In Defense of the Beretta 92

The Beretta 9mm is an American icon.

That’s right, I said it—An American icon. Officially adopted in 1985 and in general issue since 1990, the Beretta M9 pistol has served all branches of the US military with distinction for over 20 years now. Over that time, the Pentagon has funded several different programs to decide on a suitable replacement for it, but all have failed. In 2009, Beretta received a $220 million contract to deliver another 450,000 M9 pistols to our military through 2014. All other gunmakers went home disappointed, again. The big Beretta has gotten knocked around and disrespected for too long. It is time to set the record straight and give this pistol the recognition it deserves.

Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Game

The Beretta M9 was controversial from the moment the Pentagon selected it to replace the .45ACP caliber 1911. Sure, we all love the 1911 and kneel humbly before the greatness that is John Moses Browning. During the 1984 pistol trials eight companies submitted pistols for evaluation; the military used the 1911 as the “control” group as a standard for comparison. The testing protocol included reliability tests, a salt water corrosion test, mud and sand tests, a total service life test, and a firing pin energy test. The Beretta absolutely wiped the floor with the 1911 during these tests. It wasn’t even close. The military crunched the numbers and determined that if the 1911 had to fire a 30 round fire mission under field conditions, it only had an 82% chance of completing the mission without a failure of some kind. The Beretta could do it 98% of the time. When the smoke cleared, the Beretta 92 and Sig 226 stood head and shoulders above all others, including the exotic Heckler & Koch P7M13. Beretta underbid Sig Sauer’s importer, SACO, and won the contract.

Rumors began to spread immediately that Beretta had cheated to win the contract. Some said that Sig Sauer’s bid was leaked to Beretta ahead of time so they knew the price to beat. Some said they had promised the government free replacement parts. There was general disgust at the fact that the winning pistol was an Italian design. Let’s face it, the Italian military doesn’t have the proudest history in the world. The rumor mill said that the Italian embassy had gotten involved in trying to win Beretta the contract. Pundits everywhere were irked that the U.S. military was adopting the weenie European 9mm round instead of forcing the rest of NATO to buy our .45acp rounds. Congress told the Government Accounting Office (GAO) to investigate what the heck was going on. The GAO came back with a big report in June 1986 breaking the whole thing down. Here’s the bottom line:

  • The military was determined to get rid of the .45ACP and adopt a 9mm. If it had not been the Beretta or SIG, it would have been the Smith & Wesson 469, the Steyr GB, or another 9mm pistol. The old .45 was going to be retired from service regardless.
  • The Italian embassy did lobby for Beretta. The USA strictly forbids its embassy employees from interfering in foreign government contracts, but other countries do it all the time. The Italians lobbied Congress, which had no authority over the outcome of the trials anyway.
  • Beretta quoted the same cost for replacement parts as they listed in their civilian sales catalog. Their magazines cost less than Sig’s magazines, helping their total bid stay lower than SACO’s offer.
  • Beretta won the contract because they outbid SACO fair and square. If Sig Sauer imported their own pistols like they do today, who knows what they might have bid? But Beretta really wanted the contract badly and their Best and Final Offer was rock bottom. The initial contract price worked out to $178.50 for each Beretta M9. It doesn’t get much better than that, even in 1985 dollars.
  • There was no evidence of a SACO bid price leak to Beretta. However, there was evidence that Smith & Wesson was unfairly kicked out of the competition. Testers rounded off some technical numbers involved with the firing pin energy test, resulting in a failing grade for the S&W 469. Smith & Wesson later sued the government over the mistake but lost after a long and expensive court battle.
  • Beretta was allowed to import the initial batch of pistols from Italy. However, the terms of the contract forced Beretta to build an entire factory here in the USA as soon as possible. The resulting plant in Accokeek, Maryland, still builds M9 pistols today.

So you’re a fan of the 1911 and the .45ACP. So am I! Maybe you wish the military never went from .45 to 9mm 27 years ago, but they did. Get over it! Why hate on Beretta for selling the military exactly what they wanted, at a very competitive price, and building it right here in the USA? Don’t hate the player, 1911 fans. Hate the game.

Navy Seals Break Stuff, and a Gun Store Legend is Born

If you’ve spent as much time in gun stores as I have, you’ve heard a chairborne ranger tell the story of how the Beretta 92 is junk because they killed a bunch of Navy SEALs back in the day. The story goes that the pistols were so weak their slides broke in half, with the rear half of the slide flying off the frame rails and going right through the eye socket of the shooters, killing them instantly. Sometimes another gun store expert will chime in that the Navy SEALs were using special super high velocity +P+ submachine gun ammunition so they could have ammo compatibility with their HK MP5 sub-guns. The guns would not have blown up with standard ammo, but those Navy SEALs just have to be different. Then everyone grumbles for a while about how 1911s would never do that.

That story is pure gun store crap. The next time you hear someone tell it, just smile and walk away. Here’s what really happened. A Navy Special Warfare Group soldier received an injury in September 1987 when the slide on his civilian Beretta 92SB fractured and hit him in the face. A few months later, it happened again with two first-batch military issue M9 pistols, injuring their shooters mildly. No deaths were involved, but one shooter broke a tooth. You didn’t really think a slide breaking from the recoil of a 9mm would kill someone, did you?

The Navy quickly informed Beretta and the other branches of the military that there was a problem. The Army had been doing some independent durability testing on three civilian-spec M92SB pistols. Hearing of the Navy’s problems, they checked the slides on those guns for cracks. They found a crack on one pistol slide and decided to shoot all three pistols until the slides broke in the same way that the Navy SEAL pistols had. The gun with the cracked slide let go at 23,310 rounds fired. The other two broke at 30,083 and 30,545 rounds fired. The military and Beretta determined that all of the broken slides were made in Italy and had unusually low metal toughness. They modified the slide design to add metal in the locking block area, and modified the frame so that if a slide did break, it could not fly off the rear frame rails. Eventually 14 slide failures occurred: 3 in the field by the SEALs and 11 in laboratory testing. All guns were shooting military standard M882 pistol ammunition. The M882 round is a standard power round, firing a 124 grain bullet at 1113 feet per second.  After Beretta made the design changes and the Maryland factory began producing complete M9 pistols here, the military reported no other slide breakages. EVER.

What does this mean, practically? Well, if you have a Beretta 9mm manufactured sometime before 1987 and you’ve shot more than 20,000 rounds through it, you should check the slide for cracks. If that situation doesn’t apply to you, then forget it. Beretta fixed the problem promptly and permanently 25 years ago, after those three SEALs broke guns shot beyond their intended service life. Breaking stuff is what SEALs do best anyway. Instead of spreading the gun store fable around, ask yourself how many other gun companies would bother to redesign their product after just 14 examples broke, out of hundreds of thousands of pistols built under a single contract. Go on, name one. I’ll wait….

A Retort for Every Gripe

Here are some common complaints about the Beretta 92. For every complaint I have an answer.

It’s too big. The Beretta is a big gun—built like a tank, with a chunky steel slide on an alloy frame. I love my smaller and lighter Glock 19, to be sure. Shooters with large hands always appreciate the big grip and solid feel of the Beretta. Even with my average sized hands, I find it to be extremely controllable and comfortable to shoot. Not all pistols are made to be hidden. Some are made to be big, intimidating, over-engineered brutes. The extra weight helps tame recoil, too.

The safety is in the wrong place. Beretta doesn’t think so, or they wouldn’t have put the same safety on nearly all their full size, compact and sub-compact pistols. The tiny Nano is striker-fired and has no external safety at all, so it is the sole exception. Many other designs feature a similar safety, including my favorite totally underrated pistol, the S&W 5906. The trick with this design is learning to take the safety off with the gun still in the holster, on the draw. As you reach for the pistol, push the safety forward with your thumb and forefinger before sweeping down just a bit to grasp the grip. It takes no time at all and you can do it in one smooth, quick motion. Since you’re still in double-action mode, there is plenty of safety margin during the rest of the presentation from the holster.

I hate double action triggers. The double-action trigger on the Beretta is long and heavy. I tend to ignore it when shooting recreationally. You can help with the pull weight a bit by installing a lighter mainspring, such as the ones used in the double-action-only 92D variant. A DA/SA type trigger is not for everyone. There’s no doubt that the 1911’s trigger is better. However, the Beretta’s trigger is no worse than other triggers of the same type, and better than most of them. Perhaps one day the military will go to a striker-fired trigger system as used in the Glock, Smith & Wesson M&P, and other more modern designs. For safety reasons, they will never go back to a single-action-only system like the 1911. For now, the military wants an exposed hammer and a double action trigger, and the Beretta 92 features one of the most robust trigger systems of that type in the world.

It doesn’t hold enough ammo for its size. There was a time when a 15 round magazine capacity was amazing. In 1985, the current issue pistol held seven rounds in the magazine and it was not yet common practice to “top off” with another cartridge in the chamber. Fast forward to 2012 and it seems crazy that such a large pistol should only hold 15 rounds. Fortunately for us not saddled with military issue mags and ammo, the big Beretta benefits from the latest magazine technology too. My stainless Beretta 92FS sports extended MecGar mags holding 20 rounds. They work great and do not add much bulk to the gun at all. Problem solved!

I can’t put a tactical light on it. Assuming you aren’t considering buying an M9-A1 or Beretta 90-TWO (a confusing name for a great pistol), both of which have integrated 1913 Picatinny rails, you can get adapters from Insight Technology or Surefire which attach to the trigger guard. They fit on your standard Beretta 92 with no modifications needed. Easy!

The one I was issued in the military had problems. Some veterans I talk to say their issued M9s were awful, others say they were great. It partly depends on the condition of the gun issued to you, but more so on the condition of the magazines issued to you. Magazines made for the military by Checkmate Industries had a thick phosphate coating (parkerizing) and were notorious for falling prey to the sandy conditions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Fine sand embedded into the rough parkerized surface caused the magazine to stick in the mag well, and the follower to stick inside the magazine body itself. It’s important to note that Checkmate is not a junk company. They had to build those magazines to the specifications the military demanded, and they did. Those specifications just didn’t pan out in the dust of the Middle East. The Pentagon changed the finish to a dry film lubricant type when they contracted with Airtronic Services, Inc. for new magazines in 2006. The finish wears off of the newer magazines more quickly, but they do not attract sand as the older Checkmates do. Checkmate is making military magazines again now, to the newer specification.

Many issued M9 pistols are well beyond their service life but are still out there fighting, simply because they are already there and still (mostly) work. In addition, many military units don’t do much preventive maintenance below the armorer level. Troops carry and shoot their Berettas until something breaks or the gun otherwise stops working, then turn it in to the unit armorer to fix. The M9 is capable of taking a lot of abuse, but grunts can break any piece of equipment if they keep using it long enough. How well would your favorite gun hold up after a few years of going to war in the hands of enlisted men who didn’t pay for it?

The military spec Beretta M9 is available for civilian purchase here in the United States. Beretta builds the model 92FS to nearly the same specifications, with extremely minor differences such as an angled dust cover on the frame instead of a straight one. Both the M9 and 92FS feature the excellent Bruniton finish and chrome lined barrels, just like the barrel on an M4 carbine. Beretta also makes the 92 in stainless steel, which they call the Inox model, inoxidizable being Italian for not oxidizing. If you have never shot one before, you owe it to yourself to get some range time behind it. If you’re only experience with the Beretta 92 is a ratty, beat up M9 you toted through sandstorms for a year, try a newer one in friendlier circumstances. You might just find out that the Beretta can be an extremely dependable service pistol, and a real joy to shoot.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (59)

  1. I was issued an M9 while working in South America . I didn’t like carrying a weapon I was really familiar with, so when I came home two weeks later I bought one along with 1000 rounds of ammo. After 15 years and many thousand rounds I have come to love that pistol. Only one malfunction and that was an old range mag. Extremely accurate and reliable .

  2. 92s are actually really good guns. My wife and I each have one and they are very smooth, reliable and accurate. I don’t carry mine as my EDC because i prefer a .45, but my wife loves hers. She’s dead accurate with it and it ticks like a clock on the range.

  3. W.D. Webster represents everything that is wrong with America. Yes the Pelosi’s/Schumers are ruining this country, but to paint such broad hateful statements abiur women who want equality…. Perhaps you agree with the Koran that all women are dogs and should be barefoot and pregnant. Ignorant sh%^!

  4. I have owned five, no six, 1911s all in .45. At age six, the first pistol I ever fired was a para ordnance P-14. I carried an M9 daily in the Air Force. We went to the range a lot. My unit was full of prior service Army and Marines and they liked to shoot. They didn’t seem as keen to clean weapons however and sisdearms were not assigned. The only malfunctions I ever suffered were due to one jackwad after another letting carbon build up in the pistols which led to the pistol eventually not going into battery. Never had to fire an M9 in a fight, which is to say my assigned M4 never failed. I am not an expert and I haven’t gunned down a thousand “Tangos”(for all you lingo lovers) with a pistol. I would personally choose a Beretta loaded with Gold Dots over a 1911 for carry for two reasons: capacity vs weight. Reliability is at least equal. Controls are equally wonky in opposite ways and that comes down to training. I don’t intend to be in the sandbox going door to door ever again so my preference are not based upon that set of qualifications for a carry pistol. However, combat statistics show that the side that fires the most rounds in intermediate combat wins. That is not an endorsement of spray and pray vs accuracy, but it is at least what a bunch of knob heads concluded in a study. Odd that no one here brought up the original wonder nine-Browning GP-35. 12-14 rounds since 1935 in
    A pistol far more handy the 1911 or Beretta for all hand sizes. Carried by more fighting militaries than any other pistol ever, full stop. Its a single action so it probably won’t ever be carried by our guys in future, but its a proven design that beats both of the pistols most extolled by others here. Anyway, carry what you like if your a civilian. That’s the beautiful thing about America.

  5. I was an officer in the Navy 2001-2006, carried the Beretta and loved it. Qualified expert pistol with it. The one I had was an early batch Italian made that looked like it had 50k rounds through it. In fact it was so worn in that every time I pulled one from the ships armory for watch standing duties I could chamber a round simply by using a little extra force when slapping the mag in. Made me laugh every time. I just purchased a 92FS “made in Italy” for nostalgia purposes and if I ever have a kid (just got married last week) I can share it with him knowing he will think its cool to be able to shoot essentially the same gun his dad used in the Navy. Its a beautiful weapon, great design and shoots really well. There were some issues with women on board who were able to somehow qualify to carry the M9 for watch standing but somehow always asking me to help them load it. One got brave enough to actually put it in the holster herself. However I do not think that is the fault of the 92FS/M9 design or caliber. By the way we used the 92FS modified for simunitions training. A Navy seal shot me square in the head. I could see the soap mark on my face mask right between my eyes. I think based on the force the amount of force exerted by the simunition round I would certainly be dead if that had been a real scenario with real FMJ ammo. Although I do keep a SA 1911 .45acp and a Glock 21 on my bedside and my new wife has my SW 640 stainless revolver loaded with .357 on hers. 😀

  6. Used the M9 in the Air Force, but in my private collection my Beretta of choice is the Cougar.

    To me, it’s everything the M9 should have been: no weak locking lugs, no open top slide, and a grip EVERYONE can use. Also, it was initially designed around the .40 so it eats 9mm NATO FMJ like candy (I carry with Federal HST 124gr+P).

    Yes the barrel is shorter. But as an earlier poster pointed out, the sidearm is a backup weapon. You’re not going to engage 200-300m targets with your pistol. That’s what your AR is for (or better yet, a M240).

  7. I’ll offer salute to the M9 for a pistol that makes it easy to train any servicemember to shoot accurately and rapidly, and to be safe to load, unload and holster. SOF operators are well entitled to pick better weapons for their missions, and they can train thoroughly to use them skillfully. But we need and send lots more troops of all services into the war zone as logisticians, transporters, communicators, maintainers and intelligence specialists; not trained as full time trigger-pullers of the infantry and combat arms. The de-cocker is just brilliant for minimizing the risk of accidental discharge, yet allowing safe loading to be instantly ready with a smooth double-action pull. Big grip, perhaps, but it makes accurate shooting easy and it’s rounds in the target’s lethal zone that matters.

  8. The 9mm was chosen over the .45 because women in the military cannot usually handle the big .45 rounds in extended shoots. Smaller hands, bodys, etc. Its a fact women are smaller and our service men get a less powerful round because of it. Given a choice, which round would you take (if you had to) to be shot with. Where a 9mm will just piss an opposing person off in a combat situation unless it hits a vital spot, you hit someone with a .45 and they are down now!
    I believe it is great that we are allowing women in combat. The feminists in congress have wanted this for years. I can’t wait to see our women in the service come back without hands, feet,arms, legs, and/or raped. Send the feminists to the front with targets on them as they are ruining our country.

    1. YOU do realize that the difference in circumference between .355mm vs 45mm is next to nothing, as in millimeters, right?
      (Less than a nickel vs a quarter)

      And that neither one is a death ray incapable of stopping anyone without a hit to the CNS or vitals?

    2. “Where a 9mm will just piss an opposing person off in a combat situation unless it hits a vital spot, you hit someone with a .45 and they are down now!”
      Good lord where do you people get this crap?

      So much for 45 fanboy BS
      “At the core of his desperate firefight was a murderous attacker who simply would not go down, even though he was shot 14 times with .45-cal. ammunition — six of those hits in supposedly fatal locations.”

      “In this free-for-all, the assailant had, in fact, been struck 14 times. Any one of six of these wounds — in the heart, right lung, left lung, liver, diaphragm, and right kidney — could have produced fatal consequences…“in time,” Gramins emphasizes.”

      “When the suspect bent down to peer under the car, Gramins carefully established a sight picture, and squeezed off three controlled bursts in rapid succession.
      Each round slammed into the suspect’s head — one through each side of his mouth and one through the top of his skull into his brain. At long last the would-be cop killer crumpled to the pavement.”

    3. I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s said that generals are always fighting the last war, but not all future wars this country will finds it self in will be like Desert Storm. One day we may find ourselves in long protected war against a viable enemy that results in many U.S. POWs. I shutter to think of the fate of our female service members.

  9. The M9 contract was only renewed because the army terminated the trials for a replacement part way through, they terminated trials for rifle as well and awarded FN with a renewed contract for M4 caebines too.Despite there being several great prospects.

  10. 9mm ball is crap. I have seen a 40 grain .22 mag drop poppers that a double tap of 124 grain 9mm couldn’t budge. My father was an army medic in Korea the first two men he saw killed were each hit with one round of .45 ball at a distance of approximately 40 yards from a 1911A1, both were dead before their bodies hit the dirt. He used to say “.45 hardball does it all.” There’s a reason its dubbed “the flying ashtray”. Amadu Dialo was hit something like 17 times with 9mm ball and failed to drop. That’s why street crimes officers kept firing at him. It’s also the reason NYPD changed issue ammo to Speer Gold Dot +P+ ammo after banning hollow points for many years. Beretta 92 is a “Boutique” gun that got a chance at the big time. Lousy ergos, lousy control positioning. Too damn big and the frames crack too. A CZ 75 would be a better choice, hell a Beretta 1951 would be better.

  11. To all the folks who claim that a 9mm isn’t powerfull enough to “stop” a man, try this little experiment- have a friend shoot you in the chest with a 9mm.
    Give it a rest. A pistol isn’t a primary weapon and in its capacity as a SHTF backup 9mm is plenty powerful enough to put down a human.
    You can hate the Beretta for being big, for being ugly and for being foreign* but you can’t complain that its unreliable. Its a tough, proven design and has survived for 20+ years of service use by an actual military (not Austria or Norway). The Glock is a great pistol but it has its problems (remember the 26,000 units Glock fixed for the NYPD after denying there was a problem for years? Or the defective guide rod scandal?). If the US adopted the Glock you’d soon find out that it has just as many problems (or more) than the Beretta. I would not want to be in the Medical corps when they start issuing no-safety striker-fired guns to troops. As police forces around the world have proved, no safety and no external hammer often leads to “oopsies.”

    *Many disparage the Beretta as being “foreign.” The M9 is made in Maryland. In the modern world its often hard to nail down exactly what a foreign made good is. The Toyota Avalon, for instance, is the most “Made in America” car- being about 85% made here- beating out Ford, Chevy and Chrysler. For my money, I’m glad the M9 creates jobs in the US.

  12. All of you make me laugh. Its funny how everybody is an expert. The troops need Glocks or Sig’s or whatever. The M-9 works just fine. How do I know. It has not failed me in Iraq or Afghanistan. What works on the range, when you fire it on the weekends and never expose it a tactical environment, civillian faked tactical shooting ranges do not count. An actual battlefield puts the weapon through its paces. We have been using this weapon for over 27 years, its not going anywhere anytime soon. I do not trust any of the current super sexy, ultra cool pistol out there. The M-9 is built like a brick crap house. Ready to take a beating.

  13. My my my. Still going.

    In late 1987, I tested part of the initial batch of M9s sent to the U.S. Army, at Fort Hunter Liggett, California.

    Over a three day period, myself and six other trusted NCO (gun nuts all) did our best to break four of them. We fired (by logged count) 50,000 rounds through each ofthem. Cleaning was by swirling the entire gun (assembled, slide open) in a drum of break free, when they got to be too hot to hold (usually took about 1000 rounds in rapid fire to make them so.) Total malfunctions: Three. One misfire (round went off on the second strike), one magazine caused failure to feed, one failure to lock back when empty (again, the magazine.)

    At the end of 200,000 rounds, we stripped them, detail cleaned, and all seven of us ran a qual course of 50 rounds. They all functioned perfectly, and we all qualified expert (which, yes, I know, ain’t real hard to do.)

    Now, I have problams with the M9, but all of them involve it being ugly, or a 9mm, or too damned big for a 9.

    But BOAT ANCHOR? Gimme a break.

    If you want reliable, that open top is the way to go.

    I liked it so much that I left my 1911 at home when I participated in the unpleasantness in the sand box 4 years later. It worked perfectly.

    Yes you have to clean it occasionally. Duh! You maybe expect your series 70 to keep going coated with sand? Hell, you can kill a Model 10 Smith revolver with enough of that talcum powder sand.

    You don’t like the Beretta, don’t buy one. But don’t tell me it’s raining.

  14. reply to #33
    Your imature and unprofessional attitude really shows here my friend.
    Just because YOU do not like a M( doesn’t mean it a P.O.S.
    Grow up

  15. Absolute BS. The M9/Beretta 92 is a piece of crap. Everything about the design sucks. crappy locking block, unecessary slide safety on an already safe heavy double action pull.Exterior trigger bar. Safety/decocker should be on the frame not the slide. Exposed barrel (yea real good idea). Ridiculous fan boy hype over a outdated boat anchor of a gun. The Glock or XD or SIG for that matter runs circles around the Beretta. You can keep this piece of crap.

  16. does not matter what you have take one shot to kill if you are good shooter so learn to shot to kill save on yous ammo

  17. “During the 1984 pistol trials eight companies submitted pistols for evaluation; the military used the 1911 as the “control” group as a standard for comparison. The testing protocol included reliability tests, a salt water corrosion test, mud and sand tests, a total service life test, and a firing pin energy test. The Beretta absolutely wiped the floor with the 1911 during these tests. It wasn’t even close.”

    Considering the control guns were all 40+ years old, arsenal rebuilt numerous times, and generally at the point of replacement anyway, the fact that still, FORTY PLUS YEARS LATER, the weapon could make 82% to the M9’s 98% is testimony enough. What retard thinks that that a 40+ year old gun should be the comparison. As far as the design’s age, it proved itself in 1917 and I doubt the M9 would have been favorably compared. In fact, stick it in the mud and the blood and I think we would be uttering M9 and Chauchat in the same breadth for the same reasons.

    The M9 is a marginal design at best. The locking blocks are weak and venerable to ingress of debris, the slide cut out is nice for weight savings for a policeman but hardly sensable in a combat weapon, and we still hear stories today of the weapon jamming and locking up. The 9mm NATO Ball round in inefficient, ineffective, and essentially requires multiple shots to ensure a lethal hit (since there’s unlikely time to evaluate teh effectiveness of your first shot). So assuming a double-tap for every target, the 15rd magazine becomes a 7.5 target magazine. By converse, the .45 Ball round actually expands to a small degree and is documented to do outstanding damage for a FMJ-type bullet.

    Finally, let’s just be honest. If the M9 were really all that great, how come so very few special forces or special units within mainline forces elect to use it?

  18. Someone below stated that an m9 has an average life of 1000 rounds? If you’re going to make stuff up try a little harder.

  19. The picture of a “Marine with and 9mm” isn’t correct. That is acutally a Navy Corpsman along the side of his Marine counter parts. I know that Corpsman personally, we served together in Iraq during the invasion.


  20. The Beretta 92/M9 is basically missing the top portion of the slide.

    This allows debris, sand, mud, blood, etc, to enter the firearm with the greatest of ease.

    This makes the gun worthless as anything except a range queen. You cant trust them in dirt, mud, sand, or even a light breeze.

  21. The Beretta M9 reminds me of the famous/infamous AMT Backup of the 70’s, you either you love them or you hate them. In my military experience both stateside and overseas, I would feel better having a 3 pound rock in a holster than a Beretta M9. Of the dozen or so I have been issued over the years I have never felt confident carrying any of them to function reliably and accurately. In my unit we have quite a few part time LEOs, many of which are able to bring by their SIG, HK, Glock and other service firearms to do comparison testing against our issued M9s. The Berettas always fall far behind in the pack of modern pistols. With Glock being close to the bottom of the barrel. I am sure that when the M9 entered service, they were the teeny bopper phenomenon that every branch wanted, now their are much better pistols out there. I would much rather trust my life to an HK USP, Sig Pro 2022, or even the reclusive Walther P99.

  22. The Beretta 92FS has defended the greatest nation in the world. It has performed better, statistically, financially and reliably over many years. There are plenty of good guns out there. The 92FS has earned its place among the most logical guns out there. So for all the haters out there, it just proves you’re not very logical. Suck on my 92FS and see if it fails.

  23. Scott– good post and my research did not uncover any stories like the ones you just told. Very interesting stuff.

  24. Great post on the M9. I have a m9A1 and I think it is great. I also rent 1911’s and Sigs at the range almost everytime I go. I will admit my son is a 1911 fan and he his 12! Most I like is it goes bang evertime I pull the trigger.. Everytime..

  25. The main issue I noticed on Navy qualification ranges is that smaller framed servicemembers have some issues with the large grip, long gap between frame and trigger, and reaching the smallish safety…may simply be time for an M9A2…the same way they updated the post WWI 1911.

  26. As a former military small arms repair tech, I worked in an armory from 1997-2000, and again from 2002-2003, that housed 200+ Berettas at any given time, with most of them being manufactured between 1990-1995. Speaking from personal experience, I can say the average life expectency for an M9 before it had a failure was ~1000 rounds; using standard Nato 9mm Ball ammunition. Well short of the 20,000 rounds the author stated. Typically, this was the locking block, but it wasn’t uncommon to see hairline fractures in the slide at the ejection port either. I was even witness to a total failure of a slide as it fractured in two pieces with the piece holding the front sight ending up five yards down range. Sure the M9 is a reliable gun, as it will hit the target everytime you line the sights up; but be sure to start looking for signs of trouble when you reach that 1000 round mark. This article was a good read, but I believe the author failed to look at the ligitamacy of the complaints by those who tested and used them regularly in training and combat.

  27. Tom Hargrave, Springfield XDs are made in Croatia. The Croatian crossed cannon engraving is on the top of every XD slide.

    They are fine pistols despite their high bore axis.

  28. Yeah I remember sorting through mags to get good ones. “Made in Italy” with the blued exterior = good, “For Military or Law Enforcement Use Only” with rough parked exterior = crap. Drop free vs. pull free.

  29. I remember the slide breakage issue and the airbag (oversized hammer pin) that replaced endless magnafluxing. My commander directed we keep the 1911 long past turn in. Painful.

    As some wag said “You’re not a man until you’ve tasted Italian steel.” Great guns, with the original mags.

    There was some discussion that the Beretta was adopted to get basing rights for Pershing Missiles in Italy. I think that one failed the laugh test.

  30. Just my personal preference, and money is not really a concern since I don’t empty a couple of boxes a week, but the .45 is what I bought, the Springfield Arms XD45. The day I bought it, the wife suggested I go ahead and waste fifteen bucks and hit a target for her, just something to see how good I was before I started practicing. 22 seconds, 25 rounds, 13 into the head, 12 into the torso ‘between the tits’, as she said. I haven’t really practiced much since, but the round is what I wanted, the gun shoots plenty straight, and it’s less than some of those other guns. Buy American, I say.

  31. Very few people in the military use an M9 as their primary in combat. Anyone who is stupid enough to bring ANY pistol to combat excepting all other weapons is an idiot. Bare minimum is a rifle/carbine. Tank crewmen are often issued M9s, but they have a 120mm cannon, a .50 M2HB, and 2 M240s to wear out before the pistol. The M9 is nice when you need to dismount and take a leak, at least you have SOMETHING to bring with you. The SpecOps dudes use better handguns because they walk a tighter line; if their primary goes tango uniform or they run out of ammo, they don’t have any logistical support.

    Everyone was really impressed with the M9’s accuracy, fit, and finish when it was issued. The 1911s by that time were all shot out and beat to hell. Sure, some reserve/Nat Guard guys brought their 1911s to Saudi Arabia but these hadn’t seen the kind of punishment 1911s in active duty units faced over their lifetimes. Most of those guns were built during WWII and went to Korea, Vietnam, and Beirut, not to mention training exercises and pistol quals. They were done. Can you imagine joining the Army or Marines today and being handed an M16A1 built in 1965, with 90% original parts? Yeah, kind of like that.

    I’ve been out of the USMC for 10+ years and never had the itch to buy a Beretta 92F despite my pistol expert, third award and a consistent 370+/400 at the range. Why not? Well, the issue with the safety definitely being in the wrong place, John Browning had it right with the 1911 and I’m still not sure why any manual safety is in a different spot. Then there is the issue with the unnecessarily thick grip. Last but not least is the civilian cost, as long as Glocks (and other quality plastic fantastics) are less and the much better metal-framed SIGs are a little more the Beretta is squeezed out.

  32. If you know how to aim a 9mm is fine. Plus while your reloading I’m still filling you full of holes. Stopping power doesn’t mean crap if the gun doesn’t fire. Concerning the Glock comments. I played with plastic guns when I was a kid. Love my M9A1!!!!

  33. Ok, capacity IS an issue, even with modern 1911. Sig makes a great 1911 w/ integrated tac-rail. BUT, you want hi-cap? Para Ordnance makes a 14+1 1911 w/ a tactical rail. THAT would be my pistol of choice. i hated my M9. in the holster i had, the safety would inadvertently switch to fire if i rubbed against something. also, in MY opinion, the recoil of the M9 was worse than a 1911. a 1911 provides a heavier round that when a person is hit, they go down. Many of my fellow medics have hit someone in a firefight w/ multiple 9mm and the enemy won’t go down. so if you use MORE rounds to accomplish the same task, how is that better? and yes, be HAVE to use ball, ammo. HP are “inhumane” according to Geneva Convention. So while a 9mm HP is great as a civilian, a FMJ 9mm packs WAY LESS punch than .45 ACP FMJ.

  34. I like that you Defended the M92.I got too carry one when I was in and I loved it.I liked it better than the 1911 i carried when I first whent in,(only carried it for 1 yr.)I have been wanting one and when thing’s pick up im gonna get it.I NEVER had ant trouble with mine.I injoyed going too the range and not too mention combat range.

  35. I used both the 1911 and the Beretta in the Marine Corps, I enjoyed shooting both weapons! Fast forward today, I have a 1911 and the Beretta Model 92 FS, I like the .45’s knowkdown power. BUT with the right ammo, I have no problems with my Beretta. Of course I can rock hollow points as a civilian, but I must admit the Beretta is very user friendly..

  36. I think that both 92 and PX4 are amazing guns. I have one with 20,000+ rounds in training and competition with no modifications or major maintenance except replace the recoil spring. The gun still looks new!

    My only gripe with Beretta is that they don’t make Type Gs (or the parts to turn a Type F to Type G) available to civilians. Type G is a decocker only version. When you are in competition with a 10 pound DA pull, you don’t need a safety on top.

  37. The right ammunition they mentioned is likely a good hollow point. A 9MM hollow point is probably comparable to the 45 ACP ball ammo but I carry 45 ACP hollow point!

  38. I hear the argument over and over about the 9mm vs the 45 ACP and I always sided with the .45. However just a few months ago my father was in Quanitco, VA at the FBI accademy and spent almost two months there for training ; during that time he spoke with several of the ammunition and weapons testers there and asked what they carried. After all the rounds they fired they all still choose the 9mm as their personal carry weapon. They say when loaded with the right ammunition it does better than the .45 ACP. I will throw in the fact that due to the Geneva convention our men and women over seas likely cannot use this ammo, but its just food for thought for your own personal carry.

  39. Although I can’t argue about any of the points you made in your article, a 9MM will never have the sheer stopping power that a 45 ACP has. At the end if the day it’s all about physics – it’s all about energy transfer to your target. And regarding the 1911’s 82% chance verses the Baretta’s 98% chance of completing a 30 round mission test? Take into consideration that the Military compared a 60 year old design to a modern design – no wonder the model 1911A did not perform as well as modern 9MM weapons. If they had tested a modern 1911 variant I suspect the numbers would have been comparable to the Beretta.

    But a 9MM does have one advantage. If you are going into a situation where the ammo you pack is all the ammo you will have, the 9MM wins because it allows you to pack more rounds than a 45 ACP. This is likely THE reason for switching from 45 ACP to 9MM.

  40. Sean Jones, look how many Police officers have shot themselves with their Glocks over the years, and I don’t just mean DEA agents who did it on video. Heck, a Metropolitan Museum of Art security guard shot himself in the leg last friday and that gun probably had the infamously heavy “New York trigger” installed.

    There’s no way the military will to go a gun without an active safety, and if they did go to a striker fired gun you can bet the trigger will be a double-action style, long and heavy every time. Yuck.

  41. I have a orginal M9 special Ser# 1029 M9 its the best I have ever owned and I have sigs and HK, and the like.

  42. I still dont understand why the US does not issue Glocks to our soldiers. They are perfect for the environments the soldiers encounter, not to mention they are one of the easiest to repair (if necessary)and have a mount for a taclight. And have the reputation as the most reliable handgun in production

  43. why do so many SEALs use a Sig; its standard, i think. lets say the beretta 9mm is very reliable; i’d take any reliable auto in 9mm w/ a copper solid HP (geneva conv legal) over a 1911.45 hardball

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