Why The Beretta M9 Is Better Than You Think


The Beretta M9 has taken a beating lately among gun enthusiasts. Maybe it’s because people are happy about Sig having the military contract now. Maybe it has to do with incidents in the 1980s having to do with cracked slides.

But, whatever the reason, a lot of people think the M9 is not worth having. But Andrew Tuohy feels differently about it. He said to an officer who criticized the M9,

Think of an enlisted guy in your company who maybe isn’t the best at his job. Tell him to maintain a rental car in continuous use by a succession of people for ten years without any way to tell how many miles are on the car. Every once in a while, the drivers are told they have to use up a large supply of gas and tires as quickly as possible before they can go home. How well do you think it’s going to run after another decade?

And, if you think about his metaphor, Tuohy has a point. The M9 has been put through brutal conditions and handled by people who don’t always take care of their equipment (or don’t have quality materials for maintaining the firearm), and, therefore, when it gets passed on to someone else, maybe it doesn’t hold up as well as you’d like. Is that the M9’s fault or the fault of the people who had it before you or the fault of the person who ordered shoddy materials for maintaining the weapon? I think you know the answer to that.


But Tuohy goes beyond just defending the M9; he says it’s a gun that you should consider buying. Why? Tuohy writes,

To start, there are very few handguns which are, out of the box, as accurate as the M9 – nor, if one understands how it works, as shootable. I recently picked up an M9 and, although I have been shooting many striker fired handguns lately, scored 60 out of 60 on an FBI qualification test administered by a federal agent. To my everlasting shame, I dropped some rounds outside the A zone. I don’t think I would have done as well with a Glock, and that’s what I shoot most.

The M9 is also stunningly reliable – when fed with quality ammunition from good magazines.

Accuracy out of the box and reliability are huge upsides that can’t be ignored.

So, like so many things in life, things aren’t always what they seem, and, if you actually take care of what you own, you may be surprised by how long it lasts and works well for you.



  1. The first M9 I handled made me aware that I was not a big fan of the pistol! It was in 1987, and I was the new instructor in a shop full of really good shooters. The top half of the slide was missing, and, it was prophetic when I told the boss that the slides would break. But, you know how it goes, all too often! The Brass wants you to do more and more with less and less, and, you make it happen, until, one day, you are doing absolutely everything, with absolutely nothing! After a few miscues, such as the catastrophic slide failures experienced by Navy and Marine Corp troops, we were given an attendant 3,000 round life of the slides, before the retro kit was fielded. Out of a battery of 50 training weapons, we rather quickly began to run out of guns to train with! We trained approximately 1,000 personnel every year, what with the base cops shooting twice per year (AFQC and SPC courses), and all the pilots, and other Group A, B, and C personnel with an M9 Arming Requirement. This, also, did nothing for my opinion of the M9. However, it had 2.5 times as many rounds available in the magazine (we carried two, when armed), when compared to the S&W M15, .38 Spl revolver that was our previous standard handgun. The ammo load of the .38 was very comparable to the 9MM, both in bullet weight, and type, and muzzle velocity and energy! But, the 9MM ammo was new, and the lot we were given was made by IMI. It was more accurate than the .38 PGU-12B loads we were issued, and we had a lot more faith that it would work as intended. After carrying and using the M9 for a month, or so, I learned to love it, especially when you think about the ammo load. We did find a couple of slides on our training guns that were starting to crack. So, when the slide modification Time Compliance Tech Order (TCTO) modified slide kits hit the base, we were back in business. I have no idea how many thousands of 9MM rounds I burned through M9s, but, I found them to be highly accurate, and would work as designed, if the shooter did their part! Just before I retired in 1994, I bought a Taurus Model 101, in .40 S&W. After shooting it, I was impressed with how closely the Taurus resembled the Beretta, so, I “borrowed” a spare barrel, and it dropped right in. I also grabbed a 9MM magazine, and a box of ammo, and using the 40 cal slide, could I could fire 9MM ammo, using a Beretta barrel. Both Beretta and Taurus magazines fed both caliber rounds flawlessly. Needless to say, it took a few years to find a suitable barrel, but, when I passed that gun down to my youngest son, I had added .357 Sig caliber to the mix, so, he got a three caliber gun, that only needed suitable barrel changes. My oldest son gets the Glock 23, when I don’t need it, any more. He also gets a three caliber gun, but, the Glock needs a magazine that matches the caliber, to work! Well, except the .357 Sig and .40 S&W use the same mag…

  2. Ok, as I re-read my statement, I see a couple of explanations necessary. First, I wrote “could I could”, when I meant “found I could”. Second, when I “borrowed” the 9MM barrel, I cleaned it, and returned it to Bench Stock when I was finished! I bought Lone Wolf barrels for the Taurus in 9MM and .357 Sig. I guess the Statute of Limitations is PROBABLY over, by now, but, why take a chance! And, finally, if you take a Beretta magazine, and open up the notch where the magazine catch grabs it, just a little, you can use Beretta mags in Taurus frames. Ok, now that I got all that straight, back to the Internet, looking for a cheap .22 conversion kit for the Beretta , one for the Glock, and one for my Colt Series 70 Gold Cup National Match…

  3. Darn it, I still forgot something! I like to put out my creds, when I drop an opinion, so, here it is! I retired from the US Air Force in 1994, after 20 years, 1 month, and 21 days! I have an additional 17 years Civil Service. Two years were with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, as a receptionist at a National Cemetery. I also have three years as an Armorer (with the machines, tools, and projects we had, Gunsmith is more accurate!), working for the US Army. And, finally, twelve years with the Air Force as a GS-09 Training Instructor, Security, the last eight of which I was a civilian instructor at the USAF Combat Arms Training and Maintenance Tech School, at Lackland AFB, TX, one of the first civilian instructors to have a full time job as a CATM Instructor there.
    MSgt Jesse F. Tiede, USAF (Ret), Combat Arms Instructor, 75390/ GS-09 CATM Instructor/ WG-08 Small Arms Repairer (Last entry, I swear!)

    • Yeah, I always liked the M9. It never failed for me, and it just felt better in my hands than most other pistols for some reason. And you have to admit it’s a ‘handsome’ piece. Kind of like one of those Italian stiletto switchblades. Some ‘expert’ gun mechanic once told me the reasons for the exposed barrel slide design, which goes way back to earlier models. And it made sense at the time but I can’t recall the exact explanation at the moment. And I agree with the Master Sgt here, many of you gun collectors would shit in your pants if you witnessed the abuse of military weaponry in routine usage. And worse in a combat environment. That’s why they were apprehensive about the ‘plastic’ guns holding up for military applications

      But the truth is that just about any good pistol can be ‘adapted’ to war work by the manufacturer. As far as why Sig took the military contract now reminds of the ‘politics’ similar to the reasons the M-14 got the rifle contract over the FN-FAL, which the Israelis didn’t hesitate to adopt. Like anything else, it’s who you know in military contracts. Approving these has to be the most ‘lucrative’ job in the military??? I used an Austrian FAL for a while, along with a 14 sometimes, in combat before I settled down with a 16 and, indeed, if you like a .308 better than a 5.56 for combat EDC the FAL is hard to beat. Especially with the paratrooper model. And much better on full auto than a select fire 14.

      As far as ‘accuracy’ of the M9 compared to others. There’s too much focus on the gun these days, instead of the shooter. In the hands of a master combat shooter, almost any gun, including a .22LR Saturday Night Special can rise to the ‘accuracy’ level required if the appropriate tactical parameters are followed. So in the hands of Jesse here, he might be able to notice and measure the accuracy differences in the performance of the pistol itself, and I used to win cash bets often by exploiting that factor, but for all pragmatic self defense or combat shooting for the average shooter skill level, there’s really no discernable accuracy standards or requirements with combat pistols that compare with precision match performance accuracy for competitions.

      Or put another way, a pistol shot from a stationary vice that puts match bullets in the same hole at 10 meters, won’t make any important difference in actual shoot outs then another–all other things being equal or identical– gun that puts all the bullets in an inch, or even two inches at the same distance. Unless maybe if you’re shooting dimes at that distance? Considering the limited effective off hand range of pistols fired without a shoulder stock/brace.

      In other words, I can kill you just as dead with a less accurate pistol as I could with a precision match grade gun, in virtually all practical shooting scenarios. Which is why the acceptable moa standards for popular military individual rifles was never sub once inch. AK’s, for instance, were around 3-4 inches at 100 meters. And 16s were 2-3″ at 100 meters and they made a big huge deal about 16s being so much more accurate for CQB.

      The very essential reality point here being that raw precision accuracy, outside of precision long distance sniping, was simply never that critical in combat, especially CQB. Especially with pistols. Which is why they always used to have a shitty fixed sight where it was more important to make them small and smooth so as not to hang up on the holster or clothing on the draw when you needed it. Because contrary to popular mythology, speed and firepower always was, and still is, more important than Precision accuracy in CQB. (I said ‘precision’ as opposed to ‘effective’). Sorry to bust crack on all you Chairborne Rangers, but that’s the way it really is, or ‘be’s’ in the vernacular.

      Which is also the fundamental reality of why most range practice is just a fireworks demonstration, and not remotely any representation of the true art of CQB gunfight killing with a pistol.

  4. I still maintain that the 1911 is one of the worlds best guns for a person to use in a gun fight. Next choice is the H&K VP9. The VP9 out of the box is a world class SHTF hand gun and great in a gun fight. The trigger on the VP9 is great. Few top end competition block triggers complain. The trigger on the M9 is horrible at best.

  5. My only use of the M9 was at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, we had some time so the Firearms Instructors brought several different types of semi auto duty guns onto the range and let the class shoot them. The M9 has a long reach to get to the trigger for double action shooting (the 1st shot) the follow up shots its much easier to fire as the trigger is closer to the grip. The grip is also very large and feels like gripping a two by four. Its shot very accurately. When working for the VA we were issued the double action only version of the M9 and I found that it does require alot of lubrication to function properly.

  6. My feeling is that if it works reliably and has no real problems like a level or button that is a total bitch to move or the design limits your speed and proper handling then it’s worth using. A lot of people can nitpick a hundred different guns and then they still say “it’s a good gun” or they are not happy unless it’s an expensive custom piece and then they still want to rebuild the damn thing.

    Sometimes the desire to seek perfection is the result of indecision or the belief that it’s always the equipment that hold you back or that all those gun designers just can’t get anything right, which is an extreme position and may stem from an enlarged ego by those who think of themselves as “gun experts” just because they carry, or have carried, or used a gun or go looking at, talking about and buying guns more than other people might.
    I am more likely to listen to the person who has mastered the 1,2 or 3 guns they own than someone who handles so many that they are always changing their technique or stuck on just one method or confused by too much information and too many points of view.

    I have a Taurus PT99 and while many tout Glock as superior, it’s well made and shoot beautifully. It’s like a new version of a 1911. It’s served well and for a long time, but it’s not the “newest thing” so now it’s being put aside except by those who know what it can offer. But “old and reliable” never go out of style.

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