Matt Cox over at Military Times’ KitUp blog apparently has the inside scoop on Beretta’s attempt to get the Army to choose their new M9A3 handgun as the service pistol of the future. Like a last-ditch promise to your girlfriend that stinks of desperation, Beretta’s proposed new handgun has been rejected outright and the breakup between the star-crossed lovers now appears all but official. For those who aren’t in the know about the current state of affairs in military handguns, let me bring you up to speed . . .
The Beretta M9 has been the standard issue handgun of the U.S. Army since 1985. It saw combat primarily in the sands of the Middle East, and after decades of hard use the Army has found the gun to be lacking in some aspects. The biggest issue was the lack of customization — the gun came in one shape and size, and if you didn’t like that, then tough cookies.
In an effort to find a handgun that could be issued not only as a full-size gun to front-line troops but also in a compact version to investigators and undercover operators (not to mention taking advantage of the tech advances that have happened in the last 30 years) the Army started putting out feelers for a “modular handgun” to replace the M9. The result was the SIG SAUER P320, which is the current favorite to win the new Army contract (especially after the P226 barely lost to the M9 last time around).
Seeing the writing on the wall, Beretta tried to get the Army to stick with them by releasing the M9A3, which sports some minor configuration changes like an added rail section. But it apparently has proved to be too little too late, and now Beretta is acknowledging that their M9A3 is not to be. From the Military Times article:
Beretta USA said the U.S. Army has rejected the gun-maker’s request that the service reconsider its M9A3 pistol as an alternative to the Modular Handgun System (MHS) program.
Beretta officials sent the Jan. 30 request in response to the Army’s formal rejection of the M9A3 Engineering Change Proposal to the current M9 contract.
“Needless to say, we are disappointed,” Gabriele de Plano, vice president of Beretta Defense Technologies (BDT) Marketing Operations, said in March 2 email.
It appears that the “official” reason for the denial was that the changes made to the M9 were too drastic to be considered under the current contract, but that sounds like a convenient excuse to go shopping for something new and shiny. And probably partly made of plastic.