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Beretta Argues M9 Upgrade Cheaper Than MHS

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Gabriele de Plano, vice president of marketing and operations for Beretta Defense Technologies, wrote an Aug. 17 letter to the editor in The Washington Post in response to a recent article in the newspaper.

In it, he argued that the Army could upgrade the existing M9 pistol for far less than developing a new handgun, known as the Modular Handgun System, or MHS.

Here's what he wrote, according to the paper:

"Regarding the Aug. 9 Business article “Beretta’s fight to arm the military,” about the company losing a U.S. military contract for M9 pistols:

Beretta has made an effort to provide updated M9 pistols to the U.S. armed forces. As far back as 2003, we offered the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps M9 pistol upgrades. In 2006, the Marine Corps adopted the M9A1 pistol, an upgraded version of the M9 pistol. In 2012 and 2013, we presented the Army with upgrades that increased the reliability and modularity of the M9 pistol. M9 upgrades presented to the Army last year would satisfy 84 percent of the Army's requirements for a Modular Handgun System without the half-billion dollar cost of that program.

Numerous firearms used by the U.S. government and adopted more than 30 years ago still meet and exceed mission requirements because of upgrades that the government accepted, including the M2/M2A1, M4/M4A1, M16/M16A2, M240/M240B/M240L and M320/M320A1. Why should the M9 pistol be treated differently?"

But as colleague Matt Cox has reported, Army officials -- at least so far -- haven't been listening to that argument. In January, just weeks after Beretta pitched an upgraded M9 with new sights, a rail for mounting lights and accessories, better ergonomics and improved reliability, they opted to move forward with the MHS.

Maybe with increasing pressure on the federal budget, Beretta's financial case may get more traction.

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