Beretta M9A3 Take 2 Part 1

Beretta M9A3 Take 2 Part 1

Out of the box testing

By Dennis Adler

It’s a mighty fine box for the new M9A3 considering that a lot of guns that cost about the same, like the HK USP, come in throwaway plastic packaging.

Just as the Umarex Beretta 92A1 offered airgun enthusiasts the latest 9mm design in a blowback action CO2 model back in 2015, the new M9A3 brings the CO2 design up to the current centerfire model. And this is one area where Umarex has truly excelled in the CO2 marketplace. The initial test of this new model in March was done using a factory test sample in order to get a review out as quickly as possible. As with other factory sample guns, which are production quality but ahead of deliveries to retailers, and often without a box, I like to run a second series of tests with a new off-the-shelf gun. So here we are with a brand new, in the box, Umarex Beretta M9A3.

The box is designed to hold the gun, and under the over flap there’s room for the hex head tool and a spare magazine. Extra magazines are sold separately in the matching FDE finish.

Recapping the original test results

Shop Benjamin Rifles

There are quite a few changes from the 92A1 to the M9A3, the most advanced version of the Beretta 92 Series semi-autos. For the CO2 version it has new dovetailed front and combat style white dot rear sight (still fixed on the CO2 model), an upgraded MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rail for easier mounting and removal of accessories and a reconfigured grip frame with Vertec-style thin grips and flat mainspring housing. The other very obvious change is the frame, slide and grip coloration and new grip panel texturing. The big change, of course, is a polymer frame with the look of the M9A3 9mm model’s Cerakote finished aluminum-alloy frame. The M9A3 also has an extended threaded barrel (for mounting a sound suppressor on the centerfire guns) which on the CO2 model is permanently covered by a tread protector.

The right side of the gun is unfortunately marked with white letter warnings, which stand out just a little less prominently on the FDE finish. What does stand out more than it does on the 92A1 are the single and triple dots and select-fire lever at the back of the grips.
The 9mm model, (pictured), actually has many of the same safety warnings on the frame. The Umarex comes so very close that you still have to be impressed despite the white lettering.

The barrel design for the new pistol is not only different with the faux threaded barrel extension, the internal .177 caliber barrel length is also slightly longer and the barrel breech revised to provide improved feeding from the magazine. And those spare magazines are in a matching FDE finish. It’s a very sharp looking combination.

The M9A3 packaging, which is a partitioned cardboard box designed for storing the gun and accessories, also has the gun’s specs on the on the back. It lists velocity at 330 fps, which is 20 fps faster than the factory specs for the older 92A1. The original factory-supplied M9A3 test gun delivered on that promise with an average velocity of 330 fps, a high of 353 fps and a low of 321 fps for 10 rounds. What we will want to see, is if that is the same with the off-the-shelf test gun. Also, another point I’ll be looking at, is the new gun’s POA vs. POI (point of aim vs. point of impact), which on the original test sample was consistently hitting low and left by over 2 inches, but boy did it group tight wherever it hit, with 10 test shots at just 0.65 inches.

From the left side, the M9A3 CO2 model is a handsome looking pistol with clean, authentic Beretta markings and fully functioning controls.

The one feature of this new model I don’t care for is the change to standard ambidextrous thumb safeties, versus the 92A1’s ambidextrous safety/decocker feature that lowered the hammer and returned the gun to double action for the first shot. You can manually decock the M9A3 CO2 model, but it is not the same thing from a safety and handling standpoint. The polymer frame also changes the overall weight of the gun compared to the 92A1’s alloy frame. Interestingly, while lighter than the alloy CO2 model by seven ounces, the polymer-framed Beretta, weighing 31 ounces (empty), is actually much closer to the centerfire model’s carry weight of 33.4 ounces (empty). For authenticity, this one is going to be more like the 9mm in the hand. And the polymer frame is so well done that it almost passes for the FDE alloy frame used on the centerfire M9A3.

The CO2 model is fully filed strippable making it another of the better designs for training and learning handling basics. The matching FDE magazines add the final touch to the M9A3.

In some ways I wish that Umarex had further distinguished this model from the 92A1 and not carried over the select fire mechanism, which has never been a feature of the 92 Series guns, but rather the 93R, which was a different model with a significantly different look and select-fire mechanism. The new M9A3 CO2 model uses the same small lever on the right side of the receiver, just behind the grips, to shift firing from semi-auto to full auto. With the FDE finish it is no longer a subtle detail as it was on the 92A1. I can’t say it isn’t fun to shoot the gun on full auto, but it really doesn’t belong on the M9A3. Consider it a “bonus feature” for otherwise doing an impressive job of duplicating the 9mm model.

The only disappointing change between the 92A1 and M9A3 is not having the safety decocker on the new model. When the safety is set on the 92A1 it de-cocks the gun and puts it back into double action. Setting the safety on the M9A3 leaves the gun cocked and locked. Also notice the difference in the triggerguard shapes, grip angle and flat mainspring housing on the M9A3.

In Part 2 we’ll run comparative velocity tests and begin POA accuracy with the fixed sights to see if there is any improvement. In Part 3 the gun will get extra range testing with the open sights and the addition of a LaserMax Spartan green laser to see just how tight this gun can group.

A word about safety

Blowback action airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and this is one reason why they have become so popular. Airguns in general all look like guns, blowback action models more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.

5 thoughts on “Beretta M9A3 Take 2 Part 1”

  1. I thought the M9A3 was all metal, frame and slide. Looks like I can’t tell the difference anymore.

    This past week I put a LaserMax Spartan Green Laser on my Beretta M92A1 CO2 pistol with the intention to compare it to the M9A3. This weekend is looking a little busy, but I might be able to shoot the M92A1 Sunday and collect some comparative data.

    Apart from external appearance, the M92A1 and M9A3 magazines appear to be identical. The M92A1 magazine fits well in the M9A3, and vice versa, but your comment, “the barrel breech revised to provide improved feeding from the magazine”, gives me some concern about magazine functionality in the opposing gun (i.e. shooting function of M92A1 magazine in the M9A3, and vice versa). It was a test I was planning to do when I get the time which isn’t enough now that I’m back to work from my vacation last week.

    • The polymer frame on the M9A3 is very impressive with the feel and look of an alloy frame. You’re not the only one to be surprised, very hard to tell the difference. I have not swapped mags yet between the 92A1 and M9A3 but will be doing that this week for the articles. I don’t see any physical difference between them. The improvements to the M9A3 feeding design is not, as far as I can determine, involved with magazine fit but rather the design of the firing system nozzle, which if you lock the slides back and look inside is different, but not in how it interacts with the magazine.

  2. Dennis,

    Going back to the Springfield Armory M1, Tom Gaylord reported today that he had some trouble with CO2 cartridges from Crosman and Umarex that fit too tightly in the M1 magazine or did not fit at all.

    Which brand CO2 did you use in your tests for the M1?

    • Tom’s review was less than positive. The poor performance of the mag, leaking and not working with Crosman co2 does not fit well. Hopefully he just got an early production stinker, but Air Venturi will need to look at the mags if it is a problem . Saw a video with Rick Eustler . Did not use Crosman co2/ , but he had no other problems and accuracy was excellent at 30 feet

    • I used Umarex CO2. I had a failure with my first CO2, all leaked out but I believed it was my fault for not turning the seating screw tight enough. Always try not to over tighten. Only happened that once, no issues after that but had a heck of a time getting the failed CO2 cartridge out, had to let it sit awhile until the chamber warmed up, frozen in place from the sudden escape of all the CO2. I didn’t write that up since it never happened again and I thought it was my mistake. Now we will have to see how the next set of tests go with the all wood model and a different magazine, though both Tom and I having the same issue isn’t a good indication.

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