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The M9 pistol
Type Semi-automatic pistol
Place of origin Italy
In service 1990-present
Used by NATO
Manufacturer Fabbrica d'Armi Pietro Beretta
Weight 952 g (33.6 oz)
1162 g (41.0 oz) Loaded
Length 217 mm (8.5 in)
Barrel length 125 mm (4.9 in)
Cartridge 9 mm Luger
Action mechanically locked, double/single action
Muzzle velocity 1160 ft/s or 353.568 m/s
Effective range 50m
Feed system 12 (.40 S&W) or 15 round detachable box magazine
Sights Iron sights
The M9 handgun, formally Pistol, Semiautomatic, 9mm, M9, is a 9mm pistol of the U.S. military adopted in the 1980s. It is essentially a
mil-spec Beretta 92F, later the 92FS.
It won a competition in the 1980s to replace the M1911A1 as the primary handgun of U.S. armed forces, beating out many other
contenders. Some other models have been adopted to a lesser extent (namely the M11 Pistol), and older, or different, models remain in
use in certain niches. It officially entered Army service in 1990 according to the official Army website. It was scheduled to be replaced
under an Army program, the Future Handgun System (FHS), which was merged with the SOF Combat Pistol program to create the Joint
Combat Pistol (JCP). In early 2006, the JCP was renamed Combat Pistol (CP), and the number of pistols to be bought was drastically
The M9 has been modified as the M9A1, adding, among other things, a tactical rail for the attachment of lights, lasers, and other
accessories to the weapon. The U.S. Marines have ordered large numbers of M9A1 pistols in the last year. Additionally, a contract for
70,000 M9 pistols was signed in 2006 by the U.S. military.
1 Technical description
2 Adoption: JSSAP, XM9, and XM10 trials
3 Concerns and Controversy
4 See also
6 External links
 Technical description
A locked breech, semi-automatic, single-action / double-action recoil-operated pistol, the M9 uses a 15-round staggered magazine with
a reversible magazine release button that can be positioned for either right- or left-handed shooters.
M9 during firing with cartridge being ejectedSpecifications:
Caliber: 9x19 mm NATO (FMJ 9 mm Parabellum)
Length: 8.54" (217 mm)
Barrel length: 4.92" (125 mm)
Weight: 2.1 lb (unloaded); 2.56 lb (1.145 kg) (with loaded magazine)
Capacity: 15 + 1
Feed device: 15 round box (larger capacities available)
Modes of Fire: DA/SA
Muzzle velocity: 1160 ft/s (353 m/s)
Safeties: Ambidextrous manual safety/de-cocker, rising firing pin block, half-cock notch
Sights: Blade front w/ notch rear (dovetailed to slide)
Maximum Effective Range: 50 m
The M9 is used with the M12 Holster (Part of the Beretta UM84 Holster System), though other holsters are often used.
 Adoption: JSSAP, XM9, and XM10 trials
M1911A1 and early M9Under the Joint Service Small Arms Program which was run by the U.S. Air Force, a number of 9 mm pistol
designs were trialed in the late 1970s to find a replacement for the 1911. The 9 mm round was selected for compliance with NATO
standardization. In 1980, the Beretta 92S-1 design was chosen over entries from Colt, Smith & Wesson, various FN models, the Star
M28, and Heckler & Koch models. The result, however, was challenged by the Army and new tests were to be done (this time run by the
Army rather than the Air Force). In the new test all the pistols were rejected, and in a second test a year later they were all rejected again.
Another year later, in 1984, the trials started again with updated entries from S&W, Beretta, SIG-Sauer, H&K, Walther, Steyr, and FN.
Beretta won this competition but there was a new trial, the XM10 competition, in 1988. This resulted in two different trials that were more
limited, but resulted in the Beretta design being kept (with an update to it happening during the same time frame).
 Concerns and Controversy
U.S. issue M9Prior to its widespread adoption by the US military, questions were raised in a Government Accounting Office report
regarding a small number of incidents where slide failures caused injuries to Naval Special Warfare personnel and were later observed
in additional testing. These failures included both military and civilian Beretta models with very high round counts and provoked a
modification in the M9 design to prevent slide failure from causing injuries. These incidents also resulted in the Naval Special Warfare
Forces seeking "an improved 9-mm weapon that (1) can withstand extensive training firings, (2) has a long service life, and (3) provides
reliable functioning in life-threatening situations." (GAO NSAID-89-59 p.9). This resulted in the adoption of a variant of the SIG-Sauer
Another concern is the large circumference grip coupled with a long double-action trigger reach. Users of this system may have difficulty
firing accurately, often forcing the firer to adopt an off axis grip to reach the trigger in double action mode throwing rounds off target. This
is considered one reason for the adoption of the M11 Pistol.
Marine Security Guard students perform rapid-fire exercises on the Department of State pistol qualification course Feb. 4 as part of their
MSG graduation requirementA final concern with the design is the placement of the de-cocker/safety on the slide. In stressful situations,
this control is placed out of the normal reach of the firing hand and can be left in the "on" position resulting in a failure to fire under stress.
An April 2002 presentation by the Natick Soldier Center presented by LTC Charlie Dean and SFC Sam Newland reported on lessons
learned from M9 use in Afghanistan (such as use during Operation Anaconda):
Soldiers had problems with the magazine springs becoming too slack.
25% felt that the ammunition needed to be more powerful and of higher manufactured quality.
50% reported rust and corrosion problems, especially with the barrel.
63% reported confidence in the M9.
Many of the magazines (including the springs) issued for use with the M9 are not produced by Beretta, but are made by aftermarket
manufacturers such as Mec-Gar, Checkmate Industries, and Airtronic USA, Inc. Many firearms experts maintain that the only reliable
magazines to use with any pistol are those produced by the pistol's manufacturer (also called "OEM", or "Original Equipment
Manufacturer"). In 2003-2004 there were reported failures with the government contracted 9mm magazines. After extensive testing and
actual testimony given by the troops it was concluded that the failures were due to the heavy phosphate finish called for in the
government contract, combined with the unique environmental conditions in Iraq. After corrections to the government required
specifications for the magazine finish, almost two million new magazines have been distributed without any further malfunctions. In the
competition to find a new vendor, three finalists were chosen; these three were Airtronic Services, Inc. classified as a "Moderate Risk",
PHT Supply (partnered with Triple K Mfg.) also classified as a "Moderate Risk" and Check-Mate Industries, Inc. classified as a "Very Low
Risk". Of the three Airtronic Services, Inc was chosen due to their low bid of "$22,471,600" (Source: GAO). Airtronic Services delivered the
first 900,000 magazines with zero failures, while costing less than the previous supplier Check-Mate Industries (source GAO and US
Court of Federal Small Claims). However, government specifications for the contract awarded to Airtronic Services, calls for the use of
corrosion resistant material for the magazine springs. Allegedly, Airtronic Services, Inc. is currently being investigated by the federal
government for the misrepresentation of materials used. The current material Airtronic Services, Inc (aka Airtronic USA) is using for their
springs is not corrosion resistant and does not meet the new government specifications.
The Marine Corps Times reported plans in July 2007 to transition all officers below the rank of lieutenant colonel and all NCOs from
being issued the M9. Instead, they will be issued M4A1 carbines to better meet the needs of modern warfare.
 See also
Military of the United States Portal
M9 Bayonet A U.S. bayonet for the M16 rifle introduced in the same period
M9 Armored Combat Earthmover A U.S. armored bulldozer
GIAT BM92-G1 (PAMAS-G1) A French service sidearm adopted in same period
Army Factfile on the M9 Pistol
GAO Report NSIAD-89-59
GAO Report NSIAD-88-213
Court of Federal Claims
 External links
FAS article on M9
Homepage for Beretta handguns, including the 92FS
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M9_pistol"
Categories: Cold War firearms of the United States | Modern firearms of the United States | Modern American semi-automatic pistols
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