Beretta M9A3: First Impressions from SHOT Show

Here at SHOT Media Day and I just got to shoot the new Beretta M9A3, the model Beretta put forward as the new U.S. Army sidearm but was recently got rejected.

The M9 is a gun that has never shot well for me (it’s a great gun, just emphasizing that it doesn’t shoot well for me) but today that changed with the M9A3. I really liked the smooth DA pull and the gun not only felt really nice in my hands but it also shot well for me. While I’m still not a huge fan of their safety lever I suppose it’s something you just get used to. I really like the aesthetics of the gun as well.

I left with an excellent first impression of the gun and I hope to add the M9A3 to my personal collection someday soon.

I hope TFB a readers are ready for more great news from Shot Show here this week in Vegas!

Chris Cheng

Chris Cheng is History Channel’s Top Shot Season 4 champion and author of “Shoot to Win,” a book for beginning shooters. A self-taught amateur turned pro through his Top Shot win, Cheng very much still considers himself an amateur who parachuted into this new career.

He is a professional marksman for Bass Pro Shops who shares his thoughts and experiences from the perspective of a newbie to the shooting community. He resides in San Francisco, CA and works in Silicon Valley.


  • USMC03Vet

    M9 is one of the most uncomfortable handguns I’ve ever shot. The grip is just the worst.

    • Esh325

      It’s difficult make a gun that everybody likes.

      • 3XLwolfshirt

        Yes, but the grip size of the 92 is a very common criticism of the gun. I can’t think of any other 9mm that has a grip as massive. CZ and Sig found ways to make their steel wonder-nines comfortable, but it’s taken Beretta forever to fix the issue.

        • Esh325

          Maybe they’ve fixed it with this one?

  • Esh325

    From what I read, the M9A3 solves all the issues people use to have with the M9. There is also option for a decocker by the way in the M9A3. You don’t have to use the safety.

    • DIR911911 .

      ceracoat a taurus , problem solved.

  • 3XLwolfshirt

    I love the ergonomics of the vertec, but the trigger pull of any 92 has always felt awful to me.

    • Esh325

      They probably have improved it with this one I imagine.

  • Grindstone50k

    Having trained on the M9, I’ll pass on this.

  • Don Ward

    As I always say, the Beretta 92F/M9 is like a voluptuous Italian model with curves in all the right places. She responds to men with big hands who are able to reach all the right places. She is not a 1911 that you have to slap around every 300 rounds to get it to work.

    • Cheese_McQueen

      If it were like an Italian model wouldn’t you have to slap it around a bit to get it to work period?

      • Don Ward

        Hey. Don’t get in the way of a good analogy, man!

  • David

    Oh cool, a Beretta92F that they duracoated desert tan.

    • TCBA_Joe

      It’s a fairly different gun than a colored 92.
      Rail, Vertec frame, swappable (G or DA/SA) decocker, threaded bbl, dovetail sights

    • gunslinger

      +50 tactikool points

  • Will

    The one glaring problem that still slaps me in the face is the open top slide. I just cannot get over the fact it’s a debris trap.
    Beretta makes some of the finest firearms on this planet but, IMHO, the M9 is not one of them.
    I always opted for a Sig or Glock or 1911 when choices were an option.

    • Don Ward

      And yet tens of thousands of rounds can be fired through it without a malfunction.

      • Grindstone50k

        Apparently not the ones I was issued.

        • Cheese_McQueen

          The ones you were issued probably were used with worn out aftermarket mags and were clapped out. I never once saw a M9 that looked like it hadn’t been to hell and back about 40 times when I was in.

    • Giolli Joker

      Debris trap or debris exit…

  • Don Ward

    No. It doesn’t solve the “problem” of guys with no manual dexterity slapping at the weapon while they practice their 1911 malfunction drill.

    • Agent_Orange

      Well there’s your answer: stop running it like a 1911.

      • JSmath

        I get the impression Don Ward said just that on purpose.

      • J


    • DIR911911 .

      in fairness you can’t ask them to fix stupid. it’s been tried.

  • M.M.D.C.

    You can say that again.

    • Don Ward

      Yeah. The first one disappeared into Discus limbo so I just added the second one without the offending word. My apologies.

  • RevolverRob

    Yes, it does. G-model decock-only guns have a lever that springs back up when pressed. There is no manual safety to accidentally engage. It solves this problem exactly.

  • Esh325

    There is a manual safety on the M9. I fired one.

    • Cheese_McQueen

      No wai!

  • Cheese_McQueen

    Reading comprehension isn’t your thing is it?

    • JSmath

      In his defense, not everyone knows that some pistols incorporate the decocker and safety into the same mechanism and that switching to a decocker-only effectively removes the safety.

      • Cheese_McQueen

        While the post he responded to wasn’t well written I thought it was clear enough, but than again I know that a decocker only variant is possible. I might have had a slight edge on him.

  • JSmath

    Makes sense that with most civilian variant of popular service pistols (like the type that’d get shown at a convention like Shot Show, as opposed to a strinctly DoD/government conference), there would be different models; some with threaded barrels, some without.

  • mosinman

    except it looks like this italian model got a spray tan

    • Don Ward

      Once you go black…

  • Gwolf

    I wonder if they would have had a chance if they had submitted a model with a frame mounted safety? Maybe if the original submission had had one we wouldn’t be having this discussion, again.


  • Ty Swanson

    I liked the gun when it was the Beretta VTech. I wondered why they stopped making it. Innovation would be a nice thing for Beretta to try.

  • DIR911911 .


  • PGT_Mini

    Never let the truth get in the way of first to print

  • Visolat

    There is a thread protector that covers the threads.