The Beretta M9—officially the Pistol, Semiautomatic, 9mm, M9—is the designation for the Beretta 92F semi-automatic pistol used by the United States Armed Forces. The M9 was adopted by the United States military as their service pistol in 1985.
The M9 won a competition in the 1980s to replace the M1911A1 as the primary sidearm of the U.S. military, beating many other contenders, and only narrowly defeating the SIG Sauer P226 for cost reasons. It officially entered service in 1990. Some other pistols have been adopted to a lesser extent, namely the M11 pistol, and other models remain in use in certain niches.
The M9 was scheduled to be replaced under a United States Army program, the Future Handgun System (FHS), which was merged with the SOF Combat Pistol program to create the Joint Combat Pistol (JCP). The JCP was renamed Combat Pistol (CP), and the number of pistols to be bought was drastically cut back. The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps are replacing the M9 with the M17 and M18.
The M9 is a short recoil, semi-automatic, single-action / double-action pistol that uses a 15-round staggered box magazine with a reversible magazine release button that can be positioned for either right- or left-handed shooters. The M9 is used with the Bianchi M12 Holster, though other holsters are often used. The specific modifications made from the Beretta 92 includes:
- Design of all the parts to make them 100% interchangeable to simplify maintenance for large government organizations.
- Modified the front of the trigger guard so that one could use finger support for easier aiming.
- Recurved the forward base of the grip to aid aiming.
- Hard chromed the barrel bore to protect it from corrosion and to reduce wear.
- New surface coating on the slide called Bruniton, which allegedly provides better corrosion resistance than the previous plain blued finish.
It also has an enlarged hammer pin that fits into a groove on the underside of the slide. The main purpose is to stop the slide from flying off the frame to the rear if it cracks. This was added after slide failures were observed in Beretta models with very high round counts during tests (failures later deemed to be caused by defective ammunition used in tests).
The M9 features multiple internal safeties, including a firing pin block that prevents the firing pin from moving without the trigger being pulled, and a firing pin striker that rotates when the safety lever is engaged preventing the firing pin from being hit even if the hammer falls. The M9 also has an ambidextrous external safety lever allowing both left and right handed users to engage or disengage the safety mechanism.
The M9 was updated to the M9A1 in 2006. It added—among other things—a one-slot Picatinny rail for mounting lights, lasers, and other accessories to the weapon. The M9A1 has more aggressive front and backstrap checkering and a beveled magazine well for easier reloading of the weapon. M9A1 pistols are sold with Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) coated magazines developed to better withstand the conditions in the sandy environments in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
The M9 was further updated to M9A3 (the M9A2 concept never went into production) in 2015. The main updates to M9A3 were:
- 17-round magazine
- a 3-slot Picatinny rail
- earth-tone finish
- thinner vertical grip for improved control and less conspicuous concealed carry
- removable wrap-around grip that can be swapped between Vertec-style and ‘old’ M9 style
- removable sights so that users can select sights material and construction (e.g. luminescent dot sights for dark situations or taller sights for use with a suppressor)
- universal slide, which makes the gun convertible from decocker-safety to decocker-only mode
- sand-resistant magazine in bevelled shape for blind reloading
New production materials also make M9A3 production more cost efficient.
The M9 has been the standard sidearm of the United States Navy, United States Army and the United States Air Force since 1985, replacing the Colt M1911A1 in the Army and Navy and the Smith & Wesson .38 Special in the Air Force. The M9A1 is also seeing limited issue to the United States Marine Corps. A large number of M9s and M9A1s were ordered in 2006. During the 2009 SHOT Show, Beretta announced it had received a US$220 million contract for the delivery of 450,000 M9s and M9A1s to the U.S. military, within five years.
The Beretta M9 General Officer’s Model is a special model issued to General Officers in the Army and Air Force that replaced the special issue RIA M15 General Officer’s Pistol and Colt M1911A1 beginning in 1986. It is identical to the standard M9 sidearm, with standard Bruniton-polymer finish and black composite grips, except it has a “GO”-prefix to its serial number range, starting with GO-001. It comes with a metal belt buckle that comes in gold metal for Army generals and silver metal for Air Force generals.
The Marine Corps Times reported plans in July 2007 for all officers below the rank of colonel and all SNCOs to be issued the M4 carbine instead of the M9. The new assignment policy will still assign M9s to Marine Colonels and above and Navy Petty Officer First Class and above.
The United States Coast Guard has replaced most of its M9 pistols with the SIG P229 DAK, though some M9s remain in service with certain units.
The M9 is issued to crewmembers on Military Sealift Command vessels.
Beretta USA announced on September 30, 2011, that the U.S. Army’s Foreign Military Sales program has purchased an additional 15,778 Model 92FS pistols for the Afghan military and other U.S. allies. The Model 92FS is the non-U.S. military designation for the M9 pistol.
In September 2012, Beretta USA announced that the U.S. Army had bought 100,000 M9 pistols and that the M9 “would remain their sidearm for the next five years.”
|Mass||Unloaded – 34.2 oz (970 g)|
|Length||217 mm (8.5 in)|
|Barrel length||125 mm (4.9 in)|
|Muzzle velocity||381 m/s (1,250 ft/s)|
|Effective firing range||50 m|
|Maximum firing range||100 m|
|Feed system||15-round (standard) or 17-round detachable box magazine. 10, 15, 17, 18, 20, and 30 round magazines are available.|