Army Passes on Beretta’s Proposed M9A3

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The Military Times is reporting that the US Army has opted not to accept the proposed M9A3 handgun by Beretta. The move is not surprising, but it is surprising how quickly the Army acted. Not known for quick decision making, the Army has claimed the M9 does not meet the MHS requirements.

Military.com quotes Beretta’s VP:

“Obviously, they didn’t take a whole lot of time on this,” said Gabriele De Plano, vice president of military marketing and sales for Beretta USA, reacting to the news of the Army’s pre-Christmas decision after the M9A3’s December 10 unveiling.

Army officials “didn’t ask a single question; didn’t ask for a single sample” for evaluation, De Plano said.

Of course the handgun does not meet the MHS requirements, but the Army’s quick dismissal shows, in my opinion, a very real lack of due diligence and prudence. Changing platforms is a very expensive affair for the Army and if the M9 could have solved 90% of the issues for minimal cost, it may have been worth at least considering.

Hopefully this will result in the best handgun for the armed forces and not the same bureaucratic cluster that brought the M9 around to begin with.

Note- Cover photo from Military.com. Hit the link for their full article. 

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Nathan S.

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

Nathan can be reached at Nathan.S@TheFirearmBlog.com

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • Esh325

    “Does not MHS standards” In other words, we don’t really want a new handgun anyways. Just look at how successful M4 replacements programs have been and you’ll see the MHS will go no where. There isn’t a dire need for the US military to replace its current pistols.

    • SD3

      I think that’s exactly right. While it’s not surprising they panned the M9A3, it’s equally possible they’ll abandon the MHS all together, opting to retain they basic M9 they all “love to hate” for yet another generation.

      • Mazryonh

        Not to cast aspersions, but just how many “false starts” have the US Armed Forces had regarding “potential replacement programs” for small arms by now?

        • LCON

          once. the Joint Combat Pistol came from the Army’s Future Handgun System which crossed with the SOF Combat Pistol. which became the Combat Pistol which was then terminated.

          • Mazryonh

            I wasn’t just limiting the topic to handguns (since I said “small arms”); for small arms we’ve had programs such as SPIW, the OICW, the ACR, and most recently the Individual Carbine competition, which all of which resulted in a lot of money spent for very little fielded.

          • Phillip Cooper

            You’re forgetting the numerous programs to replace the rifle, the XM25 system, and numerous other pistol replacement programs as well.

            Can’t name them by name, I don’t give these sort of stories much space in my head because history has shown us the US Military is adverse to replacing small arms, no matter how much noise the political types (Generals, Senators, Congressmen) may raise.

          • LCON

            XM25 was not canceled was it? XM29 was broken, XM8 was canned by politics Individual carbine was tossed.

  • Don Ward

    Get ready for a lot of fapping over a subject that is totally irrelevant to the modern battlefield.

    • Esh325

      It’s true. Most front line combat troops in the USA and around the world aren’t issued handguns anyways.

    • Risky

      For real. I’m no historian but I doubt pistols have played a semi-important role on the battlefield since the days of percussion cap revolvers. For 95% of the military that are issued pistols that will almost never fire them off the range, just give ’em a pistol that works really well, i.e. about any modern pistol made by SIG, Glock, Beretta, FNH (list goes on). For the <5% of the X-black magic top ten tier delta sigma 626/145 operators, just buy them whatever they want off the shelf and give it a random M designation. There. I just literally saved BILLIONS of dollars… I'll be waiting for my kick-back check in the mail.

      • Don Ward

        Agreed. I’d say World War 1, due to the unique tactics of the day, was the last war where a handgun played a significant role for the US (1911s and the under-appreciated but widely issued M1917 revolvers). Pistols played an important role for the German army in WW2 due to the Nazis’ “unique” mission requirements.

        Other than that, you have to scrounge around for unique missions like the Tunnel Rats of Vietnam.

        For MP law enforcement a pistol I guess is still useful. And the ever important morale booster of letting troops “qualify” on the handgun ie burning through hundreds of rounds at the range for the LOLS because no one wants to go through the paperwork of returning unused ammo.

        • Grindstone50k

          Don’t forget aircrew are also sometimes armed with pistols, even today.

          • SP mclaughlin

            They (pilots and aircrews) can opt to bring their own sidearm, AFAIK.

          • Grindstone50k

            Speaking as former aircrew, not really.

          • Don Ward

            True dat. To be fair, we can come up with dozens of different uses for handguns in the military. They’re handy for embassy duty. They’re great help with interrogating Haji prisoners. M9s are surefire way of ridding the brigade of any superfluous Majors in Civil Affairs…

          • Sulaco

            Funny, all (well all most all) of the troops I have talked with coming back from the sand box wanted a pistol on them. Especially those doing house to house etc…

          • wetcorps

            And how often do they have to use them in combat?

          • Grindstone50k

            Not often enough to justify having a quality and effective sidearm I guess?

        • idahoguy101

          I own a M1917 revolver. Very nice gun to shoot!

        • Yellow Devil

          “…because no one wants to go through the paperwork of returning unused ammo.”

          Yep, learned that the hard way as the unit training NCO. Thought well save the military a few bucks by returning this sealed, untouched, perfectly good crate of 5.56 mm ammo. Heck though they would even scrounge up an Army Achievement medal for it. Then big Army decides to once again plant their bureaucratic foot up my naive ass.

      • Core

        The various campaigns prior to and during WWI where the high caliber pistols played an important role such as 1911 and earlier models. They were much more critical due to the constraints in rifle technology: slow loadability, size, weight, and frequency of malfunctions. It was common for Marines to operate in tight spaces and require secondary weapons due to the limitations of combat rifles of the time. These folks who battled in various jungles are gone now, their legacy written into history. To this day the combat handgun is critical if the modern carbine fails. And if you look at it from a technical perspective many groups utilize handguns as a preferred close quarter alternative. Im a big fan of the 92 but i dont believe its the best we can offer our troops. Im sure Beretta has an offering that can meet the demand. Im glad to see that decision making is able to beat beuracracy but the quality and legacy of the 92 is far from an over. I was trained on the 92 and know first hand its strong and weak points. However, the 1911 it wont be going anywhere any time soon. I have a list of modifications for the 92 that make it extraordinary, but I still prefer my modified 1911 due to the weight, balance, and caliber options.

    • Zachary marrs

      Military sales is only a foot in the door

      Civilian sales is where the big money is, and you know full well that lots of people will buy it just because the military uses it

      • Don Ward

        That is a sad statement regarding the mentality of a certain segment of firearms hobbyists.

        • Zachary marrs

          Sad but true.

          I have no problem picking up a new gun just because the military uses something similar

          Hell, i have half of my collection because one military or another used it.

        • Phillip Cooper

          You mean “Veterans”?
          I own AR15s, 1911s, and yes an M9 because I trained on them and used them (I’m lumping the M16/AR15 together for obvious reasons though my AR is not select-fire) while in the Service, and I’m most familiar with them.
          I’ll obtain an M14 at some point as well, though it was the weapon my father used in the Service.

  • I served five years as a Marine machine gunner, and was issued an M9 for about 3 of them. Never used more than the range, and never would I literally know of one event a handgun was used by line forces, it was Sergeant Major Brad Kasal. No need to upgrade, no need to change the M9 at all.

    • Risky

      I do remember a story about a a gun truck that ran down some AIF in an Opal in Ramadi, ended up ramming them and pinning them to a wall. The machine gun in the turret of the hmmwv couldn’t aim low enough to engage the car, don’t know what happened to the gunner’s rifle but he used his M9 to engage the car. Pretty sure ended up with 2x EKIA… Despite the few combat successes of the M9, I can’t help but think how much more effective something like a PDW would be in those same circumstances.

      • Phillip Cooper

        a PDW would have likely had the same thing happen to it that happened to the gunner’s rifle. “Not immediately to hand”. Where the handgun was presumably on his chest rig and was the tool for the job.

  • 360_AD

    “Of course the handgun does not meet the MHS requirements, but the Army’s quick dismissal shows, in my opinion, a very real lack of due diligence and prudence. Changing platforms is a very expensive affair for the Army and if the M9 could have solved 90% of the issues for minimal cost, it may have been worth at least considering.”

    How so? You said it yourself, the submission did not meet requirements. It’s just like a job application. If your résumé does not meet the listed requirements, your application is not given a second’s thought. MHS asked for a modular system, Beretta submitted a tarted up M9 that paid no attention to the proposal guidelines, thinking they would just get a by being the de facto supplier. Now they are sore because they were caught not doing their homework.

    • gunslinger

      without knowing more, i’m just guessing
      but if your resume was proficient is some high level math calcualtions required for an aerospace company, but the company also wanted you to be able to spin 3 basketballs on your body while dancing a traditional celtic dance, do you think it would be worth it for them to reject you?

      i.e. it sounds like they had the meat of the problems answered and any “missing requirements” would be overcome by the huge amount of $$ savings by using something with interchangeable parts?

      that’s just my guess

      • Phillip Cooper

        Well that’s a completely randomized and irrelevant argument.

    • Joshua

      It was not a MHP entrant, it was an ECP to the current existing M9 contract.

  • LCON

    Should we be nice and let him use condiments on said hat?

  • LCON

    Actually smaller troops is one of the reasons for the MHS. Not every one has the same hands and the grip size for the M9 was set in 1982. one of the Requirements for the MHS is a modular grip more friendly to smaller hands. unless your going to a magnum calibre I don’t’ think the Recoil force from a standard duty pistol calibre is a major issue of female shooters particularly in modern systems.
    As to Nothing wrong with M9 troops who fired it in anger from both Afghanistan and Iraq have been polled M9 and M249 ranked the lowest approval rate with M9 taking the worst place.

    • Don Ward

      It’s because every 18-22 year old soldier wants the latest tacticool pistol that they saw on the cover of American Handgunner that month. They’re also the same guys who go into debt buying a used $15,000 Camaro from the vulture car dealers that set up shop around every military instillation is a good idea.

      Remember when we used to pretend that the H&K USP 45 was going to be the next great US military handgun? Yeah. Those were the days…

  • idahoguy101

    There is a large order for Beretta pistols now. I don’t expect the M9 or M9A1 to be replaced any time soon.

    • LCON

      M9A1 is not part of this the USMC who issues them has been phasing back anyway. Officers up to Lt.Col and NCO’s are getting M4’s well the M9 pistol is only going to full Generals and Colonels. Navy who are attached to Marine units below E5 also get M4

      • J.T.

        MHS is a joint Army and Air Force competition.

  • n0truscotsman

    Im reading that it doesn’t meet the requirements.

    Which requirements doesn’t it meet? specifics?

    • Joshua

      This report is wrong. Beretta released a statement yesterday that the Army is still considering the M9A3 ECP as an upgrade to the current M9 contract in place and they will have a final verdict the end of January.

      • n0truscotsman

        Ah…I see.

        I was just curious about what requirements it didn’t meet, if it was indeed passed over.

        I guess Ill keep a close eye on it.

        • Joshua

          Alot are mistaking an ECP to an existing contract for a MHS entrant.

          This upgrade is not a entrant to the upcoming competition.

      • Joe

        Funny, I work with the “Clowns” at the Maneuver center of the morally bankrupt. How can a pistol be a “top shelf issue” in the infantry!? This is ridiculous. This pistol requirement has only come about because of the cost today to repair one M9. As one of the commenters stated about the M9A3, “It meets 90% of the solution out of the box”, why would it require anymore development dollars for such a petty program. 90% and not modular? Why does a side arm for an officer need to be modular? Is there real data proving there has to be a change because of the vast amount of pistol fights? The MCOE MUST INVENT a tactical need and control the replacement or it will not make any money to support its bloated GS contractor staff. The M9 and the M9A3 works as it was sold to the military. The MCoE itself changed the M9 requirement to fire a 125+P round, (not the 115gr it was rated for) the same ammo used for sub guns to save money. This is the root cause of the issues with the weapons locking blocks. The truth is; the very same office that wrote the original requirement, is very same office today saying “it’s not good enough.” It must be nice to have a job where your incompetence created the problem, waist millions of dollars in tax payer money, judge what you ruined as he not good enough, and the last comical point to all of this; you now have our wallet to start the entire process from scratch as the same “Experts” who created the problem.

  • Anonymoose

    Forget the A3 crap and just move up to the regular M9A1.

  • Mazryonh

    I do hope that this blog’s continued coverage of this new model will mean that the M9A3 will be reviewed by the blog’s staff once the M9A3 becomes commercially available.

  • Gordon J Davis Jr

    There is nothing wrong with the modern M4A1. The FN SCAR and HK416 are only marginally better at 2-3 times the cost per unit.

    And don’t even cite that “article” by the “General” who retired like 20 years ago. Its already been evaluated by professionals and determined that the M4A1 had nothing at all to do with the deaths at Wanat.

  • Ron

    The MEUSOC 45 became the M45 and that is in the process of being replaced by the M45A1 however that being said the M45A1 is extremely limited issue weapon with only a little more than 2K of the guns being purchase.

    You are correct that MarAdmin 378/07 changed the TO/E weapon for all Marines under the rank of Col that rated an M9 to a Carbine. However, almost all those pistols were retained as required items so now most of the Staff and Officers are dual armed with both an M9 and an M4; On my Mechanized Authorization List (MAL) I still have the 60 M9s that were there prior to the MarAdmin being issued. You throw in the MOS that issue pistols because of space issues (Tankers, Amtrackers, aviators, etc) you see there are tens of thousands of M9/M9A1s in the USMC inventory.

    • LCON

      And in your last line is that critical line “USMC Inventory” To date MHS is US Army and USAF. thus far no interest from the Marines or Navy

  • Phillip Cooper

    I don’t see the problem with the Army dismissing it out of course. It’s not what they were looking for…

    “Modular” Handgun system.

    It’s no more modular than any other handgun. The only “off the shelf” pistol I can see fitting the bill would be the Tanfoglio/ EAA Witness (CZ-75 clone) series, which you can easily change caliber with a slide and mag change. It’s demonstrated there’s no problems with their approach.

    Folks that know more about this than I will no doubt have other candidates in the COTS sphere. The Army could do much worse than adopting the CZ-75 variants.

  • Joshua

    Beretta announced yesterday that the M9A3 is still under consideration by the Army and a decision will be made by the end of the month.

  • Johnny Utah

    looks a lot like the beretta vertec…

  • Yellow Devil

    As a side note to that, sometimes they didn’t even wait for them to get back from patrol. I interrogated an Afghan green on blue attacker who killed a British Soldier who he was patrolling with. Just shot him in the back and escaped.

  • Phillip Cooper

    Here’s an idea:

    The M9 is a fine pistol. Rearsenal those that need it, perhaps even replacing or modifying the frames to have a rail.

    If you absolutely MUST have a new pistol, make it something with the safety on the damn frame where it belongs!