Beretta M9A3 Take 2 Part 2

Beretta M9A3 Take 2 Part 2

Out of the box testing

By Dennis Adler

The newest 92A1 models come in a box very similar to the new M9A3 (a slightly longer gun) and both share the same basic features, though the M9A3 is considerably different in its overall design, which goes far beyond the color scheme.

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 slightly longer barrel combined with an improved firing system has given the M9A3 superior velocity and accuracy over the 92A1. The pistol feels different in the hand, the sights easier to acquire and get on target and the action a little more robust in feel. This is perhaps partly attributable to the M9A3 being almost half a pound lighter.

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.

The modifications are subtle but the barrel breech on the M9A3 is quite different from the 92A1. There is a notch in the top of the M9A3 barrel that locks into a post on the top of the CO2 nozzle. It also does not retract under the slide when it is locked open like the nozzle on the 92A1, which is why you can’t see it, but it looks about the same.

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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 magazines inserted you can see a difference in how it aligns with the barrel breech. The underside of the nozzle on both guns has a post that drives the BB into the chamber as the slide closes. It is how the barrel and nozzle lock up that is different. Does this account for the significant increase in velocity? I have nothing to make that assumption but the chronograph results. A discussion with Umarex is forthcoming to better understand the noteworthy improvement in performance and accuracy.

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.

With an improved firing system the first question is will the older magazines work in the new gun? Aside from color, they are the exact same self-contained CO2 BB magazine. All of the changes are in the gun and the magazines are totally interchangeable. What is notable is that the same magazine from the 92A1 with the same Umarex .177 caliber steel BBs when fired in the M9A3 showed an increase in velocity of more than 50 fps.

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.

Ah, accuracy, that is still the bigger question. With a 6 o’clock hold at the bottom of the large red bullseye the gun shot close to center but 1.5 inches low. Except for my one shot that hit a little high, the nine remaining rounds grouped into 0.68 inches with overlapping hits that would put five shots at 0.35 inches. This gun just out shot the Tanfoglio Gold Custom.

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.

9 thoughts on “Beretta M9A3 Take 2 Part 2”

  1. Seems like this is the newer and improved model. Centered tight groups and higher velocity. Not sure why most airgun manufacturers are so resistant to adjustable sights. Agree that if they keep the select fire option they should do a 93R, with extended 25 round mag

    • I would have to say that it is because of costs and manufacturing. The process for molding in parts has become so sophisticated that it is hard to tell if something is a separate piece or just beautifully sculpted to look like it is. The art of casting parts is far superior to what it was just a few years ago. I for one would be willing to pay a little more for the same gun with a true dovetailed sight with a set screw that would allow drifting the rear sight left or right to correct windage. As for elevation, you would need interchangeable front sights of different heights (could include three in a kit) but all of these steps would increase both manufacturing and assembly time and the wholesale/retail cost. On the whole, most consumers will learn to hold over or under and correct POA than spend more money. The other answer would be a second target version with an adjustable rear sight, but that is only good if it can be lowered enough as well as raised to correct elevation. Those on some air pistols currently available cannot be lowered enough to sufficiently correct elevation. As for the 93R, heck, I’ve been asking for that since 2015!

      • Replica airgun shooters are a more discerning lot and I believe would pay extra for adjustable or interchangeable front sights. A replica that is ofc by inches is not enjoyable. Picked up a Sig 236 x series pistol with adjustable sights. Out of the box hit the lower rt hand corner of target , but due to the sights was able to zero in. Of the dozen or so Peacemakers I own only one did not shoot to point of aim. Same with 1911 and Schofield. Others like Swiss Arms 92 way off. The big surprise was the Umarex PO8. One of the most accurate dead on pistols I own.

  2. I just received an interesting email from Sig Sauer. It’s a new product announcement for RX Slides for the Sig P226, P229, P320C, and P320F firearms. According to the pictures, these slides already have the reflex dot sight built in to the slide. I wonder if these slides might fit the P226 and P320 airguns? The downside is it would be a pricey upgrade at $399 per slide.

    • The P226 and P320 do not field strip and if you could disassemble them (obviously they can be since they were assembled in the first place), it is highly unlikely a centerfire pistol slide would fit. I do know that by this summer Sig Sauer will have available a replacement rear sight panel for the M17 with an optics mount, maybe even a lower-priced RX design for the air pistol. But for now we have to wait and see. I just got word that the P365 CO2 model will be available this summer as well and we will have to see where that model goes. It will be a BB pistol like the WTP, so it should be an excellent blowback action model, and the first practical micro-compact CCW air pistol with a self-contained CO2 BB magazine.

  3. Is the front sight a moveable dovetailed sight? To bring up point of aim could paint a white dot lower on front sight to bring up point of impact. If the front is dovetailed , sight could either be replaced or removed and filed down

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