Beretta’s new pistol turned down, Army still seeking new sidearm

An Army Reserve soldier shoots his assigned M9 pistol at Toledo Police Departments shooting range during the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge Competition. Photo Credit: Sgt. Clifford Coy, U.S. Army

The M9 sidearm has been a staple in the US military for over 30 years. A reliable, classic, and simple design, the M9 has been due for an update for quite some time. In early December, Beretta [the long time provider of the military’s combat sidearm] recently submitted an updated version of the M9, called the M9A3.

US Army officials would not evaluate it however, and are going to move in a different direction. The decision not to use the M9A3 leaves room for the Army completely revamp the look and design of their MHS [Modular Handgun System].

According to Fox News, Beretta officials claim they have not yet received an official notification regarding the [non] use of their pistols. “Obviously, they didn’t take a whole lot of time on this. Army officials didn’t ask a single question; didn’t ask for a single sample for evaluation,” said Gabriele De Plano, vice president of military marketing and sales for Beretta USA.

The Army claims that the current M9 does not meet MHS standard requirements. Some soldiers in the field have complained about the M9’s side mounted safety feature, which can accidentally be contacted and engaged without the user knowing. The M9A3’s “over-center safety lever” can be configured to act as a de-cocker, which would eliminate this problem, De Plano said. The M9A3 may not be a perfect sidearm, but should at least be evaluated, he added.

Beretta is currently under contract for M9s that the Army awarded in September 2012, which totals 100,000 pistols. Deliveries of nearly 20,000 has been set, leaving 80,000 that could be directed to be the M9A3 configuration at a cost that would be less than the current M9, De Plano said.

“Why not do a dual-path like they have done in other cases,” De Plano said. The Army has indeed done these sort of dual-path trials before, searching for a replacement to the M4 carbine. The search opened up opportunities for new models, while also comparing improvements to the current M4 carbine.

“They could explore this,” said De Plano, by ordering 10 M9A3s. “What’s the downside?”

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