Beretta has come out with their answer to the U.S. Army’s service handgun competition (discussed in much detail at TFB here), and it is the currently named M9A3. This is a confusing name because the Army hasn’t even begun trials but Beretta is going ahead and picking out the name for their entry. The news release on the company’s website says it best-
The M9A3 represents the next generation military handgun utilizing the best of the legacy M9 combined with proven COTS modifications that increase performance and durability” stated Gabriele de Plano, Vice President of Military Marketing and Sales for Beretta USA. Mr. de Plano added, “After listening closely to the needs of U.S. Army and other Service small arms representatives, we determined the M9, much like its counterpart legacy weapon systems (M4, M16, M240, etc.), was capable of being upgraded through material and design changes. The resulting M9A3 we are offering to the DOD will likely cost less than the current M9 and answer almost all of the Services’ enhanced handgun requirements.”
The M9A3 features a thin grip with a removable, modular wrap-around grip, MIL-STD-1913 accessory rail, removable front and rear tritium sights, extended and threaded barrel for suppressor use, 17-round sand resistant magazine, and numerous improved small components to increase durability and ergonomics, all in an earth tone finish.
“Furthermore, the M9A3 benefits from having a law enforcement and commercial variant that will be launched at S.H.O.T. Show 2015 in Las Vegas, NV” stated Rafe Bennett, Vice President of Product Marketing for Beretta USA. Mr. Bennett added, “The M9A3 offered to the DOD is the exact gun that consumers will be able to purchase in the second quarter of 2015.
It doesn’t say what caliber the handgun would be, although it appears that the news release is letting the reader assume that it is in 9x19mm NATO. One of the rumors circulating around the competition is that the Army is looking to upgrade the caliber. Because apart from the caliber, there doesn’t seem to be any significant design change to the actual handgun, just external changes. It also mentions the addition of a threaded barrel, which is puzzling because the majority of handguns in the U.S. Armed Forces are never meant for suppressed use. The company’s theory seems to be an upgrade in place instead of a completely new design. It also seems that Beretta is trying to pull the same tactic of offering the exact same handgun to the public like they did in the 1990s, and like Sig Sauer did. We’ll stay tuned on Beretta’s answer to the competition.