Whenever I decide it's time to purchase a new firearm, the first step in the process of deciding what to buy is usually its planned use - at least that's what I tell myself. From there the process is helped greatly by the Internet. Whether it's video reviews, websites or forums, there are so many opinions out there...and you know what they say about opinions. But it's easy to sift through the "BS" and get to the honest, thorough, and useful information to help along the way. Heck that's exactly how I found FirearmsTalk in the first place!
Now, how did I come upon my newest firearm? Well, I was one of the winners in the 2012 FTF Giveaway this past December! I won the new Beretta BU9 Nano 9mm pistol, very exciting, yes I know. And it was made even better by my having shopped the Nano this past summer and being quite close to buying one. In the end I opted for a range gun; a full-sized SIG 1911. Needless to say, I was double pleased. So after jumping through the requisite hoops of a NJ firearm purchase (that's a whole other story), I picked it up about a month ago from my FFL. It was shipped to my FFL from JoeBobOutfitters; great guys, great communication. Even in spite of the current buying frenzy and other assorted craziness in the firearms market. That experience was a real pleasure.
I've handled the Nano a few times and I own another Beretta so I got what I was expecting. The firearm itself, the cheapo Beretta hard case, the laughable one year warranty, decent instruction manual, 2-6 round stainless steel flush fitting magazines, a gun lock, and that cool blue Beretta "cup." What its true usage is, personally I don't know. What I also expected was the quality of the pistol itself, which to me, pretty much makes up for the laughable warranty.
The Beretta Nano is a 9mm, striker-fired semi-automatic pocket pistol. I won't bother with detailed specifications; they're easy enough to find online. Heck, if you're reading this review online you can easily find the specs. The pistol is very well built and the fit is excellent. I noted that in gripping the Nano and giving it a shake there was no noticeable movement coming from the slide whatsoever, even after a few hundred rounds through it.
The Nano feels like one solid piece of technopolymer and metal in my hand if that's at all possible. Given its proposed use as a concealed carry weapon, having no external controls other than the magazine release is very advantageous, as it makes drawing and re-holstering very smooth and easy. Like Beretta's other pocket pistols (the Bobcat and Tomcat), there is no external slide catch. Unlike them, the slide will lock back, but only on an empty magazine. That is a little item to take note of, but personally one that I could easily get used to. For you see, I am a lefty...so I never use a slide catch to release the slide.
Similar to the PX4, the frame has small dimples on either side just above and forward of the trigger where you can safely place your trigger finger while drawing. I find placing my trigger finger and the thumb of my support hand on them helps the pistol to aim very naturally. Speaking of the trigger; think Glock. It has a "safe action" style trigger just like them. At first handling I noticed that the pull was a bit heavy, which is good for what the pistol is made for. The long reset is something I was concerned about before my first range session. Personally, I am comfortable with carrying a firearm with no external safety, that's just me, but take comfort folks; there ARE three internal safety devices built into the Nano.
Take down is very simple but it does require a tool; be it a coin or a screwdriver you will need something in order to do it. It's a flat-headed device that upon deactivating the striker via a small button pressed by another tool (it could be a toothpick or ballpoint pen) you turn it a quarter turn counterclockwise and the slide comes right off of the frame. Other than that it strips down similarly to a Glock. It is a striker-fired pistol and there are a few other similarities to the Glocks including the dual captive recoil spring. No tool is needed to put the slide back on the frame however and upon doing so it will reset the take down lever. One of the few aspects that are counter to the Glocks, and yet another thing that I was concerned about prior to my first range session, is the Nano's high bore axis. It was one that I was a bit dubious of to be honest. It appears to be as high as an XD or my SIG P229.
Another unique aspect to the Nano is that the internal steel chassis is serialized, not the frame. It appears relatively easy to remove it and swap out the frame. I can see this being a huge plus in the aftermarket for Beretta as well as OEMs. I am familiar with the sight picture so I was comfortable going forward at the range. Thus far, the Beretta BU9 Nano appears to be a very well designed subcompact pocket pistol, built using quality materials and finishes, and the fit is just great. Now on to the range for some more thoughts...
First 320 rounds: 150-115 grain PMC Bronze and 150-124 grain Magtech, both FMJ and 20-124 grain PMC Starfire Eldorado HP (my current SD ammo).
I ran alternating magazines of the 115 and 124 grain ammo through the Nano at distances of 7 to 15 yards. There was 1 (one) FTE/FTFeed issue with the 115 grain, but no other issues for any of the ammo tested. It aims quite easily, very easy to sight in. I found my shots were impacting in the same places as with my P229R; low right at about 5 o'clock. Follow up shots were easy as long as I was willing to deal with the minor discomfort on the middle finger of my strong hand. The front strap checkering was irritating my skin. It could be a combination of the aggressive checkering and my over-tightened grip while getting used to the grip on a pocket gun. But if I wanted to better aim my follow up shots I had to readjust my grip. I have since added a Talon rubberized grip to this pistol and that greatly helps grip comfort.
My first magazine was 124 grains Magtech FMJ at 7 yards. Of the 6 rounds, 1 was within the X, 3 were in the 9 ring, and 2 were practically on top of each other just outside the 8 ring. All low right with a group size that was 2.83". Again, I will repeat that low right is where I typically hit when I aim at the X, so the Nano is on par with my other firearms when in my hands.
The trigger is smooth and easy to stage. It is not as heavy as it felt when I dry fired it and the long reset was nowhere near the issue I initially thought it to be. The high bore axis doesn't affect my accuracy or sighting in; again I found it aimed very naturally. The recoil was controllable, nothing like with the Ruger LC9 or Kahr PM9. Also, after adding the Talon grip, I was more comfortable with the front strap checkering, and I got quicker follow up shots. Overall, the pistol performed as I expected - and all but one of my 320 rounds went off without a hitch.
Take down was easy enough, and the pistol was as easy to clean as a Glock or similar striker-fired pistol. I did notice it was quite dirty, but then again I DID shoot some PMC Bronze all times out, so that can be expected. I kept one piece of spent brass to note that the strike on the primer was off center. I am not sure if that is a concern or not, but I wanted to take note of it. I carry this pistol in an Old Faithful IWB hybrid holster, when I legally carry of course. I see no reason to carry my Beretta 84FS any longer. This Nano is by far more comfortable to wear and easier to conceal.
Overall, the Beretta BU9 Nano is more than worthy of comparison to the other popular pocket guns in the same class. Though its appearance is a bit larger than other pocket pistols, those looks are deceiving. The quality of the components is on par with other Beretta products and it's not a bank breaker. Add that to the fact that the internal steel chassis is the part that is serialized, you will be able to swap out the barrel, frame, and slide all without an FFL. And the rumor mill has it that there will be a .40 version soon, so that flexibility makes it a worthy addition to anyone's gun safe as well as a formidable concealed carry pistol.