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Replacing Beretta: the S&W XM10 Trials Pistol

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When the US adopted the Beretta Model 92 as the new M9 standard issue handgun in 1985, it was not without controversy. In particular, there was a scandal of cracked and broken M9 slides shortly after procurement began. The military did not budge on awarding the M9 contract to Beretta, but in 1987 they did open a new procurement competition for an M10 pistol, which would supplement the M9. The Army needed 142,000 more handguns, and they were willing to buy something different if something could outperform the M9.

Two series of trials resulted. In the first one, four companies submitted designs – S&W, Tanfoglio (TZ-99), Ruger (P85), and Browning (BDA). The S&W entry was an improved version of their XM9 design; a variation of the Model 459. This was a double-stack, SA/DA pistol with an aluminum slide and steel frame. It had larger than normal sights, an ambidextrous safety/decocking lever, and phosphate finish. It was also supplied with an extended 20-round magazine for the trials. A total of 40 pistols were made, and they performed well enough to get into the second round.

In that second round, the contenders were reduced to S&W, Ruger, and the Beretta M9 as a control. The Beretta performed best, and as a result the M10 designation was scrapped and the Army simply filled the rest of its handgun needs with M9 Berettas.

H&K’s entry into the XM9 trials:

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