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GUNS Magazine Digital March 2011 - Page 32

HOLT BODINSON 25 years of enduring service. t’s time to give the Beretta M9 a 15-round salute. The I year 2010 marked its 25th anniversary as the official uS service pistol for our Army, Navy, Marines, Air force and tHE US M9 9MM Like the P.38, the M9’s under-the-barrel locking block secures the barrel to the frame. coast Guard. While the M9 and the 9mm Luger have never reached the iconic status of the M1911 and the .45 Acp, the Beretta has served our forces well in conflicts like Just cause, Bosnia, Desert Storm, Enduring freedom and the continuing war on terrorism. With a new US defense contract being signed in 2009 for an additional 450,000 more M9s, the Beretta is going to be around for a long time. In honor of its 25th anniversary, Beretta has recently released the M9 Commercial model which carries all of the correct military markings on its slide and frame, as well as a lanyard stud and is as close a clone to the military model as we’ll see. Being a family-owned firearms company dating back to the year 1526, Beretta has been in the handgun business a long time. We can begin to trace some of the design features of the M9 back to the Model 1915/1919, marketed as the Model 1922. Chambered in .32 ACP (7.65mm), the Model 1922 was the first Beretta pistol to feature a slide almost fully cut open on top. Open top The open-top slide design, which we see again in the M9, virtually eliminates ejection problems. With the M9, you will never experience a “stove-piped” case nor do you have to open up an ejection port to solve the problem. There is no ejection port. Once the barrel and slide begin to move to the rear, it’s clear sailing for a spent case. The open-top slide has The rear sight is drift adjustable for windage and features a white dot below the notch. The front sight has a white dot in its center as well. Beretta’s M9 Commercial model carries a special “M9-xxxxxx” serial number. The open slide has almost become a Beretta trademark. The M9 is a big pistol, yet very comfortable to shoot. almost become a signature for Beretta semi-automatic designs, and if you ever have to speed load a single round into the chamber in an emergency, it’s the best design existent. Theoretically, you would conclude Beretta’s exposed-barrel system would be highly susceptible to the muck and dirt of war. It is, and it isn’t. The M9 has to be kept clean, but it’s easy to clean, and its recent reliability under combat conditions is not in question, except for after-market magazines, which we’ll come back to. One of the most intriguing aspects of the M9 design is its similarity to the features of the German P.38, the most refined handgun of WWII. It WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • MARCH 2011 32

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