Should the Military Upgrade—or Replace—Beretta’s M9 Pistol?

By Woody published on in Firearms

In an Aug. 17 letter to the editor in the Washington Post, Gabriele de Plano, vice president of marketing and operations for Beretta Defense Technologies based in Accokeek, Maryland, asked some interesting questions about the U.S. military’s efforts to replace the company’s M9 9mm pistol in the Modular Handgun System trials.

VP de Plano argued that the Army could upgrade the existing M9 pistol for far less money than developing a new Modular Handgun System, or MHS.

In the letter to the editor, he wrote, “Regarding the Aug. 9 Business article, ‘Beretta’s fight to arm the military,’ about the company losing a U.S. military contract for M9 pistols:

“Beretta has made an effort to provide updated M9 pistols to the U.S. armed forces. As far back as 2003, we offered the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps M9 pistol upgrades. In 2006, the Marine Corps adopted the M9A1 pistol, an upgraded version of the M9 pistol.

“In 2012 and 2013, we presented the Army with upgrades that increased the reliability and modularity of the M9 pistol. M9 upgrades presented to the Army last year would satisfy 84 percent of the Army’s requirements for a Modular Handgun System without the half-billion dollar cost of that program.

“Numerous firearms used by the U.S. government and adopted more than 30 years ago still meet and exceed mission requirements because of upgrades that the government accepted, including the M2/M2A1, M4/M4A1, M16/M16A2, M240/M240B/M240L and M320/M320A1. Why should the M9 pistol be treated differently?”

The Shooter’s Log is interested in the answers to those questions as well.

To see our previous coverage of the Beretta M9 and Model 92, click the links below:

Click here to purchase a Beretta 92FS.

Do you think the M9 (the equivalent of the civilian Model 92) needs be replaced, or is it cheaper, faster, and easier to modify the existing pistol to add features the military wants? If you own the M9 or Model 92, we are particularly interested in hearing the pros and cons of the handgun, in your experience.

 

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Comments (205)

  • Colonel K

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    Thor,

    I’m not sure what you mean about the Spanish-American War lasting two years from 1898 to 1900. It lasted barely five months, from Apr – Aug 1898. I was discussing the Moro Rebellion, which ran from 1899 – 1913. We did not fight the Moros prior to that. I mentioned the 12 gauge shotgun, 45/70, 30/40 Krag, and 30’06 because all of them were used in that long conflict. I did fail to mention the 6mm Lee, Colt 38s, 9mm Lugers, Colt 45 DA revolvers, and Colt 38 revolvers that also saw service with US forces and Philippine Constabulary during this time period. The 38 and 9mm were roundly criticized for their general lack of “stopping power”, which is why the various SA and DA Colt 45s were issued. And the resiliency of the Moros as determined fighters to the death is well documented. How much that influenced the development and fielding of the 45 ACP and 1911 pistol is unclear. The regular Army never warmed up to the 38, and the reports coming back from the Philippines did influence the search for suitable caliber and pistol, which, after several stopgap measures, resulted in the adoption of the iconic 1911 45 ACP pistol. I did a little bit of digging and discovered an ironic tidbit. The 45 ACP pistol was never used against the Moros, but in 1944 they were sent to the Philippines to arm the Moros against the Japanese!

    Reply

  • Jeremy

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    It’s like anything else, there is not a one size fits all, the mind set used to be spray and pray that’s why they needed more capsity for mags and made the bullets smaller example 223 instead of the 30’06 and 308! Each location jungle, desert or close quarter fighting has different methods of fighting and needs. My thought is bigger is better! Stop the threat quickly before he puts a bullet in you.

    Reply

  • Colonel K

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    Thor,
    I doubt very many 45 ACP pistols were used against the Moro tribes. The Moro Rebellion lasted from 1899 to1913. The first 1911 contract pistols were made in Dec 1911. What the Army did in the interim was reissue Colt 1873 SAA that had their barrels cut to 5.5″. The typical .45 Colt load was more powerful than the 45 ACP and of a better overall design (flat tipped 250 grain lead), though I can’t be certain if this is the load issued to Army at that time. The 45 ACP was a 230 grain FMJ round nose bullet traveling about 100 FPS slower than the 45 Colt when fired from a 7.5″ barrel). The 45 ACP load designed to ensure good feeding reliability, while the older Colt load was said to be able to stop a runaway horse that was dragging its fallen rider. A good 45/70, 30/40 Krag, or 30-06 round would have been much more effective than any pistol round in terms of range and stopping power. A 12 gauge shotgun loaded with 00 buckshot would have proven more effective at short range than any handgun. The information that is available indicates that handgun use in combat is minuscule. In WWI the club, trench knife, spade, and bayonet inflicted more casualties in trench fighting. Since then the combat use of handguns has been largely limited to specialized missions such as extremely tight quarters fighting (tunnel rats of Vietnam) or guard duty. The M1 carbine was developed for WWII precisely because of the limitations of the handgun. But the handgun remains because the troops want them, and because they do perform an important niche role. I do not advocate eliminating them. I advocate issue and training as required, and I believe that for those who want to use their personnel handguns, I say let them. But in this case the training, logistics, and overall responsibility should remain entirely up to them.

    Reply

    • Thor

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      Col KFC–Never meant to claim that the 1911 .45 ACP was used specifically in the Spanish American war of 1898. But it was the ineffectiveness of .38 Long Colts there that lead to the invention of the 1911 .45ACP by Browning. I thought you might have had a greater knowledge of history and the dates involved (Spanish American War was barely 2 years long–from 1898 to 1900) 1911 was many years after that war. It was that NEW semi-auto pistol (note the passage of 11 years) that solved the problem when and if a handgun was needed but few were ready for WWI. I copied my comment below to make it easier for you. The balance of your comment could be valid. My two family members who fought in the Spanish American War are long gone and can’t be asked. I agree that the .45 Long Colt exceeds the .38 Long Colt in a SAA. I would certainly pick a rifle over a handgun but remember back in the days of the 30-40 Krag and the 30-06 the military was outfitting them with very long distance sights with little expectation of battle at pistol ranges. They were wrong of course.

      The “ought six” was and still is an extraordinary round but the Krag had a short life span. The 45-70 is still around loaded much hotter than in 1898 because the Trapdoor Springfield is such a weak action.

      Original Comment–
      Reflect back to when battle action was a little different but our guys couldn’t stop Phillipino Moros with their issue .38 Long Colts. Presto–the .45 ACP chambered in 1911’s solves the problem of effective handgun fire. No need to find out that the guy that has your back has picked a plastic 9mm for his sidearm and you are out of ammo which happens to be .45 ACP. Doesn’t fit your pistol. Or the armorer needs to replace the ejector–but can he carry one for every make? Standardization is the key.

      Reply

  • Tom

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    Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way.I can’t wait to look in the mirror cause I get better looking each day.Some folks say that I’m egotistical.Hell, I don’t even know what that means. But to know me is to love me so I must be a hell of a man.
    Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble, but I’m doing the best that I can………hehehehe

    Reply

  • Jerry

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    Training new personel with the M9 (people who have never shot a pistol) is a pain in the ass. On the police qualification firing range, you can watch and tell the caliber of each pistol. 45 cals take one round to drop the metal plates, 40 cals take 1-2 rounds, and 9mm take 4-5 rounds. You can choose any fire arm you want, but after 12years of watching this I know which i am using. 9mm of course, who wants to drop a person in one round.

    Reply

    • Alex

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      You had me going there Mr. Jerry!

      Reply

  • COMBAT VET

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    Is this really an effort to retain a Government contract?? Initial issue is correct.. Let the DOD and the military personnel decide. After all it is their lives that their weapons are protecting. We should let the military run the military, not politicians.

    Reply

  • alex

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    Oh my gosh. You’re so sensitive. I had no idea you felt this way. Allow me to apologize and retort. You fired the first round at me and maybe I made a mistake sinking to your level. Well thats a lick on me. Don’t try the “I am the scholar” routine with me. You know nothing about me and I don’t believe you know much about anything else. You wanted to start some sh%# with me but when I throw it back on you, you get all butthurt and try to use some big words. Well I have some words for you, internet tough guy. Go F** k yourself. You’re just pathetic little man whose dick size is probably smaller than a 9mm bullet that goes it the Beretta M9. How about that for staying on topic?

    Reply

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