A close up shot of the Beretta M92 being held

Beretta M9 vs 92FS – Comparison

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Beretta is an Italian firearms manufacturer that produces some of the finest weapons ever designed. There is a long tradition of quality guns coming from Italy. In fact, two of the best weapons in my gun safe are Italian. The US Army and Navy seem to agree on this as well. The M9 has been their standard-issue sidearm since 1985! In fact, Beretta sells so many guns in the US that they have now got a US division.

I always liked the civilian cousin of the M9, the 92FS, and I, therefore, jumped at the chance to do a Beretta M9 vs 92FS comparison. These are two guns of practically the same design, but with some intriguing differences.

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Beretta M9 vs 92FS Specs

PistolBeretta M9Beretta 92FS
ActionSingle/DoubleSingle/Double
Barrel Length125 mm (4.9 in)125 mm (4.9 in)
Caliber9×19mm Parabellum9×19mm Parabellum
Magazine15 rounds standard15 rounds standard
Width38 mm (1.5 in)38 mm (1.5 in)
Height137 mm (5.4 in)137 mm (5.4 in)
Weight Unloaded34.2 oz (970 g)33.3 oz (945 g)
Muzzle Velocity381 m/s (1,250 ft/s)381 m/s (1,250 ft/s)
Effective Firing Range50 m (160 ft)50 m (160 ft)
Feed SystemDetachable box magazineDetachable box magazine

Can you spot the difference? The Beretta 92FS and the M9 appear to be almost identical. It’s no wonder as they share many of the same specifications. These two both fire 9 mm ammo, can be single/double action, have a barrel length of 4.9”, and many other features in common. Before we dive into what sets them appart we’ll start with a bit of background of how these two great guns came to be.

A Brief History of Beretta 92 Pistol

When it comes to purchasing a pistol, Beretta is one of the oldest and most reputable gun manufacturers in the world. Located in the Val Trompia iron mining district of Italy.

The company was founded in the 16th century. Beretta is actually the oldest active firearms manufacturer in the world. In 1650 they invented the breech-loading cannon. Since then they have supplied weapons for every major European war. Beretta sells weapons for military, police, and personal use. They have supplied over 600,000 M9 handguns to the US military.

In 1976, Beretta introduced the Beretta 92 pistol. This is the design on which the 92FS and the M9 are both based. The US military announced a competition to design a sidearm for their overall forces. Beretta then adjusted the 92 into the M9 specifically for military use. They then made the civilian 92FS as a safer version of the M9.

Beretta M9

The Beretta M9 is the ultimate combat and tactical pistol. It has been the standard sidearm of the United States Armed Forces since 1985. And is now utilized by the US Armed Forces across all branches.

(Beretta M9; Photo credit: Craig Farnen)

The M9 Beretta service pistol has a total length of 8.5 inches, with a 4.9 inches’ chromed barrel. This duty weapon comes with a 9mm magazine that holds 15 rounds plus one. The pistol finish is Bruniton matte black coating and is corrosion resistant. The M9 incorporates polymer grip panels which are effective in any situation.

Beretta M9 is a lightweight semi-automatic pistol. It features many automatic safety systems to assist and prevent unintended firing. Also, to make maintenance easier, the gun is completely interchangeable. The M9 has a short recoil and a delayed locking block system.

Now, for a 9mm handgun, the M9 is a bit heavy and bulky. You can still conceal carry this pistol but it might not be as comfortable as you think. Nonetheless, the M9’s increased weight is one of its useful features. It lowers muzzle flip and dampens recoil. Thus, allows for speedier follow-up shots, particularly in single-action mode.

To sum up, the Beretta M9 is a legendary pistol that has shown itself to be reliable, accurate, and sturdy. Proven and tested in years of military use. This tactical battle handgun has withstood the worst environmental conditions. It has a stylistic advantage over others, making it one of the most appealing sidearms on the market.

Pros
  • US Military tested
  • Forward base grip for easier aiming
  • The bore of the barrel is hard chromed
  • External safety lever that is ambidextrous
Cons
  • A bit bulky for concealed carry

Beretta 92FS

The M9’s cousin, the 92FS, is one of the most durable pistols available. It is available in both double-action and single-action configurations as well. It includes a delayed locking-block system with a short-recoil that provides exceptional accuracy. Thus, it’s a dependable semi-automatic handgun that’s also popular for self-defense. The 92FS is a low-cost pistol that has long been the industry standard for tactical use.

Furthermore, the 92FS has a distinct design that sets it apart from other pistols. It is finished in Bruniton black coating. The inside of the barrel has a chromium lining that reduces wear and prevents corrosion.

Beretta M9 vs 92FS – Comparison Beretta 92FS
(Beretta 92FS; Photo credit: Matt Garza)

The Beretta 92FS has proven to be a tough gun that has survived some of the harshest conditions. It can endure temperatures as low as -40°F up to 140°F. This item has also been put through its paces in seawater, dirt, and snow. You can rest assured that it is a weapon that is hard to beat.

Some drawbacks include the lack of a modern rail adapter and the inability to add a pistol light to it. For some people with small hands, this gun may be difficult to wield. Because it features a combination of a wide grip and a long trigger reach. But I don’t have a problem with it. For me, it is comfortable to use.

The decocker and the safety are both ambidextrous. The magazine release is placed in a convenient location for easy access. The 92FS comes with fixed tactical three-dot sights as standard. They make focusing on your intended aim a breeze. Yet, the three-dot sights have the disadvantage of being difficult to see in the dark..

The red loaded chamber indicator is another safety feature on the 92FS. The red marker on the slide is pushed up by a chambered cartridge. The marking drops down when the chamber is empty. It also includes an exterior hammer so you can see if the gun is cocked.

Pros
  • Ambidextrous safety/decocker
  • Strong and durable pistol
  • Resistant to harsh temperatures and can withstand -40°F to 140°F
  • A corrosion-resistant chromed barrel
  • Comes with three-dot sights
Cons
  • There is no rail attachment
  • The long trigger and grip are inconvenient for persons with small hands

Beretta M9 VS. 92FS – The Differences

Now, so far they seem pretty identical, so what are the differences? Let’s take a deep dive into the specs to find out.

Hammer

The differences between these guns become clear when you look at the safety features. On the M9, the slide would often shoot back at the operator making it quite dangerous. There were times that the slide would actually jump off striking a soldier in the face. That is not exactly what you want to happen when you are fighting for your life. To fix the problem, Beretta installed a bigger hammer pin in the 92FS. This eliminates the risk of the slide flying backward at the user. It is an obvious advantage of the debate Beretta 92FS.

Sights

When it comes to sights, I definitely have strong opinions. In other articles, I have ripped on Glock for using plastic sights. For me, that is confusing to the eye and makes target acquisition difficult. This is despite the fact that I love everything else about Glock firearms. Beretta has opted for a fixed iron notch and post front and rear sight on both the M9 and the 92FS. But, that is where the similarities end. The M9 has two-dot sight systems with a white dot painted on the front sight. There is also another painted below the center of the sight window on the rear sight. The 92FS has a three-dot sight system with a dot on the front sight. It then had a dot on both sides of the sight picture on the rear sight.

While the two-dot system is not my favorite, it is still better than the Glock sights. I just cannot stop complaining about Glock sights. Anyways, the two-dot system on the M9 is okay. They are strong and durable, so you know they will not deform or break if the gun is dropped. You also will not wear out the sights while pulling the gun from your holster every day. Target acquisition is decent on these sights. Yet, the three-dot system on the 92FS is easier on my eye. It has all the strength advantages of the M9 sights, but it allows for faster target acquisition. I must emphasize that this is a personal preference. Try out different sight patterns for yourself before you decide which to buy. Many people prefer the two-dot system.

Finish

Despite the fact that they are all based on the same basic design, there are minor variances between them. The difference is immediately discernible at first glance. Though it’s rare that it goes unnoticed. The Beretta 92FS comes with a Black Brunton finish and a Black Synthetic Grip as standard. The Beretta M9 comes with a Synthetic Grip and a basic Blue finish. It doesn’t matter what color the barrels are as long as they’re both chrome-lined. This is a positive indicator because it lowers wear and prevents corrosion.

Looks-wise these are pretty similar as you can see below. However, there are other variants of the 92F that are more visually different. The 92 FS Inox features a stainless barrel and slide. The frame is likewise anodized, with black and stainless steel options.

Beretta M9 vs 92FS – Comparison - Beretta 92FS
Beretta 92FS
Beretta M9 vs 92FS – Comparison Beretta M9
Beretta M9

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Frame/Dust Cover

One obvious difference between the M9 and the 92FS is the shape of the dust cover. The frame is the most noticeable visual difference between the two firearms. The M9’s dust cover is flat, unlike the 92FS’s inclined dust cover in front of the trigger guard. Under the slide, this comprises the front half of the gun’s frame. A straight dust cover can be seen on the front of the M9 under the slide. Because the 92FS’s dust cover is slightly slanted, holsters made for it are one-of-a-kind.

Also, even if the gun fits in a given holster it can create drag on the draw. You always want your gun to fit in a holster. However, you want a clean pull when you need to draw your weapon in a hurry. Keep this in mind as you decide which gun you prefer in the debate between the Beretta M9 vs the 92FS.

Magazine

The 92FS can hold 15 rounds of ammunition and the M9 standard capacity is the same. You may get magazines for the M9 that hold between 15 to 18 rounds as well. Beretta factory magazines can be 10, 15, or 17 rounds. There are also aftermarket businesses such as Mec Gar that make 18 to 20 round magazines. As long as you don’t live in a state where you’re limited to 10 rounds by law.

Grip

For those of you that know handguns, you know the grip is a big deal. Even a slight difference in shape or texture can make a huge difference in your feel of the firearm. When looking at these two firearms, there is a slight difference in the shape of the stock. In the 92FS, you will notice that the handle is narrower. This gives it a more distinguished arc as the handle approaches the beavertail. For those that do not know the term, the beavertail is the flared end underneath the hammer. The M9 has a wider stock with no noticeable arc.

Between the two, I have to give the edge to the 92FS. Having a narrower handle allows me to fit more of my hand around the handle. This gives me more control as I fire the weapon and deal with the recoil. For most people, you will notice that your follow-up shots are more accurate with a smaller handle. Again, this depends on the hand of the person firing the weapon. Plus, there are several replacement grips available.

Markings

I don’t focus on small details like the markings. But when reviewing the 92FS versus the M9 there is not a long list of differences. The Beretta M9 is the primary sidearm for the US military. Because of this, each gun is stamped “U.S. 9mm M9 Beretta U.S.A”. The serial number is stamped on the other side of the weapon. On the Beretta 92FS, the country of origin is imprinted with the serial number stamped below. Then on the other side, you will find the stamp “MOD. 92FS-CAL 9MM Parabellum”. These are small differences. But knowing that the M9 is utilized in the military versus the civilian, some people care about these markings.

Accuracy

This isn’t a difference but worth mentioning. The actual test for a tactical gun’s usefulness would be at the shooting range. The M9 is quite accurate on the firing range and is a fantastic performer. Both the M9 and 9FS can fire 10-shot groups of 3” or less at a distance of approximately 50 meters. Official testing criteria. That’s about 55 yards with reliability and accuracy. This level of match-grade precision is astounding. Beretta ensures consistent performance shot after shot. It gives the 92FS and M9 exceptional accuracy. Other high-end handguns can only attain this degree of precision with time-consuming and expensive upgrades. Without a doubt, these pistols are extremely accurate right out of the box!

Beretta M9 vs 92FS – Comparison Firing Beretta 92FS
(Firing Beretta 92FS; Photo credit: Konashark)

Cost

The retail price of a Beretta 92FS pistol is currently $699 at the time of writing. Whereas the Beretta M9 retail price is $649. There is a small difference in the price range that you will hardly notice. The retail price of the 92FS Inox is $775, which is reasonable. It is made of stainless steel and is the result of upgrades. However, anything you get is worth the money because it isn’t too pricey. No wonder it is preferred by many law enforcement services. No pistol on the market today is as tough, reliable, safe, or accurate as the Beretta M9. As a result, this handgun has gained the label, World Defender.

Conclusion

I must as usual emphasize that gun preference is a personal decision. One should try the weapons out before deciding which to purchase. Based on my personal preferences, in the debate Beretta M9 vs the 92FS, I would give the win to the 92FS. The primary reasons are simple. I have smaller than average hands, and the smaller handle design of the 92FS helps a great deal with control. I like to be able to empty a magazine with a small grouping, and the 92FS seems to cater to that need for me. It also feels better in my hand. There is nothing that can replace that perfect feel when you grip a handgun.

Another obvious advantage of the 92FS is that it will not smack me in the face. First, I know the odds are small that it would happen, but the idea that the M9 would let the slide fly back in my face is an unsettling one. I like my face. I do not want to see it get messed up by my handy sidearm. The 92FS’ hammer pin will ensure that this never happens.

I prefer the three-dot sight system of the 92FS. Sights often help make my decision when it comes to handguns. If I raise the gun and cannot acquire my target, the gun is not for me. I realize that I could always buy aftermarket sights, but why waste the money when you can purchase a gun that works as-is. More so than any other aspect of the firearm, this is a personal preference.

The 92FS was designed as an improvement to the M9. It does not always work this way, but in this case, the improvement is actually better. When spending my hard-earned dollar, this does make me feel a bit better about my purchase. You can argue that in many ways these firearms are the same gun. However, when forced to choose between the Beretta M9 vs the 92FS, I have to choose the 92FS.

Updated: September 2021

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6 comments
  1. My 92f was purchased in 1986 after I learned they won the military contract. It was made in Italy. Does that fact (Italy cause it to be worth any more?
    PS I am absolutely impressed with the level of detail in your description of absolutely everything

  2. I don’t have an M9 to compare but i do have the 92FS, the M9A1, and the 96 (40cal.). I do not feel much difference in the grip. Maybe the 92 is a bit smaller but I dont see it. Iwould have to get an instrument to measure it. The wt. difference with a 10 shot mag. ( i live in CA) is negligible. Other than Caliber in the 96 and the Picatinny rail on the frame of the M9A1 I do not see much difference in the three. I do love shooting them equally. My 92FS is also made in Italy the M9A1 and the 96 both made in US.

  3. Thanks for the comparison. I’m looking at the M9A3 but they are more expensive than the 92FS and I can’t see much difference. I prefer the FS because I want the dual ambidextrous safety/decocker. One thing about your review that is different than just about everyone else is that you didn’t the trigger. Are there significant differences in the triggers? over travel, reset, pull weights, stacking, smoothness? We all want the best trigger without paying to have custom trigger jobs. Please comment, thanks.

  4. Well written review. Helped me in making my decision, and that’s what I was looking for.

  5. I have an M9A1 and a 92FS although I have to admit the 92 is a Wilson Combat pistol. Mostly, I can not find the differences that you discuss. I can not speak for the hammer as both of mine have skeletonized hammers installed. However, my M9 has 3 dot sights like the 92FS and it came that way. It is an M9A1 but it does say 92FS on the opposite side. I also can not speak about the dust cover as both of mine have the rail on them under the front of the slide. The rail on the 92 is longer that the one on the M9 but I think this is a Wilson modification. Both of my frames seem to be exactly alike, I can find no differences either visually or by feel. The Wilson Combat came with VZ G10 grips and I put the same ones on the 92FS. They both feel exactly the same to me. My M9 markings are different than you discuss. On the left side slide it says Beretts USA Corp ACKK MD – Made In USA. On the slide under that it says BERXXXXX Type M9A1. On the opposite side on the frame it says MOD. 92FS-CAL. 9mm Parabellum Patented. The Wilson Combat says almost the same on all places other than on the left side slide the place of manufacture is changed to Gallatin, TN and the S/N starts with WCXXX. On the other side of the pistol it says 92G Brigadeer Tactical instead of 92FS. Also the 92 came with the decocker only and not a safety/decocker. One strange difference with them is I go to the range with a friend of mine and we run out a target. With the Wlson I usually shoot at the manufactures symbol in the corner instead of the target, it shoots that well for me. My friend shooting it for some reason can barely get them inside the target circle. We change to the M9 and it is almost exactly the opposite. One pistol shoots very well for me and not so much for him and the other is the reverse. The only real difference that I know of is the 92 has a steel trigger with grooves cut into it. In reading the Wilson Combat website about the pistols that they build, when they get the parts from Beretta they do get the M9A1 frame and the 92G slide which could explain a lot of these differences. The only thing that I don’t like about the 92 is that Wilson puts their Wilson Combat rear u-notch battlesight on it that has no dots whatsoever making it difficult to see in low light situations. Anyway, for me the comparison is no contest, I love the 92G but it is an enhanced pistol that cost almost twice what a normal Beretta costs so it better be the one I favor.

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