A Beretta for Bullseye
by Robert Kolesar

Just back from Camp Perry, where I participated in the National Pistol Championships, shooting for the USAR Service Pistol Team. I had recently described some of my preparations in a previous thread (“Revolvers for Bullseye“). After an almost 10-year layoff I had some work to do in order to demonstrate some remaining competence with a pistol. Daily practice sessions coupled with weight training paid off, though, as I didn’t embarrass myself with the service pistol (M9), the bread-and-butter gun of a pistol-shooting Soldier.

Here’s my M9, built by Tony Kidd (yeah, that Tony Kidd) when he was still working as a gunsmith for the AMU. Fair warning, though…it’s ugly, but under that exterior is an incredible shooting machine, capable of 1.5" groups at 50 yds with proper ammo.

Shooting this gun I was able to post my 2nd-best score ever in the President’s 100. My goal was to just make the cut with an M9, which I’d never competed with before. I ended up doing far better than that. I also shot a great score as a USAR team member in the team match; the M9 is a superb weapon. I guess the accurized 1911 will be honorably retired from now on.

My Army-issued and accurized M9 (top), with my old LAPD 92FS for comparison. It costs about $1800.00 to get an M9, never designed as a target gun, in shape to shoot tight groups at 50 yards.

Close-ups of some of the work done. Here’s what the front of the barrel looks like; this ensures consistant lock-up from shot to shot. Barrel is a Bar-Sto. Newer guns use KKW barrels. These guns will consistently shoot under 1.5" from a machine rest at 50 yds.

Notice the steel inserts, machined into the aluminum rails. Quite a bit of work is involved fitting these inserts, which are vital to accuracy in an M9.

Close-up of the adjustable BoMar rear sight.

Ammo. M9s, while extremely accurate, are also sensitive to ammo. Part of the problem is most manufacturers don’t produce 9mm "match" ammo. USAR and USA AMU shooters use Atlanta Arms 115 grain ball, which is superbly accurate. Regular GI ball won’t cut it, accuracy-wise.

A satisfying rapid-fire group at 25 yds. Consistent shooting like this is what wins matches. Not a "clean" target, but close enough for government work.

What you get, if the weather at Perry cooperates, your zero is good and your trigger press is perfect.

Retired…my old Jim Hoag-accurized 1911. A great gun, but the Beretta is simply a better target pistol.