Who 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, Miss., Feb. 20, 2013. Roberts, with Detachment 1 of the 3656th Maintenance Company, was named Soldier of the Year.

U.S. Army Spc. Caleb Roberts fires an M9 Beretta pistol during the Mississippi National Guard’s Best Warrior Competition at Camp McCain, Miss., Feb. 20, 2013. Roberts, with Detachment 1 of the 3656th Maintenance Company, was named Soldier of the Year.

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.

A publicity photograph of the Beretta M9. The M9 is the standard issue side arm for many U.S. military personnel.

A publicity photograph of the Beretta M9. The M9 is the standard issue side arm for many U.S. military personnel.

M9A3 (pictured above) 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. In the civilian market, the M9 retails for about $550.

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.

Beretta's new M9A3 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. In the civilian market, the M9 retails for about $550.

Beretta’s new M9A3 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. In the civilian market, the M9 retails for about $550.

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.

6 comments

  • Manlishi

    ” Maryland but the company plans to move manufacturing to Tennessee to avoid stricter gun laws.” Blatant MSM lie. Beretta made it crystal clear that they would not do business in an unconstitutional communist state should a capacity limit be signed into law. Maryland begged them to stay but who would ever want to stay just to be fleeced by a government that restricts its products to civilians as well as the majority of products have nothing to do with the restrictive laws.? Virginia was the instant choice and plans were in the works to move here until a majority of drooling tards thought voting democrat would be a good idea. The very idea of a premium manufacturer moving to a democrat (given Macauliffe’s/Hillary’s traitor reputation) is just plain stupid. So they went to a business (manufacturing) friendly state. Democrats are all the same.

  • Sam Malone

    It is my sincere hope that firearms’ manufacturers like Beretta abandon socialist states like USNES (Union of Socialist North Eastern States=NY, NJ, CT, MA), MD. These Democratic Socialist states are soon to be joined by VA and VT. They should to move to FREE AMERICA. Perhaps if these socialist states begin to feel the economic impact (i.e., loss of jobs, decline in the tax base, etc.) they will realize their campaign against legitimate and responsible firearms owners is ill-conceived and not without consequences, as has been seen in Ilion, NY with Remington moving some of its new manufacturing to FREE AMERICA. As a result, Kim Jong Cuomo lost an overwhelming majority of the upstate counties to his Republican challenger, primarily as a result of his Un-SAFE Act and its collateral effects. It is believed that at least 2,200 firearm manufacturing jobs have been lost in NYS in the last two years not to mention the supermarkets, delis, motels, and other miscellaneous stores that have seen a downturn in business having an overall negative economic impact of approximately $74 million dollars.
    Beretta is an outstanding company, quality workmanship, dependable firearms and the manufacturer of every type of firearm from sporting to competitive to personal protection. It should be a serious competitor for this contract.

  • B ADDY

    I would think Glock would be in the mix as well. Beretta should have the edge as they have performed well from what I have seen.

    • David Acklam

      Glock is DQed as an ‘unsafe design’. The Army requires a safety switch on everything from tank cannon down to pistols… Only weapon that didn’t have one was the M2 machine gun, but it’s been added in after-the-fact….

      No manual (thumb) safety = can’t compete…

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