Beretta wants to be U.S. Army’s new gun… again

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U.S. Army Spc. Caleb Roberts fires an M9 Beretta pistol during the Mississippi National Guard's Best Warrior Competition at Camp McCain. From CNN.

U.S. Army Spc. Caleb Roberts fires an M9 Beretta pistol during the Mississippi National Guard’s Best Warrior Competition at Camp McCain. From CNN.

NEW YORK — The Italian gunmaker Beretta wants to be the U.S. Army’s standard-issue handgun one more time.

Beretta has been supplying the Army with its M9 handgun for the last 30 years.

But the Army is now looking for a new gun and is holding a contest of sorts for gun makers.

However, Beretta is not going to step aside without a fight. It is entering the competition with a new design — the M9A3.

The new gun can hold two more rounds than the M9, and has more modular features for adding accessories, like scopes and lights, according to Gabriele de Plano, vice president of military marketing and sales at Beretta, a gunmaker with a long history that has been around since 1526.

M9A3 also comes in a desert tone, while the M9 is black. The new gun has a “sand resistant” magazine with a capacity for 17 rounds. The company said the new guns would cost less than the current models, but did not provide details of the price differential.

The Army’s decision to replace its current standard issue handgun is a rare and lucrative event for the gun industry. It’s been using the M9 since 1985, and the Marine Corps has used a slightly different version, called the M9A1, since 2006.

Before the Beretta, the U.S. military used the Colt M1911 semiautomatic pistol for more than 80 years.

So any company that gets the contract could be doing business with the military for a very long time.

The Pentagon has invited gunmakers to submit designs for a “modular handgun system.”

Beretta has produced 600,000 M9s for the Department of Defense and is still under contract to produce another 100,000. The M9s were initially made in Italy, but they have been manufactured in the U.S. since 1987. Its U.S. factory is in Maryland but the company plans to move manufacturing to Tennessee to avoid stricter gun laws.

The bidding could get hot. Smith & Wesson has said it plans to submit a gun with a new design to the DOD, in conjunction with General Dynamics, which has a long-established relationship with the military as a contractor.

The companies said their sidearm will be based on the M&P pistol that Smith & Wesson has been making for about 10 years. They said the M&P is “well suited” to the DOD’s requirements for “performance, reliability and durability,” given its “reinforced polymer chassis, superior ergonomics, ambidextrous controls and proven safety features.”

Trying to figure out what the Army wants is a bit of a guessing game. The Army hasn’t specified key details. For example, it says the handgun prototypes can be compact or subcompact and can be any caliber. It wants “standard” as well as “extended” magazine capacity.

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1 Comment

  • Spam and Rice

    After carrying around an M9 I can honestly say it is the Atari of side arms. Yeah sure we all watched Bruce Willis knock bad guys through plate glass windows with one ( while chain smoking marlborors) and Mel Gibson making 100 yard shots at moving targets and blowing up cars with an M9. The reality is that it is out dated, heavy and about as useful as the IRS.

    The majority of troops entering service these days have already cut their teeth on polymer guns – relax moon bats the Glock 7 does not exist- and 1911s. So the super sized grip and nail gun DA trigger pull of the M9 takes some getting used to. Add to that, when it goes down it goes down hard.

    True to the culture of bad decision making and unfathomable dysfunction, the army prefers redundant safeties and expensive difficult to source components. However if, by some fluke of the cosmos, a nano fragment of common sense was to exist, even for a second in that AFN meets monty pythons flying circus of dysfunction; the army would choose a reliable side arm.

    Perhaps the FNX9 would be appropriate, FNH already makes the M240B, M249 ( those are belt fed machine guns for you leaf eaters) and the SCARH SW is a good choice as well, durable, affordable and ergonomic.

    We could send all those M9s to the Iraqis, then we they drop them while running from their own shadow, ISIS will not inherit a reliable side arm.

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