The Beretta M9A1, A Short 9mm History: If you served in the U.S. military from either the end of the Cold War or Operation Desert Storm, to the post-Cold War 1990s or the Global War on Terror, you probably carried the M9 Beretta. Some loved it and some loathed it, but you have to respect its battle-tested staying power over the decades. And Beretta did its best to continually upgrade the pistol over the years, with the M9A1 being a good example.
Beretta M9A1: Pros and Cons
The M9 Beretta, with its 9x19mm cartridge, didn’t have the stopping power of the pistol it replaced, the M1911. However, some believed that the M9 showed its reliability and smoothness of action during many conflicts. It depends on who you talk to, of course, because others think it is untrustworthy.
Beretta M9A1 Answers the Critics
In 2006, Beretta released the upgraded M9A1. It has a Picatinny rail for adding lights, lasers, and other add-ons.
It displays a more prominent front and backstrap stippling. You can also do a replacement with wooden grips.
It has a beveled magazine well for simpler loading.
The M9A1 also could have Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) coated friction-reducing magazines that were made to mitigate the sandy environments found in the Middle East and South Asia. The PVD came about because some criticized the magazines that the U.S. Army used.
Beretta M9A1: Reloading Quickly
The Beretta M9A1 still has the slow, heavy trigger pull that some thought is problematic. It has a 4.9-inch barrel with traditional rifling. This fires the 9x19mm round with a wide range of magazines available.
Keep in mind that a 15-round magazine is twice the capacity of the M1911. A good handler can reload quickly.
The M9A1 has a three-dot sight system for better aiming. It has an ambidextrous safety which also functions as a de-cocker. The slide is manufactured with steel, and it can cool quickly with the exposed barrel. Some say the service life can be upward of around 35,000 rounds.
Many Civilian Uses
The grip on the M9A1 is 1.3 inches, which is on the large size, and has a weight of 33.9 ounces unloaded. As a result, some users think it has less recoil. The open slide design makes for fairly simple maintenance and for clearing any malfunctions.
Beretta utilizes a Teflon-based corrosion-resistant paint finish on their pistols, called Bruniton. This has less glare. For the civilian market, it costs around $500 to $750 and is considered by Beretta to be good for competition target shooting and home defense.
Many pistol shooters who have handled the M9 Beretta, both civilians and military personnel, have firm positive or negative impressions of the handgun. Beretta has rolled with the punches over the years and has done its best to continue to upgrade it, even though the military has switched to the Sig Sauer P320 M-17 and M-18. But you will find numerous fans of the M9 Beretta and its variants today, even a .22LR version.
Now serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry office.