Despite rumors to the contrary, Beretta told me that the Army/DoD absolutely is reviewing Beretta’s ECP, or Engineering Change Proposal, for the M9 service pistol. The hope is that the M9A3 comes close enough to hitting the requirements proposed in the competition for a new MHS, or Modular Handgun System, that the Army and Air Force forgo the project and just stick with the M9 platform. Indeed, the M9A3 does meet ~86% of the MHS targets, and sticking with it would mean saving hundreds of millions of dollars. Here’s a 1-pager on the M9A3, and above is video of the press conference Beretta held at SHOT Show. They also discussed how this is the 100th anniversary of Beretta’s first semi-automatic handgun, the Model 1915 seen after the jump, as well as the 30th anniversary of the M9 becoming the official sidearm of U.S. armed forces. Photos follow. . .

The Model 1915, Beretta’s first semi-automatic pistol. Note the open slide and muzzle design that has carried forward all the way to the newest M9A3 today.

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To commemorate 100 years of Beretta pistols, this special Centennial Edition 92 will be sold:

Centennial With Box Right

Frame-mounted safety and all.

Centennial Left

1301 Tactical with integrated light:DSC02098

Gabriele DePlano with the M9A3:
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66 Responses to Beretta Press Conference on M9A3, Modular Handgun System, Anniversaries, etc.

  1. I’m still kind of mixed about this issue. I want the Military to have the best possible equipment to employ against enemies, but the procurement process is wasteful. I really don’t want millions of tax payer dollars to be thrown down the drain. However, I never liked the Beretta M9. I first qualified on the 1911 then we switched. The double action pull was awkward. The slide mounted safety was out of reach for my thumb as well as decocking the pistol when engaged. I never enjoyed shooting it even as I qualified expert with it. I will admit the above pistol is a good looking pistol but looks do not overcome bad ergonomics for me.

    The other positive side is manufacturers submit their newest designs to the Army and those designs eventually make it to civilian models. So I’m still kind of mixed about this whole issue.

      • Maybe the grip will address my complaints. I will give it a try when available. I would still rather have a frame mounted safety. Something like a HK variant 1 design would be awesome.

    • I’m torn as well. The M9A3 would make a good duty gun or backup handgun for the soldier. So would a Sig 226 Tac Ops or the USMC 1911.

      Still, my biggest issue is with FMJ handgun rounds. A train / defend ammo plan could be developed pretty easily the FMJs for practice and JHPs for qualification and combat. The Army / Navy / etc. would be much better served with a good barrier penetrating JHP or Critical Duty style JHP with a polymer filling. Since the military doesn’t care about my opinion, and the CIC is incompetent, I don’t care to re-enlist.

      I want the best equipment available for our troops at the most reasonable price. That includes 300 BLK, JHP handgun rounds, and a better M4. Sadly, politics will not allow that to happen.

        • @GBS, you mean the Hague Convention Agreement in 1899 that the U.S. did not ratify and sign?

        • Even if the DoD wants to continue the charade of not using HP pistol ammo, they could/should at least use ammo with a large meplat like the Rainier Leadsafe Flat Nose or, if the particular handgun can reliably feed it, the Lehigh Defense Xtreme Penetrator which tends to surpass the performance of Hornady’s Critical Duty round.

        • The 9mm primary problem has always been over penetration.This is a bigger problem in areas of the world like Afghanistan where insurgents may be smoking opium. A bud of mine was clearing houses in Afghanistan and was using his M-9. A guy popped out of another room and ran at him with an upraised axe. He put 6 rounds through the guys chest center mass and it didnt slow him down. His teammate was able to get a snap burst off that caught the insurgent in the head.

          If we have to stay with the 9mm at least change the bullet to something that gives adequate penetration and then dumps its energy into the target.

        • The Hague convention excuse is a myth. The real reason was feeding and jamming issues when the military first tested JHPs in the 80s for widespread use.

      • Since militaries are forced to use non-expanding projectiles, I think we should switch to something like the Lehigh Extreme Penetrator, which ShootingTheBull410 found to be legitimately effective:

      • Ehh there is no reason to switch, SF/SEALs/Marsoc etc may actually use the pistol for combat but an infantry grunt using one in combat is like a Unicorn. The M9 isn’t perfect but it still goes bang when you pull the trigger, it’s reliable, accurate, and I would rather see grunts get decent boots than waste all the money on a new handgun

      • No USAF APs use them but only State side. Biggest upgrade would be a 147gr bullet. The lower velocity round and heavier bullet could solve most issues. Most PDs use 147gr ammo for 9mm. HPs would help but a 147 gr FMJ would not over penetrate as mush as higher speed 124gr bullets do.

    • Like ICC did a few ears ago. No new design is surely a BIG enough leap to allow a replacement. I don’t see a G-17 or M&P being a BIG enough of a leap to warrant a replacement. Only a new caliber would warrant one.

  2. Brace yourself, the butthurt is coming. I think the vertec grip+ addition of decocker only functionality addresses the two biggest legitimate complaints people have about this gun.

    Illegitimate complaints include that it actually lost to sig in the XM9 trials (try reading the report, maybe), the slides crack (that was actually sig, again, read the report), and the gun is somehow (???) uniquely impacted by sand, and other guns aren’t.

    The DoD takes fantastically poor care of handguns, it’s no wonder when you hear anecdotes about them not working properly.

    • Back in the dark days of the early 00s and the Clinton AWB I remember reading reports of a lot of soldiers having huge problems with completely shot out M9s and broken magazines. So much so that there were people trying to buy spare full capacity magazines to ship them out to the troops. Although that didn’t go any ware because of the aforementioned full capacity magazine ban kept them from getting the magazines. Even to have them directly sent over seas.

    • Umm, have you read the reports, cause it pretty much says the exact opposite of what you said. The SIG came out on top and lost due to a pricing issue(and with one of the most scathing GAO reports I have ever read saying how much of a cluster the whole M9 trials was).

      • Read the GAO report. The sig had slide cracking and failures, and had the same mean time between failures as the Beretta. They both passed as acceptable. Then the Beretta won because it was cheaper. It wasn’t “exactly the opposite”.

        • So why did the Beretta get dropped by every DA SOF force and the SIG 226 is still the basic issue for one of the SMUs.

  3. A quick analogy between the Beretta M9 and herpes:
    – they’re both uncomfortable
    – but you can still “work” with both
    – you’ve had them since the 80s
    – the person that gave you them is the jealous type
    – it never gets better
    – you find comfort in other people sharing the affliction
    Did I miss any?

  4. IMHO if the military wants a harder hitting round with more mag capacity, just redesign the 1911 with a double stake mag. With modern technology it has been done, put into a lighter package and a thinner grip then would be needed for the old 1911’s.

    • There is still lots of flaws with the 1911 that isn’t going to be fixed by doubling the round count. It’s a over a century old, there are far superior designs that are well established by now, it is time for the 1911 fanboys to give it up.

      • Count me as one of those who aren’t interested in the 1911.

        For years I had always thought to add a 1911 to my collection but that has changed. I had come of “gun age” in an era of of Walther P99s, the Glocks, polymer framed pistols, and modern semi-autos. Recently a friend got a 1911 and I had a chance to shoot it, disassemble it, and generally futz with it.

        Wow.

        You can definitely tell that the design stretches back a century or so. At lease from disassembling it. The whole process seemed overly complicated, needing to fiddle with all the little pieces. Reassembly required numerous consultations with the instruction manual to figure out just how the bitty pieces go back together. Then we got to play scavenger hunt when the whole thing flew to pieces when the recoil spring let go before my friend could secure it.

        By comparison, both my P99 and Beretta M9 can be disassembled and reassembled in maybe 10-15 seconds. No bitty pieces to worry about.

        It was definitely cool to shoot his 1911. Love the trigger feel to it and there IS something about it. It’s so massive and machine-line compared to other pistols. Similar in feel to my dad’s Springfield M1 Garand vs my AR-15.

        As to reliability . . . maybe my friend’s 1911 needs more time to break in or perhaps there is a problem that needs to be warranted. He has been having a lot of jamming issues. He’ll get a jam about every 20-30 round or less. Go figure.

        • What brand and model of 1911 does he have? All 1911s arent made the same. And just like other pistols cheap ammo can cause problems. Everyone has an opinion about the best pistol and which ever one you prefer is the best for you. I love my 1911 and unlike the loose tolerance WW2 1911’s its more accurate than I am capable of shooting without a lot more practice. Besides if I run out of ammo before I run out of bad guys I can always beat them to death with that steel frame.

        • DMB, you realize that WW2 era 1911s were built to extremely tight tolerances. Tolerances are a manufacturing term which deals with variances between production of the same the parts.

        • Not even going to try to figure out where you got your info. The WW2 1911s were made by about 15 different companies and god knows how many suppliers of sub components. The pistols were made to very loose tolerances so any random pile of parts could be used to construct a working pistol. They were also designed to last only 5000 rounds. Those pistols were basically functional junk to be made fast and cheaply which gave the 1911 a bad name. The design is good and thats why they have stood the test of time.

        • DBM, you really don’t understand manufacturing Tolerances do you. Your right, there were multiple manufacturers of the 1911 doing World War 2. And one of the requirements was the ability for all parts to be interchangeable from all the companies involved with production. You do not achieve that with Loose tolerances, that is only possible with High Tolerances.
          The 1911 as manufactured during that time frame was not done cheaply or were they junk, otherwise they would not have lasted the decades they did of military service until the M9 replaced them.
          The modern 1911s that are custom fitted hand mare the ones made with loose tolerances.
          You are confusing the terms clearance and tolerances.
          High Tolerance= Ability to easily switch parts
          Low Tolerances= Custom/Hand Fitted Parts
          Large Operating Clearances= More Reliability/Less accuracy
          Low Operating Clearances=Less Reliability=More Accuracy

        • We apparently are speaking different words for the same thing. And they were junk. I carried one in the military years ago. However, junk will still function but wears out quickly and is seldom accurate. WW2 1911’s had only one hardened component on it and nothing else was meant to last. The pistol did its job for what it was designed for close quarters weapon for officers and soldiers whose job precluded them from carrying a rifle and was meant to be thrown away after its usable life was over. It served its purpose.

          I personally own a modern 1911 and will never part with it but the only use I’d have for a WW2 1911 is for putting in a display case.

        • DBM, what was the only hardened part of the 1911 that was made to the Government Technical Data Packet?
          Also when did you serve? Cause calling a 1911 that was made decades before you enlisted and most likely received extremely little care junk is a little biased.

    • The FN FNP-45 Tactical is the perfect pistol for what you are describing. I’m a 1911 fanboy but if it were up to me we would have switched to the FNP a long time ago.

    • Sorry frank, but we want a more reliable pistol. Unless you spend five times the cost of a modern pistol your 1911 has to rattle & be inaccurate to remain functional in adverse environments. Thus its day of major deployment is over. However because it runs like a Ferrari when it is finely tuned It will remain as a niche weapon, where constant maintenance can keep it running properly.

      I have several friends who were in law enforcement while the military was using the 1911 as a primary sidearm. Even with the “superior” 1911 available, revolvers remained as the primary police service weapon, because when you actually need to have a handgun you need it to work.

      My dad served as an armorer in the 101st Airborne after being injured, the pistols he serviced were junk, they rattled, sometimes worked and on a good day could provide you a 5″ group. Enjoy and treasure your finely tuned $1200+ 1911, but don’t expect superior quality from a large deployment of vintage service pistols.

      During our transition back to the 1911 we will also need to replace our m4s with .45-70 trapdoor Springfields.

    • Let’s remember – even the hush hush Tier 1 units that can procure whatever they want and were carting around custom 1911s have ditched them. Not only did they ditch them, but the guy who was responsible for maintaining, training, overseeing and (in some cases) crafting those pistols was the one instrumental in ditching them. When the world’s foremost builder hard-use 1911 pistols pushes his own unit to get rid of them for something more modern, I think it’s time to put a fork in the 1911 as a modern service handgun.

      (I’m speaking of Larry Vickers and the HK45).

      • SOF units can get what they want but bottom line is support and maintainability. If it breaks where can we get it fixed.

  5. I am a true lover of firearms and handguns in particular, but hate the Beretta. I was issued one in the military and have despised it since. The safety is the WORST safety I have ever seen on a US military arm. It additionally has something like 5,000,000 moving parts and is a pain in the ass at the armorer level. If they are going to stick with a traditional high bore axis DA/SA platform that should at least go with something ergonomic like a SIG.

    I would have a 1911 if I could choose a personal pistol to carry into combat. For general issue however, they should just stick with the S&W M&P with an improved trigger. It is: inexpensive, easy to shoot, has an acceptable natural point of aim (as opposed to a glock). The M&P can have and external safety which will keep the .mil happy and hopefully keep Joe from accidentally shooting himself or someone else.

  6. I was in the USAF when they changed us over to the M-9 in 1987. We liked it because they were better than the .38’s. Almost immediately, we had problems. It was the dang slides. Eventually, the rule became that we replaced the slides after 10,000 rounds. So, to track that, we ended up having carry guns we carried while on patrol, and we trained with entirely different guns. I bought a personal Sig Sauer 226 around that time. When I realized how much better the Sig was compared with the Beretta, I begged and pleaded to be allowed to carry my Sig. Nope, deaf ears and a warning to STFU. I was determined that if WWIII happened, if I didn’t get incinerated in the first wave, that I was going to ignore the rules and carry the Sig. Today, I carry the Sig Sauer p320 subcompact, and there is not one Beretta in my collection of firearms.

  7. My understanding (and experience) is they’ll eat just about anything other than an F-ed up reload. It’s also a heck of a lot easier for people with less upper body strength to rack the slide.

    But the ergos simply aren’t that good on it; a decocker safety is the worst of both worlds; you have to disengage it AND you still get that *wonderful* first double action pull (that should be read as sarcasm). I agree with the 1911 folk that that safety lever is in the wrong place. Plus anyone I know with small hands really hates it. A frame mounted safety would solve the biggest problems and make it a vastly better pistol for duty carry provided you don’t wear a size S t-shirt.

  8. It doesn’t matter what the Military goes with, it will get the same reputation the M9 has after it gets exposed to Milspec maintenance and abuse.

  9. IIRC there was talk of simply upgrading and rechambering the 1911 to 9mm before the decision to adopt an entirely new handgun (the M9).

    I bet the Army will either do nothing (most likely) or decide they want something entirely new. Either way I doubt Berettas proposal is gonna fly.

  10. Great,
    The military will keep an under performing pistol and worthless round. The euros told us we were nuts to adopt the 9mm and once again the soldier got the screwed. People may swear by 9mm’s but they aint using ball ammo.

    • Caliber really doesn’t make much of a difference. If you think getting shot with FMJ rounds from a 9mm vs a .40 vs a .45 really makes a difference your kidding yourself. I’ve seen real wounds from both .45 and 9mm and they are indistinguishable to me. Compared to a rifle, they are all pathetic. For military purposes, the 9mm will penetrate light armor better than a .45.

      For the record, 10mm is my favorite round, but I would have no problem having a 9mm over a .45

  11. It would not surprise me if the military just kept plodding along with the M9 or went to the M9A3. The SIG SP2022 has already been adopted by some of the Army and Coast Guard, so if they want a polymer pistol, that might be an option. I think the military would be better served by a better rifle and cartridge as pistols are not a key player on the battle field.

  12. Maybe it’s time for Ruger to resurrect the amazingly inexpensive, utterly reliable and surprisingly durable P95 and submit a batch of them for testing. I’m guessing the military could get two of them for the price of one Beretta 92.

  13. Since Matt Cox at Military.com just used rumors from DoD friends I don’t buy it. Think like M-4 PIP this may be a cheaper end around for a pistol. If we stay with 9x19mm NATO then staying with the M-9 makes more sense. No other design is a BIG enough leap to warrant a same caliber replacement. Only if we went to .40 or .45 would. But NATO and women in the army wont allow that. So no sense to switch then. This is ICC 2.0 anyway a waste of millions if not billions of dollars on a problem that didn’t exist. Pistol play a small role for infantry a M-4 can solve most issues with Officer carrying a weapon. A new 9mm round would solve this too a 147 gr FMJ or HP would be perfect for a pistol round. This may end the same as ICC did.

  14. The 1911 was the last service pistol to meet all of its expectations.
    If the plan going forward is to accept new versions of old pistols that hit most of the benchmarks then I don’t see why a century old pistol shouldn’t be a contender.
    Its children are all contending.

    The question isn’t whether the browning descendents are adequate. The question is where has all the revolutionary new stuff gone?

  15. So the Army can’t afford Soldiers right now but it seems like a great time to adopt a new service pistol. Makes sense. My M9’s have never failed to go boom, but then again I maintain it AND the magazines. Of course the only weapon I have ever had that failed to go boom was a SAW. Anyway, in our current environment where we are steadily downsizing I think the M9 is just fine but I suppose we need a new pistol to match the new uniform we can’t afford either. Someone needs to catch the good idea fairy that is apparently loose at the Pentagon.

    • Why did the SAW not go boom? Were you using a mag? Army buys aluminum mags which don’t work in SAWs and a lot of PMAGs over insert and get the top ripped off.

    • “Someone needs to catch the good idea fairy that is apparently loose at the Pentagon.”

      Amen to that. Although at least the Army decided not to waste money on switching to a new rifle and decided to improve what they already had, unlike the rest of the branches of the military and their insistence on acquiring that overpriced and underperforming turd they call the F-35.

      • The F-18 Hornet was almost as big a turd. They were so underpowered that to take off with a full weapons load they had to take off with a minimal fuel load and ten be refueled in the air. That and a few other reasons was why the Navy went to the Super Hornet so fast.

  16. I believe that the new gun should have these requirements:
    precision easy to achieve with little training, you need a good ergonomics, with Beretta takes many shots and constant training = costs too much money and time;
    prevent the soldiers shoot in the back, for this you need a trigger like Glock, Springfield, S & W, but also a manual safety type 1911 or S & W M & P;
    The minimum length must be 100,000 shots and withstand at least 50,000 to major factor.
    Caliber bullets are able to comply with international standards and increase power. They cost less than a FMJ, do not pollute and are called monolitic bullets with different shapes.
    It is not difficult.

    • The army will make it difficult Biagio. The military had a great round the MK318 and instead went to a green bullet that required increased chamber pressures to achieve the same ballistics. This will wear the weapons out faster and offer no substantive increase in anything. I wouldnt be surprised to find out that the army finally went to the heavy barrel on the M-4 (30 years after they should have already adopted it) because of the M855A1 round. And to make matters worse the armor piercing tip has a problem with coming on bonded and can spin around reducing the accuracy.

    • It’s fairly absurd to be concerned about polluting the horrible cesspools our troops have been deployed to. Historically it’s fairly obvious to see that lead pollution in areas we’ve fought is a non-issue, an obvious example is Europe. Where billions of tons of lead were deposited directly into farmland during two world wars, and there has not been a massive amount of lead-related illnesses.

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