The Beretta M9A3 is the long-awaited update to the classic 1970s M9. After all, the M9 is the handgun of choice for the United States Armed Forces. Surely the M9A3 is equally great, right? As you will soon discover in this Beretta M9A3 review, a lot of work was put into crafting a near-perfect semi-automatic pistol. As for the size, it's similar to Sig Sauer P220 and Sig 365, so if you have smaller hands or need a gun for concealed carry, small guns would be a better option.
If you’re an experienced shooter and have yet to try out the Beretta M9A3, you are in for a treat. Beretta delivers a truly stunning handgun that makes an excellent addition to any serious shooter’s arsenal. Let’s read on to find out what makes this pistol such a winner.
Beretta M9A3 Review
With plenty of experience shooting the classic M9, I was beyond thrilled to get my hands on the M9A3. I enjoyed my time with M9 for the most part, so I was confident that the M9A3 would at least be an improvement. As you’ll soon learn, I was in for a pleasant surprise.
You see, the M9 certainly has its shortcomings. For one, it is a mammoth of a handgun. Its massively-large grip is enough to disqualify many a user from safely shooting it. And that was always my number-one complaint with the M9. If you are looking for a more compact handgun from the same maker, check out this Beretta 92FS Inox Review.
Again, I liked shooting it. But I always wondered how much more comfortable I would feel with it had the grip been easier to wield. And like most others who have spent time with the M9, the safety is awkward, to say the least.
The Beretta M9A3 does away with both of my (and many, many others’) complaints. Refinements have been made in all the right places, delivering a truly excellent update on an old classic. For comparison of features you can check out my Sig P320 review.
Gone is the clunky, bulky, cumbersome grip that has plagued shooters for nearly half a century. In its place is a much sleeker, thinner grip that makes carrying and shooting the M9A3 an absolute pleasure. It reminds me of another great update of a classic handgun: Springfield 1911 Mil Spec.
And the awkward M9 safety? It’s now replaced with a decocker-only function. But before I go and spoil everything, let’s take a moment to run through the specs of this mighty refined handgun.
The M9A3 sees some big updates over the older M9 Beretta. With that being said, the M9A3 remains compatible with all existing parts, ammo, magazines, and armorer support.
Furthermore, you won’t need new training on the equipment since all operator maintenance remains the same. The M9A3 also meets or even exceeds specifications, much like one of my favorite 9mm I covered in the Smith and Wesson M&P 9mm Review.
Tritium three-dot dovetailed front sights/tritium night sights
Vertec-style polymer vertical grip
33 ounces or 2.08 pounds
4.9 inches (threaded)
Flat Dark Earth
- Slide converts from FS to G model
- Uses double-stack magazines
- Highly-adaptive tactical pistol
- Beveled magazine-well
- Threaded barrel
- Made in Italy
There’s a lot to like about the M9A3.
Let’s explore some of its most impressive features to see what makes this update such a smash hit among gun enthusiasts.
The first thing many shooters will notice is the 5-inch threaded barrel. This allows you to use a suppressor with the M9A3. There is a protective cap that covers the barrel when not using a suppressor.
3-Slot MIL-STD-1913 Rail
This Picatinny rail allows for greater versatility and freedom to add accessories to the M9A3. Shooters who have used the previous M9 handgun will find this to be an improvement, as it was outfitted with just one slot.
Vertec Thin-Style Straight Grip
Quite possibly the biggest improvement of all, these new grips are thinner and easier to hold. As I previously mentioned, this is a big deal across the board. Seasoned shooters will love this updated grip.
It also allows for a wider audience to get their hands on the M9A3 – literally. Factor in the wrap-around backstrap grip and you’re looking at a huge advantage over the M9 of yesteryear.
Removable Front Dovetail Sight
Let’s face it, not every shooter wants nor needs this sight. Thanks to its removable feature, the M9A3 has greater versatility for shooters of all skill levels.
The flat dark earth tone is the standard finish on the M9A3, although other versions are available (more on them in a moment). The quality of this finish makes the M9A3 highly-durable.
Not only that, but it also looks downright upright. This tone is sure to make even the most ardent gun owner green with envy.
Magazine (and Release Button)
The M9A3 sports an oversized magazine release button. Not only that, but the magazine itself has also been beveled to allow for faster reloading. With the two combined, you’re sure to see an improvement in your reloading speeds.
Furthermore, Beretta added a special coating known as Physical Vapor Deposition or PVD. Essentially, this coating technique consists of taking a solid material and vaporizing it.
With the magazine coated in this manner, it prevents potential binding in the mag well. This is a nice feature to see, adding further to the M9A3’s allure.
The M9A3 is a moderate departure from the Beretta M9. Gone is the overly large grip, replaced with a thinner handle that is much easier to manage.
While it still maintains the same alloy used in the M9, it is slightly lighter in weight. This makes the M9A3 more versatile and easier to carry.
Seasoned veterans will appreciate the refined upgrades to this handgun, while newcomers will find them to provide a perfect opportunity to try out the fabled M9 pistol series.
As a handgun that’s been featured in many movies and used by the United States Armed Forces, many people have wanted to try the M9. But its aforementioned large size and bulky handle prevented them from doing so.
Thanks to the M9A3’s refinements, those very same people now have a chance to try out the gun. Still, the weight and size are present. As such, the M9A3 needs to be handled with respect and moderate experience.
It’s definitely a pistol for serious shooters. Newcomers are welcome, but beginners may want to steer clear. If you’re looking for your very first handgun, the M9A3 likely isn’t it.
Disassembly of the M9A3 is really straightforward. Seasoned gun owners can have it taken apart in a matter of seconds. For newcomers, it takes just a few simple steps to completely disassemble the pistol.
Let’s take a moment to see just how easy it is to break down the M9A3. I’ll run you through the basics entailed in removing the slide and barrel. If you plan on cleaning your new M9A3 pistol, I suggest looking online for some detailed how-to videos.
You want to take your time to ensure that you remove all pins and other hardware. This can be a tricky venture to the uninitiated, so make sure you follow all instructions accordingly.
So with that, let’s look at the quick and easy way to disassemble the Beretta M9A3.
Always remove the magazine before attempting disassembly. This is a habit you must get into performing every time you disassemble any gun.
Make sure you remembered to remove the magazine.
Perform a barrel check by pulling the slide all the way back and pushing up on the slide stop. This will allow you to inspect the chamber to ensure that it is free of ammunition.
Push in the takedown lever on one side. This will allow you to release the lever all the way on the opposite side of the handgun. This will kick the slide forward, allowing you to pull it completely off.
Once the slide is off and in hand, you will be able to remove the barrel from inside the slide. Here, you will also find the recoil spring and guide rod.
Here’s the thing about the 92. It’s never really been known for its ergonomics. Every one that I have handled hasn’t necessarily been uncomfortable. But I can’t say they have been overly comfortable, either.
Much to my surprise (and delight), the M9A3 gets a huge bump in ergonomics. Thanks to a refined grip, anyone who has handled a 92 should find this to be much easier to carry.
This was made possible with flat mainspring encasing. This eliminates the bulge found on previous grips. Furthermore, Vertec Grips are now featured, providing users with a much thinner handle.
As such, shooters with smaller hands will have an easier time wielding this improved pistol. Whereas in the older models, the large grip made it difficult for them to carry and control.
With that being said, newcomers will likely feel that the M9A3 is a bit on the heavy side. And they’d be absolutely correct. The M9A3 remains a relatively heavy gun. For this reason, beginners may want to choose a different pistol as their first handgun.
On the Range
Thanks to an exceptional single-action trigger, shooting this 9mm Beretta pistol is smooth and satisfying. Between 7 and 15 yards, you can rely on the M9A3 to shoot accurately.
When testing at 25 yards, I still had commendable results, although obviously not as accurate as it was at shorter distances.
Still, you’re going to be quite pleased with the performance and handling of this pistol. You will appreciate the flat dark earth color, as it helps to keep the M9A3 cooler to the touch than that of an all-black handgun.
This goes a long way in providing you with a comfortable and safer shooting experience.
The recoil is great, in my opinion. It’s surely an improvement over the older M9. The trigger is equally solid, although the reset could be a little shorter. Still, it feels good, and shooting is a blast.
The thinner grips really go a long way in providing a comfortable shooting experience. That said, I’ve talked to some owners of the M9A3 who felt that the grips were too small! I never thought I would hear anyone say that, as I feel the grip is still pretty large.
There was a lot of refinement that went into reducing the size of the M9A3’s current grip. A buddy of mine was able to remedy his discomfort by ordering larger grips to put on the M9A3. Crisis averted.
Still, for me, the refinements paid off. This pistol is more than manageable on the range. Even in colder weather, it fires off like a champ. This is likely thanks in large part to a bigger trigger guard.
I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the M9A3. It shoots like a dream and is clearly marketed toward experienced shooters. I can’t stress enough that first-time gun owners will probably be better suited with something lighter.
Even for experienced shooters, the M9A3 probably isn’t going to be their everyday carry. It’s just a bit large to comfortably pack around as a concealed carry.
The M9A3 might be a couple of ounces lighter compared to the classic M9, but it’s still a heavy handgun. It’s going to take some building up to get to where you’re comfortable shooting a gun of this weight.
If you’re new to the game, I suggest starting out with something small. Get to where you are comfortable shooting it. Learn how to disassemble it and clean it. The better you are handling that gun, the sooner you’ll be able to safely work your way up to something like the Beretta M9A3.
If you’re looking for reliability, the M9A3 is the perfect companion. During all the time I’ve spent with this pistol, never once has it faltered. It consistently fired accurately every time I shot it.
The craftsmanship that went into the M9A3 is evident throughout its construction. I’m a big fan of the design, weight, and feel. Every aspect of this handgun is refined to near-perfection.
If you’ve had any experience handling and shooting pistols, you will love the Beretta M9A3. It’s solid, sturdy, and well-made.
As you can tell from my Beretta M9A3 review, this pistol is a winner in just about every department. And depending on the context of its use, it handily surpasses expectations in its performance and reliability.
Sure, its size and weight will bar some people from enjoying the gun. But for those who can comfortably use the M9A3, you will find it to make an excellent companion and addition to your arsenal.