The Beretta M9 and the U.S. Army: 27 years and counting...

The M92-FS semi-automatic, 9x19mm pistol has been the battlehorse of the Italian Fabbrica d'Armi Pietro Beretta S.p.A. since 1975. In production to date, it has been now produced by the millions, has spawned countless domestic variants and foreign clones, both licensed and unauthorized, and has been adopted by either regular or special Military and Law Enforcement units of at least 30 countries worldwide, not to mention that it has gained the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands of private security operators and civilian shooters in the entire world.

In 1985, the United States Department of Defense selected the Beretta M92-FS at the end of the M9 trial as the new 9mm pistol that would universally replace the M1911-A1 .45 ACP semi-automatic handgun then in service with all branches of the Armed Forces. The adoption process and the universal distribution of the M9 pistol, as the weapon was renamed after a few changes made specifically under U.S. military requests, was ultimated in 1990. The Italian company opened a subsidiary in Accokeek (Maryland) to manufacture the M9 pistols in 1987; today, the Beretta-USA plant, as it is known, is one of the nerve centers of American gunmaking, and serves the needs of civilians, military and law enforcement nationwide and worldwide alike. To date, over 600,000 M9 pistols have been delivered to the U.S. Army alone, not to mention those in service with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Marine Corps... and the legend continues.

Even though a lot of talking has been made about a new JCP or “Joint Combat Pistol”, maybe in 9mm, maybe again in .45 ACP, that should replace the M9 in the near or distant future, the facts are pretty much different. And the facts are that on September 17th the U.S. Army announced that the Beretta holding, has been awarded a contract for up to 100,000 M9 pistols to be delivered in the next years. An initial order for over 4,600 pistols has already been released for delivery; all pistols will be manufactured at the Beretta-USA plant, which today employs an American workforce of about 300 elements.

The new contract adds up to the one signed in 2009 between the U.S. Department of Defense and Beretta, and announced at the SHOT Show that year, for the delivery of US$220 million worth of M9 and M9A1 pistols: a total of 450,000 pistols to be delivered in a five-years span. As a result of these two contracts, the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marine Corps will receive around 550,000 9mm M9 and M9A1 pistols by the end of 2014. Some of those will be forwarded to friendly Countries worldwide under the Foreign Military Sales program. The U.S. Army also announced on September 17th, upon announcement of the latest contract, that the M9 pistol is planned to be retained as the Force's standard service sidearm for five more years at the least.

«This order reconfirms the US Armed Forces’ interest and support of the M9 pistol», commented Cav. Ugo Gussalli Beretta, President of the Beretta Holding, upon announcement of the contract.

«The Beretta M9 remains the standard sidearm of the US Army, and these pistols will support American troops in the field for years to come».

Similarly enthusiastic words came from Mr. Gabriele De Plano, Beretta-USAʼs Vice-president of Military Marketing & Sales:

«We are very proud to continue supplying the M9 pistols to the U.S. Army, and we look forward to the opportunity of working with the Army to improve the current M9 design with many of the existing solutions available to us in the new Model 92A1 and 96A1 pistol families».

Beretta, established in 1526, is the oldest industrial dynasty in the world tracing its roots through 15 generations of continuous family ownership. Firearms bearing the Beretta name have been sold for almost 500 years. Beretta-USA Corp., a Beretta Holding company, was founded in 1977 and supplies the standard sidearm to the U.S. Armed Forces. Today Beretta manufactures, distributes and markets a complete line of firearms, accessories and apparel on the civilian, military and Law Enforcement markets, also owning and operating six retail Beretta Gallery stores worldwide.

The Beretta Holding also owns known manufacturers of firearms and apparel such as Benelli and Franchi (Italy, tactical and sporting shotguns), SAKO and Tikka (Finland, high-accuracy tactical, hunting and sporting rifles), Stoeger (U.S.A./Turkey, sporting pistols and shotguns), Uberti (Italy, sporting pistols and shotguns) Steiner (Germany, precision optics), and Burris (U.S.A., precision optics).

In 2008, the Beretta Holding founded BDT - Beretta Defense Technologies, a dedicated branch that provides advanced products, services, in-house R&D and manufacturing in support of law enforcement and military personnel around the world.