I am surprised to be the first author who writes for The Shooter’s Log to pen a range report for the 9mm Beretta BU9 Nano as it has been available a little over two years. Perhaps it is because pocket 9s have saturated the market and we have been too busy reviewing others, but somehow I get to be the first to review it. Either way, I’m excited I get to go in without any influence from my cohorts.
Following the Ruger LCP and Kimber Solo, but preceding the Smith and Wesson Shield, the Beretta Nano is a sub-compact, striker-fired (Beretta’s first), locked-breech, recoil-operated semi-automatic pistol. It holds six rounds of 9mm in its single-stack magazine, with one in the chamber. It is important to note: the Nano will fire with or without a magazine inserted. This is a plus for a low capacity gun when doing a tactical reload. On the other hand, there is no magazine disconnect safety. Simply removing the magazine will not prevent an accidental discharge; give extra care to ensure the chamber is clear.
In fact, there are no external safeties at all on Beretta’s Nano BU9 pistol. Internally, the Nano has an automatic striker block and drop safety. The lack of external safeties or slide stop lever makes the Beretta Nano an ideal carry gun—in theory. Beretta designed it this way. The rounded edges and lack of protrusions guarantees a snag-free trouble-free draw. A small, unobtrusive magazine release button sits flush into the Nano’s frame and does not hinder drawing.
Rumor has it that Beretta’s original blueprints were to chamber this little guy in .40 S&W. However, Beretta delivered it in 9mm, supposedly due to the popularity of the 9mm cartridge; not a bad idea, Beretta. The Nano is one of the smallest and lightest pistols in its class. At 5.63 inches overall, with a 3-inch barrel and weighing about 20 ounces unloaded, recoil would have been quite sharp if the Nano was chambered in .40.
The cool thing about the Nano is its interchangeable frame. You see, the Nano is built on a removable sub-chassis—the only part of the gun that is serialized. What does this mean and why is it cool? You can also buy grip frames for it in FDE, OD green and pink. It also opens up the possibility of different grip sizes to fit different sized hands.
Speaking of looks… when you first see the Nano—especially on a computer screen, you may think, “I’ve seen this gun before.” Maybe it’s the angular lines on the slide reminiscent of the Taurus TCP or the Glock-like “safety” trigger. One chap described it as, “Like a Glock had a one night stand with a Taurus.”
I digress. That’s neither here or there for me. Sure, I like a good-looking gun, but how it shoots trumps its looks. I recently wrote about “try before you buy,” so I decided to take advantage of my local gun range’s rental fleet and give the Nano a try. Especially, since it has the potential—on paper—to be a great carry gun for women.
One thing about rental guns—they’ve already gone through their break-in period. So, hopefully you get a truer sense of the gun’s reliability. Since my range requires me to buy its ammo for its rental guns, I didn’t get a chance to try a variety. Nano owners report the gun may be a bit finicky with ammo—preferring heavier loads than the 115-grain FMJ.
When I arrived at the range, they handed me a box of Federal white box 115-grain full metal jacket ammunition. The range officer told me they had no other type of ammo available. I view this as both good and bad. I got to test the gun with cheap range ammo, however did not get the opportunity to see how well the Nano shoots a self-defense round.
Once in the shooting bay, I noticed the Nano was bone-dry. This is fine and actually preferred for me, as I’m not a stickler for cleaning or lubing my guns. I had the opportunity to see how the Nano performed in less than perfect conditions. I suggest following the manufacturer’s recommendation and oil your Nano accordingly.
The Nano has a stainless steel insert frame with a technopolymer grip. The backstrap has a hard plastic dot texture. When I gripped the Nano, it immediately fell into the sweet spot—resting nicely and naturally high into the web of my right hand. I got a full two-finger grip around the mag well, with a not surprising pinkie dangle. The trigger was perfectly reachable without issue. About half way through my box of 50 rounds, the dot texture started feeling a little rough and aggressive. Finishing off the rest of the box wasn’t an issue though.
From 5 feet away, I hit bullseye on my first shot. This is partly due to the Nano’s bright white 3-dot sights. Homing in on the middle of the target with the front sight dot is clear, quick and easy. I liked the Nano’s sights. Night sights are also available if you wish to upgrade. After my beginner’s luck, the rest of my groups were slightly left of the bullseye. However, I didn’t mind. The Nano annihilated the same spot during rapid fire.
The trigger pull on the Beretta measures from seven to eight pounds out of the box. This is a rather long trigger pull compared to the other compact polymer guns I am used to shooting such as Glock, S&W M&P and Springfield XDs which averages a five and a half to six pound pull. If you have never shot a gun, imagine squeezing the trigger on a cleaning bottle. Think of how much force you need to pull your finger back to get the spray to release from the bottle. Some of your bottles will be easier and quicker for the product to come out, while others require more force. I expected something like the S&W .380 Bodyguard where it feels like …squeeeeezing… before the trigger breaks, but the Nano’s trigger broke much more quickly than I anticipated. It felt more like a six pound pull. The pull is clean and smooth. Was it the worse trigger ever? Absolutely not. For a double-action only gun, I have no complaints.
Racking the slide on the Beretta Nano goes very smoothly. However, it feels slightly stiff. This could have been due to the lack of lube.
When it comes to recoil, the Nano really comes out on top. I had to keep reminding myself I was shooting a 9mm and not a .380. The Nano is top heavy, which means the slide weighs noticeably more than the grip. This helps tame the recoil and muzzle rise when you fire it.
With my beginners luck bullseye and more than sufficient groups, the Beretta shoots solid. I did experience a few questionable hits and one flier that I chalk up to faulty ammo. As to how the Nano ran during my range session, I had two malfunctions, both being a double feed. This is probably due to the finicky nature of the Beretta and the 115-grain full metal jacket loads I was shooting.
The Beretta is certainly a contender as a viable concealed carry gun. I like the snag-free design, no external safety and less than minimal recoil. It’s small and easy to conceal without sacrificing shootability. It’s easy to work and maintain. Six rounds of 9mm is plenty, given how easily the Nano shoots. If you feel more confident with more, buy the extended magazine giving you two more rounds and more to grip.
The downside to this review is I didn’t get to test Beretta’s BU9 Nano with additional ammo and for that, I apologize. Before I left for the range, I wrote down four important questions to answer while I was testing the Nano.
- Can I practice comfortably with the Nano?
Yes, I can. The lack of recoil surprised me making the Nano a pleasure to shoot.
- How is the grip?
Naturally high and secure.
- What about the trigger?
Feels shorter than measured.
- Can I hit good enough groups?
Sure can. I’m satisfied.
Is the Bu9 Nano a gun I should consider for concealed carry? My answer is “yes.”
Specifications and Features
- Caliber: 9mm Luger
- Overall length: 5.63”
- Overall height: 4.17”
- Overall width: .90”
- Barrel length: 3.07”
- Sight radius: 4.92”
- Sights: 3-dot low profile
- Frame: Chassis stainless steel insert
- Grip Frame: Technopolymer
- Slide Material: 4140
- Slide Finish: Pronox
- Magazine: One 6 round capacity
- Weight unloaded: 19.97 Oz.
- Weight without mag: 18.27 Oz.
- Made in The U.S.A.
Do any of you own a Nano? I would love to hear your experiences with different ammo. Tell me about it in the comment section.