The Beretta M9A3: The Gun the Army Didn’t Want

    Kyle Mizokami

    Security, North America

    Could it be better than a Glock? 

    In 1985, the U.S. Army made an abrupt shift, aging fleet of World War II-era handguns for a foreign model. The Italian-made Beretta M92 was classified the M9 handgun and served with the U.S. Armed Forces for more than thirty years. The U.S. Army recently chose a new handgun, the M17 Modular Handgun System, and excluded a new, updated M9A3 from the competition. Although the proposed M9A3 failed to gain traction, it is still available on the civilian market and its improvements, adopted by Beretta for the twenty-first century battlefield, are worth examining.

    In the early 1980s, the U.S. Army began searching for a replacement for the Colt M1911A1 handgun. Introduced after World War I, the bulk of the Army’s guns were built during World War II. The Army’s huge wartime inventory, plus their relatively infrequent use by officers, medics, vehicle crews allowed the M1911A1s to soldier on for nearly four decades. The U.S. Army held a competition and to the surprise of nearly everyone the Italian Beretta company won, and M9 handgun entered service with the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Over thirty years, the Pentagon purchased more than six hundred thousand Beretta pistols.

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