Quality and Safety Problems With the Beretta M9 Handgun

T-NSIAD-88-46: Published: Sep 15, 1988. Publicly Released: Sep 15, 1988.

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GAO discussed the military's M9 9-millimeter (mm) handguns, focusing on: (1) M9 safety and quality problems; (2) allegations that the Army attempted to cover up the problems; (3) similarities and differences between M9 tested in 1984 and current M9; and (4) the status of recompetition for award of a follow-on procurement contract. GAO found that: (1) the Army contracted to buy 321,260 M9 valued at $77.3 million; (2) as of August 17, 1988, the Army accepted delivery of 133,830 M9; and (3) M9 have experienced frame cracks, causing the Army to reject about 12,000 and the contractor to implement an engineering change proposal in April 1988 to correct the problem. GAO also found that: (1) M9 had 14 slide failures, causing injuries to four shooters; (2) the contractor believes that the failures resulted from firing incorrect ammunition, but the Army believes that metal fatigue is the primary cause of failure; (3) there was no evidence that the Army attempted to cover up the problem, as it issued a safety message to all M9 users shortly after the first slide failure; and (4) the Army plans to stop delivery of M9 until the contractor corrects the problem. GAO also found that a February 1988 Army report concluded that current M9 met the 1984 requirements and that contract changes have not materially altered their characteristics or configuration or degraded their performance. In addition, GAO found that the Army cancelled the on-going competition for follow-on procurement of 9-mm handguns, began a new competition in May 1988, and expected to award the contract in 1989.

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