Special Forces Pistol: Standard Issue Beretta M9 Evolved

Recently I was poking around a favorite group of mine on Facebook (Primary & Secondary) and came across a highly modified 92 series gun that really caught my attention. I reached out to the owner Kurt and asked if we could run a story on it and if he had more information he would be willing to share. Thankfully he obliged with a wonderful write-up, parts lists, and even photos of the pistol broken down so we can get a clearer picture of what he has massaged and tweaked.

Kurt said in his initial post:

This an older Italian made Beretta, the parts from my unit gun were swapped into it sometime in the mid-90’s.

Originally it was just an add-on compensator, Haarts recoil reducing guide rod (mercury filled), a + power recoil spring, and the first generation Surefire WML.

As it is now it using a Jarvis barrel and compensator, skeletonized hammer, Trijicon front sight milled into the slide, unknown aftermarket rear sight, and an incredible trigger job done by me.

DA is very smooth and clean at 7.5 pounds, SA is crisp at 3.20 pounds. This is as light as I can make a Beretta trigger go and be reliable, and this one is absolutely reliable.

It shoots very fast, and very flat; I just wish I had cut the dovetail into the compensator instead of the slide.

The gun looks like something out of a sci-fi flick with the light removed and that big ol’ Jarvis two-port compensator (that appears to no longer be in production) hanging off the front of the gun. The other mods like the modified grips, trigger, hammer, and dovetail front sight stand out as well. Not pictured is the mini red dot sight that Kurt fitted to the gun at some point in his ownership of it.

Looking for a parts list? Here you go!

Slide parts:
– The front sight was ground off and a dovetail cut by myself and a very good friend, Tung
Nguyen (RIP), in 1996. It has a Trijicon Tritium-insert dove-tail front sight from a 1911, but
various other front sights were tried.
– Unknown rear sight that I really don’t like and am too lazy to change.
– Haarts mercury filled recoil reducing guide rod.
– 15-pound Beretta recoil spring (factory is a 13-pound)
– Jarvis barrel and dual port compensator. Various other barrels and compensators were tried,
this is by far the best of the bunch.

Frame Parts:
– The grips are thinned out as much as is possible, the only thing holding them together is the
skateboard tape. The bottom is cut back so I could disassemble the pistol without taking them
off.
– The trigger bar has been heavily polished, as has almost every part that moves; even the inside
of holes are polished.
– The trigger is an older Short –Reset trigger from Ernst Langdon, the trigger spring is from Wolff.
– The sear spring has been re-contoured and the pin and sear polished. The edge of the sear of
has been polished as well.
– The hammer spring guide has been heavily polished everywhere it touches something else, the
hammer spring is an 18-pound 1911 main spring. A lot of people experimented with cutting
coils off of the issued spring, but I never liked that practice as it made the pistols unreliable as
well as not providing a smooth trigger pull.
– I experimented with a lot of springs of various weights and settled on this as easily reproducible
and extremely reliable. This was a duty weapon, so when testing was over I had to count on it
working the first time, every time.
– The hammer is skeletonized hammer from Ernst Langdon, the hammer pin as well as the inside
of the hole it goes into have been polished.
– The back end of the beaver tail has been reduced and polished, and the mag well has been
beveled.

Kurt reports that he has shot this pistol a lot. He made a conservitive estamate of over 70,000 rounds put downrange even thought the pistol looks like it wwasn’tshot much. That really is a testament to the 92 platform when the user takes care of their equipment. 15991433_10210327758303113_1862584721_o

You can see exactly how much he shaved the grips down to thin them out and provide a flat surface for the skateboard tape to stick to. 15991418_10210327751582945_503097876_o

You can see the mercury filled guide rod to the left of the photo here as well as a layout of the smaller parts of the gun. 15992087_10210327758023106_1506060745_o

Kurt said that just about anything inside the gun that contacts anything else has been polished, even the inside of the holes. The result is a super smooth action and a 7.5 pound DA pull with a 3.2 pound single action pull. Kurt used an 18 pound 1911 main spring instead of cutting coils off of the original spring to maintain reliability.16010079_10210327756503068_27925413_o

The sear has been smoothed and polished as well as the pin it rides on to give Kurt the nest possible feel on the trigger.16010332_10210327756463067_1781873436_o

He fitted a short reset trigger from Ernest Langdon and used a Wolff trigger spring. 16010496_10210327754263012_355432947_o 16106178_10210327752222961_1933844490_o

The hammer is another Ernest Langdon part that as best as I can tell is no longer produced. Since Ernest is now the Technical Advisor for Wilson Combat’s line of Beretta Parts you could probably pick up one of their hammers and get similar results. 16010497_10210327758183110_2118107075_o 16106251_10210327758263112_1734718970_o

The front sight was ground off and a dovetail was cut in its place by his good friend Tung Nguyen who has since passed away (RIP) and a Trijicon Tritium insert was fitted to a 1911 front sight. 16106293_10210327758143109_997313925_o

The inside of the slide looks well worn and the mercury filled guide rod from Haarts is above in the below photo. Kurt used a 15 pound recoil spring here vs. the factory 13 pound one. 16106465_10210327751142934_985778192_o

Kurt even polished the heck out of the trigger bar to again give him the best possible trigger pull.16107034_10210327752942979_549147559_o

So who would use such a pistol? Kurt spent some time in places that were a bit past a rough neighborhood. He sent over this photo to share with all of you in his kit from back in the day.

Kurt

 

Below is the write-up that Kurt sent over to explain all of the mods and what was done. It is a rather interesting read that I recommend taking some time to look at. You can clearly see that Kurt really likes the 92 platform and spent a ton of time testing different parts and finding what worked best for a duty gun application that had to work correctly every single time.

This pistol served as both a duty weapon, as well as test bed for parts, sights, accuracy and ease of use modifications. It’s different now than when it was first configured, but most of the changes reflect an update to something already in place.

Pistol marksmanship was a serious issue at my unit, and lots of people had problems when we transitioned to M9s from our 1911s. I had already been sent to a gunsmithing school in order to work on our 1911s, so when we got the M9s I was asked to find ways to make them better.

The idea for the modifications came from a trip I did where I and my unit worked with members of B Squadron, 1st SFOD-D for several months. During the trip I was given a modified 1911 pistol to shoot that included a Wilson Dual Port Compensator, S&A Magwell, Bomar rear sights and a post front sight dovetailed into the compensator.

That pistol shot amazing well, and when I returned to my unit decided I wanted something similar. I shot this slide (and sometimes pistol) continuously from around 1992 until 2005.

Important Legal disclaimer: I never swapped the slide onto an Army issue frame and shot that as I’m sure that would have violated a very important regulation.

Other than replace the recoil spring every month and keep it cleaned and very well lubricated (I was in Asia and everything rusts there, even the plastic) that was about all I to keep it working. As new parts were available I would order them, swap them in and then test them. If they worked and were reliable they were incorporated, if not they were binned.

Various models of Surefire weapons mounted lights were used. As fast as a new light was produced we were using them. I also shot this a lot without the light, in USPSA competition and at work for flat range training and instruction.

The gun shoots very well, is extremely fast and flat during rapid fire. All in all I think it is about as good as you can make a 92 series pistol for serious duty work. The only thing I wish I had changed is I wish we had cut the dovetail in the compensator rather than the slide. At the time, I wanted to be able to remove the compensator and shoot the pistol without it, but I think overall it would have been much better do it the other way.

This pistol has a LOT of rounds through it. A conservative estimate would be around 70,000 but it is probably much more. Breakage was very minimal, I expect due to the Haarts recoil reducer and religiously changing out the recoil spring every month. I broke one locking block almost as soon as the pistol was originally built, but it was old and from a rack gun I was using at the time.



Patrick R

Patrick is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and works in the shooting sports industry. He is an avid recreational shooter and a verified gun nerd. With a lifelong passion for shooting, he has a love for all types of firearms, especially handguns and the AR-15 platform. Patrick may be contacted at tfbpatrick@gmail.com.

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


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  • TVOrZ6dw

    I had to smile at this line:
    “I was in Asia and everything rusts there, even the plastic”

    Nice write up. I wouldn’t mind hearing more stories from this guy.

    • .45

      Seconded. It is always interesting to see this kind of thing. What’s kind of funny is if I saw this in a movie I’d scoff and assume it was a Hollywood creation. Yeah, sure, all Special Forces have hotrodded pistols, smirk, smirk

  • yodamiles

    Not related to the article, but did you guys visit Desert Tech during Shot Show?

    • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

      I didn’t make it to their booth. I did shoot the MDR at an event.

      • yodamiles

        Ooohh, article/video soon?

        • Sunshine_Shooter

          Probably the same as every other MDR video from the previous 2 or 3 SHOTs. “New gun, shoots great, in production, in stores soon*”.

          *never

        • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

          No, not on that one from me. If they send one to me for video I will be glad to do it.

  • john huscio

    Maybe the army should’ve just standardized on something like this

    • Sunshine_Shooter

      It would have been money wasted unless they also multiplied the training they mandated on pistols so that those shooters could actually benefit from the changes.

      Good arrows require good indians, and vice versa.

  • Michael Lubrecht

    I like the pistol and the writeup! The pistol reminds me of a somewhat similar build I did on the Taurus M9 clone, back in the early 90’s. I had no budget to speak of, but wanted to build up a race gun for IPSC. I started with the 9mm Taurus, and added the Jarvis barrel and compensator, in 9×21 so I could load it to Major power factor. That required heavier recoil springs, of course. I also replaced the trigger with some aftermarket model that I don’t recall, and polished up everything inside. Sights were swapped out to a set of high profile adjustable target sights. I built my own grips out of zebrawood for the gun.

    The pistol shot very accurately, when it ran. I think the major power factor loads were a bit too much for that gun (loaded way above the max posted load for 9×19). When converted back to 9×19, it was a pleasure to shoot though.

    • Phillip Cooper

      Thanks for the info, I was looking at doing something like this to my Taurus 92.

  • Scott Connors

    I wasn’t aware that Haart’s recoil reducers were still available. Apparently my Google Fu is weak. 🙁

    • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

      They aren’t. This was built over many years.

      • Bob

        I used one in a G23C back in the 90s and early 2000s. It was a slick little gun. Wish I still had it. Haart’s guide rod, Trijicon sights, skateboard tape, 3.5lbs trigger connector, everything was polished on the inside, and a Surefire Nitrolon WML.

        Used it when I was skinny, could fit into my academy pants, and actually ran after people. Now I just ride a desk and let young rookies do the running. Sold it for a pretty penny back in ’07.

  • Phrederick

    I’m 90% sure that’s the firearm of a Tetragramaton Cleric.

    • Phillip Cooper

      Reference to that stupid movie where they made bullets fly around objects?

      • david

        Equilibrium. The one where Christian Bale does Tai Chi with handguns and shoots without looking.

        • Uniform223

          I highly doubt its practicality in real life but it looks kinda cool

          • MR_Mr_Deplorable_Hapla

            Batman 1 the Bruce 0

      • CommonSense23

        That was Wanted, he is referencing Equilibrium.

        • Phillip Cooper

          There’s a difference? Still Ang Lee-wannabe hollywierd BS.

    • Anonymoose

      Leon did it first.

  • Big Kat

    Anyone know what mount is for that surefire? Cant find anything under first gen WML.

    • Phillip Cooper

      I was wondering the same.

    • Blake

      Pretty sure it isn’t produced anymore.

    • billyoblivion

      I would like to know as well.

      I’ve got a bolt on picatinny rail on my 92 to mount the TLR-1. but that looks like a better way.

    • CTO

      Its the Surefire 333R. It’s no longer made.

  • Aaron

    Patrick,
    Perhaps you could ask his opinion on the M9A3? He would certainly have a valid opinion on what they got right or wrong in that latest version.

    • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

      I’ll shoot him a message. I think he is out of country right now.

      • Dakota Raduenz

        Hopefully you hear something. I’ve seriously considered picking one up (and doing a G conversion, cause DA/SA decocker style is my thing.)

  • Quest

    The M9 is dead, long live the M9?

  • Gary Kirk

    Looks a lot like what I’ve done to my 96 internally, minus the guide rod I’m running a recoil buffer.. Want to do the comp, but already invested in the 357 Sig barrel once.. Couldn’t find one threaded at the time, guess I gotsta do it again, or just have mine threaded??

  • Bill

    The old SIG P229 Sport would be amenable to similar mods, and use a lot of legacy parts.

  • Lowe0

    I don’t think Wilson sells their own hammers… it’s not listed in the parts shop, and their custom work order lists a standard Elite II hammer from Beretta.

  • Uniform223

    Another fun read!

  • Joe

    “I dropped in a new trigger in my Glock and stippled it” is a far cry from work like this. Makes me nostalgic.

    • Gary Kirk

      Back when people actually had to “work” on their guns

  • Avid Fan

    “Important Legal disclaimer: I never swapped the slide onto an Army issue frame and shot that as I’m sure that would have violated a very important regulation.”

    Just out of curiosity, why would that violate some regulation.

    • Anonymoose

      The same reason why you can’t put a Magpul stock on your M4?

      • Avid Fan

        Hmm, ok.

    • retfed

      I think you can’t mix private property and government property. If you put a personally-owned slide on a government-owned frame, then who owns the gun?

  • Sid Collins

    The OD-A in Mosul during our 09-10 rotation allowed their weapon sergeant to work with our designated marksmen. While at the range watching the soldiers train with rifles, he and I talked pistols. I am good with an M9 because I have been qualifying and training with one since 1993. I assumed his team preferred and carried a different handgun. Nope. They all carried standard issue M9s. Why? Because it is a good functioning, accurate pistol that holds 15 rounds. There is nothing significant to be gained by another pistol. The first handgun I qualified with was the 1911 in 1991. I am not stuck on nostalgia. Despite what many keyboard commandos may say, there really is nothing wrong with the M9 for a service handgun.

    • forrest1985

      Exactly! Surely an upgrade package for the M9 would have been better than a whole new pistol (MHS) This from a SIG fan!

    • pismopal

      When my department went to semi auto pistols long ago I bought, yes bought, the 92F and never looked back. I never had a failure of any description and it is as accurate as any pistol I ever fired. The first da shot was not a throw away at all and the pistol can be handled safely which is a bonus for trainees.

    • Colonel K

      Having qualified with both the 1911 and S&W Model 15 prior to qualifying with the M9, I found the M9 more reliable than the 1911, and certainly superior to both handguns in terms of capacity. I determined its major drawbacks were the sheer size of the pistol and the DA/SA trigger that was combined with a clumsy Walther style safety. It appears that SIG has addressed these issues, and being modular, “one size fits all” need not be the military’s mantra. At $200 and change, it may be more cost-effective to switch out handguns, though I doubt this price is more than an initial acquisition cost, rather than a life cycle cost. In truth, the DoD has far more important matters to focus on, but it does make for lively conversation.

  • Anonymoose

    That’s sexy in a retro way. I wish Surefire still made model-specific lights. Maybe Streamlight will pick that up since they have the TLR6 for 1911s now…

  • retfed

    He doesn’t mention trigger bar springs. When my agency carried 96s, the trigger bar springs were the first thing to go. (The gun would still fire if you held it upside-down.)
    Did he have a replacement schedule for them, like the recoil spring?
    Inquiring minds want to know.

    • Justin Roney

      Well now THAT would be an embarrassing malfunction.

      “Son, are you trying to kiss your ass goodbye by bending over and firing between your legs?”

  • Joe Gamer

    I’m a bit sad to see so many wonderful Beretta parts no longer in production. I would love to kit out my M9A3 like this!

  • Risky

    I was just thinking if these pictures were posted without context there would be dozens commenting, “Bubba done ruined that Beretta. It’s a shame…”

  • Johnny Lee Lewis

    The Haarts Mercury filled guide rod is unobtainable these days… the company went out of business about 1998.
    I just managed to find one around 2003 that I have in a M9

  • Core

    Ah the days when we had to make our own stuff. This was an interesting time in special weapons development. From OSS to SOG it definitly bore interesting fruit.

  • Gunpron

    This is one of the coolest custom jobs I’ve ever seen. Patrick I would love to see guns like this in your Youtube TFB vids. No one really does custom gun vids.