Beretta’s M9 pistol served proudly as the official sidearm for our troops for nearly three decades. It exhibited a remarkable ability to evolve as the Global War Against Terrorism required it to adapt to a variety of missions unthought of when it officially fielded in 1985. The 9 mm semi-automatic thrived in harsh, sandy conditions, despite challenging maintenance environments and servicemember abuse.
When the government announced the search for a new modular handgun, Beretta was among the companies that submitted a pistol for consideration. The company wisely chose its M9 platform for the foundation, but built upon its M9A1 model, a version adopted by the Marine Corps in 2006 with an accessory rail and upgraded sights.
Beretta didn’t win the lucrative military contract, but their loss is our gain. The years of research, fine-tuned design and polished performance became commercially available to civilians in December 2014.
The double- and single-action pistol features a Vertec-style thin grip, which provides an instinctive hold. The dust cover features a three-slot Picatinny rail for plenty of real estate when mounting weapon lights or laser sighting devices. The safety and de-cocker can be converted to de-cocker only use, the magazine well is beveled to speed reloads and checkering on the grip’s front and backstrap ensure a solid purchase when wearing gloves or with sweaty palms. A removable wraparound grip allows owners to tailor the feel, regardless of hand size.
The magazine—which has an oversize release button—is double stack, with capacities direct from the factory of either 10 or 17 rounds. The threaded barrel measures 5", overall length of the pistol is 8.7" and width is 1.5". Unloaded it tips the scales at 33.4 ozs.
The company’s solvent and abrasion-resistant dark earth finish gives it a long-lasting look guaranteed to attract attention at the firing line. Add improvements tailored for the military internally, and there’s a lot to like in the Beretta M9A3. Four models are currently available, all made in Italy. MSRPs are either $1,099 or $1,100.