Beretta M9A3 Take 2 Part 3

Beretta M9A3 Take 2 Part 3

Out of the box testing

By Dennis Adler

Perfect fit for a Galco belt holster makes the new Umarex Beretta M9A3 a good training gun for carrying the real deal. Mag pouches also work with the matching FDE CO2 BB magazines.

Air pistol design and manufacturing has advanced, by modest comparison, in the way that technology in laptops, tablets and smart phones has advanced in the past several years. Like I said a “modest” comparison, but look at the M9A3 compared to the 92A1. Only four years separate these two Umarex blowback action pistols, and they share many of the same features, but where they differ is significant enough to make the M9A3 a totally new generation of Beretta CO2 pistol, a gun closer to the new HK USP, Glock 17, and Springfield XDM 4.5 in design fit, finish, and overall performance, than the four-year old 92A1.

Learning to carry a full size pistol is not for everyone but the Beretta is a fairly narrow gun so the CO2 model copying its dimensions reinforces its capability for training. With the dual mag pouch on my left side and the M9A3 CO2 models holstered, I can go through very accurate training exercises with proper weight, balance in the hand, and trigger control fired double action for the first shot or cocked and locked for a single action first shot.

A perfect fit in the holster and yes, the tall front sight easily clears the bottom of the Galco Quick Slide which has a molded front sight channel for a smooth, unimpeded draw. As a very lightweight leather rig it is ideal for CCW use but offers no added retention of the gun other than the contoured pouch. Both spare mags were easy to carry in the double mag pouch and are well concealed by the coat when not pushed open.

There are holsters for the M9A3 (since the centerfire model has been out a few years) and they fit the CO2 version. Adding a laser sight does complicate things (in terms of affordable holsters for the CO2 model) but it will fit a typical nylon tactical holster with a laser mounted on the rail. As a training gun the M9A3 scores all good points since it so closely duplicates all of the 9mm model features. You may recall that in Part 2, I mentioned that the newer white dot sights are easier to pick up. They are noticeably different than the smaller, lower white dots on the older Beretta models, and at least for me, I find them quicker to acquire when drawing and aiming. And so on that thought we return to the 21 foot test range and begin correcting POA from test 1 to see if the gun can print another 0.68 inch group, but this time all in the bullseye.

The gun draws fast and, as I have mentioned, the new sights make it quicker to get a lock on target. Since I had eye surgery last fall, I have been training to use my right eye for sighting (as I am left eye dominant) and it is working pretty well. The surgery has given me just slightly sharper 20/20 vision in my right eye.

Just like the real thing, when the slide locks back, drop the empty, which is pretty easy with the oversized mag release on the grip frame, and load up a fresh 18 rounds. This gun allows consistent practice for reloading and tactical reload training.

With an added red dot placed 1.5 inches above the center of the bullseye as a POA for a 6 o’ clock hold, 10 shots still came in a little low of center but grouped into 0.87 inches with a best 5-shot group at 0.44 inches with three overlapping at the bottom. This was approximately 40 total shots with the first CO2 (some shots were used during the photo session as well as chronographing) and the air was not giving the slide as much push as earlier so I changed to a fresh CO2. I shot another test target at 21 feet with my hold on a red dot placed just a little higher than the last one. I didn’t do quite as well this time with a best center bullseye group measuring 1.43 inches for 10 shots with one flyer low right, that opened up an otherwise tight 9-shot group at 1.0 inches and a best 5-rounds at 0.5 inches with three overlapping. Sounds funny to complain about a 0.5 inch 5-shot group but the gun can do better than that at 21 feet.

For added measure, the longer Mil-Std. 1913 Picatinny rail on the M9A3 allows you to mount a small laser like the LaserMax Spartan green all the way back so it is easy to reach the ambidextrous activation paddles with the trigger finger.

With the laser mounted, your holster options are less but the gun and laser do fit perfectly in typical nylon mesh tactical holsters, whether attached to a tactical vest or used as a thigh or waist holster. The spare magazines also fit in the integral holster mag pouch.

I shot one target with the laser to see how tight the gun could shoot. I have to tell you I have laser sighting issues, so I’m not the best candidate for this. Last year I had cataract surgery which restored my vision to 20/20 (the reason you don’t see me in anything these days but shooting glasses when necessary), but the downside is that with the corrected lenses in my eyes I no longer see a pinpoint of light with a laser, rather a small starburst, so I may bee it dead center on the target but I cold be off my a fraction of an inch as to where the laser id actually pinpointing. This happened with my M9A3 test target, a tight 10-shot group but all off to the right of center. Still the total spread measured 0.875 inches and a best 5-shot group at 0.45 inches, with four overlapping.

With correcting POA up by about an inch over center (using an extra red dot for sighting) the gun delivered tight groups at 21 feet but still a little low.

Correcting POA a bit higher (red dot) I started putting everything into the center except for an occasion flyer (me, not the gun) which still gave me tight groups at 21 feet and best 5-shot groups at 0.5 inches or less.

I have a little trouble pinpointing lasers (after cataract surgery last year) so I’m never 100 percent sure where the dot is as I don’t see it as a dot but rather a starburst. At 21 feet I know I’m hitting the bullseye just not exactly where in the bullseye. I put 10 rounds a little right of center with a best 5-shot group at 0.45 inches.

The takeaway

As blowback action CO2 models go, the new Beretta M9A3 is the most accurate at 21 feet. Yes, you have to correct POA so it is somewhat less than perfect, but with practice, this CO2 pistol will have you consistently shooting sub 0.5 inch groups off hand. If that’s not an airgun experience, I don’t know what is.

Next week one last pass at the M9A3 on full auto!

One thought on “Beretta M9A3 Take 2 Part 3

  1. I had a tendency to not see red laser dots as well against orange and red bulls eyes, so I switched to green laser light with the LaserMax Spartan. I generally use a UTG Deluxe Commando belt holster, and the M9A3 with the LaserMax Spartan fits in it every bit as well as it does without the laser. I sighted in the LaserMax Spartan Green laser so that with the green laser dot resting just on top of the front sight and an aim point at center of the bulls eye my shots hit mostly within the center 2″ of the bulls eye. Below are pictures of two of my shot groups. Shooting Black Diamond bench rested at 18 feet produced a 10 shot group of 1.25 inches with 9 of 10 in a 0.97 inch group. Shooting Daisy Premium off hand standing at 18 feet produced a 10 shot group of 1.75 inches with 7 out of 10 in a 1.00 inch group.


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