After twenty-five years, the US Military has decided it’s high time to put the battered Beretta M9 pistol to pasture and make way for a completely new sidearm, gun, gear, and all.
Like all machines, gun parts eventually fail. In fact, the first two years of the M9’s military service saw several examples of catastrophic failures in the locking block resulting in the slide breaking free from the frame, and flying backward into the shooter’s face (yikes!). By 1989, Beretta addressed the concerns with an improved model, which is referred to in the civilian world as the 92FS. The changes did, indeed, strengthen the locking block and slide, but after decades of service, these components, the frame, and barrel of these Beretta pistols are more frequently succumbing to wear. Like when you’re being nickeled and dimed to death by an old beater car, sometimes it just makes more sense to overhaul the declining vehicle and opt for something newer.
The Modular Handgun System, or MHS, program began with the US Air Force back in 2008, but since then, the US Army has also jumped on the dump-the-gun bandwagon. A lack of confidence in the 9mm round has inspired a non-caliber specific requirement, which opens the consideration up to .357 SIG, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP as options for the M9’s successor. Some of the key requirements the US military is looking for from their new sidearm are calls to improve on the M9’s shortcomings by improving effectiveness, accuracy, and reliability. Aside from those general conditions, the MHS program has further defined its expectations for new designs, including:
- +90% chance of hitting a four inch target from 50m throughout weapon lifetime.
- Ambidextrous controls.
- Ergonomic design that accommodates multiple hand sizes and aids recoil management.
- Minimum reliability:
- 2k rounds between stoppages.
- 10k average between failures.
- 35k service life.
- Optional parameters:
- accessory compatibility (lights, lasers, suppressors, etc.).
After complaints of the Beretta M9’s open slide design that just begs for dirt and debris, reliability issues with key firearm components, no rail (on the M9, not the M9A1 variant), and the awkward slide mounted safety/decocker, the rest of the US military is ready to follow the lead that branches, such as the Marine Corps and the Navy SEALs, have taken with their sidearms. The Beretta M9 is going the way of the M1911A1 it replaced back in 1985. What would you choose to take its place?
Featured image courtesy of Beretta.com.