Beretta M9A3 Take 2 Part 2
Out of the box testing
By Dennis Adler
The Umarex Beretta 92A1 has been among the best blowback action CO2 pistols since its introduction, and while it has been surpassed for overall authenticity by a few newer guns, it has never lost its appeal as a very interesting take on the military M9 pistol design. The M9A3 was intended to succeed it as the standard issue U.S. military sidearm, but that never happened and the M9A3 became the latest civilian model instead. As a CO2 pistol it is fairly quick on the scene, and like its centerfire counterpart, neither replacing nor duplicating the 92A1. For the air pistol there is one exception, using the same select fire mechanism. The M9A3 CO2 model is otherwise a generation ahead of the 92A1. Aside from the obvious changes shown in the original gun test and noted in Part 1 of this follow up review, there is the revision of the barrel breech to provide improved feeding from the magazine. So we will start with that change, and how well older and newer magazines work in the M9A3.
The barrel breech in the 92A1 is flat and faces the magazine in line with the top BB in the column. The design of the M9A3 barrel has a cutout at the top of the barrel breech that locks into the firing mechanism’s air funnel creating a tighter seal. The funnel on the M9A3 is always extended forward, while the funnel on the 92A1 retracts when the slide is locked back. As far as the magazines are concerned, they are not part of the change, although there is a slight difference in the design of the FDE magazine. The tighter fit of the funnel to the barrel breech likely accounts for the 20 plus fps increase in velocity between the 92A1 and M9A3 since the magazines remain interchangeable. However with FDE magazines available, there is no need to use an older black magazine unless you have several of them and want to save buying extra FDE mags.
For this updated test I am using a brand new Umarex 92A1 (not my old one from 2015) so both guns are equally new. First up is comparative average velocity. The 92A1 box, which is now the same style as the M9A3 box, lists factory velocity at 310 fps, compared to the M9A3 box, which lists velocity at 330 fps.
With a fresh CO2 and Umarex steel BBs, the 92A1 delivered 10 shots (fired at 15 second intervals) at an average of 301 fps with a high of 311 fps, a low of 298 fps and a standard deviation of 4 fps. The M9A3 sent the Umarex steel downrange at a sizzling average of 350 fps (20 fps over the factory listed velocity) with a high of 357 fps (with seven of 10 rounds at speeds of 350 fps or better), a low of 348 fps, and a standard deviation of 8 fps for 10 shots. Clearly, the new M9A3 can sling steel at a much higher velocity than the 92A1. As the Marines would say, “Oorah” for the M9A3.
What about older magazines in the new gun? I ran a second velocity test with the 92A1 mag in the M9A3. Both mags were down by 10 shots, so it should be pretty equal in CO2 for the 92A1 mag in the new Beretta model. My 10 shots through the ProChrono chronograph screens averaged 350 fps or better. Mag swap approved.
There is a lineage to the 92 Series Berettas that goes all the way back to 1976 and the Model 92 First Series, a gun that looks similar to today’s Berettas but is comparatively primitive to the 92A1 and M9A3. There have been more than 40 variations of the 92 Series produced by Beretta in the past 43 years, including the M9A3, first introduced in 2016.
Downrange Take 2
The sample gun from the original M9A3 test consistently shot low and left. The sights, while much improved over the 92A1, and faster to pick up, are still fixed. The question is whether this off-the-shelf production gun has the same POA tendencies as the test sample. To wrap up this part, I’m going to run 10 rounds through the gun at 21 feet aiming at the bottom of the large red bullseye on a Shoot-N-C target and see how this one shoots. We already know it shoots faster, but does it shoot better? My 10-shot group hit 1.5 inches below POA and almost dead center, which is noticeably better than the first gun, and like the first test gun this one grouped tight with nine of 10 inside 0.68 inches and a total 10-round spread of 1.5 inches with my one flyer that hit just a little high, and I’m going to absolutely say that was me and not the gun.
In Part 3 I’ll begin correcting POA and then run a final series with the LaserMax Spartan green laser.