take….for a military arm contract, when the lives of our troops in combat conditions is in the balance. Has the world gone nuts? You needn’t look further than how the AK platform was originally adopted by Russia….I’m sure it was cheap but By God…..they wouldn’t put a “good-enough” gun in the hands of their troops…they’d try for best-available-reliability…. and they got it.

    • Jim S. December 22, 2014, 11:33 am

      Never forget. Military weapons are supplied by the lowest bidder.

      • john milligan December 29, 2014, 7:05 pm

        when i arrive in vietnam and go on a school bus with chicken wire all over the windows i realized that all of the pt training, speaching about what we were doing was crap, little boys on bikes were fragging you i have said this so many times, and no one has heard of it. when i finally arrived at camp eagle, i was told to walk down tthis orange road to camp eagle. i walked trough a buddhist temple with many burials. there were bunkers on either side of the road, no one even said” halt” so i wandered in to the foreward base camp, eagle. it was surreal. i had been a musician with the 28th army band in fort ord california. what in the hell was i doing here? i was E-5 over 2yrs on a 3 yr enlistment. i reported to a w-2 who was clearly insane. flores was his name. there was one competent sgt e7 in the unit, a hawaiian, i wish i could remember his name. he taught me to run a team of recon soldiers. i reported to a major for assignments, they said he was a major, but he wore plain fatuges, i saluted but he looked down on his map. on me and my teams journey we got lost to be continued

    • mark December 22, 2014, 12:36 pm

      How many soldiers do you think we could deploy if all their equipment was” the best”? We couldn’t afford to outfit enough to go through a single battle. They don’t wear dragon skin and shoot Daniel Defense weapons. In order to win with numbers we use Colt and whatever crap you can get your hands on. You have any idea how much it cost just for the bullets to train? Those guns are more than capable if soldiers maintain their guns.

    • SSgt Mas December 22, 2014, 5:02 pm

      That’s the reality of the gov procurement process – it’s a balancing act of quality and price – as someone pointed out, you can buy 100 Ford Tauruses for the price of 1 Ferrari.

    • DaveGinOly December 22, 2014, 5:07 pm

      Nothing’s too good for our military. And that’s usually what they get – nothing too good.

  • SSgt Mas December 22, 2014, 8:37 am

    The M9 locking block does a poor job of withstanding M882 NATO spec ammo (this is not a ‘perceived’ weakness- it’s very real and occurs regularly – ask any pistol instructor how many of these break during a simple 3-week course). I’m not sure I trust Beretta to now fix a weakness that has plagued the platform for 30 years.

    The next biggest problem with the M9 platform: the safety position (up for fire and down for safe) is opposite the 1911/HK/S&W and coupled with the location on the slide (vs the frame), does not correspond with modern pistol fighting doctrine of utilizing gross motor skills.

    Exemplifying this, the new USMC Combat Pistol Program specifically states in the manual of arms that the shooter must utilize the slide release lever, rather than manually manipulating the slide/sling shot – WTF?! Why did this happen? Because the USMC determined that the safety was inadvertently activated during such gross motor manipulations. You won’t find any other modern pistol program that advocates such a potentially dangerous practice – slide lever manipulation is a much more fine motor skill than sling shotting the slide- and this was a compromise that the USMC had to make because of the dicked-up design of the Beretta M9 safety.

    It doesn’t appear that the M9A3 safety design has changed much- which is unfortunate because Colt, HK, S&W, and others have already solved this problem.

    • wormvine December 22, 2014, 11:16 am

      “Exemplifying this, the new USMC Combat Pistol Program specifically states in the manual of arms that the shooter must utilize the slide release lever, rather than manually manipulating the slide/sling shot – WTF?! Why did this happen? Because the USMC determined that the safety was inadvertently activated during such gross motor manipulations.”

      I agree with this.
      I bought a Beretta 92A1 after owning a Taurus PT92. After doing some dry runs with some snap caps, I noticed it was too easy to engage the safety by accident. I decided to sell the pistol after that.
      I also can’t figure out why the safety is opposite from my 1911, CZ75, and SR9c.
      The only model I would even contemplate now is the 92G.

    • Pops December 22, 2014, 2:30 pm

      I have to agree with this, I love my personal M-9, but the ones I maintained in the military, especially the ones we used for training, you had to keep close eye on the locking block. It wasn’t all that frequent, but they did show up cracked. We also got a lot of mags with super thick gritty Parkerizing on the inside of the mag body, had a couple so bad the rounds would bind in the mag even when clean. As for the safety, I usually pull slightly upward while pulling the slide back, I don’t think I have ever accidently engaged the safety, but then we always carried a round in the chamber and decocked. I could see how it could be accidently engaged though, maybe even worse wearing gloves. Definitely could use improvement, not sure moving it on the slide fixes that, have to see it first. Not going to sell my M-9, but then I also have several other pistols to carry.

      • Kivaari December 22, 2014, 8:43 pm

        The locking block was the only thing I saw broken on pistols using the P38 style lock up.

    • Owen Duke December 23, 2014, 7:39 pm

      SSgt Mas, not sure where you get your info about problems with locking blocks. As a Certified Beretta Armorer and AF Combat Arms Instructor for 10+ years I have seen maybe 3 failing locking blocks. Nothing will stand up to constant, 100-500 rounds per day without some problems. Remember, the pistol you carry does not get treated like a range gun.

      I carried one during my Baghdad (06-07) and Kirkuk (08) trips…never worried about my M9 failing…never.

      • SSgt Mas December 24, 2014, 2:32 pm

        LOL- that’s where I’ll just say that the USMC and AF have vastly different missions, training, living conditions, and expectations for weapons.
        Nobody builds a pistol or rifle with the expectations of the AF in mind…

        Your weapons must have all been low round-count safe queens, because I can show you 2-3 of every 100 pistols used in a rigorous deployment workup or similar course will show hairline cracks or outright breakage. 2-3% is an unsat number when you’re outside the wire/green zone.

        • john milligan December 29, 2014, 6:17 pm

          it seems that you were a master sgt. what combat experience? retired? as a combat veteran with the 101 in vietnam, recon team leader. i would like to hear your qualifications. thanks i will go to the end for all my brothers

  • Steve K December 22, 2014, 8:10 am

    That gun could be a “black beauty”, but NO, gotta garbage it up with colored slabs here, there and everywhere. What next, lil pink fairies on the slide? Please, stop woosie pooing up our guns!

    • john milligan December 29, 2014, 5:53 pm

      this is all about gun manufacturers broadining their market. pink ar-15’s? maybe with flowers as camo?

  • Joe McHugh December 22, 2014, 7:29 am

    Hey, people didn’t love the 1911A1 because it only had a 7 shot capacity, or because it was a single action pistol. People loved it because it fired the caliber .45 apc cartridge! Like it or not, people want the bad guy to go down and stay down, when hit in the center mass of the body.
    Gabriele de Plano pointed out that “…the open slide allows debris, sand and brass out. Um……….it also allows sand debris an sand IN! And the open slide results in a 20% reduction in the slide weight? What’s that equal in extra ammunition weight, two rounds?
    The M9 series of pistols are no doubt good weapons for police and civilian needs but the bad guys don’t have to guess if they have been hit by the 100 year old .45 apc pumpkin! They can tell because their legs have stopped working and they are trying to remember how to breathe!
    Oh by the way, a noise suppressor on a .45 apc pistol would actually work, unlike on a standard 9 mm cartridge pistol.

    • Jesse December 22, 2014, 9:01 am

      Can you provide any proof that 45 ACP ball ammo performs significantly better than 9mm ball ammo?

      • Don December 22, 2014, 8:37 pm

        The wound inflicted with .45 and 9mm are similar. The wound profile from both (through tissue) are so similar that a surgeon would not know one from another. There can be a little larger entrance wound where the bruised tissue MAY look bigger. Same for the .38 Special (9x29mmR). A stable bullet in 7.62x39mm will be indistinguishable from those as long as the wound doesn’t impact bone or fluid filled organs. Same with a 7.62x51mm, a little hole in, a little hole out. You can see the wound profiles in the research papers done by the US Army, I could not tell the difference with soft tissue wounds.
        Several years back I helped treat a GSW victim that had been shot through the forearm with a .22 LR. The entrance and exit wounds were quite unremarkable. A radiograph showed significant damage from the bullet. Many small bone chipsd and many pieces of bullet embedded through out the tissue. The bone was shattered. The surgeon did not give adequate local injections of pain killers. He dug out one fragment that was about 1/2 inch by 1 inch that was just under the skin on the exit side of the GSW. That was from a 6.5 inch barrel on a Colt Woodsman. Had the bone been hit by anything more substantial than a .22 LR, I would have expected a traumatic amputation. Two GSW victims were shot with 9mm ball through the butt checks without bone interaction. Simple clean wounds that needed little more care than irrigation and swabbing (very painful). One other GSW was a ,40 S&W. Transiting through about 6-8 inches of tissue without bone interaction. A clean wound needing irrigation and swabbing. Those wounds were less dramatic than the .22 to the arm.

        • Rich Wilkinson December 22, 2014, 11:53 pm

          How could a .22 bullet leave a “fragment…1/2 inch by 1 inch”… when the entire bullet is only 1/4″ (actually 22/100″) by less than 1/2”???

          • John Conner January 4, 2015, 5:47 pm

            Because the force and speed at which the bullet travels it actually causes a larger impact when it hits the target. For example a 50 Cal bullet can be shot at someone and even though the bullet misses the persons body by a foot it still rip a part of the body off because of the velocity at which it travels. Just look it up on youtube.

        • Joe McHugh December 24, 2014, 4:12 am

          Don, you obviously have experience with wound channel observations. However, we have all seen those high speed videos of various bullets going through ballistic gel. Bigger bullets and higher velocities always show bigger wound cavities as the bullet is traveling through the gel. I’m guessing that these larger momentary cavities cause greater damage to surrounding organs due to hydraulic impulse. A plastic gallon container filled with water is a graphic example when a high speed 7.62 X 51 hits it. You could say that the human body is a high proportion of liquid surrounded by the skin container.
          When the target is ballistic clay, that momentary cavity is “frozen” in place. The bigger bullets and the faster bullets leave enormous holes that one could put his whole arm through. Even the “puny” M1 Carbine of the WWII and Korean eras, produces huge “wound” cavities in ballistic clay.

          Speaking of the lowly .22 caliber bullet results, the little .22 rimfire causes damage in devious ways. I read one report where a .22 bullet ricocheted off an upper arm bone, traveled up the arm, bounced into the chest cavity where it again ricocheted off the rib bones, going round and round perforating lots of organs. I have heard that the .22 rimfire causes more American civilian deaths than any other single cartridge. This has to be the results of the pure numbers of these pistols and especially rifles in private homes.

          Let’s face it, we are discussing the knockdown capability of comparable cartridges here. Unless one is speaking about a 20 mm cannon shell, there is no real “knockdown” where a person is thrown backwards by the impact. Still the knockdown “effect” of a 7.62 X 51 bullet is much greater than the 9 mm or .45 apc cartridges. It’s even more lethal when using expanding bullets where much more of the energy being carried by the bullet “influences” the target.

          Still, the question, why do the armchair gentlemen in the Hague insist that non-expanding bullets are more “civilized” than expanding ones? A non-expanding 7.62 X 51 bullet going through someone’s skull is just as hostile to life as an expanding 7.62 X 51 one. Perhaps the more pertinent question should be, why do some people pretend that you can civilize warfare? My philosophy? Visit as much violence as possible on the bad guys using the most horrendous weapons you can get your hands on. We are not talking about a garden party here. A 155 mm Howitzer shell can do amazing things to a human body. Actually, a direct hit turns one into a red mist. How civilized is that?

      • Joe McHugh December 22, 2014, 11:50 pm

        Jesse, nope. But let me ask you a question. Which pistol in a bad guy’s hand would cause you a tad bit more trepidation, the 9 mm or the .45 apc? Which pistol would you rather have in a foxhole at night?

        About your stipulation of limiting combat cartridges to ball ammunition, I do not fully understand the rational of the Hague Convention rules. The object of combat is to do the most damage possible to the body of the enemy. Why is a flame thrower permissible but a bullet that mushrooms is not? A mortar fragment tearing through flesh and bone is acceptable but a hollow point bullet is uncivilized.

        You naturally want your bullet to expend all of its energy in the enemy’s body. Ball ammunition wastes a lot of its energy on things behind the bad guy. The whole concept of “civilized” combat eludes me. If the winds were more predictable we would still be using casualty gases.

        Weapons of mass destruction? I noticed that the countries who lack nuclear weapons are struggling to get them. I also noticed that the countries who have nuclear weapons aren’t giving them up. The object of war is to kill as many as possible, unlimited tools of war and no rules of engagement would increase the body count. Too harsh to contemplate? Maybe we could just rely on bean bags.

        Employ the maximum violence and destruction possible on the enemy until he surrenders the battlefield.

        • Zac January 19, 2015, 12:06 pm

          Joe,
          Just a quick synopsis of The Hague Convention to answer your question (and thank you for getting the right one. Geneva deals with prisoners of war). The conventions purpose was to limit weapons that cause undo suffering. The Brits had just developed what would become the modern hollow point for the Webley MKIII at their munitions factory in Dum Dum India. This was believed to be a round that would cause undo suffering since it was designed to main, not kill like ball ammo (remember, LEO’s shoot to stop a threat not to kill, that’s why they can use it, like it or not maiming stops a threat more quickly & my wife works in Trauama surgery, one of my best friends is head of surgery for a major hospital system in a major metro area, JHP’s don’t actually kill any more effectively than FMJ’s. It’s a handgun people, but I digress…).
          Flame throwers are anti-material weapons, not approved for use on individual troops. If you do, hello war crimes (kind of like the Sig brace is a handgun brace, not a backdoor around the tax stamp on an SBR). Also, if you look it up the Ma Duce is also anti-material, not anti-personnel. That answers your question in the tiniest of nutshells.

        • Mittens February 1, 2015, 12:46 pm

          Having used the M9 during VBSS missions and been in a number of gun fights I will say the M9 over the 1911 every time.

          Don’t get me wrong I own some nice 1911’s but in a real gun fight a pistol only stops the fight if you get them in the heart or head, a d a low recoiling 15 round M9 beats the 1911 at that, even if the 1911 trigger is amazing.

    • JHN December 22, 2014, 11:04 am

      Yes, but you miss on the key detail there: At the time the NATO standard called for a 9-Para firearm. The bottom line is the military wanted a 9mm to comply with NATO standards, higher capacity, lower recoil, and lower ammo cost.

      We can argue the merits of .45 over 9. I personally have heard of FBI and military reports that say the 9mm’s extra muzzle speed translates to similar level of damage as 45 (when talking about ball ammo). But I’m also not an expert on ballistics, in order to confirm or deny those statements – hence I’ll leave the ballistics debate to others.

      • kivaari December 22, 2014, 8:39 pm

        That is quite true. Most bullets leave similar wound channels.

    • Jimonthebeach December 29, 2014, 12:43 pm

      Beretta makes fine pistols. I’m sure the M9A3 is a fine pistol, but it’s not a 45. The SEALS, Army and Marine Corps troops have been complaining for years about the 9mm not knocking down enemy troops without having to empty a magazine on them. It’s the same complaint our troops made about the 38s used decades ago against crazed tribesmen in the Phillipine Islands. That’s the reason the 1911 came into U. S. military use. Have we learned nothing from history? Our military leaders listen to their troops and they are taught military history. So why issue an inferior round to their troops? My guess is that the choice of 9mm over 45 was based on political correctness. Simply put, female troops find the 9mm round easier to handle than a 45ACP. That’s exactly the same reason the FBI dumped their 10mm pistols and went to 40S&W.

    • john milligan December 29, 2014, 5:36 pm

      well, the russians made the only revolver that can be supressed (silenced) and who cares, noise in a fire fight is good. it creates confusion, the idea that the enemy enters mental chaos is not a bad thing. i am a vietnam combat veteran with the 101st airborne. the type of combat that took place there hopefully will not exist again.

      • Gary January 18, 2016, 6:24 pm

        Really? You think auditory exclusion in cqb, permanent hearing damage and or a lifetime of tinnitus is a good thing?

    • Big J March 4, 2015, 8:48 am

      Unless you’ve been in battle with both guns, don’t knock the 9mm. I’ve been there with the 9mm and the 45 ACP. The knock down power is a myth and a bandwagon word. The 9mm is a much nastier round once it hits bodily fluids. It doesn’t matter what size round you use, it’s all about placement of that round.

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