Guns: Beretta Nano review - A Bug in the BUG
There are so many compact single-stack 9mms out there that it's hard to even remember who released what. Doesn't Kimber have one? Didn't SIG come out with two of them? Today's marketplace offers oodles of choices to the CCWs and LEOs out there.
Of course, that doesn't mean all of these choices are good. Most of them aren't, and the main disqualifying factor is reliability. Being able to carry a small gun means nothing if said small gun doesn't send lead downrange in a predictable manner.
Today's post looks at the Beretta Nano, a 9mm backup gun (BUG) with some quirky features. For one, the Nano has no external slide release: the gun locks back on an empty mag, but has no lever or mechanism for you to do so manually. Aside from making the gun completely slick and snagfree, this allows Beretta to make the internal chassis into the serialized part (theoretically allowing you to switch out to a different polymer frame).
All of this is well and good, but does the thing shoot? Let's find out...
Like most of its competition, the Beretta Nano retails for around $400. The package include a plastic case (which is getting rarer at this price point), two 6-round flush-fitting mags, and a really well done instruction manual (it shows how to take the internal chassis out of the frame, for instance):
In hand, the Nano feels fairly solid, though blocky and top-heavy (think SIG). Fit and finish are fine, and I liked how they kept the exterior as smooth and melted as possible on a production gun.
Here's a side-by-side comparison with two comparable pistols - the Kel-Tec PF9 and the Kahr CM9. The Nano is heavier than both, bigger than the Kahr, and fatter/shorter than the PF9.
Sights and Trigger:
The Nano wears three-dot low-profile sights. I found them to be a little small and hard to see, especially considering how big the gun's slide is. The sights are held on by set screws, though, so you can adjust the rear windage and swap the sights out very easily.
The trigger is also a mixed bag. It has a GLOCK-style safety lever, but it's basically double-action: a long, heavy pull that needs to be reset fully after every shot. I think Kahr executed this style of trigger better, but this isn't where the Nano's problem lies...
At the Range: We Be Jammin'
I bought the Nano partly because of this torture test video put out by Beretta USA:
I didn't get similar results. In my first 100 shots, I had a failure to extract, with Winchester 147 grain JHP ammo:
About 150 rounds later, I had the same malfunction with Wolf 9mm (I don't like Wolf, but I was purposely using it to test how well the gun extracted spent casings):
200 rounds later, yet another failure to extract, this time with bog standard Winchester White Box 115 grain FMJ.
I realize pocket guns sometimes need a break-in period before everything gets settled in. So, after I got these three failures in the first 500 rounds, I took the Nano home, cleaned it thoroughly, cycled the slide for awhile, and took it back to the range.
No dice - after 75 rounds of Federal 115 grain range ammo, I got a failure to extract on 124gr Speer Lawman FMJ (the left column on my shooting log was my CM9, which was more reliable than the Nano even though it was already very dirty):
Okay, maybe I got a lemon. I send the gun back and get a new one from Davidson's. This new one fails to extract in the first 70 rounds, on Federal RT9115 range ammo. Rats. I look on the web later and find out I'm not the only guy having this problem.
Conclusion: There are better choices.
If it were reliable, the Nano would be a fine choice for concealed carry. As it stands, the Nano is only more reliable than the Kel-Tec PF9 (which should be in the dictionary next to "damning with faint praise").
Once Beretta re-tunes the extractor/extractor spring/recoil spring, the Nano might be worth a look. Till then, I don't recommend the Nano as a carry piece.