Military Arms Channel Gets is Paws on Beretta M9A3

Tim from Military Arms Channel is one lucky fellow. His Test & Evaluation M9A3 has already arrived and he has been busy putting it through its paces (we have requested one, but its not arrived yet).

While Beretta may have a differing corporate statement, M9A3 was born to short-circuit the US Army’s Modular Handgun System, a program not without its own controversies. The new handgun addresses some of the long-standing complaints of the system:

  • Modular grips including smaller sizes for those with small hands.
  • Tan coloration for camouflage and heat purposes.
  • Angled-upwards safety to avoid being accidentally deactivated.
  • “G” style safety with only the ability to de-cock the hammer, not deactivate the trigger.
  • Better sights for easier sighting and one-handed operation.
  • Longer rail with additional mounting sections for various lights & lasers.
  • Threaded barrel for mounting muzzle devices including suppressors
  • Replaceable (dovetailed) front sight post for changing sights and adjusting zero.

MAC puts the handgun through its paces and shares opinions on the handgun and his thoughts on the MHS (which largely mirror my own).

If the MHS contract goes through (which it may not, due to many of the controversies), the M9A3 will not be part of the competition, as it does not meet the new requirements (rumored to only meet roughly 80% of specifications). The MHS final RFP is released and currently undergoing competition. 

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.

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


  • Gidge

    This is the gun Beretta should have made 10-15 years ago. They didn’t put enough resources into ongoing development and evolution of the platform and have lost too much of the civilian and law enforcement market.

    • Frank

      They did make this. This is just a brigadier IA model frame that’s been modified a bit. That came out in 2001.

    • BattleshipGrey

      Threaded barrels haven’t become standard on pistols until this year, and the military wouldn’t have liked the thought of soldiers being able to switch their safeties into decockers only a decade ago. I’ll be pretty surprised if they select a sidearm that’s not equipped with a safety, even though tens of thousands of LEO’s carry them everyday without issue.

      • Anonymoose

        Back in 1985, the P226 was only passed over because SIG wanted more for the magazines. No one cared that it was a decocker-only.

        • Ben

          Beretta won in 85 get over it.

        • Bal256

          That doesn’t make any sense when checkmate makes the military mags.

          • Anonymoose

            It makes plenty of sense. The US military are cheap b@stards and once they actually adopted the M9 they bought the Checkmates because they were cheaper than Mec-Gars or Beretta factory mags.

          • Kivaari

            Low bidder without a continuing proofing of the product by the military. Clusters of product needs to be pulled and checked. It was not uncommon to find defective magazines being issued. M1911 mags, M3A1 SMG mags without being inspected. A few just were not inspected and re-tested. Today I find M16 magazines to be pretty consistent at being good. 40 years ago we saw M16 magazine failures. Whether needed or not, I change out the pale green followers to no-tilt Magpuls.

          • Kivaari

            Low bid.

        • Actually no, the P226 didn’t pass the mud test and was only brought to the final selection round due to needing two competitors.

          And Beretta priced not only all the parts and magazines cheaper, but the base pistol as well.

          • Kivaari

            SIG solved the mud issue quickly. They put scallops along the rails, and it worked. The “spare parts package” I understand was slightly higher cost. After SIG made the mud grooves change it performed as well or better than the Beretta. When shot long enough the frame cracked, but the pistol continued firing. That, if I remember right, was before the Beretta slides started flying off the pistols. When that happened I think there were second thoughts about the M9 and a bone was thrown to SIG for Navy issue. The SIG P226 fit my hand much better than the M9. The SIG is STILL a better pistol.

          • Mud Rails I believe were in response to the failure during the M9 testing, but were ultimately discontinued because it weakened the frame.

            The slide flying off was a different issue before the M9 testing. And was due to NSW using submachine gun ammo in the 92s (pre-F IIRC). And yes they went to the SIG P226.

            But yes there was an issue with locking blocks cracking, but they are now considered a wear item that should be inspected regularly and replaced when a crack is noted.

            Honestly I’ve shot both, the SIG has better features and ergonomics. But a properly maintained M9 with Italian magazines is a reliable accurate pistol.

          • Kivaari

            The mud grooves I remembered were a result of that trial. SIG had sent me a P222 (w/o grooves) to test. As I was doing that they sent me another one with the grooves. That was 30~ years ago. After that I didn’t pay too much attention. Well, until the “Navy ” marked one came out. I do remember, I think, did not have the grooves. But SIG had changed from the sheet metal formed slides to machined. I had preferred the SIGs over just about everything made. The first Glocks were too large for my hand and just appearing. I wasn’t impressed. Then the Gen 2s cave out. I was issued a G17, and FOR ME nothing else matters. It took giving up playing with every new gun on the block and seriously using G17s or G19s. When I thought I needed to try a new model, I found nothing came close to the issue Glock. Now I’m sure there are some excellent pistols nearly s good. I just hang on to my Glocks.

          • Treyh007

            Both are fine pistols….. We all have our own opinions, my Beretta cost me $550 my Sig cost me $1000! Not sure if Sig is $450 better sir. I luv them both though!

  • BattleshipGrey

    Man, everything about the M9A3 is right except for the price. I’m a little surprised they didn’t beef the slide up to the Brigadier cut, but I’m sure it won’t be a deal breaker for anyone that can afford one.

    • M.M.D.C.

      It does seem a bit pricey.

    • Vitsaus

      Everyone gets the have the newest coolest toys…. they just gotta pay.

    • Kivaari

      I can’t afford one, so I bought 2 Glocks.

  • thedonn007

    I like the looks of the new grip. I sold my 92FS due to the larger grip. I have since moved onto a CZ-75 SP-01, and I have no desire to go back to a 92FS.

    • Treyh007

      I too have the SP-01 and it’s a awesome pistol. Still love my 92fs and 226 though, I really can’t say a bad thing on any of the 3!

      • thedonn007

        I had two P226’s as well. Even with the E2 grip, the grip was still just a little bit too big for my hand. I actaully sold my last P226, when I purchased my P-01.

    • Kivaari

      I have only felt an M9A3 for a few seconds. They are definitely a fine looking pistol. It was better, but still club-like. I kept trying to “make the M9 work” for me, and owned 3 of them. It just remained that getting a new one gives the same results each time. They are too big. They didn’t improve regardless of how many times I tried them. I am a slow learner.

  • Rock or Something

    I was issued a M9 in Iraq for convoy and POG duties (both as a Personnel Other than Grunt and belonging to Psychological Operations Group). Just from my limited experience, I never really had anything negative to say about the M9: it always shot when I fired it, the weight was about right and balance was generally good. But I have medium sized hands, and I do agree the grip could have been designed better. I guess it was enough that I wasn’t enamored enough to buy it for personal use, instead I opted for a CZ 75b, which was a bit heavier but had a similar profile and better grip.

    • thedonn007

      The CZ-75 SP-01 grip fits my hand like a glove. The CZ-75 P-01 fits even better.

    • snmp

      for small hand : Trausch TJ92 Grip

      • DrewN

        Not the grip so much as the trigger reach. Even 75bs can be a little much without the flat trigger.

  • Mc Cain

    I’m a bit unclear at this point about the status of the Beretta’s future with the US military. I am hearing that the US Army flatly rejected it in January of this year and is intent on replacing it with “something” else. True? Not true?

    • COL Bull-sigh

      It’s true. Berreta didn’t bribe Obuma with enough campaign contributions last election. Some off-the-wall company with a lot of Democraps on their board will win the contract. Think Solyndra and GM (Gubment Motors).

      • DonDrapersAcidTrip

        That’s real clever using the laziest nicknames possible for political things you don’t like. I don’t think anyone has ever done that before.

  • Vitsaus

    Its a Vertec Brigadier for the Call of Duty fanboys.

    • Dan Atwater

      Minus the Brigadier part.

    • DW

      CoD never featured Vertec or Brigadier model of the M9. CS did: the dual elites is a pair of Brigadier M9s.

  • USMC03Vet

    With so many sub compacts with amazing grips out there, it really makes a full sized gun like this seem so sub standard. Reducing the width of the grip doesn’t make a grip good either, Beretta….

    • snmp

      for small hands with M9 you could use Trausch TJ 92 Grip

  • Lance

    Overall this depends on what the Army wants if they go for a new caliber than MHS makes more sense. If they stay with 9mm than it makes no sense to go ahead with MHS and the M-9A3 be a better and cheaper alternative then.

  • TJbrena

    If MHS ends up being cancelled – and hopefully it doesn’t – then hopefully the M9A3 gets adopted instead.

    I’d like to see the P320 win, though.

  • Grindstone50k

    Alt headline: “Beretta catches up to 10 years ago”

  • Treyh007

    I see knocks on the M9/92fs from time to time and its kinda amusing. I sometimes hear the military hates them too, bla bla bla, if they were so bad our soldiers wouldn’t be carrying them for the last 30yrs…… I own a 92fs, 226, SP-01, 1911, Hi-Power, etc and I believe these pistols are the finest that’s ever been made. I luv them all! I also have several family members that shoot Berettas, my father, uncles, cousins, grandfather and they too luv them. When I hear people knocking Beretta, Sig, Glock, XD, etc I laugh. If these people were avid shooters/collectors they should know that EVERY MAJOR GUN MANUFACTURE OCCASIONALLY has a bad batch of firearms, but the good ones always make it right. I just don’t understand how someone can call one of these junk just because the ONE they bought malfunctioned?

  • Tim U

    The only thing I have against the M9 family of guns is the double/single action, which isn’t a flaw, it’s just not my favorite type of firearm.

    I think the hatred comes from individual units not being serviced on time and poor training for soldiers in how a DA/SA pistol works. And I get it – pistols aren’t the priority since things have gone very wrong if a soldier transitions to pistol. Still…

  • J-

    The Beretta functions very well with suppressors. The non-dropping barrel is much more tolerant of having the mass of a can attached to it. If the booster on a suppressor gets jammed, a Browning locking gun will stop functioning. A Beretta will keep running if the can is not too heavy. This should be a major selling point for the A3 if the Army wants to keep using suppressors.

  • tarnishedcopper

    WE carried 92FS models for many years. Early into their use, and officer had an occasion where he intended to shoot a perp. however the safety had become engaged and he was not able to do so. It turned out the perp surrendered, but it could have been a much different outcome. The officer involved swore off Beretta and went back to his S&W .357 magnum. I agree with the sight improvements. If this thing doesn’t get adopted by the military are there plans to market it in the law-enforcement-civilian market? I don’t like the tan color of it at all.

  • Anon. E Maus

    So, what about a frame-mounted safety?

  • idahoguy101

    Geez people…
    Five points:
    1) The 9x19mm NATO is the standard. This isn’t going to change because no other NATO country is unhappy with the 9mm.
    2) We’re already buying new Beretta M9 pistols to replace worn out ones.
    3) The best replacement for the M9 pistol is the M4 carbine. Which is what the DOD small experts, the USMC, have largely done on their TOE.
    4) The M9A3 upgrade is the least costly option for the DOD.
    5) We don’t need to adopt any new pistol. The other 9mm, the SIG M11 pistol is already in the logistic system