So In my search for a slim, compact 9 that could replace my Keltec p3at as a lightweight summer carry rig when I am in board shorts and t-shirt I went through a lot of money and handguns in my search to find the best compromise of velocity, capacity, and size/weight for my carry needs… here is my long exhaustive review of the one I chose.
First the contenders
Keltec Pf9: Handled and shot one in an extended range session, hated it’s cheap feel, that was Ok with the p3at but not OK to me for 9mm that I will be pushing +p and +p+ through. Recoil was snappy but manageable.
DB9: The issue here was the customer service issues and problems many owners reported so I decided to skip this model unless I absolutely was forced to try it due to no other options.
Taurus 709: same as the DB9 plus I owned a taurus and had to deal with the shoddy quality on a new firearm and the frustrating rude customer service so I swore to myself I would never own one again….. then I was given one by a family member. I was immediately turned off by the manual safety. Jams aside. I sent it into Taurus, had it repaired and promptly sold it to finance the Nano purchase.
Ruger LC9: Was a more improved better quality copy of Pf9, However Ruger and all your safety garbage, why? I am surprised the firearm didn’t come with a helmet. I could not get past the loaded chamber indicator aka red shark fin and the manual safety. That and the light primer strikes on some self defense ammo gave me great pause. Sold it and moved on.
Smith Shield: You had it right until I saw the thumb safety. Not something I want on a DAO concealed carry weapon. Sorry. Sold and made my money and then some due to the high demand for this handgun. For those who do not care about an external safety this is a great shooting little gun and would get my recommendation. While a little big, it has a great trigger.
Walther pps: The largest of the group. Defeats the purpose, might as well carry the Glock 26
Kahr CM9: Smallest of the group. Shot it, liked it. A bit overpriced. Was possibly my next purchase until I stopped with the Nano. Still a little shy of supporting the Moon family as well but I am not above giving it a try some time in the future.
Kimber solo: Manual safety. Not interested whatsoever.
Sig 938: Manual safety. Not wasting my time and money.
Sig p290: Almost got it right, except for the price. Could have sprung for it when all options were exhausted.** I have since purchased this
Rorbaugh R9: Really? 1K+ for a gun not +p rated and 150 rounds through it is “too much” according to the manufacturer…. no thanks. I have more rounds than that through my P3AT and the manufacturer says “+p” (in quotes because really isn’t a SAMMI standard for 380 +p ) is good to go. I don’t even want to hear the ” you don’t like it because you can’t afford it” garbage. I researched it and it did not fit my criteria. Money was not the issue.
Bersa BP9: Just as big as the Walther so I will pass
So that led me to the Beretta Nano. I had heard reports of FTE or FTF with 115 grain ammo with new models…. so I sat it out for a year, and watched and waited. As more and more positive reports started to come out, I decided it was time to go get it.
My nano specs are as follows:
G26 is 6.29″
P3at is 5.2″
Shield is 6.1″
G26 is 4.17″
P3at is 3.5″
Shield is 4.6″
G26 is 1.18″
P3at is .77″
Shield is .95″
Weight: ( all weights are capacity +1)
Nano 22.9 OZ loaded w/7 rounds 124gr Speer GD JHP+p
G26 is 26.9 oz 11 rds
P3at is 11.3 oz loaded with 7 rds
Shield is 24.3 oz 8 rounds
Now that all the boring specs are out of the way, here is my thoughts on the design:
I like the fact that the back strap and grip are checkered and there are no finger grooves.
The mag release is small but positive. There are not much to snag on the clothing during the draw stroke. Pros and cons to this. The pro is the snag free design, the con is less real estate to do a quick mag change under stress.
One handed, the thumb sits perfectly above the mag release and two handed, again it sits in a nice little channel in between, only requiring a small movement to engage and drop the magazine.
Both magazine styles, the 6 round and 8 round drop free, however the 6 round can get caught up by your hand if you do not open it when dropping the magazine.
The trigger is a typical of a striker fired design and has a copy of the Glock safe action system trigger. It has a lot of room in the trigger guard for gloves if needed. It has some pre travel before the nice spongy long pull to break. What I like about this trigger is it has a nice positive reset you can feel, albeit a little longer than my glocks but a positive reset nonetheless.
Pull weight was measured at 5.6lbs new and has now gone down to a nice smooth 5.1lbs
G26 is 6.5lbs ( gen 3)
P3at is 5.2lbs
Shield is 6.4 lbs
Pull distance s 2 5/8 ”
In comparison. Trigger pull distances I have measured:
G26 is 2 3/4 ”
P3at is 2.5 ”
Shield is 2 3/4 ”
The lines on the weapon are nice. Beretta paid a lot of detail to rounding edges and making this a snag free weapon. My only issue with the overall look is I wish manufacturers wouldn’t mold or etch safety warnings on firearms. A byproduct of the idiocracy we live in I suppose. It draws clean from both a pocket and a holster under clothing and has a very smooth snag free design.
The only thing I would add to it is a slide lock. There is none. The slide locks back on an empty magazine only. This can cause issues for novices in the event of a FTF or FTE but is a training issue. I still would have liked to see one. It is not a deal breaking issue however.
The sights are a nice three dot design and they are completely removable by the end user with simple tools. So if you want to add night sights you can. My only recommendation is to blue loctite the screws after you set the sights so they do not come loose.
The magazines are metal with easy to remove polymer base plates and have solid non flimsy feed lips. The magwell is thick and easy to insert magazines and has the same glock style debris channel behind it.
The slide has nice cuts in the rear that are easy to grab and stay connected to, although a few in the front would have been nice.
The internals are very solid. Thick slide and big easy to lube rails. Pretty much the same lube points as on a glock. The recoil spring is a captive design. I changed out the plastic guide rod with a Bedair stainless steel guide rod with a checkered front, just like I have done with my glocks. Personal preference.
I picked up a Talon IWB no cant holster for AIWB carry and I am happy with the way it conceals. I like low ride holsters on my summer carry pieces. In comparison all my glocks ride in Dale Frick archangels. I used to pocket carry but after doing FOF classes with a pocket holster I found how difficult it was to draw on the move from the pocket unless you already had your hand in there and knew an attack was coming. Nothing like real life experience to show flaws in your theories. I now exclusively AIWB carry.
It draws fast and shoots great, especially one handed on the move.
The weapon breaks down for cleaning, but the downfall is you need tools to do so. A ballpoint pen, punch, or other punch like item to disengage the decocker and a flat head screwdriver or dime to turn the slide . They did this to avoid the glock style of dis-assembly which is to pull the trigger. Yet another byproduct of the idiocracy we live in.
The common internet myth from non-owners is that the weapon could become decocked in your holster or pocket and render the firearm useless. As you can see by the video here, that is not the case. It really requires some force and a certain length of push to get it to engage:
At the range this handgun shoots great. I use 124 gr exclusively but I train with 115 grain as well.
When I bought it I broke it in as follows:
I put on Slip 2000 EWL and hand racked slide 400 times to break in. I also worked the trigger 100 times with snap caps. I inspected for burrs or high wear points. Then I cleaned again, re-lubed with Slip 2000 EWL and got ready for an extended range session.
Here is the 124gr Speer Gold Dot +P at both 12 feet and 25 yards shooting with one hand….
I had 4 FTF with 115 grain winchester white box (3) and remington umc (1) early on in the first couple hundred rounds.
I am now over 1500 rounds and haven’t had an issue since. I have fired 115gr FMJ, 124gr and 147gr JHP through it. I installed the steel guide rod at round #990.
As you can see the handgun is flawless now:
I have been carrying this for the past three to four months and I could not be happier.
light. perfect balance of weight to recoil
handles recoil well
easy to maintain
easy to conceal
no external safeties
No manual slide lock
Stupid safety warnings etched/molded onto it
Some really don’t like 115gr low powered ammo ( rumored extractor pressure issues)
Plastic stock guide rod
Weapons I bought or shot before I found the one I wanted:
Taurus 709 Slim
I did a 500 round torture test on this weapon and it fired dry with no lube in the hot Arizona climate. it is a keeper.
And so ends my long drawn out review of the Beretta Nano. Seeing as I went through a host of firearms,ammo, and time to find this carry piece, I figured I would give it it’s due. it is definitely worth a look if you want a concealable slim nine.
Nano Update August 2014:
The only ammo I have experienced FTF or FTE with has been 115gr low powered ball ammo. The Nano fired and ejected/fed all self defense ammo, including the 115gr Corbon DPX +P flawlessly.