Beretta M9A3 Take 2 Part 1
Out of the box testing
By Dennis Adler
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.
Recapping the original test results
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 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.
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.
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.
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.