Beretta M9A3 on full auto

Beretta M9A3 on full auto

The other side of the coin

By Dennis Adler

The M9A3 has a duality of purpose. It has proven itself to be one of the most accurate CO2 blowback action air pistols built. It is also one of the most realistic in fit, finish, and handling except for one feature unique to the Umarex 92A1 and M9A3, a selective-fire lever that takes the gun from semi-auto to full-auto operation. This was originally a feature of the 9mm Beretta 93R built from the late 1970s to the early 1990s.

Why is shooting the M9A3 on full auto worth a separate article? Well, the way I see it, switching from semi-auto to full auto is like kicking in the afterburners on a jet or hitting the Nitrous switch on a race car; it’s the ultimate performance. Simply, with the Beretta CO2 model, the select fire control makes the M9A3 capable of doing something most blowback action air pistols can’t. But this isn’t actually as great as I make it sound, and one of the reasons so few pistols offer this feature, either as CO2 models, or in the real world of selective fire handguns. There is, in fact, a very short list of select-fire pistols like the Glock 18 (fully automatic version of the Glock 17), the CZ 75 machine pistol, some rare old H&K VP70Ms (also the first polymer framed semi-autos), and Beretta 93R pistol. The M9A3 and 92A1 CO2 models are the closest BB-firing examples to the 93R. Even more rarified would be the Mauser M712 models from the 1930s, also, as we know, beautifully recreated as a CO2 model today. The issue with select-fire pistols, however, has always been one of accuracy. Full auto is suppressive fire to pin an enemy down, not target shooting. Full auto it is far more effective with a machine pistol at close range. The practicality of automatic fire, originally intended for rifles and machine guns, again was mainly for suppressive (saturation) fire with the intent of hitting a target in the process. At closer ranges, Tommy guns, the German MP40, and various select-fire H&K models, the Uzi, and M16-based carbines for the military and law enforcement, have been much more successful in the field than machine pistols, which also have more limited magazine capacities (the Glock 18 with a small drum magazine being the exception). For airgun enthusiasts, the new M9A3 is the latest select fire pistol, and with its incrementally longer barrel and better sights, it might just be the most accurate full auto CO2 model of the lot. read more


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. read more


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. read more


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. read more


My favorite CO2 air pistol of all time Part 1

My favorite CO2 air pistol of all time Part 1

And what makes it special

By Dennis Adler

The very first Airgun Experience was a tribute to John Wayne’s last film, The Shootist, and the limited edition Umarex Colt Peacemaker hand engraved and custom finished Shootist CO2 model. This was the beginning of an entire series of hand engraved CO2 Peacemakers in 5-1/2 and 7-1/2 inch barrel lengths that would be introduced in Airgun Experience articles.

This marks the 400th Airgun Experience article and over the period from No. 1 to No. 400 so many new CO2 air pistols and rifles have been introduced it becomes difficult to keep them all in comparative categories. The only real defining characteristics are magazine types, blowback or non-blowback actions (and that has to include revolvers), sights, though most are fixed sights of one type or another, and lastly, the quality of the build, fit, and finish. In most cases the differences between blowback and non-blowback semi autos covers all the rest, but not in every case and with today’s choices, that really doesn’t pare down the list all that much. So to start, let’s look back at new models introduced since Airgun Experience No. 1, which started with a new model. read more


First Look: Umarex Beretta M9A3 Part 3

First Look: Umarex Beretta M9A3 Part 3

The civilian market wins when the military takes a pass

By Dennis Adler

The Umarex Beretta models are accurate in size and fit the same holsters as the centerfire pistols; however, the different triggerguard designs dictate different holsters. The new M9A3 with the squared off triggerguard requires holsters for that contour such as the minimalist design Galco Yaqui Slide Belt Holster. This allows most effective concealed carry for the full-sized pistol (outside of an IWB rig) but much less retention than a full size holster or one with a thumb break safety strap.

The differences between the 92A1 and M9A3 as discussed in Part 2 can be categorized in one of two ways, first, exterior changes to duplicate improvements in the 9mm model’s design and operation, and secondly those made to the CO2 pistol either as improvements or changes in manufacturing. The latter is seldom the goal as retaining as many parts of the original mechanical design as possible is the most cost effective when upgrading an existing pistol. With the Umarex Beretta models there is one mechanical or manufacturing change that is quite evident, the new barrel breech on the M9A3. This is actually more than just the interface of the barrel breech with the CO2 firing mechanism. That part is also different on the M9A3. From a purely functional aspect the 92A1 firing CO2 delivery system is a plunger that comes forward and with a lug on the underside strips the next BB in the magazine and chambers it as the plunger extends into the back of the barrel breech. The face of the plunger sits flush with the barrel breech. Secondly, when the slide retracts, either manually or recoiling from being fired, the plunger snaps back into the firing mechanism under the slide, and then extends forward as the slide closes. This is something you can see by simply looking down on the top of the slide and pulling it back an inch. The plunger will snap back. read more


First Look: Umarex Beretta M9A3 Part 2

First Look: Umarex Beretta M9A3 Part 2

The civilian market wins when the military takes a pass

By Dennis Adler

Generally, a new gun replaces an older version, but this has not been the case with Glock which still produces five different generations of pistols separated by features and pricing. Walther has done the same with the PPS and PPS M2, as both models remain in production, and Beretta will continue selling the 92FS, 92A1 and new M9A3. It is fitting then, that Umarex has done the same with the PPS and PPS M2 CO2 models, perhaps setting the precedent for keeping both the 92A1 and M9A3 in the lineup. The M9A3 should be available by spring.

Glock tried to win the MHS trials with an upgraded G19, the G19X, Beretta had upgraded the M9A1 to the M9A3 before the trials began and was out of the competition almost before it started. The M9A3, as a civilian gun, is in all aspects a better, stronger latter generation Model 92FS. Translating everything Beretta designed into the improved 9mm semi-auto to a CO2-powered blowback action air pistol is actually more than different colors, it is, for the most part, a new gun that looks a lot like the old one, but is much more. The closest example to this kind of design change is the Walther PPS and PPS M2. The 9mm guns have their CO2 counterparts as well, and as I pointed out in reviewing the PPS M2 in Airgun Experience, the gun may have been the same platform but a totally different gun in most respects. This is true of the 92A1 vs. the new M9A3 CO2 models. read more