Remembering How the Beretta M9 Became America’s Sidearm

In late January, the U.S. Army announced a new service pistol, the Sig Sauer P320, replacing Beretta’s M9, ushering in a new era in the military’s firearm legacy. The changing of the guard presents the perfect opportunity to look back at the M9’s service history in our Armed Forces, which spanned more than three decades.

The M9 is a military-specification, or mil-spec, version of the Beretta 92 FS, a full-size 9mm pistol. The Beretta 92 FS is an upgraded model of the Beretta 92, which traces its beginnings to Italy, where designers Pier Carlo Beretta, Vittorio Valle and Giuseppe Mazzetti began initial design work on the pistol as part of Beretta’s “92 Project.” The 92’s overall design was a progressive development based on the Beretta Model 1951 Brigadier.

Remembering How the Beretta M9 Became America’s Sidearm by Jason J. Brown
A U.S. Army major prepares to fire an M9 pistol during training. (Photo courtesy/Range365)

The 92 was officially presented as the Model 92 in 1975, initially adopted by Italy’s CONSUBIN, the nation’s equivalent to the U.S. Navy SEALs, and the Brazilian Army.

In 1978, the U.S. Department of Defense began the Joint Services Small Arms Program, tasked with trialing and selecting the new service handgun for the U.S. Armed Forces, aimed at replacing the aging workhorse M1911.

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