Coming to the Range: Beretta Now Shipping M9A3 Pistol

The updated Beretta M9A3 with its stock thin grips (top) and the included wrap-around grips. photo from gearscout.militarytimes.com.

The military may not want it, but that doesn't mean you can't have it.

If you've been patiently thrumming your fingers ever since you saw photos of the updated Beretta M9A3 the venerable gun dealer tried to sell to the U.S. military, thrum no longer. Civilians can now benefit from all Beretta's hard work in updating its venerable 9mm.

The gunmaker announced it will deliver on its promise to offer a commercial, upgraded version of the M9 series of handguns to the public—the new pistols are on their way to retailers nationwide right now.

So what's different, other than the desert paint-job? The M9A3 is made to be more modular, reliable, durable, and ergonomic than its predecessors, the company says. The package of improvements was submitted via an Engineering Change Proposal in accordance with the terms of the current U.S. military M9 contract, according to this post on shootingwire.com.

"The M9A3 represents the next generation military handgun utilizing the best of the legacy M9 combined with proven commercial off-the-shelf modifications that increase performance and usability," said Gabriele de Plano, VP of Military Marketing and Sales for Beretta USA. "After listening closely to the needs of the U.S. Army and other Service small arms representatives, we determined the M9, much like its counterpart legacy weapons systems (M4, M16, M240, etc.), was capable of being upgraded through material and design changes."

The M9A3 features a thin grip with an optional, removable, modular wrap-around grip to make it more adaptable to different hand sizes, an accessory rail, removable front and rear tritium night sights, an extended and threaded barrel for use with a suppressor, three 17-round sand-resistant magazines, and numerous improvements to small components to increase durability.

The M9 has been the general issue sidearm for the U.S. armed Forces for nearly 30 years and has been sold to civilians as the Beretta 92, 92F, and 92FS for just as long.

Check out this video of the M9A3 when it was introduced at SHOT Show 2015: