My standards for personal defense handguns are high. While power, accuracy and control are important, the bottom line is reliability. Absolute accuracy in the target sense isn’t as important as practical combat accuracy, meaning the ability to draw the handgun and get a hit quickly at combat ranges.
I prefer the pistol not be useless past 15 yards as well. Over the years, as a peace officer I have faced the mentally deficient, dangerously mentally deranged and the plain mean and stupid. Some were evil men.
As I write this, I am suffering from a periodic flare up of an old injury. Having dealt with the both targeted and incidental victims, I realize how dangerous the world is. I met the adversary half way as most victims do; that was my calling.
I attempted to arrest those with abusive urges. Over 100 years ago, Gustave Mace of the Surete was chasing criminals that psychiatrists were beginning to realize suffered from “moral insanity.”
Little has changed and a good pistol on the hip helps in dealing with such threats. A .32 or .380 pistol doesn’t look very good to those of us schooled in wound ballistics and, more importantly, with practical experience.
The .38 Special and 9mm Luger, respectively, represent a realistic minimum. The 9mm compact pistol holds more rounds than the .38 and is easier to use well.
Features of the Beretta BU9 Nano
A pistol that has grown on me is the Beretta BU9 Nano. The Nano is compact, reliable, and comfortable to fire and use. It is a polymer frame handgun with a double-action only lockwork with several interesting and different features.
For example, a positive firing pin block keeps the pistol’s striker locked to the rear until you completely press the trigger to the rear. Most unlock and drop, while the Nano’s lock protrudes from a small opening in the slide as the trigger is pressed, and then drops again after the pistol fires.
To disassemble Beretta‘s Nano, you must press the trigger to take pressure off the striker. A small pin in the receiver depresses with a pinpoint to unlock the striker. Be certain the chamber isn’t loaded! Turning a key on the right side of the receiver disassembles the pistol. The key’s head looks like a screw head. This system was used rather than a take down lever to produce a compact design.
A feature not without controversy is the lack of a slide lock. The slide locks open on the last shot as normal; you can remove the magazine and drop the slide by grasping the rear of the slide and pulling to the rear. Beretta did this in order to make the pistol as compact as possible.
However, it is also common for shooters firing compact pistols to allow the fingers of the support hand to contact the slide lock during a firing string.
As for the absences of the slide lock this doesn’t eliminate the possibility of speed loads. When the pistol’s slide locks to the rear:
- Drop the empty magazine.
- Insert a loaded magazine.
- Grasp the rear of the slide and keep rolling.
Some makers have provided guards on the slide lock and worked to prevent the problem of the finger contacting the slide lock. The Nano solved the problem. This is not a service pistol with an extended slide lock and take-down lever; this is a purpose-designed hide out handgun. The sights are also small and set atop a square or flat slide. The trigger action is relatively smooth although heavier than some at 7.5 pounds. The trigger features a lever in the center you must press to fire, helping prevent lateral discharge.
Loadings and Magazines
The Nano comes with two well-made magazines. The more compact flush-fit magazine holds six rounds while the larger magazine holds eight. I have fired the pistol with both magazines. For pocket carry, the shorter magazine is the better choice. For appendix or inside-the-waistband carry, the longer magazine makes sense.
The long magazine is easier to grasp and reload, the shorter magazine conceals well. Each has proven reliable with a variety of loads. I find my small finger hanging off the base of the grip with the short magazine. Just the same, decent range work was accomplished. The situation is better with the eight-round magazine, but not by leagues—only an incremental improvement.
The nicely checkered grip frame helps you grasp the handgun. The 3-inch barrel doesn’t develop the velocity a 5-inch barrel does. Concentrate on a controllable loading that is completely reliable and do not chase high velocity in this handgun. As for control, the cadence of fire is set by how quickly you are able to achieve sight alignment after recoil. Pressing the trigger quickly accomplishes nothing.
Press, fire and allow the trigger to reset as you reacquire the sight picture and fire. Use the sights at all times and all distances. Point shooting or instinctive shooting is like driving with your eyes closed.
A controllable load with a clean powder burn is best for the Nano. I have fired the pistol with +P loads. Recoil isn’t bad although I simply prefer the more controllable loads.
- The Hornady XTP is a service-grade load that has given good results for me.
- The 115-grain XTP delivered good results in the Nano. However, in deference to the short barrel Nano, I am certain the Hornady 115-grain FTX or Critical Defense load is the superior choice. This load shoots like the XTP and the Critical Defense bullet was designed for civilian scenarios.
- Loaded with the Hornady Critical Defense bullet the Nano gives the you a high degree of protection, ounce for ounce.
|Beretta BU9 Nano|
|Barrel Length||3.0 inches|
|Overall Height||4.17 inches|
|Overall Length||5.63 inches|
|Overall Width||0.9 inches|
|Weight Unloaded||19.8 ounces|
|Stock or Grip||stock type or grip type|
|Capacity||6 + 8 rounds|
|Magazine||6 + 8 rounds|
|Frame||Chassis, stainless steel insert; technopolymer grip frame|