Call me old-fashioned, boring, or even predictable, but my favorite gun has to be the trusty Beretta M9. Adopted by the Armed Forces in 1985, and still used to this day, the Beretta has been my weapon of choice ever since I joined the military in 2008. I still remember my first time shooting it at the range in boot camp and achieving a score of 222 points (just a bit short of expert and also my highest score ever).
There are several reasons why I like the Beretta M9. I like that the recoil is very short, and if you use the appropriate stance, you’ll pretty much always hit your target. It’s lightweight, and the sights are easy to aim with. Normally, the Beretta M9 uses a 15-round magazine, but the M9A3 upgrade comes with a 17-round one. It’s got an effective range of 50 to 100 meters, which is decent for its intended purpose of close-range combat.
One of my favorite features, though, is that the M9 has an ambidextrous external safety mechanism. Normally, I am right-handed, but I tend to shoot with my left hand because I’m left eye dominant (especially with rifles and shotguns). The ability to flick the safety switch with any hand, plus a reversible magazine release button that can accommodate ambidexterity, makes the M9 perfect for shooters like me.
There are other features that make it a great weapon of choice:
- It’s easy to maintain due to the interchangeability of all the parts.
- The barrel is hard chromed in order to prevent corrosion or wear and tear.
- It features a Bruniton coating on the slide to prevent corrosion.
- A recurved forward base helps with aiming.
- A large hammer pin fits perfectly into the underside of the slide and prevents it from sliding off the frame if it ever cracked.
- It comes with numerous safety features, like a firing pin block that prevents it from firing unless the trigger is pulled.
- A rotating firing pin striker prevents it from being hit if the hammer ever fell.
Despite these features, I didn’t really start to appreciate the gun until I reached my second command. You see, I spent many long days standing guard duty with the M9 by my side. As a part of the Auxiliary Security Forces (ASF) in Ventura County, the Beretta kept me company through many long hours of watch. Now, I’d like to mention that the auxiliary forces don’t see themselves apprehending criminals or getting into firefights very often. Furthermore, sailors aren’t the most combat-oriented branch of the United States military.
Taking that a step further, I’m not even a military policeman. Therefore, I have zero experience in the field of apprehending perpetrators at gunpoint. But, as a member of security, whenever an alarm went off inside the base, it meant going in while packing heat and potentially having to engage in the use of deadly force.
I will never forget the first time I had to investigate a building; to this day, it still terrifies me. One day, a radio call notified my patrol unit that a silent alarm had gone off on one of the nearby buildings, and we were dispatched to investigate. I had never done anything similar before, and after so many nights of peace and quiet, I honestly thought it would never happen.
But there I was, young, inexperienced, and storming an office with my pistol drawn, knowing that there could be a perpetrator trying to steal government secrets inside the building. Needless to say, my nerves were shot! I didn’t know what to do. I barely knew what I was doing to begin with. ASF training did cover the topics of storming into buildings and apprehending criminals, but not how to do both at the same time!
I knew how to respond to an assault with a baton: I could tell the perpetrators to stop, and if they resisted, then I could use appropriate force. That was the easy part. But what if I had to shoot them? I didn’t know how I would react, much less how they would (and what if they were armed too?) But, I gathered myself and followed my partner inside.
The building in question was a hangar bay, and the alarm was set off on the port side of the place. This meant we had to search two large corridors, one on the upper level and one on the lower. We started from the top. I was keeping watch from behind and my partner kept his eyes on the front as we went up the stairs.
Once we reached the second floor, my breathing started to get heavy as my hair stood on edge. I have no idea why I became so nervous, but I like to think it was simply inexperience. The floor in question was a long hallway of doors, perfect for hiding inside and ambushing someone. My partner took the left side, and I took the right. We took turns quietly opening doors in an alternating fashion in order to keep each other safe. I remember how we held our flashlights underneath the barrel of our pistols as we illuminated each of the rooms, hoping to blind any intruders and catch them by surprise. But as we explored each room and got closer and closer to the end of the hallway, we still hadn’t found anything.
I remember that the scariest room was the bathroom. There was a feeling of abject terror in my heart as I pushed the door open and walked inside to find… nothing. There was nothing except silence and darkness. I was so nerve-wracked that I didn’t even turn on the lights while searching the room. The worst part had to be exploring each of the toilet stalls; in my mind, something was about to pop out and attack me. It’s such a cliché, but I knew I had to shoot first to avoid it. Every fiber in my being was screaming that I was in danger. However, it turned out that I wasn’t. My imagination was just acting up.
These days, I realize that perhaps I’d watched too many movies or played too many video games. I probably just suffered a mild anxiety attack that day. After exploring each of the remaining rooms, we went down and repeated the same procedure on the bottom floor, eventually concluding that it was either a false alarm or that the intruder had already left the building.
It was the scariest “nothing happened” story of my life. I was glad that I had my trusty Beretta M9 with me, and I knew that I could fight off any potential zombies infesting the building.
There were two other occasions that were similar to the one I just described. One was outside a specific building whose alarm went off because someone left the chain-link fence unsecured during a windy day. The other occurred inside my own workspace, which was familiar territory and would have given me an upper hand if anyone had been there. Funny enough, during that last one, a fellow ASF member ended up tackling a friend of mine because he thought he was an intruder. (He was actually working overtime, but we didn’t know that.)
The experiences I’ve shared above actually helped me build a bond of trust with the Beretta M9. I felt a lot safer knowing that I could defend myself from any potential attack. My intention was never to harm anyone though. Given the choice, I will use anything other than deadly force to apprehend a subject. But since the Beretta and I spent so much time together during my military career, it grew on me and eventually became my favorite handgun.
I’ve shot plenty of other pistols and revolvers, and other types of handguns as well, but I still prefer the Beretta M9. It might not be the most luxurious or illustrious gun in the world, but it’s certainly a good one. And while it doesn’t have the stopping power of a Desert Eagle or a standard revolver, it does its job well and is reliable, especially when you’re back in the States and not out in the desert, where maintaining a gun is a lot harder. I enjoyed my time playing “pretend cop” with the Auxiliary Security Forces, and my experiences gave me a lot of insight into the mind of a policeman. It’s a scary world, and knowing that you’re protecting your government/country with your life can be downright terrifying. But whenever I have found myself in such a situation, I knew I could rely on my trusted sidearm and instincts.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.