M17 MHS 1/10th as Reliable as M9, Beretta Claims

    Original caption: "A 3rd Infantry Division Soldier fires their M9 pistol during weapons training at a range on OB Fenty, Afghanistan, Aug 30. US Army photo by Sgt. First Class Randall Pike. Public domain.

    The legacy M9 handgun is ten times as reliable as the standard required for the M17 MHS handgun, claims manufacturer Beretta Defense in a recent press release. During acceptance testing of the most recent delivery lot of M9 handguns, the guns averaged a malfunction rate of one per 19,090 rounds – nearly ten times the mean rounds between stoppages required of the new M17 MHS. Naturally, the manufacturer was extremely proud (rightly so) of this result, saying the following in their press release:

    Beretta Defense Technologies (BDT) is pleased to announce that new M9 pistols tested at the Company’s manufacturing facility in Gallatin, Tennessee have continued the world-record reliability pace for the product. Beretta U.S.A. completed the fourteenth consecutive M9 Lot Acceptance Test (LAT) this month with an average of only one malfunction every 19,090 rounds. During this testing period 42 M9 pistols were fired 210,000 rounds, with resultant reliability almost 10 times better than the rate of reliability required by the U.S. Army in its current Modular Handgun System program.

    Beretta U.S.A. has now delivered thousands of new M9 pistols to both U.S. military and Foreign Military customers from the Company’s Gallatin facility. New U.S. and Foreign Military Sales M9 orders were issued to the Company in August, extending production of M9 pistols from that facility into the year 2020.

    “These pistols have successfully undergone 100% complete individual component interchangeability testing with no issues. These same pistols then passed all of the individual pistol tests after the Interchange Test, including Headspace Verification, Firing Pin Indent, Trigger Pull, Function, and Targeting & Accuracy. The pistols also each passed the function and other individual pistol tests 100%”, stated Gabriele de Plano, Vice- President of Military Marketing and Operations for Beretta Defense Technologies.

    “The incredible reliability of the M9 pistol is being continuously confirmed,” Mr. de Plano added. “Half of the LAT Reliability tests resulted in “perfect” reliability scores with zero malfunctions in 15,000 rounds!”

    “The most important characteristic of a military firearm is that it function as intended when needed in a crisis,” stated Franco Gussalli Beretta, Executive Vice-President of Beretta U.S.A. “The M9 has always proven itself to be the most reliable combat pistol in its 30 years of service with the US Armed Services and new M9 pistols being delivered today continue to show that reliability and performance.”

    Ultimately, the required mean rounds between stoppages (MRBS) for the M17 MHS handguns is only a baseline – the production pistols may be much more reliable than that. For example, the reliability baseline for the M4 Carbine is 600 MRBS, but the weapons have routinely demonstrated in tests that they are capable of MRBS figures much higher than that. When coupled with Magpul PMag Gen M3 magazines for a 2015 Army test, for example, M4A1 Carbines demonstrated an MRBS of 4,800 rounds – 8 times that of the requirement!

    I and several others maintain that the M9 is a very good handgun, but having said that it is quite dated. It is a large, heavy design with a complex mechanism that frustrates armorers due to the large number of non-captive spring loaded plungers used. The advent of simpler and lighter striker-fired handguns is certainly welcome – but there’s no doubt the Beretta has given good service in its time.

    Nathaniel F

    Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. He can be reached via email at [email protected]