Beretta Argues M9 Upgrade Cheaper Than MHS


Gabriele de Plano, vice president of marketing and operations for Beretta Defense Technologies, wrote an Aug. 17 letter to the editor in The Washington Post in response to a recent article in the newspaper.

In it, he argued that the Army could upgrade the existing M9 pistol for far less than developing a new handgun, known as the Modular Handgun System, or MHS.

Here’s what he wrote, according to the paper:

“Regarding the Aug. 9 Business article “Beretta’s fight to arm the military,” about the company losing a U.S. military contract for M9 pistols:

Beretta has made an effort to provide updated M9 pistols to the U.S. armed forces. As far back as 2003, we offered the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps M9 pistol upgrades. In 2006, the Marine Corps adopted the M9A1 pistol, an upgraded version of the M9 pistol. In 2012 and 2013, we presented the Army with upgrades that increased the reliability and modularity of the M9 pistol. M9 upgrades presented to the Army last year would satisfy 84 percent of the Army’s requirements for a Modular Handgun System without the half-billion dollar cost of that program.

Numerous firearms used by the U.S. government and adopted more than 30 years ago still meet and exceed mission requirements because of upgrades that the government accepted, including the M2/M2A1, M4/M4A1, M16/M16A2, M240/M240B/M240L and M320/M320A1. Why should the M9 pistol be treated differently?”

But as colleague Matt Cox has reported, Army officials — at least so far — haven’t been listening to that argument. In January, just weeks after Beretta pitched an upgraded M9 with new sights, a rail for mounting lights and accessories, better ergonomics and improved reliability, they opted to move forward with the MHS.

Maybe with increasing pressure on the federal budget, Beretta’s financial case may get more traction.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • Sivispace

    Beretta simply does not get it. For most operational environments, a closed slide such as the Sig Sauer or the CZ 75 makes more sense in a sandy locale. The Beretta is also a design dating back to the 50s so it is hardly modular or modern. The FNH FNP .45 is a much better choice. It has replaceable slide rails and a classic double/single mode of operation. The slide is enclosed and the pistol is very accurate and reliable.

    • Lance

      With the exception of the Army in Iraq in 2003-5 the M-9 has had a pretty good record in the military. the reason the M-9 had issues is that the Army didn’t provide pistol lubricants and issued poor mags made by check mate in that time. Marines had no issue with them in combat since they did give proper lubs and mags to the pistols.

      • guest

        Pistol lubricants!!! I know lots of people that use motor oil to lube their pistols and they function for hundreds of rounds without a re-lube. Most pistols are not particular as to the lube that is used, or they shouldn’t be. Glock’s function well with little or no lube. Why is the Beretta so sensitive.

        • Gunner

          it’s not, I don’t think many are sensitive to lube and the military has CLP in 55 gallon drums. I don’t think he said it was sensitive to lubes it that they did not lube it.

          • guest

            Read again. He said “Army didn’t provide pistol lubricants”.

        • Nick

          Use motor oil in the desert, see what happens.

          • Joshua

            I did it works great. Used motor oil exclusively in my M4A1 in Afghanistan and never had a problem and it ran better than the guys who used CLP.

          • WRG001

            I caught flack from some for using Frog Lube…kept my rifle wet and sloppy and NEVER malfunctioned. Yes, a wet rifle in a sandy environment and she operated fine. I made the change after occasional fouling related failures to eject using CLP as a cleaner and lubricant.

          • 45k20e4

            Frog Lube is da bomb!

          • guest

            You can even eat Frog Lube without any ill effects.

          • Chuck Pierce

            how quickly we forget. The M9 in 9mm was adopted to replace the 45 and all of the other hand guns in the inventory. It is not a perfect weapon. Upon Retiring, I purchased a S&W 40 cal. like the way it feels when fired and has enough stopping power and does not over penetrate.

      • “Marines had no issue with them in combat since they did give proper lubs and mags to the pistols.”

        According to the Field Report MARINE CORPS Systems Command Liaison Team Central Iraq 20 April to 25 April 2003:

        “M9 Pistol Magazines ~ The magazines are not working properly. The springs are extremely weak and the follower does not move forward when rounds are removed. If the magazine is in the weapon, malfunctions result. If out of the weapon, remaining rounds fall out of the magazine. Dirt and sand does cause some of the problem with follower movement, but multiple cleanings of the magazine each day does not alleviate the problem. The main problem is the weak/worn springs. (note: I personally encountered this problem as well. Say what you will, but I had to break down all magazines daily to clean them. Despite this effort, rounds routinely “fell” out of the magazine. Forces in contact did not have the time or the luxury to break down each 9mm magazine daily. M16 magazines worked well. Like many officers, I also traded up to a rifle).”

        Why not a new slide in the style of the Dolphin for the m9?
        Keeping the M9 means less logistics, less additional training, lower cost. At the end of the day as long as its not worse then what they have already then there is no down side because the armed forces don’t run around with just a hand gun.

    • Lance

      If we stay with 9mm then this is a most logical step to stay with the M-9 and to make it more modular. Unless we goto a new caliber then it makes no sense to goto another 9mm pistol. One thing that could make or break MHS is the Army to set on one caliber for its platform.

      Overall with sequestration in play still and the fact no other service has gone with this I see this more of the way ICC went with rifles. Face it all this is now is tacti coolers going nuts on what might happen. You don’t know what will happen till its over.

      • The program is actually a joint Army/Air Force program and the Marines are observing.

        Wrong again…

    • guest

      The simple and practical thing is for the Army to adopt the Glock 17 and be done with it. The Glock is battle proven, to include the ME, and is simpler, fewer parts and more rugged than the Beretta. Probably also more inexpensive.

      • Greg

        Had they done that then they wouldn’t be talking of a replacement. But in the end, money always wins over common sense. I still think this will end up like the M4s I.C. program.

        Instead of two different pistols from different brands (M9) Beretta (M11) SIG

        Could have had two different size versions from the same brand

        (Glock 17) (Glock 19)

        • Airborne_fister

          Got to have manual safeties.

          • guest

            Glock does, it is part of the trigger.

          • Justin

            M11 does not have a safety, just a decock lever.

      • SAM

        Agreed. A real combat pistol. I carried a Baretta, until I was sent to Glock for an armorers course. I replaced by Baretta with a Glock, the following business day.

    • Gunner

      There is no way the Army is going to go to any handgun that does not have a manual Safety, no way. Half of these guys are not even allow to put a magazine in the weapon, which is crazy. Even if they allow them with a mag inserted, it’s with NO round in the chamber and the weapon must be on safe. So I doubt very much they are going to go from no mag, no round and on safe to a Glock or any other non manual safety firearm.

      • Gunner

        With all that being said. I have served over 20 years and I like the Beretta. It’s a reliable, accurate and dependable handgun. I would not mind getting a new sidearm, (even though I will never see it). I started my career with the Colt 45 and loved it, but given a choice now after all these years, I would pick the Beretta over the Colt mostly due to capacity and shoot-ability. I trained newbies on both and most shoot better with the 9mm. There is nothing wrong with the Beretta and I have carried in the desert many times and have no issue with the open slide. The only issue I have with the Beretta is the safety and clearing stoppages, the operator has a tenancy to “switch” the safety on while manipulating the slide.

      • Ken H.

        If I remember correctly, one of the countries in Europe who use the Glock, had a requirement for a manual safety, and Glock included a special version that included a manual safety.

      • mark

        Nope… Sig 226 does not have a manual safety.

    • Slag

      IMHO Never should have replaced the 1911. If anything should have adopted the Para-Ordnance P-14, cal .45 with 14 round mag. OK haters, bring it!

    • JohnD

      The M9 is an ok pistol, I don’ t like them and wouldn’t own one but did carry one for years in the Army. Id did like the M1911A1 which I also carried, shot expert with both. The new A3 version looks like a big improvement over the older models without crippling the economy. The units that need high end pistols will buy them. Everyone carrying a pistol does NOT need a Jeff Cooper high end .45!! They are not match shooters. It is a back up defensive weapon. Give the SPECOPS the high end pistols KISS for the rest of the army!! This M9A3 looks like a winner!

    • Nick

      I really have to agree with Beretta on this one. The M9 is a serviceable pistol and the upgrades are more than sufficient for the basic serviceman. SF Troops will get what they get, they often have special mission requirements. However the basic service member particularly those in support fields is fine with an M9.

      • SAM

        Spend a year in desert conditions with one. You will change your mind.

        • Guest

          I spent decades in the desert with M9s they functioned excellently. They are a world class firearm. The only issues they had were the substandard magazines built by Checkmate not Berretta. The Army created the issue by purchasing substandard parts.

    • JimmyD

      Before y’all got wound up on technicalities — do you volunteer to fund the $500m (plus customary over-runs) to obtain that 0.001% improvement over a modernized version of what’s in the field today?

      • SAM

        I would happily purchase and assume responsibility for my own weapons. Every time you are handed a weapon from the arms room, you never know what you are getting. That is just me though.

    • guest

      Currently, the military has to maintain two totally different pistols because the M9 is too large and bulky for those with small hands, and is unsuitable for concealed carry by CID, or those that need a compact pistol. Glock 17 and 19 are basically the same pistol, the manual of arms is the same, many parts are interchangeable, to include using the 17s mag in the 19. Makes sense.

    • JohnD

      When is the Army going to replace the M113/M577 tracked piece of crap vehicles? They are old, rusty and hard to maintain. They are not effective in this modern battle field! They cannot keep up with Bradley’s and Abrams vehicles! Why waste more limited monies on a study, competition and fielding a new PISTOL when other items need replacing? I wish you Generals would get your heads out of the Officers mess and into the realities of the army!

      • guest

        I have very fond memories of my 113s and 577s. I was a track commander on both and they were good vehicles simple to maintain and rugged. The only thing they lacked was the speed of the Bradleys. They still have a place in our logistic train and as a TOC of aid station vehicle.

      • Kp

        When? Soon. BAE already won the contract for that in the AMPV. It’s basically a turretless Bradley that will replace the M113 at and below the brigade level and likely above when the last M113 falls apart for the last time. It’ll probably and hopefully be one of Army’s better procurement programs.

    • jose

      I would rather have a slingshot than the Beretta

    • Zspoiler

      They don`t need or those “toys” on a pistol that is just more things to go wrong.

    • DBM

      Beretta had its day but thats in the past. The 9mm using ball ammo (as the army feels it has to) is a lousy round because of over penetration and the military is open to calibers other than 9mm so the Beretta’s are out. The .40 cal Model 96 has proven to be a piece of crap. The Maryland State Police bought them and had to sue Beretta to get them fixed. They had to return the entire buy back to the factory several times because they were so unreliable.

      Lets cross our fingers and hope that the Army will finally do something right.

      • Guest

        Good luck with that!

    • sheepdog 1951

      If it ain’t broke , don’t fix it. The M1911 worked fine for the military fo 84 years. The 9mm is for little girls and limp wristed sissies.

      • guest

        Without constant practice the 1911 in 45acp is difficult to shoot accurately. It is also heavy.

        • All pistols require practice. The 1911 is not difficult to shoot accurately. There are quite a few President’s One Hundred tabs out there earned with it.

          Heavy? Yes in comparison to most compact and sub compact pistols. When it comes to full size guns it is one of the heavier ones with all steel construction but not exorbitantly. M9 = 2.6 lbs, 1911=3.0 lbs

    • galloglas

      For what it’s purposes are it would be better to go to an upgraded M-9 and save money.
      It’s a handgun for self defense or badge of authority and rank for the most part.
      It does not have to be rocket science or a Kill_O_Zap weapon.

    • jose

      Some of you Beretta fan bois are butt hurt over my slingshot comment eh? Well, you can polish a turd all day long, but at the end of that day, it is still a turd. The M9 is that turd.

    • freebug

      For a side arm, there is no valid reason from the Army to seek a new pistol. As a weapon, it is hardly ever used and any choice of weapon will not yield a better performance.

      Beyond having more rounds in a mag which is the most important thing on the battlefield, there isn’t a justified performance in accuracy or even reliability.

      If you have to use your sidearm, you’re pretty screwed already.