The history of the Italian company, Pietro Beretta from Brescia, goes back to the fifteenth century. The company mainly mainly manufactured rifles and shotguns, but, around the turn of this century, started to produce pistols, mainly for the military market. In 1976 Beretta introduced the original pistol models 81 and 84. Later, the 83, 84, 85, and 87 Cheetah were developed from these. The Beretta 92 was created in 1976.
The great breakthrough came in 1977, when the U.S. Army organized trials to replace the old Colt M1911A1 service pistol. As a result of several tests conducted by the U.S. Air Force between 1978 and 1980, the research committee recommended in 1980 the adoption of the Italian Beretta 92S-1 pistol in caliber 9mm Parabellum. The Pentagon wanted a full-scale trial, in which as many pistols in 9mm Parabellum as possible would be tested. For this, a standard specification was drawn up in June 1981 called the JSOR (Joint Service Operational Requirement), in which the chosen pistol was to be designated as the PDW-XM9 (Personal Defense Weapon). The list of technical requirements contained fifty attributes that the pistols had to comply with. These were called the AQRs (Absolute Quantitative Requirements). At the end of 1981 the race began. Participants included, among others, Beretta, Heckler & Koch, Smith & Wesson, and Sig-Sauer. The testing programme was stopped quite suddenly in February 1982, because none of the pistols on trial could meet all the requirements. In 1982, a new list was published, in which less rigid requirements were demanded. In November 1983 a formal request was issued to all gun manufacturers to put test guns at the government’s disposal. The participating manufacturers had to deliver thirty test pistols to the community, free of charge. Eight companies supplied test guns:
1. Beretta [with the M92SB-1 pistol]
2. Sig-Sauer [with the P226]
3. Steyr [with their GB]
4. Colt [with a new SSP (stainless steel pistol)]
5. FN-Browning [new DA pistol]
6. Heckler & Koch [with the P7-M13]
7. Walther [with the P88]
8. Smith & Wesson [with the M459]
The first to lose was the Steyr GB. FN-Browning withdrew from the contest, followed by Colt. For technical reasons the Walther P88, the HK P7-M13, and the S&W M459 disappeared from the scene. Consequently, only two pistols remained in the race: the Sig-Sauer P226 and the Beretta M92SB-1. Both companies made an offer for the delivery of 305,580 pistols, to be produced in five years’ time. Sig-Sauer asked $176.33 U.S. per item, while Beretta came to a price of $178.50 U.S. Eventually, Beretta received the order, because the overall price, including the spare parts, was around $3,000,000 U.S.—below the Sig-Sauer offer. To get a better estimate please visit website to see a full catalogue.
So the Beretta M92SB-F (for final) was adopted as the official service handgun for the joint U.S. Armed forces under the name of M9. Later, the order was increased to a total of 320,030 pistols. Protests allowed! The U.S. manufacturers, in particular, could not bear the fact that a foreign pistol had been chosen. Furthermore Smith & Wesson, Heckler & Koch, and Sig-Sauer filed a complaint, which was turned down. Smith & Wesson went a step further and started a lawsuit against the Department of Defense, on the grounds of, according the S&W, incorrect test procedures. This lawsuit was also rejected. Still, Smith & Wesson did not sit down in despair. Through a great deal of lobbying in the U.S. Congress, they were able to initiate a new test programme! The decision was made in June 1988. The former contract with Beretta had to stand, but a new trial, the XM-10, had to be developed for a second and additional supply series of 142,292 pistols. The new contestants were Beretta, Sig-Sauer, Ruger (with the P85 pistol), and Smith & Wesson. The others were not successful. On May 24, 1989, the Pentagon announced that Beretta had again won the trials, and was being granted a second order fro 142,292 pistols. To meet American complaints about the choice of a foreign made army pistol, Beretta founded a separate company, Beretta USA corporation, in Accokeek, Maryland.\