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Review: Beretta Nano

by Patrick Sweeney   |  November 3rd, 2011 19
Beretta Nano on target

The Beretta Nano is the newest ultra-compact 9mm on the market. It’s reliable, accurate and snag-free—a great concealed carry gun.

Beretta has recently been on a tear, coming up with products shooters desire, and the most recent arrival, the Nano, is a well-engineered little tool. Yes, it looks a lot like the other ultra-compact 9mm carry guns. Hey, if you shrink an operating mechanism down to its essential form, its minimum size, there isn’t a whole lot left in the way of excess you can use to be different.

The Nano is a single-stack 9mm with a striker firing system. The trigger has a small lock-out lever in the middle of its face,

Beretta Nano magazine release

Controls? The Nano couldn’t be simpler with just a magazine release—no external safety or slide release.

a safety that blocks trigger movement, and the magazine catch is behind the trigger guard.

The frame is a polymer shell enclosing a heavy-gauge steel stamping that is the actual firearm. There’s a viewing port in the polymer shell through which you can see the serial number marked on the chassis.

The trigger mechanism in the frame is one of utter simplicity. In watching it work, I see a grand total of four springs: the trigger return spring; the sear reset spring; the disconnector reset spring; and the trigger safety spring.

When you stroke the trigger, a grand total of three parts move: the trigger, the trigger bar and the sear. I don’t know how you could make a simpler system with fewer moving parts.

Beretta Nano takedown pin

A pin near the back on the right side allows you to disengage the sear during disassembly—no dry firing.

If you require gloves in size large or larger, you are going to find the trigger reach a bit on the short side. When shooting the Nano I really had to concentrate in order to avoid shoving my trigger finger in to the second joint. But once I did that, the trigger pull is not unlike that of a smooth double-action revolver. It has a bunch of movement but no stacking and no jumps, crunches, clicks or hand-offs.

The single-stack magazine holds six rounds, and as I expected, the base plate binds against my hand. Nano mags don’t drop free for me, but then they don’t for any other ultra-compact 9mm, either. If you want the smallest possible carry gun, that is one of the likely costs you will have to bear.

The slide is a slab-sided piece of steel, milled from bar stock, and it contains a striker assembly. The parts are retained by means of a rear plate. The recoil spring is a dual-spring system,

Beretta Nano frame and shell

The actual frame nestles inside a polymer shell.

with both springs taking up the load all the time, at least that what it feels like when racking the slide.

The barrel is designed to use the squarish chamber area locking up in the ejection port as the locking system, with an open-ended cam slot on the bottom to unlock and lock.

The 3-dot sight system consists of the rear sight in a transverse dovetail and the front in a dovetail parallel to the axis of the barrel; they can be changed if you need to change them.

The Nano lacks an external slide stop, so to chamber a round your only option is to pull the slide back and let go. Since it also lacks a thumb safety, keep your finger off the trigger (and its safety) until you need it to fire.

firing the Beretta nano

As you’d expect, the gun is handful with stout loads but no more so than other ultra compact 9s.

To unload, drop the magazine, then work the slide repeatedly until you’re sure there isn’t a round in the chamber. Then look in there anyway.

Disassembly is simple and does not require dry-firing. With the magazine removed and the action cocked and the slide forward (and chamber empty), press the pin second-furthest back on the right side of the frame (it has a the little dimple in it) until you hear a click. You’ve just released the sear from the striker. Since the Nano has an internal drop-safety (it can’t fire unless you pull the trigger) the striker can’t reach the chamber when you do this.

Then rotate the slotted gizmo on the right side a quarter-turn counterclockwise. You can now pull the slide assembly forward off the frame. I think Beretta missed a chance here to be really trick. It should have fashioned some part of the magazine, or the base plate to fit that pin and that slot. Then you’d have to remove the magazine to disassemble the Nano.

Once the slide is off, removing the recoil spring and barrel is just like every other self-loading pistol you’ve ever handled.

The frame has a cross pin, the sear pivot pin and the takedown gizmo in it, which all are involved with removing the chassis from the shell. I didn’t feel the need to do that because any dirt that works its way in there can easily be hosed out. However, the chassis and the internal parts come out easily enough that you can really scrub them if you want to.

The slide has, as mentioned, a plate at the back that houses the striker assembly and associated parts. Removal requires the end of paperclip or some other small rod to compress the striker spring. Again, I don’t anticipate a problem here, and the parts can be hosed clean without disassembly. And since there are no polymer parts up there, you can lube it after cleaning it.

How does it shoot? As with all ultra-compact pistols, you pay a price for all this convenience: loss of velocity and brisk recoil. The velocities for the Nano are not out of line with those of other three-inch barreled 9mm pistols, and they’re all within the useful range. Some, such as the Winchester Ranger +P+ and the Black Hills 115-grain, were noticeably noisier and brisker in recoil. But none were oppressive to shoot, and the softer loads were almost sedate in recoil.

The trigger is neither easy nor difficult. Like shooting a snubnose revolver in double-action, you just focus on the front sight while rolling through the trigger pull.

Also like a snubbie, the Nano (and any other compact 9mm, for that matter) rewards follow-through and punishes bad technique. Once I’d relearned proper short-gun double-action follow-through, I was able to shoot some very nice groups with the Nano.

So why choose the Beretta Nano? It’s a compact, sturdily built 9mm with a rugged polymer shell and black oxide finish, replaceable sights, a thin profile with a smooth exterior that does not have clothes-snagging protrusions. It’s reliable and it’s accurate. And the lack of external levers or controls, combined with a reversible magazine catch button, means the Nano also has great potential for you left-handed shooters.

Fast Specs

  • Type: striker-fired semiauto
  • Caliber: 9mm Luger
  • Capacity: 6+1
  • Barrel: 3.07 in.
  • OAL/Width/Height: 5.63/0.9/4.17 in.
  • Weight: 17.67 oz.
  • Finish: black nitride
  • Grips: molded polymer frame
  • Sights: three-dot
  • Trigger: DAO, 9 lb. pull
  • Price: $475
  • Manufacturer: Beretta USA

Accuracy Results

  • Smallest avg. group: (tie) 147 gr. Winchester PDX1, Wilson Combat XTP JHP—3 in.
  • Largest avg. group: (tie) 115 gr. Winchester Ranger +P+ JHP, Wolf FMJ—4 in.
  • Avg. of all ammo tested (10 types tested): 3.45 in.
  • Accuracy results are averages of four five-shot groups at 25 yards off a sandbag-supported benchrest.



  • David B. Hetchler

    So where are these pistols?

  • John McCarthy

    I had my LGS order a Nano for me and hopefully he's high up enough on the distributors waiting list to snag one out of their first allotment. I have a feeling this is going to be a huge seller for Beretta.

  • JMK

    Regarding the effort to pull the slide back. How does it compare to the Walther PPS? The video shows the guy pushing the slide back with 2 fingers from underneath. Is it really that easy?

  • BReal

    What was the distance that the groupings were shot from?

  • TheEmperorb

    So basically it's a Glock.

  • Scott

    BReal: Sorry, that got cut off when I posted. It was 25 yards.

    • jerry

      where can I get one

  • Doc

    Gander Mtn Will have A few For The ATE (after Thanksgiving Event) And you can Buy On-line DOC

  • Strongarm

    Some important points for this pistol according to rewiews and occurances,

    – Design is based upon "Field strip without trigger pull",
    – Trigger work is copied from Kahr with a reverse trigger bar action,
    – Trigger has no "Second Strike Ability" like Glocks,
    – Firing components having more parts than Glock, since sear being a
    separate unit from trigger bar,
    – Beretta USA tries to join "Browning Tilted Barrel Lock Club",
    – There should be a trouble or bottle neck on production or in design since
    nearly one mounth passed from the announced date for pistols to be on

  • Strongarm

    Some other facts and possibilities with Nano,

    – Pistol has a decocker, but no "Second Strike Ability",
    – Pistol has a decocker, but no "Striker Cocked Indicator",
    – Decocker Button slidable sidewardly having no stopper,
    – Cocking Lever or Sear, Its Spring and Decocker Button completely seeming
    to have enough mass to start to an unintential decocking motion through inertia.

    Owners should make a test as slamming the pistol to left side over a book to see if
    this happens and if happens seeing no need of Decocker Button at all…

    The hole behind the magazine well could be equipped with a two pointed tool for
    both Decocker Button Push and Barrel Lock Rotater.

  • Kenny

    I got lucky and picked mine up on black friday while waiting in line at 4am. i got the 2nd of 3 they had in the store. The first sold by accident the night before and the other was a display they just put out the night before. I took it to the range over the weekend and put 200 rounds thru it and it was great. A bit snappy at first but that's expected with these new pocket 9's coming out. But after getting used to it, it felt and shot great. Great groups at 7yds, great groups at 15yds better than expected groups at 25 yrds. Highly would recommend this firearm and it will be worth the wait….

  • Jimmy58

    To – TheEmperorb – Not a Glock at all, shorter barrel, much stockier, the polymer body is NOT serialized on the Nano as the Glock is, as part of the frame. The stainless steel inner "frame" is removable from the Nano and can and will be dropped in to the many different body styles that will be coming out down the line. This is what make it so great in my humble pie opinion. Pull and Drop on the inner frame in to any style outer frame that they feel like developing. New, and a great idea. Many looks, same great firearm.

  • David

    Sounds impressive but how different from others on the market? My KT p-11 functions flawlessly, weighs less, cost less now and when I bought it, and holds 11 rounds. No class of course but does the job.

    Still, if it were CA legal….

  • The Greek

    Many of the on-line "reviews" of the Nano basically copy the specs & advertising from the company website. As per the owner's manual, confirmed by postal scale, the nano really weighs 20 oz empty, not 17.67 oz as claimed. Although the double-stack baby Glocks (26/27) are thicker (1.18 vs 0.9 in) & slightly longer (0.5 in), they also weigh in at 20 oz..(Size vs firepower dilemma.) Holsters work fine with these models – otherwise get roomy, sturdy pockets.
    Shooting the Nano is a pleasure – very accurate, tame recoil even with 124 & 147- grain ammo – returns on target very rapidly for followup shots. Out of 150 rounds, had 3 failures to eject, all with 115-grain – will try more variations of ammo next week… Overall pleased with my purchase – but yet not ready to trust for daily CCW carry.

  • Ben

    I have one and got it about 5 months ago I love it. It shoots great and the recoil is not bad for such a small gun. It is much lighter recoil the a 38 snub. I like the decocker and it also takes down easily. The only thing I did was reverse the Magazine release from the left side of the gun to the right side because of arthuritis in my thumb and a strong spring it is easier to push the mag release with my triger finger or index finger then with my thumb and that was very easy to do all I did was use a punch to push out the retaining pin then switch sides and I was good to go. I carry it in an IWB holster and have no problem with the mag being released since the spring on it is very strong. I will recommend it for concealed carry and or a back up gun for a LEO.

  • MFF

    Prices drop . . . I got mine last week for 360 + 75 for the lasermax. Very good deal.

  • Josh B

    Where di you get your nano for $435 MFF?

  • Dwayne

    I bought my nano 2 weeks ago, took apart to clean and check out the inner workings.
    The recoil spring kept binding?
    I thought it was operator error?
    I took it in to The Baretta Gallery in Dallas Texas, the rep there said yes the recoil spring is binding.
    I haven't got it back yet, ??????

    • steve

      i just bought one 3 days ago i hope mine run good i'll let you know

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