Beretta has been in the business of satisfying the demands of military and civilian firearms customers for almost 500 years. That is a long time for a family-owned business, or any business for that matter. Firearms design has certainly changed over the years, and Beretta has not only kept up but has also been a leader in innovation. So it was hardly a surprise when Beretta won what may be considered the most coveted handgun purchasing contract in the world: In 1985, the U.S. military selected the Beretta 92 as its new official sidearm, renaming it the M9 and replacing its venerable .45-caliber Model 1911.
The original M9 eventually gave way to the M9A1 as the result of our military’s experiences in the rough and sandy terrain of Iraq and Afghanistan and requests from the Marine Corps for more modern features to meet mission-critical needs. The most significant change, at least externally, was a Mil-Std-1913 (Picatinny) rail integral with the frame. However, both the M9 and M9A1 remained full-sized guns.
Just as there is a compact version of the Officer’s Model 1911, there is a now a compact variant of the M9A1—the new Beretta 92FS Compact.
This short-recoil, semi-automatic pistol comes standard with a 13-round magazine and uses the traditional hammer-fired, double-action/single-action (DA/SA) method of operation. It has an “Inox” finish, which is just a nice way of saying stainless steel, and both the barrel and slide are stainless with a matte finish.
The external-hammer design offers several distinct advantages. First, the single-action or double-action condition of the hammer is immediately and clearly visible to the shooter. Also, the hammer falls on the firing pin with authority, helping to ensure primer ignition and avoid light strikes. This also means the pistol has an easy second-strike capability, which is valuable when a hard-primer or other malfunction prevents primer ignition.