When the Beretta M9 was adopted by the U.S. Armed Forces in 1985 it usurped a title long held by the Colt Manufacturing Company. Colt had been supplying sidearms to the U.S. Government since 1842 when the military purchased a passel of .44 Caliber Dragoon models from Samuel Colt. Over the next 143 years Colt was the primary supplier of handguns to the U.S. Military. Colt supplied revolvers until the model 1911 in .45 ACP hit the stage in 1911 and remained the official U.S. sidearm for the next 74 years.
For the last 28 years Beretta has been the main supplier of handguns for our armed forces. The M9 began life as the Beretta model 92 in 1975 and was introduced to the U.S. gun buying public in 1977. I first heard of it in 1980 and was astounded that it began to become widely accepted by gun pundits that had always seemed completely devoted to either the Colt 1911 .45 ACP or a .38/.357 Magnum Smith & Wesson model 19 (blued steel) or 66 (stainless steel). Suddenly a high capacity 9mm pistol began to make a lot of sense. It made so much sense that in 1985 the Joint Services Small Arms Program adopted it as the official sidearm of the U.S. military forces. Although I had been reading about them for 5 years they were scarce as hen's teeth and I first laid my eyes on one in 1986 in the gun shop at the LAPD Academy. It laid there in the display case with a sign on it that said "Yes it is and don't ask". A clear indication that they were scarce and, at the time, being sold way over the suggested retail.
The Beretta M9 Commercial model is as close as you are going to get to owning the pistol used by the military without enlisting in the Army or Marine Corp. It is a near copy of the armed forces pistol with serial numbers that begin with the prefix "M9". The front sight is adorned with a white dot while the rear sight contains a white post. This allows for a pretty fast sight picture by merely placing the dot over the post or "dotting the i".
The remaining specifications stack up like this:
Action: Traditional Double Action
Overall Length: 8.5"
Barrel Length: 4.9"
Overall Height: 5.4"
Width of the Slide: 1.5"
Width of the Grip: 1.3"
Weight: 33.3 oz.
Capacity: 15 + 1
As mentioned above this is a Traditional Double Action Pistol meaning that the first trigger pull is long and heavy as it both cocks and releases the hammer. Once the first round is fired the hammer is cocked by the retraction of the slide during recoil so that the second and subsequent rounds are fired in the single action mode. The Double Action pull measured exactly 12 pounds on my trigger pull gauge. The Single Actions pulls were lighter and handled so well that I didn't even bother to measure them. Because the hammer is cocked with each retraction of the slide the safety also de-cocks the hammer when it is engaged.
At 33.3 ounces empty the weight of this pistol eliminates any concerns that recoil will affect your accuracy potential. I wish that I had a few boxes of my favorite round, the Speer 124 grain + P Gold Dot Hollow Point ammunition to put through the pistol but unfortunately ammo availability is pretty tough right now. However, all ammo used in this evaluation was 115 grain Sellier & Bellot FMJ ammo which S&B loads to NATO + P standards and is rated at 1,237 feet per second out of a 5 inch barrel. As I mentioned earlier, recoil was no problem.
Here's 15 rounds fired at 30 feet.
You'll note that my rounds were a little to the left of where I would prefer. Upon examining the rear sight it was not centered and sat just a smidgen to the left.
Here are 35 rounds fired at 50 feet.
OK, it's not pretty but they're all on the paper and would be lethal if I needed to bring it to my aid.
All in all the Beretta M9 Commercial is a great pistol. If I had to sum it up on one word it would be "smooth". It is easy to see why the JSSAP chose it and easy to see why it has remained in service for 28 years.