The M9 is a lightweight, semi-automatic pistol manufactured by Beretta and designed to replace the M1911A1 .45 caliber pistol and .38 caliber revolvers. The M9 has redundant automatic safety features to help prevent unintentional discharges.
It can be fired in either double or single action mode and can be unloaded without activating the trigger while the safety is in the "on" position. The M9 pistol has a 15-round magazine, and may be fired without a magazine inserted. This weapon can have the hammer lowered from the cocked, "ready to fire," position to the uncocked position without activating the trigger by placing the thumb safety on the "on" position.
The newer M9A1 features a Picatinny rail forward of the trigger guard to allow the attachment of lights and lasers.
The 9mm Pistol Program was a Congressionally-directed Non-Developmental Initiative to standardize DoD with NATO and field one handgun for all United States armed services. Beretta of Italy was awarded a multi-year contract for delivery of over 500,000 pistols. The contract award stipulated that production of the weapon must transition from Italian to US production after two years. The US Army is the lead service in this program and the M9 replaced the M1911 .45 cal handgun.