M9 MM, My Experience
The M9 MM is a relatively new addition to the Marine Corps weapons family. Officially the 9MM was adopted in 1982, but the Fleet Marine Force did not see this weapon until much later. I personally did not work with this pistol until late 1989, when I was training as a Marine Security Guard at Marine Corps Security Forces Battalion, Mare Island, Vallejo, California.
I was not all that enthused about the introduction of this new pistol. Like an old dog, I was not really interested in any new tricks. I liked the perceived power one feels when firing the .45 automatic. I believed the knockdown power of the .45 was more then enough to take care of any problems I ran into. I later found out that the M9 MM was brought into the Marine Corps to create more uniformity throughout the US Military and NATO, and that I understand. So, good ideas being what they are, this weapon was added to the inventory and has maintained it place in our armories.
Dodge Pistol Range
Annual qualification on the pistol Range at Camp Dodge, Des Moines, IA.
Not all Marines qualify with the pistol. Typically, SNCOs and Officers, as well as a bulk of Weapons platoon, are required to qualify with the pistol.
This M9 MM holds 15 rounds when fully charged. I like the higher capacity, however, I have often joked that it takes 15 rounds to compensate for the power of the .45. I only say that in jest because I firmly believe that any handgun, placed in the hands of an expert or fool, can kill with equal ability. Again, I don’t get into ballistics much, but I don’t see any advantage of using the M9 MM over the .45 as a defensive weapon. Preference is an entirely different matter. What you prefer to carry and what you are skilled at handling is the best weapon for you, weather it be a 9 MM, a .45 or some .38 caliber revolver.
On Rappel! Mountain Warfare Training
Another opportunity for a lanyard would be during rappelling or climbing. E Company 2/24 in Bridgeport, CA during Mountain Warfare Training.
I am very comfortable with this weapon, as are many Marines. I find that is it just as versatile as the .45, working well in all climates and weather conditions. It is simple to shoot, easy to clean and takes the rough and tumble handling that Marines tend to put any piece of gear through. I have qualified expert with this pistol several times, although the first few times I fired this weapon, I had much less skill then I posses now and came away with a whopping pizza box-the lowest pistol award level in the Marine Corps.
Opportunities for Improvement
The major issues I have with this weapon are the holster, lanyard and the grips. The holster is standard Marine Corps issue, and ever since I have carried this weapon, I have been trying to find a holster that is secure, easy to draw from and comfortable. Those three things do not seem to exist in the same holster. The lanyard is a nuisance in general. We refer to it as a “Dummy Cord” used to keep us from losing the weapon. The grips are just not what I would prefer, however for a general purpose weapon that will go through potentially thousands of hands, it meet the needs of the Marine Corps.
If I have to be Marine Corps “Standard”, I use the green thing that is issued with the pistol. However, I actually purchased my own standard holster so I can loosen it up, making it more comfortable to wear. For field use, I have a shoulder holster that keeps the weapon secure and out of the way while I am training, however, I dislike drawing from this holster, so I use it as little as possible. My final holster configuration is merely an attachment that gives me more of an old west appearance than that of a Marine. It is a drop attachment that allows me to place the holster on my thigh, and right at my finger tips. This configuration comes with a tie-down strap that allow me to keep the holster strapped to my thigh, so it does not bounce or bang around when I run or roll. I like this holster the best. It stays out of the way when I wear full gear (even with a pack on) and allows me to draw in a smooth motion when necessary. The only drawback to this set up is that the holster I use with it is the Marine Corps “standard”. Although I have it broken in to where it is easy to draw, I would still prefer a holster that allows the withdrawal of the pistol from the holster without the “lift flap, pull handle” motion. Some sort of quick draw, tare-away type holster would be great! If you have any ideas feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
The lanyard is a great idea, but its also a pain in the ass. Depending on the additional gear a Marine has to wear, the lanyard is not to anyone’s advantage; it is restrictive and irritating. I realize the purpose of the lanyard is to retain the weapon when the Marine does not, but before I reform my opinion, I would like to see the report stating the number of lost pistols in any given year, and how the lanyard would have prevented that loss. There are times when a lanyard would be a great idea. I would encourage Marines working in boat teams, hitting the beach in a Mike Boat, or crossing rivers and large streams, to use this as an additional safety device, stowing it in the ass pack once that danger is past. No other use comes to mind.
The grip of the M9 MM is all-purpose, metallic etching. I prefer a grip that I can hang onto better, especially in situations where my hands are wet, or oily. I understand that there would be an increase in the overall cost to the weapon if temporary grips were introduced, and perhaps this is the only factor that stops the Marine Corps from enhancing the weapon. I have small hands, and when my hands are slippery the weapon tends to shift positions too easily. Re-affirming your grip between shots in one thing, but I feel like I can not maintain the weapon as effectively as I would prefer.
M9 MM Nomenclature
The M9 service pistol is a semiautomatic, magazine-fed, recoil operated, double action pistol.
The characteristics of the M9 mm Service pistol
Builder: Beretta and Beretta USA
Length: 8.54 inches (21.69 centimeters)
Width: 1.50 inches (3.81 centimeters)
Height: 5.51 inches (14 centimeters)
Barrel length: 4.92 inches (12.5 centimeters)
Weight fully loaded: 2.55 pounds (1.16 kilograms)
Bore diameter: 9mm (approximately .355 inches)
Maximum effective range: 152.5 feet (50 meters)
Magazine capacity: 15 rounds
Muzzle velocity: 1200 feet (365 meters) per second
Unit Replacement Cost: $263
Marine Corps Inventory: 82,000
The Marine Corps M9 MM Qualification Course
M9 mm Beretta Picture:
Beretta. “Full Size Defensive Pistol.” <http://www.Beretta.com>. 14 January 2002.
Federation of American Scientists (FAS). “M9 9 mm Beretta Pistol / Personal Defense Weapon.” <http://www.FAS.org >. January 20, 1999
Mike Boat picture
CNN. “Kosovo refugees getting ready to pick up the pieces.” <http://www.CNN.com>.John Christensen, June 11, 1999
Dodge Range photo courtesy of Chief Skrdlant P.W.