What? Yet another small 9mm pistol? Ah, yes, but—it’s a Beretta! So, you’ll expect it to show superior design and workmanship, and some innovative features. And, you won’t be disappointed in the new Nano. In technical use as a prefix, the name translates to “one billionth.” Okay, it’s not quite that small.
It is, though, very compact for a pistol in full 9 x 19mm chambering. The over-all length is 5.63 inches, and height is 4.17 inches. Width is a slim 0.90 of an inch, and the barrel length is 3.07 inches. The polymer grip-frame keeps the unloaded weight down to 20 ounces. For concealment and carrying comfort, good numbers.
Now, the mechanical details: The Nano is striker-fired, the second Beretta to use this system in nearly a hundred years (the first one was in 1920). The trigger action of the Nano is a “DA-Only.” It is a reset-type, the slide-cycle leaving the striker in an intermediate position. There is an automatic internal striker-block that is cleared only in the last fraction of the trigger-pull.
The other safety is a trigger-block lever, cancelled by the pressure of the trigger-finger. These two, along with the DAO trigger-pull, are more than adequate for safe carry. The Nano has a quick and easy trigger. If you pull it very slowly, there’s a hesitation-point near the end that will allow use of the good sights.
The sight picture is square post and square notch, with three white dots. Both sights are secured with Allen screws, the rear is horizontally adjustable. The front sight is in a lengthwise-dovetail, and can be easily changed to units of a different height. The rear sight notch has ample width for easy eye pick-up of the front sights.
The six-round single-row magazine has a couple of neat design touches. On the front, at the magazine catch point, the body is flared outward for easy insertion and a very positive engagement with the catch. On the left side, at the location of one of the upper counter-holes, there is a small stud that engages a vertical channel inside the grip frame. Useful as an insertion guide, this also insures that there can be no tilting when the magazine is in place. The magazine catch is reversible for left-handers.
An internal latch locks the slide open after the last shot. For release, after reloading, you just retract the slide slightly and let go. The locking system is a classic falling-barrel type, with the squared chamber area engaging the large ejection port. The dual-nested recoil spring unit (Larry Seecamp’s brilliant design) is captive on its guides, and won’t fly away during takedown.
As with all Beretta pistols, field-stripping is simple and easy. And, on the Nano, there is one neat little piece of engineering. After the magazine is taken out, you have to drop the striker to fired position before you turn the crosspiece slot to horizontal and take off the slide. On the right side at the top of the grip are the words “DO NOT PULL TRIGGER FOR DISASSEMBLY.”
Instead, slightly to the rear of that line, there is a small aperture containing a dished-head pin that can be pushed inward with a ballpoint pen or other small tool. Internally, this moves the sear to the left and lets the striker fall. Meanwhile, the striker block stops it. So, if you are a dumbass who has left a round in the chamber, no problem.
Another warning on the frame is “FIRES WITHOUT MAGAZINE”. Thus, there is no stupid “magazine disconnect safety.” If, during a serious social encounter, the magazine is lost, and you have a round in the chamber, you can use it. By the way, the magazine release button is low-profile, and requires a definite push, so inadvertent depress is unlikely.
With the defensive purpose of the Nano in mind, I didn’t try it out with any “ordinary” 9mm rounds. The three that were used were Black Hills 115-grain JHP Plus-P, Cor-Bon 115-grain DPX Plus-P, and Hornady Critical Defense 115-grain FTX. All shooting was done at 7 yards, standing, with a two-hand hold. I will note that the felt-recoil was much less than I expected.
All of the five-shot groups were well-centered (for one first-shot, dead-center!). Group sizes ranged from 3.25 to 4 inches, and all shots stayed within the 8-inch black of the Champion VisiColor targets. There were, of course, no malfunctions—it is a Beretta. The modest MSRP is $475. Contact data: Beretta USA Corp., 17601 Beretta Dr., Dept. TGM, Accokeek, MD 20607; phone: 301-283-2191; online: berettausa.com