Beretta USA recently presented the M9A3, an updated version of the gun maker’s iconic M9 pistol, to the US Army for consideration as a future sidearm. In a press release, Beretta touted “major improvements” to the current M9 design that will enhance the handgun’s reliability, durability, ergonomics, and perhaps most importantly, modularity.

“The M9A3 represents the next generation military handgun utilizing the best of the legacy M9 combined with proven COTS modifications that increase performance and durability,” stated Gabriele de Plano, Vice President of Military Marketing and Sales for Beretta USA. “After listening closely to the needs of U.S. Army and other Service small arms representatives, we determined the M9, much like its counterpart legacy weapon systems (M4, M16, M240, etc.), was capable of being upgraded through material and design changes. The resulting M9A3 we are offering to the DOD will likely cost less than the current M9 and answer almost all of the Services’ enhanced handgun requirements.”

The new M9A3 comes with a MIL-STD-1913 accessory rail, removable front and rear tritium sights, a threaded barrel for suppressors, a 17-round sand resistant magazine—as opposed to the usual 15-round double-stack magazines for the M9—and perhaps most notably, a slimmer grip. Beretta will also offer a removable wrap-around grip for larger hands.

The M9A3 is the latest bid by Beretta to update its offerings to the US Army, which currently uses the M9 as its service pistol. Earlier this year, the branch announced that it will be replacing the more than 200,000 M9 handguns in use with a more powerful and precise firearm in accordance with the guidelines set up by the Modular Handgun System. According to Army officials, the branch was looking for a pistol that is low-maintenance; allows for the use of different grips, magazines, and fire control devices; features Picatinny rails, and allows for the mounting of suppressors. The Army is also considering moving away from 9x19mm, which the M9 is chambered in, but has not yet decided on a specific caliber. Beretta also did not specify what calibers the M9A3 was designed for, but stated that the new firearm met most of the requirements.

The company also announced that a commercial and law enforcement version will be premiered next year.

“Furthermore, the M9A3 benefits from having a law enforcement and commercial variant that will be launched at S.H.O.T. Show 2015 in Las Vegas, NV,” stated Rafe Bennett, Vice President of Product Marketing for Beretta USA. “The M9A3 offered to the DOD is the exact gun that consumers will be able to purchase in the second quarter of 2015.”

Image courtesy Beretta

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