Today American Rifleman‘s Mark Keefe is at Beretta USA in Accokeek, Md., doing something that no sitting governor of the state of Maryland has done: visit the plant that has manufactured the M9 pistol that has served the United States military since the 1980s.*
The point of today’s visit is to get a full briefing on the M9A3 pistol. As part of its current contract, Beretta submitted an Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) to its current contract the company calls the M9A3, which fulfilled many of the requirements set out for the looming Modular Handgun project. While at present it is uncertain if the Army is terribly interested in an upgraded version of the M9, many civilian shooters most assuredly are. Changes in the new gun include a threaded muzzle with a protector, new thinner wrap-around grips, and sites that are dovetailed front and rear. There are also some small internal changes that Beretta says will reduce the cost of the pistol.
When Beretta won the trial for the gun that became the M9 pistol, many observers were surprised. After all, the M9 replaced the venerable M1911, the John Moses Browning design that served the U.S. military for more than 70 years. The M1911 is still one of the most iconic handguns in history.
But now the M9 has served the U.S. military for three decades. Although some early guns came from Beretta’s plant in Italy, the vast majority of M9s have come from Beretta’s Accokeek, Md., manufacturing plant. But that era is coming to a close. As reported in “Anatomy of a Move,” Beretta is moving all of its manufacturing operations to a brand-new manufacturing facility in Gallatin, Tenn. The legislative climate in Maryland has not only been hostile to firearms freedom but also firearms manufacture.
The machines that have made the M9, and many of the workers who made them, are also moving to Tennessee. It is the end of an era for gun manufacturing in Maryland. But it is the start of a new chapter for a company that is been making guns since 1526.
Some corporate offices for Beretta will remain in Accokeek. That facility is the headquarters for Benelli and Stoeger in the United States. Those brands continue to expand in the U.S. But the manufacturing jobs, the jobs that are so important to the American economy, are moving. Those jobs are moving to a state that legislators say respect the Second Amendment.
*For the record, Maryland’s newly elected Gov. Larry Hogan visited the Beretta plant in May of 2014 as a candidate (the first gubernatorial candidate to do so), and made an official statement in late July after Beretta announced its plans to relocate to Tennessee. It read in part:
“I am saddened to learn that the hard working women and men I met at Beretta’s factory in Accokeek in May will now lose their jobs as a direct result of the O’Malley-Brown administration’s high taxes and punitive regulations.
The dedicated workers at Beretta’s Accokeek factory proudly manufactured the primary sidearm carried by our nation’s servicemen and women around the world. The loss of these several hundred jobs will tear through the local community, as millions of dollars in economic activity and tax revenue evaporate and numerous small businesses that supported this factory and its employees also suffer.”…