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battle of the berettas

Beretta M9A1 vs Beretta 92A1: Is One Better? Is There Even A Difference?

If you're looking for a big double-stack but won't have a darn thing to do with tactical Tupperware, two guns you might wind up considering are the Beretta 92A1 vs. M9A1. You might further ponder just what the heck the difference actually is...and if it's worth paying for.

The answer?

There are some differences, but they're subtle; there's nothing overwhelmingly different about one compared to the other. However, the differences that are there might add up for some people.

Beretta 92A1 Is Actually A Detuned 96

beretta 92a1

What you don't know from looking at the two pistols is that the Beretta 92A1 is not an upgraded trim level of the Beretta 92FS, Beretta's classic Wonder Nine. It's actually a toned-down Beretta 96.


The Beretta 96 is a Beretta 92 that's been overbuilt a bit in order to accommodate the .40 S&W round instead of 9mm Parabellum, the typical chambering. If you were to look at the internals of the slide, you'd see a buffer in the frame (it'll run +P without issue) and a thicker nose in the 92A1 compared to the 92FS or the M9 family. Essentially, a Beretta 96A1 converted to 9mm.

Another difference from the standard 92FS is the 92A1 is railed, with a Picatinny rail machined into the dust cover. It has a fully rounded trigger guard in lieu of the classic Beretta trigger guard shape and comes with white 3-dot sights as standard, though you can swap them for night sights or fiber optics as both front and rear sights are dovetailed. The recoil spring, for those who get hung up on this aspect, is fully captured.

As for the measurements, you get 4.9 inches of falling-block barrel. The gun stands 5.4 inches tall, 8.5 inches long and 1.5 inches wide, weighing 33.3 ounces unloaded...but then again you knew this thing was a brick. One of the party pieces is that it accepts 17-round magazines, two more than the standard 92.

So...it's big, it's bulky, but it capacity is substantial, the gun is if anything overbuilt. This is a gun you can count on to save your bacon, anywhere and everywhere, all day every day, with a bit of care. MSRP is $775, which isn't terrible considering this gun will probably last the rest of your life.

Beretta M9A1: Marine Corps Cooked Up A Classic

beretta m9a1

The Beretta M9A1 is an upgraded Beretta M9. The upgrade came about after the US Marine Corps found a number of shortcomings with the standard issue M9 and told Beretta what they'd like changed.

First was adding a mil-standard Picatinny rail, with a longitudinal channel cut through the middle of the rail. The magazine well is beveled, for more reliable reloads. The frontstrap and backstrap of the grips are checkered, for a better grip, and a thinner trigger guard for easier one-handed operation.

Sights are three dot, and the controls are ambidextrous decocking safety levers. The standard magazines are coated with physical vapor deposits (PVD) for more reliable operation in desert environments, though the M9A1 ships with 15-round boxes rather than 17. The M9A3, however, does come with the 17-round magazines. The recoil spring is not, however, fully captured.

The tale of the tape? The only differences are the M9A1 weighs 33.9 ounces, and lists for $750 MSRP. Otherwise, everything else is the same.

Beretta 92A1 vs M9A1: Do The Differences Matter That Much?

beretta m9a1 vs 92a1

There are only a few differences between the Beretta 92A1 vs M9A1. First, the 92A1 is built a little thicker in places. The 92A1 has a rounded trigger guard, almost reminiscent of the 1911. The M9A1 has the classic Beretta trigger guard, albeit a touch thinner.

The rail on the 92A1 is different, in that it doesn't have the longitudinal channel through the middle of the rail. The 92A1 lacks the beveled magazine well and ships with 17-round magazines. The M9A1, however, has more aggressive grip texturing. You can upgrade front and rear sights on the 92A1, but only the rear sights on the M9A1 without needing a machine shop.

So, nothing incredibly significant. What would the better gun be, though? It depends on what you intend to do with it.

Thing about the 92 platform is that it isn't the best carry gun compared to most other popular pistols for that purpose like, say, a Glock 19 or M&P Shield. You can, of course, and some do...but most people wouldn't. Really, a person gets a 92-platform pistol as a home defense gun, truck gun or something like that. Either gun will excel. They are accurate, they are reliable and plenty of people have and currently do bet their lives on them.

That said, the 92A1 has a bit more in terms of features. If you're the sort that upgrades sights as a matter of course...it's the gun for you, but carry holsters will be a little rarer because of the rounded trigger guard. Either way...you get an absolute hoss of a gun.

Have you shot these firearms? What did you like, and what didn't you?
Let us know in the comments below!

About The Author

Writer sam hoober