The M9 Beretta was announced as the replacement for the M1911A1 (Colt .45) as the U.S. military's standard sidearm on 14 January 1985. Actual replacement began but was delayed by production quality issues into the early 1990s. The M9 Beretta is based on the Model 92F 9mm pistol manufactured by Fabbrica D' Armi Pietro Beretta S.p.A. of Italy.
The M9 is a semiautomatic, magazine-fed, recoil-operated, double action pistol, chambered for the NATO 9mm cartridge. The service pistol is a close personal defense weapon. Rifle company headquarters and the gunners of crew served weapons are armed with the M9 along with Special Forces and other troops. The M9 semi-automatic pistol weighs two pounds and has a maximum effective range of 50 meters. It has a staggered 15 round magazine with a reversible magazine release button that can be positioned for either right- or left-handed shooters.
The M9 front sight is a blade, integral with slide. The rear sight is a notched bar, fixed to slide. Its safety Features are an ambidextrous safety and firing pin block.
Deployment of and Problems with the M9 Beretta 9mm Pistol
During the selection process and after the decision to procure the M9 Beretta 9mm Pistol, there was controversy over whether the Beretta was the best choice to replace the .45 cal. M1911A1 pistol as well as the many models of .38 cal. revolvers in U.S. service. In addition, the Beretta 9mm exhibited slide failures and frame cracks during testing and the pistol had to be reworked to cure the defects before production smoothed out. These problems generated a trail of investigative reports and other documents, the most important of which are listed here for download from the Olive-Drab.com archive (PDF format):
The M9 Beretta was fully fielded and was carried by most of the troops in the Persian Gulf War. Still, controversy lingered. The investigations of slide failures and frame cracks, as well as dissatisfaction with stopping power, led to an unofficial return to the M1911A1, especially by Special Forces and other units who could choose their sidearm. In Iraq and Afghanistan there were reports of other problems, such as inferior magazines produced by vendors other than Beretta. While redesign and better quality controls solved most of the M9 reliability problems, there was one remaining issue with no clear answer: is the Beretta 9mm handgun as effective a weapon as the M1911A1 .45 ACP?
In August 2005, the DoD issued specifications for the Military Forces Joint Combat Pistol (JCP), a possible replacement for the M9 Pistol. The specification required the JCP to be chambered for .45 ACP ammunition. The JCP procurement was postponed in 2006, and did not resume. By 2008, the JCP program evolved into a new effot called the Modular Handgun System (MHS).
In early 2013, the Army began working with the firearms industry to finalize specs for MHS. This was a total redesign, intended to replace the M9 (and Pistol, Compact, 9mm, M11) with a new pistol chambered for new ammunition, along will all accessories. One specific target for MHS is a more potent round than the 9mm currently used, possibly the .40 S&W. As expected by many, the 9mm round was unsatisfactory in actual combat use. An Industry Day for procurement feedback was planned for 29 July 2014.
Equipment Data Description for the M9 9mm Pistol
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System of Operation
Short recoil, semiautomatic
217 mm (8.54 inches)
38 mm (1.5 inches)
140 mm (5.51 inches)
15 rounds. The magazine-release button can be reversed for left-handed shooters.
Weight with Empty Magazine
960 grams (2.1 pounds)
Weight with 15-Round Magazine
1,145 grams (2.6 pounds)
125 mm (4.92 inches)
Right-hand, six-groove (pitch
250 mm [about 10 inches])
375 meters per second
(1,230.3 feet per second)
569.5 Newton meters
(430 foot pounds)
1,800 meters (1,962.2 yards)
Maximum Effective Range
50 meters (54.7 yards)
Blade, integral with slide
Notched bar, dovetailed to
158 mm (6.22 inches)
firing pin block. When the ambidextrous safety lever is moved to the safe position, the striker is rotated out of alignment, the hammer is decocked, and the trigger bar is disconnected from the hammer/sear mechanism.
Hammer (half-cocked notch)
Prevents accidental discharge
Opens for nearly the entire length of the barrel, facilitating shell ejection and allowing easier access to the chamber to clear a jam or for directly feeding a round into the chamber.
Double-action/single action. The first round is fired double-action, requiring more pressure on the trigger than the following shots. Each subsequent round is fired single-action, requiring less trigger pressure and allowing more-rapid firing.
Exterior surfaces have a non-glare, corrosion-resistant, black-matte finish.
Black plastic checkered grip grooved front and back for better control.
Light aluminum-alloy frame, sand-blasted and anodized black; steel slide.
Pistol, Semiautomatic, 9MM, M9A1
The Pistol, Semiautomatic, 9MM, M9A1 is an improved version of the Beretta M9 with an integrated Picatinny rail that allows for the attachment of high intensity lights and laser aiming devices to the lower receiver. The M9A1 pistol also has enhanced grip checkering and magazine well modifications to allow for more rapid reloads. The Pistol, Semiautomatic, 9MM, M9A1 is identified by NSN 1005-01-525-7966.
The Operator's Manual for both the M9 and M9A1 pistols is TM 9-1005-317-10 while the maintenance and support manual is TM 9-1005-317-23&P. The M9A1 was procured by the USMC, not the US Army, as of 2008.
Holsters for the M9 Beretta Pistol
M-7 leather shoulder holster. The M7 holster was initially designed during World War II for the .45 ACP M1911-A1 pistol. After the 1957 USMC color change, this holster switched from brown to black. Should be worn over outer garments, not intended for use as a concealed-carry holster. The holster has a tie down strap, which should be snapped around the trouser web belt to prevent snagging when weapon is drawn. Designed for right-handed shooters only.
M-12 olive drab nylon hip holster. The M12 holster consists of the holster, removable holster flap, and metal retaining clip. To check for proper placement of the holster, allow the right arm to hang freely. The holster should be slightly in front of the arm to permit easy access to the pistol upon presentation from the holster. The holster is issued with the holster flap installed for a righthanded user. To convert the holster for a left-handed user, remove the metal retaining clip and install the clip on the opposite side of the holster.
The M-12 was designed by Bianchi as standard issue for all branches of the military using the M9 Beretta 92 series pistol. Accessories such as the M-13 or UM84H, allows the M-12 to be worn in 14 different positions. There is a cleaning rod in snap pocket on side of holster.
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